Removing Factories: Replacing them with VCs

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Black_Elk
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Removing Factories: Replacing them with VCs

Post by Black_Elk » Tue Jul 08, 2014 2:01 am

This is my idea, get rid of the factory unit altogether.
Instead have Victory Cities serve as factories, which produce units up to the printed IPC value.

I see several advantages to doing this...

1. Saves space, no need for an actual unit.
2. Makes VCs significant in terms of the gameplay mechanics
3. Simplifies the gameplay overall (as purchasing new production is no longer an option, the focus shifts to a contest over existing production.)
4. Restricts the overall amount of production in game to a set value, in set territories, which thus anchors the fighting and makes these territories more strategically valuable and hotly contested. No more monster Japan just via new factory purchases in far flung places.
5. Allows a way to encourage a dual theater war, as more production would be introduced in the Pacific.
6. Is more historically accurate, and fits well with the concept of IPCs as currently conceived. The areas which are rich in resources still function in a similar way, but in order to transform these raw materials into weapons of war you need the factories and population centers represented by the VCs.
7. Simplifies Strat bombing, by increasing the potential targets and fixing them for the duration of play. When SBR occurs just place the chips over the VC marker on the mapboard, up to the amount bombed.
8. Give all players more naval options and target territories to fight over.
9. Could potentially allow for a way to get rid of the old "capture the capital" dynamic and replace it with a "capture Victory Cities" dynamic.
10. Affords a chance to create a new kind of set up, on the traditional OOB formula, without really altering anything else in the set up or the rules.

So far the most success I have had with the concept is on the AA50 board, which featured the most VCs of any moderately scaled, world-theater mapboard. Here the basic effect was to redirect Japans production focus to Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Manila. But the effects of having production on territories like France, Poland, Australia, India, Canada, and Hawaii has proved quite fun for me too.

Especially if a game was balanced specifically with this idea in mind from the outset, I think it could go a long way towards establishing VCs as a replacement for Factory units.

timerover51
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Re: Removing Factories: Replacing them with VCs

Post by timerover51 » Tue Jul 08, 2014 7:56 pm

Just wondering, how is establishing what is in effect, major industrial production centers in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Manila, to say nothing of the Hawaiian Islands more historically accurate?

Going through the official US Army history series for WW2, which for those interested, can be downloaded from the Center for Military History, I see nothing to support industrial production in either Manila or Hawaii. The US Strategic Bombing Surveys analysis of the Japanese economy does not support significant industrial production in either Shanghai or Hong Kong. Manchuria, yes, and some in the northern area of Korea, but not Shanghai or Hong Kong. I will have to look at one of my AA50 boards tomorrow during my class on World War 2 to see where the other cities are. Presumably, Washington D.C is one of them. Precisely what industrial production took place in Washington, D. C.?

Presently, I am locating Industrial Production Centers where they actually existed in World War 2. Note, the US does have a lot of production areas. I also allow the Russian to move their production centers, if needed, which they did do historically.

Black_Elk
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Re: Removing Factories: Replacing them with VCs

Post by Black_Elk » Tue Jul 08, 2014 8:17 pm

Ok let me clarify what I mean by "historical accuracy." A game which models real world production perfectly, but which fails to encourage fighting in those areas where the war actually occurred, is basically failing in what should be it's primary objective. Preferable to this is a game which departs slightly from the real world in terms of the vague idea that factories represent "real" industrial production, but which nevertheless produces broader patterns of gameplay which fit the real historical war. It hardly matters where VCs are located under the current system, since they have no influence on the gameplay mechanics and are therefore ignored by most players. Factories on the other hand are hugely significant to the gameplay mechanics, and are guiding the course of gameplay in directions which often produce wildly ahistorical patterns of play. The chief example in most games is the complete abandonment of a Pacific war in favor of Europe/Moscow. Production, ie the location of starting factories, and the ability to place new factories, is driving this. Meanwhile VCs, which are supposed to determine Victory, are essentially meaningless in terms of how people play.

Production is highly abstract in A&A, so just as an example the VC in Washington DC, or San Francisco would serve for the whole East and West coast US.

