Iron War - Official Thread
@Frostion Here is my save game (0.1.8) where I played for 4 rounds as Axis vs Hard AI as Allies (no bonuses). At this point, I already have +130 production lead over the Allies and it would only get worse for them from here. I'd probably hit 600 production or 15 VCs within the next 2-3 rounds: 0_1497383875418_Iron_War.tsvg
Since I've already commented on the current mechanics/balance, I'll just add some notes around the AI based on this game (ranked by impact they seem to have):
- AI doesn't handle land/air transports for defending or attacking
- AI doesn't understand multiple capitals and the fact that capitals don't seem to actually matter
- AI doesn't understand how to manage fuel
- AI attacks neutral players too often
- AI doesn't consider resources besides PUs when purchasing, calculating TUV trades, or valuing territories
- AI doesn't understand interception
- AI doesn't handle the expensive unit set as well as standard A&A and Seig maps that have cheap fodder
While the AI took a beating on all fronts, the biggest problem was the German-Soviet front just instantly collapsing. The Soviets pretty much lost everything in just 4 rounds. The biggest reasons for this are not understanding land transports and trying to defend capitals that are meaningless. That being said, the front is a pretty tough one but a better AI or decent player would have an organized retreat and should be able to hold at least one of the 3 capitals for a few more turns.
Question: Is there a purpose for capitals in Iron War? Or was it something you initially defined that is no longer really used? While in theory the AI should be able to understand capitals seem to have no value, it currently doesn't so they have a significant impact on its play.
The "zero out" of any Fuel players don't use during purchase, I guess right after purchase, is a good idea. I think I will use it.
Concerning capitals. They are mostly their to move the players view / the camera to one of the player's main cities at the start of turn. This does not seem to happen without capitals. I think this is important to notify the player that it is his turn. It is a bit annoying that the capture capital sound plays when capturing capitals as I would prefer that it was played when capturing VC as this is a win condition of Iron War. I hope that some day the AI could appreciate Capitals, VC and Convoy Zones and value them as targets
Edit: Concerning AI attacking neutrals. The neutrals in Iron War are only neutral in name. For example, Axis neutrals are actually at war with Allies but the player AI-Axis-Neutral has its combat move and non-combat move steps removed.
It will probably be a while before a new version of Iron War is released (with the Fuel as mechanical unit build cap) as this change pretty much changes any balance drastically. I will have to make a version that is at least playable. But I do think the current layout and starting units do make a good base for a fuel dependant unit system.
Even if the build cap system should not work well, I think it is best to at least try it out.
@redrum Not handling land/air transports is likely to be the first issue in whatever maps having them, unless they are a marginal element or not usable for moving into combat.
@Frostion Just out of curiosity, if burning the fuel at the end of each turn is the plan, are you considering moving the Aid phase so that it is after the purchase phase (instead of before it?)
One of the things I like about the phase structure of Iron War, is that it minimizes the need to prognosticate about the purchase phase (at least compared to A&A) because the combat phase comes before the purchase phase. Currently the aid/exchange phase comes between these (right before the purchase phase), which isn't a too big a deal to manage, but I think it would become a much bigger deal once fuel shifts to a maintenance requirement. It could be kind of frustrating trying to predict in advance how much fuel might be left over after purchase, and available to share with a teammate, before actually making the purchase.
My guess is that using fuel in this way could present an even more extreme version of the "chase the remainder" phenomenon I mentioned earlier. Because unlike PUs which can be saved, here the remainder in fuel would be permanently lost if not used immediately. Not sure if you were still planning to allow the sharing of this resource under the new scheme, but if so, I think it would result in passing the buck, trying to concentrate the team's fuel in the hand's of the nations which have the best chance of using all of it before the round is out.
I'm certain I'll hop on board with whatever, but right now I don't really have to think too much about fuel, I try to conquer as many fuel territories as I can, and just deal with the consequences when it runs out. Using fuel for maintenance however is a pretty dramatic tweak. This would make fuel tracking way critical. More critical than PUs or Steel. The sort of thing you'd have to really keep in mind at all times. I guess all I'm saying is that the game-play enjoyment or strategic depth it provides, really needs to be proportional to the added micromanagement requirements here, or it might end up causing some unforeseen headaches.
@redrum Regarding Capitals. In my view the rules surrounding capitals and liberation are among the most bizarre and potentially confusing of all the standard A&A rules. Understanding how they work in the deep endgame is really what separates expert play from novice play (e.g. knowing how to play the game post capital-collapse, when the liberation rules allow players to directly claim a fallen teammate's territory to maintain income/production parity.)
I like that Iron War ditched the looting idea, the no-income collect aspect, and even the capturing of enemy factories, because ditching these greatly simplifies the game, with less emphasis on a one dimensional race to smash the weakest enemy capital. But it still has that relic about the post capital-collapse liberation rules in there. So you will see sometimes for example, that the Soviet Far East eventually starts going to Britain or the USA, when they trade territory with Japan there, after all the other Russian +5 capital territories have been taken. I suppose having more capitals is preferable to having just 1 per nation only, but maybe it would be more straightforward for this particular map if the concept of the capital was ditched altogether? Not just for AI purposes, but for ease of use in PvP too. The default capital/liberation rules out of A&A can be kind of tough to explain anyway.
