Balance Issues in 1942.2

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Krieghund
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Re: Balance Issues in 1942.2

Post by Krieghund » Tue Nov 11, 2014 2:46 pm

ChristophfromGermany wrote:@ Krieghund: are there any official proposals on a setup change as in A&A 1941? And how about transfering the Soviet-Japanese Non-Aggression Pact to A&A 1942? In A&A Classic the two-front attack on Russia, even though it was very unhistorical, was a common strategy. I like the NA-Pact Rule in A&A 1941 quite a lot. It makes Japan go for India and Pacific to grab IPCs instead. Even though India is hard to hold for the UK then, but that is a different story or needs a different approach of the Allies player.
There are no official setup changes as of now. At one point we kicked around the idea of adding a US destroyer in sea zone 11, but there didn't seem to be consensus in the on-line community that balance was an issue.

As for the Soviet-Japanese non-aggression pact, give it a whirl. I'd be interested in hearing the results.
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ChristophfromGermany
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Re: Balance Issues in 1942.2

Post by ChristophfromGermany » Wed Nov 12, 2014 4:58 am

Hi Krieghund,

thanks for your immediate reply. It is good to hear that the online-community doesn't see an urgent need for balancing units. So we will give both scenarios a try (with and without the Non-Aggression Pact).
After a closer look to the board and the setup of A&A 1942 SE I can already figure out how to react to a Japanese onslaught on Russia. Japan would have to build a factory in Manchuria on T1 and as the UK already has got one in India, they could put some pressure on Japan in the Southeast. Combined with a naval build-up of the US in the Pacific and some strategic bombing of Germany and/or sending some fighters to Russia that could give the Allies valuable time to protect Russia from a two-pronged attack.

That is something that I love about A&A: If one side develops a seemingly unstoppable strategy you have to workout something new to respond to it. There is a weak spot in every strategy - you just have to find it.
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)

Wittman
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Re: Balance Issues in 1942.2

Post by Wittman » Thu Nov 13, 2014 12:31 pm

Hi both.
On Djensen's A&A forum, most players will give the Allies a bid of 10.
I Would always add a Sub off India to facilitate the elimination of the Japanese Borneo fleet and an Inf in Egypt, to prevent an early fall.
Some choose 3 Russian units.

Black_Elk
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Re: Balance Issues in 1942.2

Post by Black_Elk » Thu Nov 13, 2014 3:04 pm

I'm curious, what sort of concensus would be required, and which online community would you look to? Most people I know have indeed arrived at the view that the set up I'm 1942.2 favors Axis.

How this could best be tweaked with a set up change is another issue. I favor beefing up Russia, over making the sz 11 attack more costly (by adding a DD). The UK sub bid, which is common, is used either to destroy the Japanese fleet or to pressure the med.

I don't know how well the NAP works in 1942.2, it makes game resolution rather more difficult, but would definitely favor Allies

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Re: Balance Issues in 1942.2

Post by Krieghund » Thu Nov 13, 2014 4:36 pm

Black_Elk wrote:I'm curious, what sort of concensus would be required, and which online community would you look to? Most people I know have indeed arrived at the view that the set up I'm 1942.2 favors Axis.
When we were making tweaks for the second print run last year, I looked around some of the forums to see what people were saying about balance. It seemed to me at the time that there were about as many people saying that it was fine as there were people saying an Allied bid was needed. Maybe my perception was off, or maybe opinions have changed over the last year or so.
Black_Elk wrote:I don't know how well the NAP works in 1942.2, it makes game resolution rather more difficult, but would definitely favor Allies
I'm definitely interested to see what kind of impact this has.
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Black_Elk
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Re: Balance Issues in 1942.2

