Final discussion about game balance

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Peter Stauffenberg
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Final discussion about game balance

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Thu Mar 15, 2012 1:44 am

We're going to deliver the GS v2.1 to Slitherine on March 20th so now is the final chance we have to fine tune the game balance.

I see that some people mention that the Russian 1941 counter offensive in Russia is a bit weaker than it should have been. So Germany can more easily hold the position during the winter.

I therefore want your input regarding the game balance in Russia. Do you feel it's balanced now so Germany can push the Russians hard, but the tide will turn late 1942 with decent Russian defense? Or have we maybe overcompensated a bit?

Some things to consider are.

1. Should we allow again neutral countries (USA and USSR) to use research focus before they join the Allies?
That would help Russia getting critical techs earlier

2. Should we maybe increase the one time efficiency hit for Axis units slightly.
These are the current values:
AXIS_WINTER_SUFFER 35 /* Severe winter penalty in 1939. Max efficiency will this value lower */
LESS_WINTER_SUFFER_PER_YEAR 5 /* Winter suffer drops by this value per year */
WINTER_SUFFER_OFFSET 5 /* Severe winter efficiency drop to all units will be Axis_winter_suffer minus this value */

Axis_winter_suffer will be 25 in 1941 so max efficiency for Axis units are lower during severe winter than normal. That seems to be quite fair, but the initial efficiency drop is maybe too low. Winter_suffer_offset is currently 5 so the immediate efficiency drop is 25-5 = 20. Maybe we could set the offset to 0 so the immediate efficiency loss will be 25 (same as the max efficiency drop). That means the German units ill drop slightly more in efficiency from their current value, but if they had efficiency lower than max then they can regain up to max -25.

3. Should we maybe get rid of the chance of severe winter -2 turns as a possibility?
These are the current settings.
WINTER_DURATION 5 /*how many turns severe winter in Russia last. Start time random from October till January */
/* Variation of severe winter length */
CHANGE_FOR_DURATION 60 /* 0..100. Accumulated chance that length = WINTER_DURATION. % chance = 60 */
CHANCE_FOR_DURATION_MINUS_1 80 /* 0..100. Accumulated chance that length = WINTER_DURATION - 1. % chance = 20 */
CHANCE_FOR_DURATION_MINUS_2 90 /* 0..100. Accumulated chance that length = WINTER_DURATION - 2. % chance = 10 */
CHANCE_FOR_DURATION_PLUS_1 100 /* 0..100. Accumulated chance that length = WINTER_DURATION + 1. % chance = 10

Maybe we can set values to:
CHANGE_FOR_DURATION 60 /* 0..100. Accumulated chance that length = WINTER_DURATION. % chance = 60 */
CHANCE_FOR_DURATION_MINUS_1 80 /* 0..100. Accumulated chance that length = WINTER_DURATION - 1. % chance = 20 */
CHANCE_FOR_DURATION_MINUS_2 80 /* 0..100. Accumulated chance that length = WINTER_DURATION - 2. % chance = 0 */
CHANCE_FOR_DURATION_PLUS_1 100 /* 0..100. Accumulated chance that length = WINTER_DURATION + 1. % chance = 20 /*

This means we increase chance of duration +1 from 10% to 20% and reduce the duration -2 from 10% to 0%. This means the severe winter will last 4-6 turns. Remember that as long as the severe winter is active the Axis units will remain at a lower max efficiency. Once the weather changes to winter or mud they can start regaining efficiency to the max.

4. Siberian reserves spawn turn.
SIBERIAN_RESERVE_SPAWN_TURN 41 /* November 9th 1941 */

Remember that we delayed the spawn turn by 1 turn. Should we maybe change it back from turn 41 to turn 40. This way the reserves arrive slightly earlier and can be railed to the front line in time to be used during severe winter. This is maybe not needed if we remove the chance for severe winter duration - 2.

5. Soviet strategic reserve units
/* Soviet strategic reserve units */
NUMBER_OF_STRATEGIC_RESERVE_UNITS 8 /* 0..99 Number of garrisons that will be placed in the force pool */

Currently this value is set to 8. Is that maybe too low? Should we increase it to 10 or maybe even 12? That means a chance for Russia to put more stumbling blocks in front of Moscow or Stalingrad / Rostov.

