How to think about Maps, (and IPC distribution)

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

Post by Black_Elk » Tue Sep 03, 2013 2:29 pm

A point that I made in the other thread and will quickly make here is that the IPCs you are trying to use to drive gameplay in certain areas will not work. Those IPCs will just be used to build units in the main areas of fighting.

Your increased IPCs in those areas would only work if the players were forced to spend those IPCs in said area. But even then, that limitation would only go so far, because you would probably see players just building units (specifically air units) that could be easily shifted to other theaters.
I responded directly to your points in the Pacific islands thread, but will say it here as well...

I think it will work. Or rather, it will work, if we build it the right way.

To truly function you probably have to combine the increased money/production with a VC system, using starting factories (as well as the production boost) to anchor the action in and around the territories you wish to promote.

Just altering the VC scheme is not enough in my view, and just altering the money is not enough in yours. So the clear compromise would be to use both mechanisms together to encourage the kind of game play we'd like to see. Note that I did include in my draft map above, a way to use starting factories, in addition to extra cash value, to anchor players and work to prevent one directional games. If you introduce into that the VC system, it could do nothing but help the situation. So long as the rules are clear, and universal, and everything is immediately intuitive even on a basic visual level. I think it would totally work, and accomplish all the things we desire

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

Post by Black_Elk » Tue Sep 03, 2013 6:39 pm

ps. Factories: further, I think more important than understanding what they are meant to represent, is understanding how they actually work in the game. We all know this stuff already, because we've played with them for years and years, but just so we are on the same page with this unit...

Starting factories are points of deployment. They are inherently the most important unit on the board, because you need them in order to place any units at all in this game. Functionally the starting factories are anchors, they position players at the start and determine what sort of play patterns they adopt. Starting factories have a big influence on what strategies get employed, how players seek to defend or claim factories for the benefit of deploying units, or denying that benefit to the enemy.

A new factory generally serves as a base, or a foothold, or way to give units more flexibility in terms of the regions they can cover, or where they can be supported by reinforcements. A new factory shouldn't be cheap, because of the strong advantage afforded by being able to get units there on the next turn... But lets be realistic, we also know that any new factory purchased becomes an immediate target as well. Not only the territory itself, which then gets a big red target sign painted on it, but other places you hold too, where an opponent may drive against you on a different front, to mitigate your factory and punish you for buying it instead of ground forces. Bombers are also now very cheap. I would say they have fallen out of alignment with production somewhat.

A few additional starting factories (specifically in regions on the map where we want to see more action) is a way to balance against this. A few more viable locations to build new factories is a way to balance against the protracted influence of cheap bombers and sbr, and also the expense of transports/cover fleets later in the game.

In order to support a new starting factory in A&A, you have to increase by a modest amount the total money in play. In other words, the players need a few more ipcs per round to effectively use a new starting factory... to incorporate it into the game without it breaking another part of the map. This is why 1942 second ed. feels tight for Allies, because they gained 2 factories (2 anchors they have to hold, and 2 targets for the Axis) but they did not really gain enough additional income to defend/utilize them. I would say the minimum cost in defense of a starting factory is at least a few ipcs per round committed, less than that and they become anchor targets, but largely indefensible ones.

Players are always reluctant to abandon a factory to the enemy, so it makes the "pull away and redirect entirely to one front!" harder to justify. At the least they will try to defend or trade for as long as possible. That is why I think we could accomplish a lot using the factory unit in conjunction with VCs and a bit more money.

I would propose that you simplify the overall starting conditions somewhat.
3 factories per nation, placed in the areas where you want to draw unit conflict (contested areas basically.) Functionally these should be the victory cities as well. Then you also provide a slight ipc boost to territories around these general zones of conflict, to make the factories potentially viable. I think that would be an easy way to do it
Last edited by Black_Elk on Wed Sep 04, 2013 7:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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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 » Wed Sep 04, 2013 9:38 am

I will at least agree that the IC isn't just a factory. In the context of A&A (especially the ever increasing game sizes), it can also be viewed as a supply hub.