Your point about Manila, Hong Kong etc is sound, but also consider this. Looking at the game map in AA50 you will see that Hong Kong is worth only 1 ipc, as is Hawaii, so at most only a single unit could be produced there. Shanghai and Manila are each worth 2. This is significantly less total production than would be available if you allow factories to be purchased in any territory. Compare for example the potential 15 production Japan could build, in East Indies, Borneo, Manchuria, Indo China and Burma. We all know how factories work in A&A, if you allow them to be purchased, Japan benefits in ways that the other powers do not. Japan uses this production advantage to spam tanks to rush Moscow, the way they always do. I take the point, but here is why I think this system would more accurately reflect the history. First because it places Limits on total production. Japan cannot simply drop endless factories on the mainland to create a train of production . Equally important, by locating factories only on VCs you anchor the fighting, such that it occurs around territories that fit the pattern of historical conflict more closely. VC territories which are typically neglected are instead made critical to the gameplay, thus justifying the "Victory" eponym.

If a territory doesn't make sense, or if you really find the idea of Honolulu or Hong kong with 1 ipc of production problematic, then the solution is fairly simple, remove the VC from that territory and put it somewhere that makes sense.

The examples listed above were taken from AA50, which had a set number of VCs, but there is nothing to prevent the victory territories from being in Manchuria or Chosen, instead of Shanghai or Hong kong. To me the exact location is less significant than the idea of restricting the total production in play. I don't regard A&A as particularly accurate in modeling real world production, historical or otherwise. I would much prefer that we drop the term "industrial production" altogether and instead find a word that is more generic and more flexible.

So far the solution to these issues has been handled in the form of National Objectives. I think a system based on VCs would be vastly superior, if only for the relative simplicity it would produce. Unlike NOs, which have paragraphs of text that must be memorized and complex rules regarding territories that must then be tracked, VCs are comparatively simple. The information is included directly on the map, and everyone is aware of who owns what at a glance. Using the concept of Cities might seem redundant, where a Victory "Territory" would likely work just as well. But I favor Cities, since they provide another educational opportunity, whereby players can learn and become familiar with important historical placenames.
Last edited by Black_Elk on Wed Jul 09, 2014 9:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.

timerover51
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Re: Removing Factories: Replacing them with VCs

Post by timerover51 » Wed Jul 09, 2014 7:09 pm

Hmm, considering that I have been teaching a historical gaming class for the past 12 years, with one of the games used being Axis and Allies Classic, along with is some years, the first edition of A&A Pacific, I have some understanding of using A&A as an educational tool.

Sometimes we run straight Classic rules, and sometimes, like this past week, we played Classic with a bunch of my variant rules, including Random Event Cards, both sides able to retreat after one round of combat, Russians able to retreat their factories to the Urals, and Transports worth IPC to the US, the UK, and Japan. Japan can build a factory in Manchuria, and that is it, the UK can build additional factories in India, South Africa, and Australia (which really should be broken up into at least 5 territories), and the US can build a factory in Australia. That is it for additional factories. The ten students playing, in 5 two-person teams, enjoyed the game a lot, and the issue was still in doubt at the end of the week. Total playing time was about 8.5 hours or so.

I totally ignore the National Objectives in the later versions, and use my own rules, which do include variable unit costs for each country, depending on what was done historically in World War 2. Attack and defense factors also vary by country as well. I fail to see why varying costs and capabilities cannot be included in the game as each country has a separate set up chart. For example, Japanese fighters and tanks both cost the same, so spamming tanks is not really an option.

As for becoming familiar with historical place names, we are happy when our students, who are from the Chicago Suburbs, can accurately locate the countries in Classic. Having taught World Geography at the college level, I am all too aware of the poor knowledge of the average American student concerning where countries and cities are located in the world. I had one college senior locate Moscow in Canada, and a college junior be unable to give me the names of the 5 Oceans.