6. Russian start tech levels.
We lowered some of their tech levels.

Infantry: Artillery and fixed defenses are at 1 and I think that is correct. Russia invested heavily in artillery for their soldiers.
We dropped antitank from 1 to 0, probably to make it harder for the Russians to fend off German armored attacks in 1941. Was that the right thing to do or should we get the value back?

Armor: We lowered blitzkrieg from 1 to 0 and that's maybe correct because the Russians had powerful tanks, but a poor strategy to use them in an effective way. Armor and tank destroyers remain at 1. That is probably also right because Russia had the biggest tanks in 1941. They didn't perform well until the T34 showed up due to poor strategy more than the tanks being inadequate. Blitzkrieg is used for tank strategy more than the actual firepower of the guns.

Air: Dogfight is a 0 and that's probably right because it took awhile until the Russian fighters could fight the Luftwaffe. Germany had air superiority for some time. Close air support is at 0 and maybe it should be upped to 1. The reason I say so is that one reason the Russians can't perform well during the winter is that their bombers don't hit well in winter strikes. Russia will almost certainly put focus on dogfight and that means close air support will be the tech lagging behind. Strategic warfare is a 1 and that's right because it means Russian air units have increased attack range from the start. This seems to be correct. The country is huge and the Russian air units needed range more than max firepower.

Modifying Russian techs should probably be considered if we DON'T allow neutral Russia to use focus points (point 1 above). If we allow use of focus points again then modding techs is maybe less important because Russia can compensate by setting focus on the important tech earlier. If we want to change anything then it could be Close air support. Changing close air support is maybe not needed as much if we let the immediate winter efficiency loss to increase from 20 to 25. The the Axis units will more likely drop to yellow (German) and orange (Axis minors) on the start of the severe winter.

I just present to you possible minor tweaks we can do in order to give the Russians a slightly better chance to be dangerous to the Germans during the winter of 1941. Before they were too dangerous and we therefore nerfed the Russians. Now the Russian bite seems to be so weak so the Axis players don't fear the winter offensive anymore and fight on as long as the weather is good.

We will probably only make a few tweaks (if any). I just want to show you the possibilities we have that won't affect the overall game balance. We just want to give the Russians a slightly better chance to bite back in the winter of 1941, without having a chance to cripple the Axis. We want the Axis player to consider making partial retreats prior to the winter to hold river lines etc. The Germans should fear the winter and deal with it.

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Re: Final discussion about game balance

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Thu Mar 15, 2012 1:49 am

Regarding Axis progress in 1941 with a May start I think it's good. Germany could take Leningrad or Moscow and easily get to Rostov. Stalingrad is within reach if you're aggressive. I think the real Germans could have done the same. They started 2 turns later due to the need to clean up the Balkans. Still they almost took Moscow, cut off Leningrad and captured Rostov (for a turn).

So I therefore think we don't have to tweak how the Germans advance. The rail rules and rail depots seem to give the Germans a chance for swift progress without allowing them to "teleport" their units to the front line every turn. I'm happy with the game balance until the Russian winter begins.

I agree with those saying that the Russian bite during the winter is a bit weak and therefore the Germans are in a very good position in 1942 to push very far into Russia. Russia should not be able to launch a full scale winter offensive, but they should be able to concentrate their mechs and push the Germans back in the critical area. E. g. if that area is around Stalingrad then the Russians should be able to maybe push the Germans back to Rostov. If Moscow fell then Russia should be able to try to liberate Moscow during the severe winter.

So please post your opinions now because it's the final chance we have to make minor tweaks to GS v2.1.

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Re: Final discussion about game balance

Post by richardsd » Thu Mar 15, 2012 2:27 am

Stauffenberg wrote:Regarding Axis progress in 1941 with a May start I think it's good. Germany could take Leningrad or Moscow and easily get to Rostov. Stalingrad is within reach if you're aggressive. I think the real Germans could have done the same. They started 2 turns later due to the need to clean up the Balkans. Still they almost took Moscow, cut off Leningrad and captured Rostov (for a turn).

