G40 Redesign (currently taking suggestions)

  • 2021 '19 '18 '17 '16

    Ha-HA! Good points and very well written… thank you for not taking me too seriously…  cool

    Thanks! You too. I’m having fun here. 🙂

    This is where we are deviating more artificially than I like. To manipulate Axis or Ally motivations in a decidedly ahistorical fashion begins to stretch the game away from its purpose as a historical game.

    Mostly that’s fine – different A&A players will put different weights on the historical accuracy vs. the strategic complexity of the game. I tend to lean a little heavy on the strategy, it sounds like you tend to lean a little heavy on the accuracy, but both are part of what makes the game fun for all of us.

    My only real pushback here is that part of why Japan didn’t invade Moscow in the actual war is that the logistical challenge of crossing 4,000 miles of unpaved frozen swamps while dodging potshots from hostile militia and trying to either forage for juniper berries or bring your food with you on the back of a donkey or something is just ridiculous. The American army in 1945, with endless tin cans full of pork’n’beans, countless department stores full of fur coats, and an unlimited supply of light trucks and trained engineers, probably couldn’t have gotten anywhere Moscow if they had to march from Vladivostok. The Japanese army in 1942, with light rations of rice, and a major gasoline shortage, would have been lucky to make it to Irksutsk. We’re talking about terrain that’s so hostile that locals could probably hold their ground even while outnumbered 10:1 – if you think Hitler had trouble with the (European) Russian winter at the gates of Stalingrad, imagine Hirohito trying to take ground in Siberia when the temperature is forty below before the windchill.

    Can we simulate any of that with house rules? If not, then I can forgive a bit of artificial tinkering with Axis motivations in the name of tweaking the motivations back toward reality, i.e., away from an unhealthy obsession with an unrealistic plan for invading Moscow at speed across the Siberian plain.

    Giving the French player the option of attacking may not actually be a completely bad thing; mostly because I think that it would quickly be apparent that doing so would be a worse move than simply waiting for the Germans to com get you.

    So you do see the comedy angle there! I’m not trying to turn France into some kind of global superpower; I just want them to have a decision or two to make.

    And having them as respective parts of larger Powers (ex. Britain-India-Anzac and USA-China) could pose major problems. The USA could concievably “control” China, but can you imagine G40 China being played the same was as it was in A&A Revised or the smaller global versions??? The US could build freaking industrial complexes there and throw their money there!! (Obviously, I assume this would be slightly amended). But more to the point, Britain controlling India and Anzac under one turn and one pool of money could throw things way off the historical track. Can you imagine Britain dumping 40 IPCs into India? They could do it and just ferry loads of tanks up into the Soviet Union or China.

    Well, we routinely see Japan cranking out lots of tanks in Manchuria, Singapore, etc. – is that realistic? I didn’t think they had those kinds of factories; I was under the impression that Japan was stripping mainland Asia for iron, coal, rubber, etc. and doing their manufacturing on the Japanese home islands. There are not a lot of 2-ipc territories in China for the US to build complexes in, and it would be easy enough to rule that they would have to be minor complexes. If you treat China as a pro-Allied neutral, the USA still has the problem of how do they get to China to activate it – from the Philippines? It’s not something that would really kick in until America has already cleared a sea lane and a Chinese port, and once the US has open sea lanes, I see no reason why they couldn’t have shipped over some engineers and machine tools to crank up a bit of local Chinese production if they wanted to spend the money on doing so.

    As for 40+ IPC of British Indian tanks, I’m really not convinced it’s optimal – even with tanks, you’re still a full three turns from Moscow. If Britain has that kind of cash to throw around, I’d rather build tanks in Scotland and shuck them to Archangel, where they’re only one turn from Moscow. Or, you know, build fighters, which can transport themselves. If you’re really concerned about it, you can change the rule that limits major industrial complexes to “original territories” so that instead major ICs are limited to “metropolitan territories,” i.e., not in the colonies.

    They are less quantifiable things, but they are reasons why, even though very French, Quebec is not Paris and Ottawa is not London. What good is your political capital really if all your people are separated from you under enemy occupation?

    It depends how much time you have to evacuate, I guess. Maybe you should be required to declare a capital move before your capital actually gets conquered, otherwise you can’t move your capital.

    But to talk about “all your people” being separated is an exaggeration: the UK had about 40 million people in 1940, compared to 10 million in Canada, 10 million in South Africa, 7 million in Australia, and 2 million in New Zealand. If you evacuate not just the members of Parliament, but also some of your best scientists, engineers, artists, and entrepreneurs, and you also bring along financial records from your major banks, and your gold reserves, and your oil reserves, and your machine tools, then it’s going to suck to have to leave behind most of your population, but it’s certainly not going to end your economy or make your productive capacity insignificant. Ottawa isn’t London, but it isn’t chopped liver, either.

  • '19 '15 '14

    This is fast developing into my favorite HR thread on the boards. The discussion is spirited, and amusing, and I think it is pulling us in the right direction. Safe to say this is the exact sort of feedback I was hoping we’d be able to gather.

    I’m zonked from work, but wanted to just mention one more thing before I retire for the night, a very general impression I have about A&A HR design tendencies…

    I’ve noticed in A&A, when it comes to creating analogies between the historical war and the actual game, there is always a tension between two basic ideals or approaches. I’ve seen them at play on the Larry Boards, and here as well, whenever historical questions arise.

    On the one hand, you have an approach that favors a more consistent historical analogy for the individual game elements.
    On the other hand, you have an approach that favors a more consistent historical analogy for the resulting gameplay patterns.

    At some point I think you really have to choose which approach you want to give primacy, because the game system is often too simplistic to handle both without internal conflicts arising.

    Like if you want to keep the game elements totally concrete and uniform in their historical analogies, then you have to just accept the play-patterns that develop out of them. But if you want to change the play-patterns after the fact, you basically have to let go of the notion that one of those elements represents something very solid.

    Let me give an example of what I mean in a game context…
    Take a critical game element like IPCs/Money.

    These are used for all sorts of things in game, like determining territory value (where production can be located, what its worth when traded for units), or what sorts of units that can be bought in a given purchase etc. So in that respect, a Nation’s starting income might be really important.

