Are SBR's Broken?


  • 2018 2017 2016 '11 Moderator

    The new, unprinted, optional rules, are a knee jerk reactions made by shell-shocked game designers who just wanted the loud obnoxious players who complained about Caucasus falling and SBRs being too easy to shut up.  They’re not game tested in this version (they can’t be, they were released a LONG time after the game was released) and they’re not needed.  (In my opinion).

    Bombers are not broken, SBRs are not “too powerful” and no fix is needed, especially one that breaks SBRs even more than they are. (Bombing an enemy complex makes no mathematical sense.  It’s like buying a lottery ticket…you could win, but if you average out the weekly results over your entire life, you’ll almost certainly end up losing more than any gain you make.)



    I’ve done the math a few times in various threads, but to sum it up:


    A bomber costs 12 IPC and should be shot down every 6th SBR if the defender has an AA Gun present.  That means it should cost the attacker 2 IPC a round over 6 Rounds.  The attacking bomber should do 3.5 IPC in damage to the enemy every round.

    Since the bomber only gets to bomb the enemy for five rounds (assuming the sixth is when it is shot down) then you would do 17.5 IPC in damage over the life of your bomber.  17.5 IPC in Damage - 12 IPC cost of the Bomber = 5.5 IPC advantage to your side.


    If the enemy has Radar the entire thing shifts.

    The bomber still costs 12 IPC and should be shot down every 3rd attack if an AA Gun is present.  That means it should cost the attacker 4 IPC a round over 3 Rounds.  The attacking bomber still does the same damage to the enemy complex each round.

    Since the bomber only gets to bomb the enemy for two rounds (assuming the third is when it is shot down) then you would do 7 IPC in damage over the life of your bomber.  7 IPC in Damage - 12 IPC cost of the Bomber = -5 IPC advantage to your side. (So you’d actually have to pay MORE to SBR the enemy than you would do in damage to them.)


    If the enemy has Improved Factories, then:

    A bomber costs 12 IPC and should be shot down every 6th SBR if the defender has an AA Gun present.  That means it should cost the attacker 2 IPC a round over 6 Rounds.  The attacking bomber should do 1.75 IPC in damage to the enemy every round.

    Since the bomber only gets to bomb the enemy for five rounds (assuming the sixth is when it is shot down) then you would do 8.75 IPC in damage over the life of your bomber.  8.75 IPC in Damage - 12 IPC cost of the Bomber = -3.25 IPC advantage to your side. (It would cost you 3.25 IPC per bomber to attack an enemy’s complex over the life of your bomber.)


    Granted, if you have Heavy Bombers you can double your returns above.

    So in a normal case you’d do: 11 IPC damage in excess to the cost of the lost bomber.
    In a radar case you’d do: 2 IPC damage in excess to the cost of the lost bomber.
    In an improved factory case you’d do: 5.5 IPC damage in excess to the cost of the lost bomber.



    Now, what if we used that bomber to assist with other battles?

    Assuming a ground battle (which would provide the attacker with the absolute MINIMUM return on investment)

    The bomber could virtually live forever.  If the enemy has no AA Guns and you make sure you have at least one unit for every defender plus the attacking bomber, there is no reason the bomber would ever die.  So no matter what, the damage done by the bomber will exceed the cost of the bomber.

    Furthermore, it would only take 4 dead enemy infantry to zero out the cost of the bomber.  After that, it’s pure gain for your side and loss for the enemy.



  • Bombing an enemy complex makes no mathematical sense.  It’s like buying a lottery ticket…you could win, but if you average out the weekly results over your entire life, you’ll almost certainly end up losing more than any gain you make.

    Well, you just demonstrated that this is false. The expected value of an SBR is positive (before considering techs), which makes it very unlike buying a lottery ticket, which has a negative expected value. Sure, tech can change things, but it’s not like you can depend on getting radar as a counter-strategy.

    That said, I agree with you that SBRs are not overpowered. You average less than 1 IPC in expected value each bombing run, nothing to get too excited about IMHO. Of course, it is a high variance strategy and can be quite effective when those AA guns can’t seem to find a “1”, but on average its just not effective enough considering the time and money needed to invest in such a strategy.

    I think when people say bombers are overpowered, they are talking about what you alluded to with your last point:

    Now, what if we used that bomber to assist with other battles?