So I therefore think we don't have to tweak how the Germans advance. The rail rules and rail depots seem to give the Germans a chance for swift progress without allowing them to "teleport" their units to the front line every turn. I'm happy with the game balance until the Russian winter begins.

I agree with those saying that the Russian bite during the winter is a bit weak and therefore the Germans are in a very good position in 1942 to push very far into Russia. Russia should not be able to launch a full scale winter offensive, but they should be able to concentrate their mechs and push the Germans back in the critical area. E. g. if that area is around Stalingrad then the Russians should be able to maybe push the Germans back to Rostov. If Moscow fell then Russia should be able to try to liberate Moscow during the severe winter.

So please post your opinions now because it's the final chance we have to make minor tweaks to GS v2.1.
I essentially agree with all of this. The two tweaks I think we need to think about are:

1. the Germans essentially take no casualties in the Summer of 41,

this could be addressed by starting the INF tech 1 higher (as it used to be) or allowing neutrals to use focus (or both!) - I would vote for just starting the INF tech higher

2. Russian winter is no problem at all for the Axis

I think we absolutely have to remove the option for the shortest winter - its bad enough Barbarossa can start in April!.
I also think the higher drop is appropriate as the Germans just aren't suffering in winter. I am not sure that the Siberians need to come earlier though

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Re: Final discussion about game balance

Post by Cybvep » Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:20 am

Remove the chance for fair weather in April and the chance for very short severe winter. Both these instances have crippling consequences for the Soviets. It's bad enough to deal with May Barbarossa.

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Re: Final discussion about game balance

Post by Kragdob » Thu Mar 15, 2012 7:22 am

Stauffenberg wrote:I agree with those saying that the Russian bite during the winter is a bit weak and therefore the Germans are in a very good position in 1942 to push very far into Russia. Russia should not be able to launch a full scale winter offensive, but they should be able to concentrate their mechs and push the Germans back in the critical area. E. g. if that area is around Stalingrad then the Russians should be able to maybe push the Germans back to Rostov. If Moscow fell then Russia should be able to try to liberate Moscow during the severe winter.
I'm for tweaking here:
=> sever winter minimum is 4 turns, have maximum at 8 turns (with 10% chance) just to have Axis Player prepare for a possibility of very hard winter which may cause him to be less aggresive in fall 1941.
=> max drop in 1941 increased from 25 to 35. This makes German units drop below 50 in efficiency for SW time
Why? Both Soviet counteroffensives in 1941 was successful not because of strength of the Red Army but rather because of weakness of German Wehrmaht during their first real winter. Soviet counter offensive at Moscow is good example - Germans front line virtually disappeared after attack of General Frost on December 5th.
Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

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Re: Final discussion about game balance

Post by pk867 » Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:54 am

I have the opinion that the Germans have nothing to fear anymore in winter. Severe or otherwise.

1) drop the chance for 4 turn SW.

2) for 5 turns 10 or 5% the Hard winters were well known in the 40's in Russia. They maybe milder now, but back in history they were very tough going.

3) the average of 6 turns or longer gives the Russians the opportunity to attack, but also to rest if he is getting battered by a very strong and aggressive offensive.

4) my numbers are 5% for 5 turns, 80% for 6, and if we only go +1 then 15%. if we want more then the extreme would be 5%. any combo with the premise that the low end is 5% (i.e. 5 turns)

5) no fair weather in April in the North / East zone.

6) I like the random research. I sometimes get better progress than focused. ?? Focused is fine or already have it set at the beginning of the game with nuetrals can not do focused research.

7) Yes have the values returned for INF for defense and anti-tank The infantry are just experience makers for the Germans. I do not know about the close air support there are only 2 TAC's at the start so maybe so up the close air-support.

8.) change the winter offset for Axis EFF to 0.

I was placing new units 4 turns after the start of Barbarossa and those units had better starting EFF then units that sat the whole time with a '5' value leader. I think that is a problem. The Russians are not regaining EFF fast enough.

