Larry Harris Semi-Official Tournament Game Patch

  • @wittmann:

    I have played four games , without a bid. Is still hard, because Japan is still  strong. It changes the gane , in that the U.K. Has an Atlantic fleet  amd, therefore, a foothold on the Continent. I enjoyed the change .
    Sorry I can’t say much else, Ike.

    Thanks Wittman

  • 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15

    I played some games and wish to play more with this set up but couldn’t find much opponent…

    I think it’s a fun change but…the Germany bomber is too tempting to not getting killed in the 1st round…so the first round would often become an instant death to Russia if the outcome does not work as expected…but perhaps the first thought from Larry would be perhaps Russia does not have to take that attack anyway…  just too tempting not to do it :-D…

  • 2020 2018 2017

    Now that the tourney is over, I can give the rough verdict (50+ games played live)

    The patch does balance the game

    We went in thinking that the Allies still needed a large bid, and bid accordingly and got Axis each game

    However, 7 is plenty he bought 1 arty and 1 man in Caucasus, opened.  He got pretty lucky, destroying 18 hits worth of units with 3 replies.

    So he won.

    As our opponent Karl said “Well, in this one (version), who does well in the opener usually wins, if you don’t do well, its an uphill battle all game”

    as a result, and esp. compared to global and other games, this one is no longer broken, its just sorta flat and boring.

  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16

    I am not even slightly surprised, but I am glad to get your detailed report.

    Does anyone have thoughts or proposals on how to create a tournament-length (i.e., reliably shorter) axis & allies game that is not flat or boring or essentially decided on the first round?

  • 2020 2018 2017

    Its a great question, Argo.

    Here is an order of ease of changing things

    Change the Initial Setup
    Change the dynamics with small NO-like rules or optional rules
    Change the geometry of the Map
    Change what the Units do, or add new custom units.
    Change the Rules along with 1-4.

    #1 is the easiest, you and I and Cow have discussed why the “historical” elements of the setup conflict with the playability ones.  Larry’s intent with this patch was pretty solid, just for balance.    But we have a bigger purview; to make this version more fun.

    After going back to Global 40 and playing that a few times, one thing I’ve noticed is that the bigger scale games just have so many more choices, the paths are longer, more varied, richer, and even in the critical path there is room for substantial variation (im working on a G1 G40 attack, which I heretofore dismissed as sub-optimal, because it is!).  Diplomacy added a huge amount of text and complexity to the rules, but the reward there is also huge.

    So, its a huge and daunting task.

  • Here are a few thoughts.

    I find some of the balance issues seem to be related to the map as much, if not more to the OOB set up.  In most games by the end of round 1, Germany is making more IPCs than the US and Japan more than UK.  So adding a few pieces to the board don’t fix this.  The Axis already have a crap ton of stuff, but since their economy often can be bigger than the Allies quickly then it is almost insurmountable.  One example of this is (and one of my biggest peeves about the game), if the UK builds up a navy to hit Germany, no matter how big the navy is, you can only put 8 units against Germany b/c your production is so limited.  Even if those unites are the 4 Inf and 4 Arty = 28 IPC.

    Several immediate problems are evident:

    1. effectively that is the British economy unless something in the pacific is going extremely well.
    2. With this minimum build in the mainland to pressure Germany, you cannot defend India.  The economic power is simply not there.  Even if you are holding ALL of your territory and have Scandinavia (+3) you would be at 34.  So you have 6 IPC to put in India… this is not enough.
    3. Even when the US is manhandling Japan and you are solid in India, your 28 IPC/8 units is a joke agains Germany who is at 40+ without even making ground against Russia.  You land and you get obliterated if you even have surviving units.

    So my thought process is what if you start the Britain at 10 instead of 8 on the mainland, and maybe even India at 4 instead of 3?  It gives you the ability to actually build more units at either location and either hold India or actually do more to Germany.  And still maybe not even enough b/c with an extra 3 IPC of economy you only get 1 more Inf.  Not sure where to go form there.  Bump Canada 1 IPC also just to give more underlying economy that is not going to get whisked away immediately.

    Circling back to my first point - if the US/UK economy is less than the respective Axis they are faced with by the end of round 1 that is a fundamental issue that needs to be addressed.  The Axis should be able to get there, but not by taking a few territories that are givens in the first move of the game.  There are a lot of possibilities here that could be explored.  Maybe like 1941, Russia’s Eastern most territories are worth nothing so Japan cannot gain as fast.  Similar with 1-2 China territories for the US?  Too much obviously would throw things in the other direction, but I think there is something to this.

