A while ago I said I was gonna get off my rear and post about my theories on Naval combat... and as I'm stuck at work for 2 more unsupervised hours, now seems like a good time. And I may as well make it a megathread... I don't think there are enough Semper Fi threads yet... .
We'll see if my Grand Dissertation lasts more than 2 hours on the front page .
The meat of this post is the Navy, but I'm going to save that for the bottom part. Just FYI... look for the "blue"
I have looked at the official press release, and a lot of the followup comments in the respective thread (and have taken into account the fact that my own question was read but unanswered).
Most of the changes I think are great... a couple worry me (the new "historical" events make it sound like this game might be getting too forced-historical for my tastes; but as I have no details, I am willing to give it the benefit of the doubt for now.)
However, there are 2 aspects of the game that I found *decreased* in quality from 1.3 to 1.4, one of which is absolutely critical to me; and the lack of intended change documentation on these scares me to the point of questioning my desire to purchase.
A number of these types of posts/threads pop up daily, but very few of them offer any real suggestions, just ultimatums like "make it better or I quit", which is about as useless as a screen door on a 1940-teched U-Boat. Not all posts/threads mind you, but... the noise/signal ratio is high.
An absurd, but graphic, analogy if you will: HOI3 is a cup of coffee. The 1.3->1.4 patch made it such that I can only drink this coffee by pouring it on my head and catching it as it drips down.
Putting it on my head is certainly easy; I have full arm control, can benchpress myself in weight, the cup is ergonomically conformed, and it has a convenient spout on one side of the cup. The new expansion makes it sound like this would be a vast improvement to the flavor of the coffee, customizing it's temperature to my exact preference, and maybe even giving me an Axe Hair Gel equivalent improvement with the Ladies.
But I still have to dump it on my head.
The change to 1.4 edited supply in a way I don't fully understand, but that I can observe: for one, amphibious landings have odd in/out supply issues, and for another, the amount of forces I can actually supply over any given infrastructure has gone... weird. (a level 10 port having trouble supplying 8 3xINF 1xART divisions, each no more than 5 "squares" away, and all infra being level 6 or higher, is... iffy, to say the least).
The Landing thing I assume is a bug. Units going "out of supply" the day after landing, IF IT WERE TO represent the logistical efforts of trying to supply tens of thousands of men from a beachhead, sounds reasonable; however, since this changed was not documented, AND the problem PERSISTS as you push inward (every single time you take a province). I assume the expansion will fix this, OR make it official, but... it's a mark no less.
As for the supply, it seems that the "recalculation" of supply routes is as bad as it's always been, just the effect has been magnified in the 1.4 patch. Best as I can tell, the problem is this:
If a division moves 1 space farther from a supply hub, then supplies take 1 more day to reach it, which is fine. Also, if a division is "freshly" attached to a supply hub, it takes a few (or many) days for it to receive supply. Which is fine.
However, if a divisions has just started receiving supply the first 2 days worth of it's 30 day allotment has made it, and the rest is in the various provinces leading back to the hub, AND you move that division 1 province PERPENDICULAR to it's previous supply path, then all supplies that had "almost" made it get sent BACK to the hub, and a FRESH set are dispatched, leading to a massive delay for the unit, while it's supplies are often less than 10KM away from it.
I would surmise that having the supply "route" twin-calculated for units; one as a direct-path to the hub, and one as a last-30-day-incremented path, would allow the division to get it's "already in transit" supplies, while establishing a new route for it's new location. But as I have no access to source code, I cannot, obviously, say this for certain.
The new "draw from docks" in the announcement is good, mind you... it moves the coffee from my head to at least my eyebrows. If you are taking my advice and making a sea-route count as "1" supply-square to the hub (resulting in some units actually tracing their main supply through a port, even if land connected), is a DEFINITE plus.
