Active Theaters on a Middle-weight A&A Map
Which theaters of war need to be “active” on a middle-weight Axis & Allies map? In other words, if you were designing a midweight map from scratch, which areas would you emphasize by giving them factories, multiple territories, high-IPC-value territories, victory cities, tanks, navies, an independent slot on the turn order, etc., and which areas would you de-emphasize by giving them nothing but one or two low-IPC territories and maybe a handful of infantry?
I think it’s pretty clear that at a bare minimum, any World War II game needs to have active theaters in:
Western Europe (France, Benelux, Germany, Italy, etc.)
Eastern Europe (Poland, Karelia, Moscow, etc.)
the Middle East (Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Caucasus, etc.)
and the South Pacific (Philippines, Borneo, Shanghai, Tokyo, Hawaii, etc.)
If you were going to add just three or four more theaters to that list, what would be your highest priorities?
Some options include:
Soviet Far East
Australia and New Zealand
Central Pacific islands
Balkans / Yugoslavia
Arctic (Murmansk, Archangel, Narvik, etc.)
Ukraine (zoom in on Kiev, Kharkov, Odessa, etc.)
Central Asia (Turkestan, Armenia, Afghanistan, Tibet, Mongolia)
Urals (Yaroslav, Ykaterinberg, Novgorod, Samara, Saratov, Perm, etc.)
I’m interested in everyone’s opinions, but I’m super interested if you can explain why your picks are the most important – what do they add to the game? How do they help create balance, interest, realism, variety, and strategic depth?
I don’t have a single one I can think of but China comes to mind right off the bat only because I want to see the Chinese Civil War in play meaning I want to see the PLA as well as ROC in Axis and Allies but Euro needs to be redone outright because WWII started off as a European War. For example, I don’t like the fact that Switzerland only has two infantry as it should have one of the highest neutral EMS out of everyone else who is neutral.
I think it depends on how you want the game to unfold.
Are you trying to simulate the Second World War? If so, Axis & Allies already does that for you, and you might simply design your map to emphasize the immediate prelude to the war (i.e., more space in Spain), the more obvious alternative strategies available to the antagonists (e.g., more territories in the Soviet Far East), or some of the peripheral campaigns, such as the war in North Africa.
If you want to explore alternate history, you have more options.
Based on the fact that Global 1940 and Global War 1936 leave certain parts of the map more or less unloved, I would make the following suggestions:
1. Consider making Brazil a satellite of the American player in the same way that China is right now. Then do the same for Argentina, paired with Italy.
2. Think about whether you want an independent Poland that might possibly ally with Germany. If so, can Italy represent a third way? This idea would involve more territories in southern Europe – places like Yugoslavia and Greece.
3. I’m designing a map in which the Greco-Turkish War is still raging circa the mid-1930s, in order to create a minor power (Greece) astride the Bosporus.
4. You could always return Germany’s old colonies, although the small garrisons would render them an inevitable sideshow, particularly in a “midweight” map. You’d have to choose between writing off those infantry, playing low-stakes cat-and-mouse across the four or five African territories below the Sahara, or else giving the Germans some means of actually bolstering the forces there, either with long-range aircraft (e.g., zeppelins) or shipping.
I’m not sure if this is a real answer to your question, but I think the map (and the primary conflict zones) should reflect where “the big 4” actually clashed with the Axis.
The British Empire (and it’s various dominions), the United States, the Soviet Union, and China vs the European Axis and Japan…
Wherever fighting actually occurred should be highlighted for gameplay relevance, with things like higher ipcs, more victory cities, factories, more divisions of territory.
Areas that formed the core of the economies but where fighting was less intense historically should be more secondary. In other words, they don’t open up as conflict zones until the historical conflict zones have seen some action.
That sounds vague, but what I mean is that the map should strongly encourage historical play patterns, without being a complete straight jacket. Players should want to do certain things before doing others, for obvious gameplay rewards.