    Assuming a ground battle (which would provide the attacker with the absolute MINIMUM return on investment)…

    It’s true, bombers are quite effective in a ground support roll. But where they really shine is in naval battles. A unit which costs 12, attacks at 4, and has a range of 6 is extremely effective at taking out all those expensive boats. Especially now that you can’t use subs or transports as fodder. Bombers are the real Flottenmörderin in this game. Combined with their effectiveness in other rolls, and multiple techs which further increase their abilities, I think there definitely is an argument to be made about bombers being overpowered.

    But are they so powerful that we need a rule change to address the issue? Well… I dunno. For me, the jury’s still out on that one.


  • Moderator

    Also bomber damage does not have to be repaired or only has to be repaired to the point of getting maximum production from the cash you have left.

    For example, say Italy has 9 ipc in cash and someone sends a bomber to sbr, unless the bomber gets 5-6 damge it is not worth it to pay the repair.
    Now it compounds things for future turns, but essentially you can get 2 aa shots before needing to pay for the damage.

    Likewise UK may or may not need 8 full slots of production, 24 ipc can get you 3 inf, 3 arm or 21 ipc can get you 3 inf, 3 rt, while 18 gets you 6 inf.

    Obviously this depends on the game scenerio, but I find the best use of SBRs is if you are already leading or it perhaps tied in the ipc count and you have more bombers than your opponent.  Sort of use them as a nail in the coffin technique.

    I think if you are at the point where Ger/Jap is mercilessly bombing Mos/London or the UK/US are double teaming Germany, then the game is already over and you lost it long before the SBRs took effect.



  • i think that S.B.R. is useful for germany, if the german player want’s to dent the resources of russia, 2 bomber’s are useful for S.B.R. each round, with heavy bomber’s the damage could be mightily suffocant to the russia player’s resources,

    although for the u.s. the idea of a S.B.R. against japan, is a stretch too far, without the technology of long range heavy bomber’s a u.s. S.B.R. against japan would be impossible, without control of iwo jima or okinawa



  • In my next game I will buy one German bomber + infantry the whole game. Just to test how effective they are (with NO, optional rules and the A&A rev. tournament rule for Heavy Bombers). It will be interesting. Has anyone already tested it against a strong player? If so, how did it work?



  • @d142:

    although for the u.s. the idea of a S.B.R. against japan, is a stretch too far, without the technology of long range heavy bomber’s a u.s. S.B.R. against japan would be impossible, without control of iwo jima or okinawa

    If Japan punch hard south, leaving Russia and perhaps China alone for a while, you might try to SBR unprotected factories Manchuria from there. I did it the last game. Quite effective, especially if there are no AA there. This might force Japan to divert their units, hitting Siberia, which is good if you have a UK IC in India.



  • @hakan:

    In my next game I will buy one German bomber + infantry the whole game. Just to test how effective they are (with NO, optional rules and the A&A rev. tournament rule for Heavy Bombers). It will be interesting. Has anyone already tested it against a strong player? If so, how did it work?

    You can’t test ANY “I’m going to do JUST x…” against a strong player because a good player can adjust to almost any strat like that.  For example, a good Rus player will take advantage of your lack of mobility, and with the 12 cost bmb being your only attacking units put on the board, he’ll widen the front and force you to spread your expensive attackers.  By the time you clear territories, your inf will mostly be used up at half their maximum effectiveness because so many will be lost rolling at 1.  The Brits could make your life a living hell just dropping a few inf into nwe too, if there aren’t any attacking units other than bmb.


  • 2018 2017 2016 '11 Moderator

    Unknown Soldier:

    My apologies, I don’t think I explained my analogy well, or at least, not well enough for you to understand what I was trying to say.

    I was attempting to say that running an SBR campaign, mathematically speaking, and coming out way ahead on the cost ratio is akin to playing the lottery and winning significantly.

    That is, you have really bad odds of coming out with 5 rounds of 6 IPC damage for each of your bombers just like you have really bad odds of coming out with 5 days of lottery play with +$5.00 a day. (That would be $6 win, since it costs $1 for the ticket.)

    Is that mathematically proven?  No.  For one, i don’t know the odds of winning $5 when you play the lottery.  It’s just an analogy to make a point. (I know you, Unknown, did not say I was attempting to say they were equal, I am clarifying for everyone.)

    Also, yes, I do agree that bombers really shine in ATTACKING enemy navies.  They really SUCK at defending your navy. 😛

    That said, they are a 12 IPC 4/4 unit with range 6 vs the Naval equivalent of a 12 IPC 3/3 unit with range 2.

