Scientifically proven map balance rework- Cow edition 1942

  • TripleA

    Skip to TL:DR if you hate reading.

    Using my scientifically proven formula of game balancing I am reworking this map. Since revised this board was reworked twice by larry harris and the allies have been slammed with nerf after nerf making the map increasingly unpopular and I know few people who play this, I have overlooked the 2009 print because it was more like a travel edition.

    First thing is first, I am going to unnerf the allies starting unit count and real unit TUV differentials (delete all buildings from both maps and look at the starting units and TUV you will see the axis is ahead in this board compared to revised the axis was behind). This is a big problem in a map that has seen nerfs to transports, which hurts USA the most + nerfs to uk seazones (no safe building spot) + nerfs to landing zones for the allies in a KGF.

    TL:DR In this current version of the rework, the allies are still the weaker side, but I give them a fighting chance using my scientifically formulated rework.

    Take the current board setup and make the following changes. Note: these are all additional units, think of it as a huge bid placement.

    +1 infantry vologda
    +1 infantry novosibirsk
    +1 infantry yakut ssr
    +1 infantry kazakh ssr
    +1 artillery caucasus
    +1 infantry united kingdom
    +1 fighter united kingdom
    +1 infantry french equatorial africa
    +1 battleship sz 11
    +1 bomber western united states
    +1 destroyer sz 9
    +1 infantry formosa

  • TripleA

    You will likely see a small shift in axis strategy.

  • 2019 '15 '14

    Hehe science eh?

    Well I’d say it would probably be more fun to play than OOB, but for a set up Mod its kind of involved.

    In my experience the more you ask people to change in the starting unit set up the less likely they are to adopt it.

    I’ve made the suggestion before, but haven’t seen it put into practice yet, for someone to design alternative printable set up cards for each nation. You know to give it an air of officiality.

    Otherwise I think you could accomplish a similar effect by just giving a huge bonus to starting income. You know like Allies get +30 ipcs each.

    But I do like the suggested starting unit design over OOB, since it would be quicker out the gate

  • I understand what Larry Harris was trying to do since revised. For just about every version, the default strategy is to pressure Germany and largely ignore Japan. UK IC, less profitable pearl harbor, and expectation that UK and US atlantic fleet are sunk R1 are consistent with making KGF less rewarding and KJF more viable.

    Cow’s suggestions largely accumulate allied units in the germany theater. This would make KGF the default choice again, not to mention that adding a net 40+ IPC worth of units to allies seems excessive. Just play Revised if you want that game.

    If I were to make adjustments, I might remove 1 tank, 1 art from germany. I would also add maybe 2 inf and 1 art to US in China and make a China territory worth 2 IPC. This way, US could conceivably pressure Japan from China.

  • 2019 '15 '14

    I think fewer territory tiles in Asia, rather than more, would have created a better position for Allies against Japan.

    Many people offered the same suggestion of “more spaces”, as a solution to the JTDTM when the subject came up after Revised. You know, “just put more space (ie more territory tiles, with low ipc values) between the Chinese coastline and Moscow, and it would take Japan too long to drive their Tanks to the center.”

    I advanced the exact opposite position, that there should be fewer territories with higher ipc values (so the Allies would be forced to defend them). But I had difficulty arguing my case, since pretty much everyone thought that approach wouldn’t work.

    China is an interesting example. In Classic and Revised China was split into 2 tiles each worth 2 ipcs for a total of 4 production.
    In 1942.2 China was split into 4 tiles each worth 1 ipc, for a total of 4 production.

    My suggestion was to have a single-landlocked Chinese tile worth 4 ipc/4 production. The logic was that then the Allies would have had a viable location for a USA factory purchase at the center of the game board. Encouraging the Allies (and especially Russia) to stack defend the tile, instead of withdrawing to the Center the way they always do.  I proposed a few different drafts on the Larry Boards that showed how more IPCs might help. Rather than being immediately scooped up by Japan as everyone fears, my thought was that such a scheme would instead give the Allies a reason to stay and fight Japan, not just bouncing the hell out of the area with a quickness hehe.

