From: Salinas, CA
After reading multiple player forum reports on the way the sub war doesn't favor Germany I think I've figured out why after playing the 1939 scenario as both sides in hotseat mode up to June 1941. I used to do beta testing and scenario design for Talonsoft decades ago, so I do have a good ability to evaluate a game's mechanics and spot problems rather well.
The most glaring problem is the pathetically unrealistic Fog of War system. Showing us where every enemy unit is located in which hexes and knowing whether they're ground, air or sea ruins the whole game of hide and seek that Fog of War is supposed to give us. This failed FoW system was poorly thought out, especially for the naval aspect most specifically for subs. All proper FoW systems hide some enemy units from us, hide some enemy naval movements unless detected by our units. Subs in particular should be able to move almost all of the time without detection until they reveal themselves in an attack. Surface ships shouldn't always be revealed either. The Bismarck was spotted along the Norwegian coast when it made it's fateful voyage. It moved to the port of Trondheim if I recall correctly during which time it was observed. However it disappeared when it moved out of Trondheim and the British Navy was all in a frenzy about where she'd gone until found by cruisers hunting her specifically, then they lost her a second time. In Warplan there's no sweating it out as the British player will know exactly where any German fleet unit is and can sit in port and wait until the German fleets move out. He'll see on the first move turn that German fleet moved to Trondheim and can sit and wait, no need toi send the fleet out to search. Next turn he'll see the German fleet or fleets move from Trondheim and can then accurately move his ships in response, may not know which fleet has Bismarck and which has cruisers but will know where to attack and can attack both to find the correct target. The British never have to send fleets out to search for a Bismarck that might disappear for a while. A pathetic modeling of Fog of War for the Bismarck escapade.
Back to the sub problem and FoW. As the German before France falls I move my subs out full movement to land on a trade route hex but without being able to attack. As the British I know that there's most likely a German sub there and get to move a carrier fleet out to attack with at least one shot before the sub ever gets to make a merchant shipping attack. Now do I sit my sub to hopefully use both ops points for merchant shipping attacks or do I move 1 point's worth and use the remaining 1 for MS attacks? Let the British carrier have either 2 shots if able to sit or 1 shot again if it moves? Advantage British carriers thanks to a failed FoW system!
Now I want to look at sub merchant shipping combat, as I've noticed something rather unrealistic. On the first turn of 1939 I took Oslo with the German infantry division stationed perfectly to begin. As the British I moved my sub into the prime Nordic Iron Ore trade route hex 3 hexes from Oslo. That route has a flow rate of 1. What I quickly discovered is that that pesky British sub was sinking a merchant ship every other turn in 1939, about 3/4 of the time in 1940 and close to every turn in 1941 as my British subs got better. I placed the two German escorts in the route but they did little damage, a few hits per year at best. I also noticed no difference in British hit results when in winter 25 points of Swedish Iron ore are also shipped out of Narvik making a 26 flow rate. Oslo provides 5 production points and it costs 10 PP to replace a merchant ship point so I was basically breaking even in 1939 as Germany on Norway production but still losing resource points, losing about 2 PP per turn in 1940 and about 4 in 1941. Ironically I found the British sub was giving me much better performance than the German subs were giving me.
As the Germans I have to spend an entire movement to go from a German port to a trade route hex and don't get any MS attack. Then I get attacked by British carrier air before my very first MS attack, I opted to hang tough and go for using both ops points in MS attacks. When damaged I always sent sub fleets back to port for repair so I didn't lose whole units. In 1939 the British carrier air attacks netted no damage I remember and few spotting successes. In 1940 the spotting success improved and I began to see actual damage inflicted. By 1941 the British carriers were doing rather well against German subs, too well if you ask me. This is on top of the escorts that were doing their share of damage as time wore on, little to no damage in 1939, some damage in 1940 and rather too regular damage in 1941. I did cheat some times and reran air attacks or turns to ensure no German sub fleet was actually killed before I could move it back to port for repair.
I built 1 Attack sub in 1940 and a long range sub that'll appear in August 1941 so I can see how it works and stretches the defense. So I basically used 4 German sub groups for my game. Here are the loss results for both sides through June 6, 1941:
A 1939 sub point costs 24 production points, a merchant shipping point costs 10 and escort points cost 40 PP. Now let's look at the cost in production points to each side.
I used single sub groups the whole time, didn't see the forum info about wolfpacks working better until a few days ago. As my first game I certainly could have done better as Germany and the UK as well. I didn't move my subs from German ports to French ones until the winter of 1940, found the South Atlantic route was more lucrative at 85 flow rate versus 72 for the North Atlantic. Loved seeing the Inner Seas stretch showing a combined flow rate of 157, certainly the motherlode of German sub hunting dreams. I also used Italian subs to figure out how to take Malta despite placing an interceptor fighter unit there so I had them in Raider mode around Malta blocking supply. Used some to blockade Alexandria for two turns as a test a few turns ago. I opted to not take the Vichy option to see what it was like to take France down, not a mistake I'll make again once I saw the whole French fleet show up in the British deployment screen. So as the Germans I had the Mediterranean route as well with the other British sub having fun there from about August 1940 on.
The problem I see is that the Germans lose out on wasting too much to repair damaged subs for the amount of merchant shipping and escorts sunk for them. My Axis spent 2,082 PP to the Allies 1,166 in outright ship losses. The Axis gain perhaps 70 PP in lost Allied production while the Allies gain about 30 for lost Axis production. So the results teach me that it's a losing proposition for the Germans to go gung ho on sub warfare because it's a rigged game rigged against them.