In 41' the Axis should suffer -25 at least. It represents the unknown that caught the Axis by surprise. Maybe have the base as it currently, as low percentage (10%), but have it variable with larger EFF loss. That will put the gamble and uncertainty into the Severe winters for the Axis.

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Re: Final discussion about game balance

Post by richardsd » Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:00 am

yes EFF is a problem, my Russian INF who have been standing still in fornt of Moscow for all but the first and second turn of Barbarossa, with an 8 leader have the same EFF as the German INF who have marched and faught all the way there and suffered the severe winter (well aparently not!)

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Re: Final discussion about game balance

Post by pk867 » Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:20 am

I believe there should be an offset for Mechs for the
Russians. Maybe some positive offset to increase the
The number of Mechs starting in 42' the Russians start above
And are always at the limit. This also hampers the Russians trying to go on the offensive late 42' or into 43'
You will be paying the same as an armor. The Russian armor
is not the offensive arm. It's the Mechs. They have better attributes
for defense to hold the line and to go over on the offensive in 43'.
Now for my games it is in 44' and I am at Gorki and the Caucasians.

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Re: Final discussion about game balance

Post by Cybvep » Thu Mar 15, 2012 12:49 pm

6) I like the random research. I sometimes get better progress than focused. ?? Focused is fine or already have it set at the beginning of the game with nuetrals can not do focused research.
Maybe a good compromise would be to set focus points on defensive techs for the Soviets? The player could always change them back to balanced, as it's free.

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Re: Final discussion about game balance

Post by Diplomaticus » Thu Mar 15, 2012 1:20 pm

I'll add my voice to the chorus: Severe Winter is broken and needs to be fixed. The suggestions above seem fine. Just making it more like it was before, when Axis really had to fear SW and prepare for it.

I also vote that we should eliminate chance of clear weather in April of 1941. If we could set the code so that just those 2 April turns were 0% clear, I think we could leave the weather tables alone otherwise.

I would support either the proposal to let neutrals use focus or the idea of bumping up the infantry tech slightly. Not both.

IMO we don't need any more strategic reserve gars, nor is it necessary to bring in the shock armies sooner.

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Re: Final discussion about game balance

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Thu Mar 15, 2012 1:39 pm

This is the current USSR morale loss when Barbarossa starts.
DOW_MORALE_LOSS_USSR 30

Another possibility could be to increase the surprise reduction from the current 8 to 10.
SURPRISE_REDUCTION_PER_TURN 8 /* Surprise regain per turn after DoW */

That means USSR will regain efficiency at full rate 3 turns after Barbarossa started instead of 4 turns. This will affect France too so they will regain efficiency at full rate after 2 turns instead of 3 turns. Once there is surprise remaining for a country then they regain efficiency at half rate (5-7 instead of 10-14).

So such a change will mean the Russians units who flee the west will have a better chance to get above 60+ efficiency when the Germans reach the main Russian line. This change will also mean the Germans will take slightly higher losses from August when attacking Russian cities west of the main defense line.

Remember that we made life a little bit harder for Russia with the rail changes because they now can't rail many front line units to safety. They have to move them to a rail depot or city. If a unit moves instead of rests then it won't gain as much efficiency.

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Re: Final discussion about game balance

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Thu Mar 15, 2012 1:44 pm

We have to make sure we don't make changes that would make it harder for the Germans to push eastwards. We want the Germans to have a chance to try for Moscow, Leningrad and / or Rostov.

We also don't want to make changes that will boost Russia more in the end game than in the 1941 winter offensive. So dealing with the surprise remaining will only affect 1941 and dealing with severe winter turns will only affect winter play (with less effect after 1941 since the efficiency lost decreases per year).

Giving Russia more tech means they will be stronger in the end-game. Allowing them to have focus again will have less of an effect, but could encourage Allied players to max/min situations like USA focusing on infantry and UK on armor and Russia on a particular armor tech.

So we have to be careful about the consequences of what we do. We do NOT want to reverse all the nerfing we did with Russia some versions ago. If we do then Russia will become too dangerous during the winter as they used to be. So we need to reverse SOME of the changes we made. Which ones we should reverse is still open to discussion. So please give us your suggestions.

