Author Topic: Air Influence in the Pacific On Supply and Strategic Movement  (Read 9205 times)

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Yoper

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Guys,
Now that I am starting to think about the game again, I have been thinking about the issue of sea zone control in the Pacific.

I never liked the Japanese running ships to the edge of the map and cutting off the Allies supply and blocking their strategic movement.  Especially since it was normally accomplished by one ship that ran out to the edge of the map and then strategic moved all the way back to Western Pacific, never to be see again.

I did play a couple of rounds in the Saturday Origins game from last year in which Mark was trying out a different system that involved maintaining a certain surface naval presence but I can’t remember too much about it at this time.

What I do remember is a feeling that it wasn’t quite right either.

The idea I always liked was this- if the Japanese truly wanted to interrupt the supply and (more importantly) the strategic movement of the US From the NA West Coast out to Australia and beyond, then they needed to take islands out in the South, Central, and even Eastern Pacific.  Once they have these islands, they then could project control over adjacent sea zones through the use of air power.

I have a couple of different ways in which this could be accomplished:

1) Airbases + an air unit-The idea here is that the Japanese (or UK/US) player would have to invest in a permanent airfield from which long range air patrols would be able to operate from and subsequently interfere with the strategic movement ability of ships trying to move through any sea zone that is adjacent to that island.  It would also block any attempt to trace a supply path through any of those adjacent sea zones. 

The opposite side could still trace supply and/or move strategically through one of the sea zones if they actually had a surface naval unit in the sea zone at the beginning of the movement phase (i.e. it moved into the sea zone on the prior turn).  If the surface naval unit either left or was forced out of the sea zone, then the air influence over the sea zone would be reestablished.   

The air unit wouldn’t actually have to be “capped” out in a particular sea zone, it would just be positioned on the island that has the airfield.  While it may seem like a powerful tool, it would be balanced by the need to invest in the building of the airbase and the keeping of an air unit at that air base to maintain the control over the adjacent sea zones.

2) A Special “Flying Boat” Unit for the US and Japan- This could be used instead of the first idea or it could be used along with the first idea as an alternate way in which to project air power.  Instead of building an air base and placing an air unit (fighter, bomber, and/or the new naval air unit) on an island, you could have a special “flying boat” unit that could be flown to an island and that would then produce the same affects as stated in the first idea.
 
The US had the PBY Catalina and the Japanese had the H6K “Mavis” and the H8K “Emily”.


The first idea also is historically backed by the fact that the Japanese designed their bombers with range in mind.  They wanted to send them out long distances, as such they made certain choices when it came to design- namely a lack of armor and a lack of self-sealing fuel cells.

Another example of the ability of Japanese to project air power over long distances is when they were able to send fighters on long patrols from Rabaul during the Solomon Islands fighting.  It was a great surprise to the US Navy at the time.

Later in the war, the US used converted B-24’s (PB4Y-1s) to range out and ravage Japanese shipping.


My thinking with these ideas is that the islands in the Pacific would play a greater role in the game. 

Many times it has played out that the Japanese would make their one great swipe out into the Pacific and then collapse back in on themselves hoping to hang on. 

Also, it seems that once the US had opened up a supply/strategic lane through the ocean, they would just leap across the seas right into the face of the Japanese.  They never had to clean out any pockets of resistance or had to worry about getting cut off again.

Like anything new, it would have to be playtested to see if it would work within the framework of the game.  I don’t think that it is too complicated, but I will leave it up to all to chime in.

Craig             

John D.

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Re: Air Influence in the Pacific On Supply and Strategic Movement
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2008, 10:26:02 AM »
Hello Craig,
       I am always willing to try different rules. Maybe you folks can playtest a bit beforehand. I am out straight until the con...

John

Yoper

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Re: Air Influence in the Pacific On Supply and Strategic Movement
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2008, 02:10:32 AM »
Right now we are playtesting a game of our own creation so we aren't going to have any practice before Origins.

