How to think about Maps, (and IPC distribution)

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Craig A Yope
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Re: How to think about Maps, (and IPC distribution)

Post by Craig A Yope » Mon Sep 09, 2013 9:16 am

While the thoughts you have on the subject are nice, I just don't see them driving the game play in the way that you would like them to. Especially the placing of the ICs in all of the VCs.

The only way that you are going to get people to place units in some of the out of the way locations is if you have a rule forcing them to place them there.

I was like you long ago when I was first into the game, looking for ways to get more cash so that I could buy some of the "luxury" units for my countries. But then I slowly go the hint that while those things were pretty, they didn't win the game.

There are always going to be those who look to make the optimal buy to try to crush you based on the economics of the game. Your increase of IPCs coupled with ICs in less than optimal places won't fix the issue. It will lead to the money being used elsewhere and the ICs being underutilized.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate what you are trying to do here. I am engaging in the conversation because I agree that there should be a better way. I want there to be multiple paths to winning. Global has no real appeal to me at this time since it has ended up being a very scripted playout. I wish that weren't the case, but it is.

I also agree that the capture the capital rule should be gone, but that is just one rule that is a part of the bigger problem. And any rule that gives a bonus amount of IPCs for the holding of VCs will only exacerbate the money issue. The more you take the more the game will swing to your side, accelerating the momentum towards a win. Once you get past a certain tipping point, the game will just be a foregone conclusion.

Really the problem is that the basic underlying framework is only so flexible. What you are looking for out of the game may well be outside of the existing framework. It may be that you will have to step outside of the A&A world to get what you are looking for.

But keep up the good work. It is a stimulating discussion.

Black_Elk
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Re: How to think about Maps, (and IPC distribution)

Post by Black_Elk » Mon Sep 09, 2013 11:26 am

Just perhaps, you might be underestimating the utility of a starting factory, and the draw it would have as a VC high value target. I disagree with the assessment that the game is too inflexible to make this work. I mean, if I thought it wouldn't work, I wouldn't keep trying here hehe. This isn't introducing all that much complexity to the set up really. Introducing more money into the equation goes beyond just allowing for more esoteric luxury builds. What it does practically, is to reduce the impact of the round 1 battles, and shifts that impact over to the unit purchasing side of the equation. How the money is directed is up to the player, the same ways it's always been. The only difference is, if they choose to completely ignore one area of the board in favor of another, then they risk losing that income (those undefended factories and VCs etc.) ceding the initiative to the enemy, if they don't protect them. A magnified build has less impact, because the opponent has more money (read purchasing flexibility) to counter. Whether it ends up being a massive tank slog at the center, or bouncing around the periphery, you are able to adapt to what your enemy is doing, so I don't see how it hurts, and I can see how it might help. At least to encourage more conflict in the areas you set up as contested.

Lets take a specific example, to see how the logic shakes out. So for example if you as the USA, decide not to contest the Japanese islands and send everything Atlantic (sounds familiar I'm sure) then not only do you leave your Hawaii VC/Factory exposed, but you also give Japan more money to drive into asia, india, or Africa. In most current games, when you abandon the Pac for the Atlantic the consequences are limited, because there aren't many ipcs contested (eg. IPCs japan can take from you, the US player). And with only 1 VC in range, and no factory to be defended, it's basically a greenlight for a race to the center. The magnified drive Atlantic isn't counter balanced, because there is nothing Japan can really do to stop it, or make it unattractive, without screwing themselves against Moscow in the endgame. But if Japan could widdle away at your income, then maybe you'd be less inclined to break all one way.

Or lets consider the situation with Russia, or Germany. The main reason these nations tend to turtle up, is because of the disparity in income between the core and the periphery. Russia is frequently better off pulling back from the east, rather than fighting for it, because the territory is not worth the replacement cost of the inf required to defend it. So they turtle around Moscow, and allow the Japanese to have their way with the east. Or with Germany, the income is concentrated heavily at the core, and the Paris VC has no factory, so it is easy for them in the endgame to just trade the space. Constantly dunkirking a weak British invasion, and maintaining relative parity in income. Its easy for them abandon africa or the north and turtle up like this, because the relative income for France/Germany/Italy totally outstrips most of the surrounding area. Similarly the UK or the US, can pull back with limited consequences because they know that there are few VCs and few starting factories in range of the Axis, and so again they go magnified in one direction.