Since the game doesn't have any form of strategic movement the ICs can be viewed from a certain point of view as being a place where new units are sent to be thrown into the fray. That though does have a certain limitation in that existing units don't get to move like that.

There is nothing wrong with trying to use multiple tools (ICs, IPCs, etc.) to get the desired effect, but the strongest will be the actual VCs since those are what win you the game.

Here is the system used in the game that we are currently playing (WW2: The Struggle for Europe and Asia).:

France P.P. V.P.
Paris 2 3
Strasbourg 2 -
Calais 2 -
Brest 2 -
Bordeaux 2 -
Marseilles 2 -
Corsica 1 -
Morocco 1 -
Oran 1 -
Algiers 1 -
Tunisia 1 -
Madagascar 1 -
Syria 1 -
Saigon 1 -

U. K. P.P. V.P.
London 6 3
Plymouth 3 -
Manchester 3 -
Glasgow 2 -
Montreal 4 1
Vancouver 1 -
Gibraltar - 1
Cairo 1 2
Sidi Barrani 1 -
Khartoum 1 -
South Africa 2 -
Jerusalem 1 -
Mosul 2 1
Bushire 2 1
Bombay 1 -
Ceylon - 1
Calcutta 2 2
Rangoon 1 1
Singapore 1 1
Hong Kong 1 -
Port Moresby - 1
Brisbane 1 -
Sydney* 2 2
Rabaul - 1
Guadalcanal - 1
New Zealand 1 -
Gilbert Is. - 1

United States P.P. V.P.
Washington 25 3
Southeast 12 -
Midwest 25 -
Texas 12 -
San Francisco 16 2
Seattle 4 1
Anchorage 2 -
Dutch Harbor - 1
Pearl Harbor 2 2
Midway - 1
Manila 2 2

China P.P. V.P.
Shensi 1 -
Chungking 1 1
Hunan 1 -
Kunming 1 -
Kwangtung 1 -

Soviet Union P.P. V.P.
Kiev 3 1
Minsk 1 -
Novgorod 1 -
Leningrad 3 2
Kalinin 1 -
Smolensk 1 -
Dnepropetrovsk 2 -
Sevastopol 1 -
Kharkov 3 1
Tula 2 -
Moscow 4 3
Gorky 2 -
Voronezh 1 -
Rostov 2 -
Novorossisk 1 -
Tiblsi 1 -
Baku 3 2
Grozny 2 -
Stalingrad 2 2
Astrakhan 1 -
Saratov 1 -
Kuybishev 1 -
Kazan 1 -
Urals 6 -
Sverdlovsk 3 -
Orsk 1 -
Omsk 1 -
Kazakhstan 3 -
Novosibirsk 3 -
Irkutsk 1 -
Eastern Siberia 1 -
Vladivostok 1 1

Japan P.P. V.P.
Hokkaido 1 -
Honshu 5 3
Kyushu 2 -
Korea 1 -
Kirin 1 -
Liaoning 1 -
Heilungkiang 1 -
Hopeh 1 1
Nanking 1 -
Shanghai 1 1
Formosa 1 -
Okinawa - 1
Iwo Jima - 1
Marianas Is. - 1
Caroline Is. - 1
Marshal Is. - 1

Italy P.P. V.P.
Milan 3 -
Trieste 2 -
Rome 2 3
Taranto 1 -
Sicily 1 -
Sardinia 1 -
Tripoli 1 1
Benghazi 1 -
Tobruk 1 1
Bardia 1 -
Ethiopia 1 -

Germany P.P. V.P.
Hamburg 10 -
Stuttgart 6 -
Berlin 6 3
Dresden 4 -
Munich 6 1
Vienna 2 -
Konigsburg 1 -
Prague 3 -

