Here is the system my friends and I are exploring today. Each time we play test, I think we are getting closer to a system that actually works. The latest idea is to have what I am calling “paired” bonuses to starting income on balance. Rather than ascending by 5s, this one gives the bonus at three basic levels: sort of like Gold, Silver, and Bronze position (one nation in each position for each side.) Here is the process, using the 1942 start date on the AA50 board:
Set the board as normal
Standard turn order, J-R-G-UK-IT-USA
(I always lay the flag roundel chips out in a line, somewhere on the board, in this order, for clarity.)
Roll 1d6 to establish which nation will begin the turn order.
Whichever nation gets “hit” on this opening roll, is the nation which must start the game.
This opening Nation will begin play in the non-combat phase with zero IPCs starting income. (Skip purchase, Combat, Placement etc. during the first round only non combat movement, and collect income is allowed.) The next nation in the turn order precedes as normal, with all the standard gameplay phases in effect.
The following “descending” bonus is added to the normal starting income of all player/nations once start position is determined:
Player 1 = 30 ipcs (which cannot be spent until the second round per the condition above, restricting the opening player to non-com in the first round of play.)
Player 2 = 30 ipcs , (which can be spent immediately on their turn, as all normal conditions apply after the first nation opens)
Player 3 = 20 ipcs
Player 4 = 20 ipcs
Player 5 = 10 ipcs
Player 6 = 10 ipcs
This is a one time bonus added to starting income only, after which point the game progresses as normal (with NO’s or house rules applied as desired.) Effectively, because the opening nation starts with zero ipcs, in non com, they will always have 30 ipcs, to which the normal OOB “starting income” is added at their first collect income phase, because no territories change hands in non com the numbers remain the same. Basically all you have to do is add 30 to whatever their starting value is printed on the set up card. The next player up does everything as normal. Basically the non com thing is a method to balance the starting set up against a variable start to the turn order which could potentially allow for game breakers. It is necessary on the AA50 board 1942 set up, because of the German starting position on Moscow, but not necessary for the system generally. If unit set was different, then the same concept could be applied to future boards, without requiring the non-com aspect.
Under this system, there is one player from each side (Axis vs Allies) at each bonus level to counter balance each other.
Prime position the first two paired Nations
Second position the second two paired Nations
Third position the last two paired Nations
So whichever side rolls a hit on the opening initiative, there is always a player from the other side that follows them with a comparable bonus.
The logic for the descending bonus is that the players which move later in the round get the “advantage” of seeing what everyone else has bought and how they’ve moved. The opening nation is unique, in that they get the initiative for strategic positioning but cannot attack until the second round. They also receive the prime purchasing position overall, as they can adapt to what everyone else has done.
It is possible to pair the bonuses at any amount that makes sense. Right now I am testing
30 30, 20 20, 10 10 but this could also be lower at say 20 20, 15 15, 10 10 etc.
more thoughts on how this could be done on the Larry boards http://www.harrisgamedesign.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=18479&p=66388#p66388
It is my main goal for the time being to get a variable start system working on at least one A&A board that actually exists, for proof of concept. Trying to achieve this without requiring modifications to the OOB unit set up, as a pre-placement bid alternative.