Axis & Allies is a classic game of war, economics, and global strategy. Victory goes not only to the team that conquers its opponents on the field of battle, but also to the individual player who seizes the most enemy territory.
You repeatedly spoke of "individual psychology".
It was the psychology of the leaders that started the war.
Once started, the path was obvious and, essentially, unavoidable.
You want the causes that started walking the path to be intact so as to get to late 1940 then want those causes eliminated so as to not have a game that is not "too fixed in its possible outcomes".
I do not have a good analogy for that as it is just too odd for me.
It sounds like you want some pumped up version of Risk with a WW2 backdrop.
Basically, the choices you claim could have been made by the participants could not have been made by the participants at the time you suggest - well before perhaps, but not after other decisions were made.
The time for the types of choice variation you want is well before the war started (either before the Spanish Civil War for Europe or before the conquest of Manchuria for the Pacific), not after the war's players have started walking the path to war, actually start the war then 'suddenly' have some major personality change.
P.S. The Emperor of Japan had little decision making ability during the war. It was primarily the army that controlled the government and controlled Japanese policy.
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On the topic of Soviet-German intentions:
First of all Stalin realized that war with Germany was inevitable. However, to have any chance of victory he needed time to build up his armed forces. The only way he could obtain time was to do a deal with Hitler. Stalin was convinced that Hitler would not be foolish enough to fight a war on two fronts. If he could persuade Hitler to sign a peace treaty with the Soviet Union, Germany was likely to invade Western Europe instead. He simply wanted England , France and Germany to be involved in a boody war of attrition while Stalin would rebuild his nation and prepare for the comming conflict with Germany.
Stalin believed that Germany would not invade the Soviet Union until Britain and France had been conquered. From Stalin's own calculations, this would not be until the summer of 1942. Some of his closest advisers began to argue that 1941 would be a much more likely date. The surrender of France in June, 1940, also cast doubts on Stalin's calculations.
In fact the Soviets hesitancy during its part of the invasion of Poland was predicated on what the French would do immediatly after the German Invasion of Poland. Stalin was crafty to realize that if he invaded Poland too soon and France was able to crack the seigfreid line and jump on the western approaches , then the Soviet Union would look like another beligerent and possibly be drawn into a war against England and France. So he waited to see that the allied reaction would be, when it looked like they were gonna practice "sitzkreig" he saw that the coast was clear to invade Poland. Stalin really had hoped for the German invasion of France to take a long time. This would present favorable conditions for Soviet ambitions in the balkans and Finland. When it became clear that Hitler was soon master of most of Europe, The Soviet ambassador Molitov was told to tone down his agressive rhetoric and "appease hitler" with increased shipments of materiel and forget about Yugoslavia ( which had a treaty of friendship/assistence a mere day after it overthru the pro-german government). After this point, Stalin avoided anything to antagonize his "ally".
Stalin's response to France's defeat was to send Vyacheslav Molotov to Berlin for more discussions. Molotov was instructed to draw out these talks for as long as possible. Stalin knew that if Adolf Hitler did not attack the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941, he would have to wait until 1942. No one, not even someone as rash as Hitler, would invade the Soviet Union in the winter, he argued.
Germany was now in a strong negotiating position and Molotov found it impossible to agree to Hitler's demands. As soon as talks broke-up, Hitler ordered his military leaders to prepare for Operation Barbarossa. The plan was for the invasion of the Soviet Union to start on the 15th May, 1941.
Information on the proposed invasion came to Stalin from various sources. Richard Sorge, an agent working for the Red Orchestra in Japan, obtained information about the proposed invasion as early as December, 1940. Winston Churchill sent a personal message to Stalin in April, 1941, explaining how German troop movements suggested that they were about to attack the Soviet Union. However, Stalin was still suspicious of the British and thought that Churchill was trying to trick him into declaring war on Germany. When Sorge's prediction that Germany would invade in May, 1941, did not take place, Stalin became even more convinced that the war would not start until 1942. The reason for this delay was that Germany had invaded Yugoslavia in April.
So in my estimate, Their was no intentions to attack Germany in the forseeable future, however its true that Marchall Zhukov drew up plans for such an event, but as such were not an instrument of Stalins future plan. All he wanted was a buffer region of states to "absorb" another invasion of the "Huns" and to possibly get a warm water port at the expence of Yugoslavia, or the middle east.
As it stood now the Soviets needed this to export its Communist "ideals" to other nations and it looked like instead the foreign policy of the western nations was used to isolate Stalin, and this was the foundation of his mistrust of both FDR and Churchill. He felt they were trying to bleed the Soviet nation dry fighting a war of attrition with Germany and purposefully stalling to open up the second front. One thing is true: if the allies did nothing to help the Soviet Union after Stalingrad, the Soviets would have eventually won the Second World War. Nothing would have changed this result.
While I completely agree with this statement, I would also like to point out that the Soviets had basically stopped the German advance both before there was much aid from the West and before the aid there was had much, if any, affect.
As such, one make a very, very good arguement that, provided the Soviets will to fight remained intact (and with Stalin in control, this is all but a given) and the West did not join forces with the Germans, the Soviets would have eventually won the Second World War - with or without aid from the West.
HIROHITO AND THE MAKING OF MODERN JAPAN by Herbert P. Bix, which was published recently, blew out the water the mythology of HIROHITO as a mere figurehead. The myth of the harmless Hirohito was mutually agreed on by General MacArthur and of course, the Emperor himself. His Majesty was directly involved in all of the critical decisions. He even pushed for the revolting biological experimentation conducted in Manchuria by the infamous Unit 202 (I think that's the number), led by Col. Ishii, a industrial scale villain who made Dr. Mengele look like a small shop owner. Apparently the part of the emperor's fascination with marine zoology was a quest for deadlt new poisons for use in war.
