• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

unmerged(88697)

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C A U T I O N ***Screenshot heavy post *** SCREENSHOT HEAVY POST *** Screenshot heavy post *** C A U T I O N

Game Spec:

HOI3 FTM patched to v3.05. Scenerio: Germany; "1938, The Gathering Storm"; Difficulty: Normal. This is a vanilla game, and does not employ any mods or cheats. Autosaves are weekly. Run on AMD Athlon 64x2 Dual Core Processor 4800+964MHz 3.00GB RAM; XP Pro v2002 SP3.


Goal:

This AAR will illustrate a top-down design approach for the construction and deployment of large scale Naval forces. This is a follow-on to a previous AAR on OOB planning for ground forces (see note below).

What's Different?

Designing a navy from scratch is perhaps the most daunting task in HOI3, because without a design screen it's a total crap-shoot to come up with effective naval units. Building the wrong ships, or researching the wrong doctrines is the surest path to defeat, particularly for Axis countries.

One must prepare a detailed naval strategy and surprise the enemy by going on the offensive at the earliest opportunity. Naval combat is fraught with hazzards, and we'll look to exploit any advantage to gain the upper hand. This AAR will include a primer on Naval Intellegence as well as numerious lessor-known strategies. The goal here is to create detailed plans and execute them on cue. Naval engagements will be broken-down to discover what went right or wrong, and as the famous American commander John Paul Jones once said,

"I have not yet begun to fight."


What's New? -- Task Group Design Model

Most navies in HOI3 are simply a stack of ships, and--the bigger the better. However, that philosophy died with FTM, and players must now confront the daunting task of constructing Naval task groups without the aid of a design screen!

This AAR will use a customized spreadsheet to design naval fleets, squadrons, and flotillas. Employing a specialized "task group design model," emphisis is placed on various factors as speed, gunnery, detection, defenses, etc. One can also move existing ships around to discover which combination(s) work best. As a result, advanced Naval planning for force mix, technologies, and doctrines may now proceed in orderly fashion!

Preamble:

This AAR is directed at Multiplayer gaming, and Italy was specifically chosen because it is hamstrung with few IC and limited leadership. Against an experienced British player Italy is extreemly vunerable to invasion, and so must fight to establish a degree of Naval and Air superiority in the region. The strategies employed here will deal with countering aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean, and should otherwise prove more than effective against HOI3's Naval AI.

The '38 scenerio was selected because it is typical of MP games, and also gives precious little time to prepare for war. Creating superior forces from the '36 scenerio is one thing, but doing it in crunch time is what this AAR is all about!

HOUSE RULES:

There is NO HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE to this game--it will simply be played to win. This AAR uses modified victory conditions to include all of Italy's war goals.

For land units the player will use the same build rules as the AI, that is; no reserve units. An exception is given to home guard units, they being designated for defense of core provinces and/or anti-partisian duty, but such units will never be upgraded or used for any other purpose.

SUBSCRIPTION UPDATES:

The board will be updated twice a week; Once on Sundays, and again in the middle of the week (generally Wednesday or Thursday). Reports will be quarterly, that is, one for every three months of the game. The campaign should move along fairly quickly, and will likely take about 8 weeks to complete. Postings will use a 3-month delay, for example, as you are reading the first report of September, 1938, the game will have already progressed to March of 1939.

Feel free to interrupt and ask questions at any time. The author appreciates your subscription and any comments you may make.

Now, let's go surprise the British Navy!


NOTE: Also employed here, the prior AAR: OOB planning for Germany, 1938-45 referenced here discusses the top-down design approach for gound units.
 
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Surt

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Winning with the Italian navy (and not its aircraft) is a challenge, I see forward to it.
 

Alycidon

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I really enjoyed the first one for Germany and am really looking forward to this.
 

eqqman

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I will be interested to see what develops here. My general feel for the naval game (as far as single-player goes) is that the design is so complex... you can ignore it!
 

cynicalyouth

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I really like playing Italy, but always seem to get destroyed by the Royal Navy when the time comes. If this plays out like the Germany one I will learn a few things that will help me out quite a bit with my Italy play.
 

MastahCheef117

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Love naval-oriented games. For Il Duce! :D
 

unmerged(88697)

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September 38: Changing Alliances:




ITALY DIPLOMACY--1938

It seems that Italy was on the winning side in WWI, and as a result got to keep all their colonies in Africa. As of 1936, Italy expanded its influence in the horn of Africa by subduing Ethiopia. Then, in 1938, Italy literally changed sides by teaming with Germany in an alliance of like-minded fascists. Now with Germany edging closer to war, Italy faces the prospect of fighting her former allies, Britain and France, and for this campaign the Regia Marina would receive four (4) new battleships!

Unfortunately, the Italian army is woefully inadequate for campaigning--the war in Ethiopia revealing its deficiencies to the entire world. The Italian air force is also rather small and in dire need of new engines and weapons. Italian stockpiles are slim, and the country is nearly broke. So, turning this ship of state around will be a major undertaking. With war potentially just a year or two away, what should Italy build? What should Italy research? Once again, we turn to our attention to OOB planning . . .