    For some players, this element of the game should be concrete and consistent in its analogy to the real world, or to the actual historical situation in WWII. 1 IPC = 1 million man hours of “Industrial Production.” That’s what it says on the certificate, and what it says on that dollar bill, is exactly what it means. Now depending on how strict you want to be, you can say ‘OK this is our building block’, and this initial abstraction is going to serve as the basis for all the other abstractions we make. It’s a foundational game element, and the analogy or narrative created around it is seen as very concrete and not open to much interpretation. Since units cost a set amount of IPCs, and territories are worth a set amount of IPCs drawn on the map, the IPC is sort of sacrosanct. If we were to suddenly change this element somewhere via HRs, then the change cascades out through the entire game, such that nothing relates in quite the same way to anything else consistently anymore, and the historical analogy of the IPC is broken. Potential uproar. Also, because the IPC value of a territory represents something like resources and raw materials, increasing or lowering it substantially is just off the table, unless you want to entertain total fantasy. Things like starting Income or the value of Objectives, average income in a round etc. trump other considerations because they’re at the root of the game’s design. So after all this you come down to the idea, that starting income should just never be changed.

    Or, then again, perhaps the Starting IPC analogy is not the most thing important to you, and there are other things in the game that trump it. In this case, what’s important might not be the IPC starting treasury totals, or the IPC value of a given territory, or IPC objective bonuses per se, but rather how players are using this cash in their actual games. How players are drawn towards certain higher IPC territories, or totally ignore some zero IPC territories. Basically whether or not the resulting game-play pattern feel “satisfying” as a reflection of the real historical war. Here IPCs are just a means to an end, not 1 million man hours of production really, but just some sort of abstract game point that allows other things to happen (things that are more meaningful to the overall narrative you create about the game as player, like maybe combats happening in territories where combat historically occurred.)

    You could take another game element, like the sequence of the Turn Order.
    On the one hand you could say that the chosen sequence represents something really significant to the game’s design. Having Germany move first, or having a particular nation’s turn fall when it does, attaches to a timeline of events that’s meant to simulate something specific. You could say that turns in the game round = some set number of months, and that the turn order specifically reflects which sort of attack patterns can develop in that time-frame. Like G1 = Fall of France type scenario.
    Or again, maybe it just isn’t all that important to you, and something you can tweak if it leads to a more satisfying set of gameplay patterns.

    Another element might be something like Starting Unit distribution. Whether you consider the starting units  to be concrete representations of the actual forces in the field. Or whether they are just vague gamey abstractions, that can be altered like with a bid or a set up change. Similarly you might put the focus on the units themselves, how they move, their combat abilities etc.

    In each case, there is this tension, between the desire for the element to be accurate and the desire for the gameplay pattern to be accurate, and frustration when they don’t both align under the games normal rules. Hence the desire for the reboot hehe. Personally, the thing that I care about in G40 is not how accurately the game’s individual elements are modeled at the outset, but whether the gameplay patterns that emerge from those elements feel accurate as the game progresses. And when I say “feel” accurate I mean true to history, or historical probability, where the gameplay over the course of many rounds resembles what actually happened in World War II.

    Marc’s Campaigns basically…  And then the question, do they actually happen?

    Because when they don’t, or when “other campaigns” like the Japanese Tank Drive, or the Western Air Wall to Moscow, take over, I think that’s what bugs.

    You know, when the largest naval battle between Japan and American takes place somewhere in the Mediterranean. Or the largest tank battle in human history occurs not between Russia and Germany, but between Japan and UK (somewhere in Russia.) Things like that, they just bug. Even if all the elements seem accurately modeled relative to each other, if they produce a game that departs markedly from what happened in the second world war, then something’s got to give. We just need to pick the focus for what to change.

    Perhaps I’m too blitzed right now to spit it out (I’m a smokey character tonight), but I guess what I’m driving at is this idea, that we should figure out which element of the game we care the least about from the historical analogy perspective, and then change that element to create the desired gameplay patterns, (leaving the rest alone, so its relatively easy to adopt). Figure out the simplest ways we can, to create incentives for the Campaigns we want to see occurring, while retaining the entertainment value provided by potential deviations from the history.

    I rather prefer to build backwards. Taking the desired play-patterns first, figuring out what’s necessary to get where we want, and then use that to determine what a given element represents, or how it should be interpreted historically. (as opposed to the other way around.) Put another way, I’m happy to accept that a unit in one part of the world, might represent something  rather different than the same unit in some other part of the world. Or that IPCs are not quite the same for Russia as they are for Germany, or for Japan and USA. Or that the treasuries of the various nations at the outset need to fall along some kind of weakest-to-strongest continuum with no regard for everything else that’s in play (like what the Nation is actually expected to do with that Treasury in the game haha.) I’d think more in terms of, “is this Nation fun to play?” and “are they doing what they should be doing from a historical perspective?” If the answer is “no, or boring, or could be better,” then I’m willing to suspend the disbelief a bit when it comes to tweaking the elements, if that results in a more convincing play-pattern.

    In particular, the Central Pacific campaign for islands is something I’ve always wanted to see in A&A, but never really have.
    Another thing I’ve wanted to see, but haven’t yet, is a way for the Axis to win that doesn’t always run through Moscow (esp for Japan).

    I’d set those up as fairly modest goals that we should aim to achieve, however it is we get there in the end.
    😄

  • 2021 '19 '18 '17 '16

    Good comments, Black_Elk – if that’s what you can toss out when you’re zonked from work, then I look forward to seeing what comes out when you’re well-rested!

    A very brief note re: the Central Pacific island-hopping campaign – one of the most fascinating essays I’ve read about WW2 suggests that the island-hopping was a major strategic error for both sides, and that either Japan or the USA could have (but failed to) gain a big advantage by ignoring the islands and striking directly at the enemy’s main carrier fleet.

    http://www.amazon.com/Mahan-Ran-Great-Pacific-War/dp/0253351057

    I would like to see more focus on the Central Pacific islands, but it is interesting for me to see all the ways that players can fight over the Pacific half of the map without going through the Marianas and Carolines.

