Iron War - Official Thread
@redrum I can try to run some calculations with the AA costing 8 PUs, instead of 7?
It would not make sense if AA had a 10 PU cost like infantry, since the AA is just 1A/1D(+1AA) and infantry is 2A/3D(+attack supportable).
@frostion Might be better to consider making AA more expensive but stronger so that they aren't so 'hitpoint' efficient otherwise they become 'fodder' instead of the infantry units. Something like 3 AA attack/defense and cost maybe 12 PUs. More aligned with Tank Destroyers. Or change them to be infrastructure units that don't have hitpoints.
Looking good. Just downloaded and played a few rounds of a German solo under the new set up. One thing I noticed immediately is that Germany is under a lot more pressure to take the southern USSR right away. That whole swath around the Black Sea and Caucasus becomes really critical to war machine. Historically it makes sense, though it does push a somewhat more one dimensional play pattern on G right out the gate. If you mess around with a navy or try to go on escapades to the periphery (like Africa/England or wherever beforehand) you'll almost certainly be running out of fuel in the third round. After the starting surplus is spent things start grinding to a halt pretty quickly going that way. First 2 turns you can only move like 15 fuel units to their max range per round until G passes the 30 fuel threshold (which pretty much requires cracking Stalingrad). I think that definitely favors the infantry push dynamic, since if you move your fleet beyond the Baltic/North Sea area, or try to expand the Luftwaffe and bounce around with it to make light trades too soon, then the tanks/mech will likely run out of gas before they can drive far enough to take the Russian oil fields.Similarly trying to use the Kriegsmarine for much of anything too soon puts you in a real bind. I think it cost me 20 fuel just to clear the Baltic of Russian ships after which point the starting reserves are more or less spent. I think its entertaining trying to juggle the choices, but the learning curve might be a little steep. Anyhow here was my first run at it. Going south with the mobile ground and trying to maintain a surplus I was able to keep the fuel up pretty high vs the fastAI... Soviets are still grinding it out in the Pacific though.
If people find that the fuel costs are too rigid, I think the easiest approach would just be to increase the starting reserves slightly for whichever power might need it (rather than introducing a bunch of new oil fields points across the map or anything too drastic.) Basically that would just push everything out another couple rounds, giving players a little more time to maneuver their heavy equipment before they run dry. Or try the resource exchange/development thing. Seems pretty fun though right now at least for messing around vs the machine.
Based on @Black_Elk's assessment. You might wanna eventually consider 2 modes for human players. One "historical mode" where fuel is, as is and realistic. And "ahistorical mode" where fuel is more abundant for axis. It can be done with a custom game property in game options before the game. Or if you prefer on game start with a "user action".
Another suggestion is "synthetic fuel" which the axis can lean on, to keep the war machine moving. Perhaps just let the axis purchase it out right or build refineries to produce it.
"historical mode" and "ahistorical mode" is something that I would like to avoid. I would rather try to create conditions for nations like Germany, that allowed them to win with what fuel and strategic options they got.
The fuel-needs of course pressures specific players towards capturing specific territories nearby, but hopefully there can still be alternative actions to do, like using more inf/art, spending more PUs on minor nations, fortifying a turn instead of advancing/attacking, aiming for high PU-territories instead of fuel-territories etc. It would be optimal if optimal fuel income was not required to win.
Hopefully a fuel pressured nation is also fighting nations with their own fuel needs, or at least all the major nations are in some fuel need.
In regards to how nations can gain fuel, besides losing battles and fuel units to gain a fuel surplus, a player could also think about selecting units like Mech-Inf as casualties instead of Inf, or self propelled artillery instead of artillery as the units have the same combat stats and the surviving units are probably at the front line where 1 could be most likely.
Actually this process of balancing fuel is probably more complex than I first thought. Maybe it would be a good idea to make a nation list and then focus on one nation at a time. Maybe and logically starting from the top with Germany. Maybe each nation should have their "historical correct" actions/options tested as well as alternatives. And maybe when all nations have had a fuel tuning, another from the top down fine tuning would be needed, as all enemies have been altered a bit.
I would like to play a bit as Germany vs AI and also investigate black elks approach, but it will be a few days before I can play a few more games.