Here's one of the biggest problems I see about sub vs merchant shipping and escort combat. There's no difference given for flow rate of a trade route. Since I used single German sub groups to minimize carrier air damage I'm able to see that there was little to no difference in the results I saw for British subs and German ones, the German sub research was definitely ahead of the British. I couldn't see any difference flow rate made to attack results, didn't see any better results on average for Germans attacking the more lucrative North or South Atlantic trade routes than the British attacking the Nordic one when the flow rate was a mere 1. Granted the North Atlantic always had 10 escorts while the South Atlantic had the remainder which was less than 7. I only built a few escorts as the UK as well as merchant shipping and saw no problem, although I wasn't pressing as Germany. I did run some recent tests to see how wolfpack tactics with 3 sub groups in a fleet worked and yes they do give better results for merchant ships sunk as well as escorts.
What's so totally bogus about the British success on the Nordic route is that it's flow rate is only 1 and when that single point is consistently sunk almost every turn by 1941 then that represents 100% shipping loss almost every turn, totally bogus! When the flow rate increases dramatically in winter months there's really little difference in results with more flow rate. The sub merchant shipping warfare system is way too simplistic and gives pathetically unrealistic results. There's no way to turn off predetermined trade, only player created trade so the German player can't turn off Norway trade to stop the bleeding to that lone British sub group.
In the early real war the German subs were sinking British merchant shipping like shooting ducks in a barrel, using single sub groups. WP completely fails to model this! It wasn't until the British instituted the convoy system that the Germans counter with their successful wolfpack strategy, we don't see that at all in WP. A big problem is the 1939 scenario design, the UK has way too many escorts, should be maybe 3 at best with perhaps 1 or 2 in the deployment screen. Make the UK sweat it out and build escorts. Model the US Lend Lease of 50 destroyers, have them be represented by British convoy escorts that come on slowly since those destroyers were mothballed and had to be readied for service. Plus the British perhaps have too much merchant shipping starting in 1939, probably should reduce it some to make sure they build more early on. But it all depends on fixing the pathetically programmed sub warfare vs merchant shipping routine to account for flow rate of trade routes so German subs do much better along busier Atlantic trade routes, especially early in the war.
I made the mistake of buying the first two Strategic Command games, the corps level and the division level ones. They were pure utter garbage, totally pathetic with about the worst Artificial Ignorances I've ever seen. I totally passed on sc2 and for a while totally ignored this game because Alvaro touted he worked on sc2. However when I saw a video of combat where ground units in multiple hexes can make a single unified attack I decided to give it a try. I totally hate the arcade single ground unit at a time combat system, just will never buy that garbage ever again!
WarPlan has some good aspects, but it also has some serious problems. I like the ground system but absolutely hate the naval aspect of this game because of the phony baloney lame FoW system. I like how you've simplified aspects like research with unit types and replacements and reinforcements to make the game quicker and easier to play. However you made some bad scenario design decisions like the Yugoslavia one which you claim you copied off of World in Flames, one of my faves. In WiF that Yugo trick wasn't so easy to pull off and after watching several videos by different players all pulling the Yugo trick I could see you missed the point initially. I'm glad you bit the bullet and opted to correct that bad decision, in my game I took Yugoslavia the old fashioned way. I also noticed quite a few German invasions of Britain and can only wonder how that happens against human players, just like I wonder how human players could screw up the sub warfare routine as the Allies. Unlike WiF I see you've really dumbed down British production on the home island.
I know you're making a Pacific War version of WP, as well as a total world war one, and all I can say is unless you fix this screwed up phony baloney Fog of War system and straighten out sub vs merchant shipping and escort warfare to account for flow rate I won't waste my time or money on any of your future offerings with this game system. What a joke your current FoW system would be in the Pacific theater, no guessing where enemy fleets are. The American player can watch the Japanese carrier strike fleet head for Pearl for it's Day of Infamy and then accurately track it around the map afterwards.
Invest the time now to fix your totally poor game design decision regarding Fog of War and you'll make this game far better to play and give players more interest in seeing your future releases. So far my lesson learned is don't waste time and resources on the phony baloney sub warfare system, it's broken badly. Looks like as the Germans don't use subs in clear weather, wait for bad weather to come out and play to avoid those pesky British carriers. Your same lame excuse about building the subs as Germany to force the Allies to build the counters is so totally bogus. It's a losing production game for Germany so better to build panzers and planes. I'm also of the mind to not bother with invading Norway as Germany seeing how pathetically you've modeled sub warfare where a lone British sub in the first two years is wrecking havoc on my merchant fleet on a little trade route. Your same lame excuse about taking Norway to have closer ports to the USSR trade route is also bogus since you placed the trade route at least 13 hexes from any useful sized Norway port meaning German fleets can move but not attack in the same turn.
One thing I've noticed is that your answers are always vaguely obtuse, you rarely ever are specific or explain why. So now instead of the same lame excuses you've given that I've already blown off as bogus that you've given to other players who've complained about the German sub warfare problem but were never able to properly articulate please explain to me just how your sub warfare system works. How do you account for flow rate of trade routes in your combat system because I certainly don't see it from the results I've seen so far? What difference does sitting in a trade route hex have over having a sub move one op point and leave only one op point for MS combat? What's the sweet spot for number of sub groups in a sub fleet to achieve maximum efficiency? Are you playing the scoot and shoot game more than I've been doing? How do you keep those pesky British carriers from causing havoc starting in 1940? How do carrier air attacks work versus single sub groups versus say 3 sub group fleets? While I see that grouping subs into wolfpacks yields better combat results how do wolfpacks then affect air combat against them? Do they make them easier to find and thus damage? You say build up to 8 subs as Germany, what's your mix of Attack vs Long Range ones? I have a feeling there's quite a few players who'd love to hear the answers.