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Silent Service Management: Best Sub Tactics

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Silent Service Management: Best Sub Tactics - 9/7/2012 2:42:20 AM   

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OK< so the whole sub war escapes me a bit. Sure, I get hits and sinkings, but sometimes I get the feeling it's more luck than skill. Or maybe it's skill. Over time I probably net 30-50 attacks a month, but I wonder if I am driving the boats optimally on both sides. And I am looking for feedback as Allies AND as Japan.

I'd like to start a debate here on what the best way is to drive subs; specifically:

1. The best configuration for patrol zones

2. Settings: Max React Range

3. Sea Lanes: Some of the best hexes or spots to catch a fish

This pertains to both sides, so feedback is wanted.

I'll start; I generally set boats to Max React 1, and either a) stationary, with no movement (in a particularly good spot, OR when the sub is parked to monitor a particular base, or b) Patrol Zones similar to below.

Why these tight zones? Well, I figure I want to keep the boat moving, but not burn tons of fuel on station.

But this may not be the best.

What is?

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RE: Silent Service Management: Best Sub Tactics - 9/7/2012 3:29:24 AM   

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Ordinarily, I agree with your 'tight' patrol patterns and react = 1.

However, I don't like the placement of your TFs in and around the Luzon straits in your example. Why? Because a 'found boat is an ineffective boat'. Any IJ player worth his salt will have naval air searching (or, worse yet, ASW air assets searching) this area heavily.

If you're going to frequent a high traffic area, I recommend breaking contact with the search pattern for one day and then coming back in. Doing so-getting out of the search zone of naval or ASW search assets-drops your DL back to a more effective status. As a submarine, a high DL means that you're a liability more than an asset.

So, in your example: I'd take the submarine NE of Taihoku and have the southernmost aspect of that search pattern out over the text that reads "East China Sea" somewhere. Then it can re-engage with the other two search hexes on your pattern.

One more thing: Many newbs forget that "Do not retire" orders countermand "Patrol" settings resulting in...nada. Either set them to a hex and "Do not retire" or set them on patrol hexes, but not both.


(in reply to Q-Ball)
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RE: Silent Service Management: Best Sub Tactics - 9/7/2012 3:32:07 AM   

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Great topic ... thanks for starting it ...

1. Not much I can add. But, I am not sure I would keep the boats in one spot. Once the ASW TF finds you, you would be dead. I do, howerver, keep things very tight.

2. I have heard keep the max reaction to zero. If you set the PZ for your self you do not want them stray after something, it throws the PZ off then.

3. The screen shot is a must have spot. The little spot where the oil field is NE of the home islands, not in game and do not remember the name). Balk., Medan, Soerj and between Pala and Sing.

Not much to add, but thanks for starting this topic.


"War makes Heros on both sides." Hero (the movie)

Thanks !!


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RE: Silent Service Management: Best Sub Tactics - 9/7/2012 3:36:28 AM   
Dan Nichols

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One thing that will help is having Naval Search available. I use a number of my subs just behind the enemy front lines where I can have naval search help locate targets. Having react set to 1 helps them to move to intercept TFs. Using a B-24 in a Chinese city to provide naval search off the coast of China can be very effective.

(in reply to KPAX)
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RE: Silent Service Management: Best Sub Tactics - 9/7/2012 3:52:44 AM   


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I have very similar patrol patterns: tight 3-hex triangle patterns where possible, or 3 in a row in areas like Malay Straits. I try to avoid single hex patrol patterns because they tend to get an ASW TF sitting on the same hex pretty quickly. In larger deep-sea areas, where I'm not sure of exact shipping lanes, I will use a larger triangle pattern with an empty hex between each patrol hex. I put ones like this in the areas south and southwest of Japan, or off the US West Coast and PH when playing as the IJN (which I pretty much never do).