I dig the concept of drilling or perhaps creating synthetic fuel (maybe that latter as a technology advance?) as a way to introduce more fuel over the course of the game.
The challenge of having most of the fuel front-loaded as part of the starting reserve is fun (since it forces you to make some hard choices), but somewhat unforgiving if don't realize what's going on. Basically if you do everything you want to do and move everything you want to move during the first 2 turns, then you'll likely run out of fuel halfway through turn 3. Whereas if you are more conservative with fuel in the opener then its easier to strike a balance to keep you running after turn 3. The trick of it is that the consequences don't come till later, so if you aren't paying close attention to what's happening and tracking the fuel consumption in the economy tab, you will probably burn through all the oil in the opener and screw yourself for the midgame.
I played a Japanese solo vs the fastAI this time to see how their fuel holds up, and the thirst is probably more pronounced with them than it is with Germany hehe. Again more historical that Japan should be immediately tripping about oil (since it was part of their reason for starting the pacific war in the first place) but they are definitely hard pressed to navigate the naval movement to fuel balance. If you move all your warships on the first turn, the way people usually do to maximize the attack advantage, that costs basically the entire fuel surplus. Just trying to shuck the 7 starting transports every turn will burn like half the fuel that Japan collects per round, to say nothing of the warships, air and mobile ground.
I think the option to develop an oil field for a cost in PU's could be a cool way to ease the pressure. A unit that could be bought/destroyed would be cool. But in its simplest formulation you could just make it another purchasing decision. Like purchasing a limited amount of fuel for a larger amount of PUs at the end of the turn, as a way to overcome a chronic shortage? Maybe if they hit a synthetic tech advance, then players can buy a little more fuel for the same cost or whatever. But basically a simple mechanism to give the player some breathing room might be cool.
In this game I left about third of the IJN fleet and most of the mobile ground in place on the first turn. Just moving the stuff at Truk out of harms way, and a Carrier+Battleship to cover the necessary transport movements to take some oil from the French Colonies and the Dutch. The Gulf of Thailand, Japan sea zone, East and South China Sea zones, are the obvious safe spots for a fleet that isn't moving much, so I figured just try to park the bulk of the IJN somewhere around there and save as much fuel as possible for the ground war in Asia. Then I built factories everywhere I could (probably more than necessary) and dropped as many infantry units as I could afford to hold onto the oil while working on the Soviets and Chinese. The 4 oil at Truk seemed especially critical so put like 100 PUs into holding it. I think the distribution of oilfields in the Pacific is pretty nice to model the historical war. It puts a big focus on China worth 3 fuel, and the Dutch and French colonies worth 5. Once you got those then its easier to move around. I think it makes it somewhat less likely that a player just guns for India or Irkutsk or Australia full force out the gate, since it costs a shit ton of fuel to diverge from the more historical play pattern. I guess balancing the game for the AI will probably need a sizable fuel bonus for the machine (such that fuel wouldn't really effect the computer opponent) otherwise I think they'll burn through it too quickly and get stuck with a bunch of TUV that can't move.
Anyhow, here is that Japanese solo game in late 44...
how is the ai handling the new fuel system? I haven't gotten to play in awhile, but i'm curious, as it seems like something the ai isn' tsetup to handle well. is the ai given some bonuses to handle it? especially with moving around that's something tricky for the ai to evaluate whether it's worth it or not.
Here's another suggestion for fuel. Create areas that have fuel/oil stockpiles. These are areas that will give a one time immediate fuel boost if captured.
Similar to national objectives but only one time. Further more they should not give any bonus to the original owners of the territory (for simplicity). The original owners will want to defend the stock piles regardless, so they don't help the enemies war effort.
Eg. Hawaii had huge fuel reserves stockpiled there, although it does not have actual fuel production.
Since the xml doesn't support placing actual resources on map, for capture. It would need to be done via a special unit and triggers, so when the unit is captured it gives the one time fuel stockpiles then it disappears. Alternative method would be triggers/conditions for the territory resources property.
A step further than this would be to not only make those fuel stockpiles capturable but destroyable. This would require more depth though, since it would require the stockpiles to be just as useful to the original owners, as to the capturers, if it's to be logical.
