I use House Rules primarily as a means to balance the game by sides, either in 1v1 or Multiplayer games.
My strong preference is for rules that are self contained, very simple to explain and to memorize. Among these I tend to favor HRs that adjust income or the way income is collected, as opposed to rules which change the way units interact.
In my playgroup the Unit stats/interactions are usually the last thing we will alter, because the combat system is regarded as kind of sacrosanct at this point. It’s taken us all so long to get used to the particular costs, attack/defense values and combat relationships of the OOB units, that messing with any one of them seems to throw a major wrench into things.
I find HRs for new units or altered units endlesslessly fascinating to read on these boards, but I almost never get a chance to adopt them in actual games, because my players just don’t have the patience. It’s bad enough when a normal unit undergoes a price or ability change from one official game to the next. My players still gripe about expensive tanks or defenseless transports/carriers. So trying to get them to change something that is written directly on the map key or on the battle board, just for kicks, and I can pretty much forget about seeing that happen haha.
I’ve learned to pick my battles, and for the most part I leave the units and the combat system alone. Though I do enjoy musing on it and thinking about possibilities in the abstract. Instead my actual HR games tend to focus on HRs which can be added on top of the existing game, without fundementally altering it. This way, when I try to encourage my players to adopt the HR, I don’t have to say “forget everything you’ve learned” cause now we are going to do it this way instead. A&A takes too long to learn in the first place, to just abandon the boxed rules in favor of house rules, and expect my players not to flip.
Income bonuses work well I find, or rules which highlight some particular aspect of the gameplay by awarding additional money. I’ve used these for VCs or as flat rate bonuses based on the game round etc. But usually fairly simple. I prefer basic or universal bonuses to the “national objective” model introduced in AA50 and the 1940 games, since objectives by nation are harder to track/memorize.
Other things I’ve experimented with are things like turn order alterations. Or reverse engineering a nation like China, such that it works the way other nations do.
Also technology expansions, or other systems which can be grafted onto the normal game without replacing the OOB systems.
Another thing I am interested in are ways to randomize the start conditions. Which might be things like a bid for both sides, or some initiative roll at the outset to liven up the play. These are like “one time event” HRs, that effect the conditions of the set up, or at some set point, but are not ongoing.
I think I’m like most people here though, for all my HR aspirations, it’s very rare that I play with more than one or two HRs in effect during any given game. There is something to be said about adopting the most popular forms, or where your “House” looks the same as everyone else’s hehe. If possible I will try to achieve as much as possible through a bid process, or at least something that could be understood as a bid or bid alternative. Working with something that most people would be familiar with already.
This section is probably my favorite on the boards. A lot of really creative ideas and very thorough analyses go down in the HR section. Thinking too deeply about the game, will eventually lead you down here, to the abyssal plain. Where all ships wind up after sinking, but sometimes with buried treasure on board haha!