    One other thing regarding the map and India.  If there was one extra sea zone for Japan traverse before they drop the mother load against India it would be a game changer.  I’m thinking SZ 36 or 61.  What if you cut one or the other in half so Japan could not land stuff directly from the mainland in Burma in a single move or get their navy there to devastate India so quickly?  These Ideas would make India more defensible and give more flexibility to the Allies IMO.  I do however wonder if this extra season would be too powerful for the Allies.

    Anyway, some thoughts.  Any ideas pro or con?  I’d love to dialogue.

  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16

    I agree with your overall analysis, but disagree with some of your math.

    America starts with 42 IPCs to Japan’s 30 IPCs. Japan should usually start turn 1 with only one surviving transport, which means Japan cannot really afford to go on any crazy adventures – an aggressive J1 might pick up $1 from Russia, $3 from China, and $1 from Burma, for $35, compared to $39 for the USA.

    On J2, Japan could pick up another $2 from Russia, another $1 from China, retake Burma, and maybe pick up $1 or at most $2 from Alaska, Hawaii, or Australia. So even at the end of J2, Japan’s income is capped at $40, much of which needs to be spent on the Asian mainland. Meanwhile, the US will still be earning $38. So it’s not literally true that Japan is out-earning the US after turn 1, and even after turn 2, Japan can’t afford to outspend the US on its navy.

    Similarly, Britain starts with 31 IPCs. They may or may not lose Egypt before their turn starts, but they can often retake it, and/or take Norway or NW Europe. So Britain should usually still be collecting $31 at the end of its first turn. They can often repeat this on the second turn, i.e., retake Egypt / Burma or capture Norway or NW Europe. So Britain’s income might eventually go down to $28 or lower, but not at the end of the first turn. It’s also not fair to compare Britain’s income directly to Germany’s, because Germany is also fighting Russia, especially in the early turns when Russia doesn’t really have to spend any money/troops against Japan. Russia should be earning at least $26 in the first few turns. Assume that the UK max-places infantry in India every turn, which costs $9. So, the combined UK + USSR income of $28 - $9 + $26 = $45, which is about the same as Germany for the first few turns. Germany starts with $41, and they will often lose West Russia and trade Leningrad and Stalingrad, which puts them up $4, for $45. So there’s economic parity on the western front, to start with.

    And this is exactly the problem: as you point out, the Axis have economic parity in Europe after one turn, and in the Pacific after two turns. The Allies, at most, will earn a premium of $15 over the Axis before the Axis can eliminate the Allied economic advantage, and that money isn’t nearly enough to build the fleets they need to cross the oceans, let alone to establish a viable beachhead. The Allies don’t have an opportunity to set up a meaningful advantage anywhere on the board before the Axis start double-teaming Russia. This is not just unbalanced, but boring: the most interesting positions arise when each side has (at least one) advantage, and you have to win the game by exploiting your advantage and neutralizing your opponents’ advantage(s). 1942.2 doesn’t generate those positions very often because the Axis are the only ones with any structural advantages. The Allies have to rely on either bad Axis dice, a large bid, or a bad Axis mistake in order to establish any counter-play. If the Axis play a perfect game and don’t get diced, then the Axis will win every time, no matter what the Allies do. This is probably true even in 1942.3. I haven’t playtested it, so I can’t be sure, but I don’t see anything in the 1942.3 setup that would alter the fundamental strategy. As you point out, DespotDoug, the problem is with the income values on the map at least as much as with the particular setup of the pieces. To fix the scenario by tinkering with the pieces, you would need to give the Allies either a fleet that can survive the turn-1 Axis airblitz, or an offensive striking force somewhere in the British south, or both.

    If you wanted to try to fix the problem by fixing the income values, I favor adding +1 IPC each to West Canada, East Canada, Australia, South Africa, Persia, Alaska, Hawaii, Sinkiang, Archangel, Vologda, Evenki, and Novosibirsk. I won’t say more than that here because it belongs on the House Rules forum, but feel free to post in House Rules, or to PM me, and I’ll be happy to discuss it further with you.

  • Thanks for the thoughts - a lot of good points.  🙂

    Just to clarify - I realize I inverted this later in my first post, but I meant Germany vs US economy and UK vs Japan.  So approximates for turn 1: Germany at $45/US $39 and assume a UK hold at $30/Japan $34.  I know this doesn’t factor Russia, but to everyone’s point that is a quick downhill run.  Just trying to simply illustrate the disparity before getting to the Russian economy and the mass of Axis units!