In the World War 2 class, we are using the 4' X 8' Historical Board Games map, and a wide collection of miniature figures, from A&A, Xeno Games, HIstorical Board Games, and the miniature for Attack by Eagle Games to represent units, with the students role-playing the various world leaders, and the map being updated as events occur. The older students have a pretty good idea of where countries are located, but the younger, middle school students are still working on that.

Black_Elk
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Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2008 9:10 am

Re: Removing Factories: Replacing them with VCs

Post by Black_Elk » Wed Jul 09, 2014 7:43 pm

I wish I had a teacher that awesome back when I was in school! A&A is such a fantastic tool for teaching. You end up retaining a lot of information through gameplay, that might otherwise get lost just trying to memorize by rote, and have fun at the same time. My first intro to Classic was on a rainy day in elementary school in 88 I remember it so clearly. We would set the board during the morning break and then play at lunch for a week. Later I met a few older kids with more experience and started to learn deeper strategy. But I always felt that the beauty of A&A was it's relative simplicity (compared to other wargames.) The combat system is very engaging, and the overall balance was pretty solid for playing out possible "alternate" histories. Some of the more recent boards do introduce a fair bit of complexity though, which, while great for more experienced players, can be a bit intimidating for newer players. I really like the idea for example of a game that is tiered at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels of complexity, depending on player experience and desired gamelength. There is a lot that can be done with house rules and expansion materials, but when I think back to the ideal starter board at each level I think of Classic/Revised/AA50.
Global has a lot to recommend it, but is very complex when compared to these others. The 1940 production system is cool in 1940, but for the more moderately scaled boards I like the idea of a system somewhat more streamlined and simple to relate.

It's possible some hybrid system between the current factories and VCs would be optimal. I only suggest the idea to merge VCs with Factories, because it seemed to simplify the gameplay, and at least on the AA50 board, produced a fairly decent dual theater war :)

Black_Elk
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Re: Removing Factories: Replacing them with VCs

Post by Black_Elk » Fri Jul 11, 2014 1:56 am

I believe I have just hit on a solution to our issues!
I'm interested to hear what you think

VC = Victory City
VC = Victory Complex, (or Victory Center, or Victory Core, whatever seems best)

Victory Complexes produce units. They represent industrial centers or cores within a territory. They can be strat bombed.

Victory Cities do not produce units (or perhaps only produce infantry at a set amount, 1 inf per territory, but no advanced weapons). Instead they award a set cash bonus, say 3 ipcs or 5 ipcs, to whichever power controls them.

Using the same abbreviation we can cover both concepts, the idea of a Victory City territory, which lends strategic or prestige advantages by being under the player's controls, or a Victory (Industrial) Complex territory which represents an industrial hub where advanced arms and weapons of war are created.

For the purposes of counting the total VCs to determine Victory by side (Axis vs Allies), both kinds of territory count the same. They could be denoted directly on the game map with a red V, or a gold V, or a red star, or gold star, or whatever, but all graphically represented in a similar way.

This would allow you to anchor the fighting in different ways depending on the historical character of that territory in the war. The bonus in IPCs for a Victory City could be interpreted any way you want, in order to justify it. Perhaps as war bonds, or national morale boosts, savings or exploitation following a major victory and capture of a prestigious city...?

If a territory makes sense with a Victory City then give it an appropriate, historically useful designation written on the game map. If it makes sense more as a Victory Complex regional production hub, then perhaps a more generic name would make sense? "California" for example, or "New York."

But for the purposes of designing gameplay, this would allow for both kinds of VC to count towards achieving Victory, as "anchors" to be fought over, but which behave in different ways. The one builds units and is defined by its industrial character, the other gives a cash bonus and is defined more by its national prestige character. Then you could distribute these VCs across the map in a way that provides the most dynamism from a gameplay standpoint, but still retains a useful analog to the historical reality.

Paris, or Manila, Honolulu, or Hong Kong, even Singapore, or Cairo, or Chongqing might work for the Victory City prestige type VC. Provides a cash bonus but cannot produce units (or at least has some restriction on what units it can build.)

Manchuria, Japan, W. US etc would fit better the idea of a Victory (Industrial) Complex.