  • '18 '17 '16 '15 Customizer

    @Argothair:

    Mostly that’s fine – different A&A players will put different weights on the historical accuracy vs. the strategic complexity of the game. I tend to lean a little heavy on the strategy, it sounds like you tend to lean a little heavy on the accuracy, but both are part of what makes the game fun for all of us.

    Yes, I suppose I do. Not that it needs to have an accurate middle or end (the Allies need not and should not win every time), but beginning with a very historical premise and set of rules will help keep the truly wacky stuff out.

    @Argothair:

    My only real pushback here is that part of why Japan didn’t invade Moscow in the actual war is that the logistical challenge of crossing 4,000 miles of unpaved frozen swamps while dodging potshots from hostile militia and trying to either forage for juniper berries or bring your food with you on the back of a donkey or something is just ridiculous. … We’re talking about terrain that’s so hostile that locals could probably hold their ground even while outnumbered 10:1 – if you think Hitler had trouble with the (European) Russian winter at the gates of Stalingrad, imagine Hirohito trying to take ground in Siberia when the temperature is forty below before the windchill.

    Can we simulate any of that with house rules? If not, then I can forgive a bit of artificial tinkering with Axis motivations in the name of tweaking the motivations back toward reality, i.e., away from an unhealthy obsession with an unrealistic plan for invading Moscow at speed across the Siberian plain.

    I agree with you. I think this could easily be taken care of with a rule simply stating that “Japan may not cross continental Asia through Soviet territories”… or something to that effect. I do not really like such black and white rules because it truly boxes a player in. For example, in previous A&A versions, Neutrals are simply impassable and unassailable. Nothing you can do about it even if you wanted to. Now in G40, that has changed to where something could be done if you so desired, but nobody makes that choice because the consequences are so bad. I prefer leaving the options open, but surrounding that option with consequences grounded in some sort of historical or geographic reality. (The latter is very hard to simulate in a boardgame like this.)

    @Argothair:

    Well, we routinely see Japan cranking out lots of tanks in Manchuria, Singapore, etc. – is that realistic? I didn’t think they had those kinds of factories; I was under the impression that Japan was stripping mainland Asia for iron, coal, rubber, etc. and doing their manufacturing on the Japanese home islands.

    This is the problem I struggle with. Things which have become standard for gameplay (Japan’s rush at India, taking over China, ignoring a naval war with the US…) are not very historical at all. Are we smarter than Japan was in reality? I don’t know… but each player in A&A is free of the ego, social and political constraints, cultural ties and weight of reality that burdened the decisions of historical leaders. You can’t really account for that easily, if at all. So, we both have to accept the deviation from history as necessary perhaps but not have to like it.

    @Argothair:

    As for 40+ IPC of British Indian tanks, I’m really not convinced it’s optimal – even with tanks,

    That was more of a random example that needs some refinement.

    Wish I could respond to Black Elk… but no time unfortunately. Good post though.

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    Very busy and can’t read everything, so I’m just gonna throw a few bones here and there.

    What if air bases and naval bases could get removed from the board if bombed heavily enough? it could encourage players to risk their air units to bomb bases more often.

  • 2021 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Just a couple of quick (owing to lack of time on my part at this moment) comments to follow up on Black Elk’s most recent post from yesterday.

    First, it’s quite correct that it’s absolutely crucial in any game-design process to have a clear idea of just what it is that the designer is trying to accomplish.  Brainstorming to figure out what the game ought to accomplish is fine (and indeed necessary), but brainstorming about detailed specific elements before nailing down what the game ought to accomplish is potentially a huge waste of time because such brainstorming can easily lose its focus.  Figuring out the game’s basic objectives and basic concepts early and clearly is a good approach because this provives a clear yardstick against which all the subsequent thinking can be measured.

    Second, it’s a good point that a designer needs to figure out where the game is supposed to lie on the “event replication continuum”.  At one extremity is the concept of a totally scripted game whose rules ensure to such a degree that the events of WWII will occur accurately and in the correct order that there would be absolutely no point in playing it because its course and outcome would always be the same.  I’d have no interest in such a game.  At the opposite extreme is what I’d call the “box of Lego blocks” approach – a game that is utterly unscripted and barely has any rules…or to put it another way, a game that says: “Here’s a map of the world in 1939, here are the major powers that existed at that time and here’s a box of units representing their armed forces.  Now go ahead and fight a war with them in any way you want.”  Superb flexibility, but pretty weak scenario-wise in my opinion; moreover, I’d hesitate to call such a thing a “WWII” game because the WWII connection would actually be pretty tenuous.  That’s the reason I never took a liking to the games Attack! and Attack! Expansion: they’re set in a kind “non-history” and “non-geography” that vaguly echoes the 1930s but which avoid naming any real countries.  And mid-way between the two approaches, you have games like G40 which combine various degrees of accuracy, scripting, and freedom of decision.  But of course there’s always the following catch: however much accuracy such a game might have in its starting set-up, it’s immediately going to start deviating form history the moment play begins (unless it’s totally scripted).  You could even argue that the main difference between the various A&A games is that they start “deviating” from different points.  G40 starts in June 1940, and starts deviating from that point.  A&A 1941 does the same with 1941, and A&A 1942 does the same with 1942.

  • '17 '16 '15

    A lot of good ideas on here.

    In regards to the Soviet/Japan NAP I believe the original rule was just a straight IPC boost to whoever didn’t attack. It seems as if that would still be the simplest approach. I would add the attacking player should pay that boost out of pocket. So if Japan attacks Russia and Russia gets 12 IPCs then Japan should lose 12 IPCs. Or whatever number works the best.

    These ideas have been discussed before in other threads. I bring them up again because I’ve playtested a lot more and they seem to work pretty good.

    For strengthening China. I added a militia unit. A0 D1 C2 M1 Limit 8. This seems to work pretty good actually.  Although Japan can still steamroll it, it takes a little bit more, which helps India just a little bit more. I would give China a AA gun also. The extra fighter is interesting although I wonder if that would make them a little too powerful ? The downside to the new unit is you’d need some dudes for playing FTF. Militia unit is explained in detail here:

    http://www.axisandallies.org/forums/index.php?topic=35404.0

    I haven’t seen it mentioned here but I know a lot of people seem to think the Bmbr is overpowered. I usually use Barons rule that lowers the attack to 3 boosts to 4 when with a fighter. TACs A4 and boost tanks to 4D. It makes solo attacks a lot more dicey and limits their mass power. Still just as effective range wise though. It’s discussed more here:

    http://www.axisandallies.org/forums/index.php?topic=35415.0

    Battle of the Atlantic. While there is some action early on it seems like there could be more. I added a couple convoy zones to SZs 104 and 124. Russia gets 2 IPCs if at war with Axis, no Axis warships/subs present, Archangel control and no allied units in original TTs. UK gets 2 IPCs if no Axis warships/subs in 104. It’s easy to prevent the Russian but takes a extra sub. UKs can be prevented early but then they pretty much get it.

