Individual Tech Assessments
1. Jet Power
Upgrading from a fighter to a jet fighter lets you defend hitting on 5 instead of 4. That’s 1/6 more death per defending fighter. How often will you use this tech? Perhaps defending your navy, perhaps defending a key territory, almost certainly for defending your capital. Best case scenario is perhaps two or three big battles per game. You wonâ€t use it much more than that, because if you “use” the advantage, youâ€ll likely lose the fighter in that battle. And if youâ€re not going to lose that fighter, your opponent probably wonâ€t be attacking you (there is probably a small deterrent benefit in that).
CUCU: So if it costs you $30 to get the tech, could you have done something better with $30? How about just buying three more fighters? That adds a dPunch of 12 to each cycle of combat, so to get a comparable affect from the tech you would need to upgrade 12 fighters. Note that having dCount in the battle is important too, so buying 3ftr has advantages a simple upgrade does not. I think it is safe to say that in most instances having three additional fighters will be much better than upgrading fighters already on the board. Jet Power is for defense, and buying $30 of infantry, or even fighters, will be larger than the defense bump you receive from the tech.
TPP: If you are near the end of the game, such as in a time-limited tournament, then upgrading fighters may be a great use of your money when the fighters you build at home canâ€t be used. Three fighters built in Tokyo may be better on a CUCU basis than two Japanese fighters upgraded in Berlin, but if the Tokyo fighters never roll a die then their value is zero. The inefficiency of the CUCU is outweighed by the value of getting the power where you need it.
Bottom line: For a risky $30, the CUCU analysis shows you are almost certainly better off buying 3ftr. If you need TPP, however, go ahead and pull the trigger.
Sacking a paycheck is good, but how much is it worth?
CUCU: Start with the fact that if you get the tech you will do an average damage of $21 per gun (6 rnds * $3.5 average damage). That’s $9 less than the $30 it will take to get the tech, so you need to find a way to make it juicier. Can you do two attacks per round? In some instances you could, such as using the two starting Russian AA guns. But the Russians can’t afford the $30 upfront cost for the tech. Germany can do better, but for at least one gun you’re hitting the Caucasus, which is capped at $4 of damage, or you are targeting London, which is a much less useful target. You can move a German gun up to hit Moscow, but then your own ICs are exposed to free bombing and your AA can be captured. You could build extra AA guns, but then your startup cost is higher. Not to mention that $30 of troops in the ground war is a lot of money for Germany, especially early in the game.
The other powers are in worse positions to use the guns, so they would waste turns moving the guns and buying more guns. In a seven round game, you are simply hard pressed to justify laying out $30 for this tech.
TPP: It is hard to envision a scenario where this could really be projected in a meaningful way. No TPP.
Bottom Line: Avoid it. The powers that can really use it canâ€t afford it.
3. Super Subs
Now this is what was needed: taking a gimmicky unit and adding another gimmick! So now your sub hits on a 3. How much does that beef up your unit?
CUCU: Well, with that $30 tech fee you could buy about 4 subs, or an extra 8 oPunch per round. Depending on the number of subs you have, you can recoup something close to that money within a few rounds of combat. Your oCount for that group of subs is lower, but you do have a nice punch upgrade. On the other hand, 4 subs can be split into multiple sub groups, whereas the $30 on tech can’t control any extra territory. On a CUCU basis, you could make this tech pay for itself if you are buying a lot of subs. In quick and rough terms, $30 of subs equates to an oPunch of 8. So if you’re upgrading 8 subs, you’re getting equivalent punch though your count does not go up. On a CUCU basis you wouldn’t upgrade until you have at least 8 subs on the board.
So suppose you have four subs with a US off the coast of the East Indies. On a CUCU basis you know the tech isn’t great, but building subs in LA won’t help your main fleet. In that instance, the TPP may be the best thing you can do to help for a pending naval battle. You may even want to build your navy with that in mind; many subs early, upgrade with tech right before the big fight.
Pro: Of course subs are early strike units, so super is better.
