Iron War - Official Thread
I still think it would be fun if there were a few different 'personalities' for the HardAI, named after different generals or whatever. Like maybe one guy has randomized purchasing for combat units, another has something similar for infrastructure type stuff, one makes more aggressive attacks prioritizing enemy TUV destroyed, one is ultra conservative prioritizing their own TUV on defense. Basically a dozen "spin off" versions of the same reasonably competant base HardAI, but just with one variable or two adjusted so they play differently. I think that would probably be more fun overall for players to have on hand than one AI that's meant to handle everything at the highest strategic level.
Then the same AI game might play out very differently depending on which personality is assigned to the HardAI for a particular nation. I think some kind of compromise like that which uses a small degree of randomness might be more engaging in the near term for surprise outcomes, or humanlike digressions from the usual best practices, just to keep things interesting. By running a few different experimental AI drivers like that we might find some combos that outperform others, or at least mix up the bag a bit. I remember some older games like RiskII that had fairly weak baseline AIs, but which still managed to create a feel of dynamism and interest for the machine that way.
If the behavior differences started out with something easier to control for, like purchasing preferences or attack thresholds, maybe it could be a thing that works for both Hard and Fast AI? Maybe it could eventually be randomized on a round by round basis, where the AI shifts back and forth over the course of the game, instead of just the initial assignment, but meantime it would at least give a place to start.
In the same way that playing against a newb can sometimes be quite entertaining because they are more likely to go off script and force uncommon situations. Maybe something like that works for the AI too? I mean we don't have to set the bar all that high, since it's mainly for getting the rocks off while learning or in the downtime between PvP games. But it might also be useful from a game design standpoint, like a map being built around a certain standard behavior for a certain nation.
Kind of off topic, but I still think the sweetest thing we could get going would be a way to flag a territory as higher priority based on some control maybe with an invisible marker. That way could be used for VCs or Capitals, high resources or Canals and such. Just like a generic tag that makes a territory higher up on the target to kill or defend to the death type tiles.
Captain Crunch last edited by
interesting idea actually but only if you found more people to work on the AI and really the Hard AI being the hardest AI is all I need ::)
@Black_Elk @redrum @Captain-Crunch
Maybe a quick and easy easy way to support maps with special units / strange purchases is a "chaotic/random AI" that worked like Hard AI, except that 50% to all purchases were random, and an xml setting that made the AI use this type of AI?
Yeah I mean that sounds pretty cool! I'm sure I'd have fun playing against it. The main point I'd drive home is that we are probably arriving at a point now where a single type of AI is insufficient for the number/variety of maps we have. The HardAI is pretty good at doing what is was designed for, namely general principles for the WWII maps that came out prior to V3, and it does a fairly competent job playing other similar maps. But I think we've probably hit a wall here, where it's easier to have an AI gang rather than one hard dude running the whole block. I think randomizing the behavior based on different variables would be really interesting, using different AIs with cool names.
From a design standpoint, if we had a dozen different AI personalities, maybe people could build maps that play to certain strengths and weaknesses of that particular AI. Like just imagining extremes, maybe you have one AI who buys impulsively and spends half the pot on different units every time... well, at the other end of the spectrum you might have the dude who picks one or two favorite unit types and magnifies those buys every round. Or similarly maybe you have an AI who loves building ships and running the sea, another who's all for bombers, and just give them names or descriptions that fit.
Those things are just on the purchasing side, but I can imagine a Dirty Dozen different AI's where each are basically a spin-off of the main HardAI. Then it would be a lot easier to design maps based on these different AIs instead of trying to have a single AI that can cover all situations across all maps. Otherwise you have that tension that Redrum was describing where a certain behavior makes a lot of sense for one map, or for one nation on a given map, but would nerf the AI in another possibly significant situation. If we had different AIs then we could play around with it a bit, under less pressure for ultimate perfection, while still operating within the same basic framework. At least that way we could experiment with some different ideas, without having to worry about unintentionally hosing the regular HardAI in the process of trying to refine it. For starters I would ditch the Easy AI altogether. It's name is deceptive anyway, since it should probably be called "old AI" at this point hehe. Or if its good to keep Easy AI for some kind of under-the-hood/future re-development reason, just change the name to something less enticing for the solo newb and stick it way at the bottom. Fast AI is good, because it's name tells you what it's really about.
After that maybe just pick like half a dozen clever names and see if we can find a variable to tweak that would make their gameplay a little bit unique and let them loose on the solo playerbase to see whether it sticks...
Perhaps you have one called "Ivan" who does what you'd want AI Russia to do, like just stack for defense and try to hold down a contiguous empire with very conservative purchases.
Maybe "Tommy" is another AI personalty, except his deal is more about flying aid to his buddies, saving up to drop big fleets, and then establishing a beachhead near the front with transports.
