I think the main reason for the strict neutral rule was to discourage attacks on nations that did not historically get involved in the war. Far better to give each of these countries more representative defences, including air and sea units; but this makes things more complicated…
I’m not so keen on paying for neutrals; mostly they were bullied into alliances by the threat of naked military force. Where bribery was used it proved largely ineffective, e.g. Hitler offering Franco French colonies he’d already promised to Mussolini…
Another idea of mine for neutrals is a card draw: Each neutral country (counting for example Portugal, Angola, Mozambique & PG as one country) has a card. Each side draws a card secretly at the start of a full game turn. You can reveal a card at the end of any full turn, converting a neutral to a “Pro” your side, but you still have to move a unit in to take control.
I’d add a couple of joker “Military Coup” cards, allowing a side to trump a neutral reveal by converting the Pro to their own alliance.
Players can still attack/take over neutrals in the usual way.
This is certainly a way of adding variety to the starting set up.
To recap my suggested revision of neutrality from the Global forum:
Setting aside my quibbles with the geography, I propose the following changes to make the neutral counties set up of the Global game more historically accurate:
This assumes the deletion of the “all strict neutrals go to war” rule.
MEXICO, CENTRAL AMERICA & WEST INDIES should be pro-Allied
EIRE should be SN
GREENLAND should have the same status as the Dutch colonies, i.e. a de facto pro-allied neutral. With a Danish roundel.
ITALY should be neutral until Paris falls as described elsewhere under the “Italy Fix” suggestion. But what happens if Paris doesn’t fall? (The Allies should not be allowed to declare war on Italy first).
YUGOSLAVIA should be Pro-Axis
HUNGARY should be pro-Axis
ROMANIA is a problem in that it should still be in control of Bessarabia. It was the grabbing of this province by Stalin in July that propelled Romania into the Axis camp.
Suggestion: Romania pro-Axis, Bessarabia pro-Allied?
Romania combined is neutral, but invasion of one part by a power makes the other part pro the other alliance.
BALTIC STATES should be SN. The “friendly occupation” by Soviet troops in June was hardly welcome…though a German R1 invasion would breech the terms of the Nazi-Soviet pact, which could be considered an act of war in Moscow.
Perhaps this Pact can be more definitive, assigning
Finland, Vyborg, Baltic States, Eastern Poland (1939) & Bessarabia to the Soviet sphere;
Western Poland (1939), Hungary, Romania, Balkan states to Germany.
An invasion of any of the tts assigned to the other signatory is considered a breach of the Pact and therefore an act of WAR. This includes, for example, Germany occupying pro-Axis Finland, which is still considered part of the Soviet sphere.
GREECE & CRETE should be politically identical, i.e. an attack on one brings the other to war
SPAIN (SN) & Rio de Oro
PORTUGAL & P. Guinea, Mozambique & Angola
SIERRA LEONE should be UK territory
BELGIAN CONGO should be similar to Dutch & Danish colonies, i.e. pro-Allied. With a Belgian roundel.
LIBERIA should be pro-Allied
SIAM should be pro-Axis
PERSIA should be pro-Axis
IRAQ should be pro-Allied
There is a case for making ARGENTINA pro-Axis to balance Brazil, but not a convincing one.
Also, all the SN South American countries should be considered as politically aligned; i.e. attack one and you’re at war with them all.
This proposal at least creates an interesting variant, particularly in regard to opening strategies.