Yet another AxAG40 Rant about…Balance Bidding and Bias

  • '21 '20 '18 '17

    There is a difference between balance and symmetry.  This version of Axis and Allies is intended to be two very different forces against one another, with diverse choices and unequal assets.    Chess is a fully balanced and symmetrical game (its fair balanced because white gets +1 more move and black gets +1 more piece of information and its symmetrical because you get to have the exact same assets.)

    This type of “opposing forces” has become more and more popular.  G42 is a great example of a more balanced and symmetrical set up than G40.  Xwing starfighter has completely imbalanced sides with dissimilar assets, as do many 21century TTWGs

    However, there is a point that we find that asymmetrical and imbalanced forces imply a kind of bias or advantage.  This is very hard to argue in absolute terms since player skill, luck, and plain errors can bias the outcome of any survey of wins/v/losses.

    I am not fully convinced that the game is biased towards one side or the other, over the complete game (14-16 turns).  95% of games are ended by time or patience running out and one side capitulating, this should be a tremendous sign that we are not really assessing the games objective bias or balance but rather telegraphing our opinions and unsupported conclusions onto it.

    The more effective analysis is that a combination of luck and strong play will reduce the game to a specific contest (eg one battle for Moscow or pacific naval dominance), a contest that will be won by small decisions leading up to it.    All of the other side stuff (battle for Africa etc.) is essentially meaningless and distracting.  I am not convinced by my experience that these culminating battles are entirely in the favor of one side or another, but rather that by the time we reach the crucial point we are all too clouded by exhaustion and small considerations to recognize that the outcome is largely dependent on luck and the culmination of small decisions over time.

    I do agree in general that the Axis have a much clearer, cleaner path to victory and that they are more adaptable and flexible.  But this does not necessarily translate into an overwhelming material advantage at the crucial point in every game, which makes me believe that the bid (while a good flexible solution) is not necessary and is a bigger bias than it intends to address.

    I am open minded, and given the varying skill levels of all players and the chance for a mistake, I would rather play with diverse players or random team assignments (as a way of addressing a putative advantage), and accept that the fun is in winning (or trying to win) with a “losing” side.

    Good Luck Brothers.

  • Intelligently reasoned, and wisely said.

  • Sponsor

    I agree that results from 4-6 player group games are much more balanced than 1 vs. 1 games.

  • Customizer

    When my group gets together for a game, we usually have 5-6 players. So, we roll dice for countries. We use the FMG combat dice and take one for each major power (USA, UK, USSR, Japan, Germany, Italy (6 player)).
    We go around the table and roll all 5-6 dice for each person. Whichever dice come up with the national roundel (a “1” in other words) will be the country that person will play for this game.
    If no roundels come up, we simply keep rolling until one does.
    If more than one roundel comes up, that lucky person gets to choose between those countries.
    For Example: Say we are rolling and I go first. We have 6 players so I roll all 6 dice. Say it’s a really lucky roll and 3 roundels come up: Germany, USA and Russia. Now I get to choose between those three countries for this game. Since I usually prefer to play Axis, and don’t care for the mostly defensive play of Russia, I would choose Germany.
    The minor countries are always paired up with major countries as follows:
    United States/France
    United Kingdom/India/ANZAC
    Soviet Union/China
    Germany/Italy (for 5 player games)

    The UK/India/ANZAC pairing makes sense to us because they are all part of the greater British Empire or if you prefer, they are all Commonwealth territories.
    Russia/China just seemed to make sense to us, probably because they are close together physically. They are both mostly defensive powers so they may seem a little boring, but a couple of our players actually prefer them.
    United States/France makes sense to me because I think the US is a pretty complicated power to play. It’s hard to decide just what to put in which theater so you can put some hurt to the Axis and not get overwhelmed by the Axis. France on the other hand after turn 1 is really pretty simple. In most cases you have 7 infantry, 1 fighter and 1 destroyer to keep track of, no purchasing, no repairing, no weapons development and no collecting income. So that one seems to fit pretty well with a complicated power like the US.
    Germany/Italy seems kind of obvious to me.

    If we are cut down to 4 players, then we will give France over to the UK player and the United States will pair up with Russia and China. So basically, 2 Allied players, 2 Axis players.
    We haven’t played 1940 with 3 players yet, but I imagine we would join Japan with the other Axis and have 2 Allied, 1 Axis player. More than likely, if we only had 3 players we would simply choose another game.

  • Well said Taaman.  Our group has not used the bid system and play it by the OOB rules and set up.  We have made some house rules about paratroopers and such but the set up is OOB.  The Axis and Allies are split pretty evenly as to the number of wins and loses. The longer the game goes, the more it seems work to teh Allies advantage but the Axis seem to have the advantage early on but time does work against it, at least in our games.

    knp7765… we use roundels drawn randomly from a pouch to determine play but I like your idea as well.  Is a factions dice removed from the subsequent roles once it has been claimed.  In you your example since you were able to choose Germany; did everyone then remove the German dice form the following roles?

  • Customizer

    Yeah, I knew I was forgetting something.
    Of course, as soon as a country is chosen, that die is removed.
    This process usually lets us be random countries although sometimes we end up trading as long as everyone approves. For example, we have one player that really likes playing United Kingdom. So if someone else gets England and he ends up getting a country the other person likes to play, they will ask if it’s okay to trade and usually we all agree. The only time we might not allow it is if the person getting the other country is simply too good at it. Like one of our players that is really good at playing Japan. He wins almost every time when he takes Japan. So, if our “British” player gets Japan and our “Japanese” player gets UK, the rest of us probably won’t allow the trade.

  • We sometimes allow the trade as well but it is nice to be “forced” in to playing a new faction once in a while.  I think it helps everyone learn to appreciate the nation that you may be good at but it expands ones ability to play on any side.  It is good to learn something new and if we are nudged into it sometimes, its still all good.

  • Sponsor

    We use the “roll call” system before a group game, it gives us the best odds of all the players getting the nation they want to play most.

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