    The cruiser does have some benefits the bomber does not have:

    1. It can shore bombard.  Though, the bomber could attack the shore each round if it survives the AA Gun.

    2. It can defend the navy.

    Honestly, I came up with a set of house rules for this game that raised the Cruiser to a 4/4 unit that sunk if it was hit once.  Effectively making it a 1 hit battleship and then upped the Destroyer to a 3/2 unit.

    I’d love to run my personal house rule set by you and see if you can find some glaring errors and/or have a block of time you can dedicate to running a single play test (most issues come up in the first play test of a set of rules I have found.)


    DM:

    Good point.  I did not include that aspect.

    I find that the only two nations that don’t routinely repair their industrial complexes are Italy (if it is low damage) and America (since they have ungodly build ability!)

    Russia won’t repair some complexes if they think they cannot hold them.  But it’s not something that happens “routinely” to my knowledge.


    d142:

    During the end game of any game, SBR usually works out well.  That’s because the winning player doesn’t care if they lose 6 bombers in a single round, they can afford to replace them; but the defending player cannot afford to take 6d6 damage and hold out long.

    In that regards, the cost/benefit ratio is useless.  It’s like suiciding the German army/air force to decimate the allied stronghold allowing Japan a chance at winning.  Odds are worthless for that battle, you don’t expect to win nor do you care if you win.


    Hakan:

    I have to admit, SBR on a naked IC is always a good move if that bomber is not needed to win another battle.

    Mathematically speaking you should do 3.5 IPC in damage to the IC or whatever the maximum damage is. (In the case of India, you have a 67% chance of doing 3 IPC damage to your target since a 3, 4, 5 and 6 all do 3 damage.)


    souL has a point.  A44bigdog wanted to test a cruiser strategy with Germany, but he got royally spanked with Japan.  It’s well into the game now and Japan’s more worried about whether they will EVER kill all the Chinese infantry before Tokyo falls than whether or not the German cruiser strategy is going to work or not.

    But if the dice had fallen differently, the strat could have come up way more powerful than it really is.



  • @Cmdr:

    Unknown Soldier:

    My apologies, I don’t think I explained my analogy well, or at least, not well enough for you to understand what I was trying to say.

    I was attempting to say that running an SBR campaign, mathematically speaking, and coming out way ahead on the cost ratio is akin to playing the lottery and winning significantly.

    Ah, I guess I misinterpreted what you meant by “doesn’t make mathematical sense”. I agree that you need to get lucky with an SBR strat.

    @Cmdr:

    Also, yes, I do agree that bombers really shine in ATTACKING enemy navies.  They really SUCK at defending your navy. 😛

    I can’t argue with that. Although, I think it’s interesting to note that fighters provide the most efficient fleet defense. Aircraft > fleet for the most part in this game.

    @Cmdr:

    Honestly, I came up with a set of house rules for this game that raised the Cruiser to a 4/4 unit that sunk if it was hit once.  Effectively making it a 1 hit battleship and then upped the Destroyer to a 3/2 unit.

    I’d love to run my personal house rule set by you and see if you can find some glaring errors and/or have a block of time you can dedicate to running a single play test (most issues come up in the first play test of a set of rules I have found.)

    Interesting. Upping the stats of certain naval units is certainly one way you could approach things. Another would be to lower their cost, to make them more competitive with aircraft. Maybe even a combination of the two.

    I’m not sure I really want to dive into house rules at this point though. I feel like I’m still pretty far from having the game “figured out”, so I’m sticking with the OOB rules for now, as far as actual play is concerned. I’ll certainly be willing to comment on idea ideas you have though.


  • 2018 2017 2016 '11 Moderator

    I am of the mindset that it is better to buff something else than it is to nerf something.

    Anyway, yes, aircraft have always been superior to fleets in Axis and Allies.

    In Classic it was necessary to build a carrier and land allied fighters on it to protect it or the enemy air force would sink it.
    In Revised it was necessary to build a carrier AND fighters at the same time, or the enemy air force would sink it.

    In Anniversary it’s not necessary to build a carrier and fighters, I find a handful of cruisers does the same job, but it’s still most cost effective to go carrier/fighters.

