game imbalances in 3.1

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cuprof
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game imbalances in 3.1

Post by cuprof » Fri Mar 25, 2016 7:47 pm

3.1 is an improvement over earlier versions IMO, but I think there are still some important imbalances in it. There are 3 in particular - I'd be interested in hearing others' opinions:
1) ARM units are of ~ no use. In all 3.1 games I've played, they get absolutely mauled by TACs by ~41-42. E.g., two high level (I maxed out on their labs) soviet ARMs were taken from 10 steps to 1 step with just 2 TAC attacks each - zero ground attacks! I believe that happened in summer of '43. I've stopped investing in ARM labs or in ever buying any ARMs over and above what's already on the board. As axis, ARM have some utility in 39-42 but their worth is seriously downgraded by their oil usage and the fact that they become downright liabilities by 43. As allies, there is zero use for them. In the actual war, ARM units were still highly important, even in '45. Have others noticed this issue? Should the ARM attack bonus be dialed down a bit in the next version?

2) Related, I think that TACs are a bit too powerful. Obviously, the are important and they should be, but I've found it almost useless to attack without a TAC attack first. That also seems somewhat unrealistic. E.g., several soviet attacks, especially counter-attacks in 41-42, were successful with only minimal air help (supported mostly by artillery).

3) Perhaps the biggest issue in my view is that experience has become too important in this version. A 3 or 4 XP unit becomes a super-unit, to the point that there is a great deal of incentive to engage in very 'gamey' strategies, such as shuttling important (already 1 or 2 XP) units to partisans or weak units so that they gain XP, or keeping axis air units attacking weak partisans/GARs every turn possible to build up XP. Whereas the first two issues I mentioned (about ARMs and TACs) affect allies and axis about equally and thus are more of an issue about how realistic the game is than its balance, this issue gives a huge advantage to the axis and therefore strongly affects game balance. In previous versions of the game, I lost almost always as axis against opponents of similar skill. Now, I find that whoever plays axis tends to win. While I think XP is important, I do wonder whether its effects should be toned down somewhat in the next version of the game.

Combining all the issues above, it seems that a "seal the med" strategy as axis has become almost unbeatable. Don't build ARM but build lots of TACs and INF early. All the fighting the axis engage in 39-42 create a lot of axis super units. By '42 Barbarossa these TACs will be super units and the soviet units will simply melt away as the TAC+INF tear through them. The counter attacks of 43-45 are then successfully blunted by strategic use of TACs and your now super-unit INF in defensive positions.

Anyway, nice work on a great game to all the game developers out there. Thanks!

sPzAbt653
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Re: game imbalances in 3.1

Post by sPzAbt653 » Sat Mar 26, 2016 8:52 pm

I am just a simple rookie, but I'll throw in my initial impressions on these topics.

1) ARM units are of ~ no use. I noticed the issues that you raised here, so much so that I started scanning this forum for clues, hints, tactics, etc. I came across another similar comment and the poster went on to recommend not buying any ARM, use MECH instead [sorry I can't remember who to attribute that to]. So in my current game I have done that and now I do not have to worry about the fragile panzer units. MECH's aren't quite as good on the offense but they do well enough. It may be that ARM needs a little boost in defense of TAC's.

2) Related, I think that TACs are a bit too powerful. All that I have noted is that making a serious attack without ground support is not recommended, while having ground support will pretty much ensure success. Even a -1 TAC result to the defender seems to have a great effect at disrupting his ability to defend. To your point about artillery, would it be reasonable to give the Soviets an incentive to develop more artillery than TAC's ? I don't know the game mechanis well enough yet to know if that would make sense or what other effect[s] it may have.

3) Perhaps the biggest issue in my view is that experience has become too important in this version. Well, new units for all countries were exposed to 'light' combat before being sent to the grinder areas, where possible. So maybe its not really gamey to do the same if the player wants to spend the resources to do so. Plus, green units from all countries sometimes would fall apart on first contact.

Don't build ARM but build lots of TACs and INF early. That sounds like something interesting to try. Of course, I am only playing the computer so probably anything would work. And I will also say thank you to the developers for making a good game !

petertodd
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Re: game imbalances in 3.1

Post by petertodd » Sun Apr 03, 2016 7:25 pm

I mostly agree with all three of your points. I never build ARMs as Allies, mainly because they are way to vulnerable to German TACs. However, I do find ARMs have their uses for the Axis, especially if they maintain a tech lead (both armor and tank-destroyer strategies are important for defense against TACs). For both sides TACs are the essential unit for offense (and Axis defense--they're great for sinking invasion transports). While I do build ARMs for the Axis, I believe I could get along without them. I could never get along without TACs. They do seem too powerful to me. I do think the experience advantage may be excessive as well. I don't think I agree, though, that the game is unbalanced in favor of the Axis.

flybird
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Re: game imbalances in 3.1

Post by flybird » Sun Jun 12, 2016 1:48 am

I agree. It's true.

