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Author Topic: Warhammer 40k and Sea-based naval warfare  (Read 7951 times)

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Offline XCrusaderguy01

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Warhammer 40k and Sea-based naval warfare
« on: April 8, 2009, 07:39:58 PM »
Warhammer 40k in its own way mirrors bits of history, and it's easy to see the (sometimes) subtle allusions to various cultures and conflicts. History is full of naval combat and various nations vying for dominance at sea, and 40k parallels this with space-based naval combat. But why not with water based naval combat as well?

I understand that in real life, naval warfare and struggles for naval dominance arise out of necessity.  Control of shipping lanes and ports are absolutely vital to the success of a nation. Even if control over water isn't what sparks a conflict, naval warfare is almost inescapable. Ships are required to move large quantities of almost everything (men, machines, supplies, weapons) when a nation is involved in a large scale war, and sinking such convoys are a strategic blow to an enemy. Naval invasions also allow commanders to avoid enemy strongpoints and long campaigns of attrition over land, whiles shore based bombardment and air assets can support ground operations.

40k almost too conveniently sidesteps these problems. Large quantities of men and material can be transported to any point on a planet via space, and space-based landing craft can launch an invasion anywhere they wish. Bombardment, support of ground forces, and even defense of sea-based resources (oil, food, power, etc) can be better accomplished by air and space assets. It seems that the terrestrial, waterborne navies of the real world have been judiciously excluded from the world of Warhammer 40k.

Something about this doesn't fully satisfy me though. The idea of aircraft carriers, submarines, and battleships (Imperial, Astartes, Xeno, etc) duking it out over open water or supporting ground operations is exciting to me. I'd love to see Imperial Superheavy Battleships bristling with baneblade sized turrets, or giant-squid and leviathan-like Tyranid gargantuan bio constructs.

These wouldn't need to be in model form to be cool (although a 40k-scale Imperial Battleship would be quite a sight indeed, and quite a feat for a scratchbuilder! :)), but even a smaller scale aeronautica or BFG-like game of 40k naval combat could be interesting.

So tell me what you think. Can a situation (in a system, on a single specific planet, whatever) be devised such that I can have my Imperial battleships and destroyers roaming the seas hunting for elusive Eldar submarines? Even if you don't think naval combat fits practically into the 40k universe, does it at least seem as cool to you as it does to me? I'm sure there's plenty of other things in the 40k universe that eschew practicality to follow this "Rule of Cool." ;)


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Re: Warhammer 40k and Sea-based naval warfare
« Reply #1 on: April 8, 2009, 07:42:12 PM »
Yup, against Orks - There has to be some way the Imperium plans to counter Ork Submersibles.

Offline XCrusaderguy01

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Re: Warhammer 40k and Sea-based naval warfare
« Reply #2 on: April 8, 2009, 08:27:57 PM »
Yup, against Orks - There has to be some way the Imperium plans to counter Ork Submersibles.

Hmm very good point. I'm not familiar with what they use the submersibles for. I assume since I've never heard of any other sort of sea-based vessel of any other race for them to attack or plunder, they must use them strictly for raiding coastal areas. It seems like this would call for a light, maneuverable coastal combined arms patrol with small sub-hunting vessels and shore-based anti-sub air assets. Even if the orks massed subs, it would seem to call for a response like this (many small, depth-charging sub-hunter vessels and aircraft) rather than the flotilla of big-gun battleships that I'm craving.

I think part of the problem I see is that there doesn't seem to be a reason for any faction to seek to control the sea in the first place. Obviously, if the an enemy had a huge armada cruising around there would be need to deal with them. But why would they have done that in the first place? With no shipping to sink, you are left with all the other things that ships can do that space-based assets seem to perform just as well or better.

Perhaps its a matter of efficiency? Modern navies are quite expensive, but compared to space fleets would be (relatively speaking) dirt cheap. Conceivably, guns on the deck of a battleship or missiles launched from a cruiser could be more accurate than orbital bombardment, and much more cost effective. An aircraft carrier would be an easier and cheaper method of carrying and refueling air and spacecraft than trips back and forth from orbit. The only thing I see here though is that ships would be tied to the coasts, with no reason to venture out into more open water.