ITALY MILITARY—Training Laws:



(above) Italy changes its training laws to minimal. This change immediately cleared the build queue of four (4) battleships. The build queue is now empty and ready for whatever is needed next.

Historically, ship and air crews got their experience from combat, so there's no real need to waste time by training in the build queue. While it's not the best of strategies, the savings in training can be significant as ships (and planes) otherwise take far too long to produce. Italy is trading-off unit training for production, a desparate act for desparate times.

ITALY ARMY--OOB:



(above) Italian Pre-War Divisions. Looking at what Italy has to work with, the above formations are the best possible fit.

Italy is in dire need of armored formations. While they have copious motorized infantry, they lack Spearhead Doctrine. With leadership in such short supply (14.3 total), it looks like this will be the situation for the foreseeable future. Also, as Italy lacks the capacity to produce medium tanks (and has limited fuel for panzer operations anyway), the only way left to go was with tank destroyers.

Once again, armored divisions (purple) are designed with combined-arms advantage, and spearhead divisions (solid brown) have hardness less than 50% (for added bonus against soft divisions). Italy also has a special Desert Corps that is designed to operate on 30% less fuel and supplies. It's going to be hard enough keeping supply lines to North Africa open, so giving up a little firepower for desert mobility seems a fair trade-off.

Italy's infantry, while plentiful, is woefully inadequate (level II to level I in some cases). Infantry brigades will take a year or more to upgrade (to level III) and Italy does not have the IC's to build tanks and upgrade infantry at the same time. As the infantry is good for only one thing, digging-in, then the cheapest and quickest way to make them combat effective is to give them AA brigades. Anti-air guns will help shield them from attack, as well as provide a little anti-tank (hard attack) capability. With their small supply footprint, Italian light infantry also fits-in well in North Africa.

Colonial militia requires almost no supplies, and so will be used in the defense of Ethiopia. Coastal militia with their AA guns will protect remote mountain provinces. Italy's cavalry corps has nearly outlasted its usefulness, but for the time being it can serve in remote garrisons and for border patrols.


ITALY ARMY—Production Request for 1938-39:



(above) Realistically, Italy has less than 50 IC's available to construct new formations. Given the current constraints of industrial efficiency, production, and practical factors (artillery, mobile, etc.), it seems only one new mobile infantry corps, one new desert corps, and two light infantry corps may be assembled over the next 12 months.


ITALY ARMY—Production Queue for 1938-39:

In the prior AAR, Germany had lots of IC's to spare, so everything was assumed to be built in “Parallel.” Now given a limited industrial capacity it was necessary to construct a new spreadsheet design based on “Serial” Production. With serial production, timelines are longer, but these will shorten by as much as 20% over a year as production efficiency takes hold and practicals are accumulated.



(above) Spreadsheet design for serial production. This is kind'a like following the bouncing ball, so one should examine the entire spreadsheet before reading futher. The green-colored cells at left are where data is entered. Salmon-colored cells at lower right are in-progress displays. Blue colored cells at center bottom will display the calculated result. Production costs and rates must be manually reset before use, while yellow colored cells at top simply remind about current training laws. Note: Training laws are kept deliberately short until practicals go above 10.

Procedure:

A- Set time span and available IC's.

B- Set required builds up to the limit of available IC-Months (as calculated in A). The “Manageable Project?” indicator (lower right) will show “TRUE” so long as the request is under the cap.

C- Set serial runs to “1” each, meaning that all units will be produced serially.

D- The “Over-time” indicator (“1”) will point to the item with the longest number of production days (this is based on the value calculated at the bottom of the column). If “On Time” indicator (lower right) does not read “TRUE,” then begin adjusting the number of serial runs (see STEP C) beginning with the one selected by the Over-time indicator. As the number of Serial Runs changes the Over-time indicator will then point to the next item with longest production time. Continue adjusting serial runs until On Time indicator reads “TRUE.”

E- If “Under Budget?” indicator (bottom right) does not read “TRUE,” then work the previous (STEP D) backwards, and then forwards, reducing or adding serial runs until the indicator reads "TRUE."

^ ^ ^ ^ ^
ITALY MILITARY—Upgrade Policy

Italy starts with a significant backlog of upgrades that must be worked off as quickly as possible (within a year at most). Afterwards, equipment upgrades will be targeted to just a few at a time so not to interfere with future production.

Due to limited leadership Italy will not upgrade either militia or cavalry. Also, in order to save IC's for production, the upgrading of reserve infantry will be turned off. Upgrade activity will be prioritized for high value units as ships, aircraft, and panzers. All other army divisions (mountain, amphibious, light infantry, and mobile reserves) will be given lower priority upgrades.

Manual control of the production queue is the only way to work down the upgrade backlog. After production, any IC's not required for consumer goods will be applied to upgrades (ie. IC's otherwise used for supplies). If the 30-day supply warning lights up, then the AI will temporarily be given control of the production queue until stockpiles return to acceptable levels (in the green). Generally speaking, as production winds down more IC's become available for upgrading, and supplies become less of a problem.


