In the Pearl Harbor attack, people like Don Rae advocate sacrificing a battleship or bomber (instead of a cheaper fighter) as a "second" casualty as a "gambit" just to get American air forces to head for the Pacific instead of the Atlantic. Can one also make a case for electing NOT to take the sub as a (first) casualty?

Likewise, in a first turn Med naval battle, should Germany use its sub off France as "cannon fodder" in an attack against the British battleship off Gibraltar? Or should it have the sub try to take out the U.S. convoy off the Atlantic and let larger units deal with the battleship (and suffer the consequences).

Basically, is it sometimes better to take big warships or planes as potential casualties over a smaller, but more strategic unit such as a sub? Or is the loss in IPCs too much to bear (12 or 15 versus 8)? How do you make these choices? And, how, if at all, would your answer change if you had "super" subs.

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    @Tom: On a tangent, there is an interesting variation called "two-hit battleships," in which each battleship can sustain two hits before sinking. (A damaged battleship remains damaged the rest of the game.) This gives battleships a more realistic quality and helps balance the cost to use ratio to a more fair value, IMO. Jun 7, 2011 at 22:46
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    I think this question is too broad because it's asking about an overall A&A naval philosophy, which I'm not even inclined to think exists. If you've come across a particular situation and you're asking what tactics people use and what their decision calculus is that would be easier to answer, or even naval strategy in a particular area of the map (e.g. the question about what the US should do with its Pacific fleet).
    – Adam Wuerl
    Jun 8, 2011 at 11:38
  • @Adam - I'm inclined to agree Jun 8, 2011 at 11:44
  • OK, let me try to fix this question.
    – Tom Au
    Jun 8, 2011 at 12:57
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    I think it's a much tighter question now. Specifically about when it might make sense to sacrifice a capital ship or aircraft to save a sub.
    – Adam Wuerl
    Jun 8, 2011 at 20:49

1 Answer 1


After having left a "partial" answer to try to frame the discussion a week ago, I'll now try to finish it.

In purely NAVAL terms, a sub is worth more than 8 IPCs. Specifically, a 24-IPC battleship has four attack and four defense rolls. So do two subs. On this basis, a sub might be worth 12 IPCs, about the same as a fighter. And more than a transport PLUS an infantry.

A sub also has "first strike" and "early withdrawal" capabilities that battleships and fighters do not, adding to their value.

Unlike the others, a sub cannot fight air or land units. You could say that diminishes the value of the sub, or at least that this balances out the sub's special capabilities.

So if we're valuing the units for their purely naval capacities, there's probably nothing better (for the money) than a sub. The reason to use the sub as "cannon fodder" is if we want to save planes or battleships for non-naval functions like land bombardment or anti-aircraft. And that these needs took priority over what was going on at sea.

  • I appreciate your answer, but Stack Exchange sites are not discussion forums. Questions are asked, and answered. Please try to keep that in mind when asking questions here. See the meta question: meta.boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/462/…, and the FAQ entry "What kind of questions should I not ask here?" Jun 9, 2011 at 15:01
  • @littlebobbytables: adam seems to feel that the reworded question is ok: when should I sacrifice capital ships or planes to save subs. (I agree that the earlier question was too broad.) Then I gave a "sample" answer that subs might be worth more than their nominal value (8 IPCs) under certain circumstances. But I'm still waiting for an answer to the rest of the question. I wouldn't have done this if someone had answered within 24 hours.
    – Tom Au
    Jun 9, 2011 at 15:27
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    it takes more than 24 hours sometimes for a question to be answered, you need to be patient. The re-worded question works better, but I take issue that it seems like you are trying to start a discussion. Jun 9, 2011 at 15:30
  • @littlebobbytables: Maybe I should have waited 48 hours instead of 24. Also, the site awards a "self learned" badge to anyone who answers their own question with three upvotes. So it might not frown on such answers. Also, I deliberately used a partial escalation feature to stop just short of answering my own question.
    – Tom Au
    Jun 9, 2011 at 15:34

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