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Peterk

Thoughts On Carriers - Too Vulnerable?

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Did a quick search on this topic and didn't come up with anything.

Still a newbie at the game, but my impressions on aircraft carriers seem to be that they're far more fragile at sea than they should be...in fact I think BBs are a way better buy in most cases.

In the actual pacific war, I think there was only one instance in which a BB ever fired shots at a carrier. By far, the most likely way to sink a carrier should be air attack, however in the game I'm finding that BB's have a very easy time closing with a lone CV unit due to their high movement allowance compared to the CVs strike range. It also shouldn't be necessary to always have to surround those guys with a very expensive screen of 6-8 other BBs and CA units to protect them. If I understand correctly, the units represent the capital ship as well as all of the surrounding support vessels (CAs and DDs).

I'm wondering if CVs should have a defense mechanism where they have a very good chance of retreating out of range of a BB (but still within airstrike range if possible) when an enemy moves adjacent or attacks, similar to the SS's diving and moving. It might lead to more pure carrier vs carrier action in the sea battles and would encourage other types of ships to stay away from them.

In real life, the CVs search planes would probably spot the BB approaching long before it got to where it could cause damage and they would get first strike and retreat if necessary.

=================================

Another little somewhat related suggestion, how about a reaction move for Tac Air / Fighters against AVs performing an Amphib Assault or Transports landing in a nearby enemy port. You have to imagine that defending against an amphibious assault would be a high priority for air units, but in game, it is very possible for the ships to sneak in before the air can hit them at sea where they are most vulnerable.

I just had a game where I did a Sealion invasion. I didn't have enough boats available to blockade the British ports completely and the US was managing to sneak units in to the port off Manchester even though I had 4 air units stationed in the south that were in range of the port and the sea between England/Ireland.

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Hello Peterk ^^ ,

- Not much experience here either but I had some Midway action on the 1942 Campaign and I think the game is more or less "on the spot". I sunk three US CVs but it was costly and I was a bit lucky.

- I found CVs were quite strong against airstrikes but once they lose most aircrafts they're just giant targets. Very vulnerable to sub or big guns.

- Also think that many CVs were lightly armored (converted cruisers or merchantships, reduced number of aircrafts) with only few escort ships.

- I see a CV unit as "HQs of the sea" providing support for other units (recon, air power...). So it's more a capital ship with logistic escort (tankers, transport with replacement aircrafts, ammo, parts, light repairing ability).

- As for WWII, there were not that much naval battles between CVs, Coral Sea (and it was a mess), Midway... I can point you to the battle of Leyte in 1944 where it was very close to be an US CVE shooting fair by the japanese BBs (all japanese CVs were used as a decoy). Think about mistakes, night, storms, mist...

-Only my opinion but with the long range tech you have aerial CV = 8+4 range against 10 for CAs (without supply penalty) so they still have the edge. Plus if a carrier run away, good luck to find it in the Pacific (think about how RN "lost" the Bismarck in the Atlantic) ! That's also why island control is important: you can perform a lot of recon if you have fighters/bombers around, the other side can't.

Oh and good luck in your game against Catacol Highlander, seems it'll be quite a challenge :) .

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- I found CVs were quite strong against airstrikes but once they lose most aircrafts they're just giant targets. Very vulnerable to sub or big guns.

But you're vulnerable to the big guns whether you have planes or not.

I send out some cheap stuff to look for your CVs, I find one and then I swarm it with my BBs. Doesn't matter if you have planes or not.

That scenario above shouldn't happen as often as it does if we're trying to stay close to what happened in the real event.

- As for WWII, there were not that much naval battles between CVs, Coral Sea (and it was a mess), Midway...

But the one's that did happen, where the two fleets did find one another and did decide to duke it out were suspenseful and momentous and usually decisive. Ever play an old game called Guadalcanal campaign by Gary Grigsby? Every time the US and Japanese carriers were in the water at the same time was an adventure and you NEVER wanted to get caught out with a BB task force during the daytime when the enemy had CVs in the area and you didn't.

