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Some thoughts about naval warfare in the WW1 szenarios

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Hi there,

at the moment I am playing a pbem (Call to arms, Breakthrough, latest patch) against Xwormwood. In this pbem (because of some good moves by my opponent which the AI does not know) but even in some games against the AI, I noticed some points I am not totally happy with and some ideas to (maybe) improve naval warfare:

1. Shelling of units at the coast: It happens mostly at the channel coast by english or french ships on german troops. But it can happen in the baltic too by both sides or in the black sea. I think the effect of such bombardments is to big. If you have in mind, that a corps represents (historical) about 50.000 people, the loss of one point strongness represents losses about 5.000 peole. On the other hand a battle ship in the game represents one or maybe two battleships, maybe with some (but not very much) screening ships. They should never have such a firepower to cause such losses on a land unit. The ships did use heavy grenades but normally no shrappnels. And they had not the guns for high angle fire. So at least if the unit is entrenched there should be normally no losses. In the game I estimate, that every second shot on one of my units was succesfull.

Another question: Shouldn't combat units be able to fire back. They had some artillery too and at least on destroyers they could have made some damage...

2. Shelling of towns/Cities/Supply lines: The same for fire on cities/towns. Of course it did some damage in history. But did it really cause serious and longer lasting (one turn is at least one week, up to several weeks) problems for production and suppy like it can in the game?

In the case of bombarding scutari (near Istanbul) by the russian black sea fleet just one hit can cut the possibility to operate troops from or to the european part of the ottoman empire and all cities behind Scutari (especially the ones in the near east) are no longer at supply 6 (or 8 or what they are) but at supply five. Is this intended as an realistic effect of one or two ships?

3. Shelling of ports: I don't understand, why just submarines can directly hit Ships in ports, while surface vessels first have to shoot the port to zero and have just a random chance to hit a ship in the port. A port has no wall around it which has to be shot down first. On the other hand, why can Ships in the harbour not fire back, but just the harbour itself. My idea would be to have a double fire back (port batteries and the ship inside) but a direct attack at the ship in the port too.

Another idea: A ship sunked in a port should be able to be buyed back in shorter time to less costs (like land units destroyed in good supply). Many of these ships sunked near by or in a port could at least theoretically be lifted and repaired or at least some parts (like the main guns) could be used otherwise.

4. Suprise contacts in ports: There is one possibility to direct attack a ship in the port: If you move a unit at the port without scouting the port before and then have a surprise contact with the unit inside. If you are clever (some would say it's an expoit, but the rules are in this way) you cause intentionally a "surprise" Contact to direct hit a ship in the port. This makes especially sense, if you outnumber the enemy in this area and you know (and sometimes you do) that there is e very battered ship in the port which you can possibly sink (the situation in the adriatic is mostly like this). If the rule is, that a ship cannot direct fire on an enemy ship in port (like discussed in Nr. 3) than it shouldn't be possible by a surprise contact too. (you could explain it historical: A ship in the port would not be able to immediatly fire or pursue an enemy ship).

5. Minefields and coast batteries: Maybe this point would be a possibility to solve some of the problems above. I strongly miss Minefields and coast batteries in the game. I know from reading in some AArs that at least in assault on communism these features are implemented already (even though if i not know how they exactly work). Especially minefields had a great influence on the naval war in the first world war. The whole baltic was a very dangerous sea because of german and russian minefileds. Every great naval operation had the risk to loose ships by mines. The same in the Channel, some parts of the north sea, the adriatic and especially the Turkish coasts (where the entente lost so many battle ships and cruisers by mines at Gallipoli, that these ships where not longer moved in these areas to support the landing troops).

A direct attack by the british grand fleet on the german Hochseeflotte (or vice versa) near of their ports is in the game not often played but a possibility. Historical it would have been almost a selfmurder because of the minefileds.

Therefore Minefileds should be implementend in the game as soon as possible. I can imagine for example the following: Maybe in the beginning of the game there are minefields of each nation (especially nearby the ports). Every Enemy unit that moves through these fields is automatically stopped (like a surprise contact). There could be a random risk to loose some steps while being in the minefields (similar to the "bad-weather-effect" but harder). Even the own fleet can move only slower through these field (maybe movement costs of 3 or 4 action points). After one time discovered an enemy minefield the enemy can move through too but with the risk of losts (see above) and high movement costs. Wether there should be a possibility to create new fields (by event or by units like the engineers on land, maybe destroyers and cruisers could make it) or to clear minefields i don't know.

Even coast batteries should be implemented. They were a possibility to prevent the enemy from shelling shores/Cities. Of course there were some surprise attacks but heavy guarded points where risky to attack. At the moment maybe the ability of ports and towns/cities to shoot back when attacked is kind of an implementation of coast guns. But maybe it should be possible to buy extra batteries as units (maybe moveable maybe not) or get some by event. Another (or an additional) possibility would be to give coastal cities/towns and ports the ability for active fire at adjacent enemy ships. The damage they can cause should'nt be too big, but the enemy should have a significant risk for parking ships over weeks in sight of enemy coasts.