I guess the screen orientation thing is hard to avoid. What happens with the AI I wonder if there is only one capital per nation, like on their highest production territory (presumably the one they will try to stack/hold the longest)? If the one gets taken, does it then just revert to A&A rules for endgame liberation immediately? Is there a get rid of capitals but still give a proper zoom. If not maybe we could somehow use the arctic or antarctic or lakes/mountains/tiny islands that exist around the map, to create super tiny Capital territories, and then just landlocked/cut off by equally tiny impassible tiles.
Maybe each nation has a practically invisible a capital with no PU value (or maybe 1 PU if it has to have one), that is just totally isolated and inaccessible in normal play (but reasonably near whatever production/VC territory would be good for the zoom ). So basically nobodies" capital can ever be taken out of play. Kind of a weird solution, but maybe something like that works? Or would the AI still always try to get there somehow?
I agree for sure about the land/air transport thing. The AI can't use Mech to their advantage, which is a big chunk of the starting TUV for Russia/Germany. Mech is pretty key to all the spots on the map you can reach overland. The Air transport also seems like it could really take off, if used in a concentrated way PvP, but the AI basically just suicides them for the fodder hitpoint.
I was still thinking about the CR resource. I wonder if it could work for all infantry based units, if the total CR was increased (and then the elites just cost more in CR than normal infantry)? A cap on the fodder spam overall might be interesting for a map where you are forced to purchase heavy equipment as time goes on.
I have made the first attempts at changing the fuel system (no new version release yet!), and it seems to work OK. I can see that the map has to aim for some balance between how much fuel is available and how precious / how much iron is available. When / if a player gets hold of a new fuel depot, then he should not have like way too many Iron resources and always go for a heavy tank.
I have noticed that the different players seem to unavoidable have more or less access and need for Iron. This will be interesting to try to balance.
As the map is now, USSR quickly “unlocks” much fuel in the first rounds because of unit loses. If the German and British fleets collide it also unlocks around 5 new fuel unit sports for these nations, while the other nations have around 0-3 spots free atm. I don’t think it is a problem that big battles end up unlocking spots as the nations would probably need these new units after loses. USA is the only player that starts out with more free spots from game start, as they need to build transports and units to go enter the war.
The steel resource is now called Iron, as in “Iron War”. I guess I should have named the map Steel War instead for the realism, but I think I will stick to Iron War. Also there is no “Oil” anymore as this resource is just called “Fuel”.
I have also made the graphics to the naval dedicated PUs that I have talked about implementing. I imagine infantry, land and air vehicles costing PUs and all the other resources, and Fleet units costing Naval PUs (NPUs??? What would be a good name?) I will try out letting ships cost NPUs and Fuel, and hope this would bring the Axis out into the water and battle the invasion fleets. My first thought about how to implement this without destroying the current obtained balance level is to:
- Remove 1 PU on the map for every added NPU. So like if Berlin has 50 PUs now, it would have maybe 30 PUs and 20 NPUs after implementation. The NPU resource would mostly be placed in major and important territories, but of course all the small nations should also have a few.
- Some nations would of course have more initial NPUs, like USA, and nations like USSR who struggles to survive on land already will have smaller amounts of NPUs.
- I am thinking about an overall equal amount of NPUs to the Axis and the Allies. Like the map’s total NPUs is placed 50% / 50% on the map, with some nations, like USA, UK, Germany etc. being strong.
Anyway, another subject, the newest version will have all pictures of units, flag, resources etc. slightly outlined with black border. I think this improved the visibility of the units. Here is a preview of the “enhanced” graphics:
Right now I am keeping SS German only and CR the resource of colonial powers. If anything was to change here it would probably be in the direction of nation specific resources. I once thought about a special resource for US Marines, so that the US was hindered in spamming only maries, and actually had to prioritize where to ship them, Atlantic or Pacific. I just don’t know what this resource should be and named?
I have not really thought about the Fuel exchange possibilities, but it would be logical and reasonable to ship fuel around the map. As units need fuel only to be bought, a player shipping fuel to another player actually gives that player an opportunity to unlock another fuel using unit for purchase, and since I have made it so that all unspent fuel is removed from a player right after purchase, so he gets a new reset fuel amount after his EndTurn, any shipped fuel not used is wasted … but of course it is also wasted if the original owner does not use it.
I was thinking of making Iron a resource for shipping also. But, like Fuel should be, still restricted to 1 unit per shipment. But now as NPUs is implemented should this also be shippable? This would make PUs, NPUs, Iron and Fuel shippable. The aid window will surely be expanded whole lot.
But concerning shipping resource, that I have not really implemented yet, if I am not mistaking, the TripleA engine only allows PUs as payment when doing an action in the Action and Operations screen. Unless this has changed? So it is a bit difficult to implement a shipping system, unless it was to work like the Iraq, Iran and US unit based shipping old oil system, that I have removed in the next version
I didn’t even know that the AI takes capitals into account when playing, if this is the case.
