Italy WAS
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"War alone brings up to their highest tension all human energies and imposes the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have the courage to make it."
-Benito Mussolini

When Italy entered World War II in 1940, its navy was well equipped for war in the Mediterranean. The Regia Marina was responsible for keeping open the sea lanes to their colonies in North Africa. Italian possessions on the North African coast were bordered to the west by French possessions and to the East by British Egypt. To expand, or even maintain, their African holdings, the Italian land forces there required resupply. Though the distances between Southern Italy and Italian Tunisia were relatively short, Malta, Britain's "unsinkable" aircraft carrier was square in any convoy's path. Britain herself, to supply Malta, ran convoys there from Gibraltar to the west or Alexandria to the east. The intersection of these convoy routes meant constant meetings, both intentional and by surprise, took place between British and Italian forces 1940 until the Italian Armistice in 1943.

The heart of the Italian Navy were the three modern battleships of the Vittorio Veneto class. These three warships were some of the best anywhere in the world in 1940. They did, unlike many other modern warships at this time, lack radar and while effective appeared to have more bark than bite. Other capital ships included four modernized World War I battleships of the Andrea Doria and Conti di Cavour (like Giulio Cesare) classes. Italy's cruisers were impressive too, but again lacked radar. Though Italy's older cruiser classes focused on speed (to the detriment of armor), their four new Zara class ships were a capable balanced design. This didn't help, though, when radar-carrying British battleships snuck up on a trio of them at the Battle of Cape Matapan. The result was a predictable blood-bath. Light cruiser design followed a similar path, speed giving way to armor to produce the deadly Duca degli Abruzzi class. If the Regia Marina suffered a deficiency, it was in the number of their destroyers. They had enough to escort their heavy units, but never enough to screen all the North African convoys, and like most naval powers built smaller escorts to fill the void. To top this off, the Italians possessed one of the largest submarine forces in the world.

While the force appeared strong on paper, it was responsible to the Italian Naval Headquarters (Supermarina), who were often hard pressed to deploy their units to the fight. After the first year of war the Italians lacked sufficient fuel oil to mount constant operations and were not at all strategically aggressive (despite many aggressive commanders on the water). The Italian's German allies also gained Supermarina's ear, demanding use of the fleet to ensure supplies for Rommel's Afrika Corps, which cut down even more on offensive operations. Another problem for the Regia Marina, and even occasionally a danger, was Italy's air forces. Just as short of fuel as the navy, the air force often lacked cooperation with the navy, and on several occasions attacked Italian ships, resulting in the "candy-striped" paint schemes on the decks of many Italian warships to avoid further confusion.

An Italian player in WAS, however, need not be saddled with pesky allies, fuel shortages or wayward pilots. They can even make use of the never-completed aircraft carrier Aquila. Take care in constructing your Italian fleets, however, for top-end Italian units often fall short of their counterparts in other navies, and except for the Gorizia they posses no flag bonuses. To prosper as an Ammiraglio, you'll need to be sneaky. Try to grab an early objective with Eugenio di Savoia, lay smoke screens to turn losing initiative into a bonus, or overwhelm your opponent's air defenses with a handful of Sparvieros. Finally, don't be afraid to request that your opponent limit him/her-self to Italy's natural enemies, England and France, and perhaps even choose a year-limited match. This will keep powerful late-war American units off the table, units that a savvy and lucky Italian player can beat, but that clearly outclass even the cream of Italy's fine navy.

ROUS
The preferred fighting distance for the RM tends to be Range 3, and Range 0. This is due to the abundance of R3 secondaries on 5 of the 7 battleships, and the reality of the weak RM torpedo values - mostly 2/1/0/0 (Pegaso was lone ship with range 2 torps until recent additions of the powerful Camicia Nere and flotilla guard Expero). It is worth considering that the RN and even the French with the Lamott-Piq will be offering substantially more firepower at range 2 with torpedoes than can be made up for by the additional secondary guns on the cruisers. Even at range 1, when the RM's Torpedoes do come into play, they are generally at half strength compared to the European Allies.

The Camicia Nere swarm, how to deploy them and oppose them is now the dominant paradigm for RM play. The lack of class limit on the CN, as well as its CE ability, 5 ASW, Sb hunt and crushing (LL Light) Torp Salvo means its now filling just about all possible DD roles, except for smoke. Holding CN's in reserve to move onto objectives on turn 3 for 6 local torps that hit on 5 or 6 is powerful. CN's in a Fleet means Enemy BB's tend not to close in for the objective grab, so games stretch out, and including subs can be more potent.

Lack of air based ASW is another problem. The sparviero is a great plane, but unlike so many other torpedo planes, it cant serve double duty as a ASW unit. Judicious use of the 9 point sub hunting Ambra is often the key to success - most allied players will not willingly trade a Barb or a Truculent for an Ambra. Pegaso is an effective subhunter, cheap and fragile, might as well take the class limit of 4.

Stat Table:

Fleet and Light Aircraft Carriers (CV/CVL):

Escort Carriers (CVE):

Battleships/Battlecruisers:

Heavy Cruisers:

Light Cruisers:

Destroyers:

Destroyer Escorts/Frigates/Corvettes/Escorts:

Submarines:

Torpedo Boats:

Auxiliaries:

Patrol Bombers:

Dive Bombers:

Torpedo Bombers:

Fighters:

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