Alright guys, someone needs to take charge of the balancing effort of A&A 1914, so I guess I’ll try to step up.
First a bit of a qualifier, I DO NOT WANT ANY RADICAL CHANGES! I am trying to make a balanced game using OOB rules and the FAQ only, so no PTR or map changes please. I really only want to add/subtract units or change rules that already exist (like USW).
I understand that it was frustrating to go through the very long and tedious balancing that went into Alphas 1-3.9+ or something, but at least that long process gave us a fantastic game with tons of strategic options (which should be the number one goal of every A&A game). Even though the balance in Global isn’t perfect, the fact that a bid of 10 or less can balance a game with hundreds of units on the board is pretty incredible, plus I like the bid anyways because it can be used in different ways, which helps make every game different.
There has been all kinds of talk lately (mostly by Flashman from what I’ve seen) about making massive changes to the fundamental rules of A&A, substantial changes to the map, new units, and more to balance this game, and while I appreciate the effort and the attempts at historical accuracy, I (and I assume many others are in this camp) just want a mostly balanced game that I can enjoy playing (and a lot of the posts about map changes and new units really belong in house rules, just sayin). Have we suddenly forgotten how we fixed other A&A games? We added or subtracted units and/or slightly changed some rules to fix the game. We never cared about the fact that it took an infantry like 4 years to get from Berlin to Moscow until this game came out, and we should continue not caring about this fact because limited movement is one of the central concepts of A&A, and the same goes for ship movement too.
So, after a little bit of ranting, I’ll start by making a couple of suggestions that I think can be easily implemented but could seriously change the balance of the game.
First, fixing Unrestricted Submarine Warfare. It currently is an absolute joke, but it was central to Germany’s strategy during the war and it is also an easy way to force the UK to spend at home rather than full builds in India. Making the warfare useable will require a slight naval rebalancing by giving Germany a couple more subs, and to make this change a little less impactful give the UK another Cruiser with either their home fleet or the Canada ships and maybe give the Americans another cruiser (which won’t be in combat for at least 3 rounds so it won’t have a large impact), but downgrade the French Battleship off Brest down to a Cruiser. After round one, Germany will look stronger in the Atlantic than normal, and most importantly it will have subs left, however Germany’s naval dominance would be unlikely to last once the US gets involved. It might also be a viable strategy for the UK (or even France?) to invest heavily in navy early in the game to prevent it from being convoyed, which of course would mean less for India.
Submarine Warfare will now have two stages, restricted and unrestricted, with the idea being that Germany was still sinking British ships before they declared Unrestricted Submarine Warfare. Regular warfare will always be in effect, but it will have less of an impact than unrestricted. Every sub in Sea Zones 2,7,8 (and maybe more sea zones) will roll for Submarine Warfare. During restricted warfare, subs will roll during UK’s collect income phase, and hit at a 2 or less. The amount of damage done will be subtracted from the UK’s income. For example if there are 4 subs spread throughout 2,7, and 8, then Germany will roll 4 dice. Let’s say they roll 2,1,3,5, then the UK would lose 3 income for that turn. This might not be a lot, but it is substantial and doesn’t risk US entry. Also the restricted portion implies that the subs will do less damage, since they would have to be careful not to damage American ships.
Unrestricted Submarine Warfare will have a larger impact. Sz 1 will now be included with 2,7,8 as a sea zone that German subs can do damage from. German subs will now roll at a 3 or less and all hits will be deducted from the power that is collecting income (either the UK or US) during their collect income phase. The rule would work the same as before so the US would only be pulled into the conflict if it lost income to Unrestricted Submarine Warfare. Clearly this warfare could greatly effect the UK’s or US’s income. If Germany invested in a few subs, coupled with the Austrians building a few ships, the allies naval dominance could seriously challenged without too much spending by the Central Powers, and the US would likely have to invest in multiple surface ships to retake control of the seas, meaning that their first landing force would be much less impactful.
My other possible balancing idea is a lot less elaborate, but more in tradition with what has happened with other games. Basically I think that giving Germany a couple more units off the front line (ie another inf/art combo in Berlin or Hanover. Germany is likely the best Central Power to receive units because they are usually the ones that dictate an all out on Russia or an all out on France. Giving them even a couple more units could really alter their position for the better, but probably wouldn’t tip balance to far into the CP’s favor.
That’s all I got. My favorite idea for game balance is my retooling of Submarine Warfare, because while I know historical experts will be angry about Germany potentially dominating in the Atlantic, I think that making the Atlantic a battleground is the easiest way to fix the game, because all US and UK reinforcements must come by sea. The reason most people feel the game is unbalanced is because the Allies have clear naval dominance and can easily build massive transport navies, and the mobility of these transports are what gives the Allies their large advantage in this game.
I look forward to hearing from the community on this topic, and hopefully we can create some small changes to the game that make it much more balanced and enjoyable to play.