Subs… what's the point?



  • In every game of axis and allies AA I have played… Subs havebeen useless.  Nobody has ever bought any subs.  Destroyers are so esily obtained and massed with a fleet they provide cover from subs.  Germany was famed for its “wolfpack” but in AA germany doesnt even get to build a fleet unless the allies are losing hard.

    Can anyone advocate the use of subs for any power in the game?

    I can’t.



  • The game miss convoy zones. Why should you buy subs if there are no convoy zones ?



  • if you don’t buy them, you can’t use them.
    if you buy five of them at once, they are fun to use until a destroyer and a flight of heavy bombers show up.   sigh.



  • buy 2 carriers, fully loaded with fighters, maybe 3, and at least as many subs as fighters.  now use the subs and fighters to attack, maybe throw in a few bombers, and then just replace the subs as they get killed off.  see how that works for ya.



  • What if I get attacked by bombers/fighter?



  • @tarkonis:

    Can anyone advocate the use of subs for any power in the game?

    Japan and USA should buy at least a couple of them every game (they should have a showdown at Pacific Ocean)

    Sometimes, UK can use one or two to finish the italian fleet. Other times, the italians can buy one ore two if they feel they can face the allied fleets

    And they are vital for germans in opening move, I could even try a naval tech roll round 1 someday and use that supersubs in a wacky G1  😉



  • @Funcioneta:

    @tarkonis:

    Can anyone advocate the use of subs for any power in the game?

    Japan and USA should buy at least a couple of them every game (they should have a showdown at Pacific Ocean)

    Why?  Every time I play Axis I have won by simply deterring the US with a large ish fleet and going for russia.  I think if you are Japanese and the US is building a fleet for a showdown it means that they are not focusing on Europe.  I should allways defend in this case and force a pacific naval stalemate while going for russia on land.

    Sometimes, UK can use one or two to finish the italian fleet. Other times, the italians can buy one ore two if they feel they can face the allied fleets

    I’d build a destroyer as soon as I saw subs near the med.  Italian Subs…  :lol:

    And they are vital for germans in opening move, I could even try a naval tech roll round 1 someday and use that supersubs in a wacky G1  😉

    Subs vital for G1? o_O?

    They way I see it all submarine power is negated by the presence of 1 destroyer in any allied naval seagroup.  Your G1 submarine buy just bought russia some time 😛

    These are just my opinions of course 🙂 Please feel free to tell me where I am going wrong.  I’d like to use subs I really would.



  • @tarkonis:

    Subs vital for G1? o_O?

    They way I see it all submarine power is negated by the presence of 1 destroyer in any allied naval seagroup.  Your G1 submarine buy just bought russia some time 😛

    I mean the starting subs, pal  😄 They can be used in many valuable places: z2, z12 and z9. They are only two of them, but hitting at 3’s can be a big difference, specially in z9  😉 Even the one in z6 can cause some troubles G2 if UK gets uncared



  • @tarkonis:

    Why?  Every time I play Axis I have won by simply deterring the US with a large ish fleet and going for russia.  I think if you are Japanese and the US is building a fleet for a showdown it means that they are not focusing on Europe.  I should allways defend in this case and force a pacific naval stalemate while going for russia on land.

    You need defend Pacific Ocean as USA or you’ll risk be defending in America instead, from token Alaska landings or even a big full invassion on Alaska. You cannot focus in Europe with USA unless Japan want let you do it

    On Pacific Ocean, sometimes you need block fleets, and you must do it with destroyers. So, to kill that sacrifice dds, it’s good having some cheap subs as fodder



  • some US pacific subs DO force Japan to buy a DD or two.

    Later if the US can amass a number of subs (8?) that helps keep Japan away from the Pacific coast if they haven’t approached yet.

    I do agree though, in the atlantic, subs are pretty worthless.


    Nomination for most worthless piece:  Russian sub!



  • @tarkonis:

    I’d build a destroyer as soon as I saw subs near the med.  Italian Subs…  :lol:

    I’m not saying that you should buy italian subs all games. I say that sometimes (5% ? ) can be useful buy some subs to menace z12, specially if allied fleet went north. And, since Italy goes after UK and before USA, sometimes a rogue italian sub (and the starting fig) can chase a uncared USA fleet of poorly defended trannies at z12. Other times, the simple menace of this is enough to slow down allied fleets movement

    The idea is that, even if subs are not the ultimate weapon, they are cheap, and there are some places here and there where you could miss them if don’t have none



  • This is a great discussion 🙂  but it still does not advocate the use of submarines at all.  All we have arguments for is fodder and 5% of games try and harass in the med.  I’m sure we can find a use for the blighters… theres loads of em in the box!

    but hitting at 3’s

    Sub’s attack on a 2.



