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Thread: HOI4 and naval matters

  1. #1
    Field Marshal Cybvep's Avatar

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    HOI4 and naval matters

    One of the mysteries of the development process of HOI games for me is the constant disregard of all naval matters. This concerns both game mechanics and AI behaviour. Considering that it's possible to play as the UK/Japan/the USA/Italy and that the WWII included some major naval action, it is strange, indeed.

    Let me explain.

    We can complain about some deficiencies of the land combat system and the mistakes the AI frequently makes, but generally the most important elements of land warfare in the WWII era are represented and the in-game results are usually at least satisfactory. Encirclements are decisive and armoured warfare is important. Blitzkrieg is possible and it is equally possible to stop it by careful defensive play. The AI has the basic understanding of a frontline and it tries to avoid encirclements, even if it does not always succeed. You CAN be bogged down in Russia due to supply issues and unlike in HOI2, invincible superstacks are no longer an issue in HOI3. Sure, the supply system has its quirks, division designer can produce some strange results (things like 3xLARM+1xAC formations with a CA bonus), weather hardly matters and the AI could always be better, but all in all, you have to admit that things are not so bad in the land department.

    The naval side of the game is a different story. Few things are historical or even plausible here. The importance of the navy is hardly represented and many important elements of naval warfare are poorly implemented or not implemented at all. Currently fleets resemble boats drifting aimlessly in the ocean. AI fleets are an especially bad case. I don't know about you, but whenever I see an enemy fleet I get a perverse sense of satisfaction - its uselessness is really touching. The AI fleets are an especially bad case. I know that every little dip of MP, IC or fuel that the AI used on the navy could be utilised more efficiently if it invested those resources in the land or air units and that I don't need to fear the enemy's navy at all, nor do I require a sizeable navy of my own.

    So, what's wrong, exactly, and what can be done to improve the situation in HOI4? I will start the discussion by focusing on two main points - unrestricted movement and convoy warfare.

    1. Unrestricted movement

    One of the major issues ATM is the practically unrestricted movement. As long as something is in range of your ships, it can be reached easily. Also, the AI seems to disregard the threat caused by this completely. The gameplay consequences are significant.

    For example, when playing as the UK, I can simply park my fleets next to the German ports and easily destroy any enemy ship that dares to confront me. The AI has no remedy to this. In fact, it will keep throwing its units at my fleets and meet certain doom. It will rarely use its planes to offset my numerical superiority and when it does, it has a tendency to stack 8-10 units in one sea-zone, resulting in massive stacking penalties. It doesn't help that it's unrealistically hard to attack big fleets effectively by air, because all AA guns fire at once. Let's face it - if the AI does not realise the importance of air-power in naval warfare, then it will never be a challenging enemy. IRL the fighter cover was almost a natural restriction on naval movement, so even if naval vessels had the technical capability of reaching a given area, they rarely dared to venture there without air support.

    Unlike IRL, there are no minefields in the coastal sea-zones, so I can move my ships freely in the enemy waters without fear that my ships will be damaged by mines. Therefore, it's possible to invade any area by sea almost effortlessly as long as it's within the range of your transports.

    It's too hard to detect ships in coastal provinces. This results in too many gamey "surprise invasions" and is especially troublesome for the AI, which struggles with intercepting enemy fleets. The AI will never be able to respond properly to an enemy invasion if it does not realise that the threat is even there. Also, the in-game messaging system is poorly suited to such situations, so it's possible to miss an entire invasion entirely, especially if you are busy elsewhere or play on high speed. It should be possible to turn on pop-ups which deal strictly with amphibious invasion threat. This could easily be done if it was possible to restrict "Enemy fleet detected" pop-ups to important regions on the map, i.e. the one which the player picks manually.

    Patrol and Intercept missions should be much more precise. What's the point of those missions if the fleets on patrol follow the enemy forever and fleets on intercept mission try to intercept fleets that are 1500 km away? These missions have the potential to reduce the micromanagement significantly and make the interception process much more automatic (and easier for the AI to handle), but ATM they are not very useful.

    If problems like that are taken care of, then maybe we will witness a Pacific War that doesn't end after a year with a direct strike on the Japanese home islands and a total US victory.

    2. Convoy warfare

    Currently there are many deficiencies in the way the game handles convoys. Let's start with the obvious one - ports often lack their historical importance and historically important convoy routes are non-existent in-game. I remember a FTM Video DD which featured King (IIRC) commenting on the issue of Arctic Convoy. In fact, ATM the Soviets do not even need to care about Murmansk at all! Nor do they need to bother themselves with Vladivostok. Or Archangelsk.