Then you got "Fritz" who likes to buy mobile ground units and hurl them headlong at the nearest enemy, sometimes makes desperate attacks when the odds are narrow, because he needs to maintain momentum and seize the initiative.
Somewhere in there maybe you have an AI that focuses on developing production infrastructure or a wide variety of unit types. Probably analogous to what we'd want from the USA in a standard WWII type game. Once the basic template is established and people see how different AI types might fit together to make a more interesting game, then you could add to the list different behaviors that might be fun. I honestly have no idea, but it seems like that might be somewhat simpler than going at it Highlander style, where there can be only one hehe.
In the Iron War map, I can imagine at least half a dozen different AI behaviors that might be advantageous to have kicking around, depending on which Nation is up in the rotation. In most TripleA games, there are at least a couple basic types of player nations, where a human is expected to do different things based on who they play, so probably the AI should mirror that. In that vein I'd say start with AA50 as a model. We do Six different AI's with cool names and behavior themed on the 6 player nations on that map. Use them as the experimental guinea pigs, to see if we can get them to model a more human like approach on that map (since its kind of like legacy edition A&A at this point.) If successful we adapt them or add new ones to handle other different maps.
At least I think it could be a fun experiment to run. Maybe a little more entertaining for our AI guru, having something to mess around with that isn't quite as monolithic as the standard HardAI?
ps. Still going vs the HardAI Axis with the boost. We took the TKO in 43, but Axis are still showing teeth and its pretty fun to try and manage the Allied fuel reserve while preparing for the final strikes. AI Japan has done a pretty reasonable job of reorienting onto the mainland and not letting their main fleets get cracked. Allies are trading W. Germany on income for the edge, but the Germans still have their main fleet and an expanding tank force holding onto Berlin. Balkans just made a sneaky Blitz on Moscow after AI Germany canopened the way. Guess they made Stalin pay for his overconfidence hehe. Looks like they got a few rounds left. Probably will play on just to see how long Japan can play off the fuel reserve they built up. Catch you next round!
Axis 20 synth fuel per starting factory flat rate bonus Russia round 8.tsvg
AI Axis made a pretty glorious final counter offensive to push back the Allied occupation of W. Germany. Balkans then blitzed to punish Paris hehe. They took a lot of TUV down, but the big German ground stack also went by the wayside, so basically a done deal in Western Europe. On the Pacific side Allies are steady rolling up Japan after a big build up over several rounds... Italy is stacked heavy in Egypt and Rome, but also getting boxed in now. Probably time to throw in the towel but I'll give it to the AI for making a clean last stand! hehe
I think they could have gone on longer if the AI Japanese rebuilt their Tokyo factory, but they seemed to expend all their energy around China instead. Curious if the AI values territory income or just production value? Both AI Germany and Japan seem to underplay their highest value territories on defense/recovery, compared with the way they will target other lower value enemy territories in the area. Other than that I suppose the main thing that would probably make the AI more competitive is to prioritize VC control at the end of the round, for whatever threshold the Win is set. Like in this case, the AI just going all gangbusters trying to hold as many VCs as they can if they have the chance at 20. Right now the AI is still playing more total domination style ala Classic with solid general principles on the TUV trade, but not really set up for the VC aspect, even though that is how victory is determined for many games these days. Probably something like that would be at the head of the wishlist for me, making VC control supersede other considerations when Victory is reach. But anyhow, I like how the AI plays on this map when they have the synth fuel and a flat boost, fun stuff!
Here is a fun one where the AI Allies have been keeping us on our toes... Axis went with the slow push to expand carving up the conquests between the various minors along the way, but got stalled up in the Urals and the Russians had us fighting tooth and nail to take out Siberia. AI Soviets meanwhile have been launching some effective counter attacks using their bomber stack, with few furious bombing runs to sweep Japanese production on the mainland. Yakutsk is still kicking and British fighter support has kept the far east fairly active. US pacific fleet just did an end around towards Tokyo when the Japanese fleet finally launch from Truk , and AI Stalin has used the opportunity to re-established a final stronghold in Vladivostock! The Americans are stacking fighters to the ceiling! Germans just bought their first nuke to deal with the situation... hehe good times.
AI Australia felt better after the increase on starting fuel, they've been keeping Japan on edge bouncing defending fighters around. South Africa was knocked off and British-India is near collapse, but the rest of the gang is still up to no good in West Africa. Think it could go another half dozen rounds
A pretty Epic battle vs AI Britain for control of Mexico City! hehe been taking this one full invasion USA, but the North American air fortress is pretty impressive. Japan didn't have enough strength at the ready after the long campaigns vs India and Russia to turn around and directly take on Australia or USA. So instead they blew past Hawaii and the West Coast and headed to Panama. Axis are sweeping across the South America now, with German tanks leading the way and a massive Italian army finally ready follow along for the Atlantic crossing. Even with tactical nuke strikes by both Germany and Japan over several rounds, the British and Americans are determined to bloody us still. US AI has fifty some odd fighters defending the homeland. Good times! This one might go into the 1960s lol
Dusted this one off for the first time in forever, just a quick run vs HardAI using the latest build. I think its still my fav TripleA map for PVE solo vs computer type thing.
