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Old 06-10-2016, 02:37 AM   #1
Foxendown
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Default Atlantic Fleet-fantastic game but are subs too powerful?

I wasn't expecting a lot for the price, perhaps a fun playable game which was on the light side as far as realism went and which I would grow tired of fairly quickly but what I have found instead is a convincing, full-blooded naval sim with an absorbing campaign and the best ship models I've ever seen. I spend time just looking at them. I really like the gunnery in surface actions. I was bad at it to start with so I started to play the missions with player 2 ON so I could fire from both sides. I really improved quickly and I still like playing both sides rather than the AI (pity that doesn't work in the campaign). The other excellent feature is the ability to disengage which really enhances realism.

My only problem is with the way the subs work. After years of Silent Hunter my inclination is to creep in slowly and stealthily, quickly sink some merchants then dive to avoid the escorts. In AF tactics that would quickly kill you seem to work. You can come in at flank speed, sink the escorts then the rest of the convoy. Escorts approaching from the front quarter are dead. Within 2000 yards torpedoes seem to be more like missiles and can't be avoided because you are stationery between turns. In SH escorts' high speed, shallow draft and irregular course makes then extremely dangerous to engage at periscope depth and that seems as it should be to me.

I've played 9 hours so far mainly on my desktop but a bit on my Linx8 tablet (another big plus point, that it works on such diverse hardware) and my first thought was we need Pacific Fleet updated to run on PC. Not so sure now though; if realism is the objective I can't see how you could shift the focus to long range carrier battles without significant adaptation of the game's format. Midway for example would be a series of scenarios with all aircraft on one side and all ships on the other. Mediterranean Fleet though, that could work.
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Old 06-15-2016, 05:07 PM   #2
33lima
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Yes, many players agree that the sub aspect, while fun if you're 'in' one, is the aspect that would most benefit from some improvement. Even accepting the simplified, wargame-style rather than subsim-style approach, subs are too deadly.

Specifically, dynamic campaign battles too often start with fast-moving warships in the open ocean caught in the middle of an 'area ambush' by multiple subs whose surface max speed is not much different from the warship's crusing speed. Too often, one or more of the subs is inside the 'magic range' where a hit is guaranteed. Escorts, even ones alert to the presence and position of a sub, are way too easy to torpedo - in wargame terms, there needs to be a 'saving [dice] throw' to simulate evasion in these cases. And after killing escorts, the complete lask of stern guns on merchantmen, and the rare use of scattering, means the small convoys are too easy to run down in surfaced subs.

The discussed-but-not-yet-released update to allow a greater starting range option may help with this, as well as giving German surface raiders a chance to run for it. Turning on the dud torpedo realism option may also help.
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Old 06-16-2016, 08:07 AM   #3
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Thanks for that. Have been the victim of two "area ambushes" recently so know what you mean by that. First time I lost a light cruiser immediately, second time I manually scattered my convoy and avoided the torpedo salvos but then lost a destroyer when approaching a sub head on. After that depth charge attacks drove them away. A couple of points to add.

A game about the Battle of the Atlantic should primarily be about U-Boats trying to get to merchants and evading warships to do it, not U-Boats fighting battles against warships.

German surface raiders seem suicidally aggressive. Single ships doing a Hipper style death ride seems to be the norm.

It's hard to steer destroyers into a good attacking position against U-Boats because steering is relatively imprecise (on the other hand you can be quite a long way from the "green spot" and still use weapons).

On the positive side I had an amazingly realistic Battle of the River Plate playing both sides and it may be that I have to give up the campaign in the end and just play the single missions which is a pity, but even in that situation I still feel the game is amazing vfm.
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Old 06-16-2016, 08:34 AM   #4
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Default Welcome back

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Old 06-16-2016, 02:14 PM   #5
33lima
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Yes, I think the AI is a little too aggressive, on both sides. If heavily outgunned, they should evade and run much earlier, instead of often leaving it until the first shell hits have awakened them to the cost of their terrible folly, to adapt Olivier's Crassus.

I have seen some variation, with some ships in some battles being more aggressive than others, so perhaps a mild toning down would make all the difference. Too much might break the game, in the sense it's geared towards pitching you into a battle with the minimum of preliminaries, and encounters in which the enemy immediately 'bravely ran away' are not going to be so much fun, even if more realistic.

Playing for the Kriesgmarine in the dymanic campaign, where you are the surface raider, and often outgunned or (realistically) inclined to avoid damage, the probelm I find is that even the current longer starting range option means you have very little chance of running away, bravely or otherwise.

In wargame terms, I think the chance of subs of either side encountering warships (not escorting convoys) needs greatly reduced, to reflect the reality that single subs usually only managed this when patrolling at choke points, not in open ocean, and there is almost no chance of two or three subs managing to get into a submerged ring drawn fairly tightly around a group of warships cruising nearly as fast as nearly all subs can run at max surfaced speed. Fine for a convoy, capturing the point the U-boats have hooked around the convoy on the surface and submerged ahead of its mean track, to lay their ambush. But not against a warship patrol, especially in the open ocean.

In the dynamic campaign, the underlying wargame seems to generate convoy battles with U-Boats and sometimes different units, in many turns, that don't involve the player, evidenced by the screens reporting such events. This I think, combined with the Sept 1939 start date, provides an excellent justification for the game majoring on German surface units rather than subs. And as you say, it is with these battles that Atlantic Fleet shines most brightly.

ASW for the player in particular is not good, with the deadly subs and the fact that easily the best ASW tactic is for a destroyer to fire a fan of torpedoes at a periscope depth sub. The AI seems ok with DCs and hedgehogs but yes for the player, these weapons are not so easy. This should be easier, while escorts torpedoing submerged subs should be near impossible.

As well as the super set of historical battles and the custom battle generator, I would definitely recommend trying;
1. The German dymanic campaign, which does make you feel like you are Raeder in minuature, if not perhaps Doenitz, and lacks much of the frustrations of the RN dynamic one; and
2. The static, 50-mission campaign, which I have found great fun for both sides (CA mission report here)

Last edited by 33lima; 06-16-2016 at 02:23 PM.
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Old 06-16-2016, 03:53 PM   #6
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Great information I'll try the campaign (and thanks for the welcome back too, it's great to be back aboard).
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Old 09-01-2016, 05:13 AM   #7
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Hi there,

I bought the steam version for PC and was also suprised by the quality of the game for the small price.

I turned on a lot of options which made the campaign more difficult, but I still won the German campaign in the first week of October 1940 and lost only 1 sub and 4 destroyers (one during a battle between my only SAG and a Britsh SAG, two sunk by British subs, one sunk by ramming from Gneisenau when she evaded British sub torpedos). So the British subs did more damage to me than all the rest of the RN...
I share your opinion regarding the sub matter. Maybe the option to sink all merchants after the escorts are sunk should only work for surface ships.
Sinking escorts is far too easy, but I think it will be hard to fix this in the game mechanics.

After my experiencs with the German campaign I think I won't play the British one focussing on defending against subs. Other than that - great game and fun.
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Old 09-05-2016, 03:40 PM   #8
33lima
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You might want to try the British static campaign, rather than the dynamic, Battle of the Atlantic - I found the latter frustrating due to the sub ambushes of warships, but the former much more fun:

http://combatace.com/topic/89053-atl...-heart-of-oak/

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