But when a unit in deep Siberia steps off the Trans-Siberian Railroad in a bad spot, and all the supplies that it ALMOST had are SENT BACK TO MOSCOW, that is a major loss of Acceptable-break-From-Physical-Reality for me.
But enough about supplies... on to:
(Those of you what are familiar with my Naval poll/post from February might recognize some of this )
If I were to list my personal favorite Grand Strategy games, PTO1 and 2 are going to probably top the list. Don't get me wrong, Land-Theater game I enjoyed too, and in HOI3, the "decent" land and "ho-hum" naval (along with the "I haven't used air much before... nice!" Air combat) were certainly enough to make me NOT regret my vanilla purchase.
I want to repeat this:
I DO NOT REGRET BUYING HOI3.
I am going to be restating this at the end of this post. This thread is not an "I hate Paradox they ruined the series they should do things my way or I will sue them" type of thread that chased me away from the WoW forums. This post is just in regards to my future purchase, and my feelings therein.
I will also say that the rest of this post may contain words like "shortcoming" and "fail". I use that term personally.. I realize my own opinions are just that. Please do not interpret this as a flame, or any of my post as anything besides an opinion I feel strongly about. (I.E. if anyone wants to have a discussion with me on this, have it on the physical, factual aspects of Naval Abstraction, not along the lines of "my opinion is bad and I should feel bad" that some seem to use as their primary posting methodology.)
That out of the way, the Naval Combat model (NOT the AI's usage of such model; improving AI is nice, don't misunderstand, but what it is physically capable of representing of more importance) is the critical junction of me and my determination of all this.
The primary shortcoming of the current model is how Carriers are represented in all aspects of the game. In 1.3 they dominated by winning ship to ship combat... and in 1.4, they dominate by... winning ship to ship combat, just in a different way. What they do outside of ship to ship combat is poor.
Which is also not to say that what ANY ship does outside of ship to ship combat, save for Convoy Raiding, isn't equally poor. Once the seas are secure, ships... kind of stop doing anything.
The Navy needs an overhaul. What I paid for in HOI3 vanilla is ok for Vanilla, but if I want to purchase an expansion, the Navy has to get major love, lets I don't find the money "worth it" personally.
I will break down what I would like/need to see to have my "naval aspirations" placated; including importance thereof. Note that a lot of these might be mutually beneficial; the "split the CAG" suggestion would help in the "carriers are actually dangerous" area, for example.
1) Any carrier in a surface engagement, both in 1.3 and 1.4, causes all kinds of "abstracted weirdness" in the resulting fight. This needs to be addressed; either in the form of a total overhaul of SAG combat, or just in how Present Carriers work.
--- Ability to assign a fleet as "SAG" or "CTF". SAG forces, REGARDLESS of if they have carriers in them, try to engage in surface action, CTFs ALWAYS retreat. In the case of a "SAG" that has attached carriers, the Carrier needs to always try and disengage "itself" (or even, if it's "positioning" roll is high enough for the Attacking fleet, not even be placed on the board at all), but the other ships DON'T (unless the other ships pass other criteria, like being so damaged as to run away, or you give a manual retreat order, or whatever). In the case of CTFs, escorts do NOT try and run until the carrier itself is "safe" (or the escorts get damaged-out-of-commission, or a manual retreat is ordered, or whatever)
--- All fleets have their actions in surface engagements dictated by a new "option" that can be included above the "aggressive/defensive/passive" choice (or can be rolled into said choices somehow). An "always engage/Engage if stronger/Always Retreat" type of choice. Again, if carriers are present on either side, THEY try and run, but the other ships may or may not.
2) Carriers need to be able to kill things WITHOUT doing it via a shoehorned Surface Engagement.
--- a "roaming CAG" mission, where CAGs will patrol more than just the seazone the carrier is in, and engage enemy fleets. A mission to cover other "fleets" (instead of other "seazones") would also help, provided said other fleets stay in range.
