5 Bomber bid
I’ve been testing this as a balancing option.
Each nation gets a bomber at their main secondary VC.
1 Russian bomber in Karelia
1 German bomber in Italy
1 British bomber in India
1 Japanese bomber in Kiangsu
1 American bomber in W. USA
The Allies come out ahead in total TUV +36 and get some strong new attack options for the first round, to compensate for the initial Axis advantage. But both sides get something out of it, and new attack options for the opener. It helps to accelerate the gameplay a bit, by providing more attack power and reach for each player nation.
Basically the same kind of Axis positional advantage is retained, (because the two bombers the Axis gain are more useful than the 3 bombers that the Allies gain). The same logistical challenges are in play for the Allies (especially for the Americans) but Russia gets something to work with, and the UK has a better chance to make bold openings. Its something of a wash for balance by sides, but a bit more dynamic than OOB.
Russia gains a shot on sz 5 or a stronger eastern front attack. Germany has a more viable option on Egypt if Russia does nothing about it, but Allies also have a viable defense there. It works out to a roughly 50/50 battle at Egypt if the Russians send everything in range (though that exposes the German battleship). So the critical canal balance is more or less preserved, despite the addition of the second German bomber.
UK gets an option to be more effective out India, with stronger attack options against Japan. The Japanese bomber can’t reach Pearl on J1, but can of course do a lot in China and help considerably on J2. The US bomber is flexible, and can reach Australia or Yakut or England, so the US still has the same kind of choice as OOB when it comes to picking a theater focus. So there are more options all around, but it has a similar pace and similar feel to the boxed game, with the Axis still holding the initial edge.
Curious what others think?
Gosh, Black_Elk, I don’t know. I like most of your house rules, but I’ve never looked at the 1942.2 map and thought “what this map needs is some more bombers.”
In particular, I worry that giving Japan a bomber in China will take the Allied defense of China from “quixotic long shot” to “obviously and literally impossible,” and that giving Britain the bomber in India will make the B1 attack on the Japanese Caroline Islands fleet in SZ 37 a no-brainer.
Also, how is it that you’re modeling the battle in Egypt? Is Russia meant to send both its starting bomber and the Moscow fighter south on R1 to sit in Egypt, and hope they survive a 50-50 battle? That could work out OK in a 2 player game, but, gosh, in a 5-player game I’d hate to be the one to ask Russia to donate half its starting offensive power to passively take hits for the British.
Yeah the first time I played it was just on a whim, a crazy experiment to see how much damage it would do to the overall balance of the set up. But I found that it worked surprisingly well. If you think about it in terms of the normal OOB set up, or a normal bid, then any given bomber battle seems like it would be rather broken, but when you factor in all the other bombers together, they actually play off each other rather well.
Just as an example with Egypt, the real problem for G attacking the canal, is not the 50/50 battle for the territory, but the trade off of leaving the battleship exposed to a two bomber attack by UK after a narrow battle for Egypt that the Germans might lose anyway. That’s only if the Russians send air cover though. If they don’t then Egypt is in play, which it’s usually not OOB. Perhaps even more amusing, it is actually possible for the Russians to eliminate any possibility of an Egypt attack, by destroying the battleship in sz 15 in an opening air assault of their own at 60% odds. This is of course a rather insane play, since it requires the Russians to build carrier in sz 16, but I did see it happen once. Which was hilarious, since who in their right mind would think Russia would ever have a use for ships! Again, not exactly a winning play in my view, and hugely expensive in the TUV trade, but it certainly was novel for a change of pace. The power of some extra reach that a bomber can provide is hard to overstate.
Another example is the UK opener, because the British bomber can be used to either clap back on the canal, sink a German battleship, or attack Japan. It also gives them another defensive pip which can help with a russian supported Szech stack and coverage on early Japanese fleet movements, since its possible to get more attack power in range of the Pac for UK2. And of course, the ability to disrupt Japan at sea, also has a direct impact on their ability to wage war in China, so I found that again the inclusion of the bombers is something of a wash. Considering what the Western Allies can do in the second round, if they have 2 starting bombers in range of the Pacific instead of just 1 each, this set up change actually provides some pretty interesting options against Japan, even on the mainland. These can be made even more potent via first round purchases, with forward positioning for possible round 2 attacks against the IJN.
Originally we tried the Russian bomber at Moscow, but it was almost too overpowered for the KJF, so we tried the secondary VC thing instead, which worked pretty well and was at least consistent for everyone.
Because the bomber units are more likely to survive the first round, as opposed to say subs or infantry on the bid, their influence gets magnified over time, especially with additional bomber builds, and encourages earlier attacks in general, so it seemed to cut down the overall playtime needed to complete the game.
I think what has me liking it most, is that the set up change is distributed with extra attack power and mobility across all 5 nations. So rather than providing a one sided bid advantage, with a narrow focus, it actually changes the opening dynamic for everyone. And its fairly easy to explain, even to a new player. I’ve been using it as a way to accelerate the usually grinding early rounds, by front loading some attack power and mobility into the starting units, so you can get the ball rolling faster.
