To follow up on this, here’s the interpretation I’d put on the concept of fast versus slow groupings of capital ships (battleships and battlecruisers) with other ships. The concept did exist in both WWI and WWII, but it took different forms.
In WWI (and the decade leading up to it), naval technology such as turbine engines and face-hardened armour, plus ship design philosophy in general, had progressed to the point where the dreadnought-type capital ship (uniform-caliber main battery in more than two twin turrets, good protection, and fairly high speed) had become feasible, but it had not progressed to the point where all three features (firepower, protection and speed) could be optimized at the same time. That would have to wait for WWII, when the true “fast battleship” type emerged. (The same thing happened with tanks, but with a one-war difference: in WWII, tanks could be optimized for two of three features, or have medium performance in all three areas, but it was only during the Cold War that technology allowed a tank to have excellent performance in all three areas.)
During WWI, technological limitations (plus the considerable influence of Admiral John Fisher, who was a visionary in both the good and the bad sense of the concept) led to the emergence of two varieties of dreadnought-type capital ships: the battleship and the battlecruiser. Basically, dreadnought battleships were reasonably fast (but not as fast as cruisers), and had both heavyweight firepower and heavyweight armour that allowed them to slug it out with anything afloat; the rule of thumb was that a balanced battleship design had “proportional” armour capable of dealing with an enemy ship carrying the same caliber of main guns as it itself carried. Battlecruisers were similar to dreadnought battleships (the British, in fact, tended to create a parallel class of battlecruiser for its respective battleship classes), but they carried fewer main gun turrets and had less armour so that they could achieve higher speed than a battleship; they were roughly as fast as a normal cruiser, considerably better-armed, and somewhat (but not always by much) better protected. Battlecruisers, according to British doctrine, were operated as part of what could be called “fast heavy scouting divisions,” in advance of the main formation of the more powerful but slower battleships. For a classic example of this, have a look at the two main British formations at the Battle of Jutland: Jellicoe’s slower battleship force, and Beatty’s faster battlecruiser force.
In WWII, the picture becomes more complicated. There were relatively few battlecruisers at that time, and they were a strange mixture of British and Japanese WWI hold-overs, weird German designs reflecting (or intended to cheat) treaty limitations, clear-headed French and Italian modern evolutions of the battlecruiser concept, plus the well-made but rather pointless American Alaska class (which the Americans denied were battlecruisers). To me, these odd ships muddy the picture more than anything else. In my opinion, the real fast-versus-slow capital ship distinction in WWII wasn’t between battlships and battlecruisers, it was between the modern 1930s- and 1940s-era “fast battleships” on the one hand and the surviving WWI-era battleships (some of hwich had been modernized between the wars) on the other hand. The classic example of that distinction can be found at Leyte Gulf, where the Americans assigned their old slow battleships (plus some escort carriers) to support the amphibious invasion directly (I think they were officially under McArthur’s command), and assigned their fast battleships and their fleet carriers (under Halsey) to fight the main Japanese fleet if it showed up. Halsey’s carrier pilots did take a substantial crack at the IJN during the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea (they sank the Musashi, notably), but Halsey later took the bait of a Japanese decoy operation and charged off to the north with his fast battleships and his fleet carriers to engage Japan’s remaining fleet carriers (which actually had few or no planes left aboard, and were simply meant to draw him away from Leyte Gulf). As a result, the Japanese surface-combat forces (in two groups, operating well away from the decoy force) had a clear shot at Leyte – and the American forces which ended up stopping them were, respectively, the US Navy’s older battleships at the Battle of Surigao Strait and a force of escort carriers and light surface-combat vessels at the Battle off Samar. In the latter engagement, the hopelessly outclassed (if you go by the raw ship types and numbers) Americans engaged the Japanese battle fleet so aggressively that the Japanese commander, Admiral Kurita, ended up retreating because, in his mind, the tiny American forces couldn’t possibly be attacking him so energetically unless they were expecting massive US Navy reinforcements to arrive at any moment. In fact, Admiral Sprague, the US commander on the spot, knew perfectly well that Halsey was nowhere near him; he dealt with a hopeless situation by going on the offensive because that was he was a leader in the tradition of WWI’s Ferdinand Foch (who at the Battle of the Marne reputedly signaled to his superiors: “My left flank is driven in; my centre is giving way; the situation is excellent: I attack!”)