--- lowering of the Naval Strike stacking penalty to match the CAG penalty (which, considering the raw size of a seazone, isn't a large breach from reality, as the "so many planes in the sky they interfere with each other" aspect is somewhat lost when said planes can be vectoring themselves over hundreds, or even thousands, of square miles). --- It appears this is the case, colorizing it out of the list...
--- Having Port Strikes actually hurt anything. I swear, Port Strikes seem to work off of Strategic Bombing value, rather than Sea Attack... not that both cannot apply somehow, but I'm trying to envision an TBF Avenger trying to torpedo-bomb a moored ship from 12,000 feet up, and it's kinda ludicrous.
1) Ships in Surface engagements have Tunnelvision.
In surface fights, each ship picks who to target, based on a variety of factors (tech, experience, etc). However, it seems that it will fire at *only* that target, which is about 2 steps shy of kicked-out-of-the-academy-incompetence. If you are trying to close with a juicy carrier, and a CL gets in your way as a screen, are you NOT going to fire at it until you're within effective range of the carrier? Or if a damaged BB is running, your 3 BCs can go ahead and chase it... but those swarms of destroyers parking next to you and potshotting would make good targets for your Backside Main Armament in the meantime.
2) Ships are useless Outside of Surface Fights. Other than convoy raiding, ships are a sad sight to any nation that has already won the Naval war.
--- a new "shore bombardment" mission, which has the same effect as Ground attack / Logistical Strike / Strategic bombing / Installation Strike attacks of aircraft. The details of said mission are up for debate (obviously, a mission where you can do all this at once with no other modifiers would be just a tad imbalancing), but having 20 SHBB doing nothing more than provide a -18% combat efficiency modifier is just plain nuts, even within abstracted concepts.
1) torpedoes. Subs and little ships could pack a big wallop, which isn't well represented in-game
--- Giving DD/CL (and maybe CA) a torpedo attack value. Within abstraction, a torpedo should bring about as much punch as a tech-equivalent CA or BC shell, but the accuracy of said weapons should only be reliable within very short distances... I.E. if a destroyer WANTS to hit like a battlecruiser, it's going to have to be able to survive to close the gap; and even then, faster ships should get good chances to avoid said shot (I.E. accuracy = f(target speed, target range, target experience)) (the abstraction would assume, via the Target experience variable, how "evasive" the maneuvers of the target are; for a 0% skill ship in a fleet with a level 0 admiral, this value wold be near 0 itself).
Torpedo tech should apply to more than just subs, in this case.
2) why do we have 2 different guns?
Better ship models have better main armaments.. and yet, their Shore Attack never changes. Change the "Sea Attack" value to "Gun Attack" (goes well with the torpedo attack suggestion above), and have it be used for both anti-surface and anti-land calculations.
3) Subs: Stealth killers.
Subs didn't sink a whole lot of open-ocean capital tonnage (with the exception of USA subs in the pacific and a coupe other lucky strikes), but they were still lethal to the point where Admirals took great pains to defend from them. In HOI3, escorts are largely unnecessary due to subs being mostly harmless.
subs should get a new mission "First Strike" (and/or replace "patrol" with this) where, as a calculation of Hull, experience, Target Choice, admiral level, target experience values, escort density, (etc.), they try and position themselves to take a "once and done" shot at a fleet using the "torpedo attack" value, and then run before the escorts can counter (and said escorts get their own counter based on many of the same variables).
A decision was made to make SHBB a "dead end" tech... but the rationale I read was because making the main guns any larger simply could not be mounted on a seaworthy vessel. Yet, normal BB can surpass SHBB in sea attack value eventually, meaning they have better guns... that can't be put on a SH?
And, of course, there is the matter of AA, which not only can be, but WAS, frequently updated on the 2 SHBB to actually serve during the war.
And torpedoes... a new torpedo design can't be integrated onto existing ships? Exactly what Mensa Engineers came up with a military weapon that could not be adapted to existing war machines, subs OR anything else??
