I’m fairly new to the Axis and Allies community (first post here). I’m certain that the issues I’ll be addressing in this post have already been identified and even solved. It might be the case that my ideas have already been thought of and shared. Apologies is this is the case. Even so, I’d like to share them in the hope of some feedback. Thanks in advance.
There are some things about the combat system in Axis and Allies that bug me. In so many ways it just feels…. unrealistic, even broken. I’ve split my solution into 2 parts which look at 2 of the main issues I’ve found with the aim to spice up combat.
The first thing I don’t like is that because players get to choose their own casualties, typically only the expensive units like planes and tanks remain at the end of battles. An army can lose ten or twenty units of infantry whilst preserving its entire air force, despite the enemy army also consisting of war planes. Am I to believe that whilst all this fighting was going on, the air forces on both sides were ignoring each other, simply passing each other by? I’ve named this issue 'Operation Human Shield’ (thanks South Park). I can only imagine soldiers strapped to the sides of tanks and planes to provide them a meat shield of protection which is why they all die first.
Here is my proposed solution. The core mechanics in resolving combat remain the same except for a new concept I’ll label 'direct hits’.
Direct hits occur anytime a 1 is rolled. Normal hits occur when anything else is rolled that counts as a hit within a given units attack/defence value.
Instead of rolling separately for each column of the battle board, a player rolls for each individual unit type. Each type of unit has its own 'priority target’ which, on a roll of a 1, forces the enemy player to take a particular corresponding unit type as a casualty. These are listed below:
(Unit type) –> (Priority target)
Infantry/Artillery --> Infantry
Tank --> Tank
Fighter --> (any air unit)
Tactical bomber --> Artillery/Tank
Strategic Bomber --> 2 Infantry?
Destroyer --> Submarine
Hopefully this makes sense already, but here are a few examples if not:
5 tanks roll a 1, two 2s, a 5 and a 6. The 5 and 6 are complete misses. The two 2s are indirect hits meaning the other player may select any 2 casualties of his choice. The roll of a 1 however forces him to take 1 tank as a casualty.
A fighter rolls a 1 which forces the other player to take a plane as a casualty. He chooses a tactical bomber.
3 tactical bombers roll two 1s and a 3. Since the other player has no artillery, the two 1s must be allocated to his tanks. For the roll of a 3 he chooses an infantry.
If a direct hit is rolled but the other player does not have the corresponding ‘priority unit’, the hit still counts but the player can choose which casualty to take.
I’m hoping this system will make battles feel more believable and add a new element of strategy. The main issue I can see is that expensive units will end up being very hard to replace, and the board will probably always end up with only infantry, artillery and a few tanks on it.
The second issue I’ve found with Axis and Allies occurs with big battles (Moscow comes to mind). Is it really possible that 30 or 40 (or more) infantry units could all fire at the same time? Could a front line really be this crowded? I would have thought that some infantry would remain in reserve, ready to plug the gaps.
It happens all too often that Germany and the USSR end up in a stalemate, both with enormous stacks of troops right next to each other, yet neither wants to attack the other mainly because of infantry defending at 2 - attacking even for just 1 round could be devastating for the attacker. So both sides end up sitting around, scratching their butts, with the enemy right there in sight. And this can go on for a number of turns, bitter enemies yards away from each other but no fights, not even skirmishes. And that’s because there’s always only ever one option for an attacker: everything or nothing. Send in every man, tank and plane or stay put.
So I’ve thought of a new way of attacking - Skirmishing. In a skirmish, both players choose just 15 units to send forward for one round of combat only (attacker chooses which units first, then the defender). The idea here is that you can still chip away at your enemy without having to commit to a full scale assault.
When it comes to regular battles, I propose limiting the amount of units that can fire each round.
Only up to 10 of each type of land unit, and any 10 planes. In addition, a maximum of 20 land units in total can participate in any given round of combat.
The rest are considered in reserve - they do not fire and cannot be taken as casualties for hits sustained in that round.
Between rounds of combat, the combination of units can be swapped and changed.
A few examples of possible army compositions which can fire in a single round include:
What I imagine here is both players choosing the composition of their attack/defense force in secret before the battle begins. You don’t know which units your opponent will bring - should you bring in your fighters for a chance to shoot down their bombers, or will they bring in all their tanks instead? Perhaps towards the end of a battle, the enemy has only infantry remaining, so you choose to send in all your bombers and tanks with just enough infantry to soak up any hits they score.
I think it would also prevent the ‘safety in numbers’ I always see on the board. A smaller force may be less likely to get wiped out in one round by a larger one. I’m also hoping we’d see lots of smaller groups of forces across the board rather than a few massive stacks surrounded by empty land.
However, the main problem I see here is it might make battles more tedious rather than fun. They’ll take a lot more time to resolve and the only way to keep track of all this would be to track it on pen and paper. It’s a cool concept I’d love to try out, but I understand why not everybody would share my enthusiasm. It also means huge amounts of dice are no longer rolled which is also a shame.
I’ll end by saying this:
These ideas all seems great to me on paper, but I haven’t been able to actually play a full game with these new mechanics in use. I have tested the combat system in a few pre-set battles and it was very interesting. In theory it should add a whole new element of strategy to the game because it would give army composition significance. You’d have to size up exactly which kinds of units your enemy has, how many, and what you have in comparison to counter. Expensive units can no longer unrealistically hide behind Infantry in what I’ve mockingly named 'Operation Human Shield’. Whether or not you want to risk losing your planes and tanks is a real dilemma. On one hand, you might be able to take out some enemy planes, but on the other, a simple battle might end up disastrously. Overall, I think this system should make battles more fierce, potentially more devastating and whole lot more intense, which to me is what Axis and Allies should be all about.
Thanks for reading this far. I’d love to hear some feedback, good or bad. Has anyone else thought about something similar? What are your solutions?