Right now the AI doesn't handle the fuel thing very well. I see most of the weirdness happen on non-com, like transports with floaters, fleets splitting up recklessly, newly purchased tanks or aircraft staying put etc. Even as a human player the starting fuel is probably a little low, which is why it would be cool to see some gradual influx. I like zods idea of stockpiles. It reminds me of an idea floated a while back to have gold reserves, but using fuel instead.
I think for the AI to have a chance to remain competative it should just be swimming in oil. Especially if its a naval power like Japan, we should assume that the machine will be moving those ships all over the place.
I played a few more solo games, one as the USA and the other as Russia to see how things felt on the Allied side. Will post when I get home in a little bit.
In general I'd say that the fuel=movement thing pushes a lot of the other usual stuff into the background. It drives purchasing and informs the conquest objectives more than cash or steel I think, since you can't do much if you can't move the heavy hitters. The game is probably more realistic, though somewhat less dynamic. I don't know, my rough sense of it is that the fuel probably needs to be doubled across the board, at least for the AI big dogs.
Here is the first save, as the US I just waited until I had an opening then made a B line for Tokyo...
0_1521665733124_Elk vs FastAI Allies New Fuel USA 8.tsvg
In the next game when I played as Russia you can see how the AI struggles with purchasing under the new fuel system. US AI for example has like 500 TUV in fighter aircraft stuck in North America unable to move them out across the pond. At various points I saw AI Japan crash fighters into the sea because they couldn't move their carrier on non com. A bunch of loaded transports in the middle of the sea. Stuff like that. Meanwhile with a little conservation and a focused campaign the Soviets have built up a substantial reserve (larger than the rest of the Allies combined). Might be cool if they could sell it to their buddies or something hehe.
Anyhow, I think the issue gets a bit more pronounced the further into the endgame you go, which is why it would be cool if there was some sort of incremental increase in the total available fuel, so you could unlock more reserves as time goes on.
Iron War 0.2.21 to 0.2.22 (requires the latest prerelease) 0_1521675408191_IronWar0.2.22.zip
• The Anti-Air unit now costs 8 PUs, not 7.
• 1 starting Fuel-Barrel placed in Norway.
The AA gun is now set to cost 8 PUs, not 7. According to the battle calculator, the optimal defense unit composition / cost effective defense against an Infantry + artillery army is around 76% Infantry and 24% AA guns. If is like 16% or 32% AA, the odds will be more in favor of attacker. (Anyone is welcome to recalculate. I used an infantry defense army of 500 PUs where 10, 15 or 20 AA guns could be inserted and be part of the 500 PUs by removing Infantry)
I think 8 PUs is reasonable, as the AA is weaker in attack because it cannot be supported. I would like the unit to be in play, and not be an almost never used unit. As I see it now, players would now maybe build AAs to guard against bombers, air-transports moving infantry and also build them for mixed armies.
I have done a few games with Germany again. I could see that their options, if going on a fuel grab mission, should be expanded, so I added a barrel in the Norway (http://www.norskolje.museum.no/en/vallo-refinery-closed-down/). Yet an incentive to attack Norway.
For me, the Germans need fuel, but it is not crucial for winning. There seems to be a general trend when I play Germany: Round 1-2 has fuel enough, round 3-4 lacks fuel, 5+ again has enough fuel as most units have arrived at the eastern front + without Germany necessarily sitting on Ukraine, Stalingrad and Caucasus. My play testing is probably affected a lot by my normal choices. I build a factory in East Prussia. I give 20-30 PUs away every turn to Iran, Iraq and Finland. And I keep my navy in the North Sea after destroying the USSR Baltic fleet. This probably keeps my fuel needs down. I would see it as a good thing if other players felt the urge to go historical and try to take the oil fields in Caucasus, but this is not something I go all in to do. Overall I can live with the German fuel need right now.
I will also try to play with Japan again next time, when I got time.
Synthetic fuel / fuel purchase / capturable one-time fuel depos:
I would rather not implement new fuel sources or new purchasable stuff to the game, and this one would also complicate the fuel aspect of the game further. Right now the income concept is pretty simple, and I would like to keep it simple. It might take a few games to learn how to handle and conserve the resources, but this will hopefully just keep layers playing.
