Adding Minor Powers and New Units

  • '16

    What’s the probability that, in some future version of A&A, we’ll get new minors?

    • First, the span of play is reduced. Even if the nation is a colonial power, the number of units is few enough to constrain the potential strategies. I find them easier to manage than larger counterparts that are expected to drive gameplay.

    • Second, there is a higher premium placed upon coordination, which I find both fun and challenging. While it is inadvisible for the German and Japanese players not to coordinate, or the U.S. and the Soviets, it is essential that Germany and Italy or Britain and France do so.

    • Third, the smaller nations are especially interesting from a political perspective. What if Italy had remained neutral? What if Finland had been reoccupied by the Soviets in 1940?

    1. British Far East Command.

    2. Axis Minors (Europe).

    3. Axis Minors (Asia).

    4. Brazil (and Argentina).

    • Adding new minors will divert essential IPCs from more consequential nations. Not so. In the case of the bFEC, the point is moot: the British would have to spend some of those IPCs in Asia anyway if they intended to hold the line against the Japanese. In the case of the Axis Minors, I think the problem could be solved by adding additional territories on the game board to bolster the economies of the major powers relative to the new additions. It’s certainly been done in some of the scenarios developed for the Triple A software, as well as on the Global 1939 map by

    • Adding new minors will make an already long game that much longer. If you’re playing A&A 1940 Global 2nd ed., you’re already investing ten hours of your day. At that point, you’re so fully committed that even three or four more hours of gameplay becomes a negligible addition. If the original game, involving five powers, could be played by just two players in a pinch, then it shouldn’t be too much trouble to incorporate variant rules that would do away with the lesser nations and allow the British player to control the Empire, or Germany to control all of Europe.

    • Adding rules and pieces for new minors, and expanding the map to accommodate them, will be too costly in terms of production. This is the strongest counter to the existing arguments, but the new print-on-demand sales format pioneered by Fantasy Flight provides one obvious solution to the new pieces problem: sell expansion sets with unique pieces for minor powers in a manner that obliges players to commit to purchase before the product goes to print. As much as it hurts to say it, the rules can also be relegated to electronic format and posted online. To compensate, they should have high production value. Some of the electronic documents included in Triple A scenarios already rise to the right level.

    Well, okay. I’m at least interested in hearing more. Tell me about your ideas for new units.

    Land Units

    • Airborne Infantry. Paratroopers. Cost: 3 Attack: 1 Defense: 1 Move: 1. Unique sculpt included for all nations. Available only when technology is purchased.

    • Commando. Cost: 4 Attack: 2 Defense: 2 Move: 1. U.K. special unit. May use Paratrooper special ability immediately.

    • Commonwealth Infantry. Cost: 2 Attack: 1 Defense: 1 Move: 1. bFEC special unit. One unit appears free in Calcutta HQ every other turn, beginning on the placement phase immediately following hostilities between bFEC and Japan.

    • Panzergrenadier. Cost: 5 Attack: 2 Defense: 2 Move: 1. German special unit. When paired with tank, +1 to attack. When paired with artillery, +1 to defense.

    • Foreign Legionnaire. Cost: - Attack: 2 Defense: 3 Move: 1. French special unit. Cannot be produced. During setup, one each in Algeria, Indochina, and Syria.

    • Marine. Cost: 4 Attack: 1 Defense: 2 Move: 1. U.S. special unit. Attacks at 2 for the first round of an amphibious assault.

    • Mechanized Infantry. Name changed to Motorized Infantry.

    • Self-Propelled Artillery. Cost: 5 Attack: 2 Defense: 2 Move: 2. Blitz. Can support Infantry and Motorized Infantry. May choose casualties during combat phase.

    Air Units

    • Torpedo Bomber. Cost: 11 Attack: 3 Defense: 1 Move: 3.  May attack sea units only. May choose casualties during combat phase.

    • Air Transport. Cost: 7 Attack: 0 Defense: 0 Move: 4. Can transport 1 Infantry. Chosen last in combat.

    Sea Units

    • Torpedo Boat. Cost: 6 Attack: 2 Defense: 0 Move: 1. Chance to Evade sea units.

    • Torpedo Boat. Cost: 6 Attack: 2 Defense: 0 Move: 1. Italian special unit. May choose casualties during combat phase.