6. Naval Battles: In the game Naval battles are almost always decided by the pure number of Ships. The worth of a battle line (which was conditio sine qua non for every major naval battle in this time) is not modelled. Maybe you could make it with a combat bonus for ships in line (which means at least two adjacent own ships). In this way good movement and operations could be rewarded instead of an exchangig of units as long as there are no ships on one side...

7. Spotting range: Maybe you could raise it up to two tiles. I don't know the scale of the map in the great campaigns but dover - calais are two tiles (and about 40 Kilometers). This is a range enemy ships could spot each other (at least the smoke line). Maybe (but its a bit complicated) to make it depending from the weather...

8. Submarines:: Are at the moment discussed in the italy before war entry thread

Phhhh... This became much longer I thougt before...

I#m interested in what you think about it...


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1 & 2) I agree completely. It is annoying (if you have to watch it during the turn replay). It is ahistorical. But you do it because it is free. And it is not dangerous to do it. If every shot would cost money (imagine a model like the second strength value for carrier strikes), than you would think twice about when and where to fire with your battleships. If enemy controlled level 5+ ports would cause damages to adjacent enemy naval units, you would think twice before you would end your turn next to such a naval port.

If there would be a coastal gun tech (like there is an anti-air tech for cities, towns and ressources) firing at passing enemy naval units, than you would thnk twice before passing these tiles.

I can imagine a scenario where a battlefleet destroys enemy units and supply lines. If it has enough ammo, and enought time to shoot. But usually there was a response from torpedo / PT boats, from mines, from coastal guns.

At least near major countries ports.

3) There is no wall, no, but there are minefields. For my understanding this effect represents the danger around enemy controlled ports. Subs have a chance to slip through, that is why they don't suffer like surface fleets.

4) I guess what we need is a "silent" option for all naval units. If you DON'T want to get a surprise attack (damaged or weak naval unit), than it should be possible to avoid this. Btw: when i stumbled into your surprise attacks, than i never wanted these attacks, it wasn't my evil masterplan. :)

5) In the Franco-Prussian war campaign Bill added some auto-fortress attacks. I would love to see those in a 1914 campaign, just to get the feeling if this would help the gameplay or not.

6) Probably too hard to calculate and program, abstract as SC is. Nevertheless a good idea.

7) That is what recon planes are for, or airships. I think that two tiles woudl be too far, as this would affect land units two in a way, where you shouldn't able to watch what lies behind the enemy trench lines. On the other hand i would like to see some of the rather "dead" techs enhanced. So i would be in favor if you would get some bonus sight for your harbors if you would start to research infrastructure, or even better: certain combination of techs (if you have instratructure level 3 AND intelligence level 1 AND long range level 1 AND ..., than your ports will gain the abiltity to look two tiles into the sea (but never into land).

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Hi Xwormwood,

thanks for your comment.

ad. 1 - 2: Good Ideas, especially your thoughts about reactions of an so attacked force. PT-boats were not in my mind, but of course they played a role in coastal defense too. They are to small to be represented as units but in the way of an automatic (maybe random based) penalty for driving past or holding at an enemy coastal tile is a good idea. Something like I had in mind for implementation of minefields (and it could represent both at the same time). I like even the idea of something like costs for the ammunition of battleships.

ad 3.) I had this in mind too, but mines were very dangerous for submarines too. Many of them got lost because of running on mines. For Submarines there were some other instruments of port defense like underwater nets and patrolling destroyers/torpedo-boats which made it very difficult to past trough and cause a hit on ships in the harbour. Following wikipedia there were two german attempts to get into scapa flow in WW1, one time succesfull (but no sunked ship). So I don't know, if the difference the game makes between surface vessels and submarines in attacking ships in ports is historical.

ad 4.) Good idea (btw. it would be a good idea for land units too, sometimes I don't want to make a surprise attack).

[To our game: Really not? It seemd like ;) ]

ad 5.) Yeah, something like that I had in mind

ad 6.) Probably you're right

ad 7.) You wouldn't have a problem with ships spotting land units two tiles away behind the enemy lines. You could leave the land spotting for ships at one and put only the naval spotting up to two (it would make sense because ships have no scouts like land units have and soldiers are over 30 km not as good to see, as Ships are on the plane sea).

Of course you have airships and seaplane carriers to scout, but especially the seaplane carriers are very limited in their abilities (one flight over a distance of three (?) tiles in the beginning). Maybe they would be more valuable, if they could do two flights (remember the duration of a turn).

I am thinking, that the concept of surprise contacts (and they could maybe minimized with a slightly higher spotting range) is on sea (maybe with the exception of submarines) not fitting. You could see your enemy coming over 20 - 30 Km at least and prepare for battle (or try to avoid it if you are weaker). If there was a surprising contact (maybe at night or in fog) both sides should have been surprised with no advantage for one side...

What I like is your idea making the normally not used techs more important by giving them new effects and your idea of combination of techs.

Infrastructure in combination with heavy artillery could for example even give a possibility to upgrade the combat values of ports (and towns/Cities) against naval attacks (see above).