Craig

Bobsalt

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Re: Air Influence in the Pacific On Supply and Strategic Movement
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2008, 04:49:40 AM »
Craig,

I’ve been meaning to respond to this for some time now, but life seems to keep getting in the way…

I’ve felt for a long time that the Pacific just doesn’t “work right”. We’ve had quite a few games where the Japanese did exactly what you describe. In real life this wouldn’t have accomplished anything. It doesn’t matter if you move a ship through a given area – what’s important is whether you’re able to project power into a given area to deny or at least contest enemy movements into or though that area.

We’ve been playing with a rule that enemy aircraft deny supply into or through any adjacent sea zones unless that sea zone contains a friendly combat ship; we also allow aircraft to react to amphibious assaults whether there is a combat ship in that sea zone or not. This has increased the realism somewhat, as it has forced the attacker to take into account enemy aircraft reacting to his fleet (as it did historically). This has made air superiority critical to operating effectively in the Med (again, as in real life). In the Pacific it does make you a little more careful about where you invade, since you have to be sure that enemy movement can’t put your ground forces out of supply – not that difficult to do, since with this rule an aircraft carrier would block supply through a one-hex radius.

I think part of the problem is the lack of supply rules for fleets. As things are now, there’s no risk to the Japanese player in doing what you describe just as long as they’re sure to stay beyond the tactical radius of any superior Allied fleets. After Pearl Harbor they can usually roam fairly freely for at least two or three turns – once they cut supply lines they can then use strategic redeployment to run back from harm’s way.

If we were to start requiring that fleets trace supply just as ground forces do I think this would solve the issue you describe. Faced with the possibility of being cut off and having to fight a battle with a negative die roll modifier would force the Japanese player to be a little more circumspect (realistic?) in running ships all over the Pacific; it would also force the US player to deal with islands with strong air contingents rather than just bypassing them without fear.

I think a lot of the issues we both seem to seeing would be solved if ships had to trace supply or suffer the same effects for being out of supply as ground units.

One thing I would add is that I think destroyers and cruisers should have the same one-hex radius to deny supply as carrier units do in our games.

The other problem (at least, in my view) is that in this game ships aren’t limited in range or endurance. Historically, ships had to either operate within a certain radius of a friendly naval base or take oilers with them to extend their operational range (ala the Combined Fleet’s attack on Pearl Harbor). Ships simply could not just steam around whenever/wherever they wanted –  not only did they have to return to base regularly to be re-supplied, they were also limited in their range by how far their fuel could take them. In The Struggle, although the rules state that loaded transports can’t end a turn at sea, there is no similar rule for combat ships – they can stay at sea indefinitely (literally for years). In most WWII games I’ve played there is a requirement to rebase fleets every turn, as well as rules that require that fleets be supplied (in Asia Engulfed, fleets that can’t trace supply are eliminated).

My suggestions related to this issue would be as follows:

Discard the rules regarding sea control. All sea zones are neutral, and both sides can trace supply and strategically move through all unoccupied or uncontested sea zones.

A sea zone that contains an enemy combat ship blocks supply & strategic movement as in the current rules.

Aircraft exert a zone of control into all adjacent areas. Such sea zones are considered contested and supply cannot be traced into or through them unless there is a friendly combat ship in the sea zone. This zone of control also prevents strategic movement into or through a contested sea zone unless (again) a friendly combat ship is present. Instead of using markers to designate control of a sea zone, you would now use them to indicate into which sea zones an aircraft or fleet is exerting a ZOC. Note that you could (and probably will) have sea zones that both sides exert a ZOC into – this would block supply and strategic movement for both sides.

Cruisers and destroyers also exert a ZOC into all adjacent sea zones, with the same effects as above.

You could also experiment with allowing subs to exert a ZOC only in the sea zone they occupy. Any subs that are used in this way would fight any combat on the regular naval combat chart instead of the strategic warfare chart. Place a control marker under any subs being used this way to show that they are blocking supply; the determination of which way to use a sub would occur at the beginning of each turn.

Fleets must trace supply just as ground units do; fleets that are out of supply suffer the same effects (-1 die roll modifier, 1 less AA shot, etc.).

I think this would accomplish what you’re talking about without adding new units to the game. You could still block supply to an area, but it would require more effort and possibly more risk to ships to do it. It would also give a reason to build cruisers. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a cruiser built in any of our games. The thinking seems to be if you need a cheap naval unit, you build a destroyer; if you want a combat ship it’s better to pay the additional five points and build a battleship. Giving cruisers a role like this might give some incentive to build them.