    The main hurdle I ran into trying to convince people of the merits of higher IPC values for such tiles, was an attachment (in my view an arbitrary and misplaced attachment) to the idea that territory IPC value requires an analogy to real world production or real hitorical industry. The counter argument goes something like, “well, you can’t make that place worth 2 ipcs because some other place is only worth 1.” Or “if China is worth x, then some other place needs to be worth 2x or 3x etc.” Or the one I grumbled about the most “Hey, that territory needs to be worth zero ipcs, because its too small to be worth 1 ipc.” Which I think is just silly, given how much the ipc value of territories has changed in some places but not others over successive OOB maps.

    But you know, nobody wants to change the numbers on the OOB map, so you gotta work with you got I guess.  😄

    I still think the most expedient and simplest way to balance the game would be to provide a bonus to starting income. But I have real difficulty convincing other players to try out that method.

    The proposal at the top of this thread, is for set pre-placement bid of 63 ipcs for Allies, and 11 ipcs for Axis.
    It may work beautifully, but its a major departure from the OOB game. The whole first round would likely look rather different, and the attacks that can be run in the second or the third round as well, since this stuff all has a way of cascading. Even a single pre-placement unit on the game board can change the opening in pretty dramatic ways.

    If the bid was simply to starting income, how high would need to go before you felt confident that the Allies could win?
    I think this would give a much better sense of how balanced or unbalanced the map really is, without confusing the situation by altering the opening. Just using the raw income numbers, so you could figure out what is actually required for a balanced game using the OOB set up.

    25 ipcs to Allies?
    50 ipcs to Allies?
    100 ipcs to Allies?

  • 2019 2018 2017 '16

    The cash bid is an interesting way of approaching things, especially if you like the battles that occur in the opening on the OOB setup. Personally, I enjoy getting to place my bid before the game starts as a way of shaking up the opening theory and keeping things diverse – but, then, I’m not the one carrying an encyclopedic knowledge of A&A opening theory in my back pocket!

    I think 25 IPCs would be more than enough – I’d play the Allies every time with a $25 cash bid. If you give it all to the British, they have $56 to play with – allow $9 for max infantry in India, and you still have $47 left to buy two carriers, a fighter, and a destroyer. You can drop that in the Channel on round 1, fill the fourth carrier slot with an American fighter, build destroyers and transports on round 2, and then invade France or Leningrad on round 3.

    Another option is to give it all to the Russians, leaving them with $49 income on their first turn – enough to buy 4 inf, 2 art ($20) for Leningrad and Stalingrad, plus 3 tnk, 1 ftr ($28) for Moscow. You should be able to hold Stalingrad and trade Leningrad indefinitely with that kind of start out of the gate.

  • 2019 2018 2017 '16

    It’s also interesting (and sobering) to reflect on all the failed attempts to balance the game back toward KJF attempts. Black_Elk is onto something when he says to reduce the number of territories in central Asia, and Marine Iguana is right when he says that China needs a 2 IPC territory so the US can build a factory there. I think the trick is to split the difference – have a “Western China” that’s worth 2 IPCs and insulated from immediate Japanese attack by a pair of 1-IPC Chinese territories to its east. That way the USA has a territory that’s both defensible and worth defending. If you smush all of China into a single landlocked 4-IPC territory, then Japan can attack it turn 2 with all available forces, and either it falls or it doesn’t – there’s no room for maneuvering or positioning.

    UK IC, less profitable pearl harbor, and expectation that UK and US atlantic fleet are sunk R1 are consistent with making KGF less rewarding and KJF more viable.

    The India IC definitely helps with KJF. I’m not sure pearl harbor is noticeably less profitable in 1942.2 compared to other editions. Letting the Germans sink 80%+ of the Allied Atlantic fleets on turn 1 makes it more expensive to KGF, but to a certain extent giving Germany the ability to achieve initial Atlantic naval superiority simply forces the Allies to go hard or go home against Germany.