    The problem reaches further when we consider the fact that Lend Lease convoys are not represented at all. Again, they are not even present in the game. IRL the USA sent tons of stuff to the UK and the USSR and protection of LL convoys was one of the most important elements of the Battle of the Atlantic.

    Submarines work too much like regular ships. Every HOI game has problems with them, because it is virtually impossible to represent them properly when they operate within the constraints of the system which was designed for the purpose of surface engagements. As long as this is the case, they will always be either overpowered or underpowered. I see two ways to resolve this - 1) the convoy warfare system needs to become more abstract or 2) the system needs to become more detailed. Personally, I think that the first option would be less micromanagement intensive and easier to balance. I propose a system similar to the one featured in the Pride of Nations game:

    Current in-game sea zones would be grouped into "blocks" (regions) for convoy warfare purposes, e.g. Northern Atlantic, Central Atlantic or Eastern Mediterranean. It would be possible to "assign" submarines and convoy escorts to each block directly on the map. Technology, available naval bases etc. would determine how much convoy escorts/submarines can be assigned to a given region and how efficient they would be. Also, passing fleets could suffer damage from staying in regions with enemy submarine activity.

    You get the idea.

    IMO such system could greatly reduce the micromanagement involved in conducting convoy warfare and it would allow the devs to balance the subs easier. The player involvement would be restricted to making strategic decisions, e.g. tech development, production, assigning subs/escorts to specific regions. The player would no longer be required to constantly monitor the subs and babysit them in order to conduct an efficient convoy-hunting campaign. Everything would be done automatically or semi-automatically. Simple and effective!

  2. #2
    Komrad Pagliakov Paglia's Avatar
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    Quite a good understanding of the current flaws in the game.

    CONVOY WARFARE
    Many games implemented it the way you suggest and got very good results from such a very simple system.

    MOVEMENT
    Detection: Only way to circumvent this is by building radar (level 5+). Don't recall seeing the AI doing that.
    Minefields were a real threat in the Baltic Sea and prevented many invasions overthere during WWII.

    AA & PORT ATTACK
    Not sure what to answer to the AA issue you raised. All ships' AA firing at the same time do balance things against a massive CAGs attack. I guess this aims at getting the same king of balance you get by having the Port attacks less efficient (You can't get Pearl Harbor results in a matter of days in vanilla HoI3, you need to mod, which is not everyone cup of tea).
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  3. #3
    I'm replying to this thread just to get my signature in it.

    There is no reason for me to repost the thousands of lines of discussion (don't want to reiterate-spam), but it is relevant to this thread, so, you can read my own thoughts if desired.
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  4. #4
    Congratulations, someone actually thinking that naval war is important. Somthing that is undeniable. I wouldnt want to put developers off but there is even more that could be done.
    1. BB/CV werent just conjured out of thin air, Their construction depended on many things not least the dock in which they are built. I would suggest that at the beginning of the game each country should have only certain ports can build capital ships.If the player wants to develop more facilities let him do so.
    2.The combat system needs to be enhanced so that more realistic results are obtained and this is an area where I must confess to not understanding the present one, let alone know how to construct a new one.
    3. HQ's dedicated to the navy (also required for the airforce)
    I do not dismiss the possible problems but the way in which the naval war affected the land war was massive and its one of the few ways HOI3 is lessthan perfect.
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Cybvep View Post
    For example, when playing as the UK, I can simply park my fleets next to the German ports and easily destroy any enemy ship that dares to confront me. The AI has no remedy to this. In fact, it will keep throwing its units at my fleets and meet certain doom. It will rarely use its planes to offset my numerical superiority and when it does, it has a tendency to stack 8-10 units in one sea-zone, resulting in massive stacking penalties. It doesn't help that it's unrealistically hard to attack big fleets effectively by air, because all AA guns fire at once. Let's face it - if the AI does not realise the importance of air-power in naval warfare, then it will never be a challenging enemy. IRL the fighter cover was almost a natural restriction on naval movement, so even if naval vessels had the technical capability of reaching a given area, they rarely dared to venture there without air support.
    good luck doing that in FTM.

    Oh and i had seen a lot of times when AI will bring in air support to naval warfare.
    Problem is AI Germany doesn`t build enough Naval bombers, and the number of aviation(and airfields) is very small. It simply doesn`t have the cower it had IRL.