On the issue of ships operating beyond what their operational radius would have been (and for longer than they could have been at sea) – I’m not sure what to do. The easiest way to handle would be to say that you can only go so far from a friendly port. Using an oil point system like the one in Asia Engulfed would probably work well, but would require extensive revisions to the rules.

Regarding this whole issue, I can’t help but wonder if the real problem here is that we’ve reached the limits of what’s possible within the game design. We have to keep in mind that the game borrows heavily from Axis & Allies, which is a fairly simple system. Mark & John have taken that system and done a lot more with it than it was really intended to do. Using a system like this it’s hard to really model the Pacific War. In real life there were occasions where neither side really knew what they were facing until they had already engaged in combat; in The Struggle you always know the exact composition of forces. Also, there are no search rules – you always find each other – and there is no provision for surprise (like the Japanese at the Battle of Savo Island). I think we could create a table for search rules and surprise, and we could use task force markers to keep fleet composition secret (with rules for when the composition has to be revealed). But we have to consider that we may be trying to push the game too far into something the design can’t really accommodate. I’ve read a lot of comments over the years about various games and it seems that many games that tackle the whole war have this problem. They model Europe very well, but the Pacific just so-so. There’s no question that The Struggle models the European War pretty well, so that places it in good company. 

I’m going to give this issue some more thought. Clearly there are problems with the way the Pacific War is modeled; the question is whether they can be effectively addressed. We may have to wait until the next game comes on line.
"Peace through superior firepower"

John D.

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Re: Air Influence in the Pacific On Supply and Strategic Movement
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2008, 10:07:46 AM »
Yes - So we have been playing with ZOCs for a long time. They have been added to the newer rules. I like that fleets can operate only so far from naval bases - maybe that can be incorporated.

Thanks-John

Yoper

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Re: Air Influence in the Pacific On Supply and Strategic Movement
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2008, 03:25:31 AM »
Yeah Bobsalt, the need to change to the use of surface naval units and air units to exert ZOCs is there. 

I think that it can be done without the use of supply rules for fleets but that doesn't mean that your idea can't work either.

Craig

Bobsalt

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Re: Air Influence in the Pacific On Supply and Strategic Movement
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2008, 08:32:51 AM »
Yes - So we have been playing with ZOCs for a long time. They have been added to the newer rules. I like that fleets can operate only so far from naval bases - maybe that can be incorporated.
Thanks-John


John,

I really hope that this something that you do in the next game. I think the lack of oil rules and some sort of rules for naval basing is the biggest fault I can find with the current game.

A lack of supply rules in a game like Axis & Allies isn’t a problem, because it’s obviously very abstracted, with no attempt to model history; with The Struggle, however, you ARE trying to model history. The way I sometimes put it is that A&A is a game set in WWII; The Struggle is WWII as a game. I can’t recall ever playing a strategic game of WWII (other than A&A) that didn’t have oil and/or supply as a factor in the Pacific; The Struggle seems to be unique in that regard. Not having naval supply rules doesn’t make The Struggle a bad game – far from it. It’s just that Europe feels so much like what WWII was like, whereas in the Pacific you never really get that same feeling. The Pacific is playable; it just doesn’t really feel like WWII (at least, not to me).

In The Struggle Japan has a lot more leeway to do things in the game than they could ever have been able to pull off historically. Sure, it’s a lot of fun to invade Hawaii, but in real life this was completely beyond the capabilities of Japan unless they wanted to make a much more significant commitment of resources than they did. Actually, in real life, they didn’t really have any hope of pulling this off. I think this is also a direct result of the lack of oil/naval supply rules. After playing once or twice a week for more than a year, we’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that the European theatre plays like World War II; the Pacific plays more like…well…Axis & Allies.

I understand that The Struggle is supposed to be of relatively low complexity when compared to games like World in Flames. And certainly I don’t want to turn it into something that complex. However, I think that The Struggle is more complex than the Europe Engulfed and Asia Engulfed – and this combo has oil and naval supply rules for the PAcific. And although not as complex as The Struggle, I can tell you that Asia Engulfed feels more realistic than the Pacific side of The Struggle.