I'm not getting that same sense of importance from the CV battles here.

-Only my opinion but with the long range tech you have aerial CV = 8+4 r

When it's the enemy's turn though and he has a BB 10 tiles away from you, he's out of range of your planes. If you don't have a big shield of other units around you, he can move adjacent and shoot at your CV and your guy can't react at all. This is what is ahistoric.

Maybe it's as simple as allowing planes reaction fire against ships. Land fighters can react automatically to enemy planes attacking, why shouldn't naval fighters react to enemy ships coming into range? That would be cool...seeing an enemy BB get torn to pieces by a CV task force once he approaches within 3-4 tiles of a CV.

Oh and good luck in your game against Catacol Highlander, seems it'll be quite a challenge :)

I'll get killed. But you know, this game is fun even when you get clobbered. :)

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There should be a built in pre-emptive airstrike once a BB, CA, or DD comes into range - but the carrier should be in tactical naval mode. (not unlike artillery giving support fire to a land unit being attacked by another land unit)

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When it's the enemy's turn though and he has a BB 10 tiles away from you, he's out of range of your planes. If you don't have a big shield of other units around you, he can move adjacent and shoot at your CV and your guy can't react at all. This is what is ahistoric.

That's more or less what happened at Leyte (1944) so it's not fully ahistorical, I think.

Decoys and maneuvers have a role to play but maybe it's overdone ?

I'll get killed. But you know, this game is fun even when you get clobbered. :)

Just give him a hard time and post some screens if you can ;) .

Hi aesopo ^^ ,

Shouldn't it be in "mix mode": 1 group to recon and 1 group ready to strike ?

Would be good against lone ships/units but you'll still need escort against an organized BB fleet, no ?

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That's more or less what happened at Leyte (1944) so it's not fully ahistorical, I think.

Decoys and maneuvers have a role to play but maybe it's overdone ?

The Leyte battles were a bit of an oddity. Japanese were desperate and it was an all out gamble and they were also starting to use kamikazes for the first time. Go back to 1942-43 through and carrier fleets always faced off from a distance in the more typical engagements - BB's could only move in after the losers left or to finish off the cripples.

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CVs are nerfed right now for their search range, which I find puzzling given the range of ships (w/c can uber blitz and be faster in theory than the CV's airwings).

As to escorts, typically against targets with no aircover, planes are loaded with torpedoes/bombs and not for air fighting. You need air cover from another CV for your aircover in this game.

BBs, CAs, DDs were no match for CVs and in the present form this is not the case.

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Found this while reading about Leyte Gulf earlier this evening.

Bear in mind that in GC, Okinawa and Japan are about only 2-3 tiles distant IIRC.

In April 1945, the Japanese battleship Yamato (the largest battleship in the world)—along with nine other Japanese warships—embarked from Japan on a deliberate suicide attack upon Allied forces engaged in the Battle of Okinawa. The Japanese force was attacked, stopped, and almost completely destroyed by United States carrier-borne aircraft before reaching Okinawa. Yamato and five other Japanese warships were sunk.

The battle demonstrated U.S. air supremacy in the Pacific theater by this stage in the war and the vulnerability of surface ships without air cover to aerial attack

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Hello Peterk ^^ ,

So, as I said I played a little more with carriers and it seems to me that when a surface ship attacks a carrier at close range:

- the first casulaties are taken by the aircraft aboard

- the surface ship suffers casualties

Then it seems that as long as you have aircraft strength on your carrier the ship itself will be protected somehow (unless you run straight into a sub or BB) :) .

Have you seen it ?

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I've also been paying a little bit more attention to the CV thing since I started all of this.

I did see the reaction fire happening in some of my latest turns and I'm glad about that. Didn't think it was happening at all.

I don't know though ...would be more realistic if the CV reacted at a longer range to approaching enemy BBs - that would increase the chance of multiple CVs reacting to the same enemy and/or give a lone target CV a chance to completely wipe out the attacker by attacking him more than once. Adjacent seems to be too late.