I don’t know to what extent Germany and Italy provided such assistance to each other, but a good study of the German-Japanese angle is “Reluctant Allies: German-Japanese Naval Relations in World War II,” by Hans-Joachim Krug, Yoichi Hirama, Axel Niestle, and Berthold J. Sander-Nagashima (published 2001). As I recall, there wasn’t much such assistance between Germany and Japan; this was partly due to the fact that they were on opposite sides of the world from each other, with enemy-controlled land and sea between them, and partly due to the fact that Germany and Japan were essentially fighting separate (though connected) conflicts, and ideologically were more like cousins than brothers. Japan did, as I recall, transport some strategic goods to and from Germany via long-range submarines a couple of times, but that was about it.
Many of your units are quite similar to each other mechanically, especially on land. E.g., a tank destroyer is C5 A4 D4 M2, whereas a light tank is C5 A5 D4 M2 – do you really need two different units whose statistics are within one point of each other? Another example is Mech. Inf. (C4 A2 D4 M2) vs. Armored Cars (C4 A3 D3 M2). With d12 dice, these small differences will only matter once every 12 rolls. Consider whether your players will want to buy extra minis, carefully squint at the setup, etc., so that they can enjoy the result of these small differences.
I though of this long and hard. I love to have a choice of many different types of units for every situation. I own most of the HBG sculpts so I figured why not.
Just a comment on a possible middle ground between two valid points: your valid point that having special extra units is fun and interesting, and Argothair’s point that having too many special units – some of them having only minor differences between them – complicates things excessively. A possible way to split the difference is to have a rule saying that, out of the full range of available special extra units, each power is only allowed to buy X types per game (say, for example, 2 types). This helps to keep things manageable, because each player only needs to remember the specifications for a very limited number of extra types, not for dozens of them. It doesn’t restrict game-to-game variety because, from game to game, the various players won’t necessarily buy the same special units.
An additional concept to consider would be to have certain types of special units only be available to certain powers, rather than to everyone. This could result in interesting situations in which the opposing forces can never be precisely matched in composition…and it would also have a historical basis, because in WWII not all powers fielded every type of weapon.
I should start posting some of the work completed to date because that’s exactly what I’ve done. Every Nation has 2 specific units with the exception of Italy which they have one (ideas for a second unit are welcome) and depending on the unit you can only build 1 or 2 per turn. So anything you suggesting CWO Marc has been implemented.
I so far think that tanks costing 5 IPCs is very solid.
This actually makes the tank a worthwhile investment. For instance:
for 15 IPCs you can buy 5 infantry or 3 tanks. Based on average dice rolls:
5 infantry would hit 0.85 times on offense, 1.65 times on defense
3 tanks would hit 1.5 times on offense, 1.5 times on defense.
The defensive values are similar, meaning that infantry on defense is still a better investment since there are more of them, they can absorb more hits from attacking tanks! Personally all this does is take tanks and makes them a considered buy instead of the ol’ infantry only buy since tanks in older versions of the game were so neutered on defense. They are now equal value to infantry because what you are paying extra for is the increased mobility. Even looking at the numbers for if 5 infantry attack the three tanks, it is very close, with a slight advantage given to the defending tanks.
So we are still seeing that if money invested is equal, defense has an advantage as far as infantry and tanks are concerned.
Also if we increase the money to 35 IPCs and our purchases now include artillery:
5 Artillery (combined offensive of 3.3 hits and 3.3 hits on defense)
7 tanks 3.5 hits on offense, 3.5 on defense
If the tanks attack the infantry and artillery on average the 10 unit stack will win, with 3-4 pieces remaining.