    All ot the above strenghten Russia a little, directly or indirectly. Also I made Vyborg, Nenetsia and Bessarabia worth 1 IPC. It gives them a little boost early. Combine with one or more of the previously suggested Russian NOs they should be in better shape. There are some good Russian NOs discussed here as well:

    http://www.axisandallies.org/forums/index.php?topic=34568.0

    I’ve already mentioned I like the 1 IPC islands. I also like to play with the marine unit but no need to get carried away. 🙂
    Anyway just some things that I’ve found to work for me.

  • 2021 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @Argothair:

    A very brief note re: the Central Pacific island-hopping campaign – one of the most fascinating essays I’ve read about WW2 suggests that the island-hopping was a major strategic error for both sides, and that either Japan or the USA could have (but failed to) gain a big advantage by ignoring the islands and striking directly at the enemy’s main carrier fleet.

    http://www.amazon.com/Mahan-Ran-Great-Pacific-War/dp/0253351057

    I have that book and my feeling is that its arguments have to be viewed cautiously.  The book basically analyzes WWII in the Pacific from the perspective of the theories of Alfred Mahan, author of The Influence of Seapower Upon History.  One of Mahan’s main theories – essentially, "Sink the enemy’s battle fleet and you win the war – was a great predictor of the outcome of the Russo-Japanese War of 1905-1906 (whose climactic naval engagement at Tsushima was a quintessential Mahanian “battle of annihilation”), but it developed some serious cracks in WWI and WWII.  Mahan lived in the 19th century, and his theories did not anticipate several game-changing developments.  Some of these developments were new classes of combat vessels which broke away from the concept of armoured, gun-armed surface-combat ships: torpedo boats, destroyers, submarines, and eventually aircraft carriers.  Some of these developments were tactical or doctrinal.  In WWI, for example, several factors combined to reduce the likelihood of a major fleet engagement: the use of “distant blockade” techniques instead of the close-blockade concept with which Mahan was familiar; Germany’s adoption of a fleet-in-being strategy, whose main effect was to keep the German fleet bottled up in port while the Royal Navy was free to control the high seas at will; and the extraordinary increase in the cost of battleships after the dreadnought type was introduced (with the result that it became more important for battleships to stay afloat than to sink the enemy).  As for WWII, the situation which Mahan could not have anticipated was the possibility that the world’s leading industrial power (the US) might be so outraged by the way in which a war broke out (the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor) that it would be prepared to spend as much as was necessary and take as long as was needed to ultimately win, no matter how badly clobbered it had been at the outset.  Even if Nagumo had been lucky enough to sink all (rather than miss all) of America’s Pacific fleet carriers, the US could still have caught up with (and eventually greatly surpassed) Japan in carrier construction within two to three years…which, in fact, it did do historically.  You can read more about this argument over here: http://www.combinedfleet.com/economic.htm

  • 2021 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @Black_Elk:

    Perhaps I’m too blitzed right now to spit it out (I’m a smokey character tonight), but I guess what I’m driving at is this idea, that we should figure out which element of the game we care the least about from the historical analogy perspective, and then change that element to create the desired gameplay patterns, (leaving the rest alone, so its relatively easy to adopt). Figure out the simplest ways we can, to create incentives for the Campaigns we want to see occurring, while retaining the entertainment value provided by potential deviations from the history.

    I rather prefer to build backwards. Taking the desired play-patterns first, figuring out what’s necessary to get where we want, and then use that to determine what a given element represents, or how it should be interpreted historically. (as opposed to the other way around.) Put another way, I’m happy to accept that a unit in one part of the world, might represent something  rather different than the same unit in some other part of the world. Or that IPCs are not quite the same for Russia as they are for Germany, or for Japan and USA. Or that the treasuries of the various nations at the outset need to fall along some kind of weakest-to-strongest continuum with no regard for everything else that’s in play (like what the Nation is actually expected to do with that Treasury in the game haha.) I’d think more in terms of, “is this Nation fun to play?” and “are they doing what they should be doing from a historical perspective?” If the answer is “no, or boring, or could be better,” then I’m willing to suspend the disbelief a bit when it comes to tweaking the elements, if that results in a more convincing play-pattern.

    I have a bit more time this morning than I did last evening, so I’ll expand on one point (quoted above) of Black Elk’s earlier post that I didn’t comment on directly yesterday.

    This is going to be a deliberate oversimplification, and I’ll immediately nuance it a little bit because Black Elk wasn’t stating his argument in such simplistic terms, but at their most extreme the two approaches described above basically come down to “making the game fit history” versus “making history fit the game.”

    The “making the game fit history” approach in its pure form would be pretty much what I said in my post yesterday about a totally scripted game that allows no deviations from the historical course of events of WWII.  And as I’ve already said, this kind of approach sounds too rigid to make for an interesting game.  On top of that, the A&A game system would have to be a lot more complicated to give justice to this concept because economics and logistics had a huge influence on WWII; in A&A, economics are depicted in an extremely abstract way, and logistics play virtually no role.  And as has been mentioned by various people in various contexts, the physical geography of A&A is distorted in both shape and size – severely so in some cases.  So an A&A game that was made to fit history (and geography) accurately would be a very different creature than what we’re used to.

    The alternate approach which Black Elk favours wasn’t stated as “making history fit the game”, but rather something more subtle: identifying the game’s most desirable elements, then trying to see what historical context fits them best.  Just to invent an example: let’s say (for the sake of argument) that people really like the way that the game handles (or potentially could handle) large-scale mechanized warfare, and thus that we would like to find a historical context where this game element could be used to its full value.  The analysis for that problem would be easy to do, and the solution would not require any historical distortions: the best starting date would be Summer 1941, when Barbarossa was launched, and the starting set-up would have to ensure that the situation on the Eastern Front was represented accurately.  By the same token, June 1940 would be a poor choice as a starting date because it would be a year too early from the point of view of when Barbarossa actually happened.