Poland P.P. V.P.
Warsaw 1 1
Danzig/Poznan 1 -
Krakow/Galicia 1 -
Lwow 1 -

Finland P.P. V.P.
Helsinki 1 -
Vyborg 1 -

Norway P.P. V.P.
Oslo 1 1
Narvik 1 -

Sweden P.P. V.P.
Stockholm 1 1
South Sweden 1 -
North Sweden 2 -

Yugoslavia P.P. V.P.
Croatia 1 -
Belgrade 1 -

Turkey P.P. V.P.
Istanbul 1 1
Izmir 1 -
Ankara* 1 -
Iskenderum 1 -

Spain P.P. V.P.
Madrid* 1 1
Valencia 1 -
Granada 1 -
Galacia 1 -

Dutch E. Indies P.P V.P.
Sumatra 2 -
Java 2 -
Borneo 2 -
Celebes 1 -
Dutch N’ Guinea 1 -

Single territory countries /
Single P.P. zone countries
P.P. V.P.
Lithuania 1 -
Estonia 1 -
Hungary* 2 1
Romania* 3 1
Bulgaria 1 -
Greece 2 1
Denmark 1 -
Netherlands 2 -
Belgium 2 -
Ireland 1 -
Portugal 1 -
Mongolia 1 -
Siam 1 -

As you can see, there are territories that have no PP value but do have a VP value. Also, there are variable amounts of VPs for different territories.

And to go with that there is an interesting dynamic in the actual number of VPs needed for a win based on the turn in which the game is currently being played. After a certain turn, the number of VPs needed by the Axis to win starts to decrease. But so does the number for an Allied Victory. The numbers eventually narrow down to the same number at the end.

The actual chart better illustrates this:

Victory and Defeat
Number of Axis Victory Points owned at the end of the Allied turn.
Turn Axis Win Allied Win
Spring 42- Summer 43 42 or more Less than 28
Fall 43 (Turn 17) 40 or more Less than 26
Winter 43 (Turn 18) 38 or more Less than 24
Spring 44 (Turn 19) 36 or more Less than 22
Summer 44 (Turn 20) 32 or more Less than 20
Fall 44 (Turn 21) 28 or more Less than 18
Winter 44 (Turn 22) 24 or more Less than 16
Spring 45 (Turn 23) 20 or more Less than 14
Summer 45 (Turn 24) 15 or more Less than 12
Fall 45 (Turn 25) 10 or more Less than 10

You are going to have to put these charts into a word processor to space them out properly for reading purposes, but you will see a system that really attempts to come up with a way to deal with the issues that you are talking about and to handle the historic nature of the conflict.

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

Post by Black_Elk » Wed Sep 04, 2013 7:54 pm

About Victory Cities, and how they should relate to IPC distribution:
I like the idea of a more developed Victory scheme, such as Victory Territories, or Victory points. For simplicity I will continue referring back to VCs, since Victory Cities are the current scheme in use in the official games, but I can definitely see room for improvement.

The major issue I see with VCs as they are right now is that they are frequently ignored by many players, in favor of the capture the capital victory:

Absent a more reliable system to track the VCs owned, (the number of VCs controlled at any given point), this is the sort of thing that ends up just disappearing into the ether.

What I mean is, because VCs have no direct effect on the game (other than determining the winner) they are an aspect of the game which can easily get lost while you're focusing on everything else. This is especially the case in a more casual game, or games with players who aren't used to writing everything down with pen and paper.I think this is the main thing working against VCs, and what's been holding them back since they were introduced.

If every VC had a starting factory then they would be impossible to ignore. A factory would bring them into play more directly and more recognizably than anything else we might do to encourage the adoption of the system. I don't want to drift too far away from the topic at hand, which primarily concerns production distribution on the map, but there are other things you might try as well. Like removing the capture the capital steal the cash rules (which would change the conditions of victory immediately.) That is very extreme though, and removes some of the charm of A&A, with the good old deathblow knockout punch. A more appealing approach would be to provide an economic bonus for controlling VCs.

Now I have argued, and still do, that a VC should already be weighted somewhat more heavily in it's base IPC value. I think all VCs should be worth at least 2, but probably closer to 3 ipcs, and they should have a starting factory to anchor them.