The large map and relatively large number of factions makes it ideal for that style of play, since it games out almost more like a Total War campaign than something you get from a typical A&A game. The basics are still there though, and not complicated with the rules, so the computer to plays fair pretty well as a punching bag over the long sprawl.
Any plans to update this one in future?
I think it would be fun see a TripleA map or mod like this one but specifically with AI's behavior in mind for the challenge set up. Current Iron War runs well I think when everyone just buys 1 barrel of fuel pretty much every round, though hard AI doesn't like to purchase barrels. It'd be cool if the AI just got like 5 extra green barrels out the gate so they'd have a reserve building from round 1? Not sure if it even needs income boost if computer just had more fuel.
What I like about the map most is the naval game and the production spread with the gold spots, how they anchor the action across the various fronts. Main thought from last play through was that it would be fun to have more and maybe have like all the minors with capital worth 20, to bring heat to the game. I think it would balance pretty well by sides since most spots are contested, or rather that whichever side was the punching bag I think would still be fun to rally against at level hehe. Drum up a boost for the little guys haha
Only other thing I'd say is maybe using newer rules for carrier/fighter placement, since it was tricky to recall it was revised style here (fighters move to from land to sea). But otherwise like riding a bike pretty much
Anyhow, hope all have been well! catch ya next round
whoops wrong thread. But I did game this one again all night hehe
ps. last save as Axis going vanilla, fun speed press vs AI 2020-8-25-Iron-War G5.tsvg
With hard AI the longer the game goes on the more their fuel disadvantage grows, and also because of fuel consuming unit spawns, they burn through it quickly and burn out usually in round 4. For the next one I edited in 5 green barrels for each of the Allies and put it at their most secure factory territory. Going to see how that plays under this set up. Cause I think the income/steel level is actually pretty good at this scale for a starter level.
Or it would be cool if we could give the flat rate bonus to fuel rather than PU. Then the challenge rate could give suggested settings in the game notes for solo vs HardAI that could be done simply from launch.
Normal/Easy: No Income bonus +5 Fuel
Moderate: Income +110% bonus +10 Fuel
Hard: Income +115% bonus +15 Fuel
Very Hard: Income +125% bonus +20 Fuel
or something along those lines, with like suggested playscale. That'd be cool
Going to try
ps. Here's another on G5. You can see how much better HardAI does by the same point, just with the a couple extra green barrels at the outset.
Even if it doesn't prevent the Axis round 3 crush on Leningrad, HardAI Allies are definitely in a much stronger position coming out of the 4th round. With the barrel boost they are running a pretty solid fuel surplus by then, so that they don't break down in the middle of their combat move/non com move. Better able to get the US/UK fighters and air transports out into position, to maneuver their transports and warships and push a little harder with their tanks and mech and such.
In this one they pressed pretty well in North Africa and up into central Africa with the tanks. Leningrad and India pockets still collapsed round 3 owing to mass amphib rush, but Allies are much stronger at the middle at around the same point. Soviets still pretty beefy at Stalingrad and Siberia for example, and active in far East. USA doing creeper moves with their transports to harass Japan in the Pac. Allied fleets also with a stronger push vs the Med and buildup in North Atlantic etc.
Even without any boost to income, just having that extra fuel makes the AI a lot more challenging. With the leg up at +5 green barrels from the outset they are still in the black in round 5, with enough fuel to move effectively. Whereas in the one with no extra fuel they are dry by round 4 for sure, if not sooner, just from moving aircraft and such around. The only Allied nations still routinely running dry at +5 green barrels are Britain and Anzac. I think +10 green Barrels would probably make it such that they don't burn out during normal play or at least until the game has ground past the point of victory anyway. Axis side might need something closer to +10 to get out of the red, since they have more starting units that consume fuel. I'll try that next I think.
Anyhow, pretty fun I think. If AI could just get a quick bonus to flat fuel per round would be cool.
Here's another showing +10 Green barrels for Allies at the start.
Here you can see USA really get it out there, all the way to Japanese home waters! hehe Still with the Axis crush in round 3, but Allies are well in the black for fuel going into the 5th round. So I think that +10 is prob the right fuel amount for the AI to hum like it wants to. Anzac and UK didn't get tripped up as hard.
