Jump to content

SC3 Naval Realism Improvements


Recommended Posts

The naval aspects of SC GC provide an entertaining game but are probably the weakest in terms of the way they match the reality of WW2. This post contains 3 recommendations as to how they might be improved in SC 3. Actually the third recommendation can already be implemented by scenario designers in the current game so it is really a proposal for it to be implemented in the SC 3 standard scenarios. The main problem with the current naval system is that conflict occurs too frequently and it is often too drastic in its outcome and all three recommendations address different elements of that.

The first recommendation is that naval units (and possibly aircraft) have an additional attribute which would be a speed rating in knots. When a naval conflict situation occurs i.e. opposing vessels are adjacent to each other then the defending unit if it is weaker (measured by comparing values for naval warfare x strength suitably adjusted for experience etc) would be given a dice roll to see if it can evade the conflict. I should note that both the unit surprised whilst moving and the unit that surprised it would be treated in this context as defending units. There would always be a minimum chance of evasion of 20% this is to allow for it being night time, foggy or their just missing each other within the 10,000 or so square miles of an SC GC square. Thereafter for every speed advantage of 1 knot the weaker unit would have 10 more percentage points to add to the possibility of evasion up to a maximum difference of 6 knots. Thus the maximum likelihood of evasion would be limited to 80%. This is to allow slower units to achieve a surprise attack on a faster but weaker unit again in conditions such as a night time engagement. A classic example of this was when slower British BBs surprised faster Italian CAs at the Battle of Cape Matapan. If this recommendation is accepted then the more normal situation of weaker Italian TFs withdrawing and evading conflict with stronger RN ones could occur in the game, similarly defending DDs would typically have a good chance of running away from BBs. I should note that some scenario designers already give naval units a damage evasion factor, however, this is not the same thing because conflict is not actually avoided and in effect the evading unit gets a free hit on its adversary.

There are some additional possibilities if this idea of speed attributes is adopted. First, surprise encounters, where evasion is achieved, might be treated as if they had not happened and the travelling unit could pass on without the players necessarily being aware of the encounter. Second the speed differential between surface vessels and submarines would give surface vessels a good opportunity to evade submarines which of course they enjoyed in WW2. Third if the concept of speed also applied to aircraft then ships would have some possibility (20%) to evade air attack which again could be thought of as night time evasion or just the aircraft not finding the ship. If speed were an aircraft characteristic then perhaps jet aircraft would have that as their advantage and ME 262s might avoid interception by escorting Allied fighters whilst attacking Allied bombers.

I should note that any damage to a craft should have a proportionate but then randomised effect on her speed.

The final feature of this speed proposal is that any ship in a port should not gain any evasion benefit against submarine, aircraft or surface attack. A significant number of the capital ships that were damaged or destroyed in WW2 were in port when attacked. However, I would recommend that any ships sunk whilst in port should be given an opportunity to be rebuilt at a relatively low cost and a delay of, say, 6 months. Italian BBs at Taranto and US ones at Pearl were refloated and repaired so there is a clear historic precedent for this.

The second proposal is in recognition that it was extremely rare in WW2 for CVs and troop transports to be engaged by surface units. The speed proposal above goes some way to address that as troop transports were typically high speed liners and CVs usually also had high top speeds, but it does not go quite far enough. I would like therefore to suggest the concept of an escort for such valuable units. It seems to me that the CA unit does not have all that well defined a role and being an escort to CVs or troop transports would be an ideal additional role for a CA unit. My suggestion is that whenever a friendly CA is adjacent to a CV or a troop transport (including an amphibious assault unit) that is being attacked by a surface naval unit then the CA automatically switches places with the attacked vessel and becomes the defending unit. Given the relatively high speed of CAs it would have a reasonable opportunity to avoid the conflict given proposal one, but, if it has to fight, it is likely to be a less valuable unit than that which it is protecting. I would allow the CA unit to continue to interpose itself for any number of attacks but it would lose this ability if its own strength fell below, say, 8 or possibly 7. This would help to address the situation that the swap of a CA with a CV might possibly put the CV into worse danger if the CA was already itself alongside enemy units.

This recommended change addresses the current somewhat improbable situation where, once a CV is spotted, enemy units can travel to attack it avoiding any spotted nearby units friendly to the CV whilst doing so. These enemy units may even have approached over long distances thus heightening the unreality of the situation.

If the proposal is adopted it does not add significant complexity for the game player as the swap would be automatic. However, it could offer interesting considerations as to possible sequences for an attack if, for example, one CA unit was trying to escort two friendly units that were not themselves contiguous. The sequence the attacker adopted might cause the CA to be swapped out of supporting range of one of the two friendly units. The defending player would need to remember to keep all 3 units adjacent to each other although of course a damaging attack on the CA could destroy its ability to escort.