What techs can, and should, be upgradeable on what ships warrants a review. I can understand not changing a sub's hull after it's built, but... when it returns to base out of torpedoes, it's inability to pick up the "new mark 2's" from the supply wagon is just... yeesh.
Some of the techs also have effects that are just eyebrow-raising. A Carrier's hanger tech reduces visibility only? I can see where that "might" be true, but for the only effect better hangers has on a carrier is "reduce visibility"...
Minor Points (for realism / flavor):
1) Fleet Fighters.
A CAG abstractly represents a mix of fighters and attack craft... but what if I don't want those craft on board? It would be a nice touch if there were 2 types of carrier craft, "Fighter" and "Attack". To accommodate this change, a CVL would need to be bumped to 2 slots, and a CV to 4
For land and air units, the training generally takes longer to complete than the materials (GENERALLY, don't take an example like the German Maus and use it to make me look bad ), so having Training Laws reflect a difference in Build time makes sense, since even after the machines are ready, the crews aren't. For naval craft, however, a lot of the training can be completed prior to the ship completing it's seaworthiness tests (with the new crews "acclimation" being part of said tests). A ship should come off the docks in the same amount of time regardless of changes to training laws; EACH SHIP should be "trained" individually prior to completion. (I.E. I can build 4 CLs with specialist training, and 2 with minimal, at the same time; I choose which at the time of "ordering" it). The training difference should be reflected in the IC cost, but not the build time.
Practical experience for convoys/escorts. Logically, physically, realistically... I see no reason this abstraction doesn't exist.
4) Spiderweb Escorts
One effective way of spotting a threat coming for your big ships is to see it long before it gets there... the way to do this within the game system as is, is to place small fleets (2DD each) in each seazone adjacent to your Main fleets. The current Patrol mission does NOT convey this abstraction; the patrolling fleets keep changing zones, often leaving obvious gaps in the network. However, doing this manually is one of the biggest micro-nightmares imaginable for a fleet in motion. If there was some way to assign part of a fleet's escort contingent to patrol adjacent seazones, and pull back to the main fleet if an engagement starts, that would make a lot of Tactical sense... I wonder why Yamamoto hasn't thought of this Naval Mission yet...
5) Port bombardment
few things are more frustrating than having 5 heavily damaged battleships sitting in a port, with 5INT's covering from Naval Strikes, and you having a 10BB+escort fleet sitting right outside of it. Ships should be able to attack ports, and the enemy ships therein; there is no magical forcefield extending 4 miles out from the docks that deflects enemy fire. If the opponent has planes, fine, he can attack you with the planes, but the port is still right there, ripe for the shelling. If the enemy has Shore Fortifications in the province in question, and maybe even artillery, then having those fire back at any ship that gets close enough to bombard the port would be fine; but I mean, just sitting there... bullseye on it and all...
6) DD Cost
Destroyers are abstracted kinda weird in this game. One the one hand, their low sea attack values and "1 slot" occupation in a fleet hierarchy make it seem like they are single ships, but their build times, names, and icons make it seem like each one represents 5 or 6 of em. DD should either get a build time reduction (to make them really represent single ships), or an increase to some of their stats to represent that there are 5 or 6 of them at once doing the same thing).
It's not so noticeable with Subs right now (what with them only bing convoy raiders and scouts in 1.4), but if some of the other changes in this post are made, then subs would need the same "abstraction review".
Anyway, there ya have it; what this Naval Grognard thinks about his desire to purchase the upcoming expansion, as view by him, from the points critical TO him, all posted while being bored at work.
As promised, here's a repeat of the phrase from above, just so that it is perfectly clear to all:
"I DO NOT REGRET BUYING HOI3.
This thread is not an "I hate Paradox they ruined the series they should do things my way or I will sue them" type of thread that chased me away from the WoW forums. This post is just in regards to my future purchase, and my feelings therein."