As for specific locations, you really have experience playing both sides to really learn where the shipping lanes lie. Some players have the exact hexes that ships travel from SF to PH for example (and other common auto-convoy lanes) and flood them with subs. As a predominantly Allied player, I tend to run into a lot of IJN Subs in the lane between Cape Town and Perth, the NW corner of Oz (off Exmouth), between PH and the USWestCoast, off the southern tip of India near Cochin and Trivandrum, between Karachi and the Abadan exit point. These are all well travelled by AutoConvoys and thus are active hunting grounds. With my subs, I throw a lot around Japan of course, particularly near the exits from Osaka and Tokyo, and the lanes around Hokkaido and that northernmost island they share with Russia. Early on (first 6 months), hexes north and south of Formosa are great, as is the southern and SE coast of Vietnam (Cam Rahn Bay to Saigon), and all the little chokepoints between the DEI islands as they begin to fall. Once fallen, I concentrate most of them outside of large Oil/Resource/Fuel bases in the DEI/Burma area like Palembang, Singapore, Tarakan, Balikpapan, Soerabaja, Rangoon, etc. Big forward bases usually get a few as well (Truk, Rabaul, etc)

I need to play more as Japan in order to get a good idea where their auto-convoys tend to travel.

Lastly, all the directionals I used in this post (NW, SE, etc) are map-based directions, not IRL-based compass directions.

(in reply to Q-Ball)
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RE: Silent Service Management: Best Sub Tactics - 9/7/2012 3:59:24 AM   

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Excellent advice on the clearing of the DL!

So, set your two point PZ that you like and then, depending on the orientation of the expected patrol zone of the ASW flight, move out of it and back to the two points. That can be a trick, trying to figure out where the ASW flights originate from in a busy area, but in a bit of time should be able to find that non-DL spot. I like it, I Iike it, I like it!


"War makes Heros on both sides." Hero (the movie)

Thanks !!


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RE: Silent Service Management: Best Sub Tactics - 9/7/2012 4:34:45 AM   

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I love the sub war as allies. I always select my own patrol zones react 1. In general the patrol zone are 7-15 hexes using the hex rows, often at angles. It keeps the subs from being spotted and ignored or hunted effectively. In the strategic role, operating off the home islands, I only let them take brief "peeks" close to land. The zones frequently will overlap at key points, two to five hexes from enemy ports. In the operational role, hunting for damaged war ships or screening for enemy TFs around target bases the principle is the same only modified with less overlap and more ocean coverage. The most fun I've had though is in the defensive role. Two subs in a hard to defend base under threat of bombardment set to react 1 have landed me multiple hits on Musashi and Yamato. Not enough for a kill but enough to keep my opponent honest. The time involved is ridiculous but I enjoy that part of the game. Being a noob and facing a superior tactician I was/am forced to look at maximum effect of the subs as for a year I only had one CV and 3 BBs active at any one time. JAP ASW is mostly ineffective for the first two years IMHO balancing the &^%$ US torps out. You get so many by 1944 (and I have very light sub losses) it does take alot of time to plan and implement but for me it has been worth it. Remember the short cut key for planning. Try putting an AS forward in NorPac or CenPac, Midway is ok, and base 6 subs there. Patrol a long diagonal hex row (try 12-15 hexs) 5-6 hexs off Japan with the middle near a port or exit point (OSAKA?) and make the 3rd zone 1-hex from shallow water near the base. NO LINGERING. and put 3 subs in it. send them out a day apart. Put the other three in the hex row to the SE parallel. You will get yourself some opportunities. I think I am averaging an attack (theater wide) every two days.

great topic

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RE: Silent Service Management: Best Sub Tactics - 9/7/2012 5:24:00 AM   

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Echoing points already made. Make big patrol zones to keep your subs' DL down. In particular take them away from the heat with at least one way point. React=1, yes! The most aggressive skippers available. You want to go beyond the guys with ADHD and look for the ones with Attention Deficit Hyper-Psychotic Disorder.

Although there might be certain places (or times) when you choose to overlap patrols, in general don't have subs poach on each others' territories. Ganging them up increases their chances of being detected, so only do it where/when you really figure it's worth it.