I don't subscribe to a Great Man theory; I subscribe to something more like a Big Jerk theory to explain World War Two. Hirohito, Mussolini, etc., were not admirable human beings, but they were culpable. Many things in history are beyond the control of any one man. The decisions that triggered and escalated the World Wars were not among them.
As I explained earlier in other posts, July to October 1940 is the critical moment from a war modeling perspective, not because no critical decisions had already been made; obviously, many critical decisons had been made, and I mentioned several in my last post. It is the critical moment because because it is very difficult to make a game starting earlier work right. That is because Germany's quick victory over France was not forseen by anyone, except Hitler. Even his general did not expect it. But if players were assigned their roles in a game beginning September 1939, it's inconceivable that the West would attach conditions to Soviet intervention such as, "No violation of Polish sovereignty." They would simply wave Poland's rights aside, and proceed to crush Germany with USSR, as swiftly as possible. The only way to avoid such an outcome is to attach artificial and unrealistic limits to what the USSR player can do. It is also difficult to model because America only starts mobilizing in October 1940, with the peacetime draft of that month. Ameican spending on war stuff went up by a factor of about ten between January 1939 and January 1941. In summary, the Axis squarely emerges as a global power only after the summer of 1940, and America makes up its mind to prepare for war then, though not immediately to fight it. So it's a pivotal moment.
There were still plenty of critical decisions to make after the summer of 1940. A German player should be free to choose a strategy different from the historical choice. So should all the othe powers.
Don Moody, the analogy to four-way game of Risk! is not bad. The big difference is that one of the powers, the Anglo-American Alliance, is unique. It is much stronger than any of the others, but also a bit hamstrung by a late start, by moral considerations such as honoring treaties, by a Christian ethos that forbids naked genocide, and by domestic morale that may flag sooner, because the Anglo-Saxon homelands were almost invulnerable. I think that makes for a fascinating place to start a game.
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The start of the game earlier than the invasion of Soviet Union would burden the record with many diplomatic rules, and as such we are dealing with an introductory level game to appeal to the masses and possibly teach a lesson or two about what happened.
The subject of this "scenario" should be presented as a possible object for the advanced a/a project which is in development. Bring your views to this table. The past games are finished projects and you can still make your mark on our current work in progress... I feel you will have to finish everything after the group has completed all the rules, which necessary effect how to develop the scenarios. This new game will begin on Dec. 6th 1941 rather than spring 42, though the map will reflect the world as it was in Sept 1939, so further scenarios would be possible. In fact id push for 39,40,42,and 43 and a postwar (WW3) free for all game with no exact alliances- More like risk? perhaps well see.
Give artillery one unique ability: the ability to ATTRITION enemy infantry, in the same manner AAA attrition enemy aircraft.
Artillery: cost 12, bombard 1*, combat move 0, non-combat move 1.
*Bombrdment strength used against infantry in same manner as AAA are used against aircraft.
Artillery should ATTRITION infantry in adjacent territories, rolling one die for each enemy infantry in the adjacent territory. Artillery bombardment/attrition would be entirely separate from normal attacks.
One's artillery could bombard a stack of infantry too large to attack with tanks and infantry, and do nothing more. Or one could follow the bombardment with a conventional attack. Or one could bombard a menacing looking stack of infantry which may be about to participate in an attack in the enemy's following turn. Thus bombardment would be a defensive as well as an offensive tactic.
Every artillery unit would fire one-at-a-time, with no limit on the number that could fire at a territory. Each successive firing artillery's effectiveness would then diminish as the number of bombarded enemy infantry divisions diminishes. Artillery would be most effective against large concentrations of enemy infantry.
In normal combat, artillery would play no role.
Using artillery in this fashion would allow us to raise infantry defense strength to 3, without monster stacks of infantry resulting.
Infantry defending at 3 would prevent the common situation where a force of infantry with only a marginal numerical edge prevails. For example, at present, 12 infantry will commonly prevail when attacking 6-8 infantry, as both may lose two in the first two cycles of combat. With infantry defending at 3, this is less likely.
Units hit by earlier firing units are removed immediately without firing.
Units which fire on the same line of the combat cycle return fire, then are eliminated.
BLITZKRIEG COMBAT SEQUENCE
1. Place Units on Battle Board
2. AAA fire*
3. Aircraft and Aircraft Carriers fire
4. Submarines fire**
5. Tanks, Battleships+ fire.
6. Infantry, Destroyers fire
7. Transports, AAA, and Artillery*** don't fire, but may be hit.
8. Attacker Retreats or Presses the attack.
9. Defender Stands or Retreats. Artillery and AAA may not Retreat.
10. Capture territory or sea zone.
*Fire once, only in first cycle.
**Subs fire at 4 at enemy Transports not paired 1:1 by enemy Destroyer.
***Artillery fire only by attrition, as described in previous post.
+ Battleships no longer fire in land combat. They fire in the same manner as artillery, as described in the previous post.
If either the attacker or the defender retreats, enemy units (except AAA)get a free unsanswered shot at all retreating units whose place in the Combat Sequence comes later.
EXAMPLE of RETREAT FIRE
A defender retreats his fighters, tanks, and infantry.
The attacker's aircraft take a free fire, and the retreating party must remove a tank or an infantry for each hit scored. The retreating party need not remove a fighter; however, he may do so if he wishes. (If the retreating party consisted entirely of fighters, no Retreat Fire hits could be scored.)
The attacker's tanks take a free fire, and the retreating party must remove an infantry for each hit scored.
ARTILLERY and AAA RETREAT
Artillery and AAA may not retreat and are automatically destroyed when their territory is captured.
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