As I’ve no doubt made abundantly clear, I don’t consider a port adequately defended unless its def str can prevent a 3:1 attack. If the defence str allows a 3:1 then, as both an Allied player and an Axis player, I’d consider that port minimally defended, if not *undefended*. As I’ve explained, I believe that if you are going to use resources to accomplish a goal then you should use enough of those resources to have a VERY good chance to accomplish that goal – if you can’t, then don’t waste the resources. For me, that means if you can’t adequately defend a port, then what is the point in putting troops there at all? If they are not adequately defending the port, then they are serving no purpose in that hex and would be better off deployed elsewhere where they DO perform some useful function.
Let’s look at the numbers. I seem fixated on Syracusa for some reason, so let’s continue to use it as an example. As the Axis we have decided, or been forced through circumstance to accept, that we can NOT put 17 or more def str pts in the hex, nor can we surround it with non-OVable stacks in all adjacent hexes. [To further make the point concerning the necessity of surrounding defended ports with non-OVable units in each hex, let’s look at an example. The Allies have an invasion planned to assault Syracusa, with forces landing in the port hex and at Avola west of Syracusa, while an airborne drop is planned for the hex immediately NW of Syracusa. When the Allies made the plan, Syracusa was unoccupied – ripe pickings!
However, now the hex is occupied by the redoubtable LSSAH, a 20-10 Pz XX. Not even a fort in the hex! How will our invasion fare? We will be using what I have previously defined as a “good” US stack for each of the invasion hexes, i.e. a 4-8, 4x 3-8 and 2x 1-X amph units. Total of 10 grnd str, 49 NGS and 36 GS. For the airdrop we are using the 82nd Airborne [4-5, 3-5 and 2-5] along with 2 US air-droppable battalions and the Fr 2-8 Abn Cmdo. That’s 13 grnd str. For the example, we’ll assume all land disrupted – none healthy and none badly disrupted. Fair enough for argument’s sake. Thus they generate 6.5 att str and can be assisted by 24 NGS and 18 GS. So our total strength for the combat is 10 amphibious and 6.5 airborne str pts, 73 NGS and 54 GS, for a combined total of 143.5 att str. Compared to the LSSAH’s 20 def str. Which means we have a bit over a 7:1, with a -2 DRM. So how fares our assault?
Well, the Allies are GUARANTEED to take the hex, will reduce the Pz XX to cadre 4 times out of 6 and only have a 1 in 6 chance to take ANY losses, those being limited to 10 printed str pts worth of non-specialist units. So long LSSAH… and up to 3 months worth of German Arm repls…. if the Allies are smart and occupy Augusta BEFORE resolving this attack – thus denying LSSAH any retreat route, otherwise the Axis *only* lose two months worth of Arm repls…
Now let’s imagine the same situation, but with an additional two 1 str pt units added to the defense, one each located in each of the hexes adjacent to Syracusa. Now the Allies can muster no more than 48 att str vs. LSSAH’s 20 def str, or 2:1 -2 [assuming that Augusta is defended, of course]. Now the Allies are eliminated 6 times out of 6, the only saving grace the fact that they will cadre LSSAH 1 in 6 times. Regardless of the dr, the Axis retain ownership of the port hex.
Pretty impressive what two 1 str pt units in the right hexes can do, eh?
Moving on. Having decided the Axis won’t be putting 17 [or more] def str in the hex, nor surrounding it with a non-OVable screen, what SHOULD we put in Syracusa, and why? Well, if not 17 def str pts, then I would suggest 1 def str pt. Putting any more in the hex is simply a waste of resources. Against the 15-10 HG XX, the Allies get a 9:1 from three hexes, and a 6:1 from only two hexes. And a very do-able 3:1 from only ONE hex. Anything less than 17 screened def str pts and more than 1 str pts is simply pointless – its just giving the Allies free kills while not preventing them from taking the hex. A hex defended by a 5-7-6 Inf XX means you lose the hex AND the division, while not defending the hex means you lose it BUT not the 5-7-6. Wouldn’t that 5-7-6 ALWAYS be worth more in the hex adjacent to the port, say, rather than in that same hex, but now reduced to cadre?
But what about Ex losses, Disastrous Losses and VPs – don’t they matter? Well yes – but not so much. The Allies “basic” US two hex frontage invasion of 95 att str pts can get a 5: -2 vs even a 16-10 Pz XX. Now that AS scares me, in that it represents a 40 VP loss, but hey, no guts no glory. The EX gets me the port at a cost of 32 VPs, while the HX gets me the port at a cost of 16 VPs. All costly results, no question. However, first of all why would the Allies make a two hex frontage attack when the Axis is not employing screens? Make the three hex frontage attack [an 8:1 in this case] and accomplish your goal, getting the port, with no risk at all. Secondly, is even losing those 40 VPs on a dr of 1 at 5:1 -2 something catastrophic? It probably seems so when it happens, but given how the VP chart works, is it REALLY something that the Allies can’t recover from over time? I’d say no. However I’m planning on addressing VPs more completely in my concluding post, so I’ll move on.
The other reason that one might defend a port without sufficient force [as I define it, i.e. less than 17 def str and/or without a screen] is to have SOME unit or units there to allow other units to react into the hex, to augment the def str of the port. [Note that you can NOT react into an enemy occupied hex unless it is also friendly occupied.]
This raises the question of just why one would set up their defence relying upon the HOPE of a favorable reaction dr, when they could avoid the dr by simply placing the unit they hope to get to the hex, in the hex in the first place? If you intend to have some C/M XX, for example, roll for reaction into X port anyway, what’s the rationale for not just placing it there to begin with?
I simply can’t see the point in defending a hex with say, a 10-10 PzGr XX, when the Allies can, without any strain, get a 6:1 or better attack against the hex, automatically take it AND as a bonus have a chance to cadre the XX in the process. Sure, losing those 20 VPs on the EX vs the 10-10 will hurt, but if they have been lost taking a port and getting a foothold on Sicily, then however regrettable their loss, they have been spent in a good cause and their loss is justified by the position they gain for the Allies.
The Axis simply can NOT afford to waste troops by defending ports insufficiently. If you can not prevent a 3:1 at a port, then it isn’t worth defending AT ALL. The Allies have enough advantages in the game without the Axis giving them even more, by throwing away their own troops for no purpose.