Post by Black_Elk » Thu Nov 13, 2014 7:48 pm

Yeah it's tough, I think many people just jump to using a bid because it's familiar, but I've never been fond a preplacement bid, because of the way it can affect opening battles in the first round of gameplay. So just as an example with 1942.2, if you go OOB, Germany can clear the Atlantic esp. that US transport. If you give Allies a bid of 8, then they could use it for a US destroyer, but in my experience most people would rather have a pair of artillery somewhere, or a sub and save 2 ipcs for UK to tweak one of the naval battles on attack rather than defense. So I think in those instances a change to set up is better, since you can control where the extra IPCs are going. My favorite for 1942.2 is to give the Russians a bomber. Rather than providing Allies 12 ipcs to spend any way they want (which they will invariable use for a pair of subs, or tanks, 4 infantry, or 3 artillery) this is just a simple set up change for the Red airforce. Over the long haul it helps the Allies to have the Russian bomber, but it's much less distorting on the opening battles than extra ground or extra ships. It gives a somewhat high risk attack possibility on the German fleet as an option, but othetwise its effect is pushed out into later rounds. My thoughts on the subject anyway. I like 1942.2 a lot, and I think it balances rather well with that tweak.

The main challenge with the NAP is that it has a way of always falling apart when Japan reaches the center (India/Persia), when the NAP doesn't give the Axis a way to pressure Caucasus, or give Russia a way to liberate India after it collapses. So what I've seen is that Japan just starts launching fighters to Europe to aid German defense. I dig the concept, just not sure about the execution.

Another method I've tried was to give a bonus to Japan or Russia of +10 if the other player attacks. Or you could do it with +5 for every round they don't break the NAP. Something like that, which isn't a strict prohibition, just a cost/benefit thing to encourage non agression between the relevant powers.

ChristophfromGermany
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Re: Balance Issues in 1942.2

Post by ChristophfromGermany » Fri Nov 14, 2014 4:53 am

Hi Black Elk,

interesting thoughts - especially about the Russian Bomber and the NAP. But I think you get one thing wrong with the NAP: Russia may recapture British territories from Japan if it can afford to do so. The NAP just prohibits Japanese attacks on territories originally controlled by Russia (i.e. Soviet Far East) and Russian attacks on territories originally controlled by Japan (i.e. Manchuria). They might fight each other on territories originally controlled by the US (i.e. China) or the UK (i.e. India). Of course it feels a bit strange that they should fight each other only in these territories and once they have fought each other they may not proceed for the real thing (i.e. Moscow or Manchuria) but that's another story.

Perhaps the NAP could be solved that way: If Russia doesn't interfere in China or UK controlled territories, Japan may not attack. But if Russia supports British or US troops in Asia or attacks Japan on foreign ground, the NAP is broken. So the Allies would have to think twice before sending Russian troops to South Asia.

In A&A Classic we introduced a House Rule that gave Russia and Japan a plus 5 IPC bonus for not attacking each other. It only prevented Japan from attacking Russia when the UK built a factory in India on T1. Otherwise Japan went for Russia just to prevent them from cashing in against Germany. The only alternatives to prevent a Japanese onslaught on Russia are to slow down Japan or to have a UK factory in India right from the start. This is exactly what Larry Harris has done: In A&A Anniversary he added more territories to China and Russia and thus it takes too long for Japan to go for Russia. And with National Objectives as an optional rule it makes much more sense for Japan to follow its real war goals and gain valuable IPCs instead of driving to Moscow. In A&A 1942 however the UK starts with a factory in India and can produce troops in support of Russia if Japan keeps it unmolested. And as India is shorter to Moscow than Manchuria, Japan can't really rush to Russia and leave India unattended.

So I will try 1942 SE without NAP first and would rather add the Bomber to Russia if necessary as it affects total game play less intensively.
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)

Black_Elk
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Re: Balance Issues in 1942.2

Post by Black_Elk » Fri Nov 14, 2014 10:29 am

I don't know man, in every A&A game I've ever played, but especially in AA50, Japanese players consistently crush towards Moscow. Has nothing to do with how many spaces are in China (not enough to stall anything, at least in 41 for AA50, and again in 1942.2) or whether or not India has a starting factory (an even stronger target in 1942.2 than the same territory with no factory in AA50, since UK doesn't have the money to stack it early enough in 42.2), either way I still see Japan do the same thing it does in all A&A games since Classic, e.g. center crush. They might not necessarily crush Moscow along the northern route, they might push middle or south, but always with the same ultimate goal of linking with Germany at the center. Japan has every strategic incentive to do this, and virtually nothing to discourage them from doing so.