I don't expect that we will be able to completely remove this dynamic, absent more substantial changes to the game, I'm just saying it could be checked somewhat when the money is upped, and production is distributed a bit more evenly across the map.

Think about a Factory in Hawaii at 2, or at Iwo. You can't see how that would anchor the fight in and around the Pac? To me it seems obvious that it would give both the US and Japan a reason to fight it out for at least the opening rounds, rather than run for the center. Because the one who breaks for the center first loses the initiative in the theater they abandon, and misses out on a sizable chunk of change, and a factory well placed to give the enemy further options against them.

Now you respond, it's not enough, US will just give up the factory in Hawaii call it a loss of 2, defend W. USA and continue with the Atlantic plan. Perhaps so, but at least now there is a target they must leave open to do so. Instead of just the 1 ipc at hawaii (which isn't even worth it for the Japanese to transport out of position to take.) That to me seems silly, how the US can get a free hand to ignore the Pacific, and the effect is not that Japanese hit them, but Japan hits Russia instead. I mean, does that make much sense? Because when Moscow is the only game in town, then yeah, of course, you're not going to send your Japanese troops messing around with the Americans. But what if you could actually fight towards Hawaii, or W. US and resupply, or swing south to British Australia and disrupt that theater, with real consequences for the British? To me it just makes more sense, that if you want people to attack towards VCs, that you make those VCs a more rewarding target, and a greater cost to abandon. The starting factory would accomplish that, don't you think?

I don't think this is like me being a starry eyed neophyte here, with visions of battleships dancing in his head, who doesn't understand how magnified builds work, or how stacks get pushed in A&A hehe. I mean, I see the same things you see going on here, I just seem to think we can do more using the most basic of the existing game mechanics (IPCs on the map) than you seem to think we can. Maybe it's not perfect in every respect, but isn't it at least worth trying?
Last edited by Black_Elk on Mon Sep 09, 2013 12:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Black_Elk
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Re: How to think about Maps, (and IPC distribution)

Post by Black_Elk » Mon Sep 09, 2013 12:03 pm

ps. Ok let me just shift gears for half a minute. I don't want to argue in a circle, presenting this stuff as axiomatic. If you stick with with me I think I can explain why I think what think, regarding the starting factory.

Forget everything else that's been discussed in this thread and just think about the evolution from Classic to Revised to 1942.2.

The movement of the starting factory from Karelia in Classic, to Caucasus in Revised, pulled the action towards the south no? I mean, we all saw this happen right?

Or similarly with India, in Classic and Revised, it was totally viable for the British to abandon India, or trade it lightly and focus on persia/caucasus/africa. But in 1942.2 with a starting factory there, the British have a much stronger incentive to hold India for as long as possible. Again the starting factory pulls the action towards to the south, and anchors it there, at least in the opening rounds.

Now further, compare Revised to 1942.2 with regard to Karelia. After being reintroduced, the starting Russian factory in Karelia drew the Germans north once again, because the possible boon of taking the Leningrad factory is obvious for the German player. Rather than abandoning the North immediately, as untenable (the way it was in Revised) the Germans are now much more likely to drive towards it in the opening rounds. The Russians (although hard pressed) are for this reason willing to at least try to trade it, to keep the production out of German hands as long as possible.

This is what starting factories do, when they are located in contested areas of the map at the beginning of play... they become targets, and anchors for the action. So to me, given that I've seen this happen in several successive A&A games, its seems like a good working method, if you want to pull the action somewhere, then putting a starting factory there is a good way to accomplish that.

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Re: How to think about Maps, (and IPC distribution)

Post by Craig A Yope » Tue Sep 10, 2013 10:39 am

I don't think that a starting IC in Hawaii compares with a starting IC in India or Karelia. India and Karelia are targets that are on the basic paths to victory in all the versions that you reference, but Hawaii isn't.

Plus an IC that is limited to the IPC amount of the territory or the global limitation of a minor is a tough sell as being a serious staging point for the attacker as Hawaii is. And island ICs have the added limitation of needing transports to move unit off of the location.