No big deal though. I realize there's no other unit behavior already in the game that behaves this way.

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I think from what I am hearing you guys are using carriers the wrong way. You need screening vessels to protect them when you strike. (DD's, Subs) Also CV's are extremely deadly when you upgrade the Naval to 3. Japan should have this by the end of 42. Your carriers should be operating in groups of 4-6 and when you strike the enemy it should be with overwhelming force. Ideally if possible make your attack near a friendly island and then place a fighter there for counter air support. 6 Carriers striking an enemy fleet can be very devastating if you do it right. I also ususally send in surface combatants as well... increase the damage.

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There are two things to keep in mind when considering carrier warfare in SC. First, this is a simplified game system that uses turn based, 'I go, then you go' methodology. Second, this is a game.

The reason I mention the first is that there ARE more realistic games on the market. War in the Pacific(WitP) employs a simultaneous move mechanic that is much more suited to carrier warfare. But WitP is MUCH more complex, and choosing to play that game results in a very different set of decisions.

I mention that this is a game because there are many calls on the game designer's to make this game more 'realistic', whatever that means to each individual. This is extremely difficult to achieve at the best of times, and inevitably involves tradeoffs and compromises. The naval game in SC is hardly all that realistic – I have commented a number of times on shortcomings that I perceive in the naval game system. However, for its level of complexity, SC is FAR AND AWAY the best strategic naval wargame available. Yes, I really did defend the naval game system in SC here!

So, to return to carriers, Abukede has already provided excellent advice in how to employ carriers effectively in SC. They really can be devastatingly effective when employed as he recommends.

Whether SC completely captures the reality of WW II naval carrier combat is a little bit moot. The discussions here have not been, to be honest, all that great when the history is discussed. For example, there were at least two different occasions when carriers came under the guns of warships during the actual war, although the two events were extremely different. The first, where HMS GLORIOUS fell to guns of SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU in June 1940, provided an epic example of ineptitude in naval air warfare. The second, at Leyte Gulf in October 1944, saw USS GAMBIER BAY sink, (ST LO also sank, but a kamikaze attack should get most of the credit for that) but most of Taffy 3 escaped when Admiral Kurita turned away. The entire battle has been analyzed many times, but overall there are so many anomalies (Halsey 'taking the bait', Kurita's withdrawal when close to inflicting even more serious damage on the small carriers, etc, etc) that it is hard to decide what coulda, shoulda, woulda happened.

There is a way to deal with the variability of naval warfare, which is to make naval results extremely variable. Apparently this is the approach taken in Brute Force, where I have seen really remarkable variations in results. Personally, I am not that enthusiastic about this approach, although arguably it is more 'realistic'. Most scenarios in SC have reasonably predictable results, although there are variations in results according to probability. (The impact of weather in the form of rough seas and precipitation is also very significant). If you like a lot of variability, you can play Brute Force or adjust the editor settings (not sure how that is done myself, but apparently it CAN be done).

If you can suspend your disbelief and use the tactics advocated by Abukede, then vanilla SC can work quite well. If you cannot suspend your disbelief, then you should consider investing the time and money needed for WitP. In short, there are options out there, but overall the naval warfare system in SC works reasonably well – for the nature of the game.

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I think that in the Pacific version of the game... with the huge Pacific... carrier warfare works the best because you enjoy freedom of movement and ability to strike anywhere...

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I guess SC carrier warfare actually best models the strategy the IJN intended to adopt before Victory Disease took over and they attempted to take Midway.

Their plan was to create a defensive ring of islands to act as a trip wire and then strike hard with a central force of carriers when the USN or RN attempted to penetrate the ring.

In SC terms this means wait and see where the US fleet appears and then strike it a devastating blow which is sort of what the USN did at Midway although they had the advantage of knowing where the IJN were going. Thus SC seems to favour the strategic naval defensive so long as your perimeter is manned by forces you do not mind losing.