Con: But destroyers might be present.
Pro: But they can submerge.
Con: But they can’t hit planes.
Pro: But they move through other naval units.
Con: But the first â€˜earlyâ€ hit may just damage a battleship.
Pro: But… frickin subs…
Bottom line: Complications aside, this tech has some mojo to it. For TPP, this could certainly be worth the cash. Just remember you are going to pay through the nose for it (like spending $40 bucks for eight dice on round five), and you still might not get the upgrade. You are probably best off building a large sub fleet and then throwing for tech all at once later on. That is not cost efficient, but you will get the maximum projection of your dollars.
4. Long Range Aircraft
Before the rule that delayed tech acquisitions, this was the Queen of Tech in AA4. The standard move was to put a pile of planes just out of range of the target, let your opponent underestimate the planes available for the battle, and then upgrade the fighters/bombers for a surprise attack. Early on this won a lot of games (or lost it when the dice didnâ€t deliver the tech). After everyone had been burned a time or two, it still had the effect of spreading out defenses or forcing early withdrawal from a front. With delayed tech, the big advantage of this tech is gone.
CUCU: If you need long range fighters for attacks, why not use the upgrade cost to upgrade 6 fighters to 6 bombers? And if you need long range bombers the round before you actually use them, what the heck are you doing? If you can’t get a bomber in position in 1 round, you have a very interesting and rare situation.
TPP: In extremely limited situations you may need long range aircraft to put your planes somewhere else on the board, but I canâ€t think of any major instance of this that is worth analyzing on a cost basis â€“ if you need this tech, you wonâ€t need math to tell you whether or not it is a good idea. In the rare instance you need it, youâ€ll need it regardless of cost.
Bottom line: Donâ€t bother with this as a primary strategy. If you need it for some weird circumstance, youâ€ll know it.
5. Bombarding Destroyers
This tech has the potential to simply be fun. Few things feel better than throwing one guy onto a beach and ripping down 5 or 6 units with no risk beyond 1inf. And one of the cool things about bombardment is that it weakens the territory under attack before the ground troops land. That means every territory in range of your amphibious assault has to be defended more strongly. So there is no doubt it is a nice feature. But is it worth the cost?
CUCU: A destroyer bombarding on a 3 will kill 1 infantry _ of the time, or 1.5 IPCs per bombardment. In a standard game that comes to 9 IPCs of damage per destroyer (1.5 IPCs per round * 6 rounds), then subtract the cost of the grunt you’re sacrificing on the beach each round. You need 3 active destroyers before youâ€re close to recouping your investment on straight value. On the other hand, if you spend 24 IPCs on a battleship, that could generate 12 IPCs of value (2 IPCs per round * 6 rounds, then subtract grunt sacrifice) with no risk buying tech. So the comparable unit with no risk, the battleship, is already attractive in terms of cost vs. risk.
The total equation is much more complicated. Here are some of the questions that impact the final calculation: How many rounds will be spent positioning your assaults? Will ground troops be available for the sacrifice? What is the value of utilizing destroyers already on the board that would otherwise do nothing? Can your opponents buy subs to block your bombardments? How many destroyers do I need to buy to justify the tech? Etc. But since the basic cost assessment already shows a comparable value to a battleship, I believe it is safe to say that going for bombarding destroyers is not going to be an efficient strategy.
TPP: If you are near game end, this could be valuable since your target may be far from your ICs. But that would also imply that you have no better use for your cash, such as buying more planes or going for heavy bombers. Perhaps in the next to last round of a US assault on Germany you would want this. That’s about the only case.
Bottom line: Donâ€t use this as a main strategy, but watch for the very rare instance of TPP.
6. Heavy Bombers
In the old game (AA3 & earlier), many games ended with a desperate roll for tech when only heavy bombers would help. The old version gave heavy bombers 3 dice, and AA guns did not target individual aircraft, making it possible to protect them with a fighter escort.
In AA4, the heavy bomber tech essentially doubles your bomber fleet. Clearly that is a strong benefit, so letâ€s get to work on the numbers to see if it is worth the cost.
