This one talk about map reshaping in Europe, making Berlin a land TTy only with no access to Baltic Sea.
So, for those of you just tuning in, there’s a reasonably broad consensus about A&A 1942: 2nd Edition that it’s a fabulous game but that (a) it’s slightly unbalanced in favor of the Axis, and (b) it fails to break out of the increasingly tired rut where Russia immediately evacuates all of its Asian troops, China is a speed bump at best, and the optimal strategy is for the Axis to race for Moscow while the Allies race for Berlin.
We’ve talked about many potential solutions for these issues, most of which have involved adding additional units and/or changing the price of units. We’ve steered clear of changing the map, though, mostly because map changes disrupt game balance in ways that are hard to predict, and tend to damage the graphics – you don’t want to go around leaving permanent marks on your snazzy $60 game boards with a $2 sharpie.
A Modest Proposal
Keeping those risks in mind, I have a proposal for a very small set of changes to the 1942.2 map that could yield big payoffs in terms of creating additional game balance and strategic variety without ruining the aesthetic appeal of the game. It’s just a proposal, though, so I strongly recommend using a pencil…
Draw a vertical line from the northeast corner of Afghanistan to the center of the southern border of Sianking, dividing Szechuan into two territories: Qinghai (west) and Henan (east). Qinghai is worth 1 IPC and contains a new Victory City named Chongqing. Qinghai starts the game with 1 American infantry. Qinghai borders Kazakh, Sinkiang, and Henan. Henan is worth 2 IPC and starts the game with 2 American infantry, 1 American anti-aircraft gun, 1 American fighter, and 1 factory. Henan borders Sinkiang, Henan, Anhwei, Kwangtung, and Yunnan.
Draw a vertical line from the northwest corner of the Caspian Sea to the center of the southern border of West Russia, dividing the Caucasus into two territories: Armenia (west) and Volgograd (east). Armenia is worth 4 IPCs and starts the game with 3 infantry and 1 artillery. Armenia borders Ukraine, West Russia, Volgograd, Persia, and the Black Sea. Volgograd is worth 2 IPCs and starts the game with 1 tank, 1 anti-aircraft gun, and 1 factory. Volgograd contains a new Victory City named Stalingrad, and borders Armenia, West Russia, Russia, and Kazakh.
Draw a diagonal line that runs across the narrowest portion of Vologda, starting from the southeastern border of Archangel and finishing at the northwestern border of Novosibirsk. The line will split Vologda into two territories: Omsk (west) and Chelayabinsk (east). Omsk is worth 1 IPC and starts the game with 1 infantry. Omsk borders Russia, Archangel, Chelayabinsk, and Novosibirsk. Chelayabinsk is worth 2 IPCs and starts the game with 1 factory. Chelayabinsk borders Omsk, Archangel, Evenki, and Novosibirsk.
Draw a vertical line splitting Libya into two territories: Tunisia (west) and Cyrenaica (east). Tunisia is worth 2 IPCs and borders Algeria, Cyrenaica, and the Italian sea zone. Tunisia contains a new victory city named Tunis. Tunisia starts with 2 German infantry at setup. Cyrenaica is worth 1 IPC and borders Tunisia, Egypt, and the Italian sea zone. Cyrenaica starts with 1 German tank at setup.
Eastern Australia is now worth 2 IPCs instead of 1 IPC, and contains a victory city (Sydney).
New Starting IPCs:
USSR: 24 -> 27 IPCs (+3)
Germany: 40 -> 42 IPCs (+2)
Britain: 31 -> 32 IPCs (+1)
Japan: 30 -> 30 IPCs (no change)
USA: 42 -> 44 IPCs (+2)
New Victory City List:
Allies (10): Washington, London, Leningrad, Moscow, Stalingrad, Calcutta, Chongqing, Honolulu, Sydney, San Francisco
Axis (7): Paris, Berlin, Rome, Tunis, Shanghai, Tokyo, Manila
There are 17 total victory cities. If either the Allies or the Axis control 11 or more Victory Cities at the end of the USA’s turn, then that team immediately wins.
New Russian Starting Factory List:
Karelia (2 units/turn), Volgograd (2 units/turn), Russia (8 units/turn), Chelayabinsk (2 units/turn).
The point of these changes is to encourage the Russians to vigorously defend their Asian territories, to encourage Germany to vigorously defend north Africa, to allow the Americans to pump major resources into China if they so choose, to force the Allies to defend at least part of the Pacific, and to give both sides even chances at victory even without a bid.
The Russians now have a starting factory in the Ural mountains (Chelayabinsk). Holding that factory and the immediately adjacent territories is worth 6 IPCs, meaning that you can drop two infantry a turn into the Ural factory and have them pay for themselves. Russia may not have a good reason to defend Buryatia, Yakutsk, and the Soviet Far East, but now at least there is a Russian rallying point somewhere along the 3,000 miles between Vladivostok and Moscow. If the Japanese conquer Chelayabinsk, it will seriously improve the Japanese income and logistical situation, but it is not necessarily an immediate game over for Moscow, which is still two spaces away.
The Russians now have some room to trade in the south – Germany wants to capture Armenia because of the valuable oil worth 4 IPCs, and can do so relatively easily by swinging the Italian navy over to the northeast, but because Armenia does not come with a free factory, and because the USSR can still produce units in Volgograd, it is not necessarily worthwhile for the Axis to pull extreme stunts like flying the Japanese air force over to defend a captured Armenia.
The Americans now have a starting factory in China (Qinghai) that is guaranteed a chance to produce 2 units before the Japanese can even attack it. Because the Americans start with an extra infantry and extra AAA gun in the region, if the Americans use both builds and also consolidate all forces in Qinghai, they have some hope of holding it against the Japanese on turn 2 even if Japan sends all available forces and the Russians/British do not help reinforce it. With a coordinated Allied effort, China can now hold against a mid-strength Japanese attack until turn 5 or 6 without the need to strip Russia or India bare.
In north Africa, the Germans no longer have an attractive option to blow open Egypt on turn 1, because the ex-Libyan infantry is now out of position in Tunis. On the other hand, the Americans no longer have the option of defending all of Africa by ferrying troops to Morocco – once the Germans do crack Egypt on turn 2 or turn 3, the Allies will have to reinforce sub-Saharan Africa via West Africa and/or India, because Morocco is just too damn far away. On the third hand, if the Americans do choose to land in Morocco, the Germans will be less likely to just abandon north Africa in response, because now they have a 2 IPC territory with a victory city in it to defend. If the Germans let the Americans walk into Tunis, the Americans can build a factory there, and use it to seize Paris and Rome, setting up a European Allied victory even if the Allies never capture Berlin.
Meanwhile, most of the old strategies can still be used if desired – the sea zones are all the same, the navies and air forces are all the same, the capitals are all in the same places, the starting forces distribution is virtually unchanged, and most of the map is encouragingly free of pencil marks.
Let me know what you think!
PS Many thanks to Black_Elk for his thread on moving Russia’s factories to the east, which is what got me thinking about these map changes in the first place, and to everyone for your feedback on earlier articles I’ve posted, which have helped me push the ideas in this piece forward to (what I hope) is their logical conclusion.