I’ve played wargames since 1981 and have played Classic Axis and Allies over a hundred times. Given life (you know, getting married, having kids, starting a career, etc.), my opportunities for A&A were greatly reduced, though I still bought the games to add to my collection (1914, D-Day, 1942 2E, Europe, etc.). (I did manage to fit in a decade of SFB, and a number of other games, so wasn’t completely bereft)
Having some time, I was excited to pull out A&A 1940 and put the Europe and Pacific maps together for a global game. I played all sides, having found it a good way to get familiar with both the rules and the rhythm of the game.
Unfortunately, while I’ve liked most of the rule changes and the the scale of the map, I found the game very unbalanced. I discovered this forum and my finding was quickly validated. Unfortunately, beyond the alignment with my finding of imbalance, the best practices for playing the sides left me wanting. Not that they weren’t completely correct, but that they left me unsatisfied that a game with such potential could be made so linear, and so ‘unhistorical’.
I’ve thought about this for the last couple of weeks and I believe I have nailed down a core element of the problem: the scale.
Classic Axis and Allies works because it is 6 month turn and larger territory and sea zone spaces, so pretty much everything is abstracted.to a great degree. There are multiple paths to victory, but also a measure of forgiveness built in, because you can reposition your forces with such relative speed. In other words, it works because of its simplicity.
A&A Global keeps the 6 month turns, but approximately doubles the number of “spaces”. This is, IMO, part of the issue.
Let’s take the Atlantic Wall, the expected path of the Allies landing in Western Europe to retake France and threaten Germany.
In Classic there is only Western Europe, adjacent to the “North Sea” sea zone and within 1 turn striking distance of the Eastern US. THAT is the Atlantic Wall. Take it and you are adjacent to both Germany and Southern Europe. There is no safe place to park a counter attack force and nothing to keep that stream of UK and US ground forces from piling in there turn after turn.
In Global, there are 2 equivalent “Atlantic Wall” territories - Normandy-Bordeaux and Belgium-Holland. From a purist 2:1 perspective, this matches the scale change. However, there the comparison stops. Behind these two “beachfront” territories is France, a safe place in which Germany can park a powerful counter attacking force with no risk of it being attacked or even pinned by another force. In addition, forces from the US cannot get there in one turn. They can either sit in the Atlantic, risking attack, or go to Morocco, where the Gibraltar naval base will allow them to move up to the North Sea. And if this 1 turn delay wasn’t enough, the ability for the Germans to so easily reduce the British industrial complex all together creates a scenario in which due to both the implementation of scale and the rule changes, gives the Germans a significant edge in holding the Atlantic Wall.
Then we look at the Soviet Union. For arguments sake, let’s say the Japanese leave the Russians alone. In Classic, before taking Russia the Soviets will only lose 25% of the IPC production (6 of 24). In Global, the Soviets give up 35% of their IPCs (13 of 37) just by retreating back to the Russia/Volgograd/Caucasus line (or 43% if you include the national objectives). So we go from a scenario in which the Soviets try to hold their capital with 3/4 of their economy behind them to one, in Global, in which the “best practice” is to try and defend Moscow with less than half of their economy. Here is where the implementation of the scale has crippled the Soviets.
Then we go to the Pacific, where the addition of the naval bases made the ocean the same size, despite the scale change. You can still go from Hawaii to Japan in one turn and can still control the Pacific from the Caroline Islands, able to go to Hawaii, Japan, Hong Kong, or Sydney in a single move. But, whereas the limited territories made the Pacific in Classic about territory grabs, the more expansive scale, albeit with matching naval range, makes the Pacific game a cagey affair with no opportunity to out maneuver your opponent. Again, a problem of scale combined with rule change.
I think the solution to this, to create a Global Axis and Allies game with the sort of play and decisions INTENDED in A&A Global, is to increase the scale again, to about twice that of Global, or four times that of classic. And with a time scale of one turn to a 3 months, rathar than 6.
This would allow us to have the Battle of Britain, with 3-4 territories instead of single United Kingdom, so the Germans could try to prevent the ability for the RAF to scramble into the channel.
This would allow us for a true Battle of France, with Holland, Belgium, the Ardennes, and Alsace-Lorraine all bordering Germany.
It would allow for a true Atlantic Wall scenario, with the French coast divided into Aquitaine, Normandy, and Picardy, so now the Germans have to defend five territories instead of two.
It would provide enough territories in the Russian steppes that the Germans couldn’t just rush full speed, but would have to be more cautious of Soviet counter attacks, where maneuver would matter as much as strength.
If there is any alignment/interest, I can start another thread about this newly scaled game.