Japan Basic Strategies, Concepts and Ideas

  • '18 '17 '16 '11 Moderator

    In Classic, Revised and Enhanced, the Submarine is an invaluable tool of any naval combat.

    In Anniversary, they are a joke at best, a horrible waste of manufacturing time at the Hasbro plants at worse.

    I used 10,000 submarines and 1 destroyer with 4,999 bombers (equivalent cost) for a reason.  It demonstrates just how bad the submarine is.  It’s akin to running a simulator over 10,000 identical battles to see if this one battle should go your way or not (like when you use Frood to find out the probably results.)

    However, in this case, it is very simple to see that any major submarine investment is going to end up costing you a lot more than your opponent will lose going with a couple of destroyers and a large air investment.

    You’ve mentioned that you can just keep your submarines out of range of your opponents destroyers.  That’s great!  But what, exactly, are your submarines doing then?  They are not helping you win the war, they’re too busy running away! (Watch the movie Das Boot, that submarine did more for Germany in that movie than any submarine in Anniversary will likely do for you in the end.)

    If you don’t run away, then your opponent can easily swoop in with a destroyer and a whole bunch of planes to sink a large number of your submarines for very minimal cost to himself. (Sure, if you have enough submarines he may only get one round, but in that one round he can still sink 1 submarine for every 2 aircraft attacking on average, maybe more once you factor in bombers and/or technologies.  That group of submarines, no matter how many there are, can only sink the destroyer, you cannot sink more than that.)

    All I am saying is, if you have a choice between submarines and anything else, including extra AA Guns, you may want to seriously consider the “anything else.”  (Though, perhaps the submarine might be better than an extra AA Gun…they cost the same, but I can see a situation where the gun would be slightly worse than the submarine.)

  • I used 10,000 submarines and 1 destroyer with 4,999 bombers (equivalent cost) for a reason.  It demonstrates just how bad the submarine is.  It’s akin to running a simulator over 10,000 identical battles to see if this one battle should go your way or not (like when you use Frood to find out the probably results.)

    And its still an inane argument and very much like the AA gun vs Tanks. If you insist on using something incorrectly, expect to get poor results. I bet you could send 5000 TRs against 1 sub and I bet you are gonna lose. Does that mean TRs are useless? Ditto for CVs…Buy all CVs and aircraft and I’ll put them against equal IPC of subs…hell, you can even attack and I’ll defend with ‘worthless subs’ and still win…CVs and planes are useless? Come on…

    If you have valid analysis I’d love to hear it, but making ridiculous comparisons and examples does exactly zero to promote a case.

  • In the games I play,subs serve a valuable purpose tactically,at least for Japan and the US. I usually commit the US to attacking Japan and re-capturing the island chains. This forces Japan to fight for the economically vital islands in the SW Pac. The subs lurk around the in ones and twos,trying to stay outside the range of any destroyers and looking for a chance to slip through the islands and attack unprotected ships,mainly transports and carriers of course. They are also bait. The layout of the islands and the way they are connected offers a lot of possibilities to maneuver. To just say they are valueless is short-sighted.

  • I don’t think anyone is saying “just build all subs” I think people are saying “build a sub or two a turn, you never know when they can get in a good kill and if not, hey fodder and attack on a 2 isnt bad for 6 IPC”.

    So i think everyone agrees that, just building subs=dumb, subs as part of a fleet=probably good idea.  Or i could have misread everything as its 3 AM.

  • '18 '17 '16 '11 Moderator

    Actually, Bugoo, they are saying build primarily nothing but submarines and let your surviving surface vessels carry the rest of the load.

    My argument is that I’ll kill any kind of fleet designed that way in this game.  It doesn’t have a chance.  Air Power trumps navies now and submarines are absolutely worthless both against air power and against naval forces when they are attacked.

    One person had a valid way to keep their submarines alive, RUN AWAY!  Which, coincidentally, also happens to completely negate them as a fighting force and they can be ignored.

    Look, I’m not saying to have a fleet with NO SUBMARINES.  I can see utility in having like 1, maybe 2 and on the extreme end, 3 (proportional to fleet size, of course.)  I’m just saying there are way better uses for that money!

    I feel the same way with Battleships.  I’m not saying you should never buy one, but I also think there are better uses for that money.

