St. Lo. Fencer. Ryujo. Shoho. Along with the rest of the light carriers, these guys sacrifice in every aspect in order to still be aircraft carriers. You still get aircraft capacity, and some special abilities. This means there are tradeoffs: none of them have as high of a score in armor, vital armor, hull points, or Antiair values. This means that you give up a lot to shave only a few points off the fleet carriers. For example, Fencer (no doubt overcosted) is just a point less than the far more robust Glorious and 4 under the top-shelf Victorious. Bargain St. Lo at 10 is just 6 points below Ranger or Princeton with much better stats. Guadalcanal at 13 is 9 less than the full fleet carrier Hornet. Ryujo at 13 is 2 points less than Hiyo/Junyo/Unryu, each with 4 hull, and 7 less than Soryu/Shokaku. In all cases, you sacrifice a lot to save 1-9 points.
All of that said, obviously in scenarios these are valid buys for your fleet. How do you work them into your builds, and what do you do with them when you bring them out of the tackle box?
I think only the Shoho with a fighter against a fleet that could be air heavy would be worthwhile, but I agree with you about spending more for a cap 2 or weaker cap 3 carrier. I generally have very few planes or commit entirely to an air based build and light carriers don’t work well with either.
In a 100 point battle Ryujo makes a decent air addition. If you're going to take a light carrier, you might as well take a cap 2 light carrier. Expert torps is not a bad SA at 100 points. Two Kates and you have an air threat to help a 40 point BB.
I think "on average" the 1 cap carriers are about 2 points too expensive, the 2 cap carriers are about right, the 3 cap carriers are about right, the 4 cap carriers are about 3-4 points too cheap, and the 5 point carrier is ridiculous.
What do you think about the notion of using small carriers to “add hull points” to the bigger ones? They’re such air bait that the temptation is there to go after them until they are sunk, meaning they divert attacks from other, more expensive targets. I even wonder about using them to draw assets away from the glass cannons like Oi.
Just got done painting up a couple of Squint's forward airbases. I'm interested in how a land based "light carrier" works in game situations. Obviously, the advanced land-based fighters should be a win if they can fly every turn. More of a parity benefit the to Axis player since most advanced fighters for the Axis powers are land-based. Exception is Comet for the British and the American Corsair. Opens up the FW 190, Veltro, and George for the Axis.
Never been a big fan of decoys in this game since they all cost and everyone has the same points to work with. Fragile from my perspective should be cheaper.
Managed to get some games in a week ago and the forward air bases were a hit. Ended up being a losing effort but took the opposition quite some time to "sink" the airbase.
On a different note I can't believe the UK doesn't have a decent naval bomber until 1943. I was bound and determined to use my new Illustrious but was playing a 1942 year limit. Japanese opponent lit my bi-wing babies like a christmas tree.
I've used them for a few on-line games here, mainly the Shoho in a 300 point battle supporting Shokaku and Akagi (I also have some preference for Shoho since it was the first carrier I pulled). I think in that situation it's useful for keeping a fighter on hand while your bigger ships launch Dive/torpedo bombers, and if you have other threats for your opponents to worry about then they can survive and make their points back in due time.
Of course, that's mostly based on the opponent you face and blind luck. Every time I've run the St. Lo it's been blown to scrap on turn 1, and the planes I've put on it don't even scratch the submarines they're supposed to be hunting.