    Appreciate the feedback!

  • Is it possible to “sticky” this to the front page? Seems like rather important information.

  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 '13 Official Q&A TripleA Moderator


    Is it possible to “sticky” this to the front page? Seems like rather important information.

    Good idea - and done!

  • 2019 '15 '14

    Been a hot minute since I posted here (only just got around to reseting and poking about since the forums migrated.) But I got a request from an old hommie to play 42.3 this afternoon, since he only has time for a short game, so I guess the map is not entirely defunct for me yet. Its still hard for me to imagine getting terribly excited for the tournament patch though, gotta admit. I feel like the purpose of this board now is mainly relegated to introductions. Basically playing Allies with no bid vs an Axis opponent with less experience, hoping for some curve balls to make it interesting purely on account of that unfamiliarity on the one side, but mainly just trying to drum up enthusiasm for future matches on the AA50 or Global board. Its a little unfortunate, since I liked the price point of this board for a starter game. But at the end of the day I think it just goes in the opposite direction of what I’d like to see from a starter board. Namely it front loads everything into the first round combats, such that the game is more or less decided within the first hour. I think the only way to get around that would be to dramatically increase the overall economy, to overcome the TUV swings of the opening combats, and change the basic play pattern such that Russia doesn’t fold to an axis crush immediately. I don’t think you can get there just by tweaking the starting unit set up, it really requires a rules change of some sort, to try and open up the peripheral parts of the map and put more emphasis there instead of all on the center. Or at least allowing more of a build up before the major TUV exchanges. Otherwise the same old playpattern is going to predominate, over the same critical tiles, mainly in the middle of the map. But anyway, sometimes a dead horse can still ride I guess hehe.

    Hope you all have been well! I had couple heavy rl things preoccupying me in the past year, but the new year is starting to shape up for the better. So hopefully I get in some more time for the good stuff, like plastic army men and carboard world domination lol. Catch you next round

  • 2020 2018 2017

    @Black_Elk hear hear, brother,

    Yes, and though I didn’t say it here–it remains a good short game with a well-attended tournament. Many of its flaws have been ported into AAZ because the map scale and geometry is similar. Other than that, it sat in the box since Gencon 2017.

  • @taamvan

    For tournament play is there a time limit per turn? Seems like with only 4hrs 45 mins to play you only get 3-4 rounds?

  • @taamvan

    In the tournament in the bidding process if one bids less than 3 and is the winner do they just get the extra IPC since nothing can be bought?

  • 2019 '15 '14

    Yeah, if the amount is less than 3, usually saved for purchase. Sometimes the Axis bid in revised would be used so that Japan could purchase additional transports or things of that sort. In the earliest versions of bids that I recall rather than pre-placing units you had to purchase them using the normal mechanics in game. So the bids would be larger, but the opening battles preserved according to the box.

    I’d guess tournaments are set up to have basically a core afternoon committed. Maybe a follow up day for the final or something like that. Even the most enthusiastic players can’t usually put in like a full work day just on the board. Since a hall isn’t quite as chill as playing a long ass game at home, where you have like couches and snacks and beverages at the ready. Some of the bigger tournaments might run it more like a convention, where its more about the meeting up and talking shop than like going full The Wizard style. Though that would be cool. Like just powergloving it vs Lucas for the chance to compete live on some grand new A&A board reveal hehe. Or like world championship in Vegas with some ridiculous grand prize. A&A Olympics with actual medals hehe. But yeah more like a big empty room with a gang of folding tables and kinda tight on time. But I haven’t been to the big ones in the midwest

  • 2020 2019 2018


    lol I like reading your stuff 🙂

    Why do you think bids are placed before game start now ? Top players feel the opening is broken ? Is that unique to this map ?

  • 2019 '15 '14

    Hey what’s up man! Been a while hehe

    Yeah I honestly don’t know the exact history of how it got started or at what tournament. I think the cd games from the late 90s probably standardized it, just because it was a relatively easy edit and more action oriented to have extra pieces banging away from the get go.

    For A&Aonline the base game for ranked play is Gencon and its been going with no bid for a couple months now. If I had to put money on it, I’d say Axis retain the edge, but there are a lot of big swings and potential for Allies to come up under Gencon. The playpattern remains pretty similar to OOB overall.