Again, I applaud the effort, but I just don't see it working.

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Re: How to think about Maps, (and IPC distribution)

Post by Black_Elk » Tue Sep 10, 2013 10:16 pm

Hehe good, because I will in no way take your applause as a sign to give up the podium and get off the stage :)

OK lets just stick with Hawaii for a second, because you see no advantage to a starting Factory there, and I do. So let me explain how I would use it, if I was USA, or Japan.

Lets just assume a value of 2 ipcs, and totally low ball it, even though I still favor 3 ipcs.

Now, as you say, an island factory is already at a disadvantage, since any ground units built there must move off the island into the sz, or onto a transport. So you are not going to use it to build infantry or armor, at least not right away. And in any case W. US is close enough, and has the highest production value in the region, so if you are recruiting ground, that is the logical place to do it from. Instead you use the factory for units that will make a real difference in the naval conflict. So think carrier decks, or a battleships. The Hawaii factory is used not so much to build up your main invasion forces, but rather to build ships that can cover your main fleet as it moves out from W. US. That's the advantage right there in a nutshell, a place to build support ships for your navy as it moves out across the pacific.

Now you might try other strategies as well. Like buying a pair of bombers, or subs to cover surrounding sea zones, or destroyers for blocking, or perhaps even ground units or more tranports (later on, once your transports from W. US arrive in Honolulu, and can start shucking ground units from W.US).

The Hawaiin VC is one space from San Francisco to Honolulu, so if you understand how the shuck works, it is easy to see how just having a little extra cover and a small fleet of transports can really get something going.

The above describes the situation from the American point of view. Now lets consider it from Japan's. The smart Japanese player understands from experience, that every US ipc they can draw into the pacific, is one less ipc being spent in Europe, so it is to their advantage to maintain naval parity or do what they can to overtake the US. They are also buying ships with the long term goal of Africa in mind. The advantage to moving forward against the Hawaiin VC, is that, if they can take it, they can also build support ships there, or bombers. An attack there also shocks the Americans and can draw down a massive W. US ground purchase, to stall an Atlantic crossing.

Honolulu is also a VC, so possessing it, or denying it to the enemy, is inherently advantageous. It is also possible, in conjunction with other forces from the Japanese home island, to position armies against the Americans (if not to take W. US itself, then at least to target other territories in the area, like Mexico and Alaska, Midway, W. Canada, Panama, New Zealand etc.) In one round, Japan can do a lot to give America a headache, and Germany a round to breathe, by distracting them with a pacific advance. The Hawaiian VC is a carrot here. If the US does not spend to defend, then it is perfectly sound strategy to advance against it. The alternative is the race to the middle of the board, so even a light advance early on can be to your advantage. In a normal game, there just isn't much to be gained, but with a Hawaiian VC at the start, at least there is a boon to be had.

And consider now if Iwo Jima was a VC factory too, as I believe it should be. I favor Iwo over Okinawa because it's a little farther away from mainland Asia, and could ground the fight in the central Pacific. With Iwo as a starting VC, Japan has an island factory, which is almost the exact mirror-image of the US one at Hawaii.

You don't see how this could change the game in a positive way? It seems so clear to me.

A race to the center is something that happens when both players fail to commit to the Pacific, and in many games this is because the American player sees nothing to be gained there. But Japan often has more options later on, for a round 2 move out, or an endgame move out. If there is a viable target, like a Hawaiian factory to draw them forward, all the better. Likewise, an Iwo factory would be a territory the Americans could not ignore in a pacific game... since it's strategic location there, as a place that builds ships, and one that covers the other islands, and is a forward base against Hawaii, makes it an ideal territory for Japan to retain (or for the US to take.) All this in the same way that Honolulu works (in reverse) for the Americans.

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Re: How to think about Maps, (and IPC distribution)

Post by Craig A Yope » Wed Sep 11, 2013 10:03 am

I can see them as VCs but not ICs.

Unfortunately, taking those places can leave you hanging out if you haven't come full force since you can't fly in extra planes into the territories to help cover the invasion fleet. (The game I am playing now allows that since it has a mech phase in which air units can be activated at that time to support mech attacks or to just move. So you can come in and cover such a fleet with air.)