The main pivot points on the map feel like they're at Leningrad and Iran for control of Europe. If Allies hold Leningrad and take Iran they're pretty much set, and the inverse too, if Axis take Lengingrad and hold Iran they're pretty much set. The other stuff peripheral stuff along those drives is pretty open to choice, with different routes to the middle, but that seems the best B line. Since as long as all the Axis together can prop up Iran, then when G cracks Leningrad its a nice breaks out to the 20 VC finale. Pretty fun I think, even without the income bonus, once the AI is unleashed to do its thing with the mobile units. I still enjoy this one.
pps. same deal just switching sides. AI Axis did pretty well with the fuel at +10. They were cruising right up until a rough break in the Leningrad battle where Russia backed them down. Good grind at the center though, Soviets got into Persia by the skin of their teeth but couldn't crack Iraq after Italy rushed in air defense. The Dutch and French Colonies pile up held the line down south, but Japan smashed pretty hard against Russia and China putting the heat in the backfield. Not a bad showing just with the added fuel
2020-8-26-Iron-War Axis Fuel +10 USSR4.tsvg
Main thing I would say having played quite a bit of the map, is that I think the play-balance would be a lot more interesting if Denmark was under German control from the start. This would give more strategic depth to the German opener in PVP, since more options open up for possible first turn German moves/Purchases when the strait isn't closed off. And of course it would make for a stronger Hard AI Germany, since then AI doesn't goof their naval defense so hard by going north, instead of staying in place like the player should do, they could retreat to back behind Kattegat. I think removing 1 German transport as an offset would work for PvP balance. I ran a few test games to see what Hard AI does, and it makes some pretty reliable moves. Here's one showing what they did.
Its pretty solid opener from the AI to hit the Soviet fleet and bolster Finland, while sending just the a lone destroyer to take the Russian convoy lane, protecting the rest up in a safe spot. I think many in PvP would do something similar which gives a fresh dynamic, a bit less centered on Ukraine fight. Here it is after Axis block on Russia's first turn.
Anyhow, by allowing the German fleet to converge somewhere on G1 it also makes the choice for how to deal with Russia a bit more complex in the edge cases since it presents a couple trade off battles too. Instead of a do or die all-in to Ukraine fight, there'd be another option to hit North, or prop up Finland like this on defense, or maybe even to go west vs France or UK direct in force. Purchasing would be a little more dynamic too since there'd be a way to save the fleet without having to spend everything on naval units, like purchasing a carrier or a gang of pt boats and the like just to keep the starting ships from getting blow out the water right away.
Denmark under German control from G1 would also fit the start date for 1940 since the invasion of Denmark occurred April 9th 1940. It was the shortest campaign of the war and concluded in 6 hours.
The campaign for Norway wasn't completed until they captured Narvik in June. So to me makes sense for a timeline that has the game opening basically April 9th of 1940 through some point in mid-June 1940 corresponding to the first turn, right on the even of the invasion of Norway and France basically,
Anyhow that's my idea for balance on the Axis side.
Allies I think are pretty solid
I played out the game with Denmark under German control to round 4 just for comparison. You can see how much stronger the Germans press under these conditions over vanilla.
They were able to match the round 3 timing, and punish my Soviets for opting to go all break neck towards the south. Just as the Russians crushed Iran, the Germans stomped into Leningrad for the follow up.
Not a bad showing from the computer, since it forces a similar style of play to PvP, where Allies really have to choose between holding the north or cracking the south. Even with a minor setback in Stalingrad they're rolling heavy and primed to bring the pain to Stalin. Finns sweeping Archangel, Balkans charging the middle, and Moscow pocket pretty well collapsing in the 4th round.
With Denmark under German control from the outset, AI Axis actually put those starting transports to pretty good use, first to secure Finland and then to press on Russian VCs. Its much more challenging as Allies. So I think that's prob the simplest change to make the map more viable for solo play.
My top suggestion for now anyway. I think if the concern is G1 transport capacity for Sea Lion it would be better to just remove a German transport but give them control of Kattegat from the start so they can maneuver their warships to converge. Basically just giving G a way to keep the fleet from being destroyed that doesn't require an all in naval investment. After G1 they play it pretty smooth, it's just the strait I think that causes them headaches.
In PVP having the strait closed sort of pushes Germany into a more one dimensional purchase option, since you really need to keep the fleet alive to G2 in order to swing troops east after the initial battle of France. So I think it'd work better there too, I'd just nix the 3rd transport as an offset and it'd be pretty clean.
I think the green barrel Synth fuel is a good way to balance the map for computer opponent, since it is destroyed on capture unlike the main Fuel resource. 5-10 barrels at a capital or safer VC space and the computer does pretty well for itself, whereas when its gets the %bonus to income and steel as well it becomes OP pretty fast. It'd be cool to have those two split for the resource modification option at launch. Flat rate Resource Modifier for Fuel at launch would be ideal. To get up to the amounts of fuel needed for a solid AI (or the equivalent to 5-10 green barrels for each AI player) using the percentage boost you gotta go up to like 115%-120% for the total, but that's a pretty massive bonus for steel and PUs.
