Judicious use of subs will mark the difference between a good player and a better player. They are a specialised unit, requiring careful planning, but they offer the best value for money of any unit that can fight in sea zones.
Don’t be fooled that subs are poor defenders - they roll dice and they are the cheapest casualities in the water. They defend better than DD’s against naval attacks (obviously not against pure air attacks - you must have enough capital ships to ward that off) in practically any situation except having only subs. Mixed with DDs, CVs or BBs, subs are fearsome on defence.
I’m talking cost/value terms of obviously, not one SS for one DD - the latter is obviously stronger, but significantly more costly. You can only get 3 DDs for the price of 4SSs. 3DDs will beat 4SSs on a slight majority of combats, but add equal numbers of any other units to both sides and look what happens - the subs are always stronger on defence than DDs.
Subs are a powerful tool in your arsenal. As Dondolee points out they are highly specialised. They have strengths and weaknesses, but boy can you make a difference with them if used adroitly.
Some valuable uses:
- They are the absolute best unit in dollar terms in sea zones (not just in big battles, but if the opponent is silly enough to trade their DDs for your SSs in the lead up - e.g. the ‘fanning out’ situation that Darth mentions)
- As Darth points out they can cause your opponent order of loss issues
- They complicate strategic purchasing decisions for the enemy.
- They can exploit the weaknesses of CV’s that do not have other naval defence - a good player won’t allow you to take their CV this way, but it will close movement options to them. And they may have had to plan some moves in advance to ensure it is adequately defended - especially for japanese CVs)
- The US can protect Hawaii, the west coast and their pacific island NO quite cost effectively with just subs
- Italy can force the allies to invest heavily if they want to take out the italian fleet (you cant stop them, but you’ll test your opponents skill by making them plan their purchases well in the turns leading up, and it means they are doing horrible things with the efficiency of their fleet locations)
- If germany invests in a baltic fleet, the UK can force them to commit to a build up (russia is laughing unless Germany is maintaining an income of 50 or so) or lose that investment (russia and UK are laughing)
- In the right circumstances (e.g. UK fleet wanders south) Germany can invest in baltic subs, which in combination with the luftwaffe can make the UK unable to return in some cases.
I haven’t even touched on the ways you can use the submerge and first strike abilities.
Subs are not an all round unit. As Dondolee implies - if you’re not sure exactly what your buying it for - don’t. They have many great uses and add another layer to the game allowing stronger players to leverage their skill (and thus fewer games decided by dice).
And subs are fun