AI and fuel needs:
I know that the AI is not conserving fuel in any way. It does not think in any way about its fuel needs, it just moves and runs dry quickly. I will have to consider what way to go about this, and how to maybe give AI some extra fuel.
The AA-Gun vs Infantry thing isn't necessarily about big battles. Often you are capturing territories with a handful of defenders and lose a unit. It doesn't matter how bad the combat stats are, the cheapest unit always has a niche as fodder for this type of battle. Also as fodder for the defender in these small battles, this it makes it risky for the opponent to use aircraft to trade territory.
@frostion I don't see the Norway barrel.
Sounds good will check it out when I get home later.
I think the main thing that happens under the fuel=movement scheme is that its a lot harder to globe trot. For example I think you're less likely to see Germany in South America or Japan in Africa etc, because it just burns up too much fuel to move a large invasion fleet that distance. Similarly its probably harder to transit a ton of fighters or bombers to prop up a buddy on the other side of the world, because of the fuel requirements. Stuff like that grounds the game as a more historically realistic scenario, though I do worry that we lose some of that world domination charm if the fuel runs out too quickly.
I think there should be enough fuel in the starting reserve to move the starting naval units their max distance every round at least until 1942. So basically running dry closer to round 5-6 rather than round 3. That way the big dogs on the water have enough gas in the tank to position their fleets for the battle of the Atlantic, and for island hopping in the Pacific.
Still just my first impression though. I'd like to get in a few more games beating up on the machine and report back. Catch you in a few
ps. on the subject of Germany and Norway etc. One thing I've noticed is that the German AI has a really tough time dealing with Denmark and the Danish straits. The fact that the Danish straits start the game neutral and closed, means that the German AI invariably sends the bulk of their fleet north to Murmansk/Archangel rather than defending in the North Sea or trying to retreat into the Baltic Sea the following round.
I know you've said before that you didn't want to cater the design of the map to the AI's deficiencies overmuch, but I think this one is particularly rough on the game balance. The German AI is doing stuff on the first turn that falls way outside the scope of what any reasonable human player might do under the same circumstances. It got me thinking again about the timeline for early 1940.
The invasion of Denmark and Norway occurred on April 9th, 1940.
The Battle of France and the invasion of the low countries began on May 10th, 1940.
This would make it pretty easy to give starting control of Norway and Denmark to Germany from the outset, and say that the game begins immediately after the Scandinavian invasions, but just prior to the invasion of France. (The situation should be familiar from the A&A Europe 1940 game which does the same.) I think it would be a lot easier to design a sensible opener for the German AI under those conditions. Right now they just don't seem to be very interested in Denmark or defending the North Sea fleet, which should be like priority number one (even more than beating back the Russians) since it makes it easy for the Allies to set up shop in striking distance of their core territories.
Just to see how the AI would respond, I edited Denmark and Norway to German control and watched to see what the Fast AI would do. Here they made a pretty sensible decision to consolidate their fleet in the Baltic, which feels like it would set up a somewhat more historical play pattern from G heading into the second round.
In the XML posted above, with the ingame version name 0.2.22, there should be a Fuel-Barrel in Norway. The same version has AA gun costing 8 PUs, not 7. Have you downloaded the zip, extracted the XML and placed it in the game dir of the Iron War zip?
Its possible Zod overwrote the wrong xml. I noticed in my master file that the xml is in 2 locations, one in main iron war map folder, and another in the games sub-folder. I just replaced both to get it working.
Just one last thought about the Norway Denmark thing... Another thing in favor of an April 1940 start date, after Norway and Denmark have been conquered by Germany, (as opposed to say January of 1940), is that this also fits somewhat better with the Pacific situation. The way the units are distributed, and because of the initial fuel limitations, Japan will likely spend the first turn trying to secure the border with the USSR in the north and China in the West. For historical framing that works (albeit somewhat asynchronously) as a stand in for the conflicts prior to the Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact which was signed April 1941.
In gameplay terms Japan has like 2 rounds to flex against Russia/China before they start really heading south towards the Dutch Islands, French Indochina, and the Philippines which occurred historically in Dec 1941. Japan will probably move against French Indochina and Philippines earlier than the historical timeline, but at least we'd be 4 months further along, and a little easier to suspend the disbelief.