Patrol a lot of places simultaneously so the enemy can't focus those scarce ASW/escort resources.


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RE: Silent Service Management: Best Sub Tactics - 9/7/2012 9:09:38 AM   

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I tend to pace my subs (both playing Japan or playing the allies) in the most common approaching lines to enemy's major ports.
Unfortunately this only works one or maybe two times. As soon as the opponent gets aware of the sub presence, he'll dispatch strong ASW assets and you'll have to move.

Rader, for example, used his subs in a very different and effective way. He kept them in a single huge mass in a forward port. Using AVs and glen equipped sub, he tracked down the mid-ovean path of an enemy juicy convoy (usually he used them only against capital ships convoys) and then, once he was sure about the presence of a TF containing CVEs for example (slow and voulnerable) he sent ALL his subs to flood the probable path of that convoy... with this tactic he managed to sink 5 of my CVEs (damaging also 2 CVs) in a week!!!

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RE: Silent Service Management: Best Sub Tactics - 9/7/2012 9:59:32 AM   


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I always use all three waypoints with react=1 and tend to be fairly random about how big and what shapes the zones are, although there is no doubt they get bigger the further out to sea they are. I mainly do this as I don't want to micro-manage the subs every turn and prefer to let them finish their patrol on auto-pilot. When my opponents create nice little patterns it is too easy to keep that sub's DL high enough that it achieves nothing even if I can't sink it. Of course, if someone is prepared to study and change their patterns each turn based on DL I'm sure that's the best approach.... but yikes!

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RE: Silent Service Management: Best Sub Tactics - 9/7/2012 11:57:15 AM   


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I prefer small patrol zones, reaction=1, and change them entirely if/when DL starts growing. I think that deploying large wolfpacks provides generally better results than sending 1 or 2 subs to watch approaches to every port.

As Japan I prefer to use subs for interdicting sealanes in the Allied rear throughout most of 1942. I'm not good with actually finding them, but usually get some results. By late 1942 and 1943 Allies get enough transpots to make losses meaningless and their ASW goes monster, so I stop commerce raiding sooner or later and dedicate my subs to defensive missions, like scouting (not much success with that so far, though) or mass deployments in response to major Allied landings, including both sub mining of invaded hexes and normal patrols. In the best case my subs get to punish retreating cripples, and even if I'm not so lucky, such deployment gives them the best chance of taking a shot at something worth pounding they usually receive in return. Losses to Allied ASW will be heavy, but at least this way Japanese sub force won't be expended in vain or in exchange for merchants and small escorts, which Allies have far more than they will ever need anyway.


The Reluctant Admiral mod team.

Take a look at the latest released version of the Reluctant Admiral mod:

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RE: Silent Service Management: Best Sub Tactics - 9/7/2012 5:12:06 PM   

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OK, just some comments and I think you will see the weakness in your patrol zones.

I set air units on ASW patrol 70 ASW 20 Train, 10 Rest and place them in the following bases:

Naha, Takao, Laong, Pescadores, Batan Island and other words, your patrols are right in the middle of my overlapping ASW patrol zones. See where this will be going?

What I would do is this:

Use a pattern that has 6-8 hexes between waypoints in roughly a triangle shape. Put several of those in the deep blue water SW of Hong will catch a lot of the traffic headed to the DEI there and it is much harder to cover with ASW aircraft. Also, I'd put at least one sub patrolling north of where it says East China Sea (yep, in the shallow water), again in a big patrol zone, and watch it catch the heavy resource convoys coming out of Port Arthur and Shanghai, etc.

Edit: Also I would put a couple of subs set to patrol around the Home are essentially going to sacrifice those subs, but it will force your opponent to stay home and guard the front gate, tying up assets that could be used elsewhere.