@Frostion Glad to hear the fuel changes are coming along and definitely like the black border on units as it really makes them pop out a bit more. Nice work! NPUs is an interesting idea though I think you need to be careful to leave player enough flexibility in purchases and the more different resources you end up with the harder its going to be to balance. Honestly, if you did only PUs/Iron/Fuel (ignore NPU, CR, SS) and have a solid map resource distribution along with interesting unit set that would probably be enough. Too many resources tends to clutter the map and add lots of complexity but not necessarily depth and interesting choices for the player.
Regarding the AI, it does consider its capitals and in general will be willing to lose a lot more to hold them. Its mostly programmed around traditional A&A rules where nations had 1 capital and lost all its PUs if it falls.
Just a couple quick thoughts after a long and grueling weekend at work haha...
Its still kind of tricky for me to envision what a generic resource for SS/CR might be named or exactly how to apply it. But I guess it's just hard for me to see the need for nation specific resources, when a generic resource could probably do a pretty similar job (on a basic functional level) if the resource was concentrated in one or two core territories rather than being distributed across many peripheral territories. It could be that SS/CR just aren't a major factor for me in choosing an expansion pattern, since I'm more concerned with PUs or Steel or Fuel, and SS/CR tends to be located in places I want to conquer anyway. So it's kind of an afterthought or added bonus for doing stuff I'd want to do as a matter of course, with most of them cinched up pretty quickly out of the second round. I suppose from the opponent's perspective they could act sort of like land convoys (where you are trying to deny the resource to your enemy) but again, tends to take a back seat when targeting, to the important production/resource considerations, so I just don't really prioritize them in the same way. In other words, I'm not usually thinking to myself, "damn I need to hold France to snake those SS points", usually it's production or steel/fuel in the forefront of my mind.
I like the -1 power and the cheap spam concept for units, and think these are pretty easy to parse at a glance across the map or during combat. The suggestion to ditch the Schutzstaffel acronym for the German resource name had more to do with avoiding unsavory associations. The unit graphics/abilities are already putting an exclamation point on it (anyone who knows much about the period will recognized those black suits), so just not certain that we get a whole lot from underscoring it even further with the SS designation front and center. Sure, glossing over it is kind of revisionist, and you could no doubt find plenty of examples of fucked up things done systematically by other nations/paramilitaries, but that one just has some particularly heinous baggage weighing it down, which people may not want to be reminded of when playing a simple WW2 game for fun.
One of the things some peeps like to imagine when playing, is how the war might have been conducted or how it might have concluded with a different outcome, if the less extreme elements hadn't prevailed in the long term. Or if the military proper had some kind of moderating influence on subsequent events. I think its almost implicit in the game (coming out of A&A) that when you take the Axis side you're playing Germany and Japan "as if" you (the player) are at the helm, sans the crazy ass ideologues or politicians messing up your war plan. So I'd be wary of arguments that try to equivocate or play the historical realism card overmuch. Clearly in the popular conscience, some stuff stands out as more tainted than others. So even if you could point to the Kempetei too, or things done on the Allied side by the NKVD, SIS, OSS, or more generally with their gulags or firebombing or whatever, the fact remains that our primary audience is probably way more familiar with the shade cast by Germany and the SS in this regard. So just seems like a potential can of worms that might be better left unopened. Again though, I don't know, its not a huge sticking point for me. I'm sure some others will have a different attitude towards it, but my thought would be to just steer clear of the issue altogether and pick a generic resource name that allows for similar combat units for every nation so its less of a stand out.
Right now SS is the first resource column listed in the Economy tab. I think this should really be PUs, followed Iron, followed by Fuel, with only a single column for whatever resource is used to purchase the national "special" units coming at the end (far right column). Even if people could care less about the specific resource names, just from a layout standpoint, it's kind of an inefficient use of space in the Economy chart to have a separate resource for a single nation, when they could all fit in the same column and be easier to read at a glance.
I like the change from Steel to Iron. You can't have the former without the latter, so it makes sense to me. I was already imagining that the stuff we were extracting from various Steel territories was just the Iron ore anyway, since steel is an alloy and the raw materials for it have to be refined before it can be used for anything. So I just figured this was part of what was happening at the factory anyway. Iron War is a cooler name in my view.
Fuel seems sufficiently generic, and I guess it doesn't matter really what you call these things, as long as the naming convention is consistent. Fuel could really be anything I guess, petroleum, coal, chemicals, could probably even extend it to include things like heavy metals or rubber with a stretch haha. So yeah, I'm with it.
For NPU's its also kind of hard for me to say, since I haven't really played a game that uses a system like that yet, but it seems like having another form of income attached to land territories might make it feel a little redundant. I think what would be more interesting is if you had this income in the water, with production for ships in coastal sea zones (rather than coastal land territories), since that would give warships a real reason for existing independently, not just subservient to the transport unit or the ground game generally.
The current convoys do help to give the warships some purpose of their own (beyond just guarding or killing transports), but in relative scale their influence on the total world economy is pretty slim. Right now all the convoy zones taken together only account for like 5% of the total money in play, and it all goes to the Allies. Controlling every convoy zone on the map barely nets you the replacement cost of 2 submarines in a given round (and really not even that if you add in the steel.) So something closer to 25%, with a more even split by teams, might provide an incentive for naval purchasing without even requiring a separate type of income. Just shifting more cash into the water overall.
Taking a little break until the next big roll out. Can't wait to play under the new scheme! Great work so far man.
