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Eating Crow or How to Conquer the World


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Where to begin....?

I was once young and idealistic, thinking the world was mine, that all that was required was a dream and hard work to succeed in life. And by succeed in life I of course mean crush all SC opponents with ruthless efficiency. And for a short while the world was mine. But then reality intruded.

It was a dark and stormy night. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The SC message boards were troubled by the murmur of heritics decrying that all was not well in SC land. And so King Hubert called forth his knights and issued a challange to restore order once more in his kingdom. And so the quest for the Grail began....

I found myself matched against a perilous foe; the dreaded Jolly Guy. Mere mortals trembled and fled from his presence, for his reputation as a foul destroyer of unbeaten PBEM records preceeded him. But my heart took courage and I faced him fearlessly. For I had...a Cunning Plan. Unfortunately, the programmer I'd hired to hack into the code to give me unlimited MPPs was temporarily unavailable, requiring me to go to plan B. And as it turned out, plan B wasn't nearly as successful as The Cunning Plan.

Of course the battle began in the manner prescribed by history, that is the drubbing of the hapless Polish nation. While the Poles were valiantly ceasing to exist, the French were using the time thus gained to polish up their surrendering skills. Yet when no Germans arrived to accept their surrender, they grew tired of waiting and departed to England for a vacation. Finally the Huns advanced, wary of some Gaulic trick involving inebriation and the ritualistic waving of white bed sheets.

Shortly thereafter the Danes and Norse awakened one day to find that their countries had turned grey overnight, possibly having some connection to the environmentally unfriendly Prussians having littering the bottom of the north sea with metal hulls resembling former German warships. And then the waiting game began...and the bordom set in.

But wait! The waters of the Mediterrainian were stirred into a froth as the Italian navy, most of whom would rather stay on land and eat pasta anyway, clashed with their British counterparts. While attention was diverted from their peaceful island, the British strove with their might and amassed six fleet of air ships, surely enough to quiet the tedious Teutonic taunting from across the channel. And while they met with initial success in the destruction of a single Nazi air unit who appeared confused as to which direction east lay, reality soon set in. For the Germans had begun a ruthlessly efficient advance into mother Russia, assisted by the ten air units who HAD found their way east.

And the western Allies rapidly gained a proficiency rivaling the early war Germans in losing ships and transports. Of course they were helped along in that regard by the seven plus two per turn reinforcements of the German sub fleet. And so the sad tale ended....except for the last whimpering complaint: I got one tech advance on the first turn and no more for the next 79 turns.

[ September 25, 2002, 11:04 PM: Message edited by: DevilDog ]

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I also did a quick game against the AI to verify the optimal method for winning as the Germans. Buy 5 tech points as early as possible and put them into industrial tech. Keep them there until tech level 5 is reached. Poland, Denmark, Norway and France can be conquered without purchasing new units. Don't invade anyone else and mass your troops on the Russian border; this will keep the USA and Russia out of the war til late '41 or early '42.

Once industry tech level 5 is reached wait until the turn befor Russia attacks and buy 20+ air fleets (cost 200) and 12+ tanks (cost~less than the planes). Also buy five more tech points and put five in jets and five in tanks. None of this should bust the bank as the German player should have around 6,000 MPPs saved up by the time Russia comes in.

And the rest they say is history....

[ September 25, 2002, 11:06 PM: Message edited by: DevilDog ]

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"Dog" has it about right. By the Fall of 42 I had eleven level 4 airfleets (I said level 5 in a previous post, my mistake), 10 of which were deployed in Russia, six level 5 tanks, all in Russia, Level 5 production, and had just achieved level 3 anti-tank.

There is NOTHING the Allies (especially the poor Russians) can do against this! And this happens 4 times out of 5 minimum when playing as the Axis. Hubert, we aren't making this up! You are hearing from player after player after player that there is an Axis inbalance!

Alright, I know you're occupied with real-time play, and I appreciate and will enjoy that. But when you're done, make a few tweaks (not a lot is needed), to instill balance.

Bob, AKA Jollyguy

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Could it be that the concept of plunder is

ahistorical? "Plunder" seems to presuppose the

wholesale capture of capital, military equipment,

as well as cold hard cash (and maybe even some

of the artworks that Fatty Goering reveled in :D ).

But capital is worthless when the country is in

shambles, military equipment is either trashed or

incompatible with your forces (yes the Germans

used some captured DW-520's), and all that cash

will likely be eaten up by inflation. I doubt

that the Germans got more than 1/10th of the

typical 600 MPPs they get from conquering France

in the game.

Sure if you take away plunder you probably need

to balance the game in some other respect, but

I think that is your main problem right there.

John DiFool

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I think one important thing that should be done to reduce the axis advantage is making the supply system tougher hence making conquest of Russia harder.

Supply centers should have lower supply value in winter hexes during winter!


In winter conditions, the distance system for determining how much supply the command centers get must be toughend up i.e far away (from cities) command centers should have less supply than now. This would be more historical since it is more expensive to wage a war far away and will give Russia a historical chance to regain strength and perhaps do some counter-offensive actions during winter.

[ September 27, 2002, 05:04 AM: Message edited by: zappsweden ]

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I can only chime in here and appeal for some balance for the hapless Allies. I am playing 4 concurrent games as the Allies and 2 are soon to be lost, 1 is looking grim, and 1 I will certainly win because the Axis player is a novice and I think it is his first game so I disregard that one. Every game is the same with some minor personal deviation by the Axis player. The first few years the Germans tear through everybody which is fine and historical. In doing this they get a bonanza of MPPs with which to achieve a large Tech lead that the Allieas will never be able to erase. Then comes Barbarossa and the Russians get swamped, which is again historical but the problems arise when the Germans are able to pound the Russians turn after neverending turn with no letup. This situation is possible because the key element of the war on the eastern front is missing and we all know what it is; weather. Between the bonechilling winter and the wet season quagmire, a full third of each year was not really suited to offensive action in the east and this aspect is completely missing. The poor Russian never gets a breather and is forced to constantly feed corps into the jaws of the German avalanche. There desperately needs to be some supply problems for the Germans and combat bonuses for the Russian during these times. This forces the US/British to either launch an early D-Day, in an attempt to relieve the pressure from the teetering Russians; which is almost doomed to a bad end; or an ahistorical attack on Portugal and Spain. Since the Germans can instantly operationally move and build units in allied countries, this too is usually doomed. Combine this with the fact that the Arsenal of Democracy starts with a paltry 180 MPPs and no HQs and the German can continue to romp in the east even after the US makes an appearance.

I wont even go into some of the more interstingly inventive ways the German can doom the Russians other than to mention one episode of a German amphibious invasion at the beginning of Barbarossa that made D-Day look like a minor outing.

I dont think it will take much to balance things but there are a few key things that need tweaking to really improve the game.

1. Better Allied MPP generation

2. Weather in the east

3. Toned down tech research progression

4. Decreased loot from conquered countries

This will be tricky to balance because you dont want to emasculate the Axis but I would like to see a game where the Germans run roughshod for the first few years and have a good chance to win outright by late '42 early '43 and if they dont then the Allied avalanche should smash them. As it is the German avalanche builds to a crescendo by mid '41 and never looks back, baring any hideously bad German luck. Very good game in spite of these issues and Hubert seems willing to continue to improve the design. I look forward to his continued developement.

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If Scorched Earth is on, I often do have a supply

problem as the Germans. Even if I got captured

Russia cities up to 5, nearby HQs seem to benefit

(or not benefit) in a haphazard manner: one HQ

can enjoy nearly optimal supply while one two

hexes away is stuck at 5. Alright the new patch

might allieviate that (HQ linkage), but then we

have just given the Jerries Yet Another

Advantage... :eek:

John DiFool

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SOunds to me like the poblems are unique to a certain style of play, while the game is balanced to a more "traditional" style.

Me, I would NEVER build ten air fleets. Not because I think it won't work, but because I think it is a gamey exploitation of a system that is optimized for a semi-historical approach, and poorly balanced for a grossly a-historical approach.

So the danger is that you fix the grossly a-historical problemm, and in the process break the historical scenario. Many of the solutions suggested would do exactly that.

The correct solutionis to identify why the a-historical approach works in the game, but not in real life, and try to re-create that limitation.

Note: All this is in reference to PBEM games. Personally, I couldn't care less about balance against the AI. Once I played it through once, I will never do so again.

Jeff Heidman

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Originally posted by Jeff Heidman:

The correct solution is to identify why the a-historical approach works in the game, but not in real life, and try to re-create that limitation.

I think that's an excellent point. Right now I'm playing a very interesting game as Allies. The German player, I believed at the outset, wasn't very good. He managed to capture France, a little behind schedule. He never did take Norway. His Barbarossa wasn't particularly impressive, and he quickly became bogged down on the East Front. It was almost a half dozen turns before he took the Minsk-Kiev line, and over a year before a took Smolensk and the mines in the south. I don't think I've seen more than three tanks the whole time, and they're still at L0: he's just using infantry and air. And the air isn't anything special: he doesn't even have L1 planes.

And he's got me completely on the run. Yes, I just managed to take Paris, which is more loss than gain. (Those 40 MPP's that the Americans were getting now go to the French.) But Moscow just fell, the line in the Caucasus is hanging by a thread, and I'm having a helluva time penetrating on the Western Front.

Why is this happening? Instead of dumping chits into developing jets, he used them for L/R air. The net result is that he's got about 12 airfleets in Russia stationed in various places, and they can reach any point on the Eastern Front. He doesn't even have to move them; most have been stationed around Minsk and Kiev for the past year.

My feeling is that it's not the strength of air that is a problem, it's the ubiquity of it. The reason the "ahistorical approach" works in the game is that you can get away with this: fighters can take off from Riga and strafe targets near Leningrad, then return to base. That didn't happen at any point in the war, let alone in the early stages.

Maybe the best way of reducing the effectiveness of air power is to limit the range of fighters to historical parameters. If range were 4, or even 3 (with 1 increase for every 2 levels of L/R research), you wouldn't have anybody building 20 fighters.

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Jeff, I agree. It is difficult to keep players from doing things in a game in order to win even if there was not a chance of a certain strategy beiong viable in the real world. I dont know what the viable solutions might be but the universal ease of the Axis, both German and Italian, to mount massive seaborne invasions is a big problem. My poor Russians have suffered in two different games from such invasions that would make the actual D-Day landings look like the raid on Dieppe. If it is possible, people will do it and I can't really blame them if that's what it takes to win.

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Excellent point Arby.

Fighters need to have their range decreased without a doubt. It wasn't till late in the war that the Allies ahd a fighter that could escort bombers in to Germany, and even then the thing wasn't carrying a bomb load to attack ground targets!

I think the problem is that there is this "5-step" tech progression for everything. Subs go from 10-15, tanks go from 10-15, etc., etc. Too much cookie-cutter in the tech progression in general.

In fact, the entire tech system kind of rots. Too much variability for something that has a profound effect on the game. I am playing in a PBEM where I never put more than 1-2 points into jet aircraft, but I have level-4 in 1941. Sounds good, but I put 3-4 points every year into industrial tech, and it hasn't moved. So I have level 14 jets that I cannot afford to buy!


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Originally posted by Jeff Heidman:

SOunds to me like the poblems are unique to a certain style of play, while the game is balanced to a more "traditional" style.

Me, I would NEVER build ten air fleets. Not because I think it won't work, but because...

My thoughts exactly Jeff. For me the reason is that it would make the game less fun. It reminds me of the joke where the guy goes to the doctor and says "my arm hurts when I do this, can you help me?" and the doctor says "sure, just don't do it"

Also on the issue of plunder (which John raised) would it be better to give you the *option* of plundering a captured country with the down side being much lower production than if you choose to not plunder. You could possibly get the dibanded value of all captured units for free but furhter plunder would result in reduced production.

[ September 26, 2002, 08:11 PM: Message edited by: Bruce70 ]

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You can build 11 airfleets, but by God you will have trouble maintaining them.

What I am saying is that, even if you have built 11 airfleets, then you're accomplishing a feat by keeping them all in active duty at the same time, over a prolonged time.

You run out of MPP's "very" fast when you keep reinforcing 11 airfleets, this is a very delicate balance, and you shouldn't build more than you can afford to maintain.

Just my 2 cents.


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