< Message edited by Shark7 -- 9/7/2012 5:13:33 PM >


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RE: Silent Service Management: Best Sub Tactics - 9/7/2012 5:36:04 PM   

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As a Japanese player I can tell you the patrol zones you've set up in your screenshot wouldn't net you a single contact or sinking. As Japan, with weaker ASW, I try and force the Allied player to commit to shallow Ocean hexes as often as possible when close to the Home Islands. If you want to sink something, I'd dare you to risk the shallows. The only time those patrol zones would net you something is the first month or two of the war when I'm moving troops and supply from Takao to Luzon, after that, I'd love if you patrolled those hexes.

The closer you patrol to a base, the more likely you're to be spotted by air ASW. I'd set my patrols at least 5 hexes away from a base. That way air ASW won't pick them up and the chances of being interdicted by naval ASW is slim.

I like 3 hex patrol zones at times to conserve fuel, but when patrolling larger areas I like to use a 4x4x4 triangle. It gives you a fairly good area to patrol and with a one hex reaction you can cover a lot of Ocean without alllowing large gaps for an enemy TF to slip through. Coordinate your patrol zones to overlap and you have pretty solid coverage.

The key is DL, keep the DL down and you will get attacks in before escorts can spot you most times. I log enemy submarine sightings and the hexes they are found. This builds me an idea of their patrol zones and I reroute my TF's away from trouble. Don't get spotted and you'll strike before your enemy can adjust his routes.

Jocke, ignore everything you've read here and strike it from your memory.


Luck is the residue of design - John Milton

Don't mistake lack of talent for genius - Peter Steele (Type O Negative)

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RE: Silent Service Management: Best Sub Tactics - 9/7/2012 6:37:53 PM   
CV 2


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As a Japanese player I can tell you the patrol zones you've set up in your screenshot wouldn't net you a single contact or sinking. As Japan, with weaker ASW, I try and force the Allied player to commit to shallow Ocean hexes as often as possible

Exactly. I NEVER use a deep water hex I dont absolutely HAVE to. Get allied subs into the shallows where you can kill them.....

< Message edited by CV 2 -- 9/7/2012 6:38:24 PM >

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RE: Silent Service Management: Best Sub Tactics - 9/7/2012 7:32:52 PM   

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I have to admit, I am better with sinking Japanese subs than I am using my Allied subs. But basically all of the advice here is sound. DL is the key and if you can keep your subs in a zone of friendly air search (hint, search at night too) you will intercept more enemy ships. One tip. If you want to patrol a choke point but don't want the hassle of moving your sub every day, set two patrol points in the choke point and then one about five hexes away out of air range. You will waste a little fuel and time off station but moving away every third day will help keep the detection level down. If you want to keep the choke point blocked at all times then rotate a few different subs in and out. And never set linger to anything but 0.

My only experience has been two long campaigns in stock. Basically use your subs to sink merchants until 1/44. After that the presence of the uber E type ship found in stock will probably make you want to call in your subs and use them to support offensive operations where super Es can't get to them. The trade off is less merchants sunk but a greater chance of nailing a warship.


I am the Holy Roman Emperor and am above grammar.

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(in reply to CV 2)
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RE: Silent Service Management: Best Sub Tactics - 9/8/2012 4:28:16 PM   
Mac Linehan


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Gents -

Another excellent discussion on submarie warfare. Will follow closely; and saved to Hard Drive for future reference.

Minnow Mac


LAV-25 2147

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RE: Silent Service Management: Best Sub Tactics - 9/8/2012 4:59:18 PM   
WO Katsuki


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right now in a PBEM against DJAMES, and i'm using the IJN subs pretty aggressively

basically I have them arranged in a giant mass between

1) Hawaii and WC (all the long range ones)

2) Palmyra / Canton / Noumea

I keep them standing still to extend loiter time

my minelayers subs (the 4 KRS) are putting up surprises in australia and india, basically out of mines by now

they haven't been making too many contacts lately , though they had some big successes early in the war
maybe he isn't running many convoys?

what tactics do you allied fanboys use to avoid a japanese submarine blockade?

(in reply to Q-Ball)
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