    In previous versions, when the Allies could take it for granted that they’d control the (smaller) Atlantic, the Allies could send as many or as few IPCs as they wished to harass Germany. Maybe the Allies would use 1 transport to annoy Algeria or Norway, or maybe the Allies would use 8 transports to sack Berlin, or maybe anything in between. Now, with the Germans in control of the Atlantic, if you’re not going to build a big enough fleet to re-take the Atlantic, then you may as well not bother building an Atlantic fleet at all, and if you are going to sink 50+ IPCs into defensive naval arms, there’s really no way to recoup your investment other than by sacking Berlin.

    My biggest suggestions for how to design a ‘mainline’ A&A map that encourages KJF are:

    1. Ensure the USA has a defensible, 2-IPC spot for a Chinese factory
    2. Ensure the UK has a 2-IPC spot for an Australian factory that’s close enough to Borneo and East Indies to actually threaten them
    3. Ensure the USSR has a 2-IPC spot for a Siberian factory and enough starting income to use it without throwing the game
    4. Shift the money islands “east” relative to India and China so that the same Japanese fleet can’t defend India, China, Japan, and Borneo.
    5. Reduce the Japanese starting income so that they can’t throw fighters away on unimportant battles, attack Siberia, China, India, and the Pacific at the same time, and still win on all four fronts. Force the Japanese to choose and conquer some economically valuable territories before they become a juggernaut. Starting income should be something like Tokyo ($6), Manchuria ($3), Shanghai ($2), Indochina ($2), Borneo ($3), East Indies ($2), Philippines ($2) = $20 starting cash. The Japanese had a huge army/navy relative to their neighbors, but they couldn’t afford to quickly replace it if it was destroyed, nor could they afford to match a serious US naval buildup while also winning wars on the mainland. An American decision to commit 30+ IPCs to the Pacific should pretty immediately force the Japanese to either accept a stalemate on the Asian mainland or to accept the loss of the Imperial Japanese Navy.

  • TripleA

    Well the main issue for me was the allies did not have many attacks to do after russia round 1. It is often a slow build up without much to look forward to for the first 2-5 rounds.

    Even if it is in the European theater, the bship can always go to the Pacfic. The russian guys are sino russian so they make it to the eastern front quicker than the Europe front. The fighter on UK can fly around. It can all shift between theaters, making it a decision instead of a forced play.

    I mean the unpopularity of this map is due to the lack of decision making processes. The allies also have little to look forward to making it silly to play. Like I played this game OOB one time as the axis and it was just a stomp… I even rolled terrible got diced in so many battles round 1… and still pulled out an easy win. I could not even think of anything the allies did that was that wrong either. So we played 21 ipc allies and it was a closer game, but felt really one sided still.

    That is what made me examine the map more and I had to compare it to the closest balanced map we know of which is revised. The quickest way is to give the allies the same TUV and unit counter advantage they once had in a balanced version order to make the game more even and then go from there. After that I put units in decision making positions so both the axis and allies have to make decisions with different risks and rewards. The idea is not to remake revised but to make this map balanced and fun to play for both sides… instead of just the axis having all the fun.

  • TripleA

    Plus I want pacific to be a viable option. In order to do that the atlantic / Europe issues need to be addressed, because uk depends far too much on USA.

  • 2019 '15 '14

    I guess I have a preference for the income boost over extra units, because I’m interested in how the round 1 purchasing might be able to correct the balance by itself, without requiring people to actually alter the set up.

    A single bonus to income of say 30 ipcs, for just one of the Allied nations.

    roll 1d6

    1 or 2 and the cash goes to Russia
    3 or 4 and the cash goes to UK
    5 or 6 and the cash goes to USA

    This way you still have a method to mix things up from game to game. The Allied player has some flexibility to determine the course of play at purchase, but the nation that receives the cash is randomized by the roll, so you’d basically have 3 starting points for the Allies to puzzle out instead of just 1.

