My wife and I have played a lot of A&A Classic, a little Revised, and so far only 3 games of A&A Europe. We've come to the conclusion that Germany is just a little too powerful in AAE, maybe even nigh-undefeatable. I've read opinions that go both ways on this, but I'm curious to get some input from more veteran players of AAE.
Tonight, I played Germany, and decided to make the bold move of capturing all 7 Allied convoys on the first turn. I purchased 5 more subs, expecting to lose a few, but the idea formed that if I could take out all the Allied naval units, I could place 1 sub next to every Allied industrial complex, and completely prevent the production of new naval units. Furthermore, since the rules say that planes cannot attack subs unless a friendly destroyer is present, this made the subs completely immune to attack. I didn't manage the blockade until the fourth or fifth turn, but once it happened, the US and UK could do almost nothing except start sending planes to Russia for conversion. When we stopped playing tonight, I was at Moscow's doorstep, and only 2 turns away from taking Washington and London to boot.
It has bothered me every time we've played that the convoys (worth 1/4 of US income and nearly 2/3 of UK's) are completely unprotected on the first turn. It seems a little too easy for Germany to take these. Seems like there should be at least a destroyer in a few of them, so they're not complete freebies. I know Germany's submarine warfare tactics were brutal, but this is kind of ridiculous.
What do other folks think? Have you found the game to be imbalanced in Germany's favor? If not, what are some Allied strategies that could prevent a total naval blockade? We discussed some alterations, such as allowing planes to attack subs regardless of destroyer presence, placing some initial defenses in the convoys, and allowing all three of the Allies to have the starting 12 IPC bonus (instead of making them split 12 IPCs between them). Supposedly, A&A Classic and Revised are weighted in favor of the Allies, and I'd agree to some extent, but in many dozens of games of that over the years I've never felt like there was an obvious and unfair advantage like we've experienced with Europe.
Edit: I just came across this tidbit from the AAE FAQ:
Q. Can the US build naval units in the US Eastern Coast sea zone if it is occupied by a German sub?
A. The presence of enemy ships has no effect on naval construction. If the Bismarck and the entire Kriegsmarine were in the US Eastern Coast sea zone, the US could still build a fleet there
I had no idea that this was the case! I guess we're too accustomed to the Classic rules that say new naval units cannot be placed in hostile sea zones. This would have made a radical difference in our game last night. I also see now that the AAR and AAE rules both say that hostiles in a sea zone cannot prevent unit placement. It's an ongoing learning experience