Even if the AI doesn't understand half of what's going on, I still think this map is highly enjoyable to play against the AI. Its probably the main appeal for me I'd say, that there is enough fun stuff going on that I don't even need another opponent in there to make me want to go on the march and crush haha.
Catch you in a few.
@Black_Elk and @All
I plan on releasing next version very shortly.
I tried Navy PUs as a resource for buying ships, and I didn't find it very interesting. So I removed it again. The Fuel upkeep seems to work OK though and is in the next version. After hearing people's concerns about NPUs I also asked myself why I wanted to implement them. I think I mis and would really like to have more naval action going, especially get Axis building ships. And also, even if humans might think of challenging Allies for the convoy zones, the AI Axis seems to never think about building ships.
To get the importance of defending / attacking convoy zones up, I think the first step can be to change them from 5 to 10 PU zones, and removing some land PUs. I hope, but don't know if the AI will be lured into building more navy because of this? (@redrum)
Concerning a Generic Resource for all special units I think that would be a good approach on many other maps than this WW2 themed. The territories that provide SS potential is in no way territories that could help USA build more marines, Japanese more kamikaze and Colonials more colonial troops. As I play many other PC games displaying swastikas and letting players play SS, SS-Panzer, Hitlerjugen, throwing napalm and nukes around (Hearts of Iron and Steel Division 44), I am pretty much against any censorship that would remove realism for the purpose of not offending anyone. In my mind, people should not play any WW2 games if they are afraid of being reminded about how the world was anno 1939-1945.
The order of listing resources in the column also irritates me. I would also like the PUs as the most important resource to be displayed first. But I have not found a listing order or any indication of what controls the order of listing resources in the XML. Any hint about how to specify the order of listing resources would be greatly appreciated!
Now that NPUs is out of the game, and I got this nice anchor unit made for all nations, I am open for suggestions that could make use of this unit picture and at the same time add some incentive to do more navy combat. Fleet HQ? Port? Sea or Land unit? Something that is placed and unbuildable and gives bonus? Makes resources?
@Frostion Putting more PUs in sea zones won't affect how much the AI focuses on land vs sea production. I actually felt the existing convoy zones and their values are pretty good as I found myself trying to capture/defend them especially in the Indian Ocean.
I'll have to take a look at resource order but my assumption is it should match the game XML ordering of resources.
OK, here comes version v0.1.9. A surprise change is the addition of a new USSR unit, the Commissar! Please be advised, I have not tested this version fully through, so I don’t know how balanced it is. Here are all the primary changes:
• Removed USAs, Iraq’s and Iran’s “Fuel unit” purchase and support system.
• Implemented Fuel as an upkeep resource. (All Ships and Land vehicles now need fuel)
• Made it so all nations always have at least 1 Fuel to spend, so nations can not end up in a “locked” situation where all Fuel is used by land units and therefore makes it impossible to build a Transport to attack overseas.
• Strait of Malacca added to the map and is controlled by Malaya.
• Almost half of all convoy zones are now 10 PU territories instead of 5 PU.
• Many ship prices changed.
• Fighters, Dive-Bombers and Jet-Fighters now cost 2 PUs more.
• All pictures of units, flag, resources etc. have been slightly outlined with more black border.
• ANZAC now has turn before KNIL.
• Added nation unique music for British-India.
• New USSR infantry unit picture.
• Added a new USSR unit, the Commissar. This unit can give 3 USSR infantry +1 attack and +1 defense. A new special resource called “Officials” is needed to create a Commissar.
I have just played a USSR game, and I started to think about the value of the AA gun.
Is the AA gun worth buying? The AI buys it sometimes, but as a human player could buy a fighter for 20 PUs, is the AA gun not a little lame for the 15 PUs price? If the territory is attacked/bombed, the fighter defends/intercepts on 6/10 (60% kill) but can also die from a lucky 2/10 shot from a bomber. And the attacker could bring his own fighters as fodder alongside his bomber. The AA kills on a 1/10, but has a lucky chance to actually hit the bomber instead of the fighter. Maybe the AA gun should have more than one shot?
Here are the stats in the unit purchase screen. Even if people do not play the map, maybe people can use the stats to determine what the AA gun should be worth. I find it real hard to set a value on AA guns:
@Redrum I have had the “Withdraw planes” error pop up again. This time I have saved the game. I was playing USSR and it happen after combat step of Britain in the last round of this savegame. Do you have time to look at this save and the error? (It is an Iron War v0.1.9 save)
Loading map: iron_war, from: C:\Users\David-Corsair\triplea\downloadedMaps\iron_war
Loading resources from the following paths: [C:\Users\David-Corsair\triplea\downloadedMaps\iron_war, C:\Games\TripleA_126.96.36.199.5043\assets]
Loading map: iron_war, from: C:\Users\David-Corsair\triplea\downloadedMaps\iron_war
Loading resources from the following paths: [C:\Users\David-Corsair\triplea\downloadedMaps\iron_war, C:\Games\TripleA_188.8.131.52.5043\assets]
jun. 20, 2017 1:22:13 AM games.strategy.triplea.ui.BattleStepsPanel setStep
INFO: Could not find step name:Britain withdraw planes?