    Also superstacking hardly happen in FTM.

  6. #6
    Field Marshal Cybvep's Avatar

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    Not sure what to answer to the AA issue you raised. All ships' AA firing at the same time do balance things against a massive CAGs attack.
    Yes, the problem here also arises from the lowered stacking penalty of CAGs for certain mission, e.g. naval strikes.

    good luck doing that in FTM.

    Oh and i had seen a lot of times when AI will bring in air support to naval warfare.
    Problem is AI Germany doesn`t build enough Naval bombers, and the number of aviation(and airfields) is very small. It simply doesn`t have the cower it had IRL.
    You also reminded me of sth else - I've never seen the AI using non-NAVs for naval strikes missions. Non-NAVs should be potent against ships, too (ATM they can be quite damaging, but mostly to small fleets). In fact, NAVs were often nothing more than TACs with different kind of armaments.

    I'm replying to this thread just to get my signature in it.
    Ah, I remember .

    Detection: Only way to circumvent this is by building radar (level 5+).
    It could potentially help the AI. Still, the Japanese had terrible radars IRL and this didn't mean that the USA could sail effortlessly right under their noses, at least not until the IJN and the Japanese air-force were decimated.

    I guess this aims at getting the same king of balance you get by having the Port attacks less efficient
    The surprise factor has never been properly represented in HOI games IMO.

  7. #7
    Komrad Pagliakov Paglia's Avatar
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    Couple of ideas that came up to my mind yesterday:


    (1) Landing crafts

    Landing craft would have a very limited range, thus reducing the threat of invasions on specific coasts, until a player get ports he could use to reach new shores (farther away). This would reflect the Allies progress in Northern Africa and Sicilia and explain why invasion could only take place on West and North coasts of Rance, and in Belgium/Netherland, but not in the Baltic.

    Transports would then be limited to their work as cargo, and their long range would also reflects reality, e.g. the ability to move troops on long distances.


    I guess this one could be done with medium difficulty. But I'm not an expert on mod.


    (2) Intrinsec defense value for coastal provinces

    The current negative modifiers could be increased and applied to all units (with distinct modifiers for amphibious, INF and armor), to reduce the ability of invader to take a beach easily. Also, the lenght of such fights could be increased, to allow for defenders to reposition themselves (maybe by considering that the defensive side has Delay doctrine bonuses ?. Even an intrinsec defensive value could be added to all coastal province, thus forcing a fight in each province by any invader. Or reduced cost for Coastal Forts.

    I guess this one, beyond the modifiers and the delay doctrine, would be more complex.


    (3) Minefields

    I love that idea, not sure yet how to implement it easily. Maybe a way would be to be allowed to build something in the coastal provinces? Something cheap because there is so many beaches… And it would affect both coast (inflicting damages to invading ships) and naval strait (the whole area in that case, for any ships that would dare cross).

    I don’t have a clue on the complexity of this.
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    Field Marshal Cybvep's Avatar

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    Your first suggestion would actually be very easy to implement in HOI3.

    Unfortunately, the second one, while interesting, could only be implemented by the devs. This shouldn't be a problem if we have HOI4 in mind, though.

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    Operation overlord was a "gamey" surprise invasion. The germans were expecting it in *le Pas-de-Calais.

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    Field Marshal Cybvep's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boozdeuvash View Post
    Operation overlord was a "gamey" surprise invasion. (...)
    No. It was a carefully planned operation (performed over a short distance) which utilised deception. What I meant by "gamey surprise invasions" were massive amphibious invasions performed in the blink of an eye which remain "invisible" even when the units are invading your territory. You can perform a massive assault on Tokyo or Rome this way and such an operation will almost always succeed, while the enemy, especially the AI, will have 0 time to react. As a result, Sea Lion can be easily performed even when you don't have naval and air superiority, because the enemy fleets will simply "miss" your transports. It doesn't even require planning.

  11. #11
    Komrad Pagliakov Paglia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cybvep View Post
    No. It was a carefully planned operation (performed over a short distance) which utilised deception. What I meant by "gamey surprise invasions" were massive amphibious invasions performed in the blink of an eye which remain "invisible" even when the units are invading your territory. You can perform a massive assault on Tokyo or Rome this way and such an operation will almost always succeed, while the enemy, especially the AI, will have 0 time to react. As a result, Sea Lion can be easily performed even when you don't have naval and air superiority, because the enemy fleets will simply "miss" your transports. It doesn't even require planning.