Peter Stauffenberg
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Re: game imbalances in 3.1

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Sun Jun 12, 2016 2:30 pm

There are a lot of changes between GS v3.1 and v3.2. Tactical bombers are toned down a bit especially on the anti tank.

XP is altered a bit so you get less XP from less challenging battles especially vs garrison sized units. In addition we added a rule that XP given is modified by the XP level difference between units. Let's say you get 3 XP if a corps unit attacks a corps unit. Then a XP level 3 unit attacking a XP level 1 corps will only get 3-1 = 1 XP. If an XP level 1 corps attacks an XP level 4 corps then you get 3 + (4-1) = 6 XP.

So it will become harder to get those higher XP levels. Newly built units can more quickly catch up when going after more experienced XP units.

We've added new unit types, new terrain, changed the map and OOB considerably. So GS v3.2 is very different from how GS v3.1 is.

My experience is that armor units aren't glass cannon units. If you don't invest in armor then you don't get the vital bonuses to survivability and ground defense. One example is to try the 1944 scenario and let the Allied tac bombers bomb the King Tiger panzers. It's pretty hard to inflict damage on them, especially if they have high XP.

It you fall behind tech wise on your panzers then they can become vulnerable to concentrated air strikes. In such situations you keep them out of airstrike range. USSR 1941 tanks before the winter offensive is one example. Allied tanks in 1941-1942 is another. However, the Allies don't fight in areas heavily infested with German tac bombers. They are in Egypt and later Morocco and Algeria. Once the Allied units get to italy they should have air superiority.

I build quite a few CV's as the Allies. They are great at sailing into the Adriatic Sea, Gulf of Lyons etc. harassing German air bases. German tac bombers there won't be left alone to fly offensive missions. You need enough CV units so you can also deal with Luftwaffe fighters. Quite often I see the Germans evacuate the Luftwaffe when swarmed by Allied CV's and other air units. So the invasion of Italy often happens with little interference from the Luftwaffe.

When I play the Russians I often initiate battles without air support. Especially during the winter. The odds are bad, but the key is to keep the pressure on the Axis all the time. The Russians have the resources to repair losses and rotate fresh units to the front line every turn. This way you create cracks you can exploit. I use infantry units to open the hole and tank and mech units to destroy the rear Axis units (mech, armor etc.).

So I can't say I feel the armor units are useless. I depend on armor to get the job done. However, I know when the armor units are red flags for the enemy and then I keep them out of harm's way. I even keep my mechs out of harm's way as the Russians in fair weather until 1943. The Germans love to strike guards units or armor, mech. So just keep such units out of the way. Use them offensively in the winter until they can withstand being harassed.

Later in the war the Germans don't have the oil to use tac bombers turn after turn against Russian mech and armor units. One way to really cripple the German economy is to build lots of fighters as the Russians and let them intercept Axis airstrikes. Fighter escorts have to fight and if the Russians have more fighters then even the bombers get hit. The Germans burn a lot of oil and get a huge PP repair bill. The same do the Russians, but they can afford it. If the Western Allies do the same then you have found an easy way to force the Axis player to ground his air units. I encourage the Axis player to intercept my strategic bombers because I want them to take hits.

When you play as the Allies you need to think many turns ahead. Keeping the pressure on the Axis every turn despite bad combat odds is key to seizing the initiative later. If you allow the Germans breathing space to reepair and plug holes then you will progress too slowly.

Armored units were in fact quite vulnerable to air strikes. E. g. after Overlord the Germans only dared to move their panzers duing the night to avoid constant air strikes from the tank buster bombers. The Battle of the Bulge was only made possible because the Allied air units were grounded. So tank units were magnets for air strikes in the real war as well. Another change we did in GS v3.2 was to let airstrikes have a lower attack and shock value when bombing covered terrain like forest, forest hills and swamp. So you can actually hide your mechs and panzers in the forest to protect them a bit from airstrikes.

We're still testing GS v3.2 because we want the balance to the right before it's released.

cuprof
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Re: game imbalances in 3.1

Post by cuprof » Wed Jun 15, 2016 5:16 am

Thank you for the very thoughtful response Stauffenberg. Sounds like many of the issues I brought up, the game developers were aware of and have made efforts to remedy. You've also given some interesting food for thought re strategies. E.g., I haven't made much use of CVs in my games as allies, so I'll need to try out your ideas.

For the Axis strategy, you have to make a compromise somewhere. E.g., morris does this by ignoring the atlantic war. I have found that a more compelling strategy, for me, is to ignore ARM (and all the associated labs), which helps reduce fuel on top of the PP savings. Maybe this will be different in 3.2. But again, your take on this is welcome and interesting. I'm certainly still learning.

Of course, at some point it would be terrific if the game engine could be fundamentally revamped so that we can play on a common server (the old reloading issue). I play for pure enjoyment and to relive an alternative history, not to win, so it's not a huge deal to me, but it would be better to know with certainty that the other side is also playing straight.

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