    (I like 7 Cruisers, Battleship, 4 Transports with England.  With a fleet like that, enemy air forces are not as effective. 😛  Still effective, but your opponent is more likely to say: “Nah, I like my fighters, they defend well!” and not attack!)



  • I agree that SBR is not broken in the slightest, heavy bombers, dont know I dont like tech.  The up front cost of the bombers combined with the minor IPC gain by using them in this manner really offset the effect.  Now bombers overall as a broken unit?  No, I don’t think they are.  Useful yes, but not overly so, especially considering that every bomber Germany builds is 4 fewer inf in the fight against russia, for the UK one less cruiser bombarding and escorting your fleet, etc, etc.



  • @DarthMaximus:

    Also bomber damage does not have to be repaired or only has to be repaired to the point of getting maximum production from the cash you have left.

    For example, say Italy has 9 ipc in cash and someone sends a bomber to sbr, unless the bomber gets 5-6 damge it is not worth it to pay the repair.
    Now it compounds things for future turns, but essentially you can get 2 aa shots before needing to pay for the damage.

    Likewise UK may or may not need 8 full slots of production, 24 ipc can get you 3 inf, 3 arm or 21 ipc can get you 3 inf, 3 rt, while 18 gets you 6 inf.

    Yes, SBR’s effects are/can be somewhat delayed so that does weaken them a bit.

    @DarthMaximus:

    I think if you are at the point where Ger/Jap is mercilessly bombing Mos/London or the UK/US are double teaming Germany, then the game is already over and you lost it long before the SBRs took effect.

    I have to disagree here.  Like in the real war, the only way for USA to do something early WAS to bomb Germany.  Early SBRs can slow the axis war machine enough to buy the time needed for the allied navys to be built up strong enough to get close to threaten Europe / IJN.


  • 2018 2017 2016 '11 Moderator

    Early SBRs can slow the Axis war machine if America engages in them, but America also only has the two bombers on Round 1.  That’s 7 IPC usually.  Italy has 23 IPC after Round 1 and Germany has 45 IPC after Round 1.  I don’t see 7 IPC being a huge impact in comparison to the 68 IPC the Europeans have.  It’s barely more than 10%.

    If America goes heavy bombers then they are also not going fleet (meaning Japan owns the Pacific and America only gets 1 NO, England none and Russia probably only 1 and Japan gets 3, Italy gets 2 and Germany gets 2.)  If America does not go fleet, then their SBR campaign is offset by the excess IPC the axis are pulling in that the Allies are not. (You need a lot of bombers to dry up the extra 25 IPC the axis will be pulling (possibly 30 IPC if Germany gets the 3rd NO as well) and make up for the cost of lost bombers AND on top of all that, do damage to the enemy.)

    I just don’t see it being a winning move.

    If a bomber does 1.5 IPC more damage than it costs to replace the bomber in the time it is expected the bomber to be shot down and the axis have 25 IPC in NOs MORE than the Allies (That is 35 IPC in NOs - Allies 10 IPC in NOs = 25 IPC in NOs in excess of the Allies) then it you would need 17 bombers to show a profit.  (16.67 to negate the extra income the Axis are getting and .23 to enter into positive territory.)

    If you had 17 Bombers, doing 3.5 IPC each (assuming 3 are shot down by AA Guns before they can fire) you would have:

    14 * 3.5 = 49 IPC in damage to the Axis.

    Since this, invariably, means in Europe only, you are really limited to 32 IPC in maximum damage you can do.  (12 to Italy, 20 to Germany.)


    To recap:

    IF the allies do not go into the Pacific and focus on a bomber campaign you have the following:

    Axis 7 to 8 NOs
    Allies 2 NOs
    Net Gain (Axis): +25 IPC

    Maximal Damage to Axis Industry: 32 IPC (12 for Italy, 20 for Germany.)
    Average Bomber Damage: 3.5 IPC
    Average Damage to Bomber: 2 IPC
    Net Benefit of Bombing Run: 1.5 IPC

    To negate 25 IPC, the Allies need 25/1.5 = 16.67 Bombers
    Most likely scenario of 17 Bombers attacking in SBR: 3 Bombers shot down to AA Fire
    17 Bombers - 3 Bombers lost to AA Guns = 14 Bombers left
    14 Bombers, doing an average of 3.5 IPC each = 49 IPC in combined damage

    Maximum Damage Italy/Germany can take: 32 IPC.  Damage from Bombers: 49 IPC.  17 IPC in bomber damage wasted.


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