Just throwing it out there, for people who are bored of the normal bids, and want a faster game.
Seems interesting, but wouldn’t it be that much harder for the Allies to get a fleet in the Atlantic? Germany gets an extra 4 attacker and the Allies have no added ships defensive points for a navy.
Germany could even buy a 3rd (or 4th) bomber on G1 and really mess with the Allies getting a fleet going.
I do like the idea of a UK bom in Ind.
I dunno… Bombers are very flexible, and very powerful… and though it is a 3 for 2 swap out, it’s giving the Axis who have the initial momentum and larger starting forces just that much more flexible powerful options… and as others have said, could really mess with an Allied fleet in the Atlantic… I just am of the feeling, throwing extra bombers at the Axis gives them more benefit than the added bombers do for the Allies. When you bid for extra tanks or ships, there’s only so much one can do with that… but bombers have such range and flexibility, that’s some kind of bid to toss out there.
My 2-cents… maybe worthless, but that’s my take on it.
I admit to being just as skeptical as you guys. I mean the map already favors bomber builds and they’re the most powerful unit, so I fully expected the Axis to just murder. But my first game out dispelled a lot of those misgivings once I saw how much gameplay interest they introduced.
I had two main concerns, that the German bomber would unbalance the West Russia counter attack, and that the Japanese bomber would allow Germany to stack Karelia on G1. But after playing it a few times, I saw that Russia has some ways to counter these on account of that red bomber.
To the point about the Atlantic fleet, it’s true that the German bomber makes it more difficult for UK to build solo (like with a double deck buy say). But it took roughly the same amount of time for the Americans to build a carrier fleet for Torch converging usually in round 3. The difficulty is somewhat offset because the Allies have a more effective way to delay the center crush, basically by beating up on Japan right away.
I wouldn’t sell it as the perfect solution on balance, I’ve tried other set up changes that are more conservative if somewhat more involved in the explanation, but the 5 bomber games were pretty fun and pretty quick to set up and play. Especially since it alters some of what the Axis can do, whereas usually only the Allies get to have new toys to play around with.
Anyhow, just thought I’d mention it, in case anyone else has too much free time on their hands like I do haha
I’ve tried a few different set up changes similar to this one over the years. What I guess you’d call 5 nation bids, or set up changes where all players get the same thing.
I’ve tried the cash bonus where everyone just gets an equal amount of money added to their starting income.
Or the extra factories version, where each nation gets an extra factory, but has to place it in a location with a production value of 1 ipc.
A naval version where everyone got an extra cruiser somewhere.
And a few other 5 nation set up changes of that sort. Some worked better than others. The bomber one was the last that I tried, cause it just seemed like it wouldn’t work very well. Which is why I was kind of surprised when I ended up enjoying it hehe
It does sound interesting and after all, bombers are so fun as it is.
That’s good to hear about the Atlantic. I guess if the US commits to the Atlantic the extra bomber won’t slow much. I’m thinking a 2 carrier rd 1 buy with dd. And the US can conservatively have 1 dd, 1 cru, 2 ac, 4 ftrs, 1 bb floating around and that doesn’t even include a round two buy.
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I was with you on the Russian bomber bid, but with 5 bombers I feel like you’re not balancing the game, you’re just making a different game. Which there is nothing wrong with, but I’d rather play a balanced game than a completely different game. So I guess it depends on your objective, do you want to balance the game, or do you want to change the dynamic and ultimately make a new game?
With a few matches under my belt, I’d say it leans towards ultimately a different game, but one which isn’t too terribly unfamiliar. The same basic goals and long term strategic patterns still apply, but it changes the openings and in that sense it’s a different game.
For those looking more for a quick set up change that could substitute for a standard bid, this kind of game is probably a bit overboard, because it tweaks the Axis opener. For something less radical, I’d recommend just using the Russian bomber at Moscow, and if you feel that the Allies need something in addition to that, I’d give the extra (whatever it is) to the Americans.
Giving the UK more to work with can go a long way towards changing the standard openers, especially vs Japan or the Med.
A lot of times what we will do in my group is play with the Russian bomber built into the normal set up and then bid for the Americans. This preserves a little bit of flexibility for the players to determine the bid amount, who will play Allies, and where the Americans get to put the extra loot, but avoids the problem of Russia stacking the Eastern front battles, or UK using a bid for sub breakers at sea, or canal breakers on land.
Given the option most players will use the American bid to save the Atlantic transports, which definitely removes one of Germany’s stronger opening attacks, so in that respect a standard set up change for an American bomber in W. US, might actually be less distorting than a cruiser in sz 11 would be, or a destroyer in sz 11 and an artillery piece in Szech would be, at least for the regular opening plays.
So I guess if the Red bomber in Moscow isn’t enough to satisfy the Allies, you could always add in the W. US bomber to that, and just make it a 2 bomber set up change instead of a 5 bomber one.
I still like the idea of the Russia bomber to help even things out. It hasn’t helped me in my games however it does give Russia a chance to actually win in Ukraine and pose a threat to Japanese transports.