  • '21 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Very interesting post on a subject that’s always interested me as an A&A sculpt collector: additional countries and additional unit types.  However in terms of your opening question, “What’s the probability that, in some future version of A&A, we’ll get new minors?” I think that at the moment the larger question which remains unanswered is actually “What’s the probability that we’ll get some future version of A&A?”  The prevailing view seems to be “Not anytime soon,” as has been discussed at some length over here:

    On top of the fact that WotC doesn’t seem to be showing much interest right now in producing new A&A games, I believe that Larry himself has said that “bigger isn’t always better”, which has been taken to mean that he didn’t have any plans to introduce additional nations into the game.  This isn’t to say that he’s ruled out the idea entirely, but it doesn’t sound promising.  In any case, Larry’s attention currently seems to be on other projects.

    On the other hand, the two problems I’ve mentioned might conceivably cancel each other out at some point in the future.  Hasbro (which owns WotC and the Avalon Hill brand) could theoretically move the A&A product line to another company division that would be more interested in the game, that would take a fresh look at it and that might be open to expanding it in various interesting ways (with or without Larry’s involvement), including potentially via a bigger game format.  But all of this is pure speculation, and I’m not holding my breath whatsoever.  At the moment, the best options for expanding the game in terms of new countries and new unit types are via HBG’s expanding line of combat units.

    On the general question of more countries and more unit types, I won’t comment on the specific suggestions you’ve made but I will make the following general comment.  From a piece-junkie perspective, there’s no such thing as too many countries and too many units.  From the perspective of practical game play, however, it’s quite possible to overdo this sort of thing and to have the game collapse under its own weight.  G40 already includes 14 unit types (infantry + equipment), and the list of types you’ve proposed would basically double that number, which sounds unwieldy to me if all of these units are available to all the players in all the games.

    In practical terms, unit types represent different ratios of combat values (attack, defense, movement and special abilities) at varying prices.  In a game like A&A, which operates at a pretty high level of abstraction, I’m not sure that it’s possible to produce enough enough fine gradations of abilities to differentiate around 30 individual types of units.  At the very least it would tremendously complicate the job of players when they’re deciding what to purchase.  Note, incidentally, that the A&A OOB sculpts from Global and from A&A 1941 represent what were in reality a vast number of unit subtypes (see my unit identification charts for more details), such as heavy tanks, medium tanks and light tanks, yet the game treats them all equally for reasons of simplicity.

    My view on the concept of vast numbers of extra unit types has generally been that the only practical way to handle them is to allow each player to have only one or two of these “specialist extra” unit types per game (not necessarily the same types for each player, and not the same ones from one game to the next) as supplements to the OOB “standard” units.

    As for the issue of other player countries, which is the subject of a project I’m currently working on, there’s definitely some room for growth here…but, again, it has to be within reason.  In practical terms, most of the “minors” in WWII had very marginal roles.  Some countries (e.g. Poland and Yugoslavia on the Allied side and Iraq on the Axis side) were what I call “first-round knock-outs” that went from neutrality to foreign occupation in just one or two months.  Some (like various Caribbean and Latin American nations) were simply at war from a technical point of view; only Brazil and Mexico actually sent men overseas to fight (and the numbers they sent were fairly modest).  On the Axis side, Bulgaria mostly sat on the sidelines, even though it was an Axis nation; it cleverly (or crassly, depending on your viewpoint) declared war on the US and the UK (which it was in no position to attack), but did not declare war on the USSR (which was located right next door), much to Hitler’s annoyance.  Some minors simply entered the war at the last minute on the Allied side, to gain a seat at the victors’ table.

    Some minors did genuinely contribute very substantial (in the six-figure range) numbers of troops, and thus were significant players in the war – Canada would be one example, and Romania would be another – but the involvement of others was more problematic.  Finland did participate in the invasion of the USSR as an Axis co-belligerent, but in a strictly limited way and in pursuit of its own aims: it basically just recaptured the Karelian Peninsula (lost to the USSR after the Winter War) and stopped there for the next two years, having accomplished its strategic objective.  Thailand/Siam, another co-belligerent, briefly fought Vichy France in the Franco-Thai War, and was later permitted by Japan to occupy parts of Shan State in conjunction with the Japanese invasion of Burma, but it did little else beyond allowing Japan to traverse its territory unhindered.

    So my feeling about all this is: while there are no doubt a few nations that could justifiably be added to the game as full player powers – with their own pieces, income and game turn – most minors countries wouldn’t qualify for this status in practical terms.

  • I have played a few games of the Global 1939 game and have really enjoyed having the additional minor palyers and game pieces that come with that game.  Of course, CWO Marc is correct in his evaluation of the extra weight of the additional nations and game pieces.  It is played with a 12 sided die rather than a 6 sided and different units have varying attack and defense values as well as costs.  This complicates the game considerably.  For the casual player, it may be too much.  For the die hard, avid gamer,  it is right up there with what Trenacker was discussing.  As for special units,  the Japanese had the IJN infintry (their version of US marines).  The Soviets had the Elite Guard and the Italians had the Bersegulari (I know I butchered it) guard.  All cost 4 ipc’s, attack at a +1 on the first round of combat.  Their defense and movement are like other infintry.  Just a suggestion.

