Right now there are three main ways that randomization enters into the game. Or three dimensions of regular randomization, where rolls determine an outcome that is beyond the player’s control.
The first and most significant to the gameplay is combat, or all the various types of combat where the total hits and in some cases the individual casualties are left up to a randomized roll d6 to determine what lives or dies.
The second is strategic bombing, where random damage is allocated by a roll d6.
The third is technology, where again a roll of d6 determines some randomized advanced or other, and in the case of a tech like Rockets or War Bonds, can introduce other repeating rolls that randomize stuff yet further.
I’m curious about other ways that randomization could be introduced into the game. Or to discuss which areas of the game might best support further rolls for randomizing the game’s conditions. I’m particularly interested in finding ways to introduce randomization to the start conditions of the game, as a way to increase its shelf life. Some ideas along these lines…
Starting unit placement: its possible to use multiple set up cards, and then have players roll to determine which cards are used in a given game. The different set up cards might represent different slices of time (highlighting some particular period of the war for that nation), or represent different potential national strategies from some common historical jumping off point. One possibility might be to have three double-sided set up cards for each player/nation, for a total of 6 distinct set up cards with different starting unit compositions. Players could then roll to determine which of these set up cards are used in any given game.
I can think of a few ways you could organize it. One way would be to make a single roll at the outset to determine which set up card ALL nations will use: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6. This would work well with a timeline structure, where you could pair each of the national cards off each other in a series to represent some year or season of the war. So its basically like you are rolling for the year or month, with a different starting unit composition meant to give the flavor of that period. Territory ownership could change as well as unit compositions. Something like this would give you 6 potential starting conditions instead of just one. And would probably be a fun thing to design as a community.
Another way to handle the set up cards, would be to have each Player/Nation make a separate roll to determine which set up card 1-6 they will use for the game. Here territory ownership would have to be consistent across all the set up cards (since the set up cards are mixed), but unit composition could change. These might be like “war plans”, that feature a roughly similar team TUV, but distributed in slightly different ways. For example, one set up might focus more on naval expansion, another might feature different air forces, or specialized ground forces, or different secondary production centers, things of that sort. Where the core strength of the nation in TUV is basically the same, but with six slightly different initial “grand plans” laid out by the numbered set up card.
Done this way, you could have 30+ different potential set ups for the game, each with a different flavor and different balance.
Turn Order Sequence: another way you could randomize the starting conditions of the game would be rolling to determine who starts the turn order. For example, in a 5 man game, you could roll d6 to determine which nation goes first like this…
1= Russia first
2= Germany first
3= Britain first
4= Japan first
5= America first
6= Reverse the normal turn order sequence, re-roll to see who goes first.
I have a thread where I describe how a system like this can work in games with 6 or more player nations here… the 4th post in that thread describes the essential idea for a G40 type game.
This thread attempted something similar for AA50. Again the main variable start idea is refined and clarified in the posts at the end…
Basically it gives you half-a-dozen to a dozen different potential openers. This combined with multiple set up cards would give you an A&A match that would be very hard to break through pre-planned strategy and meta-gaming. Instead of thinking of ways to win “The” game and bust the regular set up in a few months, this would shift the focus to winning under whatever starting conditions are laid out by the randomized rolls. And since those could result in so many different potential starting conditions, the emphasis would move away from the start of the game and the opening round.
Bidding: You could still use bids to balance by sides if desired, but you’d have less prior information to go off of, because the likelihood of seeing the exact same opening you did in some previous game would be considerably reduced. It’d be harder to crib strategies, and likely take longer for the player community at large to dissect the possible openers and break them consistently. Under this type of system all the pre-game rolls are made first to determine the set up of that particular match, then after seeing what the results are for each nation, the players bid to choose sides according to their on-the-fly assessment of ‘who has the advantage now.’ Based of course, on what they’re looking at right then and there, which might be rather different than situations they’ve faced in any previous game.
Income bonuses: another very simple way to randomize the game d6 after its already begun is to include recurring income bonuses for all nations. Something like warbonds, where the roll determines something added at collect income. Over the course of the game, these alter the conditions between rounds, such that its less likely that any two games will play out in quite the same way, at least regarding the cashflow.
Using simple randomization like that, I think we could make the game much broader. Instead of one set opening you’d have countless potential set ups, and where its much less likely that a “winning” strategy for any given A&A map gets worked out as quickly as they do for a single set up game.
I’m anticipating the reply, “but one of the things I like about A&A is that the opening set up doesn’t change!” You know “so I can learn the set up, and master it, and beat my friends consistently!” hehe. I get that too, but still think it would be more interesting if the game was always a bit different. Where you’d never quite know what a given game will look like until the opening dice are rolled, so instead of worrying about the set up or the balance by sides, the emphasis would be on playing through whatever randomized conditions the dice determined for that game.
I think A&A is basically already like this, except that all the major randomization occurs by means of the first round combats. This lends itself to an overly narrow focus and emphasis on the results of those combats. By randomizing the start conditions prior to the first round combats, I think it could change the attitude towards the game. Dispelling somewhat the idea that ‘its supposed to be perfectly balanced’ or balanced by some standard perfect bid. In place of perfect balance/bid you just get more variety overall. Anyone else think something like that might work?
My initial thought was that for a game like 1941 or 1942 what you could do is simply add TUV, to the existing unit set up cards for that game. Say you add some set number of ipcs worth of units to each nation (maybe 20 ipcs TUV, or maybe +50 ipcs TUV, or whatever is best), for each new set up card 1-6, and then try to distribute that additional TUV to create six distinct opening set ups for that nation. The TUV totals would still all be the same for everyone, but could be expressed in half a dozen different potential openers for each Nation.
I think by concentrating on just adding units to the existing set up cards, it’d be simple to create 6 unique cards that still felt like they had the same national core of starting units. And this would probably be easier and more accessible than trying to redesign the whole set up for each nation from scratch. For a game like 1942 you could create 6 scenario expansions for each player/nation, with the addition of just 15 double sided set up cards (3 double sided cards for each).
Carrying the idea a little further, imagine a series of Russian set up cards that read something like this…
Scenario 1: Card A, front side. Bomber focus- Russia gets an extra bomber, and a couple infantry somewhere.
Scenario 2: Card A, reverse side. Production focus- Russia gets an extra factory and couple infantry somewhere else.
Scenario 3: Card B, front side. Fighter focus - Russia gets a third fighter and a couple infantry somewhere still different.
Scenario 4: Card B, reverse side. Tank focus -Russia gets more tanks etc.
Scenario 5: Card C, front side. Artillery focus- Russia gets more artillery etc.
Scenerio 6: Card C, reverse side. Fleet focus - Russia gets some ships to play with.
Then you do something like that for Germany, and Britain and so on, until everyone has 6 scenarios to roll for.
Would it still feel like Axis and Allies?