@Frostion If you look at the comparative cost between a Tank Destroyer or an infantry (with their combat values) and an A.A. Gun.... then it should be immediately obvious that there is a valuation issue with the A.A. Gun. Never mind comparing it against a fighter that has a world more combat value and the ability to move quickly between theaters. You are buying them against one another nearly at par.
The one and only advantage it provides is a piss poor 10% chance of registering a hit... then it is simply fodder. To be a viable unit one of three things need to happen: 1 ) it has to have some other role outside of its A.A. ability... 2) or it has to perform dramatically better in its defined role.... or 3) the cost has to played with.
EDIT Obviously the solution could also be a combination of the three things to differing degrees.
@Frostion There definitely is a bug here and it can actually be reproduced by a human player with that save. Essentially if you save at the beginning of the UK's turn and follow the save movements to attack Ireland (3 fighters, 1 non-amphib inf, 1 art, 1 med tank) then as long as the neutrals get at least 1 hit you will see the error message. Here is a save to try it with: 0_1497932302404_test.tsvg
The reason this appears to occur is that the battle window has to be initialized with retreats options (along the left side). It gets initialized with the option of "Britian withdraw non-amphib units?" since it has 1 inf that is non-amphib and you have the game property "Partial Amphibious Retreat"=true. The problem is that if that one inf is killed the UK no longer has any non-amphib units so it should prompt just on whether to "Britain withdraw planes?" but that option isn't displayed in the battle window so it throws the error and the selected option stays on "Britain select casualties" rather than highlighting a retreat option.
This is a display only bug as the engine still properly prompts the user on whether to retreat the planes, it just can't highlight that option in the battle window:
@Frostion Makes sense. Again its not a huge deal on my part, and I would obviously play with whatever iconography is chosen. I grew up with Castle Wolfenstein and played plenty of games like that. Usually people find the idea of killing Nazis pretty agreeable when they are always the adversary haha. Aesthetically the nationalist symbols of the period are all interesting to me, not just the Futhark mystical stuff by G, but all across the spectrum including what was done by the West, or the Soviets, or in the Far East too in promoting their own ideologies, so its not really an issue for me personally. I think in general I prefer the Iron Cross convention for tripleA though, and like how its used in Iron War with green for the Balkans and white for the Pro-Axis neutrals, in addition to the German one on the red field. I see the dilemma with trying to use a single resource for all the specialized national units. Because as you say, you don't want them to do double duty. The only way I can really think of to make it work, is to concentrate the resource into just a handful of high value territories (like the national capitals). I think doing that you could have a similar cap in functional terms, but then the resource becomes less interesting as a map feature.
Just getting ready to play my first game of the new version for a couple hours. But real quick, about the AA gun. I agree that it is not a desirable purchase option compared to aircraft. I don't mind that the AA is always on (either here in land or for the Cruisers etc on the water). I liked that feature of AA fire in the older A&A games, because it gave the player some way to defend against or deter players from using air transits. If there is any strategic value coming from the unit right now its that, because you can use it to block air paths overland (the way cruisers can in the war) to give the opponent some headaches with their fighter/bomber transits. It's also the only unit that can be captured by ground.
I don't know its always been the oddman out in the unit roster. I've never particularly liked it myself and would rarely purchase them in the older A&A games, except to cover a newly purchased factory from SBR, or when they were used for a rocket tech advance, or something of that sort. Put the fact that they are like the only unit that moves exclusively in the non-combat phase, I think they are always causing me more headaches, rather than thrilling me with their unique abilities haha. In the newer games, the combat AAAgun is made pretty redundant by the factories and bases having built in AAfire, and the fact that they can be stacked in combat still doesn't really make much difference to me from a purchasing perspective, I tend to use only what I'm given at the outset, and rarely buy new ones. I don't know perhaps with a new set of abilities or a different cost structure I might do it more often.
Anyhow, enough rambling for now. Gotta fire this thing up and check it out! Will report back in a few
Using TripleA_184.108.40.206.5060, I like the new resource modifier layout of the launch UI.
ps. OK into the 4th round. Decided to play as Russia and British-India vs the Hard AI, so I could check out the units and the music. So far I really enjoy the new fuel system. It just feels more intuitive and less cumbersome, and I feel somehow encouraged to buy more tanks lol.
The Dutch just set up shop in Iraq, so I'm trying to back their play in the Middle-East with the Soviets and British-India. Just crushed Finland, but will probably have to absorb a fairly large Axis push coming in the next few rounds here. So far I dig it!
By far the biggest new challenge to wrap my head around is the steel cost for Artillery. The remainder purchase is changed quite a bit, since now the base units are all 10s or 20s if you want to spend without using Steel, Fuel or CR. I suppose you have the 5s in there if you want to expand production for 25 or build the AAgun for 15, but basically its dealing with the 10 spot for regular income.