    I deliberately chose this nice, clean example because it shows how Black Elk’s concept would apply in ideal, uncontroversial circumstances.  The thing to keep in mind, however, is that the choices won’t always be that clear-cut.  There will probably be cases in which the identification (or invention) of a great game mechanic will be followed by the discovery that it doesn’t correspond to any historical context that actually happened (either at all, or at the correct moment for the game’s chosen time-frame).  So at this point, the question will be: does the problem get fixed by adjusting the game mechanic or does the problem get fixed by adjusting history?

    Fortunately, “adjusting history” is a concept that covers a lot of territory.  Large-scale distortions, of course, would generate howls of outrage (or at least severe eye-rolling) from this forum’s history buffs.  For example: I’ve always considered it unfortunate that China only has infantry sculpts in A&A, and I think it’s desirable for China to be a tougher opponent for Japan (as was the case in real life) than is the case in the game.  I understand, however, that it would be very inaccurate historically to depict China in A&A 1940 as the kind of nation it is today: massively industrialized, worth a ton of IPCs, and possessing a full range of military hardware (including nuclear weapons) in vast quantities.  On the other hand, there are no historical reasons why China in A&A could not be made a tougher opponent even if we stick just with its nation-specific infantry units and with the couple of foreign unit types it’s allowed to use.

    A different way of adjusting history significantly but (in my opinion) acceptably is to position the starting date just before a plausible “historical branching point” and to have rules which allow that alternate path to be taken.  As has been discussed in another thread, Japan and the USSR actually did (briefly) go to war against each other in the late 1930s, and the USSR was seriously worried as late as the fall of 1941 that Japan might attack it again.  A Japanese invasion of the USSR (or Mongolia) never actually happened in 1941, nor (arguably) was it likely to happen at that time…but my point is that such a scenario is still a credible one, even if it’s not a probable one.  So I’d have no problems with rules that allowed Japan to invade the USSR – provided, of course, that Japan couldn’t get from Vladivostok to Moscow in a few easy hops, a concept that would be geographically absurd.

    Taking this “historical branching point” idea one step further, you could also set up a game scenario in which such a “branching” is assumed to have already taken place prior to the start of the game.  For example, you might have a game scenario which starts in the Summer of 1941, but which assumes that in 1940 Germany had managed to capture Gibraltar – either by persuading Spain to join the war on the Axis side, or by simply ignoring Franco’s objections and launching an attack on Gibraltar through Spain at the tail end of the Battle of France.  It never happened, but it might plausibly have happened (and indeed Germany did consider plans along these lines), so I’d be fine with a scenario which made the assumption that this had already happened prior to the start of the game.  Three conditions would have to be fulfilled, however, to make such assumptions acceptable: the “historical branching point” would have to be a plausible one, the logical consequences of the branching-off would have to have been considered and accounted for, and these things would have to be explained (briefly but clearly) in the game’s backstory.

  • '16

    Simultaneous Play

    New Powers

    British Far East Command

    Novo Estado

    • Portugal: Worth 3 IPC. 3 Inf, 1 Armor, 1 Artillery, 2 Fighter, Air Base, Naval Base, Major Factory

    • Angola: Worth 2 IPC. 3 Inf, 1 Artillery, 1 Fighter, Air Base

    • Mozambique: Worth 1 IPC. 2 Inf, 1 Artillery, Naval Base

    • Brazil: Worth 3 IPC. 5 Inf, 1 Armor, 1 Artillery, 1 Fighter, Air Base, Naval Base, Minor Factory

    • SZ86: 1 Cruiser, 1 Destroyer, 1 Submarine

    Vichy France

    • The Germans immediately gain 3 IPCs from the bank. This represents looted French assets.

    • The Germans decide whether to bid to influence the alignment of French units and territories. For every 2 IPC�s spent by the Germans, the likelihood of a favorable outcome increases by 1. The German player may spend up to 6 IPC�s total in this manner.

    • If the Germans have occupied Southern France, they must place a Minor Factory on this territory (at no cost). This represents Vichy French production capabilities. If the Germans do not occupy Southern France, Vichy units are placed in France.

    • The British player rolls 1d10 for every French territory not occupied by the Axis.

    • On a roll of 1-2, the fleet joins the Axis.

    • On a roll of 3-4, the fleet is scuttled and removed from play.

    • On a roll of 5-6, the fleet joins the Allies.

    Revised Units

    Aircraft Carrier

    Battleship

    Fighters

    New Units

    Armored Aircraft Carrier

    Air Transport

    Battlecruiser

    Light Aircraft Carrier

    Elite Infantry

    Paratrooper

    Poison Gas:

    Self-Propelled Artillery:

  • '18 '17 '16 '15 Customizer

    I will leave you all with one thought before I disappear for a few days:

    Regarding new and different units, I am struggling to find the right balance of inclusion, potential utilization and attributes. I will post my thoughts, perhaps on a new or existing thread when I can.

    Big picture: to really utilize more unit types in the game (which are superfluous) there must be compelling reasons (special attributes) and, above all, enough money.

    Cost of units either needs to be lowered or we have to institute more IPC bonuses for achieving certain objectives. Simply lowering the cost of units should scale the change equally between Powers (Russia can buy just as many more infantry as Germany can), but I don’t know if anyone has ever playtested this before? It would certainly take a while to get used to infantry only costing 2 IPCs or something like that.

  • Customizer

    Maybe each power starts with a “gold reserve”, worth say 20 IPCs a turn. Think of the power borrowing 20 IPCS a turn against its gold. This is the money captured with a capital, not the regular income (cash) which could be distributed to any production centre.  Some suitable tokens for GR would have to be found, one for each power.

    Once a GR is captured it is transferred to the capturing power’s capital and adds to its own GR holdings. “Liberated” GRs are returned to the original owner. Conversely, a power without a capital can still collect regular income and spend it building units at any other controlled home factory.