CUCU: First off, you could use the $30 upgrade cost to simply buy 2bmr at no risk. If you donâ€t already have 2bmr on the board, your first move would be to just buy bombers. This first observation of the cost eliminates most of the powers from going for heavy bombers. If you have one bomber, you need to spend $30 on the tech and another $15 for a second bomber before it is equal to just spending $45 on three bombers right from the start. In the first case your $45 dollars buys a bomber and tech for two heavy bombers; in the second case you have 1bmr to start and you just buy three more. Who has that kind of cash in a typical game where you have no benefit from your tech until you buy the third bomber for a total outlay of $60? That’s $60 just to put two more units on the board. Only the US and perhaps the Axis power not under attack are candidates for heavy bombers as a strategy.
Second, it is true that the 4bmr are exposed to more AA fire than 2 heavy bmr, but you can also separate the 4bmr to attack two more groups than the upgraded bombers. And with the heavies, your count is reduced. So heavy bombers are not a clear value compared to just buying more bombers in a short game.
Third, heavy bombers do not help you much in strategic bombing raids because you will quickly hit the cap for damage on a territory. If you canâ€t hit Berlin for more than $10, then you donâ€t need much air power to hit that cap. Not to mention the time it takes to build the bombers and fly them into position, plus the round to get the tech, so strategic bombing with heavy bombers is likely a bad plan in a standard time limited game.
TPP: But once again, TPP might make good use of this tech. If you have a bomber on the board and you donâ€t need defense, upgrade your bomber(s) before the last battle. But note one other facet: if you are doing this with Japan for an attack on Moscow, youâ€re still probably better off just building the bombers on a mainland factory and bringing them to the fight. This is mostly to help the US; every other power can probably build more bombers and just hit the target with fresh units.
Bottom line: Itâ€s a nice tech, but most powers canâ€t afford it, and the other two powers need to scale up production capabilities before spending on air power. Heavy bombers are certainly a nice upgrade on a per-unit assessment, but because they are so expensive you simply wonâ€t get enough of them into the game early enough to be difference makers. By the time you have a Mighty Airforce, Moscow or Berlin is likely dead.
NOTE: heavy bombers are one tech that may be devastating in a long term game. As noted, this paper is about a typical short game; the math will be very different for a 20 round game.
1. What happened to the great old tech that reduced the cost of an item by an IPC?
Two things on that. First off, it wasnâ€t as great in the old game as many people thought. To recoup the money spent on tech you needed to buy one unit per dollar spent on tech. So if you spent $30 on tech, you havenâ€t made your money back until you build your 30th unit. Thatâ€s a lot of units. If you got the tech on the cheap it was nice, but then you were just lucky.
Second, with the targeted tech in AA4, that particular tech becomes a big chaos factor in the game. If you spend $10 the first round and you get it, youâ€re going to have a massive advantage. Itâ€s true you will often waste a lot of money waiting for the tech, but you are turning the game into a game of luck based on getting the tech.
So it was killed, likely because it wasn’t powerful enough with untargeted tech and it was too randomly powerful with targetted tech. It is better that the tech is not in AA4.
2. Why are you down on tech in the rules? By delaying them, you pretty much eliminate them. Isnâ€t it realistic to have them in the game?
Actually, it would be more realistic for tech to have an even bigger impact. Think about radar or, best of all, the atomic bomb.
The problem in this case is that the â€œreal worldâ€ makes for a poor game. If you spend four hours moving troops around just to have the game end with an atomic bomb, that makes for a pretty unfulfilling game.
Tech is rarely a good strategy on a per-unit basis. Think of it as a way to pump up your units in the late game when the units you build wonâ€t be used significantly. Looking at the cost of the upgrade vs. the cost of comparable units usually favors the extra units, not the upgrade. But using tech to project power may be worth more than the unit analsys alone would show.
Version and Unresolved Issues
1v0 Date: 5/13/06
Unresolved issues: None. This is perfect in every way.