Entry into the Air at 20 PUs seems fine, since its definitely a harder decision to make if its 2 hitpoints on the ground vs 1 in the Air. Though I do sometimes miss the 18-19 PU spot for Fighters when it comes up at purchase. The Commissar at 5 is nice though, since he helps flesh out the remainder purchase for the Russians, but that one has a cap so its limited for the remainder thing. Speaking of the cheaper units, one thing that happens to me a lot with Colonials, is that I'll blast through the select casualties screen during combat and end up losing more infantry than I probably should since the default seems to be for preserving Colonials over Inf, even though Colonials are weaker on defense and cheaper to replace (they should probably get knocked off first.) Not sure if there is an easy way to address that one, for now I just need to pay more attention haha. But yeah, mainly its artillery Im thinking about right now. Probably will come in handy if I'm steel rich but fuel poor during the endgame, and then just buy a gang of them at once haha. Having fun! I'm sure I'll keep it going into tomorrow. Again, killer job on the latest!
The commissar's in town haha. Allies took the Economic Win in the 6th round, in the 7th the Soviets are pretty well positioned to overrun Berlin so just went for it, but there's still a pretty impressive German pocket developing down there in the Balkans.
So far so good. I definitely bought more tanks, and fewer aircraft. In the choice between artillery and mech, I think mech is going to win out. Perhaps spamming artillery early would conserve on the fuel slots for the tank, but I just found myself wanting to run and gun. British-India was fun. I enjoyed the music, it made them feel a lot more distinct. They seemed to pair well with the Soviets to break up the round, while still keeping the focus on the center.
The French, British-Colonies and KNIL AI did pretty well for themselves this game. USA bought factories in Liberia and Iceland, and the British are pressing in on West Germany pretty consistently. Japan and Italy are still clinging to life, despite getting squeezed in on from several directions. Here it is in the 8th...
Next time I'll try some naval powers, and see how the fuel system works there.
About to start a second game, but before I do, just wanted to point out some remaining timeline issues regarding control of certain starting territories that might be worth addressing. I know when I initially started playing the first round was set in 1939. Currently its set in 1940, with a couple anachronisms left over from 39.
Historically the German invasions of Norway and Denmark occurred in April of 1940 (Denmark had already surrendered by the end of the month).
The invasion of France and the Low Countries occurred in May of 1940.
The British occupied Iceland on the same day that the Germans invaded France, May 10th 1940.
Right now the first round is just called "Early 1940 " and conceivably all this stuff can still occur in a pretty reasonable time-frame, so I'm not suggesting that everything needs to be all perfectly timed like dominoes. However it may actually be helpful for the balance of the game by sides if Germany already controlled Denmark/Norway at the start of their first turn (especially for the AI) so they can move through the Danish Straits and start a campaign for Scandinavia. Currently the German AI is locked out of the Baltic until the second round, by which time they are already doing silly things up north. Since the AI doesn't understand canal control, they can't be relied upon to open the Strait on G1 or even G2 or G3, so their fleet is basically screwed out of a safe harbor. I think it might be helpful for the gamplay, and more accurate if Germany just controlled those territories outright.
Similarly for Iceland, it currently takes the Allies like 3-4 rounds before they can even reach Iceland with transports, and another round after that to purchase production there. That's a pretty long time in gameplay terms. I think it would be more straightforward as a starting British territory that can receive fighters from North America, or to give the British another spawn point in the North Atlantic for their fleet or ground troops for amphibious attacks.
I also have two suggestions regarding the Canals...
The first is to change the sz border and orientation of the buoy at Denmark, so that the divide between North Sea Zone and Baltic Sea Zone is in the kattegat-skagerrak area rather than the Copenhagen area. This would allow for Germany to attack Norway/Oslo from the Baltic side of the divide, instead of requiring them to have transports in the North Sea (or pushing units through Sweden) to do it. Basically like a straight vertical line from Denmark so that the intersection of the two sea zones occurs at Norway, rather than Sweden. This would also prevent the British from taking Sweden from the North Sea, which is something that seems to happen a lot in my games.
The second would be to move the sz border between the Bay of Bengal Sea Zone, and the Gulf of Thailand Sea Zone, so that Malaya can be reached by the Bay of Bengal. Currently the Allies must control the Gulf of Thailand, or push through Southern Thailand to reach Malaya/Singapore.
In terms of viable sz area to house units, both those changes would be pretty minor (the shift in border lines only requires a centimeter or two) but I think it would make the combat around the canal tiles more interesting.
Anyhow, here is the game I just started. USA and China versus the Hard AI Axis. You can see how the German AI is struggling with its main fleet stranded up North (outside of transport range) and having a tough time dealing with France too. I noticed in my last game as well, that it is often Italy that ends up holding Paris after the Germans have been ejected.
Got a couple more rounds in for the US/China game.
I think the pacing for the US feels pretty realistic, even though they are technically at war in 1940, they really can't do anything of consequence until 1941, so it seems to match with the history there. I will say though that the reduction in US starting cash means that they don't really have the money to purchase anything other than transports for several rounds. They have a fairly sizable starting ground force that needs to be put "on the move" first and foremost, and no starting transport capacity, so there's not a whole lot of room for buying aircraft or warships out the gate.
China feels pretty tough though. Holding Chunking for any length of time seems like a virtually impossibility, and once it goes the front basically shifts to Tibet and the western interior provinces. I think the Chinese might need more to work with if we want them to have a realistic footprint. You can see from this save below just how quickly even an uncoordinated push by the Japanese AI can spank them. Japan can mobilize a pretty massive stack in fairly short order, so as China there's not much you can do except pull back and let Japan into Tibet...