    The preplacement bid obviously forces players to think really hard about what is possible in the first turns, and how an extra hitpoint here or there might blow something wide open. So it has that appeal, playing to the fixed nature of A&A, where the start conditions are basically always the same. Totally different from say Risk or games like that, where there is much more variability in the starting conditions. Still just looking at the standard options in the menu for the Iron blitz game there were a lot of other ideas as well, some using tech unlocks “Axis Advantage” had Supersubs and Jets for Axis. Economic Victory. Russian restricted opening. And a couple alternative riffs on the Classic game going from 2nd to 3rd edition. It had marines and a few other things like that, some of which could shift the balance back and forth depending on which option one went with.

    I still think starting income adjustment is the easiest. There’s always an amount in cash that can fix any perceived balance issue and its rather less distorting to the opener. But I’d guess the preplacement bid is used in tournaments mainly because its faster, and tournaments always have that element of time to consider. A larger cash bid that introduces units via the normal purchasing system would take longer to materialize and its impact would be more amorphous than say another sub or tank somewhere right out the gate. So prob that’s the reason it became so popular.

  • 2020 2018 2017

    @barnee @cpadebo @Black_Elk The bid is lost if you can’t place it, so the minimum effective bid is 3. You can’t save any money, and you cant place the bid where that team doesn’t have units. All the versions have imbalances to some degree or another, but think of the bid as a minigame much like the coin toss in football for who gets choice of team. That could be because of personal preference, perceived bias, or because of genuine imbalance and no-one should play without a bid for one of the teams or the other.

    The tournament is an all day affair. There are some informal house tournaments in canada, orange county, vancouver, tennessee etc. These usally have a single elimination or winner plays winner/loser plays loser format. The Gencon and Origins tournaments are a “sit down and play until elminated” so it is done in one more or less continous series of games, sometimes 2 games per day. There are formal time limits on games–in this version 42.3–the allies can win the game but they can’t really accomplish that in less than 5-6 turns so the enemy could in theory win the game by sandbagging. Without annoucing a strict time per turn, gentlemen’s rules is that you have your full attention on the game and try to move things forward as quickly as possible. To put that ball in the opposing team’s court, I play as quickly as possible, ala speed chess, with a minimum of side-discussion when its not my teams turn.

    Tournament organaizers may assign players to team, allow byes, allow second chances, each game doesn’t necessarily attract enough players to give an even number of teams and they have to create a bracket based on who shows up each day and who may have other comittments.

    Other than that, you sit down at 8 am, set up, bid (takes 5 min) play at 9-930 averaging 1 turn per hour, until about 5-6 pm at night, in the G42 tournament. Then you repeat that for 3 or possibly 4 days. It is an all-in-one sitting winner takes all single elimination with very competitive teams.

  • 2019 '15 '14

    haha yeah that sounds pretty intense. I can definitely see why they’d go preplacement when you’re rocking 9-5 until eliminated. Esp with teams. My memories of save for purchase bids are all coming from tripleA warclub stuff not the sit down and gun with the gang official type situation. I always imagined that things in the actual hall would be pretty next level. Definitely sounds like that’s the case

  • I’ve now played the LHTR a couple of times and my conclusion is the Axis still are the favorites. Using the time constraints all the Axis have to do is take Karelia (Leningrad) and defend all their victory cities to win 7-6. It is pretty tough for Russia to stop Germany from taking Leningrad. USA does not have enough time to put their mark in the game. UK can now conceivable hold India but unfortunately they are not able to really help Russia much saving Leningrad. These games have been with zero bid so maybe the next step is to play with a bid. I am intrigued with the idea of playing USA turn 0 where USA starts game (instead of Russia) and can do everything but attack on that turn. It would make them more relevant in the game. Any thoughts out there?

  • 2020 2018 2017

    @cpadebo Yep. In AxA Online, the game feels almost balanced because there is no set ending and 16-20+ turns the Allies can overwhelm Germany, critically weakening it and as long as Russia has survived the first 6-8 turns a carefully planned Allied KGF can suffocate Germany. The tournament of course is a different beast. Having said that, Doug and I took the 2019 title playing the Allies every game.

    Since the game is more or less balanced, the reasoning behind implementing US0 isnt as strong as it was when we first discussed it.

  • @taamvan have any tournaments played US0?

  • 2020 2018 2017

    @cpadebo not to my knowledge, black elk came up with it a while back…giving them an extra turn of income before the rest would be pretty overpowered in light of how experienced allied players can tear the crap out of germany. the tournament game is only 6 turns which means the allies have to push the axis to play quickly or there is not enough time to get into position to win

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