    I think what 1942.2 lacks, and all A&A games lack really, is a good/balanced way to randomize the start conditions of the game, while still working within the same essential framework and unit set up of the OOB game. Starting cash seems like an easy way to do that. It could be any number really, I just picked 30, because I heard Cow say that’s what he thought it would take in another thread.

    At +30 ipcs, depending on which nation the Allies rolled for the bonus, that’d be…

    Russia with 54
    UK with 61
    USA with 72

    There’s gotta be enough variety and advantage in there to make for a balanced game vs G, and then the player could decide for themselves what sort of unit builds to pursue within the confines of that initial 1d6 roll to determine which of the Allies gets the bonus.

    You think 30 would be enough at income?
    There has to be a number that would work and satisfy most players, even experts against the Axis crush, while still providing some novelty in determining how the extra cash gets spent.

    Again I think Cows suggestion could be a lot of fun, but its always so hard to get everyone on board with a unit set up change. And hard to anticipate all the ways that a set up change might be exploited, or lead to some unexpected difficulty of its own. An extra fist full of cash, if we could find the right number, might be enough to bring into a 50/50 type balance, if only you could popularize an alternative system to the pre-placement bid, battle breaker.

    The reason why I like to keep the OOB unit set up is primarily just for ease play among the largest group of players. A lot of people already accept the idea of a bid as a balance corrective, but the trend has been towards pre-placement bids. I wish we had a good alternative to that style. One that didn’t require all the back and forth deciding how low to go. Instead just some kind of income boost, that puts the Allies on an equal footing, but with enough randomization to keep things interesting.

  • TripleA

    Well yeah, it is just easier. 21 pre placement bid, go to town on french indo china or whatever have fun.

  • Moderator

    I like some of these ideas.  🙂

    My issue is the round 1 dice will typically have a larger effect on the game then any bid.  It is just tough to balance once the dice become involved if there are any “extreme” results in round 1 regardless of whether you bid or not or where you place it.

    My solution would be to try and make a bunch of small scale or low unit attacks in rd 1.  I’d just eliminate the UK Canada trn, and US dd and 2 trns and then remove the 2 German subs.  I’d keep the UK DD.  Maybe put the US DD with the Cru (that way they’d have the DD but it is safe and out of play in round 1.  I’d give Germany a Sub in Sz 14 so that they can sink the Cru and DD without the risk of losing a plane or BB (with bad dice).  In Europe have Fin, Bal, Belo, Wrus, and Ukr all start with just 2 inf.  Then Adjust Russia accordingly so that they can attack any 2 (conservative) to 3 (aggressive) of the 5 (but not 4 or 5 or all).  That way you are limiting the risk of a catastrophic battle occurring for either side.  You’d limit the possibility of losing 3-4 Russian inf in Wrus due to bad dice or Ukr on a terrible strafe run.  I’d probably remove a Ger ftr too (assuming none are on the front lines).  Basically they’d have 5 ftrs, 1 bom at the end of G1 unless they bought more.

    Same thing in the Pac.  If Pearl is seen as a must attack (and always gets attacked in every version) then we can just eliminate the units and the battle.  Don’t let bad dice even enter the realm of ruining J1.  Maybe leave 1 US DD and leave 2 J subs, 1 ftr at sol in range for a safer attack.  Get rid of the J Cru and maybe another ftr somewhere and have no AC in range of staying at Pearl for Japan on J1.  Take off 1 J trn and again limit the Asia attacks by putting 2 US inf on all boarder spots and Japan has just enough to attack 2 but not all three and keep the US ftr safe.  I’d also split Sze into two and make West Sze worth 2 ipc.  As stated above give the US a shot at an IC.

    My basic thinking is make rd 1 filled with small scale battles and ones that if you do get bad dice you might only be losing an extra inf or two instead of losing unexpected armor, ftrs, bombers, ACs, BBs, etc.

    The variety of the game will come with the Non-Coms and purchases setting up in rd 2 and beyond as you get into the game.

