Re: Balance Issues 1942 2nd Ed. Re-Visited
I agree that every change is likely to beget consequences that might be hard to predict, and players are pretty quick to discover new breakers or exploits. But the advantage here is that this set up change is substantial enough of a reset, that I think most people will have to return to the drawing board when planning their openers for each nation. Its a new lease on life for the map. Certainly people are going to have to put their thinking caps on for the German/British openers.
I still think it would be cool if the Russian player had something more to think about too though. The reason I dig airpower is twofold. The first is more historically oriented, since the Red Airforce was the largest in the world at the time just in raw numbers (even if they were short on experienced pilots, and the West would soon outpace them in overall production by the end of the year), I think the addition of an air unit would probably be appropriate. The second is more gameplay oriented, and I like the bomber because it has a dual role (attack or sbr) with a lot of reach, but also the weakest defense value of any unit that can be parked on a land tile. In that respect it is less likely to mess with the G1/G2 balance around Egypt and the canal. I think Russia may also need something long term to help them trade territory with Germany, and I like an air unit rather than a ground unit, if only because it is more likely to survive into the endgame. Under the new arrangement the option to expand the Royal Navy with UK will likely mean less cash for British fighters to support the W. Russia stack, so the Soviets will be more reliant than ever on their own attack power and ability to deadzone tiles on the Eastern Front (instead of just counting on Western defense power) to deal with the Axis advance there. Basically it is kind of a seesaw, where Britain can either build a carrier for the home fleet and hold India, or prop up Russia with fighters and hold India, but can't really do both at the same time. I do worry a bit that the Russians may get left holding the bag again, even if the West has a better shot at D-Day now, just by virtue of the British having other priorities haha.
The OOB Axis advantage is pretty pronounced, so I think I would still err on the side of possibly giving the Allies slightly more than they need rather than trying to cut it perfectly by sides (even if this ultimately results in an inversion or an Axis bid), because there are just a lot more moving parts for the Allies, and more chances for them to get hosed if something goes awry, or if one of the Allied players fails to coordinate properly.
I guess in a nutshell, I think the initial impression or 'feeling' of balance, is probably more important than the actual balance (because so much can change in relatively short order as a result of the dice rolls), so it's more about giving the Allies enough at a glance, that they no longer feel the need to pick apart the opener so much, or put so much emphasis on the opening battles that they feel the need to request a hefty bid to ice them. In that sense it's tough to argue with a big red bomber sculpt as a surefire way to boost Allied morale when they're sitting down to play.
That was my thought anyway, but yeah this set up change is a definite move in the right direction. I like it a lot so far. Even with shifting sands, I feel like now I got a rope tethered to my waist, and more options pull myself up. Nice work!