Welcome back to Advanced Tactics Gold college! Today we discuss ships! Let’s start with the basics: Not every map with sea hexes on it requires you to have a navy. A navy is only necessary if you want to invade hostile territory and conduct amphibious operations or if you want to (strategically) transfer troops overseas.
It is important to keep in mind that supply and production flows freely over sea hexes and you do not need any navy to get a factory on continent A to deliver tanks on continent B. You may wonder if some sort of magic transport is involved? No, please consider this supply and production delivery done by unseen merchant ships.
This shipping of supplies and production over water is free, but it is prone to damage due to enemy navy or air activity along the movement-path the supplies take. Not having a safe lane of supply to your overseas destinations can cause up to 90% of supplies and production to be destroyed. Building at least a small navy to safeguard your sea supply lanes is always a good idea.
Now what ships can you build? And when should you build them?
The first type of ship that we’ll discuss is the Cargo Ship. Its costs 2000 production points and 20 raw to produce. The Cargo Ship is the Train/Truck of the oceans, so to speak… You can place your Cargo Ships in a HQ located in a port city to enable that HQ to (strategically) transfer troops overseas. But you can also put your Cargo Ships in regular units and use them to load/unload land unit troops. The Cargo Ship is the only type of ships that allows loading and unloading of units and thus your only means to conduct amphibious invasions into enemy held territory overseas. The Cargo Ship is very weak in combat and should always be escorted when you expect either enemy ships or enemy airstrikes.
An ideal escort is the Destroyer. The Destroyer is a relatively cheap naval unit and is just 10 raw more expensive then the Cargo Ship. The Destroyer is the lightest ship of war available and will perform well against Cargo Ships, other Destroyers and Submarines. However when facing heavier ships of war the Destroyer will only be temporarily capable of protecting your Cargo Ships.
The two capitol ships of war are the Cruiser and the Battleship. They rule the waves but come at heavy cost. Producing a Cruiser takes 4000 production points and 70 raw, a Battleship 8000 production points and 160 raw. However if you are serious in attaining naval superiority these ships are a good investment. They are vulnerable to submarine attack, but you can protect them by assigning a Destroyer escort. The Battleship is on a cost-versus-effectiveness comparison better in ship-to-ship combat and shore bombardment then the Cruiser, but the Cruiser has better anti-air capabilities. A battleship attacking a Destroyer for example has 50% chance to kill the Destroyer but only 5% chance to get killed itself. A Battleship attacking a Cruiser has 50% chance to kill the Cruiser, but only 10% chance to get killed itself.
Now the submarine is a bit of a special unit. It has 20 hide points making it harder to spot by enemy forces. Basically it is best used in attacking unescorted Cargo Ships and capitol ships and causing anti-supply damage to enemy supply lanes. Submarines should avoid fighting Destroyers at all cost. For example a Destroyer attacking a Submarine has 30% chance to kill it while it has only 7.5% chance to get killed itself. Also Submarines should avoid coming under air attack at all cost. Submarines are relatively cheap ships with a higher survival rate in combat due to their ability to submerge (turn a kill hit into a retreat hit), but you must remember they are weak units. A submarine is preferably used in an offensive role, since it is very weak when attacked itself. For example: A submarine attacking a Battleship has 12.5% chance to kill it versus a 30% chance to get killed itself, but a Battleship attacking a Submarine has 30% chance to kill the submarine versus only 5% of getting killed itself.
The most complicated and expensive ship to properly use is probably the Carrier. The Carrier is as expensive as the Battleship and though it has some solid anti-air defenses it is vulnerable to almost any form of direct naval attack. The Carrier should be kept out of combat or be heavily escorted. The key to making the Carrier investment pay off is to transfer the maximum amount of aircraft to the Carrier unit that you can. Ideally you’ll have researched carrier fighters and torpedo bombers since they take less space on the Carrier then regular aircraft. For example a Carrier can carry 10 carrier fighters but only 5 normal fighters. Torpedo bombers are in a cost-versus-effectiveness comparison the best unit to destroy enemy ships. A Carrier with full aircraft compliment will be a decisive asset when fighting out major naval engagements in big oceans. For example 5 torpedo bombers have a chance of 50% of killing a Battleship while on average losing only 1 aircraft.
When a lot of islands and coastline is available you might want to consider using land based air support for conducting your navy battles since it will save you the cost of building Carriers.
One thing to keep a serious eye on is the oil expenditure of your navy. For example: Cargo Ships use 50 oil for moving the full 100AP and battleships use 200 oil for full movement. A Cargo Ship used in a HQ for (strategic) transfer also uses up 50 oil when its full transport capacity is utilized.
For Submarine commanders it is important to keep in mind that urban harbors (Urban Landscape) provide extra protection for submarines.
When your enemy has a larger navy you may want to keep your fleet inside port and buy some Artillery. Artillery guns stationed in a port town will help defend the ships in the port when they are under naval attack and can be used to attack any enemy ships trying to blockade your port by artillery attack in your own turn.
Having naval superiority can be decisive, but study the map carefull and decide if you really need a strong navy to win. Be careful not to sink to much production power, raw materials and oil into your navy.
That concludes the lesson for today. I hope you enjoyed it! I am not sure yet on the topic of the next lesson, but I should still discuss Staff, Engineers, Flak and some other specialized troops.