    I’m sure eventually an “optimum” start would develop even with smaller less risky battles but that will happen regardless of setup but at least this way you can try to manage the dices influence at the start.

    I have other ideas on the Pac as well, but they revolve around upping the IPC values for places like HI and adding IPC value to places like Midway, Wake, Car IS, etc.

  • TripleA

    The biggest swing was the usa 2 trans 1 dd…

  • 2019 2018 2017 '16

    Darth Maximus, I agree with you that using swingy, mandatory, high-TUV battles in round 1 is a terrible way to introduce variety into the ‘starting’ position. I’m not convinced that reducing all the front line territories to 2 infantry and 1 destroyer is a good solution to that problem – if you suck all of the variety and risk out of round 1, then round 1 is going to be a boring waste of time. If the map is designed so that the attackers can each easily take a specific number of territories, then there’s no suspense to the battles for those territories. I don’t want to spend an hour rolling dice just to see if our starting defenders manage to rack up 0, 1, or 2 hits against the enemy before getting steamrolled.

    I could maybe see using that kind of setup to teach beginners how to play, so that they can get a feel for the mechanics using some low-stakes, low-stress battles before things really heat up, but it’s not a setup I’d want for the mainline game.

    My preferred solution to round 1 swinginess is to move the big fleets further apart from each other. I’m not a stickler for rigorous historical accuracy, but given the 1942 start date, the game could have easily gotten away with shifting the British Indian fleet west into the Persian Gulf (so it can escape from the Japanese if it wishes), shifted the American Pacific fleet south from Hawaii to the Solomon islands (so that the so-called ‘Pearl Harbor’ attack seriously inconveniences Japan by putting its units out of position), and concentrating the German subs in the North Sea instead of in the central Atlantic (so that Germany can choose whether to set up a wolf pack for a turn 2 sub attack, or to retreat the subs and turtle in the Baltic, instead of just automatically sinking most of the Atlantic fleets on turn 1).

    I’m much less concerned with swinginess in Ukraine or West Russia. Maybe Russia should have another artillery unit in the Caucasus to help smooth things out, but honestly if your Russian strategy has no chance of recovery after taking a couple of unexpected hits in West Russia, then maybe you need to either (1) play low luck or (2) adopt a more conservative strategy. The OOB setup doesn’t require Russia to stake the game on any particular attack, and if you choose to spread your forces thinly enough that you are in fact betting the game on round 1, then I say you have to be prepared to accept the consequences. Similarly, there’s nothing Russia can do on turn 1 that knocks Germany out of the game – Germany has incredibly deep reserves and an interesting choice of strategies no matter how well Russia does in the opening battles.

  • TripleA

    I like my setup it is more fun for both sides.

  • 2019 '15 '14

    I’m interested in this set up. Im pretty open to adaptations, so I’d  be down to try. But I’m curious, given all the other changes you’ve proposed (including an extra US battleship, and extra fighter for UK) why didn’t you give the Russians a bomber? Or at least a 3rd fighter?

    It just seems like a missed oppertunity to me. You have all these extra infantry units for the Soviets, but still kept the same 2 fighters for Russia model we’ve seen on basically every map since Classic.  The lack of starting air power (coupled with the lack of income to expand that airpower) is the thing that really keeps Russia from becoming a more interesting power to play.

    If there is science behind it, what is the scientific rationale for limiting Russia to just 2 air units?

    I mean really, why shaft the Russians again, with ONLY 2 fighters?! Those same tired ass Yaks, with only 2 air attacks per turn max. Heheh

    You know the eastern front is just going to devolve into the same defensive stack fest it always does for Russia. I don’t see 5 infantry units changing that. The western allies will still be forced to send a fighter wall, because Russia will still have insufficient attack power to be agressive in trading on their own.

    Anyways, I don’t claim to know your full scientific method here, but if you’re looking for peer reviews, that would be my suggestion. Give Russia a third starting air unit!

