(I started this reply under the Battle of the Atlantic thread but thought it deserved its own… Tell me what you think.)
Germany intelligently using its starting Kreigsmarine and Luftwaffe at game start plus building a few subs a turn should result in easy dominance of the Atlantic, at least for the first three turns. When the USA joins the fray, however, its probably going to be a losing proposition with up to 80+ IPCs being dropped on the East coast a turn. Unless you’re able to maintain a decent sized naval stack, with both German and Italian units joining together somewhere off Gibraltar, the naval situation will probably end up being what happened historically to Germany; relegation to the Baltic and eventual annihilation. So, if you want to do a navy, you might as well use it where it will do the most good: Operation Sealion. You will need the collusion of the Japanese player to maintain neutrality through turn 3 to keep the US happy, and Italy will have to pound Britain as hard as it can in Africa early on to deny Britain some NOs and IPCs.
Looking at the initial setup, it appears that a German Sealion strategy can work, but it won’t be very fun and with a smart British player you will probably just barely be achieving even odds if you want to invade England. It IS possible though, and since Britain is the only power Germany starts the game at war with, it is your best opportunity to KO a major opponent Round 3. Here’s the plan:
G1: This strategy centers around Germany’s ability to build from Western Germany into SZ 112. Build an AC and two transports; or if you’re feeling less adventurous, build an AC and a destroyer and sub (or save the 6 IPCs). Use the bomber, 4 fighters, and 3 tac bombers plus your starting subs in the Atlantic to clear the SZs around Britain. Both battleships are in range from Western Germany and your own battleship and cruiser can attack the British and French cruisers in SZ 112; with leftover air it should be cake. Use your 6 starting tanks to pound France along with as much infantry as you can spare for casualties; if you have any tac bombers leftover use them for the 4s with the tanks. If you feel a little risky, take an inf and art from Holland into Normandy for the IC and NB. I think you can use an infantry from Norway and Romania to liberate pro-Axis Finland and Bulgaria and get their IPCs, but I’m not entirely sure on that point.
Hopefully, you won’t lose more than one plane from the carnage, some subs will survive in SZs that will perform convoy raids on the UK, and your main tank stack in France will be intact. Land your fighters on the carrier to be built in SZ 112, the cruiser, battleship and transport there with the loaded carrier should prove a sufficient deterrent. Depending on how many fighters the UK actually has on England round 1 (we still don’t know, I’m thinking 3-4 for balance purposes), whether you build the 2 transports or the destroyer/sub combo in addition to the carrier will be based on how well England can respond UK1. At any rate, a fleet capable of supporting a Sealion will be ready to go. Pull your tanks and infantry into Western Germany depending on how bad the losses were in France, at least enough to fill the transports you will build. Germany should have around 60+ IPCs with the money looted from France as well.
Additional G1 strategy: This is a bit riskier, but it may in fact work better in bringing England to its knees. The AB in Western Germany allows the starting fighters and tac bombers to reach England G1. 3 fighters, 2 tacs and the bomber buzzing England could conceivably KO the RAF the first round since there’s only 1 inf as a soak at game start. This attempt would depend on how many UK fighters are present at setup (1-4?), plus you are risking a lot to AA fire. The remaining fighter and tac could attack only one battleship, too, so the UK could counterattack your fleet building in SZ 112. But this attack would be the equivalent of cutting the UK off at the knees, since without the 3-4 fighter 4s defending the island, any UK infantry stack will be at a severe disadvantage. I think it might be worth a shot.
G2: All right, this is where you make the British player cry. If the UK player was stupid and built all naval units, use your fleet, remaining subs, and airforce to tear it to shreds in SZ 110. Your 1-3 transports should be able to get through the carnage and land with enough force to take the island (should only be a few inf plus the 3-4 fighters). A few fighters and the bomber helping out the 6 land units should do the trick.
If the UK player was smart and built 8 infantry and a tank, you are now facing around 10 inf and 1 tank in addition to the 3-4 fighters the UK starts the game with. Fairly daunting task to chew through, but not impossible, especially with your French IPCs. Germany should have upper 50s, if not 60+, IPCs at start of G2. Depending on whether you have built 2 transports the first turn or the destroyer/sub combo, you still have the option of building up to 8 transports off SZ 112. However many you decide to build, make sure you have enough armor/artillery/inf to make the crossing count. Germany starts with plenty of both and two turns is more than enough time to pull everything together in Western Germany for the invasion.
G3: Right now you probably ought to be building some ground units to start defending eastern Europe from Russia on Round 4, but who cares about that! SEALION!!! I’m looking at a total of up to 9 transports (1 starting with 8+ built over 2 turns), with possibly 6-7 armor, up to 3 artillery, 9 infantry, plus your 4 fighters, 3 tac and 1 regular bomber ready to go G3 (possibly more than 8 transports if you built 2 extra transports G1). The MOST the UK player can come up with is around 20 inf, 3 tanks, and 4 planes after they build UK2 (and this is if they are PERFECT, i.e. pull back everything, and go defensive everywhere else). With AA hits, the battle should still be slightly in your favor… But I know slightly may not be good enough for you experienced AA players. The best part about this strategy is that there are options before you reach this juncture.
If UK builds all land units UK1, you can chicken out G2 (Pysche!), and instead build a moderate inf/tank/air combination with the French IPCs, and either pull the fleet back into the Baltic to use against Russia G3-4, or go kamikaze with it and try to hold as much of the Atlantic as long as you can. Using the Normandy minor IC you can even reinforce the fleet with subs or a few transports a turn to keep Britain on the defensive; but I think after UK3 taking the island just isn’t going to happen, with the US forces incoming. The land units UK built in England the first turn should help Italy out in Africa, at the very least. This pretty much sums up the German Sealion strategy.
PROS: Taking England G2-3. Even if you barely manage to take the island (like with 1 tank), you should have enough transports and ground units to permanently hold onto it the following round. Once the US enters the war, holding onto Britain will definitely be more dicey, but with 9 transports able to reinforce, plus the fleet being easily rebuilt/reinforced from England, the US should be having its hands full. Japan (in Global) should be having a field day in the Pacific, if nothing else. Italy should also be having fun in Africa. The fleet can also be used to invade Russia at Leningrad on a whim.
CONS: You’re sinking two rounds of IPCs (plus France’s) into transports!!! Very risky if Britain knows what it’s doing and builds all infantry. The US and Russian players can make hay out of your naval gamble. Russia will definitely get huge and dangerous once you pull everything back to Western Germany for the invasion. Good luck trying to defend the transport stack from the US if you lose all your fighters taking Britain!
P.S. I’m thinking that sending most of your air units to attack the 4 British fighters at game start might be the best option in crippling the UK’s chances for defending the island. Even if you lose half your air force killing them off (5? 4? hits) the UK will be hard pressed with just ground units defending. Guess we’ll see when the game goes out to the public at the end of the month.