    I fully agree with you.

    Operation Overlord took months to prepare.
    To prevent the GER from discovering the true target, the Allies invested a lot in disinformation.

    While in the game, you can invade just by putting 8 divisions in boats and "Voilà!", you've landed in Rome just by moving out of London !!! Something impossible in real life. Something that unbalance the game. Unless, in MP, you put strict rules (or, in SP, you selfimpose such strict rules).
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    Well, if I had my way, I'd probably choose some different paths to fix some of the things you talk about.

    1) Coastal spotting

    The first level of RADAR would be changed completely. Level 1 RADAR would become Spotting. All majors and most minors in Europe would start with Spotting. It would require no Electrical Engineering to research. It would have the same impact RADAR 1 installations have now, including helping INTs find targets. This would represent the coastal and sky watchers everyone in the war basically had. You have to "build" facilities for them to represent the investment of resources.

    Spotting would not provide SIGINT like RADAR 1 does now, as a logical trade off. (And let's be honest, level 1 RADAR doesn't provide a lot of SIGINT now).

    If you want to get better at it, you have to research RADAR which unlocks levels 2-10.

    2) Subs.

    Your solution to subs would not fix the biggest complaint I have.

    Never, in any version of HOI3, will I ever be able to kill a single CV with a sub, never mind the historical efficacy of subs killing CVs.

    Your vision of abstracted warfare would let subs damage ships, but naval powers should really be frightened that their big expensive ships are vulnerable to subs without adequate ASW.

    I would instead like to see a separate mechanic for subs facing surface fleets. Preferably, one that privileges the ability of subs to exploit weak ASW with potentially lethal attacks on ships, and one the privileges surface fleets with lethal ASW when its better than the subs.

    3) Regarding ships hanging out in the coastal waters of enemies.

    It's simple, really. Implement my revision to RADAR 1, and then tell the AI to dogpile any surface fleet off the coast. The AI (humans, too) should send in NAVs, TACs, and CAS when it sees enemy ships. Yes, there are stacking penalties to consider (the AI already knows about that), but we should never see only two wings of NAV hitting an invasion force off the coast of England. We should see stacks of 3 that keep getting rotated into combat until the enemy leaves or clears the skies with air superiority. Germany especially should be able to keep 3 CAS constantly bombarding enemy invasion fleets, rotating in fresh planes until the ships are dead or the troops have taken a province. (Note: CAS has really high sea attack compared to cost; Germany should have tons of them available, so there is no excuse for them not to smack Allied invasion fleets around if they have air superiority or air parity.)

    4) Regarding minefields.

    A simple fix to coastal waters being mined would be to give an efficiency penalty to enemy ships fighting in coastal waters where an enemy coastal fort is present. This doesn't fix everything you mentioned, but it would help and it uses existing game mechanics. If you were fighting 10% less effiency (air and surface) when trying to hang out near coastal forts, that would change your strategy.

    And it's easy to put coastal forts in major ports to prevent the kind of camping you talk about.

    EDIT: And this mechanic helps in the Pacific, too. Fighting a Japanese fleet right off the coast of a major naval base would be more difficult.
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  13. #13
    Komrad Pagliakov Paglia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Secret Master View Post
    Well, if I had my way, I'd probably choose some different paths to fix some of the things you talk about.

    1) Coastal spotting

    The first level of RADAR would be changed completely. Level 1 RADAR would become Spotting. All majors and most minors in Europe would start with Spotting. It would require no Electrical Engineering to research. It would have the same impact RADAR 1 installations have now, including helping INTs find targets. This would represent the coastal and sky watchers everyone in the war basically had. You have to "build" facilities for them to represent the investment of resources.

    Spotting would not provide SIGINT like RADAR 1 does now, as a logical trade off. (And let's be honest, level 1 RADAR doesn't provide a lot of SIGINT now).

    If you want to get better at it, you have to research RADAR which unlocks levels 2-10.

    I like simple ideas like this one. But, can we mod this or it needs work by Paradox ?



    Quote Originally Posted by Secret Master View Post
    4) Regarding minefields.

    A simple fix to coastal waters being mined would be to give an efficiency penalty to enemy ships fighting in coastal waters where an enemy coastal fort is present. This doesn't fix everything you mentioned, but it would help and it uses existing game mechanics. If you were fighting 10% less effiency (air and surface) when trying to hang out near coastal forts, that would change your strategy.