I think part of the issue is the map compression that has the Japanese starting territories representing a considerably larger area than the coastal enclaves that they controlled historically. Excepting Northeast China, in 1940 and for the duration of the War the Japanese were still largely concentrated on the littoral port cities. The front was basically held stable at Shaanxi, Hubei, Hunan etc. And Japan never came close to penetrating as far into the interior as say Yunnan or Sichuan. The idea that they could reach Qinghai or Tibet, let alone Xinjiang or Urimchi is pretty far fetched. But Japan routinely does this in Iron War by the time you get to like 1944-45.
My suggestion would be to beef up China by giving them a starting factory at their capital and some more ground units in the area, so they have a better shot at holding the Chunking/Lanchow choke point.
I think they should definitely have a flying tiger at the outset, because by the time they unlock USA tech in the 4th round it's already 1941 and the Americans are openly at War with Japan anyway (which makes the whole idea of volunteer pilots or secretly arming China with fighters seem a bit late.) It also looks a bit peculiar to have bombers in their purchase roster without fighters, even if they don't have enough cash to buy one haha.
I understand the need to give the Axis some ahistorical advantages for gameplay purposes, but the way it's set up now Japan in 1940 is already at their max territorial extent (in terms where they got historically) at least with respect to China. So it's kind of a steamroll. I think it would make more sense thematically if China was on the offensive out of Changsha during the first round, and Japan was more bogged down playing defense along the coast in Amoy and Hong Kong. That way finally breaking into Chunking is like a major strategic victory for Japan.
Ps. Another thought I had about the USA... in previous versions I kind of liked how having a large pile of starting cash allowed some real flexibility in developing a purchasing strategy for the entire course of the game. Part of me thinks that the best way for you to balance this game once you've settled all the unit costs/abilities and core features of the map like resources, is simply to increase the starting income for everyone. Ideally the starting cash should exceed the frontline production capacity in max infantry (whatever that is for a given nation), because then the player is forced to buy heavy hitters in the first turn. That first purchase then sets up the cascading effect to make each play-through feel unique. When production capacity exceeds the starting cash however, the play pattern becomes a lot more static/predictable, because then usually the best play is to just spam as many cheap hitpoints as you can.
Starting cash adjustment is definitely the simplest approach, especially if starting income/resources don't exactly match what is currently held by the player on the map 1:1 in the first turn. At a certain point, before you exit the Beta and roll out the first final draft, I think we should shift the focus from unit adjustment to only messing with the starting cash. Increasing it incrementally on a nation by nation basis until the desired balance by sides is achieved.
Doing this for PvP requires head to head matches, since right now I really have no idea how the map will play between two expert humans. Doing it for the AI is a lot easier though, since we can just provide a recommended income bonus to make the AI challenging.
Anyhow here is the final for the game I started earlier. Allies clinched it in the 10th when the Russian AI crashed in on Berlin. China was forced off their home base, but the USA was able to push across both oceans to chip away at the Axis. First in Libya and Truk, then Romania and coastal China. This one was just vanilla, but I think I will start giving the AI a boost again soon. First I want to try a German solo though, to see how the new fuel system and unit/cash changes effect them.
Right now for the stats I have the following in Income, Productions, Units, and TUV...
Germany 90 89 129 1117
Balkan 30 15 21 163
Finland 20 8 26 217
USSR 140 134 260 1718
Britain 60 58 81 574
France 40 46 59 313
British-Colonies 30 47 78 481
South-Africa 30 10 15 121
Italy 80 77 88 747
Iraq 30 6 14 128
Iran 30 12 26 223
British-India 40 38 50 279
French-Colonies 30 35 38 243
ANZAC 40 43 54 396
KNIL 20 23 45 271
Japan 70 87 146 1393
Thailand 30 7 21 200
China 30 22 38 289
USA 80 102 103 831
Brazil 30 12 18 120
AI-Neutral 0 52 85 500
AI-Pro-Axis-Neutral 0 33 69 603
AI-Pro-Allies-Neutral 0 48 70 454
Allies 570 570 839 5636
Axis 380 301 471 4188
So, in general, the starting cash is basically half what it was in the previous draft, and there are slightly fewer starting units in play. When the time comes to balance it out, my thought would be a range something like what you had going (like 150% to 200% cash on hand for a start), but with some definite wiggle room to tweak the starting purse for each nation. Then go up or down on starting cash, depending on the needs of the game balance, while leaving the starting units alone. Simple doubling gets pretty close to what it was previously, except for the USSR (which is up from the previous build) and the USA (which is down). But with those kind of rough ballpark target numbers at the high end, I think you could just come down if someone feels too overpowered, or go up slightly if they feel really underpowered, from that larger baseline of starting cash.
Just saw something happen in the game I'm playing right now (German solo vs the Fast AI.) The Italians attacked into Syria with a pretty good chunk of TUV and hit the 10 round limit. Rather than retreating their fighter it was frozen in place with the rest of their stuff, and killed off at the end of the round. I guess usually when the AI brings in heavy hitters the battle tends to conclude within 10 rounds of combat, this time they caught a string of duds haha. Kind of amusing to see. Here is the game at the dawn of the 4th round.
