Rookie Mistakes No. 1: not providing escorts for capital ships

    • Rookie Mistakes No. 1: not providing escorts for capital ships

      In an effort to help new players, I am going to periodically post a series of topics called "Rookie Mistakes," which will discuss obvious tactical and strategic errors that are common among many new players (and some experienced ones, too). This first post will discuss the failure to provide adequate escorts for "capital ships," i.e., battleships ("BBs") and aircraft carriers ("CVs").

      Our in-game battleship units, each of which represents a single battleship ---- and for which you may select a name of your own choice at the start of the production process ---- are powerful naval units that can destroy lesser naval units like destroyer ("DD") and cruiser ("CC") squadrons, absolutely shred unescorted sea-going convoys of ground units, and provide naval gunfire support to landing forces as strong or stronger than our land-based artillery units.

      Producing BBs requires time-consuming research (competing with other vital unit types), large quantities of metal and cash (which may be in short supply early in the game), one of the longest production times of any in-game unit, and a significant amount of daily oil upkeep (250 tons). In short, BBs represent a significant investment in research, resources, production time and upkeep; they are expensive to build and to operate.

      Why, then, would any player send an expensive battleship into a situation where the battleship, and the time and resources to produce it, are very likely to be lost?

      All BBs are practically defenseless against submarines ---- in-game BBs only have 1.0 strength point against submarine units. An L6 submarine squadron has 5.5 offensive strength points; a stack of eight L6 submarine squadrons will sink a BB in an hour; a stack of four should finish a BB in two hours.

      Low-level BBs also have minimal air defense strength points (an L1 BB only has 3.6 air defense points), leaving them vulnerable to air attack, although the air defense strength points rise to 11 for an L6 BB. Low-level BBs can be easily sunk with repeated attacks by tactical bomber wings with minimal losses, and naval bombers can do the same for higher level BBs.

      Bottom line: Unescorted BBs are highly vulnerable to attacks by submarines, tactical bombers and naval bombers. If you're going to produce BBs, then provide at least 2 or 3 mid-level DD squadrons for each BB in your stack in order to provide adequate protection against submarine and air attacks, and consider adding one or more mid-level CC squadrons to strengthen the battle group's air defense. Adding CCs also stiffens the battle group's durability in battles with other naval units, as each CC squadron adds an additional 50 hit points to the stack.

      And while my examples above are primarily addressed to BBs, the same arguments apply to providing adequate escorts for CVs. A BB or CV stops being a formidable weapon of war when you fail to provide adequate escorts, and it becomes a very expensive target.

      The post was edited 5 times, last by MontanaBB ().

    • In addition to stacking as outlined by Montanna, I like to add several submarines to the stack. It gives addition offensive value if a surprise submarine squad attacks, and it keeps your sub group up with the capital ship group. You can easily split subs from the main stack when the need arises, rather than find you left those 8 or 10 hours sail behind.
    • ...And not unimportant, those escorting subs are invisible until (melee) engagement, in the past I surprised many sub players by having a BB 'unescorted' by appearance, only to find a whopping 5-8 subs along for the ride. Also, the subs do soak up damage, which can be a handy bonus in a BB vs BB firefight, as the other teams BB wont fight effectively.


      ...and thats where you usually get a message to stop using gold or that the randomizer is unfair.
    • MontanaBB wrote:

      I Patton wrote:

      hey, maybe transports should have some sort of escort, too.
      Uh, yes, they should, IP. And you know that.
      BTW, I suggest you send a destroyer or two to rescue your transport. Melee combat involving two unescorted ocean-going convoys of ground units takes a very long time to resolve.
      Yeah, I see that (0.3). Two sorties of TAC cleared the way w/ my ground units losing 20% health overnight. That's what I get for not anticipating an aborted amphib. fleet would just sit there. Normally I'd send a sub to clear the way but, hey, it's too early for ships...yeah, but not for transports. lol.
    • I Patton wrote:

      Normally I'd send a sub to clear the way but, hey, it's too early for ships...yeah, but not for transports.
      If it's Day 2/3 or later, it's not too early for your first sub squadron. If it's Day 3/4, and you're sending out ocean convoys of ground units, it's not too early for your first destroyer squadron.

      I have not lost a unit in an ocean convoy of ground units since my first game 18 months ago. But I've sure sunk a LOT of them, mostly completely unprotected by naval unit escorts. You've got to ask yourself if maybe using 3,400 gold units to work your L1 destroyer research into your schedule is not worth avoiding the complete loss of a major convoy in the latter half of the first week. I may risk a small convoy without escorts in the first 3 or 4 days, but not after that; there are too many experienced players, including myself, who start building subs relatively early.
    • MontanaBB wrote:

      I Patton wrote:

      Normally I'd send a sub to clear the way but, hey, it's too early for ships...yeah, but not for transports.
      If it's Day 2/3 or later, it's not too early for your first sub squadron. If it's Day 3/4, and you're sending out ocean convoys of ground units, it's not too early for your first destroyer squadron.
      I have not lost a unit in an ocean convoy of ground units since my first game 18 months ago. But I've sure sunk a LOT of them, mostly completely unprotected by naval unit escorts. You've got to ask yourself if maybe using 3,400 gold units to work your L1 destroyer research into your schedule is not worth avoiding the complete loss of a major convoy in the latter half of the first week. I may risk a small convoy without escorts in the first 3 or 4 days, but not after that; there are too many experienced players, including myself, who start building subs relatively early.
      You don't understand the situation and are assuming a lot.

      When the player went inactive, there was no reason to expect an obstacle sitting right outside one of his distant harbourless provinces. He built no harbours so there'd be no subs or other ships.

      I didn't send a "major convoy". I sent two units and none were lost (just banged up a bit). They were always within range of TAC protection. I should have sent a sub anyway but none were near enough to allow the operation to deploy with speed.

      So, in addition to what MontanaBB wrote, take note that one should weigh the risk of something with the reward.

      There's a difference between being prudent and being overly cautious. [I'm sure MontanaBB is just being "overly prudent".] Being overly cautious is often a symptom of fear and a lack of confidence and it will surely prevent success more often than it will prevent tragedy.
    • In support of MontanaBB's caution about sending a major invasion force without protection, I offer this which occurred in the last 6 hrs. (I'm not Caucasus. Day 10. Coincidentally, same map my transport ran into a neglected transport and had to be bailed out by TAC. No subs were lost in the posting of this casualty list.)


      The post was edited 4 times, last by I Patton: could not get graphic in spoiler, hmm. ().