Both these territories could still be described using the same standard nomenclature in the game, VCs, but could be fixed in different ways depending on the what sort of conflict patterns you want to set up from the outset. This is an easy way to restrict how units enter play, which would lend itself to less abuse and confusion than the current factory unit that can be purchased and dropped all over the place. Any technology or game mechanic currently associated with the factory unit (such as SBR, or Rockets, or Anti-Air/Radar etc) could just be taken over by the VCs.

I would propose, if this method is ever adopted, that a larger Flag roundel be printed directly on the map, to match the size of Flag roundel chips, and also the standard gray chip. Print a V in the territories where you want to anchor the fighting, directly on the game map. Then build these specialized locations into the actual game, either as points of production, or as bonus points (similar to the way NOs are handled.) This would allow us to remove the factory unit altogether, while still retaining its core functionality inside the game. At the same time promoting the concept of VCs as the determinants of overall "Victory."

Make sense?

The point is to make this production and bonus system a general part of the game. Not some specific National Objective, or unit that can be purchased, but a generic aspect of the game, where all VCs behave in either one way or the other. Set production and bonuses based on which sort of VC it is. That is the baseline, you can build more complexity on top of it, but at its foundation the VC has to have the critical role.

In my post above I said "remove" the factory unit. This is not exactly necessary though I think it would help if the idea of the Industrial Complex as purchasable unit was removed. If you wish to retain the factory sculpt, this would allow you to re-purpose it for other means... Such as deployment centers, or bases. Something that perhaps provides a movement or deployment advantage to existing units, but which does not actually create heavy weapons or participate in industrial ways. Those can only be created at the gold V, the industrial heartlands, the Core.

Here is a kind of vague outline below for how it might look... Used the 1942.2 divisions as a model, since its the only gamemap at this scale that can currently be purchased. Shown here with a 24 VC spread
pacific.jpg
pacific.jpg (125.21 KiB) Viewed 4979 times
atlantic.jpg
atlantic.jpg (148.24 KiB) Viewed 4979 times

timerover51
Posts: 366
Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2007 10:31 am

Re: Removing Factories: Replacing them with VCs

Post by timerover51 » Sat Jul 12, 2014 9:32 pm

I will not be able to go over this until after next week. In the World War 2 class, we have started Operation Barbarossa, and working through the Japanese policy decisions to go to war with the US and Great Britain. I am working on evaluations for the afternoon gaming class covering the modified Attack game that I ran this past week. I apologize for being a bit busy with other things.

ChristophfromGermany
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Location: Munich / Germany

Re: Removing Factories: Replacing them with VCs

Post by ChristophfromGermany » Mon Nov 17, 2014 8:55 am

Building an Industrial complex is indeed an important strategic decision for at least the UK and Japan. Thus any changes deeply affect gameplay.

To keep things simple I would suggest a much less complicated scheme. How about two simple rules concerning Industrial complexes:
1. No new factories may be built
2. Victory cities without an Industrial complex may produce the number of infantry equivalent to the IPC number of the territory of the VC.

That's it. Simple and clean. If you want a bonus, achieve the National Objectives - at leat in AA50. The economic importance of Borneo and East Indies is already reflected by their enormous IPC value. Compare the islands with Mainland China or Western Russia and you know what I mean.

From a historical point of view you can argue that the hardware (tanks, artillery, ships and planes) could only be built in really industrialised territories like Germany, Japan, UK, USA, Russia/Caucasus etc., while important territories like India, Australia, Coastal China played a minor role industrially and this is reflected by their ability to produce just infantry. But this is quite important too, because you don't have to ship it over long distances. Thus the UK can better defend India and Australia (they contain important VC) and Japan can produce infantry in China, but every single tank has to be built in Japan and shipped to Manchuria. This would significantly slow down a rush towards Moscow, as Japan would have to spend valuable transports that can't be used elsewhere - an effect that makes game play even more historical.
ChristophfromGermany

No decent man can prefer war to peace, because at peace-time the sons burry their father while at war, the father burries his sons. (Herodot)

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