    Ditto. Simple and clear. As long as we could get the same result, I guess any solution is welcome. Do you know how to mod that ?
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  14. #14
    Field Marshal Cybvep's Avatar

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    The first level of RADAR would be changed completely. Level 1 RADAR would become Spotting. All majors and most minors in Europe would start with Spotting. It would require no Electrical Engineering to research. It would have the same impact RADAR 1 installations have now, including helping INTs find targets. This would represent the coastal and sky watchers everyone in the war basically had. You have to "build" facilities for them to represent the investment of resources.
    Good enough. I don't see much of a difference between your idea and mine, TBH, besides the fact that you want one tech more than I do (but it's not a big deal).

    Your solution to subs would not fix the biggest complaint I have.

    Never, in any version of HOI3, will I ever be able to kill a single CV with a sub, never mind the historical efficacy of subs killing CVs.

    Your vision of abstracted warfare would let subs damage ships, but naval powers should really be frightened that their big expensive ships are vulnerable to subs without adequate ASW.
    That's not true - enemy fleets moving in sea zones with high sub activity would have a high chance of getting damaged/sunk, esp. if their ASW techs are low and your techs are high or if the enemy capital ships are poorly escorted.

    It's simple, really. Implement my revision to RADAR 1, and then tell the AI to dogpile any surface fleet off the coast. The AI (humans, too) should send in NAVs, TACs, and CAS when it sees enemy ships. Yes, there are stacking penalties to consider (the AI already knows about that), but we should never see only two wings of NAV hitting an invasion force off the coast of England. We should see stacks of 3 that keep getting rotated into combat until the enemy leaves or clears the skies with air superiority. Germany especially should be able to keep 3 CAS constantly bombarding enemy invasion fleets, rotating in fresh planes until the ships are dead or the troops have taken a province. (Note: CAS has really high sea attack compared to cost; Germany should have tons of them available, so there is no excuse for them not to smack Allied invasion fleets around if they have air superiority or air parity.)
    That's pretty much what I said, although it should be noted that this will not be enough in case of big fleets if all AA guns will still be able to fire at the same time. Oh, and the AI still has a terrible tendency to overstack their air units.

    A simple fix to coastal waters being mined would be to give an efficiency penalty to enemy ships fighting in coastal waters where an enemy coastal fort is present. This doesn't fix everything you mentioned, but it would help and it uses existing game mechanics. If you were fighting 10% less effiency (air and surface) when trying to hang out near coastal forts, that would change your strategy.
    IMO coastal forts could inflict attrition losses on enemy ships, too.

  15. #15
    Oh boy. I'm currently working on a mod for HOI3 and have just discovered your thread by pure luck. We have to do business.

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    Field Marshal Cybvep's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by franckfuck View Post
    Oh boy. I'm currently working on a mod for HOI3 and have just discovered your thread by pure luck. We have to do business.
    Care to elaborate? You can do it by PM if you wish.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Cybvep View Post
    Care to elaborate? You can do it by PM if you wish.
    No no this is fine!

    Okay, to the point: i need some beta-testers. The mod pretentiously aims at turning the outrageous (with all due respect, Paradox) naval warfare of HOI3 into something valuable. I've managed to get some very encouraging results, but as the game needs constant player control to be tested efficiently, i can't make as much progress as i would with EU3.

    Contents:

    >complete overhaul of naval matters, including the individuation of submarines and destroyers
    >reworked ressources balance for a more strategic experience
    >many other tweaks of especially good taste

    Currently, i only have a version for DI:G for FTM, but it wouldn't be too much work to make one for FTM. I could release the files here and nice volunteers could grab and test them.

    Whaddaya say?
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  18. #18
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    I'm not a Navy buff or as well versed in that side of the game but I tend to agree with the ideas to improve it. I like both the ideas to improve realism of sub / fleet combat and abstracting the convoy / sub war as well as having the Lend lease convoys represented as well.

  19. #19
    Field Marshal Cybvep's Avatar

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    @franckfuck
    Sounds interesting, but it is still stuff that belongs to the modding forum. I don't play DIG, but I can help you if I can with balancing etc.

  20. #20
    You're right, i'll open a thread to this effect as soon as i'm ready.

    Christmas momod for MMU
    "an evil MM on steroids" -Deus ret.
    Z-Plan for DIG and FTM
    "playing - so far so good" -marwis

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