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"How to build a powerful Navy from nothing: Operational Example PART 1" By Altruist

PART 1 (Originally posted on Mar 15, 2021)

Some countries start as naval powers... others not.

This guide is for the latter, the upstarts, who start with barely anything. This example will assume that you have many other pressing problems and can only afford as less as possible for your Navy but that your strat nevertheless involves the need for a Navy. And that this Navy needs to face established naval giants like the UK or Japan or even both plus the whole of the Commonwealth and France.

Part 1: Purpose and starting situation

In general this guide tries to introduce the beginner or intermediate player to:

# How to build a Navy from nothing.

# How to cope with a vast backwardness in naval tech and low-level tech teams.

# Some introduction to strategic and tactical planning.

# Showing some rules and behaviours of seabattles with operational examples.

At some points I might explain the obvious but usually guides aren't for the experienced but for new players and we can all remember the steep learning curve Darkest Hour demands.


This example is for Darkest Hour Full 1.05.1. No mods, so no upgrading of ships which some mods allow and what would make it much easier. Later images will involve a mod (because I was playing EoD) but hopefully I'll be able to leave out any mod-specifics so it stays fully compatible with DH Full played without mod. Country: Nationalist China, also known as the 1st Republic of China, led by the Kuomintang Party. Start: 1933 China starts in a nearly hopeless state, action right from the beginning with many conflicts, a tiny useless Navy good only for scrapping but quite the potential to become a superpower with a pretty good chance that it must fight the naval powers of the time even before WW2 starts. China is NOT for the beginner, it is really tricky and if you aren't an advanced player you'll likely fail with China. but it is an excellent example how to build a Navy from nothing. And that knowledge can be transfered to any other country. I have also played China recently, so it is easier for me to use it as an example. I'll also refer ONLY to Navy buildup and nothing else. There are many ways to world domination and Naval power, so take my lines as inspiration and not as the one and only way to do things. Hint: If you are keen on playing China, wether you want to go the Kuomingtang or the Communist way, my recommendation would be to play with a good mod like Edge of Darkness since it adds lots of spice and events... I definetly had lots of fun with it. Edge of Darkness (EOD) - Forum thread EoD 2.2.22 (what I played) EoD 2.5 (newest version from Jan 4, 2023 and almost hopelessly hidden in the EODAIP-thread)

Starting situation of China 1933

To start with barely nothing... literally:


21 ships.

The majority from 1895 with a sailing range of 1500 and no good for nothing. May they be destroyers (DD), light cruisers (CL) or heavy cruisers (CA) we'll need to do what needs to be done: Scrapping them or rather converting them into convoy escorts which puts them to better use than keeping them.

Especially the new player might think: "What a waste! Aren't they of some use? At least as cannon fodder?"


This old ships have no range, are slow, their gunnery gets outdistanced in every fight and they only use up supplies and fuel better saved. Keeping them is like bringing spears to a fight where the other side uses machine guns. We get 102 convoy escorts out of the 18 ships we convert, that's quite good and useful. The convoy escorts won't cost us any upkeep and they will automatically upgrade their abilities with tech we are going to research (to be exact: your convoy escorts represent destroyers 1 level lower than your researched DD-tech while "Convoy Escort Efficiency" is enhanced by researching the "Naval Supremacy" tree on the left side in the Naval doctrines).

Only the 2 best light cruisers (CL-4) will be of use and we'll keep them, additionalyl the lone transport (TP-1) which we'll scrap as soon as we have better transports. This shrinks the Chinese Navy to 3 ships.

Why keeping those CL-4? (btw: They are better than anything China has tech for, so I assume they shall indicate that China bought those cruisers from the ugly round eyes.)

They have a sailing range of 7500, max speed of 34 and a max firing distance of 20... this is very similar to some ships we plan to build later on and thus they can get integrated into our future fleet without slowing it down, reducing sailing range or lowering the firing distance... all other ships we have scrapped would had done so and thus rather hindered and crippled our future fleet while being too weak to serve any purpose to group them all into one "old fleet"-stack.

Hint when playing a mod like EoD: You'll want to convert to convoy escorts only your destroyers and save light and heavy cruisers and transporters for later upgrade to light carriers.


You have almost no Naval tech to start with. To make things worse, to the left you can see China's "best" 3 Naval tech teams. And yes, you start out with no more than 3 tech slots. (And since the other tech fields look quite similar, before you start any naval tech there are really more pressing things to research before going for your first naval tech... apart from the small problem starting out with only 4 IC and a dissent of 40% which will get even higher soon.)


No ship fights well without the corresponding naval doctrines... In this case, though, well, let's look at it the positive way: a blank sheet with a free choice which way to go... and lots of stuff to research. Again to the left some of your very modest tech teams at your disposal.


This doesn't look exactly like the coming naval superpower to strike fear into the Japanese Navy and the mighty Royal Navy might miss a shot here and there while rolling on deck laughing (RoDL) about the Chinese Navy.


  • Because it is shorter "advantages" will be usually refered to as bonus (plural: boni) and "disadvantages" as malus (plural: mali). Both are originally from Latin and yes, it also sounds so much more academic and smart.

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