    The amount of GR held could be used to modify incomes further, for example ANZAC would have a smaller reserve than the bigger powers. On the other hand identical GRs would boost the minor powers % income vis a vis the majors.

    Yes, countries could move their gold physically to keep it out of enemy hands; if you allow this in the game then that player immediately forfeits any further income from the gold.

  • '19 '15 '14

    Happy Labor day! This thread has made for excellent reading today while I eat BBQ
    😄

  • '17 '16 '15

    Seems like the cruiser and aagun should be on the list. I remeber reading some good ideas on both. I like the idea of giving the crusier a 1 shot aagun. It wouldn’t work for the first rd though. Maybe have it kick in on the 2nd or 3rd rd. Could call it new construction/refit of older models or something like that


  • Black_Elk,
              If you want to take a look at my new post this Board it’s ‘Aethervox’s Global 1940 Game Rules’ there are some of my ideas for Bonuses. Also for my own independantly conceived new units.  I also posted on Customization Board my list of Territory Changes - my independant design for territory values and for three more territories. With the two combined there are some ideas you might consider. ( I have had the new unit ideas for Years, the G40 Map changes are recent).

  • 2021 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Here are some additional thoughts on the subject I discussed a couple of days ago: the issue of rigid scripting versus freedom of choice.  I had described totally rigid scripting as being at one extremity of an “event replication continuum” and total freedom as being at the other extremity, with some sort of middle ground existing between them.  A point I may not have expressed clearly enough, however, is that the middle ground doesn’t involve completely avoiding each extremity; rather, it involves combining elements of both approaches in a judicious way, so that the players have free but constrained choice.

    The phrase “free but constrained choice” comes from John Keegan’s book The Mask of Command, where he uses it to explain why he chose the middle years of WWII to study Hitler’s military leadership style.  Keegan says he didn’t use the first year of the war because it was characterized by easy German victories and by an environment in which French and the British had essentially left the strategic initiative to Germany – meaning that Hitler had the widest possible scope of options open to him.  Keegan likewise didn’t use the last year of the war because, by that time, Hitler could do little more than order his armies to fight and die where they stood.  Instead, Keegan started his analysis by looking at the circumstances leading up to the Stalingrad operation.  In the spring and summer of 1942, Germany was appreciably constrained (it did not have the strength to attack along the whole front, as it had done in 1941), but at the same time it still had a wide latitude of action open to it.  From a gaming perspective, offering players “free but constrained choice” is probably a good balance: it imposes certain limitations on them, but it also challenges them  (and allows them) to think and operate creatively within the framework of those limitations.

    The concept of free but constrained choice could be a useful yardstick for evaluating both proposed HRs and the many kinds of G40 OOB “special rules” that players have often complained about: the “China Rules”, the non-aggression pacts, the ways in which neutrals (all three types) are handled and so forth.  For any kind of rule which basically states that “A player MUST do the following thing” or “A player CANNOT do the following thing” or “Such-and-such a thing cannot happen UNLESS [whatever]”,  the fundamental question that would need to be asked is: Why?  The “Why?” question, expressed in more specific terms, would take the form of several more precise questions such as: Does this rule reflect accurately an important reality (geographical, demographic, technological, political, etc.) of WWII?  Or is it just an arbitrary rule created for the purpose of convenience and simplicity…or maybe even just because the rule designer thought that it would be cool if the game had such-and-such a feature?  Does the rule impose unreasonable limitations on the player’s freedom of action, for instance by arbitrarily preventing him from pursuing certain strategies or by forcing him to do dumb things?  Does the rule allow him too much freedom of action, to the point where it permits him to do things that were patently impossible or to the point where it permits him to escape the logical consequences of what those actions ought to have been?  It might be possible to conclude in some cases that some particular “special rules” are in fact be perfectly sensible and justified, but that others should be re-thought or, perhaps, even discarded altogether.

  • Customizer

    I tend to think in these terms:

    Will the design allow the game to play out exactly as the historical events did if the players make the same decisions as the powers of the time (and the luck of the dice balances out)?

    As long as this condition is accommodated then allow complete freedom of action within the game mechanics.

    The appeal of a historical game is still the “What If?s”; but an exact replay of history must be one of the possible outcomes.

    To consider the most obvious issue: it could be argued that there is no need to have an enforced Japanese-Soviet non aggression pact, as each player may still decide not to attack the other. What is needed to turn off the Moscow tank magnet is for Japan and Germany/Italy to be separate blocks with individual objectives and victory conditions.

    I prefer to consider the Pact as an in-place political reality, which can only be undone if specific conditions occur under which the powers concerned would themselves have broken the treaty; specifically Russia would not have started a war in the East with Hitler still at large, and Japan would never have deliberately fought Russia and the Western powers simultaneously.

  • '19 '15 '14

    Right on, I think it’s clear this idea for a reboot has some interest.

    Given all the feedback and proposals coming in, it might be worth considering at this point some general categories that we might eventually be able to put up for votes. When I get some more time I’ll start drafting a master list for ideas that have been posted in this thread.

    I think some ideas are clearly going to be a bit easier to implement than others. For example it’s easier to change a rule or modify a unit in the roster than it would be to add new units to the roster (since that requires additional sculpts) or trying to change the way the map itself looks/reqds. Probably anything is possible, for a dedicated customizer, but the more reliant we are on materials that don’t come in the box, the more barriers to entry we invariably create.

    Here’s one idea though that I’d like to think about, and relates to the points that were just made by Marc and Flashman. We are almost certainly going to require new set up cards for the player  nations. Many of the OOB cards include roundel changes (to adjust starting ownership.) It would be fairly easy for us to change the starting territories of certain nations if this allows for more historically accurate start conditions.

    For example, I’ve mentioned Sierra Leone as a starting British possession, not neutral, for the 1940 start date. In another thread a similar point was just made about Greenland as a US possession, not neutral, for the 1940 start date. So if there are other historical inaccuracies like these that can be easily corrected with a roundel change, I think it’s worth doing.

  • '19 '15 '14

    I just spent the last hour or so rereading a huge number of threads in this section, all of which contain some really great proposals for HR ideas.

    I was particularly struck by how often similar HRs have been proposed, and how the same issues come up time and again with players looking for some kind of HR solution to the same basic gripes.