    My honest opinion, if you have more submarines than battleships, you probably screwed up your builds.  A properly built fleet should look similar to this, IMHO (In my honest opinion):

    2-Aircraft Carriers
    3-Cruisers (for bombardments)
    6 to 12- Destroyers (your main trading unit, these can be used like submarines were used before, hence why there are so many)
    1 to 2-Submarines
    1 to 3-Bombers

    Notice, there are submarines, just not as the main unit.  They’re only present to take advantage of sloppy play by your opponent, not as any main combat unit and definitely not as any kind of fodder piece!

  • Out of curiosity, how long do your games tend to run (in turns)?

    It sounds like you are used to more of a ‘build up’ and ‘stand off’ than I’ve seen in my games (so far at least). If you have the resources and time to pile that much stuff into a fleet to protect a few TRs then we are playing in completely different realms. ;)

  • Moderator



    I believe a rather intelligent player wouldn’t get into that situation unless it was completely unavoidable.  Odds are if you have 6 submarines, your opponent will probably have 3 destroyers, 2 Cruisers, Aircraft Carrier, 2 Fighters and 2 IPC left over.  (Just taking the same cash money for a more realistically balanced navy.)

    Notice how the submarines are pretty much useless attacking this fleet and how they can be easily crushed by the fleet if they have to go on the defense.

    Thing is, guys, submarines are so easily pushed aside and negated they really serve no purpose anymore.  Perhaps if we gave them the ability to block naval movement back they’d have at least the function of cheap fodder to slow the enemy.

    I agree about the blocking function, but they are still a good buy in certain circumstances if you intend to sink navies (read US Pac strat).

    I’m not advocating a “sub only” policy, but I will consider large amounts of subs as part of a fleet to sink an opposing fleet.

    Simply put to attack you can pay 6 ipc (sub) to get a 2 or 8 (dd).  Why spend more if your intent is only to attack?
    ACs + ftrs provide the air defenses, throw in a DD or two sure, but after that if you can spend say 48 ipc over 2 turns, why not place 8 subs vs. 6 dd?  Mix and match with some Capital ships thrown in and you have a nice versital navy.

    Sure, at some point you have to move your fleet in range, but your dd, ac+ftrs, and other captial ships provide air cover from plane only attacks and the subs can participate if it is navy vs. navy, and if that is the case you want cheap fodder.  The last thing you want is for the opposing army to rip through your fodder in only one rd making strafes highly profitable or they continue on until they can start trading their lower units (at this point probably dds or ftrs) for your CAs, ACs, BBs.

    I see the US as the main sub buyer.

  • Not sure how long some of Jenn’s games have run. The first few games I played in AA50 were over quickly, say round 6. I just surrendered a game in round 13 that was going to be decided in 2 more rounds. I also have another game that is currently over 10 rounds. At first '41 seems like a slam dunk for the Axis. As you play it more you find more Allied counters, and in turn Axis counters to those counters. I know it is easy to have a Revised game with out any major diceings go into the 20s.  I suspect within a month or two AA50 '41 games will also be like that.

  • '18 '17 '16 '11 Moderator

    I’m not seeing a lot of utility for American submarines either.

    You’ll be spending a lot of time building up surface fleets to protect your submarines before you buy the submarines.  If you don’t the instant you move in range, all those submarines are dead and it only cost Japan 8 ipc.

    Or, you can use far less time, build some warships and destroyers for fodder, and get that British National Objective for conquering an Orange territory by round 2 or 3.

    The question, I guess, is do you want to win the game quickly and decisively, or do you want to pussyfoot around for 20 rounds building warships to protect your submarines while Japan grows into a monster?

    As for myself, I’ve learned my lesson, you have to hit Japan, hit them hard, but especially HIT THEM FAST!

  • What I was saying about subs is best summed up with an MMORPG term, kiting. You bring the sub in, they either don’t respond and maybe you sink a transport, or not, and if they do respond you run away 2 squares or 1 depending on how close. If they persue with destroyer and land planes nearby, your sub just did its job and distracted 1 or more planes. Then retreat some more and repeat as needed, coming back to “pull” them again as needed. This is a job for 1-2 subs at most.

  • kendric the problem is for you to be in a position to threaten the transports you should be in range of a destroyer. There is no sense chasing after a sub before it is truly a threat. And once it truly becomes a threat it is vulnerable.

    I am also beginning to form the opinion once Japan has made its early grab of the Islands and got up and running on the mainland the Islands may not be worth fighting over. NOs or no NOs. One of the most expensive things in A&A is an ignored fleet.

  • '18 '17 '16 '11 Moderator

    But you see, Kendric, you are talking one or two submarines.