Last round I had a gang of Iron, but not much in the way of fuel, so I bought a second battleship. Probably the first time I've done that, unless I was just showboating during the endgame with a naval power. But here the desire to spend the excess Iron and my total lack of available fuel (clearly we're spending beyond our means) made it seem somehow reasonable lol. Pretty fun so far. Certainly more challenging on this side of the Eastern Front, compared to the Russian game from earlier. I'm think I'm trying to get the drop on Stalingrad here the minimum investment, but haven't quite decided yet on the best route for the major push on the Leningrad pocket.
In round 6 I got the withdraw planes error that has been mentioned. Happened during the British-Colonies turn, I think in the fight with Italy for Nigeria...
Loading map: iron_war, from: C:\Users\jason\triplea\downloadedMaps\iron_war-master.zip
Loading resources from the following paths: [C:\Users\jason\triplea\downloadedMaps\iron_war-master.zip, C:\Program Files\TripleA_220.127.116.11.5060\assets]
Jun 21, 2017 3:45:41 AM games.strategy.triplea.ui.BattleStepsPanel setStep
INFO: Could not find step name:British-Colonies withdraw planes?
I've noticed that I'm pretty reluctant to free up fuel through unit attrition, I guess maybe I'm more conservative there than I imagined I'd be. But the demands of the stackfest on the eastern front make it hard to justify throwing any of my starting heavy hitters away. Artillery seems the most sensible buy for G given their excess of Iron. I imagine I'd buy like 1 heavy tank or 1 battleship per round, and a shit ton of artillery until I lock the Russians into a deathmatch, at which point I'd hopefully have more fuel than I know what to do with haha. Aircraft would be a good purchase for the mobile attack units (rather than mech or light tanks as before) but building enough inf/art fodder to make them effective takes a while. A somewhat slower push in the East for sure. I've been letting the Balkan states do the dirty work down south while building up for the showdown in Leningrad. I think I finally have an opening, so probably going to crush them now rather than risk a Soviet retreat haha...
My initial impression is that the fuel cap encourages the infantry/artillery push mechanic over the tank/mech drive, but that probably has a lot to do with the fact that I'm not trading the Kriegsmarine for the Royal Navy on G1. I like to conserve my starting TUV whenever possible and can't see a reason to throw any of my ships away when they are so much more effective on defense than attack. In the ground game my goal is always to avoid losing my tanks or expensive mobile units unless it's absolutely necessary (like to kill enemy production). So basically its been 1 fuel per round to Germany for some time now.
I'm also wondering if the fuel cap will actually sometimes be an incentive not to attack enemy ships? I noticed for example that I was trying to avoid killing off the Russian fleet in the Baltic, because it was already trapped, and sinking it would have just freed up their fuel slots to buy tanks for the ground game. So I wasn't in a hurry to knock off that TUV. I can imagine something similar, even with the larger/deadlier naval powers (at least for AI opponents) because usually you can back down their fleets to the point where they aren't a threat anymore. Was just thinking of the IJN, how chasing them down and sinking their ships can already be time consuming, and might potentially be counter-productive strategically, if killing warships (which no longer present a real threat) just frees up fuel they can use on tanks to send against Russia.
Based on a lot of feedback, especially from Black_Elk, a new version of Iron War is now ready for testing.
v0.1.9 to v0.2.0
• There are now 30 VC and holding 20 is a win condition.
• Smaller nations now have approximately 5 PUs more territory values from start, to make them more playable.
• Economical win is now at 650 PUs, not 600.
• Added 1 more USSR Commissariat to the map. This makes 4, and 5 is needed to make a Commissar every round.
• China now has a factory in the capital of Chungking, to make China able to hold ground against Japan.
• China can now build Fighters from start, and also start with 1 Fighter.
• China is now after USA turn, as USA can support China financially.
• The AI prefix of the neutral players is removed (Currently players should remember to set them as AI)
• USA Heavy-Tank unit picture made a bit smaller.
• SS Troops and Panzer now give Commissars -1 att./def, like all other units receives -1.
• SS Panzer now cost 25 SS, not 20.
• Tank-Destroyer lowered 1 PU in cost.
• The Anti-Air gun can now move during combat and is much cheaper. (But currently a bug prevents it from being useful in attack as it only shoots in the first round).
• Changed the start unit setup and economical conditions a bit.
Concerning the starting naval situation around the North Sea and Baltic Sea. It is a hard situation to crack. I would like the game to start before Denmark, Norway and France are invaded, so that the player may chose priorities in the starting phases of the war. As you know, this can all happen in the first round, but the German fleet is pretty vulnerable if it does not retreat to the Norwegian North Sea. If Germany keeps its fleet in the North Sea and use it to invade Norway or France, it can still save the entire fleet with the current starting setup by purchasing 2 cruisers in the first round. The UK will then not be strong enough to take out the German fleet (it’s a 45 % win chance for UK using every possible sea and air unit). In the second round the Baltic German fleet may join the North Sea and make an Über fleet, that is if Denmark is also invaded in first round.
I don’t see it as a realistic option to change the layout of the sea zones. Adding Truk was a pain, and I would rather not do that kind of work again. I also think the current sea zones are OK, even though other configurations could also work well.