Happycat, when I read your criticism of how easy it is to take out Rome (and hence Italy), I actually infer as much a criticism of the conquest rules as the amphibious landing model. I do like the solution you and Stauffenberg have of adding a port next to Rome. Just a thought: perhaps you might also add a second capital in southern Italy--or even make Rome just a plain city and move the capital to someplace in non-coastal southern Italy--to reflect Italy's lack of political willingness to fight once the war came to its mainland. It would also be nice to be allowed one turn to recapture a capital.
The point is that amphibious operations in the game are in some cases too difficult, and in a few instances, childishly simple.
I agree 100 percent with this assessment. On the one hand, one is forced to only invade vacant hexes but, on the other, if one wishes, it is pretty easy to put together an invasion force of 20 corps (regardless of type) and have them all line up against every shore hex in a country. The problems with this are threefold:
1) There is no way any country could produce the assault craft necessary to haul that many troops simultaneously. It took the US quite a long time to build all the necessary landing craft to conduct D-Day, especially because so many were also needed in the Pacific. And D-Day total was all of three to four corps. To take it a step further, imagine the Germans trying Operation Sea Lion with what they really had in 1940! But in the game the German is free to try, especially once Denmark falls.
2) It is much more difficult to conduct an amphibious assault with an armored or mechanized unit than plain infantry. As far as I know, there were no opposed amphibious landings in World War II featuring armored divisions in strength. Sure, there were various supporting battalions here and there but no divisions, let alone corps-strength armor units.
3) There are certain places on pretty much any country’s coastline that are impractical to land troops in force. The Allies were very deliberate about where they landed, putting a lot of time into considering suitable locations.
The naval transport model as it stands is fine if you are transporting units between ports. Having to unload a unit in a port, meaning one per turn, also would model the reality of port capacity to some degree (and I'd like to see a game address that at some point (way) down the line).
The amphibious landing model needs some work. It seems to me that there needs to be some limits on how many units can be used at any one time for amphibious assault, make it more expensive for vehicular units (or even not allowed for armor) to conduct amphibious assaults, and limit the places one can land. In addition, there should be some way to allow for opposed landings.
Avalon Hill’s Third Reich
designated certain coastal hexes as “beaches” and able to be invaded. Other coastal hexes could not be invaded. This might be one solution to consider down the road. And while I generally agree with Borsook’s aversion to special units like rangers and marines, it seems that perhaps some combination of technology and special unit might be required. I don’t have a really good answer that would work within the current game parameters and not allow for abuse. One thought is to create a hybrid naval/infantry unit that can only convert in a port or adjacent to a “beach” hex. It would require certain technology, be expensive, and take a while to build to reflect added assault craft and training. But I can foresee abuse. Maybe it could only be reconverted to a ground unit once and then loses its amphibious ability?
All this would be difficult to include in the current game, I fear. I do think it is useful to discuss for future considerations, however.