The first thing I can think of is that oil rules need to be added to the current game. In my mind, the simplest way to do this would be to give each oil-producing territory a value of X number of points each turn. Japan has to track the oil they control and use each turn. Each ship uses one point of oil per territory moved. This would force Japan to be played a little more historically. They would have to make hard decisions about just what operations they wanted to do and which ones they really couldn’t afford to commit to. The Japanese player could try a Hawaiian invasion if he wanted – but he’s going to have to commit the same kinds of resources to such an endeavor that would have been required in real life.

With this option, the US would no longer make die rolls against the Japanese economy at tension levels one and two. Instead, the US begins the game supplying the Japanese X number of oil points each turn. At TL one this would be reduced (by a set amount or randomly by die roll); at TL two all oil exports to Japan cease. It’s been too many years since I’ve played, but I think this is similar to the way oil is handled in World in Flames.

You could also say that each Japanese combat (offense or defense) uses one oil point. This would make the need for Japan to secure oil resources more urgent. It would also force them to consider how engaged they want to be in China, as well as give China some motivation to launch attacks to try to bleed Japan down. Amphibious assaults would still be free for Japan, but they would each cost an oil point.

Adding oil to the game would almost certainly cause Japan to go after the Dutch East Indies (or Siberia) to secure the oil they needed. Oil was the primary reason why Japan went to war in the first place, but in what’s probably the biggest historical anachronism in our games, I can’t remember Japan EVER taking all of the DEI. Except for the last month, while I’ve been remodeling my bathroom, we’ve been playing at least once a week for well over a year now, so that represents quite a few games. Because of the victory point triggers, Japan always rushes to get the VP’s in the Solomon Islands area. My suggestion would be to say that once Japan takes the DEI, the oil points come online gradually – say, 25% per turn (or whatever). This would motivate the Japanese player to go after them as quickly as possible (again, as in history).

I also think that something needs to be done regarding stacking limits on certain islands. When going for Hawaii, the standard gambit is to hit Wake or Midway with 6 to 8 infantry on the first turn Japan is at war, then use these forces the next turn to invade Hawaii. A good tactic, but it ignores the reality that neither Midway nor Wake was large enough to serve as a base of operations from which to launch an invasion consisting of 10+ divisions. My suggestion is that when attacking these two islands the invader can use no more than two ground units; and no more than two ground units and one air unit can be based on either island. The US cannot base more than one ground unit on Wake or Midway until the winter 1941-42 turn.

I don’t think adding oil to the game would be a problem logistically. You could add another player card where Japan would track oil points (or just make some oil markers (1, 10, and 100) and they could track oil on their build chart). Oil points could be marked on the map using stickers or thin counters. Since everyone is using Plexiglas on their maps anyway it wouldn’t be a problem to place the oil point markers in place on the map then put the plexi down. Adding oil to the game would require minimal physical changes to the game or map. The only real issue I can see is firming up exactly what the rules should be and then playtesting them to determine just how many oil points Japan should have, how much oil various territories should have, etc. Admittedly, this part is not easy.

Another idea – would it be possible to adjust the current economic system to take oil into account for Japan? The way this would work is that each turn Japan could convert economic points to oil points (oil points could not be reconverted back to economic points). Japan would have to pay 1 point for each ship they want to move per sea zone. The beginning point total for Japan could be adjusted as was done for event driven US entry; they could also have X number of points already converted to oil from before the game started. This would almost certainly force them to go right after the DEI once at war in order to be able to fight. If there is a way to do this it would probably mean the least amount of disruption to the current game.

Also - for the current game, has any thought been given to reducing the ranges of aircraft on the Pacific map? This was done in at least one other game I know of (World in Flames). The Pacific represents a much larger area than the European theatre, and you’ve already reduced the ranges of ships and strategic movement there – perhaps the same should be done with aircraft. It seems to me that several islands on the Pacific map are within mutual supporting distance of each other when in reality they weren’t.

To sum up, this is sort of a “wish list” of things I think need to be done to make the war in the Pacific play a little closer to reality.

First, oil rules for Japan. I don’t think this needs to be done for anyone else. In WWII the US was still producing more oil than they needed. In Europe, I think things play pretty well (except for those darn airbases – but that’s another subject) as is, so I don’t think adding oil rules there is needed. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Second, related to above, I think there needs to be some sort of naval base added to the game. The idea would be that ships can only operate tactically within so many zones of a naval base (they could still use strategic movement to move from the operational range of one base to the operational range of another). Naval bases would take 1 or 2 turns to construct, and could be destroyed by combat. They would automatically be destroyed when taken by the enemy – this represents not the destruction of a harbor or base, but rather the destruction of the stockpiled oil and supplies. I think this would force the US to be more realistic in working their way toward Japan. It would definitely force them to do what they did historically and build depots (naval bases) as they advanced so they would have supply sources close by.

Third, ships must be in supply just as ground units, with negative die roll modifiers if they aren’t.

Fourth, adopt the ZOC rules you’re apparently using, and say that all sea zones are neutral. To block supply you must either have a combat ship occupying that sea zone or be able to exert a ZOC into it.

Fifth, implement some realistic stacking limits for Pacific islands. Midway and Wake are just the two most obvious examples where you couldn’t have corps- or army-sized formations; there may be others that should be added to the list.

Sixth, create a fairly simple sighting mechanic for fleets.  Ships can only fight if they can find each other. Fleets with a DD or CA get a bonus, CV’s and land-based air gets a higher bonus (or take Craig’s idea and add flying boats to the game which get a high sighting bonus). There would be a small chance for surprise (granting a +1 combat modifier in first round), and also a chance that combat would be low-intensity (only one round can be fought). Similar to the “fronts” rules you’re testing for ground combat in the new game, these rules would possibly prevent one side from being able to fully take advantage of superior numbers (kind of like the Japanese at Midway) for any number of reasons – morale, intelligence, bad weather, etc.. This would mean a change to the rules in which it would be possible for fleets of opposite sides to simultaneously occupy a sea zone at the end of a turn.

This can’t be done in the current game, but in the next one you should consider adding more sea zones to the Pacific map. I don’t have the map here, but if I recall correctly just about every sea zone on the Pacific map has an edge or corner touching a land area or island. In reality, there are vast areas of the Pacific that are totally empty. Adding some more empty areas to the map would reduce the effectiveness of land-based aircraft; it would also force players to pay more attention to supply considerations. With more empty sea zones you couldn’t just sail past every island; add basing rules and you’re going to have to start taking some of the outer islands in order to be able to continue the advance. Another effect of having so many sea zones touching land is that it’s fairly easy to be able to cover most of the Pacific map with land-based air; in real life there would be large “holes” where LBA couldn’t reach. If you added more sea zones and reduced aircraft ranges it might make some of the islands more important than they are currently. From what we’ve seen of the next design it’s obvious that it’s going to be another step up in complexity and detail than the current game. Given that, I really think that naval supply rules need to be brought into the game; a failure to address these points in the next game would result in the same problem of the Pacific Theatre not really playing out very realistically that we have with The Struggle.

My two cents (or, given the length, maybe two dollars) worth,

Bob
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Yoper

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Re: Air Influence in the Pacific On Supply and Strategic Movement
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2008, 10:31:07 AM »
A quick comment after the first read through- Might there not be enough turns in a game for the US to make things happen if we over do it with extra rules in the Pacific?

With the length of a game turn being a full season (1/4 of a year), too many rules along this vein might make it too much for the US to ever get through the whole Pacific.

As always, it would take a concerted playtesting of any set of rules changes to see if they are workable.

Just an initial observation.

Craig

Bobsalt

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Re: Air Influence in the Pacific On Supply and Strategic Movement
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2008, 04:12:57 AM »
A quick comment after the first read through- Might there not be enough turns in a game for the US to make things happen if we over do it with extra rules in the Pacific?

With the length of a game turn being a full season (1/4 of a year), too many rules along this vein might make it too much for the US to ever get through the whole Pacific.

As always, it would take a concerted playtesting of any set of rules changes to see if they are workable.

Just an initial observation.