One slight weakness of SC in its standard scenarios is that its scale is that a CV unit typically represents more than one real unit. This multiplies the potential for catastrophic outcomes which were always present in WW2 carrier battles. Thus the Midway scenario has 3 x IJN CV's immediately confronting 2 x USN ones as opposed to the real 4 versus 3.

My own inclination would be to have more CV units in SC scenarios to cut down the risk of losing most or all of one sides CV capability in one battle. Even in July 1942 after Midway the real IJN still had 6 x CV or CVL capable of deploying 30 or more aircraft as well as a couple of CVEs.

Regards

Mike

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Mcaryf1... I don't think that the naval game favors strategic naval defense. I actually think it favors offense and surprise... you just need to surprise your enemy which is something you should be able to do. The problem lies in time... the deeper into the game the fewer strategic options Japan has... and the greater options for the Allies meaning that the allies can pick on the edges of the empire where the IJN is not... intelligence can also play a critical roll in the game. Do not overlook it.

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Hi Abukede

The game's intelligence feature probably more closes matches a recon capability rather than the true intelligence which the Allies had via code breaking with respect to Axis intentions.

In terms of true recon the standard scenarios are possibly weaker than they should be. Each standard SC square represents very approximately 100 miles. The PBY Catalina had a range of about 2500m so the Allies should have a recce capability out to about 10 squares. The IJN's Emily and Mavis recon planes had ranges of over 4,000m and the recon planes carried on their CAs, BBs and submarines(the IJN had over 50 subs equipped with planes) let alone their CVs had ranges of around 1200m. If you are designing a scenario you have a choice as to whether to implement the real life recon capability which would give the IJN an advantage or the real life intelligence which would mean giving the Allies the advantage. Probably the most reasonable approach would be to give both sides the same but better recon than the standard scenarios actually have.

Regards

Mike

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Hi Abukede

The game's intelligence feature probably more closes matches a recon capability rather than the true intelligence which the Allies had via code breaking with respect to Axis intentions.

In terms of true recon the standard scenarios are possibly weaker than they should be. Each standard SC square represents very approximately 100 miles. The PBY Catalina had a range of about 2500m so the Allies should have a recce capability out to about 10 squares. The IJN's Emily and Mavis recon planes had ranges of over 4,000m and the recon planes carried on their CAs, BBs and submarines(the IJN had over 50 subs equipped with planes) let alone their CVs had ranges of around 1200m. If you are designing a scenario you have a choice as to whether to implement the real life recon capability which would give the IJN an advantage or the real life intelligence which would mean giving the Allies the advantage. Probably the most reasonable approach would be to give both sides the same but better recon than the standard scenarios actually have.

Regards

Mike

Well put...

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Unfortunately, in SC, recon is infallible. In real life, just because you're looking for the enemy doesn't mean you'll find him.;)

Carriers, ahhh yes! Probably the most versatile SC unit and deadly at that. My favorite move is to inch them in closely to your reconned target(LR is a must), under a weather front and hopefully get the clearing next turn, then pounce and move off to Shangri-La.:cool:

Build them early and often.:)

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I think from what I am hearing you guys are using carriers the wrong way. You need screening vessels to protect them when you strike. (DD's, Subs) Also CV's are extremely deadly when you upgrade the Naval to 3. Japan should have this by the end of 42. Your carriers should be operating in groups of 4-6 and when you strike the enemy it should be with overwhelming force. Ideally if possible make your attack near a friendly island and then place a fighter there for counter air support. 6 Carriers striking an enemy fleet can be very devastating if you do it right. I also ususally send in surface combatants as well... increase the damage.

I do think the majority of players on this thread know how to use carriers, it is the game mechanic that I am concerned that naval units can just uber blitz without carrier detection.

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I know what you mean... but you can mitigate that issue through placement of air assets, screening units (subs, units on islands) and intelligence. I generally find I have a good idea where the main enemy fleet is... The problem I usually have is one of choosing when to hit the enemy.

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