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Re: Warhammer 40k and Sea-based naval warfare
« Reply #3 on: April 8, 2009, 08:33:24 PM »
You could imagine some PDFs having naval forces depending on the geographical make up of the place. They're there to counter all threats (including internal ones) hence you could probably get away with some gun units there. When the governor is giving the orders they don't have to always make sense. Merely be obeyed.
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Re: Warhammer 40k and Sea-based naval warfare
« Reply #4 on: April 9, 2009, 02:28:20 AM »
Of course planets with large areas of water will, like Rummy said, probably have PDF naval forces. Imperial Guard probably also have different types of ships they can deploy in case they need it. Forces such as Space Marines and Eldar on the other hand would probably not have such equipment, a Thunderhawk or drop pod can deliver the Space Marines were they need to go and the Falcon/Wave Serpent/Vampire can do the same for Eldar. Given the capacity most forces have for aerial (or better) transport the use of convoys transporting troops or resources are probably unnecessary, but depending on local resources/technology of the world naval ships may be of use.

if you want to convert your own models you could use the Battle Fleet Gothic ruleset for the games since it is quite close to naval combat and you could easily substitute space with sea.

Offline Jehan-Reznor

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Re: Warhammer 40k and Sea-based naval warfare
« Reply #5 on: April 9, 2009, 06:10:58 AM »
And it off course depends on the tech evel of the planet, it could range from wooden barges to STD battleship
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Offline Butters

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Re: Warhammer 40k and Sea-based naval warfare
« Reply #6 on: April 9, 2009, 06:28:24 AM »
if the imperial guard need transport to a different part of the planet where space and aircraft would be shot down, the sea is most practical way to get there.

also, there is a line in necropolis from gaunt's ghosts where criid remembers seeing rich and snooty people boarding trains at veyveyr railhead to places like the space port city, verghast badport. this implies that space travel is very costly and to justify the cost of plasma (to fuel the ship's engines), the imperium would mainly use them for off world travel.
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Offline Benis

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Re: Warhammer 40k and Sea-based naval warfare
« Reply #7 on: April 9, 2009, 07:03:02 AM »
also, there is a line in necropolis from gaunt's ghosts where criid remembers seeing rich and snooty people boarding trains at veyveyr railhead to places like the space port city, verghast badport. this implies that space travel is very costly and to justify the cost of plasma (to fuel the ship's engines), the imperium would mainly use them for off world travel.

You don't need to do actual space travel to get from a to b on a planet, given the Imperium has vastly superiour flightcapabilities than we do they could have pan-ocean planes bigger than oiltankers. As for Space Travel and expense, it probably costly but this can also vary widely between planets/systems.

Offline Butters

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Re: Warhammer 40k and Sea-based naval warfare
« Reply #8 on: April 9, 2009, 07:10:49 AM »
but in warfare, with all the hydra flak batteries around, unsupported air forays into enemy airspace is akin to suicide.

and if you still think a plane is indestructable, i have a nice job for you that involves protecting a Behemoth bomber convoy.

and if you survive that, enlist in the Elysian Drop Troops. you'll soon learn what it feels like to have a Valkyrie shot out from under you.
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Offline Benis

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Re: Warhammer 40k and Sea-based naval warfare
« Reply #9 on: April 9, 2009, 07:54:13 AM »
but in warfare, with all the hydra flak batteries around, unsupported air forays into enemy airspace is akin to suicide.

How is that different from naval actions? Ships are even more vulnerable since they are slow moving compared to planes and can thus be targetted by more conventional weapons. And who said they were going to be unsupported? ;)

Offline Butters

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Re: Warhammer 40k and Sea-based naval warfare
« Reply #10 on: April 9, 2009, 09:24:22 AM »
are you saying that hydra flak batteries and manticore missile stations aren't 'conventional weapons'?

And who said they were going to be unsupported? ;)

i did. now move along, obviously and unfairly biast anti-naval person.
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Offline dakota

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Re: Warhammer 40k and Sea-based naval warfare
« Reply #11 on: April 9, 2009, 10:00:59 AM »
but in warfare, with all the hydra flak batteries around, unsupported air forays into enemy airspace is akin to suicide.

How is that different from naval actions? Ships are even more vulnerable since they are slow moving compared to planes and can thus be targeted by more conventional weapons. And who said they were going to be unsupported? ;)

In many ways aircraft are more vulnerable than surface targets (in this case ships). As they have more elevation they can be shot from ground based weapons systems from further away, and indeed from above by orbital weapons. Sea based military, even in more technological advanced times still represent a highly efficient and safe way to move men and materials around a planet. While a thunderhawk gunship is a massive model in terms of 40k it's smaller, and carries less than a Galaxy-class transport plane we use today.