What would really help to promote the VC style victory conditions scheme, is an additional bonus to income (an IPC bonus) based on the number of VCs controlled.

By attaching extra potential money to them, you immediately give everyone a reason to track these numbers more carefully... to pay attention to them, and to grant the importance of VCs (not just because the rules tell you they should be important, but because now they actually are important - They give you a bonus!)

It is possible to draw down the conflict and anchor it in a region just by using this kind of bonus alone, but I think it would be extremely helpful to consider the starting factory and additional ipcs on the board to reinforce the importance of a given VC. Even if the starting production in this territory is relatively low, the fact that you have a Factory/Base there makes it way more pronounced visually.

They would become impossible to ignore.

Also, just to be clear, I am not talking here about a bonus like you had with National Objectives (which can be wordy, and rather difficult to track.) I mean something explicit and stated directly:

Control of a VC gives an automatic bonus of X.
Controlling X number of VCs gives a bonus of Y.

Something like that. Simple, direct, crystal clear in the wording, and with such an obvious effect on the broader gameplay, that these VC territories simply cannot be written off anymore.

There is a reason why some people still don't pay attention to the Official Rules regarding Victory Cities: It's because they typically play to concession. The old rules in Classic had no VCs, in Revised VCs were ignored because there were not enough in play (and of the ones that were, too many of Allies' were uncontested.) The "capture-the-cash" dynamic of the Capital, means that most players relied (and often still do) on the familiar dynamic from the old games, because it was truly decisive. A crushing blow to the enemy. Now, some may even fight on after the fall of a capital, if it seems they might potentially recover somehow, but for the most part, Victory in these games was and always has been, by concession.

I think players will use VCs to make the determination whether on not to concede defeat, only when those VCs are fully integrated into the game's money/economy/unit purchase+production mechanics.

I think this could be like a triple win for A&A, a coup de grace, if we build the next game using such principles, that relate the VCs to the IPCs, and support them using what we know about how players utilizes Factories and production across the map.


ps. I am persuaded. You have all convinced me that any discussion of the Map in general, and the distribution of production across it, must of necessity include a discussion about Victory Conditions.

V for Victory!

Here is what I would propose, or something like this anyway, speaking again in abstract principles for the general A&A game. What you do first, and then design the unit set up around these principles...

A base value for all territories on the map of 1 ipc or greater.

VCs should be at least 2 ipcs or greater (at least one with a starting factory)

Separate the Capital from the other VCs so that each side has 3 VCs and a capital.
That makes 20 total for the base game, easy math.

+1 IPC bonus for each VC a nation controls from the beginning of their turn.
+5 ipcs bonus to your nation if your side currently controls X number of VCs

This is much simpler than any scheme which says things like "Axis win at 8 VCs Allies at 9 etc." The benefit of separating the capital out from the other VCs is that it gives you more flexibility. Moscow, Berlin, London, Tokyo, and Washington are already hugely important to determining victory, because of the capital cash. This way you can reserve the rest of the VCs for places that are contested on the map.

Then you just balance the rest of the map around these basic opening conditions, when you are designing the set up. Wouldn't that make sense?

Then people would surely be paying attention to the VCs

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

Post by Flashman » Thu Sep 05, 2013 6:00 pm

I agree with VC and factories being the same.

I have long argued for the end of the "Capture The Capital" rules; and am doing so once more with regard to the new Conquest of the Empire; there was only one capital - Rome! Well, until the Empire was divided West/East.

It's fairly clear that games will all revolve around CTC as long as the rule is there, to the exclusion of all else.

So I favour: VCs = factory locations; a player surrenders only when ALL of his VC/Fs are lost. As long as he controls one VC/F he can continue to build and collect cash; there is no "capital" as such, or if you prefer your capital is the last home VC/F you control.

I also strongly favour that you can never use a captured factory or build new ones (completely unhistorical), and welcome the exclusion of these mechanics in 1914 (though placing units only in the capital was a serious flaw in the game given the initial movement rules).