    I honestly think it does more for Allied balance than any other single unit you could include in the set up. It’s as much psychological as it is pure TUV. The Allied player feels more secure, when they have a 3rd air unit, and the choice of the bomber is clear.

    Russia is the only nation that doesn’t have a bomber. And you know damn well they’ll never buy one. So why not just give it to them? I mean you’ve seen the sculpt, it’s big, it’s badass, and it makes the game much more entertaining for the Russian player.

  • TripleA

    Well Russia gets more starting inf… he can just buy one.

  • 2019 '15 '14

    I doubt it.

    Even if they did buy an air unit, you know it would just be a fighter and not a bomber.

    I suspect that a seasoned Russian player would never buy a bomber in this game, if allowed to choose something else for the same cost. Left to their own devices players will instead just develop the same old infantry wall tactics that they always do. Sending over the extra British fighter you gave them, to try the same things they’ve always tried, in countless versions of A&A going back to the stone age.

    The point I’m making is this, if your goal is for more variety and more choices, then the bomber would be a way more interesting addition to the set-up than the equivalent value of 4 Russian infantry stuck in some backwater burg.

    The argument that Russians “can just buy one,” isn’t very compelling. That’s the same thing the designers always say, when confronted with their brazen nerfing of the USSR. But those sort of purchases never happen in serious games, because competent players know better.

    If, on the other hand, you just give the Russians a bomber outright, it opens up opportunities for a much more dynamic play-style from the Soviets. One where they’re not nearly as pigeon holed into the same-old boring “grind, defend, and retreat” routine.

    I just struggle to see how giving the Americans an extra Battleship or the British a fighter, should trump the Russian air expansion, as a first place to start, if the plan is to make the game more entertaining for Allies. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do those other things, but why not start at the center and give the Russians something to actually work with?

  • TripleA

    Yeah well in aa50 better to buy tanks and hope you roll a 3 on defense after you win a fight.

    This map is a little different you probably want one once your forces are pushed further away from your capital… or maybe on russia 1 as insurance for a russia 2 attack on karelia. Beats the armor buy in this case.

  • 2019 '15 '14

    For sure, tanks were still king in AA50!  😄

    In 1942.2 if you’re going to actually purchase an Air unit with the Russians, it should definitely be a fighter rather than a bomber. I think the best time to do this is in the second round. That’s when Russian income will be at its highest for any point during the early game. But I would only do this if your opening attacks went well, and if the German opening counter attacks went rather poorly. If you collect 26-28 ipcs after your opening, that gives you enough for the third fighter, and still have 16-18 ipcs left over for 5-6 ground units. After which point you buy infantry/artillery for the rest of the game, and use your third fighter for optimal trading. But again I would only do that if Russia opens well, and I would only consider the fighter. From a purchasing perspective Russia benefits more from a fighter than a bomber. They don’t really need the reach of a bomber, since all the territories they can reasonably attack are close to home, and the fighter gives you a better attack/defense ratio for the cost. Given how important defense is for Russia its better to buy a unit with att 3 def 4 mov 4 for 10 ipcs, than att 4, def 1 move 6 for 12 ipcs.

    This is the reason why I think its better to just give Russia a bomber!

    Because I don’t think any serious player would ever buy one. An experienced player can use a starting Russian bomber in many interesting ways, but to suggest that an experienced player would actually purchase a new one is just wishful thinking.

    A starting Red Airforce of 2 fighters and 1 bomber is less distorting in my view, than a starting airforce of 3 fighters (because of the way the Russian situation favors defense). An experienced Russian player may purchase a 3rd fighter at some point in the game, but I just don’t see them purchasing a bomber.

    Both situations (2 fighters + 1 bomber, or 3 fighters) would be better than the OOB starting Red airforce of ONLY 2 fighters! But the 2 fighters + 1 bomber combo just feels better to me. It accomplishes several things at once, all of which enhance the confidence of the Soviet player. It gives them more opening attack power, the ability to reach farther with those attacks, and the ability to send a defensive pip to critical territories (like Egypt) after an attack. They can also use it for strategic bombing, if the Allies want to pursue such a game. It has flexibility to be used in either theater (either the Eastern Front with Germany, or against Japan in Asia.)