Though I do see, that since the game is designed a certain way, how having an IC in a place like Hawaii does give you a "distribution hub" for either side that can help you in a push towards the enemy. And yes I would be using such a place to drop in a CV with a plane (or planes depending on the production value), or subs to convoy raid, or bombers to hit stray transports, etc.

Now that doesn't mean that the IPCs have to increase for places like that. You could justify that an original IC can be on any territory of any value simply because the power that controlled it had all the pre war time they wanted to put in the proper infrastructure. The rule concerning placement of new ICs could still apply once the game started.

So Hawaii has the size and useable land to justify such an installation, but Iwo Jima wouldn't. Okinawa was large enough for something in that line though. But that wouldn't be in as much of a path as you are talking about.

In the end it is a game, but I would suggest trying to keep things within reason and within the greater framework of the existing system. Or if you do come up with an idea, that it doesn't shift the existing framework too far in one area that warps the whole system.

When my gaming group has worked on new game I have always harped on the need to keep that various parts of the design on par with each other. There have been plenty of time when the main design guy has presented us with a game and it has had different ideas that range from that simple to the complex- all in the same game!

When one segment is simple dice rolling to solve the combat while another part has a myriad of charts just to determine what units will even make it to the combat phase, then you are mixing and matching things on different levels. Try to make it consistent through out.

Now I realize that isn't truly what is going with your idea, but the general advice is good. The idea has to fit well enough within the overall framework and not skew the system too much. Then it has to undergo some serious playtesting to find all the bugs, loophole, and screwy strats that can break it.

So now instead of applauding I will just sit back and lob insults from the peanut gallery. :wink: :lol:

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Re: How to think about Maps, (and IPC distribution)

Post by Black_Elk » Thu Sep 12, 2013 1:51 am

It may be instructive at this point, since I tried to give examples of how I think the gameplay would work with the changes proposed, to pause here and take a look at how the gameplay works now.

The US player generally ignores the zero ipc islands, unless they are already on the route that the USA intends to move their navy along. So for the most part this means Solomons exclusively. If, as Japan, I see America start moving somewhere else, I breathe a sigh of relief, since I know they are putting themselves out of position against DEI, Borneo, Philippines and the mainland. Unless the US is just chasing down the Japanese fleet, or looking to park a naval stack off the coast of Japan to lock the Japanese fleet off of it, then there is no real reason to go for the zero IPC islands. The fact, which you noted, that air have to move an extra space to launch/land already makes these islands inherently less strategically useful, and they aren't worth anything in terms of the games ipc/purchasing system, so they are ignored.

Japan has no real incentive to hold them, or maintain garrisons there, (often they are trying to pull troops off the islands as fast as humanly possible). If taken by the USA, Japan has no incentive to try and recover them.

For the relatively simple increase, from 0 to 1, you can alter that dynamic somewhat, in important ways. 1/3 the replacement cost of an inf, will draw down attacks, whereas risking inf on a territory that does nothing for the replacement cost, often does not.

The idea, the main one in this thread, which I still stand by, is that the base value in this game should be at 1 ipc per territory on the board. I think everything about it would just work better. You pick any single territory at zero value, and I will argue why it would be better at 1 hehe. Take your pick, Gibralter, Carolines, even the African speedbumps, all those spots would still be better at 1 than 0.

The idea for a place like Hawaii at 2, is to acknowledge it's historical value over some other place.

I guess you could conceivably have a territory at 1 ipc with a starting factory. I would not have suggested this, but the latest 1941 does off that as a precedent. Hawaii at 1 with a starting factory could actually be interesting as well. But I still feel that until you make every territory at a base of 1 instead of 0, you will still run into problems with people ignoring them for the route that offers the IPC benefit (or the greater IPC benefit.)

When I look at all the latest boards, I see a bunch of different numbers all over the place that seem to be flexible with respect to their value. The value difference between Classic and Revised, or Revised and 42 were shifted around by 1 ipc in many different areas of the board.

What I think would be ideal is a board that builds off of 1941, which teaches the basics of combat and unit values, but moves the training into the next phase... emphasizing production and production placement. Now 1941 skews heavily in one direction, small economy tight money and very limited production, no new factories etc.