Here's one at +120% for comparison. In that one my Italians hosed themselves with a botched sub move allowing Allies to keep Egypt. G stalled out after Leningrad and was defeated at Stalingrad. Basically down to Japan keeping Axis afloat hehe. Obviously way more hardware on the board at 120%, and even with the round 3 timing to crack Leningrad/India Allies are going pretty hardcore by round 5 lol. Interestingly even with an extra 25% on top of their standard fuel, Britain and Anzac are almost dry as a bone. So I think a boost to fuel separately is better, even if going for a more difficult challenge scale more like this one.
2020-8-27-Iron-War Bonus 120 percent Allies.tsvg
Had a good standoff going vs Axis at 120%. They're staring down Moscow pretty hard. My Russians blew into Mid East, but sent all the Eastern armies to prop up Leningrad, worked fairly well. Japan just smoked the Aussie fleet, but then USA clapped back to smoke theirs. British-India is finally in Thailand. Here it is in the 6th Soviets just for kicks
2020-8-26-Iron-War Bonus 120 percent Axis USSR6.tsvg
Went 12 rounds into the nuke era, felt pretty on target for the WW2 gameplay
2020-8-26-Iron-War Bonus 120 percent Axis USSR12.tsvg
Trying another vs Axis at 125% this time, I did the reload at combat-move trick to get Germany to take Denmark on G1. Hehe good to see em finally kick into high gear there. Going to give this one a run tonight later tonight lol.
2020-8-29-Iron-War AI Axis +125.tsvg
I will say after playing a couple times as Allies again, I think it would be cool if Russia had a fall back space on the line between Moscow and Siberia.
Right now its really tough to cover such a broad front once the forward factories are taken, which can happen pretty quickly. I'd say raising Kuybyshev to +5 with a starting factory would do the trick. That way when the Soviets have to withdraw they have a pivot point in the interior, still 1 move off from Siberia but closer to contested high value spots for the fall back.
"During World War II, Kuybyshev was chosen to be the alternative capital of the Soviet Union should Moscow fall to the invading Germans, until the summer of 1943, when everything was moved back to Moscow. In October 1941, the Communist Party and governmental organisations, diplomatic missions of foreign countries, leading cultural establishments and their staff were evacuated to the city. A dugout for Joseph Stalin known as "Stalin's Bunker" was constructed but never used."
That would be cool to showcase with another strong spot in the middle at Kuybyshev.
I think pretty much every faction could handle an influx of a couple PUs in starting production spread around, either to their starting territories or nearby neutral/enemy spots they can snag. Its fun when there are more +5s to target for production expansion, especially as the game goes on. Also becomes a fun part of the game trying to deny those spots to the enemy, so ya get the push and pull thing going on.
To make the Pacific more fun I would punch up the value of the following spots at +5 gold...
Iwo Jima, Saipan, Wake, Midway
That's 2 for Japan, 2 for USA, that way there is more back and forth in the central pacific, or a place to go when Hawaii/Truk are deadlocked. The value increase would be a nod to the strategic and historical significance, but in practical gameplay terms it gives a way for USA and Japan to springboard onto each other with more gusto. The names are already familiar from the major battles and histories of the Pacific war, so I don't think it'd raise any eyebrows. It'd just make the central Pacific battle more intense with both sides given an added stake there, to really set up the confrontation over those islands between USA/Japan.
On the European side think each of these territories could be worth 5, and it wouldn't upset the balance.
Algeria, Armenia, Benelux, Croatia, Greece, Kuybyshev, Scotland , Sicily, Tangier
Each would be like an additional pivot point for the campaigns in the region, giving both sides a way to branch further, or later when lines shift after you enter the endgame (and new factories start being built/taken) more choke points in the production game.
Anyone else playing this map think those would work? I like the idea of giving a few more neutral spots at a higher value so that the smaller factions have more to gun for. I think the little guys could each use a springboard or two and a way to up their income a bit faster.
The Med/Mid East have some the best options I think, because most factions can reach that zone. But the Pacific works a little different owing to KNIL's existence (no springboard from the money islands in the same way as other WW2 games) so I'd boost the central pacific instead to give it a little more dynamism.
ps. took the tko in the 3rd round, with the middle east somalia snag, but otherwise AI Axis are stacking pretty well. Japan whiffed at French Indo, but but just put a dent in Darwin and have mopped up China. India was the star of the show so far putting Iraq/Iran in the Allied column, but G is doing pretty well even without a fleet. Going for the Normandy stackfest, and an Aussie end around on East Africa hehe.