I think I'd still prefer it if the game rounds didn't have have hard dates associated with them, since I think it would be more flexible. But if we do have a fixed start date/timeline per round, then I think April 1940 works pretty well. After all, Japan could have gotten the ball rolling earlier if they wanted to, or went after Russia instead of the Anglo-Americans like the army wanted to. I suppose the only reference point that really matters is that first turn when Germany opens. Everything after that is suspension of disbelief territory anyway hehe. I just like how the Denmark thing works for the AI behavior.
From what I've seen, the Germans pull their fleet back beyond the straits to sink the Russian Baltic fleet, and the British and French then move their fleets back as well. Both of which seem more realistic than an instant blowout in the English channel, a massive defensive naval expansion that Germany can't really afford, or else racing North towards the White sea zone to try and get out of range of the Allies, which seems to be what happens if AI Germany can't move through the straits in the opener. After the initial pull back they start creeping forward again, but it seems like less of an all-or-nothing situation.
Here's another Japanese solo (using the edit from above.) I tried to see what kind of damage Japan could do if they gunned straight for the West Coast USA. Seems they have just enough fuel to get there, but all down to one "there will be blood" bonzai battle to get those oil fields before the whole reserve is spent hehe...
I never imagined a Japanese attack on USA mainland as a possibility in Iron War. But if Japan rushed against Pearl Harbour, built a factory and moved on from there, maybe it's a possibility? It will surly disrupt any USA plans to help in Europe/Africa. I will have to study your moves
One of the reasons I like to have a Early/Late and years is because the players then can think "How have I changed the course of the war?", "Am I ahead of the real historical events or falling behind?" or maybe "Hmmm, what actually happened in the time I am in now?"
I would like to keep the players options to choose where to attack in Europe. I hope that some day the AI can be preset to different personalities. Making Norway German because of the current AI behaviour is not on my mind. Right now the German AI does sometimes attack Denmark and more infrequently also Norway, but of course it would be nice if it attacked this area much more.
@frostion I just added the new xml to the maps folder. Which lists both the old and new so you can swap back and fourth in game. Seems to work fine.
A new test version of Iron Wars is available for download right here. This version requires the latest prerelease of TripleA.
Prerelease found here: https://github.com/triplea-game/triplea/releases
Iron War test XML (Place XML in the Iron War “maps” folder within the Iron War zip – delete file it again at own discretion): 0_1521301000414_Iron-War-Test-XML-0.2.21.zip
Iron War 0.2.2 to 0.2.21
• Corrected a typing error in the notes (Kamikaze pilots are obtainable from round 9, not round 6).
• USA now has 6 more PU income.
• Ivory Coast is no longer a “capital of France.”
• Tank-Destroyers are now listed before the Light, Medium and Heavy Tanks, not after.
• The map now uses the resource option “isDisplayedFor” to keep nation specific resources visible only to certain players.
• Fuel system has been changed. Now ships and land vehicles use 1 fuel to move 1 territory, and planes pay half of their full potential movement in fuel when moved.
• Other minor changes.
The XML aims to balance the fuel system in such a way that most nations would want to get more fuel under control. If nations do a couple of good rounds, where they don’t lose fuel consuming units, then the pressure for new fuel gain should be felt. Of course, if a nation loses a number of fuel consuming units within the first rounds, without losing the access to fuel, no pressure will be felt. So a good test is when one is doing good.
It is not the aim that all nations feel the exact same pressure. There are exceptions like the USSR. This nation is pressed enough and already struggle to stay alive (they really need the US to send some PUs!), but their main enemy Germany needs to be thirsty for fuel. By round 3 or so most nations would need/want to prioritize their unit movement and some unit might stand still or move 1 instead of 2 moves.
Questions: Do the fuel needs seem realistic, reasonable, balanced? Are there anyone who needs a new permanent fuel barrel (+1 fuel every turn) or any nations who need to get a fuel barrel removed from start?
@General_Zod Your proposal sounds reasonable and logical. I have also thought about this before, but always ended up with the idea that the PUs would not flow as much between players if PUs were also lost. I would like to hear more from people and their experiences here, and hear how transactions cost would impact their playing.