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I just wanted to chime in with my view about this. I have really enjoyed every scenario I have played in this game so far EXCEPT for the naval battle one. That one I found as dull as ditchwater - highly unrealistic, I think I sank every one of the German ships and only had about four ships of my own left at the end; there are no tactics to speak of just massed firing and retaining line of sight; no sense of a real naval engagement whatsoever really.

This game works well for land battles, but the sea battles are terrible! Paradox does them much better.

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I just wanted to add for point 1/2 that, if you play the game a lot you will find that shelling units is actually extremely unefficient and probably something you want to refrain from unless you plan to start an offensive at that area.(You will give the unit you are bombing more experience then you are doing damage, and experience is very powerful)

If you shell towns and ports too much your ships will quickly start taking noteable amount of damage, and ships are really freaking expansive, i think it is balanced.

Keep in mind, when your ship is attacking a corps, it is not just some day worth of shelling, technically this equal to a week(or whatever the time-frame is) worth of supporting fire.

Generally, I dont think point 1 or 2 (or 3 for that matter) should be changed as they serve the gameplay well. making ships useless against ground land targets would mean that there be no reason to even invest in your fleet.(and making ships be able to easily destroy other ships in ports would make AH/Germany get fleet rushed every single game)

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Hi Sapare,

- I'm not shure, if shelling of units is as inefficient as you say. Of course the shelled unit gains experience, but it will loose some when taking losses too. When taking looses there are mpp-Costs to "repair" the unit (somewhat around 15 (?) mpp for one step of a corpse. I don't have to tell you, that this means around 10 % of for example austrian or maybe france [in the beginning!] budget, For turkey even more). The next effect are losses in readiness and morale for the shelled unit. If The attacker combines this with a land based attack on the unit it will looses some more steps, which means, that the gained experience will be lost immediately.

And to have it in mind: The attacking ships take no risk with it, the corpses (and other units) can't strike back. And as a bonus: Even the attacking ships gaines experience and to use your words experience is very powerful.

- Shelling Towns, of course you can take some damage but maybe not enough? Spoken for this point and the point above: Maybe it's a question of luck and in some games you are lucky and in some you are unlucky. In my actual pbem against xwormwood and many games against the AI I had the feeling, that about every second shot on a unit is succesfull and for shelling towns its similar. I have the feeling too, that a ship shelling a town makes more often damage, than the town on the ship. And where is the sense of beeing able to shoot back but not be able to attack on yourself (as twons only have defensive fire).?

- You are right when you say, the attack of a ships means a week (or in aother turns even more) of shelling a unit. But then i have to ask back, When did it ever happen, that ships could shell shores or towns over weeks without a serious reaction of the attacked nation (as xwormwood wrote above)? Could it be made? Didn't the attacking ship need some refreshing of ammunition and other supplies (No ship had shells for more than maybe two serious battle days)? Didn't every battle ship and cruiser call of a battle (and of course a coast shelling two) when there was just the suspicion of an enemy submarine nearby? Did an attacked land unit stand still for a week until the shelling was over? Couldn't they dig some trenches or hide in woods, behind hills a.s.o.? And what about the attrition of the guns of a ship which does fire over weeks (they had a durability of some 1000 Shots).

- I don't see Ships as totally useless whe changing something. You still can make some attacks on units/Towns but with a significant risk on your side (like in reality). The british fleet still has the worth of making the blockade against Germany (like in reality) and the German fleet still is a (small but significant) risk for the blockading british fleet and can maybe be used for some operation in the baltic sea (like in reality). And to be honest: The fleets were in history indeed not useless (see points above) but the influence of fleets on the warfare were by far less, than it was estimated before the beginning of the war. The greatest and most important influence was the british blockade. Major Battles on sea and some coast shelling took place but with nearly no operational effect.

- And ships wouldn't easily be destroyed in ports in my dreamed gameplay-Changes. Xwormwood wrote it: there would be real minefields, coastal guns, pt-boats implemented which would cause heavy damages on the attacker too. He will think twice wether to take the risk or not.

- You often argument, that there should be no change in the gameplay because it works well. In the "italy before war entry thread" maybe you are right with this, because the land war is indeed very balanced and the points of criticism I had there are not worth the risks of chnaging the gameplay. I think for the naval system you can't say the same. I Don't wanna use the words of Nats but let me say the naval system is far away from beeing perfect (my opinion).

[but before someone could say I should play another game when I#m not satisfied with thisone: I like this game very much. Especially for his very good implementation of historic courses in many sections. It is the best one I know. But that doesn't mean, that you can't make it even better:)]


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But before someone could say I should play another game when I#m not satisfied with thisone: I like this game very much. Especially for his very good implementation of historic courses in many sections. It is the best one I know. But that doesn't mean, that you can't make it even better:)]


Agreed, and I'd be very surprised (and disappointed) if anyone here were to say that. SC has improved a lot over the last ten years, and will undoubtedly keep improving in the future too. It is discussions like this that lead to the improvements, so please continue. :)


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