    Others are talking about buying almost nothing but submarines. (Probably nothing but submarines added to whatever ships they have left on their first turn.)

    I am not saying one or two submarines are not worth having around.  Just like one or two anti-aircraft guns are worth having around, or a German transport somewhere in the Indian Ocean can be worth having (load Japanese on it, move it, unload Japanese, whatever.)

    But if you need a go-to unit, it’s the destroyer, the work horse of the fleet.

  • First off let me introduce myself, though I am new to this board as a member I have observed it for a while and I am rather experienced with A&A having played many versions over the last 15 years.

    This being said I thought I would jump into this topic as I noticed that something hasn’t been mentioned yet.

    If the hypothetical multiple subs vs multiple bombers and a destroyer theory is further examined we can safely say that all subs will not be lost, in fact if we compare an equal ipc value say 1dd 8ipc’s and 6 bombers 72ipcs for a total of 80 ipc’s vs: 13 subs 78ipc’s chances are that somewhere between 7 and 9 subs should still remain.

    Let me explain:
    First the dd rolls, 33%  chance of a hit
    next the 6 bombers roll with the odds stating that 4 bombers will hit
    So we’re looking at 7 hits max with the odds saying more likely 4-5

    during the counterattack 13 subs fire back, again, we’ll go with the odds here and say 2 hits. Since the subs can’t hit the bombers the destroyer MUST be chosen as a casualty leaving lets say 8 subs and 6 bombers left. Since the subs can’t hit the bombers and the bombers can’t hit the subs without a destroyer, the battle is over and 8 subs remain.

    Yes the sub owner did suffer a greater loss in ipc value but the bomber owner better hope he has another DD or that his ships are not in range of the remaining subs or else…… then again this is a hypothetical battle and I know that many players (myself included) who buy subs would not put themselves in this position unless there was a massive reward (a nice big fleet without a DD to hit) or something else worth losing subs for.

    I find subs really useful and frequently buy a lot of them usually with great results.



  • '18 '17 '16 '11 Moderator

    I mentioned that in my results.  If I remember correctly, 3,333 submarines were lost at sea and the attacker lost 1 destroyer.  Now, if you really had those units, the attacker would still have 4,999 bombers and the defender would still have 6,667 submarines, but now the submarines have nothing to attack. :)

  • We should consider two things prior to throw all our submarines miniatures out of the window.

    Using submarine as fodder for attacking is cheap.
    In the sample made by Darth Maximus, Jennifer countered adding another sub. So what if the attacker adds another sub to the pool? The attacker has still saved 2 IPC and iterating the attacker will be able to have more sub than the enemy will have destroyers. The problem is, the more sub are in the attacking force the less destroyers one can use as fodder. So attacking sub create exceptions to an unwritten rule: the DD are the main cannon fodder for the fleets. It will require to the defender to lose some CA or AC to preserve the DD and when the regular fire of the remaining attacking units will come, could be neede to lose more valuable units to preserve some DDs. Using attacking submarines will change the way loss are selected, the defender will not more able to loss first all the cheap DDs and then the remaining of the fleet. Sure this is not a dramatic change but is something to be considered when shaping the tool for killing the enemy fleet. This will create an opportunity for the opponents to make an error in selecting his casualties, and it is always a good thing to create opportunity for an error of the enemy.

    Sending the submarine fleet all stacked togheter in the same seazone is useless, they require only one DD to be destroyed as Jennifer correctly said. But if they are used in smaller groups they may create problems. This is a behaviour that is not common in A&A. In A&A it is common to stack unit to increase their aggregated value. Subs, instead, may be used as lonely units. They open the scenario to maneuvering. In the Pacific, not in the Atlantic that is too small for this.

    A&A is interesting because there is several tools for different task, trying to have all done with a single unit is not what the game rules are for. I have played few games but right now, in my first games, I am thinking that few submarines may integrate the offensive strategy of a fleet: forcing opponents to buy DDs, forcing him to have DDs and aircrafts in the position to hit submarines, maneuvering them around create problems to the opponent and may create opportunity for the attacking fleet.

  • '18 '17 '16 '11 Moderator

    I’m not really saying to take all the submarines out and melt them down to make new playing chips.  What I’m saying is that submarines are hopelessly underpowered.

    I’ve built them myself.  I’ve encountered them.  So far there has been one underlying, fundamental truth:  The side with more submarines in its fleet losses the naval battle.  I’ve yet to see a naval battle where one side had more submarines than the other and won.