I do not buy this thing about factories being "hubs"; a factory is a factory - a place of manufacture, not a distribution centre.

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

Post by Black_Elk » Fri Sep 06, 2013 4:12 am

It is hard to deny the internal logic of your arguments Flashman. Part of the issue in Classic and Revised is the ability (specifically of Japan) to purchase new factories. In Revised this issue is somewhat more pronounced owing to the production cap put on starting factories (not present in classic.) If you want the factory to represent (in the strictest sense) an 'Industrial Complex' then they should probably be removed altogether as a purchasing option, unit destroyed when captured. There is something to be said of course about the role of a factory in recruiting infantry, I guess under your logic, calling up troops or training them, would have to be considered manufacturing as well. The army has to be trained before it can be sent into the fray I suppose.

The only thing that prevents me from endorsing that role for the factory wholeheartedly, is that I'm uncertain it will lead to satisfying gameplay under the current A&A mechanics. It would also break with the tradition pretty substantially, as units are not typically removed from the base games once introduced (and this unit was there at the start after all.) It's also not quite the same as removing a normal unit, because as outlined in posts above, the factory is unique and preeminent since they allow all other units to be placed. Up until now I have been arguing with the understanding that factories would remain essentially unchanged in their role/abilities, but I can see where you are driving.

In my experience with A&A, factories are highly entertaining units, the most entertaining for me I would say. The problem I find is the lack of money, and viable locations. But in games where new production becomes a factor, I just tend to enjoy myself more while playing. This is why I have tried to come up with rules to expand the economy, house rules for the old games, or general design principles to follow in the new ones. I like factories, I think they are underused and prohibitively expensive, but I like them nontheless.

That said, I completely understand where you are coming from and why. But it is a major break, we would have to argue even more forcefully than I've been doing here, to persuade everyone to ditch the old scheme in favor of one with no new factories.

I am in definite agreement that the Capture the Capital dynamic is so influential to all these games that it's almost impossible to organize any other Victory scheme that will actually be adopted, while that rule remains in place. I'm not sure if it can be gotten rid of though, without a major redesign. A VC factory, with some sort of bonus might offset the CTC somewhat, but you can't really negate the CTC influence, no matter how many VCs you introduce. At the very least, a VC factory would be way more significant than a VC without one. But to truly be consistent with the idea of factories being factories, and not some broader abstraction, then you'd have to restrict them to even less VCs than we currently see on the map. I mean I could see how it would work, it's just like the complete opposite of the idea I have promoting hehe.

On the one hand, I basically totally agree with you, but on the other, the requirements in the redesign (everything from the map, on up to the unit roster, to the starting unit set up) would be so extensive, that I just despair at ever seeing it happen. So instead I have tried to work at least somewhat within the current framework in proposing these ideas.

I guess what I mean to say is, if Factories are not altered, and they continue to be used in the way they are now, then I think you really do have to think about them as hubs, and place them on the board with that sort of playstyle in mind.

Just for the record, so you know where I stand:
In general I favor unit replacement through purchasing with limited starting units, over heavy starting units with limited unit replacement. I mean as a design philosophy, that is my natural tendency. I feel this way because I believe it offers players more in the way of strategy, and the game is less likely to be broken by poor round 1 unit set ups/battles. I think it also streamlines the game, because the first round takes less time to play out, and it is easier to track new units purchased than to track a highly complex starting set up. More than this, I think giving players more flexibility with higher income and unit replacement, just leads to a more satisfying endgame on every level.

But I know there are others who have the complete opposite view. A view that has prevailed over mine recently, which totally favors high value starting units with low replacement, I see the latest boards all going that direction. I just think it gets further and further away from what I like about the game. What I like, is the idea that you can change history through strategy and purchasing, and not simply through managing the first round (with all it's attendant dicing hehe.) For a player like me, and I do believe I'm not alone, any A&A game is vastly improved by even just a moderate boost to the money in play. I use house rules sometimes to accomplish these effects, and the gameplay in my group feels much more interesting and enjoyable as a result.

