Starting the game in May 1940 eliminates the need for rules to steer the game in a more or less historical direction for the opening moves. And, while deviating from the historical decisions is the whole point of playing games like this (to “prove” you are a better strategist than the people who had to do it for real ), the players’ decisions should be somewhat constrained by the same problems and dilemmas that existed at the time.
To that end, what rules would you use for a Sept. 1939 start date? The problems that come to mind are: how do you reconcile the fact that Germany would have to conquer Poland, Norway, Denmark, and Holland/Belgium before they could even get to their starting point in May 1940? This would probably require at least two turns of combat, construction of new units, and staging. While Germany is dealing with Poland, how do you stop France and England from coming in the back door? History has derided them for the overly cautious â€œPhony Warâ€ they pursued, only invading a few miles into Germany when they could have gone much deeper, possibly crippling the German war effort early. So, it should be possible for France and Britain go on the offensive early, but from a game play perspective, it wouldnâ€t be fun for them to be able to deliver a knock-out punch right away.
Ideas Iâ€ve had floating in my head:
Have a large chunk of the German, British, and French militaries start as reservists who have not yet been mobilized. They appear in the â€œplace new unitsâ€ phase on turn 1 (or possibly split between turn 1 and turn 2?). They cost nothing, and are in addition to any units purchased. This might solve the problem of the Germans having to get large numbers of infantry and artillery from Poland all the way to the French, Danish, Dutch-Belgian border after Poland falls. It also keeps the French and British from walking right in while Germany is occupied in the East, since their starting armies will be smaller. But how much smaller should they be in order to make an invasion of Germany iffy, but still possible? This also brings us to the next issue:
How do you get the British player to actually deploy the Expeditionary Force instead of just holding it on the home islands to fend off Sea Lion? Maybe a National Objective of some sort? Perhaps: British Expeditionary Force (1 tank, 1 mech, 1 artillery, 1 infantry, and 1 fighter) appears during â€œplace new unitsâ€ phase of turn one. These units can be placed together or separately in England, Scotland, Holland/Belgium, France, and/or Normandy/Bordeaux. Germany receives 25 IPCs on turn one, and another 25 IPCs on turn 2. This is reduced (but not below 0) by the IPC value of British units present on those turns in Holland/Belgium, France, or Normandy/Bordeaux.
Starting forces for doomed countries (Use French playing pieces.):
Denmark: 1 infantry
Norway: 1 infantry
Holland/Belgium: 2 infantry
Poland: 5 infantry and 1 fighter in Poland, and 2 infantry in Eastern Poland
Russia can invade Eastern Poland on turn 1 and Finland on turn 3. This will not count as a declaration of war against any other power.
What about the Pacific map? Should Japan start with one less Chinese territory? Maybe Kwangsi?
Also, US and Russian declarations of war should be pushed back one turn. Or maybe 2? And should the British and Italians be allowed to go at each other on turn 1?
This obviously needs a lot of work, and a reduction in starting forces for most countries. What other issues am I overlooking?