My final proposal is to address the problem of SS and DD units having to represent very large numbers of real ships which are effectively all hazarded in a single engagement. As the Germans built well over 1,000 U Boats a typical SS unit might conceptually represent 40 or 50 actual U boats in any realistic historic deployment and the same might be true for the DDs deployed by the Allies. It certainly seems unrealistic for such large numbers of actual vessels to be potentially lost in any single action or month of elapsed time. However if we create more units, it would desperately clutter the map and make the game more tedious to play. My solution is to treat DD and SS units built and sent to a theatre as representing a number, let us assume 40, of craft now available there rather than the number on patrol at any one time. If a unit is lost in action then the assumption would be that that only represented the 30% (i.e. 12 actual boats) that might be on patrol. This sort of number would be right for U Boats as they were typically travelling to and from their patrol areas as well being off patrol during rest, recuperation and training. I would therefore allow players owning destroyed units to rebuild them with no delay during their next or subsequent turns at 30% of the cost of a new unit. I have tried this out in my own scenarios and it works quite well and does not seem to confuse the AI. It does give the Allied player an opportunity to attempt to blockade the rebuilt units in German ports but that is not dissimilar to the Allies real efforts to interdict the Bay of Biscay.

My speed proposal above reduces but does not remove the threat of submarines to surface craft. This suggestion, which would have the effect of maintaining U Boats as a threat to the Allies throughout the war, would not therefore seriously change the current balance but would better match the reality of WW2.

A further effect of this proposal is that the DD becomes more expendable and as such an ideal reconnaissance tool which was an important real task in its WW2 fleet role.

In this post I hope I have suggested ideas that might not be too difficult for Hubert and his team to implement as some of them are not dissimilar to current facilities. Thus existing units can exchange position on player command and there must be calculations about ship visibility that may not be dissimilar to introducing an assessment of relative speeds.

I will conclude by pointing out that speed was a critical attribute for BBs in WW2 and largely determined how effective they might be. Thus the RN had to give up control of the Indian Ocean because the inadequate speed of their old R Class BBs meant that they could not operate with CVs. Similarly the US survivors of Pearl Harbor were repaired soon enough but again could not be risked until the USN was already dominant in the Pacific.

Regards

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A well thought out post Mike, some excellent suggestions and very thought provoking, I'll need to re-read this a number of times before I can comment with regards to the AI.

One thing I would also like to see is seazones in SC3 with an intraposed hex grid and the ability of naval units to have a movement capability expressed in terms of traversing seazones as well as patrol settings for an occupied seazone.

Big Al has some interesting features in BF with his auto-patrol function and of course the evasion settings which you have expanded on.

Hubert and Bill, in essence SC is a masterpiece of land combat and the air functions are also well entrenched in reality. If SC needs anything it is an expanded naval concept and if I may be so bold, my suggestion would be to concentrate on this arena for SC3 and only tweak the other features to fit the new naval model.

Obviously, Mike should become one of the SC3 beta-testers with emphasis on the naval model and in fact there are many very valuable long term SC players here that have strong suits in the other areas. Perhaps a team leader should be assigned for each model to co-ordinate the evolution of what will be the definitive strategic WW2 game that SC3 will offer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Hubert

I will be delighted if you are able to consider my proposals for a speed attribute in SC3. I will give you a specific argument in favour of it. The German raider strategy really depended upon their having a speed advantage over the much more numerous Allied warships. The Panzerschiffe design (Graf Spee etc.) was specifically aimed at producing a ship that could outrun the slow old RN BBs whilst being able with its 11” guns to outshoot the British cruisers that might have been able to catch her. The same was true on a larger scale for the twins, Scharnhorst and Gneisnau, and of course the Bismark. It did have occasional successes – Graf Spee sank a lot of merchant shipping as did Admiral Scheer and the twins. Also Bismark was within an ace of getting into the Atlantic without serious damage where she could have caused chaos to the convoy system. However, in Strategic Command, once a raider has been spotted, the old British BBs can close in and finish her off without any need for a lucky torpedo hit from carrier aircraft. The possibility of evasion through superior speed at least gives raiders some chance of success.

Regards

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wanted to post an additional consideration to Mike's CA escort suggestion that would simulate a task force configuration. If the escorting vessels were adjacent to the central TF unit(BB, CV, or trans/amphib) the action would continue in echelons where the DDs would intercept first and then the CAs.

If the attackers push through the screening vessels, sending the DDs/CAs in retreat much like land units do, then subsequent attacks could finally reach the center of the TF if the attacker possesses greater numbers/firepower.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm wondering if there should be a special provision for capital ships which sustain a surprise contact with DDs. Normally, DDs would have a tough time closing range to units like CAs and BBs to be effective with their torpedo armaments, but in the case of a night or surprise(inclement weather, smoke screen, narrow waterways) condition shouldn't they have a first shot opportunity at crippling a capital ship TF?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi SeaMonkey

In fact DDs do currently have a "first shot" opportunity, and probably too much of one, in that all ship units have an inititial opportunity to exchange fire albeit one may have attacker advantages. In a strict realism sense in most engagements DDs would have had to risk fire from the guns of larger naval units before getting within their own gun and torpedo range.

Regards

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...