  • @tarkonis:

    but hitting at 3’s

    Sub’s attack on a 2.

    They hit at 3’s with supersubs tech (as I said)  🙂


  • Moderator

    I’ll make a case for subs.

    They can cause mismatch problems and are a nightmare for OOLs.
    You can actually force an opponent to lose higher priced naval units just to keep a DD around for the 2nd or 3 rd of combat b/c as an attacker you can see your opponents OOL first and if they lose all their DDs thinking you’ll sack your subs, maybe you lose your DDs and a ftr just so you can have 2-3 subs now take a free shot at the ACs/CAs/Damaged BBs.

    Also you may need up to 1 dd for every sub b/c what the subs can do is fan out and occupy multiple sea zones.  Now the other side is forced to trade an 8 ipc unit for a 6.  If ignored the subs can make a strike on the main naval force with air support, again potentially causing OOL issues if the defending navy only has 1 DD.

    I’ve seen Germany/Italy/Japan/US all use subs effectively.  UK to a lesser extent if they just want 1-2 cheap fodder units to kill the Ita navy with air support usually in rd 3 (rd 1 place 1-3 subs in sz 8, rd 2 move to sz 13, rd 3 Air + subs sink Ita fleet and conserve the ftrs/boms).



  • japan and america in pacific, maybe italy in med, maybe UK in atlantic.  mostly subs get best used in the pacific.  as far as being attacked, keeping a BB or 2 and some destroyers or cruisers with the fleet of carriers should keep any attackers at bay.  but my idea is to have more subs than planes.  if any fleet comes within range of the subs, use the subs and the planes for attack.  when the defender returns fire, kill of your subs, and retreat those expensive planes.  just buy more subs to replace the ones you loose.  i usually keep the subs seperate from the fleet, but within range of the planes.  if any one attacks your fleet and has a destroyer present, loose the subs first, let your big defenders blow them away.  good luck



  • Look what the sub is.  It has a giher attack and lower cost than a destroyer, Carrier, and a cruiser.  Airplanes and subs not being able to hit each other can be a good thing (especially for Germany).  A few subs for Germany can be an amazing thing as they are cheap (you can buy a sub once in awhile instead of a plane to save a few bucks) and hard to target, giving them free movement.  They can get to transports quicker because they target ships only, and they can “cheapen” the value of a carrier dramaticaly.  They act as a cheap piece of fodder and in the pacific especially are a great  way to establish a zone of control.  Subs are a very specialized unit that, if purchased correctly, are a good buy.



  • 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  😄



  • One other nice thing about subs is you can use the DD block in the sea as easily as you can an inf block, you must watch out for this vs Japan as many times i have simply DD blocked or been blocked in the pacific.

    One interesting thing about that situation, if only i could figure out how to use it, is this.  SZ 51 can only be accessed from the sea of japan by 1 SZ.  Is there a way for the US to buy subs only and use a DD block to prevent the cheap air strike from Japan?  With a UK bomber or two in range you also force Japan to block with more than 1 DD if you have the offensive advantage.

    But subs are best for Japan I believe, as the US must come to you at some point in the pacific, and you will get to strike the US before they strike you if desired and a small group of subs can make that difficult.  It also adds a lot of punch to your defensive starting fleet.  Just try to get a G bomber over there to can opener for ya!



  • Thanks for your strategies this far… I found this one quite intriguing…

    @DarthMaximus:

    I’ll make a case for subs.

    They can cause mismatch problems and are a nightmare for OOLs.
    You can actually force an opponent to lose higher priced naval units just to keep a DD around for the 2nd or 3 rd of combat b/c as an attacker you can see your opponents OOL first and if they lose all their DDs thinking you’ll sack your subs, maybe you lose your DDs and a ftr just so you can have 2-3 subs now take a free shot at the ACs/CAs/Damaged BBs.

    Also you may need up to 1 dd for every sub b/c what the subs can do is fan out and occupy multiple sea zones.  Now the other side is forced to trade an 8 ipc unit for a 6.  If ignored the subs can make a strike on the main naval force with air support, again potentially causing OOL issues if the defending navy only has 1 DD.

    I’ve seen Germany/Italy/Japan/US all use subs effectively.  UK to a lesser extent if they just want 1-2 cheap fodder units to kill the Ita navy with air support usually in rd 3 (rd 1 place 1-3 subs in sz 8, rd 2 move to sz 13, rd 3 Air + subs sink Ita fleet and conserve the ftrs/boms).

    That’s a really good idea to catch the player off guard who has stacked a/c and planes.  BTW  What is an OOL issue?

    Thanks


  • Moderator

    OOL = Order of Loss.