Just as an example, in the actual war, Japan did not invade India. The USA did not invade Indonesia (Borneo, Java etc.) They might have considered it, or had plans in the works, but other conflict zones were prioritized instead. The game should reflect those priorities, with commensurate gameplay rewards, so that players are less likely to ignore the actual historical conflict zones in favor of imagined alternate history conflict zones. You know like the imagined history that has Japan throwing everything into Opperation U Go to take India, or the Invasion of the Soviet Union. Or the one were the US made a b line to Borneo, and started building shipyards there, or worse… just ignored the Pacific entirely to set up shop in Northern Russia and Eastern Europe. Not that you have to take those secondary options entirely off the table, just that they should take a back seat to the historical stuff. Put the actual historical conflict zones behind the steering wheel, and make them the clear drivers of the game.
I think there are 3 pretty straight forward ways to do this.
1. more IPCs in the primary conflict zones.
2. more starting factories in the primary conflict zones.
3. more Victory Cities in the primary conflict zones.
And when I say more, I mean enough that they truly become primary to the gameplay.
The Pacific war is the best example I can think of. In the game certain things about the map conspire to make the islands that were historically contested, unattractive conflict zones for both sides. They are low value, offer no production potential, and (with the exception of Hawaii) have no real relationship to the stated victory conditions. They are poor stepping stones, because they don’t make proper use of the 3 main drivers that determine where conflict zones in the game actually materialize.
So instead of island hopping, you have these huge jumps. Japan is trying to crush India while ignoring the eastern Pacific. And the US is trying to crush the money islands, while ignoring the eastern pacific. They go where they go because that’s where the money is.
By constrast consider the Eastern Front between Germany and Russia. Here you have high value territories, more factories and more VCs. Everyone wants to get in on the action, and the conflict zone here becomes a magnet for all belligerents. It demonstrates basically the inverse situation, of the East Pacific.
I think if ever we want the East Pacific to have the same kind of weight as the Eastern Front, we need to use the internal drivers that the game offers us. Basically IPCs, factories and VCs.
Global and AA50 used an indirect method to infuse certain areas with more cash via objectives. This can work, but the money amounts need to be enough to actually pull the gameplay into the desired conflict zones. Personally I favor direct adjustment to the IPC values (a break with the idea that we need a strict relationship between actual industry/resources in an area, and the amount of gameplay funny money it offers up.) Some people don’t like that approach, but it’s a lot simpler in my view that more rules.
Put the bulk of the money in areas you want contested, and less in the areas you don’t. Sometimes this means a real departure from any notion that the IPC = industry ONLY.
I think CWOMarc offered a great alternative for the IPC Acronym…
“INCOME & PROGRESS CREDIT”
I think there are a number of ways we could approach the Russian backdoor problem, but my gripe with the IPC system at large, is more foundational. I would like to see a situation where we can use them as generic “carrots” to encourage historical play patterns, without having to worry about how that connects (or fails to connect) to things like natural resources or population or whatever.
I wonder if this concept could be expressed by the simple expedient of having “IPC” stand for “Income and Progress Credit” rather than “Industrial Production Certificate” or “Industrial Production Credit.” “Income and Progress Credit” would convey the idea that IPCs represent a combination of two things: actual income (meaning the economic value of the territories which a player owns), plus credits awarded for the more abstract notion of “progress made by the player in the accomplishment of strategically valuable tasks” (a notion already built into the rules that give a player IPCs for achieving certain national objectives).
Once you make the conceptual leap, to a more abstract/flexible IPC, I think it is possible to accomplish what is needed to “activate” the innactive theaters, and scale the rewards in the historical conflict zones so that players actually fight each other there.
In fact, I’m going to stick that quote in the HR master thread. Even if it’s not a rule per se, I think it would help in providing a justification for any HR that adjusts the in game economy beyond OOB conditions.
Japan did invade India.
My entire point is that you should set the map up to reflect history even though 99% of your games are NOT going to follow WWII to a T. For example, I really hope they get around to making a 1937 or 1939 global game and try to reflect it as possible and even to go as far as setting up NO that could change history. Example, image the situation if France and UK did send forced into Finland to help them against USSR and Stalin requested Hitler to join him? Image if UK and France decided to invade Germany when they invaded Poland? Image if USSR lost the battles in Mongolia? I would like to see something along those lines.
