Author Topic: Oil & Supply for fleets  (Read 2002 times)

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Oil & Supply for fleets
« on: May 23, 2008, 07:51:09 AM »
The topic about the DEI transitions nicely into a related issue, which is the treatment of oil and supply for ships in the game – or rather, the lack thereof.

It has bothered me from about the third or fourth time I played the game that Japan was able to undertake so many ambitious naval campaigns that historically would have been very difficult, if not outright impossible to accomplish. It bothers me even more that a fleet can be cut off, have no supply line, and yet suffer no ill effects for it.

Ships simply couldn’t go steaming around wherever they pleased. They were limited to a certain operational radius from a base of supply. Having an oiler with the fleet could extend their range somewhat, but at some point the fleet is going to have to go somewhere to be replenished.

I’m attaching an article titled, “Oil Logistics” that was published in the Spring 2004 Air Force Journal of Logistics that gives a very good analysis of the part that oil played in the Pacific War. Among the points the author discusses is how if the Japanese had destroyed the oil tank farm during their attack on Pearl Harbor it would have crippled the US’s ability to operate in the Pacific. Regarding this, Chester Nimitz is quoted as saying, "Had the Japanese destroyed the oil, it would have prolonged the war another two years.” The reason why is simple – the US fleet would had to have been based out of the west coast, which would have meant they would had to have gone 2000 miles just to get to Pearl Harbor. Until the fleet base could be repaired and oil stocks built back up the Pacific Fleet would have been incapable of engaging in large-scale offensive operations.

I saw a really good game recently being played at our local game club called, “Asia Engulfed.” I watched about 8-10 turns and I really like the way they have handled supply and oil in this game. Basically, there are several oil resources marked on the map – Japan draws oil points each turn based on how many resources they control. Each fleet burns an oil point whenever they move. In addition, Japan has to commit transports in order to keep their holdings in supply. The closer a location is to Japan, the easier it is to keep supplied; the further away it is the more difficult (and it also takes more transport points – keeping Okinawa in supply only costs one point; Guadalcanal requires 3 points). The US can interdict with submarines, with any hits scored reducing both transport capacity and the amount of oil available. What happens in the game is thus quite realistic. Japan runs wild early on; later, as the supply and oil requirements increase Japan is faced with some difficult decisions, and often has to forgo opportunities for the simple reason that they can’t produce the needed supplies, don’t have enough oil – or both.

I know there is some debate on this subject. Some feel that oil needs to be factored into the game in some way; others feel that it’s either unnecessary or too complicated for the scope of the game. I don’t want a lot of complicated rules; at the same time, I think the level of realism that the game is shooting for requires at least some discussion about how to make things a little more realistic regarding ships and supply. An excellent article on how shortages of oil may have impacted the Japanese in the Guadalcanal campaign can be read here:

It may not be possible to do much on this subject in the current game without having to re-write too many things, though possibly something along these lines could be included in the next game. Mark/John – I do think buying “Asia Engulfed” and seeing how the rules work might be a worthwhile investment for you for future game development.

Here are a couple of ideas I’ve been kicking around that I’ll toss out for discussion.

1) The first idea is probably the simplest. A fleet must trace supply in the same way as land units. A fleet that cannot trace supply will be considered out of supply and subject to the same limits as land units (-1 to attack and defense rolls, each ship has one less AA roll (but not less than one)). Ships out of supply could also not make amphibious assaults or take part in offshore bombardments.

2) The other idea I had was to create a new unit for the game – naval bases. A naval base would be a counter similar to the current airbase counters. A naval base could represent a port facility, but also just a location to which a dedicated effort was made to build up sufficient supplies to allow a fleet to operate. My thought is that similar to airbases there would be two levels – Level 3 and Level 5. The level number would represent the number of hits it takes to destroy the base (or just to destroy the stockpiled supplies). Enemy units could attack a naval base just as they can any other unit. Two hits on a level 5 base would reduce it to a 3; three more hits would destroy it. Building a naval base would be the same as an airbase – you must first control the territory where you want to build it. A level 3 base costs 5 points, and 5 points more to upgrade to level 5. Ships could only operate tactically within so many zones of a naval base (4 Europe/2 Pacific? – this would have to be discussed), though they could strategically redeploy from within the operating radius of one base to within the operating radius of another base.

This would probably also require the creation of oilers to take into account where fleets operated beyond their normal operating radius – the Pearl Harbor attack comes to mind. The simplest way to handle this is to allow a player to spend one income point to buy an oil resource. The Oil resource can be loaded on a transport. Placing this transport with a combat fleet provides one full turn of supply to a fleet that is outside the operating radius of a naval base.

Just as with airbases, some naval bases would start already on the map. Again, for simplicities sake it might be best to say some areas (for example, the US West Coast) have intrinsic bases and not be represented with counters.

I realize that this second idea is fairly complex, and would require discussion – there may be any number of things I’m not considering here.

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« Last Edit: May 23, 2008, 07:56:14 AM by Bobsalt »
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