2020-8-29-Iron-War AI Axis +125 USSR5.tsvg
Big Axis press into Stalingrad! Nice work hard AI Germany hehe. Got me on the sleep deprivation sting! lol
2020-8-29-Iron-War AI Axis +125 USSR7.tsvg
Next run switching sides
2020-8-30-Iron-War AI Allies +125 G1.tsvg
G3 Sea Lion set up
2020-8-30-Iron-War AI Allies +125 G3.tsvg
Soviets have been pretty formidable in the aftermath hehe
2020-8-30-Iron-War AI Allies +125 J4.tsvg
Took it to the 11th round just to see how long AI Russia could maintain hehe. G was pretty well spent on taking London while Japan did their globe trot thing, so Soviets were pretty impressive, and USA and even a nerfed out Britain have a shit ton of fighters flying about lol.
I think fuel movement breaks down after a certain threshold when the game goes on for a while, certainly by the end of a dozen rounds. Eventually to the point where the even with the 125% boost the HardAI just can't conserve enough surplus fuel to move effectively after a certain number of rounds. Unfortunately they don't expand fuel through purchasing, which seems strange cause I'd think the AI might end up with 5 left in the remainder to burn at least some of the time, but they always find a way to buy a hitpoint instead, which I guess makes a certain sense too. But anywhow, the boost does extend the duration before they hit that cliff and run real dry, and so is pretty fun. I still like the idea of extra green barrels scattered about to give more interest, esp for SP play. Adding green barrels to contested spots knowing that whoever snakes them first will have an impact on the fuel game.
Like maybe it would be cool to have green barrels in all those contested island spots in the central Pacific, or around the Med. I don't know like a couple dozen green barrels to each side used to punch up play pattern or maybe push it in a few exciting directions?
Destroying the enemy barrels would be a gameplay driver, and could be seen as 'disrupting supply lines' kind of part and parcel of the broader naval warfare already going on with convoy lanes, landing pad islands, and amphib game generally. So like say if New Zealand and Guadalcanal had Green barrels that Japan could destroy if they went after em, that could be interpreted as Japan disrupted enemy US/ANZAC shipping/supplies depleting the overall reserves by destroying those starting green barrels.
I'd drop em in a few dozen spots that make sense for the timeline. It could work for any historical battle spots really, esp islands like Sicily Sardinia Crete and such. Where it not only gives the Allies an added incentive to hit those spots, but more importantly gives Axis a reason to defend them and vice versa for contested barrel spots under starting allied control. So yeah that's another idea. I think the game just needs a little more fuel flow to ensure that more of the cool steel ground and naval can still be can be put to good use in the midgame, and the green barrel could do double duty in that way.
I clearly like the green barrel unit a lot haha I think its interesting because it can be killed! I like that concept of blast-able barrel reasource that can be smoked, for the same reason I like the destroy-able factory concept. Cause that all still feels pretty novel compared to what we usually get in A&A, where the factory unit is fixed in place once bought and can be captured. I like the capture resources concept to, but I think its cool how this map now blends those two ideas with capturable oil fields fuel alongside purchase-able/destroy-able fuel, which I see as more as synthetic fuel for Axis, or just regular old oil stockpiles/reserves if its the Allies.
Invasion USA just for kicks. Took a hot minute to break into the Americas, to J20 before passing out hehe
2020-8-30-Iron-War AI Allies +125 J20.tsvg
Here's another idea for how the green fuel thing might work. In this one I gave each of the main factions 2 extra green barrels, and the smaller factions 1 extra green barrel each in a contestable spot. Just as a way for a bit more pull, especially between USA/Japan but really for everyone across the board. Tried to go for a space that they'd then have an extra incentive to hold, or to and try to take. I daisy chained em along the North and South Pacific with a few extra barrels from the various factions to make those sea zones a little more key to naval battle, so there's some more tension for Japan to break off a transport here and there etc, or on the flipside for the US and Anzac to have more objectives to defend around the various island chains. I think it could work even with a few more barrels, but this seemed cool for modest start. Basically everyone gets an extra barrel somewhere that can be destroyed, and then the big guys get another in a target spot since they have the larger starting forces. Anyhow, just an idea of how it might look. Basically just trying to add some targets to the peripheral kind of zones to spice it up, but also adding in a little more juice to fuel for the long game. I think it could be cool
2020-9-2-Iron-War added synth.tsvg
Pretty fun, I played out 5 rounds. This one is notable for AI Japan's press vs Alaska, with some daring cutty transport actions up there in northmost sea zones! Also for AI Italy rocking some dastardly can-openers on the Russian midsection to nix down Soviet production... Good stuff! haha
2020-9-2-Iron-War added synth Axis +125 USA5.tsvg
Here's one at +120 with 20 green barrels to the AI (basically aiming to eliminate their fuel movement probs) so far so good. Axis transport capacity after the first round makes it pretty hard for AI Allies to avoid a coordinated crush in a single direction. For Germany its more all in to against France and Ukraine G1, stack forward vs Karelia G2 with mass transport for the G3 take. For Japan the best is all in to Philippines and French Indo on J1, Sumatra J2, then India J3 for J3 take or Italy to mop up if that fails. The timing is about a round faster owing to the fact the AI doesn't block, but even against the crush when they have sufficient fuel and a boost they still throw down a lot of pickets and still manage to cause a ruckus hehe.