    There are also several reasonable options for a starting location for the bomber, Moscow, Karelia, or my personal favorite, Caucasus!

    That last gives Russia the most options for their bomber on R1, and it doesn’t currently house an air unit, so that creates a nice 3 way split. Fighter in Karelia, Fighter in Moscow, Bomber in Caucasus.

    That would be my ideal, since it has a certain aesthetic appeal as well  😄

    Think about it, what other unit could you place for Allies that gives you a dozen round 1 options? None of which are totally distorting or going to break a major TUV swing, but which can still provide a lot of gameplay interest for the Allies?

    In the first round, A Russian bomber in Caucasus could, among other things:

    Bomb Germany
    Bomb Italy
    Attack Ukraine
    Attack Belo
    Attack Baltic States
    Attack sz 5
    Attack sz 61
    Land in Egypt for defense
    Land in UK for defense
    Land in Szech for defense
    Land in Bury for defense

    If additional bid units are included beyond the bomber, you might be able to do other things as well.
    Such as Attack Manchuria (sub par, but possible with an extra bid, or some additional starting units in the far east.)
    And unlike most other units, the bomber is very likely to survive, and play-on in subsequent rounds. So it provides an ongoing benefit.

    It can even have a role to play if Moscow is captured, allowing Russia to bomb Berlin or Tokyo during the endgame!

    I just think its the best all around option, if you want to make a set up change. I’m not saying it fixes the game, but I think it should be the starting point for the fix, the unit change around which you build the rest of the set up.


  • 2019 2018 2017 '16

    Black_Elk, as you can probably guess, I’m all in favor of increasing the Russians’ ability to wage an offensive war, and a starting bomber is one good way to do that. What I wonder about is how it could be possible to offer the players the realistic option to have Russia go on the offense (against Germany? against Japan?) while simultaneously having the Axis wage an aggressive war against the UK and/or the USA.

    I see five possibilities here:

    1. Russia attacks Germany, and Germany makes attacks based on economic goals, rather than going after a capital. Germany’s extra starting units in the west allow it to conquer all of Africa and maybe even take Brazil, but Japan isn’t in position to deliver a killing blow to either London or Washington, and so the game is slow, at best – the Axis strategy basically involves winning by building up such a big economic advantage that Germany can absorb, blunt, and eventually retaliate against the strong starting Russian attack.

    2. Russia attacks Germany, and Germany directly attacks London while Japan seizes on the distraction to gobble up British possessions in the southern hemisphere. This game will be very short, because if Germany heads west then it won’t take long for the powerful Russian attacking forces to make it to Berlin – either the Sea Lion will work or it won’t, and the game will be decided accordingly.

    3. Russia attacks Germany, and Germany tries to ignore a still-vigorous British empire, cross the Atlantic, and attack the USA, with or without help from Japan. Britain shoots down half the German transports with subs and planes, and then America laughs and easily defeats the rest of the German invasion; meanwhile, Russia enters Berlin and ends the game.

    4. Russia attacks Japan with help from the United States and the UK, as in a standard KJF. Russia is presumably able to seize the valuable territories of Manchuria and Shanghai (otherwise it wouldn’t be much of an attack!), meaning that Russia can afford to let Germany win some territory in eastern Europe and Russia can still build a successful infantry wall. Germany can try to take Moscow before Tokyo falls, as in a standard all-out KJF, but will have a much harder time than usual because Russia has more income, and Germany’s extra starting troops need time to shift over from France and Italy to the eastern front.

    5. Russia attacks Japan with help from only the United States, leaving Britain to help defend eastern Europe. Japan can probably hold out for several turns while still defending Manchuria and Shanghai. Germany is probably forced to gamble on an early blitz to Moscow, because it has no other plausible options for linking up with Japan or relieving the siege of Tokyo.