To fight a full ground war would require thousands of vulnerable fights and a huge outlay of fuel and resources. A safe landing zone would also be required along with depots, staging areas, barracks, ammo dumps etc. Most landing/beach assault ships have this capacity built in. And while resupplying and bolstering a front could be done by air the initial assault would be easier by sea. once a port is secured it can act as a landing zone of both ships and space based resources. Most modern navys merely act as a floating staging area now (although they hate to admit it). 

Looking back at modern conflicts, armies today just can't move enough stuff by air to be effective.

Operation Market Garden air borne assault into France - Fail

Ohama beach - sea based assault into Normandy - Win

Desert storm - Initial artillery and missile strikes all sea based with  almost all material being shipped by sea - Win

Indeed, look at the effort the Imperium goes to to mount titan-class weapons on well... titans. Huge slow moving behemoths that are now impossible for them to produce. The same power generation and weapon capacity would be far more easily mounted on a floating hull producing a truly terrifying battleship. To the same extent, apart from the railway guns of the great wars, the largest ordinance has always been ship mounted.

Anyway, the point being ships are vital to any military invasion. the moving of that much material forces commanders to use the sea. And as this supply line becomes the vulnerable point of a campaign, it would become one of the focus of any action. Unless the conflict involved races with significant anti-grav or teleportation/warp gate technology such as the Eldar or Necrons, the chances are it will have a seaborne aspect.

All this also precludes that the conflict is going to be fought on an yet another earth-type world where maritime assets consist of fishing and oil/gas production - assets of far less importance, and things hardly worth fighting over in the 40K universe. Some planets in the galaxy may have far greater water to land ratios with floating or undersea hive cities and production platforms. One of the reasons space marines fought with bolters in sealed power armour suits was their ability to function in all atmospheres including underwater. 

So, now we come to the problems of a sea based game. The first is that the action is based in a far more three dimensional setting than a standard 40K game. Not only is the sea/board surface important, but so too are submersible units be they submarines, troops, or vehicles travelling on the sea bed. A diver with a chianfist is probably just as much a threat to a ship as a surface based ranged attack. So too are ariel units. skimmers and aircraft are deadly threats to sea based units. How this could be represented would pose quite a problem to any game designer.

How each of the races would approach their naval forces would also be interesting. As already mentioned, the Imperail Guard/PDF would mostly likely command such forces with space marines co-opting such units. Chaos would probably have corrupted ships crews many renegade ships along with ships summoned by dark sorceries such as the Floating Towers of Tzeeentch.

Presumably, there'd be Ork clans that based themselves at sea, with a mix of battleships and submersibles along with Cult of Speed crewed torpedo boats, zodiacs etc. On top of that a grechin manned giant-robot-shark is too good an idea to waste. 

Tyranids would naturally have a whole host of bio-organisms. Indeed, the prospect of converting the majority of a planets bio-mass out of sight in the water would make a marine based attack on a world a primary facet of their invasions. Being able to drop gene-seed pods into the ocean where they'd quicky gestate and hatch into huge leviathans able to support enormas psychic brains that would broadcast the hive mind across the planet. Along with the kraken-like 'Nids would be schools of lesser hunters and predators ready for the command to metamorphose and become amphibious an attack the land. This could give the tyranids a very "Lovecraft-ian" feel with great Cthuliod monsters calling from the deep.

The Eldar and the Dark Eldar might have the technology to circumvent sea travel but not maritime assault. you could assume they would have aspect warriors dedicated to sea shrines or skimmers capable of landing on water.

The Necrons definitely possess the technology not to need waterborne craft, but who said that all their tombs were buried and not sunken? The Monoliths and destroyers would be unaffected by going over water and the warriors have no need to breathe so can travel beneath the waves.     

I'm sorry if this is a bit of a rambling post, but i think like XCrusaderguy01 that a sea based game would be really cool, and would fit into the 40k universe. 

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Re: Warhammer 40k and Sea-based naval warfare
« Reply #12 on: April 9, 2009, 01:20:54 PM »
In many ways aircraft are more vulnerable than surface targets (in this case ships). As they have more elevation they can be shot from ground based weapons systems from further away, and indeed from above by orbital weapons. Sea based military, even in more technological advanced times still represent a highly efficient and safe way to move men and materials around a planet. While a thunderhawk gunship is a massive model in terms of 40k it's smaller, and carries less than a Galaxy-class transport plane we use today.

Like I said, the Imperium has vastly superiour capabilities than us when it comes to this kind of technology, they have planes that can operate in space and within an atmosphere, can be launched from a planet's surface and be protected by energy shields. The ships they use to deploy troops from space can most surely be used to deploy troops in any situation that a naval ship could be used, since they are capable to arrive in hot zones. Sure, I bet if Imperial Guard forces actually have naval ships they will be awesome, mounting shield generators and enough firepower to make a Baneblade commander feel silly but the point is that due to their space/aerial technology they can simply use such ships instead.

