A modest proposal for weapons development

  • It seems there are a range of opinions within the A&A community regarding the utility of weapons development. I personally like the idea of incorporating R&D into A&A, but I have a few concerns with the implementation. Admittedly, I’ve only played a few games, so my opinion may change over time.

    I do like that a player has to consciously apply capital to R&D or risk being left behind militarily. In AA50, I like that R&D success is not guaranteed on any particular turn, but it is likely to succeed over time. I liked how AA Revised allowed you to “target” a particular development (though maybe it was a little too “targeted”). I like how tech advances by one side places tremendous pressure on the other side to respond or perish.

    However, I have three concerns: 1) the impact of a particular tech advancement varies greatly among the different powers, 2) some advancements can potentially come “too early” for realistic play, and 3) the success of achieving a particular tech advancement is too random. As a result, a lucky roll or two can seriously unbalance a game in short order.

    In the first case, what the heck does Russia (or possibly Germany) need with better shipyards?! That is about as useful as tits on a bull, and I doubt Stalin would have devoted a lot of resources toward such an “advance.” Yet, this result is just as likely as another tech that Russia would really want. Similarly, rockets for Japan also seem of limited utility, but would be good for anyone in Europe.

    Second, under the current rules it is entirely possible for a player to get and employ rockets or heavy bombers in round 1 of a 1941 scenario (historically, pre-Pearl Harbor). I find this troubling from both a game play and historical standpoint.

    Finally, certain tech advancements for certain player (think USA and long-range aircraft) in an early round can quickly spell doom for the opposing player.

    With all that said, here is my modest proposal:

    First, either prohibit tech on round 1, or go back to LHTR treatment of tech implementation (available the round after it is developed).

    Second, keep the AA50 use of research tokens, so R&D expenditures are eventually rewarded and not wasted.

    Third, group “tech” into three groups of increasing power or sophistication, 3-5 per group (call them A, B, and C). Make sure that there is something useful to each power in each group. When a player’s research “succeeds”, he/she picks a tech from Group A. Groups then become “available” in order, and/or possibly only after certain rounds. That is, a player would have to acquire a tech advancement from Group A before getting one from Group B (other tech in Group A would still be available, however). Or as an alternative, certain technology groups become available only after certain rounds (say Group B after round 3, Group C after round 5, etc.)

    All together, these adjustments would moderate the pace of tech development, keep them in a more historical sequence, and would have a lesser risk of unbalancing the game at an early stage. As such, weapons development would still be an important part of the game, particularly longer games, but it wouldn’t skew the play too strongly or too early.

    I know Larry must get thousands of suggestions to “improve” A&A, and I don’t presume to know better than the game’s creator. However, I think there may be some room for improvement in the R&D department that can keep weapons development a key part of the game while addressing some of the existing concerns.

    Humbly submitted,


  • I like your suggestions, but they should really be filed under the House Rules forum.

  • A tiered system would actually be pretty cool…something to keep in mind.

  • Sorry for posting in the wrong area…I’m still learning my way around this forum.  😛

    I can’t take full credit for my suggestion. There’s another game that I occasionally play that has a both a technology angle and fits within a historical context. The game is structured so that certain additional capabilities that become available to the opponents are tied to both a continuous investment of resources and a turn-based timeline.

    Technological developments had a major impact on the conduct of WWII.  B-29’s, Me-262’s, V-2’s, fast carriers, Tiger tanks, etc. all changed the nature of the battle, but none of them were available in the early years. I’d like to retain the concept of weapons development, but I would also like to see them roll out in a more logical and historical sequence.


    p.s. If you want to make the game real interesting, create a viable tech pathway that allow the development of a limited number of nukes late in the game! Talk about a game changer….    :evil:

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