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Re: Final discussion about game balance

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Thu Mar 15, 2012 1:52 pm

I think actually it's good the nerfing we did with Russia managed to change Russia from being too powerful to too weak during the winter offensive. That means the balance we want is somewhere between the current rules and how it was before we nerfed Russia. If Russia still had been too powerful then further tweaks would have been more risky.

I feel like we're doing something similar to setting up an F1 car to a race. We tweak various parts and measure the impact. In F1 you want a neutral car in all corners and high straight line speed. Some tweaks give you oversteer, some give you understeer and some create too much drag so you're slow on the main straight. So you tweak and try to find a compromise that is good enough to get you to pole or close enough so you can win the race.

We're in the same situation. We have got most corners right and need a tweak for a corner we experience oversteer in. Before the tweaks the corner had understeer. So we have a good feeling what we need to do. We hope make this corner neutral won't create understeer / oversteer in other corners.

Regardless of how we tweak we have to accept that our "F1 car" will never be perfectly balanced. There will always be room for improvements. Still, if the balance is good enough to give us pole position we will be happy with the car setup. At the moment I feel we have a "car" that will give us a podium position, maybe not a victory.

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Re: Final discussion about game balance

Post by Cybvep » Thu Mar 15, 2012 2:03 pm

No changes to Fall Gelb. We are trying to change the balance during Barbarossa, not Case Yellow.

Would it be possible to automatically set focus points on defensive techs at the beginning of the scenario and allow the Allied player to change this back to balanced if they want? Or maybe allow the Soviets to set focus points from Jan 1941?

It seems that most beta testers think that there should be no April Barbarossa ever and that severe winter penalty should be harsher.

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Re: Final discussion about game balance

Post by rkr1958 » Thu Mar 15, 2012 2:30 pm

I think we've got it almost right. My recommendations are:

1. Make the chance for fair weather in April 1941 0%.

2. Increase the incentive for the axis to take Greece. I think we've got the incentive right from Yugosolvia. That is increase oil production and additional garrisons if axis controlled. With respect to Greece, what if we increased the number of Italian surrender cities needed by 1 if the axis control Athens. That is, Athens is not technically a surrender city but in effect it increases the number needed by 1 from 5 to 6.

3. With respect to Russia I think the only fix we need it to the severe winter. I don't think we want to undo all the changes where we were before where the axis has almost no chance to get to Moscow or Leningrad in 1941. That was frustrated as the axis. I agree that we don't want to give the Russians the ability to launch a general offensive across the entire front in 1941 either. The Russians should have bit but only in one sector (e.g., Moscow, Leningrad or the south); but not across the entire front. I'm not sure what the soultion to that it though.

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Re: Final discussion about game balance

Post by KingHunter3059 » Thu Mar 15, 2012 2:31 pm

Stauffenberg wrote:This is the current USSR morale loss when Barbarossa starts.
DOW_MORALE_LOSS_USSR 30

Another possibility could be to increase the surprise reduction from the current 8 to 10.
SURPRISE_REDUCTION_PER_TURN 8 /* Surprise regain per turn after DoW */

That means USSR will regain efficiency at full rate 3 turns after Barbarossa started instead of 4 turns. This will affect France too so they will regain efficiency at full rate after 2 turns instead of 3 turns. Once there is surprise remaining for a country then they regain efficiency at half rate (5-7 instead of 10-14).

So such a change will mean the Russians units who flee the west will have a better chance to get above 60+ efficiency when the Germans reach the main Russian line. This change will also mean the Germans will take slightly higher losses from August when attacking Russian cities west of the main defense line.

Remember that we made life a little bit harder for Russia with the rail changes because they now can't rail many front line units to safety. They have to move them to a rail depot or city. If a unit moves instead of rests then it won't gain as much efficiency.
This I Think, is a good course, and one that I would support. I think the 'tweaks' in the severe winter should remain as is.


Jay
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Re: Final discussion about game balance

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Thu Mar 15, 2012 3:28 pm

rkr1958 wrote:I think we've got it almost right. My recommendations are:

1. Make the chance for fair weather in April 1941 0%.

2. Increase the incentive for the axis to take Greece. I think we've got the incentive right from Yugosolvia. That is increase oil production and additional garrisons if axis controlled. With respect to Greece, what if we increased the number of Italian surrender cities needed by 1 if the axis control Athens. That is, Athens is not technically a surrender city but in effect it increases the number needed by 1 from 5 to 6.