Iron-War +20 synth +120 income AI Allies J3.tsvg
AI Anzac with the sneaky snipe from Truk! Who knew they had slipped in down there on the sly!? First time I've seen em snake the home island haha. Nice work HardAI, with the gotcha gotcha play lol
Iron-War added synth AI Allies +125 J4.tsvg
I guess to summarize, I think this map works really well for a style of gameplay that is closer to a 4X solo or 4X multi type thing than the more typical 1v1 A&A game. The map scale, the sheer number of factions, and the new resource concepts and such all lend themselves pretty well to that sort of thing I think. All it really needs for that is some recommended or default challenge settings in the game notes, so the new player has something to shoot for. The play balance is necessarily somewhat different PVE vs PVP, but I think it works.
Right now these are top 5 things I would suggesting having another look at.
- Transport Capacity
The whole game hinges really hinges on transports and transport capacity. It is the single most significant thing delineating the play pattern on this map after the factory unit/production spread. The difference between transporting 3 hitpoints vs 2 hitspoints is hugely significant. As it is now, you can either transport 3 units (if only inf, art, aagun), or just 2 units (if you bring along a mech or tank unit). This has the effect of making tank type units much less attractive as a purchase option, esp since they already compete with transports directly for the steel requirement cost. I would either cap the transport at 2 units total, or else allow the transport to carry 2 inf + 1 tank for parity. Mass transport actions are pretty OP at the moment, so my first instinct would be to reduce the capacity to 2 units total, but then the cost of the transport unit is almost prohibitive and there may not be enough hitpoints moving around to actually threaten amphib actions. A reduction in cost to just 1 steel per transport might work for that. Otherwise though I think it may be simpler to just raise the capacity of the transport to allow for 3 inf, or 2 inf + 1 tank type.
- Production Capacity
The factory unit in this game is my favorite unit, I like its relatively low cost and the fact that is destroyed on capture. But it is very vulnerable to bomber actions, since it is possible to nerf factions entirely out of play by eliminating their ability to place units the following turn via SBR. The smaller factions and factions limited by just 1 starting factory in a key spot like UK are particularly vulnerable. I would suggest allowing Inf units to be produced by the Victory City rather than the factory unit. Basically factory produces heavy equipment and the VC produces inf. This would have a number of benefits I think for the playpattern and is pretty simple to get your head around. It preserves the idea of high value industrial spots that are viable for housing a factory and building tanks and ships, but also allows a way to remain in the game when factories are dropping left and right through bomber actions or smash and grab production kills.
I think the Mech unit should cost more. Its the most powerful mobile ground unit in the game and pretty overpowered at a cost of 12. If keeping the costs of the other ground units the same, I would at least suggest a cost of 14 PU, so that it is more expensive than SP Artillery at 12 and Tank Destroyer at 13. But honestly Mech is a way more effective unit than the Light Tank, and a better buy in most cases than even the Medium Tank. Its cheaper than the tanks in PUs and considerably cheaper in Steel, but allows you to drag a second hitpoint into the fight, which is huge! If anything, I think the mech should cost 2 steel and the light tank only 1 steel, just based on how potent the ability to shift infantry can be. That's the main one I'd say, the Mech balance/cost since its the principal unit that shapes the big-push drives overland.
- Unit Spawns
I do like the sub pens and air bases, and the basic concept of unit spawns per turn, though its pretty powerful over time and kind of unbalancing. I think perhaps it might be more interesting if they were nation specific rather than by side, or perhaps if each nation had a unique/thematic unit spawn so each felt a little different? The air transport is a pretty niche unit. They are interesting, and fun to try and use when they're around, but rather than spawning them continuously from airbases as a way to encourage their use, it might be just as well to simply add a handful of air transports as starting units in out of the way locations. Or maybe instead you might have a spawn concept for each of the "big 6" player nations Germany, Russia, Italy, UK, Japan, USA that is unique. Perhaps Germany=Subs, Russia=Tanks, Italy= PT Boats, UK=fighters, Japan=Destroyers, USA=Transports or something of that sort? I don't know just a thought, but it definitely gets pretty wild over time as those units stack up. The air transports have a fairly high fuel cost so moving them around can be kinda cost prohibitive as the game goes on. Another idea that I liked, but which may not be feasible, is unit spawns as a randomizing element, or having something like airbases or sub pens, but which produce a totally random off the roster unit each turn and then give one of those to each faction so that there is always something unique going on there for each game. I think it might benefit from something like that, especially for the smaller factions to be more relevant, where its like sometimes they maybe get a tank or aircraft or ship out of it and that gives them a different edge, or a surprise each turn basically. That'd be cool
- Turn Order
Right now the turn block that has India, French Colonies, Anzac and KNIL feels like its missing a big player to define the action there. I think the intention of the grouping was to organize a miniblock vs Japan more on the pacific side, but the view orientation is going to jump around regardless and the weight of the block just feels a little light since they are all smaller factions there. Meanwhile the grouping that has USSR, UK, France, British-Colonies, and South Africa feels a little heavy/long by comparison, esp since USSR is such an involved turn usually. Maybe it would work better if the British block all went at once, and the French block was paired with the Soviets instead of being split up? (I already think French Colonies is kinda redundant, but maybe if it followed right after France it would be a little more interesting and I'd be less likely to always forget about Syria lol.)