The units in A&A are fun, and it's fun to have units you can actually afford. Not just watch them all get blown to hell in the first round. If I had my way we'd use the same amount of plastic, make twice as many units at half the scale. One of the main problems people seem to have in my games is being unable to distinguish between ships. Some units are just way larger than they need to be. I favor a relative scale for units, so you can tell all ship types from each other at a glance. I think the next A&A game should go a new direction with the same unit roster, but more units overall, at a smaller scale.

With a higher economy and higher unit replacement value through production, a world map at a moderate scale, and all the other stuff we've been talking about. I think that game would be fun to play.
Last edited by Black_Elk on Sat Sep 07, 2013 3:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by Flashman » Fri Sep 06, 2013 4:36 pm

I forgot to mention that I would make infantry the exception, and would allow a number to be placed in any reasonable "home" region with an IPC value, up to the value of the tt itself.

As I've mentioned, in 1914 Turkey had no modern industry, but it of course was able to produce a lot of infantry.

By reasonable you have to be careful: should Japan be allowed to recruit swarms of infantry in Chinese tt occupied before 1941? You have to take into account the likely disposition of the local population.

On the other hand the Germans recruited about a million anti-Communist Russians during their occupation of the western USSR.

What Germany definitely didn't do was build panther tanks in captured Russian factories; any more than the USA built shermans in Norway. Even after liberating France, it was far more economical to build heavy equipment in America and ship it over the Atlantic than re-establish armaments factories in France.

Anyway 1914 was a step in the right direction, so hopefully a more realistic future for factories in A&A is in store.

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

Post by Black_Elk » Sun Sep 08, 2013 3:23 am

I think if you want to separate off infantry production from the rest of unit production, you have to find a way to do simply and consistently. I think anything that create separate rules for separate territories on the gameboard introduces unnecessary confusion into the play, and makes the game harder to teach. The only way I have been able to get this to work in games is to keep it very simple, inf can be placed in any territory controlled from the beginning of the turn, either 1 inf per territory, or inf up to the IPC value of the territory. All other units are produced at factories.

The difficulty in these games, when I have tried to use such a rule, is that the value of infantry relative to every other unit is so high already, that there is almost no need to produce other units, since you can just push inf stacks to the front so easily. The impact is not as dramatic as one might think, but there is a definite distortion to the way units move across the board. There is also no real cost associated with production at the front, in the way that buying a new factory incurs a cost in the current game. The SBR is basically nixed as ineffective too, since you can still spawn inf. So again, I think if you wanted to change that, it's a pretty dramatic adjustment to the core game.

As of now, I still prefer the current factory mechanics, because I don't really want to remake the whole game. I like the game, I just think it could run smoother, if the production values on the map were altered.

Even when you can place tanks or fighters at captured factories, or drop a carrier deck in the waters off the coast of a newly purchased factory, of course that didn't really happen, but that is what happens in A&A. I accept all this as an abstraction, I have long suspended my disbelief when it comes to factories/production. I just don't think it is currently modeled with anything directly relating to the 'real world' or the true 'historical reality' so for me it's not much of a break. It's just a game mechanic, and the way it works, and the way I think about it, factories are like "bases" or "hubs". Because that's how I see them working in the game.

I think they function better when there is more money in play, and higher production spread across contested areas of the map (not concentrated in protected totally defensible areas.) I'm not arguing for a huge influx here. I think the range to shoot for is around 10-15 ipcs total per nation, in a game like revised or 1942 (assuming that the unit costs remain similar to the 1942 rules). The Nation that needs it the most is Russia, which is always nerfed out of buying the more entertaining units, but beyond them everyone benefits from a boost. The game play is more well rounded, the pressure to max out cheap fodder over more expensive units doesn't feel quite so pressured, and most importantly of all, the significance of a potentially busted starting set up is lessened somewhat with more money/production in play, since unit replacement is not as prohibitively expensive when you have a few more ipcs floating around.

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