Hey everyone. This is a little follow up on the rules debate I mentioned in my recent post. They are changing the rules/program to follow what I describe here, different from the way it works now. I'm sure there is a rules section to somewhere to get a fuller scoop but here's the main stuff:
The Rule: The attacker ALWAYS chooses to withdraw or press the attack BEFORE subs choose whether or not to submerge in the combat sequence.
Example: In Round 1, Germany moves the baltic fleet to 7 and UK attacks that fleet with all available units; the battle is 2 transports, battleship, 2 fighters, bomber, VS 2 subs, destroyer, and transport. After one round of combat the destroyer and transport have died and the battleship has taken damage. The attacker may choose to withdraw at this time to sz 8 or press the attack, thus exposing itself to submarine fire if the defender chooses to remain. What CANNOT occur is that the submarine first submerges and the attacker is forced to remain in sea zone 7. The attacker goes first.
Where is this rule written: Page 16 is the key page. Page 32 also mentions the subject.
Argument/Explanation/Interpretation of rulebook:
At the end of step 6 of the combat sequence in round 1 of the combat above neither side has been destroyed. Therefore, we proceed to the withdraw or repeat options specified in step 7. The thrust of this section is to describe the attacker's ability to retreat, but it also states this is the time when submarines submerge. The attacker can withdraw and attacking and defending subs can submerge all in the same step - There's no right of way specified for anyone. In practice someone needs to decide first, but they are not symmetric.
If the sub had to choose first, but the attacker could still retreat, that would not be simultaneous since the attacker would benefit from the information. (In the example above, the attacker may be worried about losing a boat. Knowing if the subs will stay or not could influence the decision to continue on to sz7.) If the sub chooses first and submerges forcing a forward movement (since the defender is therefore vanquished and withdrawal is not allowed), that is not simultaneous and denies the ability to withdraw.
On the other hand, if the attacker chooses first it will be simultaneous -- neither side benefits from advance information. Specifically, if the attacker chooses first and chooses to withdraw, the submarine has no decision to make - that's the key. The only question facing the submarine is "what do I do if the attack is pressed?" Answering that question after it is indeed pressed gives no profit to the sub; neither side is using advance knowledge of the opponent's thinking to further their cause.
This rendering of the rules is "simultaneous", but subs first is not. This rendering preserves the ability of the attacker to withdraw and for submarines to submerge. These are both consistent with the rules sdescribed on page 16, but subs first would be neither simultaneous nor preserving, and is therefore not consistent.
I think it goes against the "feeling" of the game to give the defender the ability to force an action by the attacker by choice; the attacker is supposed to have the initiative.
It has been argued that page 32 of the rulebook implies subs should go first. I think the phrase "regardless of what other units do" supports our interpretation as the sub makes this decision not in isolation (first) but in consideration of the attacker's selection to withdraw or press their units.
Regarding page 32, the rule book explicitly states that step 7 is when subs submerge on page 16. So when it says "after the attacker and defender have fired" on page 32, that cannot mean it occurs before step 7. Step 7 does occur generically after the attacker and defender. In this sense, page 32 does not distinguish between attacker withdrawal and sub withdrawal - they both occur after the attacker and defender have fired - and specifically, they occur in step 7. Basically, the statements on page 16 imply something stronger than the statement on page 32 - namely that not only is it after the firing, but specifically in step 7. So you can actually just ignore 32 and try to decipher 16.
Official Discussion/Ruling: https://www.axisandallies.org/forums/topic/33353/revised-submerge-withdraw-order