I Love this game but I would like to see some major changes made to the Naval Combat system. At the present time it is, IMHO, too easy for the Navy of 1 nation to take control of a sea area from an opponent even when the defender has control of the skies over the sea area, it is close to a major port of the defender, and it is far from a major port of the Attacker. Historically speaking it was very difficult for an attacker to take control of a sea area in these circumstances. The British were very aggressive in the Med and the Italians much less so. Still the Italians managed to retain control of the Central Med, albeit with increasing difficulty, until the fall of Tunisia. The reason they were able to do so is because they had major naval bases in the area and the British didn't (other than Malta which was largely cut off from supply) and because they could protect their shipping with airpower. In GGWaW Land based aircraft and particularly Tac are almost useless against Hvy ships, this is not historically accurate.
Another failing with the game is that naval battles are too common and bloody. Again historically naval battles between capital ships were very rare. They happened yes, but not on the scale I commonly find in my games. Almost every game I play the Italians attack the East Med on the first turn and shortly thereafter the British attack the Italians in the Central Med. Now I know what people are going to say, "just because these big naval battles didn't occur historically doesn't mean they couldn't have, if the Italians want to sail into the East Med on the first turn they should be allowed to". I agree, but they should do so under the same conditions and disadvantages the real Italians would have faced. Moving capital ships into enemy controlled waters was always very risky and put you at a decided disadvantage particularly if the enemy has a major port nearby. The enemy would almost always spot you first which gave them an enormous tactical advantage (just ask the Japanese about Midway). The enemy, aware of your movements, could retreat to port if outnumbered, hide at sea, choose the time of attack, the angle of attack, etc. Also the sea areas in GGWaW are huge, finding the enemy was always a problem, particularly if you don't have any air assets in the area. Often, particularly in the Pacific, large fleets on both sides were looking for one another but no battle occured because they couldn't find one another. In GGWaW I believe the developers tried to address this by limiting the number of ships that engage in combat each round. However, there is nothing stopping a player from continually moving ships which did not attack in the 1st round back into the contested area.
Finally, the mechanics of the game encourage players to attack with their hvies only unless there are enemy subs in the area. Again, historically light ships were very important in a naval engagement not only to screen and protect the capital ships but also to distract and harass the enemiy's capital ships. This importance is not reflected in GGWaW.
OK, I've rambled on enough, here is what I propose to fix things (I welcome your comments):
1. Increase the starting naval attack rating of all TAC aircraft (and the World Standard) by 1. This would at least give a single tac (representing 150+ aircraft) a chance to dmg a hvy. Yes I know this would make TAC naval attack equal to a CAG, but I think this is historically accurate, especially when you consider that the Tac represents far more aircraft. The CAG would still have the better torp attack, which is more important anyway.
2. Any aircraft, except CAG and aircraft on patrol, attacking enemy ships (including transports) at a distance more than 1/2 it's speed has its Ship and Torp attack values reduced by 1 for each Movement Point over 1/2 it's speed. For example a Bomber with a speed of 4 attacking an enemy ship at a range of 3 MPs would have it's Ship and Torp attacks reduced by 1, if the range was 4 it would be reduced by 2. This is to simulate the liklihood that the aircraft would probably not have sufficent fuel to even find the enemy to attack it.
3. Change the rules determining which ships paticipate in combat for each side so that instead each ship in the contested sea area rolls 1 die, on a "1 to 3" it doesn't participate and on a "4 to 6" it does. If all the ships of one side fail to make a successful "participation" roll than no combat occurs. Modifiers to the partipation die roll would be as follows:
a) If a friendly Port is located on an island in the sea zone or an adjacent land area: +1;
b) If no friendly island or land area is located in or adjacent to the sea zone: -1;
c) If a friendly air unit survives air to air (but not necessarily sea to air) combat in the sea zone: +1;
d) For every MP in excess of 5 that a nonsub naval unit is from a sea zone adjacent to a friendly port or 3 from a sea zone containing a friendly island (which ever is less): -1.
4. The modifiers indicated above are also added to your combat die rolls and subtracted from your opponent's combat die rolls. This would be in addition to the effects of interdiction.