    I really think that what is needed is not the perfect HR, or set of HRs per se, but rather a general concensus and a critical mass of players all using the same set up. Basically a face to face/tripleA mod that everyone can get behind. Otherwise, even the best House Rules idea, has a way of just being forgotten after a couple weeks.

    I’d be reluctant to offer too many “varients” or an endless list of “options” for the mod. Better to come up with something cohesive and fully comprehensive. At most I would suggest one set of core modifications, and then one expansion/suppliment for people who want to go next level with it. The former should focus on the boxed materials, the latter might include additional materials that are readily available from places like HBG.

    Basically I’m not looking for a “Black Elk’s G40 redux” type thing, because frankly, I don’t think anyone beyond myself and maybe a few of my friends would ever bother playing it haha. Instead I would propose a mod by the “A&A.org Community” as something with some actual staying power.

    Clearly it will be a bit more challenging to achieve a general concensus, it’s always tricky to create a modification that pleases everyone. But there are enough of us here who all seem to want similar things, that if we truly make this a collaborative effort, I think that effort will be worth it in the end.

    Just tossing that out there as part of the main goal.

    Keep em coming guys, the more ideas we gather together the better. Also thread links to any topics you’ve read in the past that excited you. Pile em on. All feedback is good feedback at this point.

  • Customizer

    Anyone experimented with having just a few giant sea zones?

    For example North Atlantic would be one sz. Ships can be either “in port” off a friendly land tt or “at sea” in the ocean space. Ships attempting to cross the ocean would be liable to attempted interception from enemy ships at sea, subject to search rolls.

    This could make sub warfare far more effective than has been the case in Axis and Allies. In game context it really shouldn’t take more than one turn to cross the Atlantic, but with multiple szs this gives no real opportunity to intercept.

  • 2021 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @Black_Elk:

    Here’s one idea though that I’d like to think about, and relates to the points that were just made by Marc and Flashman. We are almost certainly going to require new set up cards for the player  nations. Many of the OOB cards include roundel changes (to adjust starting ownership.) It would be fairly easy for us to change the starting territories of certain nations if this allows for more historically accurate start conditions.

    For example, I’ve mentioned Sierra Leone as a starting British possession, not neutral, for the 1940 start date. In another thread a similar point was just made about Greenland as a US possession, not neutral, for the 1940 start date. So if there are other historical inaccuracies like these that can be easily corrected with a roundel change, I think it’s worth doing.

    This is a well-timed proposal because I’ve been working for a while on an analysis of the G40/2 map, specifically on preparing an inventory of which map roundels (and other jurisdictional status indicators) are valid and which ones aren’t.  Last weekend I finished the first part of the analysis, which is something I call a “block inventory” that describes the map as it actually is.  The next part of the project (which is still in progress) is to cross-index the entries of the block inventory chart (which is arranged by nationality) against a chronological chart that lists what territories changed their status in what way from 1931 onward (this starting date being dictated by the Japanese invasion of Manchuria).  The rationale behind the chronological chart is that certain G40 map status indicators are incorrect for June 1940 but are valid if you move the calendar forward.  Other map status indicators are arguably either correct or incorrect based on non-chronological factors.  The Chinese island of Hainan, for example, is shown with a Japanese roundel; this violates the roundel and/or orange-border conventions used for the rest of China, but presumably reflects the rule which says that Chinese troops cannot leave the mainland.  And some other map status indicators are highly debatable regardless of time or rule considerations.  Mexico, for example, is shown with a US roundel, even though it was (and is) a sovereign country; for this roundel to be valid, the US roundel has to be interpreted as representing a “US wartime block”, since Mexico entered the war on the Allied side shortly after the US did so.  There are all sorts of oddities like that on the map, and I’m hoping to identify most or all  of them in due course.

    I can’t estimate when my two charts will be complete, but I made good progress on the second one last weekend, so with luck it won’t be too long before the work is done.  I’ll post the charts here when I’m finished.

  • 2021 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @Black_Elk:

    I really think that what is needed is not the perfect HR, or set of HRs per se, but rather a general concensus and a critical mass of players all using the same set up. Basically a face to face/tripleA mod that everyone can get behind. Otherwise, even the best House Rules idea, has a way of just being forgotten after a couple weeks.
    I’d be reluctant to offer too many “varients” or an endless list of “options” for the mod. Better to come up with something cohesive and fully comprehensive. At most I would suggest one set of core modifications, and then one expansion/suppliment for people who want to go next level with it. The former should focus on the boxed materials, the latter might include additional materials that are readily available from places like HBG.
    Basically I’m not looking for a “Black Elk’s G40 redux” type thing, because frankly, I don’t think anyone beyond myself and maybe a few of my friends would ever bother playing it haha. Instead I would propose a mod by the “A&A.org Community” as something with some actual staying power.
    Clearly it will be a bit more challenging to achieve a general concensus, it’s always tricky to create a modification that pleases everyone. But there are enough of us here who all seem to want similar things, that if we truly make this a collaborative effort, I think that effort will be worth it in the end.

    Just a comment on this.  While it would be nice to settle on a single unified community-based HR concept, which I’d certainly be happy to see materialize, I seriously doubt that such a thing is achievable.  Everyone here has strong opinions and individual preferences, so I think that realistically the best that you can hope for is to assemble a redesigned G40 game concept whose elements have attracted a certain degree of consensus from some of the participants in this discussion.  And I think that ultimately you’ll have to be the one to make a judgement call about which elements have attracted unanimous support, which ones have attracted a predominance of support and which ones have attracted no consensus.  There’s no agreed-upon mechanism to arbitrate these debates, so people will probably use this thread as a departure point to devise (if they so wish) their own particular G40 redesigns.  Which is fine in my opinion.  After all, consider the fact that Larry himself has never been able to devise an A&A game that everyone has been happy with (and I’m not sure that was ever one of his aims). Moreover, let’s just imagine for a moment that it was possible to devise a single definitive community reboot of G40 that everyone was happy with.  What would then happen?  People would play it for a while, would eventually “decode” the rebooted game and work out all the optimal playbooks, and eventually would start getting bored with it…at which point they’d once againt start looking for ways to refresh the game.  Which is normal and desirable, because otherwise the game would stagnate.  So while I’m all in favour of trying to achieve some sort of generally broad community consensus, I also think it’s wise to keep in mind the old expression “Avoid disappointment in life: lower your expectations.”