3. With respect to Russia I think the only fix we need it to the severe winter. I don't think we want to undo all the changes where we were before where the axis has almost no chance to get to Moscow or Leningrad in 1941. That was frustrated as the axis. I agree that we don't want to give the Russians the ability to launch a general offensive across the entire front in 1941 either. The Russians should have bit but only in one sector (e.g., Moscow, Leningrad or the south); but not across the entire front. I'm not sure what the soultion to that it though.
1. I support to set fair weather to 0% in April.

2. I think the current number of surrender cities is good (5 for Italy). So if we want to change anything then I think we should reduce the number to 4 if Athens is not Axis controlled. That means it will be easier for the Italians to surrender if the Germans bypass Greece. I think it was important for the Italian morale to win the war against Greece that they started, even if it meant having the Germans do it. So with no Greece under Axis control then Italy would have even less reason to remain in the war.

An alternative could be to let Greece join the Allies at a certain date like November 1940 to simulate Mussolini's invasion of Greece. Som players don't like that, though, because the decision was stupid and caused problems for the Axis war plans. Players don't like to be forced into a bad situation.

3. A third option could be to spawn an Italian mech unit in e. g. Taranto on the turn Greece is activated. That could simulate Italian support for the offensive war against Greece and it can be railed / shipped to Albania or shipped to Libya.

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Re: Final discussion about game balance

Post by Schnurri » Thu Mar 15, 2012 3:57 pm

Two cents

Is it possible to set Italian surrender conditions based on date? For example, if it was 3 cities in 40-42 this would make it riskier for the Axis to just abandon NA and garrison Sicily. An aggressive Allied player could take out Italy with just Tunis, Caligieri and Tripoli. Then, if Italy survives, make it 4 in 43 and 5 in 44. The key to Morris is focus all efforts on one goal and just hold on everywhere else. This way if all his air and ground units were in Russia, England alone could probably take out the Italians in 41 and certainly when the US came in. If we leave the Russians as weak as they are now the Axis could garrison the Med more with a weaker Barbarossa but still able to get to Rostov and maybe Leningrad.

Another idea without major tweaking of the Russians would be in the initial placement of units. Currently a number of MECHs can be ignored and caught by infantry rather than focusing the armor on these units. Force to the Axis to either go for the units before they are railed away or risk facing them at a later date.

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Re: Final discussion about game balance

Post by pk867 » Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:16 pm

Yes to 0% for fair in April.

I still believe that the average of SW is 6 with a 1 turn short or longer as discussed. The offset should be set to 0 from 5, I can accept that for now.

I would say leave the focus for labs for neutrals the way it currently is in v2.1 .

I think that the regain for surprise EFF should be 3 turns or 2 not four that is definitely too long. For 2 turns they are only going to gain 14 from the thirty's

so now they are low forty. Then at 14, it will take 3 turns after that to reach the 70's. Which will only mean a small number of troops because there will be a lot of units moving to get away from the Germans.

The Russians have to try and cover a very long front as compared to France. You can leave the French the way it currently is 4 turns.

We know that works. The French thought it was the same way they fought in WW1. Stalin has been observing the Axis slice through opponents
so the surprise should be there, but not as long.

I would not change Italy, except for Borger's dropping it to 4 cities if Greece is Neutral. Yes the Italians started it, but we cannot force the player into it.

So you could call it an ceasefire if the Axis does not go after Italy

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Re: Final discussion about game balance

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:18 pm

We can certainly let the number of Italian surrender cities be variable. One simple way to do this could be to set the value to 3 and add 1 if the year = 1942 and 2 if the year is 1943+

Another way is to keep the value fixed at 3 and add 1 if Athens is Axis controlled and add another 1 if there are any Italian corps / mech / armor units inside a core Russian hex (morale boost from supporting the Axis war effort in Russia. Morale boost will be lost if the italian units are destroyed or withdrawn).

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