@wc_sumpton I can’t really understand or decipher what you propose. But, any solution that would still allow anyone to edit/mod the map by removing or adding SS-Potential, and still keeping the game playable, and keeping the system where any Axis controlled territory/SS-Potential is given to Germany, would be nice. Cutting down on conditions and triggers would be nice, if it does not change the rules of the game.
Yeah I was able to fight a pretty effective campaign in the Americas, at least vs the machine hehe. Here is another one using the standard file...
I guess I can see what you're saying about not wanting the AI's shortcomings to dictate the set-up, though I still think its a bit of a missed opportunity, since the scenario is pretty fun for a solo, and it's hard to say if/when the AI will ever be able to catch up (esp. for things like canal ownership.)
Under player control the Axis side is pretty fun and the AI Allies put up a decent fight. The AI Allies utilize a fairly historical attack pattern and the fact that there are so many centers of power means that the AI Allies have lots of ways to mass their forces together, giving the AI big dogs more chances to break out.
Playing as Allies vs AI Axis however, Germany can be kind of a let down as an opponent. Weirdly it seems to be AI Italy, more than Germany that leads the AI Axis team in Europe. AI Japan is sort of hit or miss, I think it comes down to who prevails in the early contest along that Manchurian border, and how quickly their transports get picked off by the Dutch or Aussies or whoever. I've seen games where the Japanese steamroll their way to Siberia and others where they get booted off the mainland by the Chinese. I mean most of the difficulty level stuff can be handled with an AI bonus, so its more about the shape of things out of the first couple rounds.
Even with two human players though, having Denmark neutral in the opener is kind of tough. With the current distribution of forces Germany's only sensible option is to attack the British fleet immediately. If they attack with everything in range (including the air transport) its 99% with 7 units remaining. If they don't attack, and don't build up naval defense, then the chance they survive a British attack is only like 15%, so the choice is attack or run away. For some reason AI Germany doesn't seem to attack the British fleet anymore, it just bounces north out of harms way instead where it can't be reinforced. It's a bind because, even if G did attack, spending the whole fleet on the first turn also leaves them vulnerable, because those starting units are pretty much impossible to replace.
I like having options too, since the most entertaining part of the game is the chance to make departures from the history. That said, I guess the main thing I would suggest with respect to the common timeline/start date is that under the current scheme Paris falls on G1 every game, and historically that happens on June 14th, 1940. So if that's the deal then it makes sense historically for Scandinavia to already be under German control. Or at least to set it up such that the Denmark/Norway attacks are similarly routine. Trying to get the AI to do that consistently seems like kind of a tall order, which is why I thought maybe just giving it to G from the outset. I mean I definitely prefer them true neutral to pro-side, but having them under German control is pretty similar to having them true neutral, which is why I brought it up.
Just been running some tests to see how the AI handles the German naval situation.
Here is a typical example of what the Hard AI does under the normal conditions (here the Germans do take Denmark, but move their main fleet away)...
0_1521866803081_2.2 Hard AI test.tsvg
And here is one with a Scandinavia edit (Hard AI Germany attacks British fleet)...
0_1521867081293_2.2 Hard AI Danish Straits edit test.tsvg
Here is a typical example of what the Fast AI does (sends the main fleet north to take Russian convoy zone, Baltic fleet doesn't move)...
0_1521867380933_2.2 Fast AI test.tsvg
And here is how the Scandinavia edit looks with the Fast AI (attacks Russian fleet and retreats to Baltic)
0_1521867260372_2.2 Fast AI Danish Straits edit test.tsvg
To me the edit plays feel more convincing, at least on the water. Strangely the Germans always go really light into France, taking just the bare minimum to attack Paris at advantage, but not really enough to press very hard the following rounds. When the British survive this leads to a lot of dunkirk'n about on the part of the Allies hehe. Anyhow, just messing around. Clearly a human player can put together a much better attack plan, but would be nice if the AI script for G was little more solid. I think the size of the suggested AI bonus has to go up quite a bit depending on how much TUV AI Germany destroys in their opener. Like if they regularly work the British fleet, they probably don't need as much of a bonus to be competitive, but if the British fleet regularly survives, then we probably need a bigger bonus to compensate.