My question for an takers is how do you 1) build, 2) maintain, 3) deploy and engage a successful Navy wile keeping a moderate to high survivability ratio.
For background, read Mahan’s works on Sea Power.Â
Moving an Inf by transport is the fastest that Inf will ever move.Â That is what the ocean is for.
Fleets control access to that ocean.Â
To bring that point home, look at the board as a collection of sea areas surrounding land.Â Most folks see the board as land surrounded by sea.Â Look at the ocean as a path and the land as a barrier.Â For example, moving Inf by land from Algeria to Buryatia will take 9 turns.Â By transport, 4 turns whether you go through the Suez or the Panama Canal.Â BTW, Australia to Great Britian is 4 turns by transport also.Â This connectedness of the roads in the ocean becomes extreme in some places.Â The Baltic is adjacent to 5 land territories.Â One is a Capital, three of them are Victory Cities and together they are 24 IPC.Â Add in a one seazone move and there is a second Capital, fourth Victory City and now the total IPC is 32.Â On a board of 188 IPC, that is 1/6th of the IPC and 1/3 of the 12 Victory Cities.
To use that path you need to control it.Â Controlling the ocean means DD to fight SS.Â It means BB to fight BB. It means CV/FTRs to fight CV/FTRs and everything else.Â You will select your fleet components based on what your enemy has.Â He will select his fleet components based on whether he is trying to control the sea or deny you control.
To deny control, use submarines, in combination with bombers as the ultimate long range coastal defense system.Â The bomber can reach out 3 spaces to where a couple of subs are picketed.Â The mass of subs hang out closer in.Â Any attempt to enter the region stops at the picket subs and the counter move is bombers and subs on the attacker.Â If ths sounds familiar to the Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine tactics in the Battle of the Atlantic and the Battle of the Barents, you should not be surprised.Â It turns the battle into attrition warfare.
To gain control, you have to root out those pesky subs.Â That takes destroyers but they are expensive relative to subs.Â Bring along some fighters too.Â That means you might want a carrier to base them out of.Â You will need that carrier anyway when you get to the other side of the ocean.Â Some folks advocate using transports (empty) for fodder.Â Sure they are cheap and you will need to build them anyway but I always have to remind myself to leave a few empty 'cause a full transport, even if it is just infantry is not cheap anymore.
Better fodder is the BB.Â No other unit in the game can take damage and keep fighting.Â Add the free repairs and life is good.Â Too bad they gold plate all of the dang things.Â If you can swing the price and expect to be dealing with some signficant fleet on fleet action that BB is a sweet thing to have a long.Â It also comes in handy when you get to the other side of the ocean.
Remember that the prettiest fleet in the world, controlling every sea zone in existance is gaining absolutely 0 IPC.Â No dollar return on these things at all.
It is all about putting grunts on the beach and for that you need those transports and lots of them.Â Early in the sea control battle you were using them to absorb hits.Â Now you are protecting them with everything you have.
Of course, once those transports get to the beach you have to do that amphibioius landing.Â Here is a handy place for a Battleship.Â Those big guns are nice but lets be honest, for the price of a battleship there are cheaper ways to put hits on the beach.Â Lets bring along a CV and some fighters.Â Now that is some bang for the buck.Â Not only can the fighters participate in the amphibious assualt but later on, when you actually have established that beach head, those fighters can move off the CV and on toward the front.Â Wonderful dual use as opposed to that gold plated battleship.
Folks are putting out ratios for types of units.Â I suppose that might be useful if there are 100’s of IPCs being spent on fleets.Â The real numbers of what type of unit you buy depends much more on your objective in that sea area and the types of units your opponent has.Â Ratios that don’t match what you are facing will be wasted IPC.Â Those subs are useless if the other guy is depending on land based airpower.Â That battle ship may never fire a shot except for the one amphibious landing you do.Â Buy the units that counter your opponents navy or force him to counter you.
An example of this is the G1 2 or 3 transports in the Baltic strategy for Germany.Â This is detailed much better elsewhere but essentially, by building the Baltic fleet to 3 or 4 transports, it becomes strong enough that it is no longer easy pickings for the UK airforce.Â This means that the Baltic is now denied for Allied use and the transports can move grunts pretty quickly to Len or Nor even as they keep Berlin and EEU safe from amphib invasion.Â The best part is not the defensive characteristic.Â The best part is the implied threat.Â Four transports, a couple of subs, a DD and fighters sitting in Norway and WEU make UK really nervous.Â If this is a normal configuration for Germany in the early turns, the UK player has to keep some significant ground and air forces in GBR or risk a Sea Lion.
This leads me to the last thing a fleet is good for:Â Â To exist.Â
A fleet, just by existing, is a threat.Â
The UK Indian Ocean fleet, as long as it lives, makes Germany’s advance into Africa difficult, Japan’s advance into India cautious and threatens the IPC islands in the Pacific, just by hanging out with a couple of loaded transports in the South Compass Sea.
The German Med fleet of 1 BB and 1 Tran hanging out in the West Med, with 1 Inf and 1 Armor sitting in WEU, can land forces in the UK, Canada, Brazil, French West Africa, Anglo-Egypt, Trans-Jordan or the Caucus.Â If the Allies try to defend all of those locations, it will take 7 times the force that is sitting in that transport. Imagine two tranports, a CV and two fighters.Â The US/UK player will have no other focus and even the USSR player will be watching the Caucus coast line.
Wanna slow down the Japanese juggernaut headed for Moscow?Â Build a West Coast fleet for the US.Â Japan has to build naval units in order to counter that fleet.Â If he already has enough units, he is over built and you should not be having this problem to begin with…
As complicated as land warfare is, naval warfare is more so.Â Naval warfare is much more a rock, paper, scissors dynamic for gaining and keeping control of the ocean and that is only the first step toward using it to move grunts and win the war.
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