To fight a full ground war would require thousands of vulnerable fights and a huge outlay of fuel and resources. A safe landing zone would also be required along with depots, staging areas, barracks, ammo dumps etc. Most landing/beach assault ships have this capacity built in. And while resupplying and bolstering a front could be done by air the initial assault would be easier by sea. once a port is secured it can act as a landing zone of both ships and space based resources. Most modern navys merely act as a floating staging area now (although they hate to admit it). 

How is this different from deploying a space vessel to function as a beach head for invasive forces? Surely a space ship with such capabilities would be better since it can easier by pass enemy fortifications and defenses?

Looking back at modern conflicts, armies today just can't move enough stuff by air to be effective.

Again, the technology is so different that you can't really make such comparisons.

Indeed, look at the effort the Imperium goes to to mount titan-class weapons on well... titans. Huge slow moving behemoths that are now impossible for them to produce. The same power generation and weapon capacity would be far more easily mounted on a floating hull producing a truly terrifying battleship. To the same extent, apart from the railway guns of the great wars, the largest ordinance has always been ship mounted.

Titans are still in production but that's off-topic... Titans can only be reliable deployed in situation when you have space superiority or at least space equality (whatever the term is) otherwise you risk your incredible expensive god machines becomes stranded hulks due to incoming bombardments from space, the same would go for naval ships, space ships on the other hand tends to be faster which means less likely to be properly targeted. It would be easier to mount weapons on a naval ship but then again it might not be as useful when the initial coastal area is secure.

Anyway, the point being ships are vital to any military invasion.

Today yes, but you have to consider what the capacity of the Imperium actually is. A single space cruiser could easily lay siege to a world far more advanced than ours, destroying highly protected military targets and mount invasions with any problems. I'm not saying that there doesn't exist situations were naval ships would be superiour I'm simply stating that it is the exception of an exception when that happens.

The Eldar and the Dark Eldar might have the technology to circumvent sea travel but not maritime assault. you could assume they would have aspect warriors dedicated to sea shrines or skimmers capable of landing on water.

Last a question, why would you want to land on water? :)

Offline Awfully Dandy

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Re: Warhammer 40k and Sea-based naval warfare
« Reply #13 on: April 9, 2009, 04:40:55 PM »
I can't imagine anyone not using the ocean, it's another tool to be used. But on the otherhand 40k general don't really do stratergy.

I think that the guard would have naval vehicles to allow them to have mobile missle platforms, etc. Immagine a aircraft carrier whic had a couple of maruarder bombers on it. Or insteed a sub eqiped with a short range virus missle (The virus has a small time)

I could imagine the ravenguard landing a underwater vehicle inot the sea and then using it to avoid detection to close in upon a capital city at which point they launch missle pods each with a homer beacon for a nearby terminator assualt. Why don't they do it from orbit you say. Well the planet may have AA guns too strong or even it's own airforce to counter it.


The sea on the other hand. ;)

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Re: Warhammer 40k and Sea-based naval warfare
« Reply #14 on: April 9, 2009, 06:06:50 PM »
I'm all for sea-battles. The idea of a super-duper-mega-heavy battleship brimming with plasma cannons, missile launchers and aircraft is just too damn tempting. :P

Offline XCrusaderguy01

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Re: Warhammer 40k and Sea-based naval warfare
« Reply #15 on: April 9, 2009, 06:54:17 PM »
I'm all for sea-battles. The idea of a super-duper-mega-heavy battleship brimming with plasma cannons, missile launchers and aircraft is just too damn tempting. :P

Exactly, I just can't give that up!  ;D

I did actually think of something that ships have that mobile land, air, and small orbital craft really can't provide. This is something I think could actually validate naval conflict in 40k, and it goes back to what ships do best: carrying heavy stuff.

In 40k, the best defended areas are always protected by void shields and anti-starship defensive energy weapons. These things by their very nature are huge (they'd have to be to threaten or repulse a large-scale orbital bombardment), so they are generally housed in static silos defending starports, cities, factories, etc. An invader almost no matter how sophisticated can't bring assets like this with him, nor can a defender move them around to where they are needed, unless he has something large and powerful enough to carry it around.