  • '19 '15 '14

    Fantastic! Can’t wait to see the charts. Even if we had to make some compromises for gameplay  (a place like Hainan say, or Mexico), at least we could provide some kind of explicit justification and outline for the rationale. At least that way we can make our reasons clear for any special cases that might be needed, with descriptions of wartime blocks or whatever.

    Haha I agree, we’re a notoriously difficult group of players to satisfy. By general consensus I think we’re talking about maybe 25 or 30 people who post in the HR section with some regularity. If a majority of those people are interested or have some stake in the mod (maybe because includes a favorite HR of theirs) that’s probably the best we can hope for. I think what most people are after when considering whether to adopt an HR are things like, “is it balanced?” Or “is it fast?” or “is it fun?” Etc. Basically looking for other players who’ve already play tested the thing to give them the preview. That’s why you need the critical mass. If just one player says “yeah its great. I’ve tried this HR with my friends at home and we all love it” it’s pretty understandable if the potential adopter might be hesitant. But if a dozen people are telling you “yeah this rule is great, we like the balance, check out these save games in the PBF section.” That endorsement is going to be much stronger.

    That’s the issue I see with most HRs, just a general lack of playtesting feedback, or inconsistent feedback, because different HRs are used together sometimes or in isolation at other times, which makes it hard to assess them from a balance perspective.

    But I agree, at some point players will develop a playbook and break the opening. The only way around that is to randomize the start conditions such that in each game, round 1 is essentially unpredictable. But I’m not sure how popular that would be. To a certain extent I think players rather like that the first round set up in A&A never really changes (or only changes in a very narrow way, like with a bid at some value etc.) My preference would be a randomized start like most other boardgames have. This would be an approach of “taking balance considerations out of the equation, by making the set up substantially different in each game.” But again, I don’t know how many others feel that way, so I wouldn’t push it too hard. Even using the normal A&A model, I think we can create a mod that has strong replay value, even with opening conditions that are always the same.

  • 2021 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @Black_Elk:

    But I agree, at some point players will develop a playbook and break the opening. The only way around that is to randomize the start conditions such that in each game, round 1 is essentially unpredictable. But I’m not sure how popular that would be. To a certain extent I think players rather like that the first round set up in A&A never really changes (or only changes in a very narrow way, like with a bid at some value etc.) My preference would be a randomized start like most other boardgames have. This would be an approach of “taking balance considerations out of the equation, by making the set up substantially different in each game.” But again, I don’t know how many others feel that way, so I wouldn’t push it too hard. Even using the normal A&A model, I think we can create a mod that has strong replay value, even with opening conditions that are always the same.

    Randomized variables would certainly be one way to introduce variety into a game and prevent it from sinking into predictability, but of course the down side is that players who get a bad break from the randomized elements would curse them in the same way that bad dice rolls are cursed.  So here’s a possible alternative: variable elements that are under player control.  I’ll illustrate this concept in concrete terms by discussing special unit types (because it’s an idea that’s already been floated elsewhere), but the concept is probably applicable in other ways…so what follows isn’t really a proposal about special units but rather an example of what I mean by variable elements that are under player control.

    Let’s assume that, in addition to the standard OOB unit types that all the players have access to, there are various supplementary unit types to which players have access under special conditions.  Just to invent some figures, let’s say there are a dozen or so of these special unit types.  They might include things like tank destroyers, self-propelled artillery, battlecruisers, night fighters or whatever.  Each of these units would have prices, combat values and abilities that distinguish them from standard units in a definite way (but not as radically as tech upgrades do).  Each player would be allowed to choose ONE of these unit types for his potential roster of units; he wouldn’t have to buy them, he’d simply have the option of doing so.  One way of handling this idea would be to allow every player to choose any one (but only one) of these special unit types.  Another way of handling this idea would be to allow Player 1 to choose one of these twelve unit types, to allow Player 2 to choose one of the remaining eleven unit types, and so forth, so that none of the players had the same kind of special unit.  This would introduce variability from game to game, but on a player-controlled rather than on a random basis.

    Representing these units on the board could of course be done with actual sculpts (like HBG ones, or sculpts from A&A 1941), but it could also be done a lot more simply (if people prefer) by using markers of abstract design (like poker chips painted and/or marked in a suitable way, as a very cheap option).  Since each nation is only allowed one special unit, the markers only need to be nation-specific, not unit-specific; for example, the German special units could be (let’s say) represented by white poker chips marked with a “G”.  The actual unit types would be represented by cards.  So to continue with the same example, the German player during the set-up phase looks through the deck of available special unit types, picks the card for the Tank Destroyer type, places it face-up at his play station and announces his choice to the other players.  Everyone will know from that point onward that G-marked white poker chips (denoting Germany) placed on the game board represents tank destroyers.  The Japanese player’s J-marked white (or whatever colour) poker chips could represent midget submarines.  And so forth.  Real sculpts are cooler, of course, but they’re not vital to make the concept work.

  • 2021 '19 '18 '17

    I have to agree with CWO Marc’s (and others) post above. A randomized variable would certainly add a flavor of uncertainty to the game that could make each experience different.

    To piggyback off of his example of special units, I have long thought of the same thing to add some different powers to each nation separately. Afrika Korps and/or SS units with special capabilities, Elite Guard for USSR, etc., each with a different capability.

    While this wouldn’t pertain as much to a 1940 start date as proposed here, I posted an idea that I had for dealing with neutral powers under another HR rule thread that would (potentially) add a certain unknown to who would join what side in a conflict with an earlier start date. Point being, while this particular idea doesn’t necessarily work in a 1940 start date, other ideas might, where a widespread part of the gameplay is fluid.

    I also agree with the above in that everyone is always going to have their own/new/unique ideas for HR’s and will HR anything that is thought up here. It seems like you all have a lot more experience than me in being able to play test these ideas and what not, but in my opinion you’d be best served stating ideas, rules, whatever, that you really want in the game (or as stated above, has a decent consensus of people liking the idea) and just making that the base of what you have and tweak from there.

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