ITALY NAVY—OOB:

The Italian navy is very good when it comes to cruisers and battleships, and these are the primary focus of the OOB.



Cruiser squadrons are great at running down submarines, and these come in two types: regular cruiser squadrons have one (1) heavy cruiser and five (5) light cruisers, while fast cruiser squadron have six (6) light cruisers. The fast squadron is generally 10-15% faster, while the standard squadron has improved gunnery range and attack factors.

Destroyer flotillas are used primarily for ASW operations. Once a sub is spotted a neighboring cruiser squadron is sent in to finish the job. Destroyers will also be used to escort small groups of transports.

Due to limited leadership it's not possible to research every naval doctrine for every class of ship, therefore submarine flotillas will only be used for intelligence gathering missions, or to transport secret cargos. Submarines will not be upgraded. The job of attacking enemy transports will be given to naval bombers. Naval bombers are actually more efficient in this role provided the Axis has air superiority over the Mediterranean.

Battleships squadrons are the pride of the fleet, and must be properly screened. The prototype squadron uses two heavy cruisers and three destroyers as screens. Heavy cruisers fend off enemy cruisers and/or decimate weaker enemy screens. Fast destroyers are designed to begin the engagment by rapidly closing with the enemy. The standard battleship squadron has upgrades to speed and firepower, while the elite squadron has even more firepower.

The invasion flotilla consists of WW1 battleships and cruisers used to protect the transports and provide shore bombardment during landings. To insure it delivers its payload, this flotilla features eight (8) transports, which is 50% more transport capacity than needed for an armored corps. This fleet will only be used on a limited basis as it consumes tons of oil.

ITALY NAVY—OOB:

Creating a navy OOB starts by creating a list of all classes of ships in the game along with their attributes.



(above) Master Ship List Spreadsheet. The spreadsheet statistics are organized exactly as found in the game for ease of reference. Note, only newer vessel designs will display production costs and build times (gray cells) at far right. (continued)



(above) Squadron Ship List Spreadsheet. This list is assembled by cutting & pasting from the Master Ship List. Here, a fast cruiser squadron is assembled. (continued)



(above) Squadron Ship List Summary. Summation of fleet characteristics are displayed in handy format to the immediate right of the Squadron Ship List spreadsheet. All these values are calculated for ready reference. (continued)



In designing future ships a paper fleet may be constructed with statistics that may be compared side-by-side to existing. Note here that a new crusier squadron will have much better sea attack, convoy attack, and air attack capability, but will loose some in ship detection. The new squadron will also have better sea and air defense, as well as better speed and range.

Note: "operational range" is printed in WHITE while "gunnery range" is in RED.


Next Time: Technology research and details of Italy's projected fleets and armys.
 
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Avindian

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This is a really tremendous idea, and I thoroughly enjoyed your last AAR.
 

Beakmiester

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I lurked in your last Naval OOB AAR, de-lurking for this one as I think it will be much more challenging for you and hence more interesting for us.
 

unmerged(81478)

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I enjoyed the first one AAR for Germany, and of course i dont want to miss the new one :)
Subscribed.
 

unmerged(88697)

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I lurked in your last Naval OOB AAR, de-lurking for this one as I think it will be much more challenging for you and hence more interesting for us.
That would have been a Japanese AAR in what, V1.03? Amazing, I've almost totally forgotten.
 

unmerged(88697)

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I lurked in your last Naval OOB AAR, de-lurking for this one as I think it will be much more challenging for you and hence more interesting for us.
Thanks. Yes, the German AAR followed the historical line, but this one will be completely different. I've played a couple of MP games as Italy, and so this will be something of a lessons learned kind of scenerio.
 

Cybvep

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It would be cool if this was a real MP game. The AI is not really the greatest opponent, especially when it comes to naval matters. The Naval AI is by far the worst AI aspect in HOI3.
 

cynicalyouth

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I really like that you put together a winning OOB without falling into the 3inf+1Art/3Arm+1Eng build that is the common convention. You use such varied builds for your units that makes for interesting reading.
 

unmerged(88697)

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I really like that you put together a winning OOB without falling into the 3inf+1Art/3Arm+1Eng build that is the common convention. You use such varied builds for your units that makes for interesting reading.
I've tried again, and again, to explain on various posts that the one-size-fits all strategy doesn't always work. Italy is a prime example. Thanks for the compliment.
 

unmerged(88697)

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It would be cool if this was a real MP game. The AI is not really the greatest opponent, especially when it comes to naval matters. The Naval AI is by far the worst AI aspect in HOI3.
Yes, MP would be great. I've had games where Italy's fleets kicked-butt, but also games where their navy was completely bottled-up in Venice.

I look at this (OOB planning) as prep work for the next MP game. MP speeds along in real-time, so it helps to have an out-of-the box orgranization for the fleets at least.