  • If you did mention it I’m sorry as I did not see it!
    Either way I think this argument is still too based on hypothetical theory and not on practicality (no offense intended)
    I for one, would never let my sub fleet get creamed for nothing and I feel that more players than not wouldn’t either.
    Subs in the right hands can be very deadly weapons. In a game I played as the axis last week I baited an American player into attacking a fleet of subs, and set him up so I could destroy his fleet, he wasn’t a very good player but he was still left with the problem of whether or not to leave my subs in which case I would have been able to re-enforce and attack with them, or he could have attacked them and become vulnerable to my main strike force, which he did and lost very poorly.

    Furthermore, I agree with the split sub theory as I think that a smart sub player doesn’t have a large stack of subs (unless using the cannon fodder defense theory) but many smaller stacks spread out.

  • I think I see what everyone is saying, now I could be wrong but these are my assumptions that I base this on.

    A) Most of the pacific early game fighting is for island dominance, mainly Indies, Borneo, Carolina, and Phillipeans.
    B) Japan has the fleet advantage, but there fleet is primarily defensive based (carriers)
    C) Japan fleet has a perceived weakness, no DDs to start and half of there boats (carriers) and venerable to subs.

    J1: hits islands, etc.  Importantly, 2 carriers in Japan SZ or 1 SZ nearby, 1 AC/Cruiser in SZ 37 near Burma, 1 BB in SZ 50 near phillipeans.
    US1: purchases, lets go crazy 5 subs 1 trannie.
    J2: hits india, etc.  Cannot send boats within range of subs, cannot even block the dang things. Buys DDs.
    US2: sends 5 subs 1 loaded AC, 1 DD, 2 bombers to SZ46/Solomon. Purchases 2nd AC, another trannie, maybe a bomber, more subs, DDs, whatever with leftover.
    J3: cannot go into any of the above listed islands or die.  Best case rally at SZ 50 with DD, but that fleet is exposed to bombers, 4 fighters, subs, etc.  Plus fleet maybe splintered.  Doesnt even want to hit the US fleet to sink the surface vessels because subs can submerge and counter next round with reinforcements.
    US3: island grab time!

    And as far as blocking destroyers, a sub heavy US build best get some UK can opener planes in the area!

    So I would have to agree that using the above concept in theory can give the US the initiative in the pacific and force japan to dance to there tune!

    Now to build just subs is dumb, but 5 subs US1 can put a hurtin on japan.

  • @Cmdr:

    I’m not really saying to take all the submarines out and melt them down to make new playing chips.  What I’m saying is that submarines are hopelessly underpowered.

    I’ve built them myself.  I’ve encountered them.  So far there has been one underlying, fundamental truth:  The side with more submarines in its fleet losses the naval battle.  I’ve yet to see a naval battle where one side had more submarines than the other and won.

    Commander Jennifer, I agree with you for the arguments you have already said.

    Briefly: submarine are weak in defense, they are useless to stop movements, they do not inhibit loading and unloading.
    All this think are fact and I agree with them.

    What I was trying to do is exploring situations in which they may be useful.
    I think that the vastness of the Pacific Ocean may allow the submarine to be used while the Atlantic, being more smaller, do not allow such maneuvering, force to stack sub, and definitely make them more vulnerable to a single DD and airpower.
    So Germany, in many games, should only use the subs already on the board without buying more.

  • '18 '17 '16 '11 Moderator

    Submarine for Japan:


    1 or 2 Submarines from Japan, when coupled with 3 carriers, 6 fighters, battleship, cruiser and destroyer (basically what you start with) could be sent out in hopes of getting past America ships and sinking transports.  I don’t see it happening, but it could.


    1)  12 IPC is a bomber.

    2)  12 IPC is a cruiser

    3)  12 IPC is 4 Infantry

    4)  12 IPC is 3 Artillery

    5)  12 IPC is Infantry, Artillery, Armor

    etc.  All are better choices IMHO.

    America is slightly better off.  Since you have no navy of which to speak anyway, a few submarines would at least encourage Japan to put two destroyers in the water (8 IPC if they did not lose the one they start with, 16 if they did.)  1 Destroyer for the SZ 62 fleet, 1 Destroyer for the SZ 36 fleet of transports - Your warships being busy killing things and your carriers being present with the transports of course.)

    Doesn’t mean I’d go out and buy 8 submarines a round for 10 rounds though.

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