Yeah I know, I even mentioned U Go in the post above. But the point was that a game where Calcutta is more or less designed to fall to Japan (as it almost always does OOB), is already into alternate history territory. My assumption was that when Argo said “Middle-weight A&A Map” he meant the standard sort, like Classic or Revised or AA50, with a 5/6 nation set up and a total war start date. The “what if’s” there are somewhat more focused, in terms of the active theaters. I don’t mind crazy stuff happening, this whole game is one big what if. I just think it would be cool to see a game that actually handles the historical conflict zones first and foremost, before veering off into other possible directions. The main one missing in my view is still the Central/Eastern Pacific. In 1942.2 terms, 7 islands… Midway, Hawaii, Wake, Solomon Is, Caroline Is, Iwo Jima, Okinawa. And if the game is going to go after the “snow ball’s chance in hell” options, like Japan conquering Russia (to say nothing of Australia and India) then I’d like to see a chance for Japan to do the same in North America. Since I think that’s really the only way to put a carrot on the table that’s big enough to draw Japan off the center crush.
I think a game with an earlier start date in the 30s would be interesting too. You’d have many more opportunities to rewrite history. I just figured he was talking about the more familar mid-scale maps set in the mid 40s.
Hi everyone! Thanks for the feedback so far.
For reference, Black Elk is right about what I mean by “middleweight map.” Here’s a quick chart to illustrate the categories I’m talking about:
| Lightweight | Middleweight | Heavyweight |
| 1941 | 1942 Second Edition | Global 1940 |
| Classic | Pact of Steel | The Great War from TripleA |
| Revised | 50th Anniversary Edition | Anything from HBG |
| | World War I | |
I encourage anyone who’s interested in designing a new heavyweight map to do so, preferably on a new thread. I’m really only interested in designing a new middleweight map, and I really appreciate whatever advice you can give me that will help make that middleweight map as satisfying as possible for the players.
Likewise, I am pretty set on a map that starts sometime between 1939 and 1942 – I am not really interested in exploring very early start dates, because they tend to result in a longer game (which is more appropriate for a heavyweight map), and because they tend to require more in the way of special rules for politics and diplomacy (which is also more appropriate for a heavyweight map). Again, I certainly encourage anyone who’s interested in designing maps with very early start dates to do so, but if your main focus is on the Spanish Civil War, or the Greco-Turkish war, or the Battles of Khalkin-Gol, it is unlikely that I will wind up using your advice.
So far, we have suggestions to emphasize North Africa, Poland, the Balkans, South America, the Central Pacific, and China, along with explanations for how and why to use these theaters. Thanks for the helpful suggestions, and please keep them coming!
IF their was a program that could let you easily do it, I would sit down and take the time to draw a 1936 map for Axis and Allies. You may wonder why 1936, it is so we can see Italy invade Ethiopia and Japan invade Korea. I also want to do it is because I want to make both the US and USSR a wild card in Axis and Allies, set up different NO for different outcomes and see what players do to get who on what side.
I’m really only interested in designing a new middleweight map, and I really appreciate whatever advice you can give me that will help make that middleweight map as satisfying as possible for the players.
You might check out my map here for ideas: http://www.axisandallies.org/forums/index.php?topic=34496.0
It is basically a hybrid of AA 1942 and anniversary edition, with a few Global territories thrown in - I would consider it middleweight.
Very interesting, Der Kunstler, thank you! I like what you’ve done with Europe very much, and adding Fiji and Samoa is a nice touch (along with an invadeable South America) that can help the Japanese continue expanding to the southeast after taking Australia.
Can you send me a copy of your Negotiations Chart that determines how easy it is to get neutrals to join your team? I couldn’t find it in any of your other posts.
Yes the Negotiations Chart and Research chart are both included in the 7.0 production chart here about halfway down the page: