Rail Capacity & Sea Transport's Affect on Game Balance

otto

Member
Joined
Aug 6, 2002
Messages
53
Reaction score
0
Location
Norfolk MA, USA
Country
llUnited States
I was reading "Army at Dawn" (very good book regarding America's entry onto the Western Front in the Tunisian Campaign) and it mentioned that the German's had the ability to shift 7 divisions from the Eastern Front to Northern France/Low Countries in 2 weeks. This made me think about Mantis' recent posting/poll regarding game balance.

I am a very firm believer that this game is tilted heavily to the Axis. If the Axis do not control all of Europe including Balkans and Norway (possibly not Narvik and/or Spain) at some point in the Spring of '40 then quite frankly they have been out played. NOTE:This assumes Pre-War builds. This leaves the Axis with the option of bothering to attack Egypt & trigger Spain to completely isolate the Med. or ignore the Med. and hit a VERY lonely Russia in late Spring '40. With Russia alone and the Italians/Croats & Bulgarians "minding the store" in the Med the Germans can focus (minus 1 Army in Norway) on pulverizing Russia. Usually leading to its capture before the US is in with any force. War over.

Back to my original point of this thread/posting. Are the transport abilities too high and if so isn't this the root cause of an overly powerful Axis? I think it may very well be. I am sure Hitler & company would have loved to been able to move 10 Infantry Corps from Northern France to Athens in a week. The way that this game plays the strategic reserve for an Allied landing in France can be conveniently kept around Smolensk. The reality was that the Axis had to have many divisions constantly stationed in France to be ready for the landing.

I am no expert on this topic - which is why I am posting and opening this up to the group. Thoughts gang??
 

Chuck?

Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2002
Messages
1,173
Reaction score
1
Location
On the Lookout
Country
llUnited States
I don't know what type of rail capacity was available to the Germans. Probably very good but it's hard to put an exact figure on it. Also, Mussolini is best known for getting the trains to run on time so that should help rail capacity as well.

It's hard to be in position to attack Russia by June 1940 because you would have to overrun France, North Africa, and the rest of Europe before that. Of course you don't want to wait too long either or the winter could get in the way.
 

Dan Neely

Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2002
Messages
952
Reaction score
0
Location
Johnstown, PA, USA
Country
llUnited States
Originally posted by Chuck
I don't know what type of rail capacity was available to the Germans. Probably very good but it's hard to put an exact figure on it. Also, Mussolini is best known for getting the trains to run on time so that should help rail capacity as well.
He said they ran on time. They didn't.
 

Chuck?

Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2002
Messages
1,173
Reaction score
1
Location
On the Lookout
Country
llUnited States
Originally posted by Dan Neely


He said they ran on time. They didn't.
Maybe there should be a house rule: 'Axis players can only use half of assigned rail transport capacity. The other half just represents fascist propaganda and should be left unused.'

:laugh:
 

Mark Stevens

Europe Aflame Forum Moderator
Joined
Aug 6, 2002
Messages
1,667
Reaction score
4
Location
London (United Kingd
Country
ll
We did try to set the rail capacity at a realistic level but, as you can imagine, it's very difficult. I wonder if those seven divisions were infantry or armoured? Possibly the Axis capacity should fall in a similar way as sea and airlift to reflect the Allied Strategic Bombing campaign but - as several players have pointed out - the increasing Allied heavy bomber force makes it easier to paralyse the Axis rail network by judicious bridge bombing. Even stationing the engineers and railway troops on the bridges will only enable the Axis to keep a limited network operating, and perhaps not leading where the reinforcements are needed.

I still think, Otto, that if you play the latest version against a decent Allied player you'll change your mind about how easy it is as the Axis.

Does any/everyone else still think it's a walkover for the Axis?
 

MadTrapper

Recruit
Joined
May 17, 2003
Messages
7
Reaction score
0
Country
llUnited States
walkover for the axis

Otto. if you think it's a walkover for the Axis... you haven't seen me play. I'll be begging for terms by 1942
 

ER_Chaser

Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2002
Messages
2,962
Reaction score
1
Location
NYC
Country
llChina
Originally posted by Mark Stevens

Does any/everyone else still think it's a walkover for the Axis?
If I want, yes, it will be.

The problem here, Mark, with the EA concept, is that if the Axis does not "walk over" in the first half, then it would be easily "walked over".

How to compromise this problem is tough and I do not have any good suggestion up to the point though.
 

Chuck?

Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2002
Messages
1,173
Reaction score
1
Location
On the Lookout
Country
llUnited States
ER - I agree. It seems to swing very quickly from pro-Axis to pro-Allied in the year 1942. I don't see how the Axis player can hold out to 1945 once they have hit their 'high water mark'.
 

Siberian HEAT

Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2002
Messages
2,069
Reaction score
1
Location
Cheyenne Mtn, CO
Country
llUnited States
If we consider skill levels there is probably no case where say a Jamiam/Mantis/ER Chaser/etc could lose as Axis no matter who is sitting against him. It would be hard to argue that the allies are essentially just punching bags for the first 100 turns and a skilled player is almost always going to overcome the allies and reach Moscow. This is because mastery of the technical aspects of the game greatly reinforces the advantages the Axis already has. Conversely, an expert player sitting on the allied side doesn't have the proficiency or unit strength or shock bonuses to counter said expert Axis player.

Part of the reason I want to create EA 1942 is to find a middle ground where both players have nearly equal chances to tangle horns...instead of one player getting used as a punching bag in the early going.

My all time favorite scenario is still EA, and my favorite game was when I played Wolfe Tone for nearly a year (version 1.5). I was used as a punching bag (as allies) for the first half and survived...and found the second half to be a lot more enjoyable simply because my troopers were able to fight. That game went 308 turns which is rare in EA. Most of them run in the low 100's. I haven't done a study to see if most are axis victories...might be worth checking out from a balance standpoint.
 

Wolfe Tone

Member
Joined
Aug 9, 2002
Messages
407
Reaction score
0
Location
Dublin, Ireland
Country
llIreland
Brian:

I still go 'Damn...why didn't I go for Barbarossa in the Summer of '41'. I think if I had I would have done a lot better, but are there not games of EA where Moscow has fallen and the Axis player has still lost?
Any idea of when your EA version might be ready for? I would love to give it a go!
 

MadTrapper

Recruit
Joined
May 17, 2003
Messages
7
Reaction score
0
Country
llUnited States
balance

Isn't the real problem just that "historical" generals like us who play these games have far too much strategic intelligence that simply wasn't available to the players at the time?

For example, you "know" you're going to lose France if you're the Allies, so although you'll fight hard, you'll avoid getting your forces trapped when the French surrender. Historically you shouldn't "know" that France will surrender, and you shouldn't "know" that Sea Lion is a long shot.

Likewise, there are a hundred other bits of strategic info that all of us knows, and so making flawless decisions through the "rear view mirror" of history gives unfair advantages.

How about a game where options have no "certain" outcome. Hitler didn't know how succesful U-boats or jets were going to be when they were started. How about something that gives you and option "Pursue Jet Aircraft" and then has a 20% chance of giving you an awesome airforce in 100 turns, or an 80% chance of giving you a few pathetic units that don't do much...

You can see where this might lead. It should take some of the known strategic intelligence off the table, and of course since you don't know the outcome, your opponent won't either! He won't know if he should invest in "strategic bombers" if you are only going to shoot them out of the sky with your huge airforce of Me262's in 1941. The "strategic" risk of your decisions will more accurately reflect the historical risks.

The EA game seems to accurately get the mechanics of things down really well, and I know... 500 events... all of them used up... Still, worth some discusion?
 

SkyVon

Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2002
Messages
501
Reaction score
0
Location
Calif., USA
Country
llUnited States
Originally posted by otto
I am a very firm believer that this game is tilted heavily to the Axis. If the Axis do not control all of Europe including Balkans and Norway (possibly not Narvik and/or Spain) at some point in the Spring of '40 then quite frankly they have been out played. was that the Axis had to have many divisions constantly stationed in France to be ready for the landing.
Actually, leaving the Balkans alone is now a viable strategy. What does Yugoslavia get you but a headache? Another sound Yugo strategy is to take the country, then abandon it...those Yugo partisan units can't cross the border and you still have rail access to Rumania through Hungry. What good does attacking Greece do but net you a couple of Supply points. A Greece attack WILL take up some German infantry and can cost you more HRS than it's worth. If there was a naval transport increase when taking Crete, then a DoW on Greece would make more sense. Again, if you do take Greece, why garrison it? The above assumes you've taken the Brits out of the Med...very doable these days. DoW's on Yugo and Greece can also up the US entry. IMO, not worth it.

In my current marathon game with Raver (did you ever get my last turn, Jason?) I have left Yugoslavia and Greece alone...Switzerland too. Axis units in those countries are needed elsewhere (Defending Spain and the final attacks on Stalingrad and Moscow.)

As for the Allies playing on after the loss of France and Russia...why? The Allies cannot hope to win by this point. After Overlord, you'll not be able to keep up the necessary reinforcements to help out those units now getting pummled by 20+ Axis Corps.

I also have a game going against Tigersqn where it's now the sitz, France is out of the war and there are a lot of Germans (inf and armor) in Transjordan/Syria. I feel confident that Egypt will fall very soon. The question before me is, England or Russia in the Sping of '40. I have also left the Balkans alone. I may activate Marta sometime during my England/Russia campaign to gain the supply bonus and bring in the Huns (if I go the Russia route)...at this time, a US entry will not have an effect on whether I win or lose.

The US is now (finally) having an effect on my game with Raver; of course they did activate early 1940 :eek: and it's now almost 1942.
 

Mark Stevens

Europe Aflame Forum Moderator
Joined
Aug 6, 2002
Messages
1,667
Reaction score
4
Location
London (United Kingd
Country
ll
You're absolutely right: even with the few the few randoms we've included (Western Allied entry in an EC game, USEV) it is far too predictable.

The question is, where do we draw the line between historicity and the game aspect? Suppose, for example, that the French don't surrender when Paris falls - maybe it should be Orleans or Lyons as well? It's a perfectly plausible counter-factual arguement that the younger officers and politicians might have fought on longer than actually happened or, even more likely, that the French colonial forces take up Churchill's offer and battle on from North Africa and Syria. All other things being equal, the Axis are then buggered. In the interests of play balance we'd need to introduce something favouring the Axis: the USSR surrenders once the Germans reach Smolensk - Stalin certainly put out peace feelers, which were rejected? Or the Serbian officers' coup is put down and Yugoslavia enters as a full Axis ally? Or the British lose their nerve when France falls - there were plenty of appeasers in the ranks of the senior politicians, and the former King, the Duke of Windsor, was at least lukewarm in his anti-Nazism. Or the US decides to go all out to crush Japan before committing itself to a Continental campaign? Or the Bomb Plot does kill Hitler in 1944? Or the Allies stand firm over Czechoslovakia in 1938? The Republicans, with Franco-British support, win or draw the Spanish Civil War? If the Axis win in the Middle East (Alexandria/Cairo?) the Turkish military draw the obvious conclusion and join the Axis? Germans have the wit to treat the occupied territories in the East with a semblance of decency and the Ukraine and Belorussia leave the USSR and become Axis allies? could ramble on for ages in this vein, and indeed I just have.

Any or all of these as percentage chances would make it a far more interesting and challenging game, but it would rapidly loose any resemblance to WWII in Europe. There's no getting away from the underlying historical dynamics - economic, industrial and demographic - that if the Axis Powers didn't deal the Allies a mortal blow by mid-1942ish they were doomed to - at best - a long and bloody retreat.

If we produce an EA 1.8 (j), and the British surrender on a 25% chance when the Germans take France, would the Allied player enjoy the game more, or less? Ditto the Axis player if the Allies successfully land on the Continent and a couple of News Strings appear: "Hitler killed in Officers' Plot" - "Germany sues for peace, retires to pre-War borders and offers massive reparations"?

I know from personal experience that some players don't like the Vichy and Italian surrender possibilities for Algiers and Sicily, and these actually happened.

The best we can do is lengthen or shorten the time it takes countries to surrender, or allow more of the army to continue fighting, or minor widdles and tiddles of this nature.

Interested in other's opinions on this.
 

Siberian HEAT

Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2002
Messages
2,069
Reaction score
1
Location
Cheyenne Mtn, CO
Country
llUnited States
Originally posted by Wolfe Tone
Brian:

I still go 'Damn...why didn't I go for Barbarossa in the Summer of '41'. I think if I had I would have done a lot better, but are there not games of EA where Moscow has fallen and the Axis player has still lost?
Any idea of when your EA version might be ready for? I would love to give it a go!
Yes, I agree. If you had taken Barbarossa it is almost certain I couldn't have made it back to Berlin before the end of the game. To my knowledge no player has ever captured Moscow and then lost the game...

As for my EA42 plans, I have part of my map complete, and I have initial unit placements on paper, but when I lost my digital files a few months ago it really took the wind out of my sails. Basically I need to find an "Ulver" to go along with my "Mark" as I need a veteran design partner to help if this is going to be done right. So if anyone is interested, drop me a line. Otherwise, all things being equal, it probably won't be ready for playtesting until next year.
 

ER_Chaser

Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2002
Messages
2,962
Reaction score
1
Location
NYC
Country
llChina
Originally posted by Mark Stevens

Interested in other's opinions on this.
Mark, if you would be willing to sacrifice part of the "historical property" of the game, the playability can be improved. (quite a bit IMHO)

Here is some of my thoughts:
1. WWII historically was not balanced ---- mainly only Germany and Japanese vs. the rest of the world. The Axis was anyway doomed if they could not find any favorable "stopping time", i.e. peace terms before a "live or dead" end.

2. Therefore, for the scenario, the balance and historical accuracy can NOT be attained simuntaniously.

3. However, if we are willing to abandon some important historical data, esp. the overwhelming productivity of the Allies, it would be possible to improve the balance.
Because the "productivity" is actually outside of the wargame machine here, (does not belong to the "operational art of war", instead, it is of a higher strategic category.) we can only roughly simulate it and somehow minimize its impact on the outcome of the game. The current version (h) (the only one I took a look) actually did some significant effort on this aspect, i.e., the capture of Baku, etc.. key oil/industry hexes would trigger either new units or new replacements. This is the direction I would suggest to boost. Make the impact of surrenders of the industrial countries with bigger effects (for example, fall of paris will greatly boost Axis replacement and reduce Allies replacement). The replacement multiplier can serve as a rough signature of "productivity". However, Germany still do not have enough units to utilize them ---- one way is to give Germany many empty shell units once it conquer some major powers. (I do not know if the engine limits the toally # of units though.) And the replacement boost will help these new "founded" organizations to gain strength gradually. That is a simulation of the "higher strategic level" (like capturing a city in Civ games). Giving this big advantage to the Axis side (probably unhistorical at all), the Allies then get the compensation of the removal of all early war year shock bonuses. And in return, the Allies would not have any shock bonuses even after the US join the war. i.e., no period shock bonus during the whole game. Only shock bonus triggered by events which lasts no more than 3 turns may happen now and then. And I suggest to award a few Allies TO to get this bonus as well.

Then the whole picture of the game would be: Axis starts with a small high proficieny army which is capable of quick conquest. Allies start with a grand however incompetent army who must defend a vast territory. There was no general shock bonus, thus the conquest conducted by the germans in teh early war time will succeed ---- in the sense of capturing cities, however the true "success" depends on the cost the Axis paid for this. And besides, the allied units won't surrender after their capital falls. Only the replacement and supply award to the Axis. Thus the Axis must also eliminate all the units physically, or at least to some extend. (i.e., some units surrender, some do not. That will make the blow to the capital city less valuable in military sense while more important in 'economy' sense, which, IMHO, is the way it should be.) By doing these, the EA will become a giant battleground for two armies. Of course, the historical accuracy is almost entirely lost there, however, it will be very balanced and the result may rely heavily on the commanders choices.

Unfortunately, using capital-replacement award comprehensively may have a serious problem --- to my knowledge: is it true that the engine only allows "replacement multiplier"? If so, that is a big problem, because the replacement increase should be "addition" on capture/lost of capitals, not multiplication. For example, say, Paris worthes a factor of 1.2, Belgrade worthes 1.04 ---- thus if Paris is captured first and then belgrade captured, the increase of replacement CAUSED by the capture of Belgrade would be (let us say, 1000 RHS replacement at the beginning), 1000*1.2*1.04 - 1000*1.2=48; while if Belgrade captured alone, the increase would be 1000*1.04 -1000 = 40. I do not see how the existence of Paris can increase the productivity by 8 more HRS for Belgrade. Of course, this may be only a minor point of the game and players may well ignore this logical difficulty ---- esp. because besides, if you capture both cities, the result of the replacement will be the same regardless of which one is captured first.
 

Mark Stevens

Europe Aflame Forum Moderator
Joined
Aug 6, 2002
Messages
1,667
Reaction score
4
Location
London (United Kingd
Country
ll
Only thing I can think of offhand is for the capture of 'strategic' cities to trigger the disbandment of a unit containing a pool of troops and equipment in favour of the victor, i.e. the same as for Paris and Baku.
 

SkyVon

Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2002
Messages
501
Reaction score
0
Location
Calif., USA
Country
llUnited States
That makes great sense! As the Germans advance deeper and deeper into Russia, the available pool should decrease. OR, instead of all those units appearing along the eastern edge of the map, move some of their start points to western cities. Not all mind you, but most of the ones appearing later (1 yr ) into the Russian campaign should be affected by the German advance.

An earlier release of pro-Axis Russians would also be helpful here.
 

Mark Stevens

Europe Aflame Forum Moderator
Joined
Aug 6, 2002
Messages
1,667
Reaction score
4
Location
London (United Kingd
Country
ll
Move reinforcements linked to the western cities? Hmmm...

Remember that in late 1942 the Germans held Kiev, Smolensk, Vitebsk, Orel, Kursk, Belgorod, Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Stalino, Rostov, Maikop, had Leningrad under blockade and Stalingrad in ruins, but the USSR was still producing men and weapons at a vastly higher rate than the Axis, and was the beneficiary of huge quantities of western aid: enough, as we all know, to launch the massive counter-attack at Stalingrad and then grind the Germans back to Berlin.

One of the main strategic realities of the campaign in the East was the German inability, despite occupying the most productive and urbanised regions of the pre-war USSR and causing enormous numbers of casualties in only a few months, to prevent this steady flow of reinforcements and armaments.

After the initial euphoria of the Barbarossa advance had faltered, no responsible German general (I'm ignoring Hitler's immediate staff lackeys) though that they could 'win' the war: the best they hoped for was a permanent stalemate as far east as possible. You could argue that the scenario's a bit generous in allowing the occupation of Moscow and Stalingrad to cause a Soviet surrender. Even had they cleared Stalingrad, the effect would have been more psychological than military: there were still huge numbers of men being formed into new armies, equipped by the trans-Ural factories and Lend-Lease, waiting on the other side of the Volga.
 

SkyVon

Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2002
Messages
501
Reaction score
0
Location
Calif., USA
Country
llUnited States
Good points, but what about Baku and that region? What affect would losing those states have on Russia in terms of economy (oil) and manpower?

Would a German re-occupation of Terran (after a Soviet move there) along with a pro-Axis coup in Iraq cause the Muslims in the USSR to rise up? How would a major revolt in Kazakstan, for example, affect Moscow?

Just throwing some stuff out for debate :D
 

Dan Neely

Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2002
Messages
952
Reaction score
0
Location
Johnstown, PA, USA
Country
llUnited States
Man power wouldn't've been too serious I think (compared to what they'd lost elsewhere), but the oil fields provided 75%(?) of the total russian oil production. Thier loss would've had a catastrophic impact on the russian economy. The loss of the persian corridor would eliminate the 'safe' route for lendlease. The Murmansk convoys were being brutally hammered at this point in time.

If the Germans pushed far enough east, manpower would become a problem for the russians. Quite simply there are a finite number of population centers available for largescale conscription, if the Germans could overrun enough of them the russians would be reduced to partisan tactics.
 
Top