Craig
Craig,

I agree completely. Many years of gaming have taught me that changing what appears to be an innocuous rule can sometimes have an unintended major impact on play balance, and some of the changes I’m talking about are far from innocuous. I’ve toyed with the idea of seeing if I can get one of my friends to try playing just the Pacific war and trying out some of these to see how they work. I think using the ZOC’s and requiring fleets to remain in supply or suffer the die roll penalty will probably have the least impact; going from there the changes begin to have a more dramatic effect on the game. I think the next time we play I’m going to suggest these two rule changes along with a requirement that the Axis cannot win on VP’s regardless of how many they take until/unless Japan takes and holds all DEI territories or the Russian eastern territories for one full turn. I don’t like “just because” rules like that, but it’s a little ridiculous that the Axis can win the game without Japan even having to take an objective that was historically their reason for going to war.

Most of the other ideas I suggest I think would have to be considered for the next game. In a perfect world I’d like to see them in the current game, but I doubt there would be enough interest, patience, or even players to adequately playtest all of them. Perhaps the search rules could be added as well without too much trouble; adding oil to the current game would be a challenge for sure.

If nothing else perhaps I’ve provided some food for thought for the next game.

Bob
"Peace through superior firepower"

John D.

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Re: Air Influence in the Pacific On Supply and Strategic Movement
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2008, 09:13:23 AM »
Hi all

-  Ok - We have stacking limits on islands already.   ;D Oil has been incorporated into the game.  8) We may just need to address how to handle fleet distance.   :)

John

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Re: Air Influence in the Pacific On Supply and Strategic Movement
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2008, 05:04:21 AM »
You guys really put some work into it.  I really appreciate being able to read all your ideas and suggestions in the forum. 
Here is my 1 1/2 cents contribution.  As to ship movements, I had a thought about using something called "a radius of action."  It goes like this, in reference to the European Theatre:
         1.  A ship/naval unit/task force begins its movement from a friendly port (e. g. Gibraltar)/land area (Egypt) and moves no more than 3 sea areas to engage in combat.  Carrier Planes may move one more area from that spot.
          2.  Combat ensues/occurs according to previous rules.
          3.  After combat concludes, the naval unit(s) must return either to the "port/land area" they originated from or another friendly port/land area.  They cannot remain in the sea zone in which combat occured.

Maybe just giving the naval units the ability to move 6/8 sea zones with the requirement of returning to port ff. combat will accomplish the same goals.
Please correct me, but I'm not sure whether or  not according to the present rules that naval units have to return to port or can stay in the same/nearby sea zone where combat occurred.

Your thoughts are welcomed.  kriegspieler7

Mark

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Re: Air Influence in the Pacific On Supply and Strategic Movement
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2008, 07:30:06 AM »
Guys - sorry I have been away - was on an extended business trip in Asia and just got back yesterday.

I am really happy to see that others have come to the same conclusion we have with respect to sea zones and sea zone control.

We have been playing for probably the last year with a similar solution:  That sea zones are not owned by anyone in the same manner as land territories.  Rather, they are only controlled if their is a surface combat unit in the sea zone (destroyer, cruiser, battleship, carrier).  Additionally all planes and cruisers exert a zone of control (ZOC) into all adjacent sea zones (this includes land based air exerting control into adjacent sea zones).  ZOCs are only canceled by the presence of an enemy surface combat ship.  Overlapping ZOCs prevent both sides from tracing supply through the sea zone.

This has been working very well for us so far and I belive should be incorproated into the standard rules.  It is already in the working rules for the advanced game we have been playtesting - but it works well for "The Struggle". . .as well.

We have not tried the limited naval unit range and naval unit out of supply ideas yet - but the logic seems sound and we should give it a shot.

Mark

kriegspieler7

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Re: Air Influence in the Pacific On Supply and Strategic Movement
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2008, 10:23:14 AM »
Following my experience at Gen Con Indy and the games at my house, I think that I've come to the conclusion that Naval Units do not need to return to port after a battle.  Otherwise, in the words of one gamer, "Midway would never have happened."  Response by the opponent needs to be allowed.  A better way would be to say: "At the end of a turn, all naval units needto be in a sea zone adjacent to a friendly land territory/island.  (Similar to what happens to air units after a battle, that they need to return to an airbase somewhere.)

More details are not necessarily good, but if they help clarify some of the elements of the game that may be helpful.   Next.