    I have to say, I’m not wild about any of these scenarios. What do you think?

  • 2019 '15 '14

    I think I get what you’re driving at. Honestly I’m not sure that such a thing can be achieved purely with a starting unit adjustment. I think it would require deeper adjustments to income/production or the design of the map itself.

    The reason I’m pushing the bomber concept here, is because I actually like Cow’s ideas a lot.

    I think if his set up included the Russian bomber it would be a lot more fun. And could then grow organically from a simple set up change, to a more advanced set up change.

    For example, new player comes along and says something like

    “This game is broken, how are Allies supposed to win this way?! My friends and I don’t like to bid, we want a set up change, that allows us to pick a side and play!”


    Step one: add a Russian bomber in Caucasus, see if that works for your playgroup.

    Step two: if Axis are still stomping, it means your Axis players are at a higher level of experience so, proceed to the full Cow set up change.

    Step one I believe will cover a lot of players in the begginer to moderately experienced. And its an easy change, so simple for players to include. Step two will cover expert play, the set up change is a bit more involved but still fairly simple.

    That way we cover everyone and don’t have to deal with competing, which are less likely to be adopted by a large group of players.

    Basically I want consistency and ease of use. So I’ll keep suggesting it, until I see a compelling  reason why we shouldn’t start with the Russian bomber as the basis for the tweak.

  • 2019 2018 2017 '16

    I guess that makes sense – you’re not actually trying to give Russia strategically offensive options where they start whaling on an Axis player’s capital; you’re just trying to give them more tactical offensive options where they can pick off a poorly defended transport or trade three territories in a turn, or something like that. Fair enough; I guess that does make the game more fun.

    I’m not convinced that giving the Allies 64 IPCs worth of extra units vs. 11 IPCs worth of extra units for the Axis makes for a balanced game, even against expert Axis players. Add in a Russian bomber as well and I’m sure the game’s biased in favor of the Allies. Cow talks a lot about how his setup is scientifically balanced, but so far that’s just marketing – Cow hasn’t shown us any of his TUV calculations or playtest results.

  • 2019 '15 '14

    Exactly! What I’m looking for is not a Russian stomp, but rather a little more flexibility for them on attack and a boost from their normal position which is almost entirely defensive, to one which is still primarily defensive but with more teeth for counters.

    The lion’s share of the TUV in Cows set up is coming from 3 units. The fighter in UK, and the American Battleship and W. USA bomber. That’s 42 ipc right there! I can see what he’s driving at with these, but I don’t think any of them in isolation would have as much impact as the Russian bomber to the sense balance at the center.

    America already has a battleship and a bomber, and UK already has several fighters. Those units are already purchase options for both nations.

    But Russia is the power that’s consistently nerfed, and which has no income. They never get a bomber or a battleship! Why not give those units to them instead?

    I think it would add more novelty. I mean hell, a Russian battleship in sz 4, now that’s something we’ve never seen before! A Russian bomber is something we’ve only had once (in AA50, with the decidedly unpopular 1942 start date.) So if the objective is spice, a real red airforce or real red fleet would be way hotter in my view.

    Now I don’t seriously expect anyone to slap down a Russian battleship in sz 4. But it would actually have a similar effect as putting one in sz 11, because a Russian battleship would make the sz 7 attack totally do or die. Germany would probably have to bring all 4 submarines and enough air to ice it, or be screwed completely, which would result in both the US and UK Atlantic transport/destroyer groups surviving.

    I think for me, the best idea would be to start small and build it out incrementally. For me the Russian bomber just has a special charm that I think is hard to beat.

  • TripleA

    Allies have a problem getting #s of units into Europe and Asia, this is why the 5 infantry Russia is so critical. The one infantry french africa is nice in case the axis do bust into africa, it is just one guy so nothing too punishing if the axis do decide to play the income game.

    These changes were meant to have a more enjoyable game, the allies get going a little sooner with the battleship in play and extra uk fighter.

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