    Typically people lose the cheap units first and on land this is easy, Inf, then Rt, then Arm, then Ftrs but in naval battles your order of loss will depend much more on what is used to attack and how many rds of combat you anticipate the battle to go.  For example if a group of 6 Subs attack 2 Destroyers, a Cruiser, and a loaded Carrier, and the subs get 2 hits the defender may have to choose to lose a destroy and the cruiser b/c if the attacker survived the counter and the defender lost the 2 destroyers instead then the surviving subs would get a free shot at the cruiser and AC and perhaps sink the whole fleet.  So the attacker can go into the battle with the idea of strafing or just seeing how the battle goes and if the get 2-3 hits the defender has some real tough choices (which have to be made before the defender even rolls their dice).



  • I have employed a sub strategy successfully multiple times. This has been done primarily as the USA against Japan. Japan’s significant air force is useless against them unless they have destroyers. The key is that you need a lot of them. Don’t buy one or two. Buy a stack of 8. Then another stack of 8. Then another. That 1-2-3 punch is difficult to deal with and puts Japan in fits. Sprinkle in one or two destroyers (purely as blockers in key situations) and one or two transports (on the backside of the front lines) to pick off islands and you’re set. You can keep them in a stack if they are out of range of a destroyer (hint: use a blocker) or you can spread them all over the pacific right before a key attack. Japan will only be able to attack as many spaces as he/she has destroyers. Even if they have a lot, they’re splitting up their navy, and you’ve got a big 2-3 punch to deliver.

    I’m not saying it is guaranteed to work, but I have found it to be very effective. I can recall three times that I have gotten to the point (relatively quickly) where Japan no longer has any ships and there is a stack of USA subs just offshore to prevent the building of any. Game over. The people I play always sigh and grumble when I do it, which to me, is the hallmark of an effective strategy. If anything Japan is constantly buying destroyers and expensive capital ships.



  • @TexCapPrezJimmy:

    I can recall three times that I have gotten to the point (relatively quickly) where Japan no longer has any ships and there is a stack of USA subs just offshore to prevent the building of any. Game over.

    Subs don’t prevent building in a sea zone. It was true in Classic, but no more since Revised

    Think that, it that were as you say, it would be a (another) game bug, because it would be no way of killing the subs or building something able of killing them. You could end in a situation were no winner would be possible: if axis secure all Eurasia and Africa but allies fill the shores with subs after killing all axis navies -> axis cannot exit from the land mass, so they cannot take 15 VCs but allies cannot make a serious foothold because axis would have economic advantage! Japan could even build ICs on their remaining islands just to be sure of never losing them (fill them with inf)

    A weird puzzle  😄



  • @Funcioneta:

    @TexCapPrezJimmy:

    I can recall three times that I have gotten to the point (relatively quickly) where Japan no longer has any ships and there is a stack of USA subs just offshore to prevent the building of any. Game over.

    Subs don’t prevent building in a sea zone. It was true in Classic, but no more since Revised

    I’m sorry, the stack of subs isn’t in the Japan sea zone, it is within two spaces of the seazone and has enough subs to take out a one or two turn ship build. That is to say, if Japan chooses to build all ships and puts them in the water, the USA sub stack can attack and knock them out before they have a chance to do anything.



  • Well, that’s different. Then Japan could buy dds from FIC or India ICs. Ok, I saw the point, the idea is good  🙂



  • I agree with Texcap as I have used subs in a similar manner multple times. Not only effective for US but Japan can do the same to the US by building their sub fleet to add to the starting ships and moving in so as to be two sea squares away from Western US sea square. This forces US to concentrate on the Pacific and eliviates Germany from dealing with three on one tactics. Japan should concentrate on the land battle but should never neglect the sea as ultimately it will be their downfall if they do not protect their sea spaces. I have won with both US and Japan by forcing the envelope with subs. Germany can buy subs but must insure that it is not a waste of time and money, it will force UK to build Destroyers and Germany can counter with subs and planes before UK can use their destroyers staying one step ahead; but only if Russia is contained and losing ground. If Germnay manages to gain control of the Atlantic they will most likely win. A good trick is for Germany to purchase an IC on France and build transports and subs in the Med after Italy has moved its fleet to sea square south of France to protect transports, that way Germany can assist Italy and vise versa. This is for the AA50 game on course. This way Germany can defend against allied naval wanting access to the Med and can re-inforce Italy in the Middle East and hit Russia and India from there. Also this will help Italy secure its bonus money. Once the combined fleet is large enough you can move it into the Altantic adjacent to France, so it can reach UK and so you can add new untis to it and stay ahead of the Allies, thus rulling the Atlantic. Remember subs are a compliment to the rest of your naval force and are the cheap units you want to protect your expensive investments. You do not feel bad “trading pieces” with an opponent who is loosing more expensive pieces in return.  🙂


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