This is perfect for massive, half-mile long Imperial vessels bear, along with fleets of smaller ships for protection and support. If you think about it, its somewhat the way a modern carrier battlegroup works, but with a more defensive slant. Fleets like this could protect huge stretches of coastline from bombardment, without the need to build massive defensive works in each major city. Furthermore, defensive fleets like this could station themselves at various points in the ocean to threaten ships in orbit. Since they are designed to repulse space-based attacks, the only remaining options would an air attack (unlikely to succeed against a reasonably well-equipped fleet), or a fleet of the enemy's own.  I think this sets the stage for epic 40k fleet battles quite nicely.

Of course, very seldom in 40k is a planet controlled relatively equally by warring factions, as usually the battle lines are drawn between space-based attackers and planetbound defenders. Either the war would need to last long enough for the enemy to establish a foothold for ports and ship assembly, or they would need some way to actually land something like a battleship. Are even the heaviest landing craft close to capable of such a feat?


Offline Commisar Vlanse

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Re: Warhammer 40k and Sea-based naval warfare
« Reply #16 on: April 9, 2009, 06:54:55 PM »
I'm all for sea-battles. The idea of a super-duper-mega-heavy battleship brimming with plasma cannons, missile launchers and aircraft is just too damn tempting. :P
Yes that is to damn tempting. :o
Has anyone played supreme commander? Because in SC it has naval combat.Apparently in the history of the game they have SPACESHIPS!
So, lets say that its guard vs.chaos(traitor guard). The planet is to big Continent's. They contents are separated by water. There is heavy anti-air/anti space cover. what do you do? Call Ghostbus-oops. Sea invasion! 8)
EDIT: Whoa. Crusaderguy said close to the same thing. Ooops. Delete this if you please.
« Last Edit: April 9, 2009, 06:58:48 PM by Commisar Vlanse »
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Re: Warhammer 40k and Sea-based naval warfare
« Reply #17 on: April 9, 2009, 07:13:33 PM »
Quote
...or they would need some way to actually land something like a battleship. Are even the heaviest landing craft close to capable of such a feat?

Well they developed craft to land titans so it's theoretically possible to have battleship droppers.  I'm not sure i generally see the point, if you can land ships you have some sort of safety in space and can land other things that will likely be more useful in attacking an opponent who is likely to have most of their resources on land.
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Re: Warhammer 40k and Sea-based naval warfare
« Reply #18 on: April 9, 2009, 07:27:09 PM »
I just ran across this thread... very interesting and a subject I have tackled with my own DIY Space Marines Chapter, the Sea Stallions. While the isn't much with basic rule sets that deal with combat that takes place on large bodies of water, fluff-wise the Sea Stallions devote a lot of their strategy to naval warfare. They also work closely with ordos xenos and exchange information regarding ocean xenos threats as well as fighting tyranids beneath the waves.

Some projects for Apoc that I have on the back burner includes creating small 10-man open topped hovercraft, and a larger hovercraft that sort of looks like a US Navy LCAC. This super transport would be capable of transporting two rhino sized vehicles, or three dreadnoughts, or thirty-two troops. One day, oh yes, one day.

As to why 40k doesn't already incorporate the sea/ocean I guess it would just introduce another environmental mechanic that would change the game.

For my own sake, I state that my Chapter Master's orbital strike comes from naval guns or long range missiles from submersibles.

If a world in question is say, about 70% water and an occupying force doesn't control the oceans, then it doesn't control the planet.


Bringing a whole new meaning to the term "Deep Strike"

Offline XCrusaderguy01

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Re: Warhammer 40k and Sea-based naval warfare
« Reply #19 on: April 9, 2009, 08:10:20 PM »
I just ran across this thread... very interesting and a subject I have tackled with my own DIY Space Marines Chapter, the Sea Stallions. While the isn't much with basic rule sets that deal with combat that takes place on large bodies of water, fluff-wise the Sea Stallions devote a lot of their strategy to naval warfare. They also work closely with ordos xenos and exchange information regarding ocean xenos threats as well as fighting tyranids beneath the waves.

I don't care anymore if naval warfare makes sense. Your space marines are badass8)


As to why 40k doesn't already incorporate the sea/ocean I guess it would just introduce another environmental mechanic that would change the game.

The only thing I want to stress is that I'm not advocating any kind of change to the *game* warhammer 40k. Nor am I really even advocating a new sea-based offshoot (although I think it could be cool). All I am going for is some consensus on A) whether or not its a cool idea for fluff and modeling (both of which appear to be a resounding yes), and B) whether or not it makes any sense in the context of the 40k universe (which it appears, with at least a little artistic license it could).

Are those starfish?  :D Awesome.

 


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