5. Any fleets which move into an enemy occupied sea zone which do not particiapte in the ensuing combat are still considered to have "attacked" and therefore can not move back into that (or any other) enemy occupied sea zone
6. The line dividing the Adraiatic from the Central Med would be moved further north so that the Axis port in Southern Italy (presumably Taranto) would be adjacent to the Middle Med, which would also be historically accurate.
7. There would be a special rule for Malta that it would operate as an Island only for the purposes of 3. above, rather than a port until the Axis no longer Control either Sicily or Tunisia.
1. Lets assume the Axis were to attack the WA in the East Med on the 1st turn without their subs (to keep it simple). Each of the Axis 6 ships (3 hvies and 3 lghts) would roll a 6 sided die with no modifier as they have an adjacent friendly area (Tobruk). Therefore, on average 3 Axis ships would participate in the attack. Each of the 4 WA ships would roll with a +1 modifer to it's die roll for the port at Suez. Therefore on average 2 2/3rds WA ships would participate in the battle. Each German ship would attack at -2 (-1 for the Malta interdiction and -1 for the Port at Suez), while each Allied ship would have 2 added to it's die roll. I know lots of you will say that if this rule is implemented the Axis would then just never attack the East Med, which takes away an option from them, which makes the game less fun and playable. I say not true. What it does mean is that if the Axis want to attack the East Med on even terms they will 1st have to get air superiority there, which would not be that difficult.
2. Let's assume the WA swarms into The West Med on turn 1 with the intention of attacking the Central Med on turn 2 with 2 CVs, 6 hvies and 6 lghts (a favorite tactic of mine). Let's further assume the Axis anticipate this and move an additional fighter to Southern Italy on turn 1 to join the ftr and Tac already there and than have these 3 air units fly patrol over the Central Med on turn 2. The WA player decides to not move in with his 2 CAG as they would be unlikely to survive the air to air combat with the ftrs. The 12 WA ships would have a 0 modifier to their participation die roll (not +1 due to the special Malta rule). Therefore on average 3 Hvies and 3 lghts would participate in the battle. The 6 Italian ships would have a +2 modifier to their Participation die roll (+1 for Port and +1 for the air units in the sea zone). Each side would thus likely have an approx. equal number of ships in the battlle; but the Italians would fight with a +2 die roll modifier while the WA would be at -2 and the Italians now also have a tac in the battle which might actually dmg a WA ship. The WA will still probably have more ships in the Sea zone at the end of the battle, causing the Axis ships to retreat to port, but how long they will be able to stay there is another story.
3. It's 1944 and a WA force of 3 CVs, 4 hvies and 2 lghts stationed at Wake Island attacks a Japanese force of 3 hvies and 2 lghts protected by 1 ftr in the sea zone with Bonin Island. Assume the Japanese ftr and 2 WA CAG survive the air to air and the CAG sink or damage 1 Jap hvy and 1 light. The surviving 3 Jap ships will have a Participation modifier of +1 (due to the air unit) while the WA modifier will be -1 (-1 for no adjacent land area, +1 for air units, -1 for being 6MPs from Pearl and/or 4 MPs from Wake). On average 2 Japanese ships will battle 2 WA ships with the Japs having a +2 die roll modifier and the WA a -2 modifier. Note if the WA owned the Marianas they would have a 0 particpation modifier and the die roll modifiers would be +1 and -1 respectively. This would mean those islands in the Pacific would actually have some importance.
I am not a computer programmer and have no idea if these changes can be implemented and if so at what cost. But I would appreciate your comments.
I should say that if these changes were implemented than they may necessitate further changes. For example, Scotland, as everyone knows, is very vulnerable to invasion. These changes would actually make the conquest of Scotland even easier as now the German player could use his Tac to offer more protection for his invasion fleet. As well, if the Germans invade Scotland from the Scotish Sea their fleet there would receive the +1 modifier for the port, not to mention also probably being +1 for having air units there. My own feeling is that Scotland should be rough terain and the WA ftrs should start equal to the German (with the aid of radar they were even superior at least when defending). To compensate the German Tac should start with a 6 land attack value. I have other ideas about allowing defending fleets to automatically intercept invading forces. I think the fact the WA, or the Italians or Japanese for that matter, have to wait until their own turn to attack an invading force, thus allowing massive troop build up, is another flaw with the game; but I'll save that for another post. I realize most of these changes probably can not be made with WaW as it is now, but I hope they will be considered for WaW2 (assuming there will be a WaW2).