If the infantry and artillery attack, on average they can still win with 3-4 units remaining. So artillery tip the balance of power over to infantry again with their ability to raise the infantry’s attack.
Tanks literally are costing more solely for movement capability, a tank only purchase strategy only works if you have the economy to spend more money than the other guy. If the money spent is equal, tanks still lose.
Based on the German Minor Set 1 tank destroyers stats are A-D-M-C 5-5-2-5 with target selection: 1-2 (armor class units). Does this seem a bit OP given medium tanks are A-D-M-C 6-5-2-6 w/ blitz ability.
Btw how many of you use the tank destroyer unit for all nations in your games?
This target selection is based on an over-amplified bias toward tactical combat scale.
At strategic level, a given division has to fight other units which are in a given TTy and cannot pick according to its taste.
And compared to a Tank, a 5 IPCs targeting unit with one small offense pip (on a 12-sides dice) less is clearly better.
Fortunately, blitz is for Tank.
You may think about lowering some combat values but add a combined factor with Tank, Mech Inf or even Self-Propelled Artillery.
Addressing the issue of unit size, individual pieces in Axis & Allies typically depict the Corps or Army level, as I understand it. However, there are a few deviations to depict smaller, independent commands, such as the two British infantry in Hong Kong and the French and British infantry scattered in West Africa south of the Sahara.
I understand the desire to be able to build every type of unit, but I think that scarcity places correct emphasis on those troops’ elite status. The mobilization rule would be a quirk: the Legion has periodically fought on the mainland (as during WWI, for example). Its frequent foreign deployments are rather a reflection of the fact that the Legion’s peculiar non-national composition gives French politicians greater latitude to pursue foreign policy that has some blood cost.
I think that Frogmen should get to roll a d6 against every capital ship, hitting on a 2 or less. They should have no independent combat value because they operated as small units, not at the division level.
When it comes to Marine infantry, the question is whether you view naval units of any type as indicative of fleets (e.g., a Destroyer could stand in for a single capital ship), or whether you want them to represent actual unit types, in which case I don’t think a Cruiser or Battleship should be allowed to carry Marines. Historically speaking, Cruiser divisions sometimes fielded Marine and naval landing parties, but these comprised perhaps slightly over 100 men when multiple ships combined their detachments.
Think about whether you want to confer advantage to certain units only for certain rounds of combat. The difficulty of remembering when and how to roll for them can be partially mitigated by player aids.
One additional unit type for which HBG makes a piece is the Armored Car. This is especially good if you want to game out the inter-war period. I have developed rules allowing attackers to re-roll a die when an Armored Car is present in the attacking force. This is a play on their role as reconnaissance elements. Think about Cavalry, also. Perhaps Cavalry strike harder versus infantry when they outnumber defenders.
I’ve used cards to trigger the appearance of special units denoted by markers. They can also be used to grant nation-specific bonuses for a single round of play, etc. This works better on much larger maps with a game that is expected to go on a while, especially because the cards can be used as interrupts, which prevents players getting bored between turns.
Don’t beat yourself up to much, just because they said they sold it doesn’t make it true, they may have realized it’s true value and pulled the ad last minute. I sold mine on ebay 3 years ago for $500.
That is interesting. For AA50 I though the 6 IPC tank would benefit Russia as personally I only build one and very rarely two tanks with Russia per turn where with Germany I would build three to four tanks per turn. I was hoping the 1IPC increase would balance the game a bit more as I think now it favors the Axis.
For AA42.2 and AA50 I think the introduction of the Mech. Infantry would tilt the advantage towards the Axis. We haven’t tried it yet but when we do time will tell.
For Tactical Bombers I don’t think there is an advantage or disadvantage for both sides.
For AA50 what would you change the Mechanized Infantry technology if MIs are included in the game? Or should it stay the same?