What's the difference between doing something as dramatic as that, and something like what I suggest? Because basically what I am suggesting is a kind of mirror complement to what is focused on 1941. In 41 it is all about low unit replacement, with a comparatively high starting unit set up. Why not try a board with a low unit starting set up, but higher replacement through production?

Board set up time would still be shorter than it was in revised (because most units in play would be the ones introduced after the first round) but in this game, instead of a total emphasis on tactics, you could instead teach the broader management of A&A economies. I just say, if you can move down to one complete extreme in 1941 (extremely low in production), why no openness to trying a much more modest move in the other direction?

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Re: How to think about Maps, (and IPC distribution)

Post by WILD BILL » Thu Sep 12, 2013 1:42 pm

This is a very interesting topic, and everyone here has had some great input. I personally think that some of the IPC values could be raised (especially in the Pacific), but not as much as Elk has promoted, or for the reason of building IC's.

I really don't like the idea of IC's being placed on islands like the old days to produce new units (seems like a step back). Never liked how Japan would build an IC in the DEI to drop 4 new units for a couple turns to invade India. I don't like the idea of carries being built in these remote areas either. With that said, I do buy into the idea of A&A using IC's as supply hubs as a game mechanic (have heard Larry promote that philosophy several times).

I think Flash also has a good point that an IC should be more of a factory/central hub in your home territories that produce your units or train your inf etc. I kinda like the idea that you only get the IC's that you start the game with and can't build more factory IC's in the game (only repair or expand them). Most powers should start with 2-3 IC's (some major, some minor) and have to rely on these industrial bases through out the game for unit builds. In order to build air/sea units the territory w/IC would also need to have an operational air/naval base respectfully. BTW I also think the capture the capital rules are obsolete, and should be reworked to where a power continues on until it has lost all of its production capability, or maybe some type of collapse system like they adopted for 1914 Tournament Rules .

I know others have done this, but what I would like to explore in A&A is a new facility called a Supply Hub (SH). These facilities would incorporate some of the things that are abstract like trains, air cargo naval movement etc.... In the NCM a supply hub could receive say up to 3 units from your industrial base (IC's) with-in a certain range (maybe 5-6 spaces). I would go with 3 units, because there are too many 0 IPC strategic territories to do it capped at territory value for sake of argument. The game would start with some SH (like Hawaii for instance), and you could build more throughout the game (probably cost 12-15 IPCs). These facilities could have a variety of functions, and could be bombed. Say in G40 you are Germany and have captured Western Ukraine. If you build a supply hub there you could move up to 3 units from your IC in Germany (Berlin) to that supply hub deep into Russian territory. It would take a little more planning, and you would have to have had units at the Germany IC to do so. Keep in mind the NCM is before unit placement, so new units aren't eligible (neither would units you moved that turn?). If you captured an enemy IC, it now serves as a supply hub for you. That way you aren't building your units there, but have the capability to receive your units there from your main base of production (in reality you would be using the enemies revamped infrastructure, but not their factories). Make it to where you can capture, and use your enemies hubs to spark some battles in the Pacific (Caroline islands starts with a Supply Hub?).

You would need to set some parameters. Like you would have to show a line of controlled (or contested) territories/sz's to do so. You could set the units allowed to move according to the production capability of the IC's they are coming from (3 units for minor IC, 10 units for major), keeping in mind that the hubs can only receive a max of 3 units (major IC could send units to multiple hubs though). I would probably place a limit to how many spaces units could move from an IC to a hub at 5 spaces just to keep some perspective and create a chain. Allow movement from Supply Hub to Hub, and maybe you can use friendly ICs and Hubs to use as a jump platform to your hubs, or theirs? Maybe Egypt starts with a Supply Hub, and you can send up to 3 UK ground units from S Africa to Egypt (only 4 spaces in G40).

Units moving from Germany (major IC) would be able to move up to 10 units say 5 spaces to be received at multiple hubs (3 units max per hub). If the IC in Germany has damage, this would restrict the units that it could move, and the spaces they can move as well. Something similar for air/naval units could be adopted as long as the hub also had an air/naval base to receive those types of units.


I also agree w/Yope that more VC, or new victory conditions could be added to the game(s). Didn't mean to side tract this topic, but it does kinda revolve around territorial production, and many philosophies of what it should incorporate.

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