  • '16

    Thanks for all the terrific responses.

    CWO Marc, I think that there are enough games out there that prosper in terms of obliging collectors to buy all the little pieces (see HeroClix, for example) that a pay-to-print format for games sales would probably prove sustainable.

    There’s been a boardgaming boom the past few years, and while I agree that A&A requires more investment than the average gamer is willing to commit, I don’t see how the market gets any more primed from here on out.

    I appreciate the comments about the trajectory of A&A from a design and marketing standpoint. I’ve heard informally from more in-tune players that the problem is financial. A&A sells, but the return-on-investment is dramatically less than other WoTC properties, specifically Magic: The Gathering. As a result, company resources are being front-loaded elsewhere, leaving A&A to wither on the vine.

    In terms of gameplay mechanics, I feel that the best players of A&A (and all similar games) do commit to the math. That is, they know exactly how much “oomph!” they’re going to glean from every IPC spent, and they choose the optimal mix of units on that basis, rather than on what “seems” wise. I’ve never been able to do it myself, but I know that, from a design perspective, it would dramatically impact new unit design.

    There are various different options for new units. They could simply have different stats and costs as compared to existing options. They could have different special abilities. They could have new special abilities, such as the ability to attack at a different weight during the initial round or attack or defense, or the ability to select targets.

    The “What If?” factor is, I think, a good reason for introducing Siam and Finland, at least, as playable nations, and I don’t think that either are worth the squeeze without being paired with Manchukuo and the Balkan/Carthapian Axis powers, respectively. I do feel that Italy and France can stand more or less alone, especially in games played by amateurs.

  • I came to this thread because while I believe I have a decent house for adding axis minors to Asia (Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere or GEACS), I’m struggling to lock down how I want to do Axis Minors in Europe (Tripartite Pact).

    Part of the problem is historical. Finland was never a member of the Tripartite Pact, but seems to small to give its own turn to. The obvious answer is to forego historical accuracy for eloquence of play.

    The other problem is, what to do with Iraq? Is it a member of the Tripartite Pact? Part of GEACS? Does it remain as is? Or do you pair it with Persia (Persia should really be a pro axis neutral), and make the two Nations their own thing that just gets railroaded, like France?

    The short version of how I introduce Asia minors is that Manchuria and Siam are the power known as GEACS. They do not start with a factory, but do get some additional units. Their NOs involve the other members of the historical GEACS (Philippines, Malaya, Burma, India), and Thai control of Shan States and French Indochina. I’ll make a post explaining the full rules in the House Rules forum.

  • As for new unit types, this has been discussed for years, but the hardliners succeeded and we now can play with both Cruisers and Artillery. The classic MB 84 game had very few unit types, and the evolution has been right. What we do miss is a defensive unit, a Blockhouse, stationary, cant move, only defense value but absorb hits because of protection. A two-hits hard hitting Battleship only on land. A Maginot line, heavy artillery in casemates and machineguns in bunkers behind minefields. Preemptive defense roll against attacking units before the first round of combat. Maybe 4 or less as hit. Then general combat and now it absorb one extra hit, so it takes 2 hits to kill it. Only when all the Blockhouses are gone can you start to kill the other defending units. Not a rational buy but some territories should start with a blockhouse. In fact G40 should start with a Maginot Line blockhouse in France.

  • '22 '21 '20 '19 '18 '17



    �  However in terms of your opening question, “What’s the probability that, in some future version of A&A, we’ll get new minors?” I think that at the moment the larger question which remains unanswered is actually "What’s the probability that we’ll get some future version of A&A?"�  The prevailing view seems to be “Not anytime soon,”

    On top of the fact that WotC doesn’t seem to be showing much interest right now in producing new A&A games,

    You must be joking, WOTC will release A&A Zombies in 4 weeks. It come with a new minor player that collect IPC, get its own tokens, 3 new zombie sculpts, one of them the first female woman unit in the history of A&A, carrying not a gun but a handbag, and its own winning condition. So admit that your post is a blatant lie, man

    To be fair to the Chief, JustLuthor has resurrected a thread from 3 years ago. In 2015, which is when CWO Marc’s post is from, it was fair to say that, for all we knew then, WotC had abandoned A&A. Just because they later changed their minds on that doesn’t rule out what we considered to be true - literally years ago.


  • LOL, yes got aware of that now, removed that post. Never imagined somebody would resurrect a 3 year old thread, took for granted it was a new thread.
    My apologizes

  • I’m your huckleberry.

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