A NAP could conceivably help delay this (Moscow crush), but it can't prevent it entirely unless you change the victory conditions. Only if Axis or Japan specifically, has another way to win the game, can you alter the center crush dynamic. This was attempted in G40.2 (the 6 VC Pacific win), with somewhat mixed results. First the NAP in G40 sec edition tends to fall apart, everyone I know immediate declares war on Japan with the Soviet Union, because there's no reason not to (no strong penalty for the Russians, or a boon for Japan to make them second guess it). The only thing that holds it back from a practical standpoint is the way Amur attaches to Mongolia activation. But if the 6 VC sudden death win is out, for any reason, then Japan will immediately Center Crush (many people do this regardless and focus on propping up the European Axis as the safest play long term). I believe this is because of the way the Allied Victory conditions are written in G40.2. In G40 sec ed Axis determine how long the game goes on, because there is no sudden death win for Allies comparable to the sudden death win for Axis. It basically devolves to eithee Axis sudden death, or Axis concession, but there is no way for Allies to win outright, short of capturing all 3 Axis capitals. Since 3 capitals is unreasonable from a game length standpoint (requires a masochist Axis player with supreme patience and a total glutton for punishment hehe), this means Japan has every incentive to crush center, because they still have a chance to influence the war in Europe far more easily than say Germany/Italy can influence the war in the Pacific. And it's possible to win on the Europe map alone for Axis if they take 8 VCS there, regardless of what is happening in the Pacific.

In 1942.2 there are no such conditions to seperate VCs by theater, and no real way for Japan to do anything other than pressure Moscow as an endgame strategy. They cannot viably contest North America. So my concern is that any NAP you might implement, absent alternative victory options, would just totally hamstring Axis.

I'm not sure, it's something I have given a lot of thought to, but still haven't found an elegant solution for. The way we played with a NAP, was essentially exactly the way you outlined. But the problem is that it becomes very confusing, with armies fighting each other in occupied territories while ostensibly still neutral towards each other. This is where I think it becomes problematic to present the NAP as something that can never be broken, or a strict rule. I favor a cost/benefit structure, where you give players an economic incentive to preserve neutrality between Japan and Russia, and an economic disincentive to break with neutrality. The trick is that these costs/benefits have to outweigh or at least roughly match, the economic or strategic advantage of declaring war. I think it needs to be fairly high in terms of IPC (as a one time bonus) or else consistently decent over time (a bonus that applies every round the NAP is in effect.) But still retaining the option to break the Pact at some point if desried. Since that happened in 45 after all.

Right now I see Japan do the "Burma push" in 1942.2, or the blast through Szech, or both at the same time. But Szechwan is the shortest distance from the coast to Moscow on this board. A strict NAP (an unbreakable NAP) shuts this route down, leaving only the south via India. Once taken, it's very hard for Russia to do much of anything along this front, they can't liberate India after Japan stacks it in my experience. Then Japan just launches fighters to Europe or mobs Africa or hops into Europe from the Med (since they can't get there through Russia.) With the NAP played like this USA would probably want to go 100% Pacific, but I don't know that they have the resources to pull off a KJF if Russia can't support it directly, in the first round. Seems a stretch don't you think?

I'd be interested in hearing more ideas on this subject as well, since I really enjoy the 1942.2 board.

Also it's probably worth mentioning sz 16 here as well. Everyone I have discussed the subject with seems to agree that sz 1 closed is better for game "balance," though open tends to be more fun for game "play." The problem with leaving sz 16 open for warships and transports, is that it allows G to center crush all by itself, before anything of consequence happens elsewhere on the board for all the other players playing. This basically takes the whole game down to a few early battles on the Eastern Front, with advantage going to G unless Russia rolls miraculous defenses. I prefer sz 16 restricted myself, as I think closing the bosphorus is critical for Russia to have any chance of surviving early on.

Great replies so far. I'm eager to hear more houghts on these subjects, since 1942.2 is my go to starter board for training new players.

Best, always
J

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