Also its really potent for Japan to follow on Italy's turn, without a major faction coming between them to disrupt Axis coordination there. The way its set up now, Italy is just too strong, and its too easy for Italy to cause headaches for Britain by themselves before the Americans can do anything about it. This is especially consequential for D-Day or controlling the various naval approaches via canals/straights. Having the Britain block follow the Italy block would fix that. I think a better turn order not too dissimilar might be something like this... even if it alters the current balance slightly it's better to address the turn order exploit first I think and then balance off those conditions...
Block 1: Germany, Balkans, Finland
Block 2: Soviet Union, France, French-Colonies, KNIL
Block 3: Italy, Iraq, Iran
Block 4: Britain, British-Colonies, South-Africa, British-India, ANZAC
Block 5: Japan, Thailand
Block 6: USA, China, Brazil
Having French-Colonies and KNIL going with the first block of Allies would signal the fall of France/Holland as a theme and fits the 1940 start date. Having Britain go after Italy (instead of before), also allows a way for both sides to disrupt can-openers and fighter landings, which are otherwise pretty OP in the current set up. It also has the advantage of all the British factions moving in the same block just for consistency and thematic unity. I think the importance of the Middle East and sub Saharan Africa to the play pattern is somewhat outsized on this map, but perhaps a change to the turn order would go a little way towards correcting that, since it'd put Britain between the Italy turn block and the Japanese turn block, giving it some more strategic significance, instead of feeling kind of like an afterthought to the Soviet turn as it sometimes does in the current. Soviet turn is already pretty solid, and having France follow it directly along with French-Colonies and KNIL would still give that player position broader scope (with a few ships to play with and whatnot), but not quite as involved a turn as when it also includes Britain and British-Colonies which are larger factions. They'd fit better in the second Allied player position, which would conveniently have all the Brit themed gang going together.
A blocking like that would make each slot feel more like a full player, like where each block could conceivably be controlled by a separate player in a 6 man, or 3v3 team match, where each player block was at the same basic scale. Without anyone getting bored from not having enough to do, or from not having enough of an impact on the overall game. The second Allied player/block on the team has a bit more to do across theaters, which I think is good, because that player needs to review the whole world map anyway. But geographically paced out a bit there.
Block 4 or the British player block is basically a full map survey though, right at the mid point of the game round. It covers the entire empire at a go, but each of the British faction turns is fairly short, so I like the idea of having them all together, since I think it would make the gameflow feel better there. Might actually be a good player for someone new to the map, since the play from those factions is a bit more guided in terms of what to do. It might help the resource exchange too, since the follow up is more immediate and makes the resource exchange between them and the Soviet player block kinda interesting. France, French-Colonies and KNIL would be pretty fast turns and easy enough to manage from the Soviet Block I'd think, while still retaining similarly global feel for that player grouping too. But including Britain, British-Colonies, South Africa all together with the British-India, and Anzac turn would be clean and easy way to streamline the whole thing. It would also put that player block more on the scale of the others for an easier division, into teams say, or in the case of multi. But anyway the British turn would just feel less disjointed I think that way, and give a smoother play pattern between the 6 major player blocks.
There are some other peripheral things I'd look at or maybe tweak, but after the last few runs those are the biggest that stood out to me as pretty key.
ps. I still think the most interesting things about this map beyond the production spread, are the D10 combat and high cost of infantry (at base 10 PUs) relative to everything else. Its a fun departure from D6 combat and low cost infantry (at base 3 PUs) that most A&A games are built around. I just really like the idea of a large complex map with a complex unit roster, but which is otherwise a pretty simple game in terms of rules overhead, with a total war start and where every faction is working in more or less the same way. The number of factions (esp the smaller factions) might make it seem a little daunting on the Allied side, but I really think having all the British factions move together in a single turn would help with that.
I was looking at the starting unit balance, particularly for Italy vs British-Colonies, but also having French-Colonies and KNIL as part of the Soviet/France block, and I think the turn order change suggested above would work fine without really needing to alter starting units. It'd give a bit more strategic depth to the Italian opening turn, since it introduces more of a naval dilemma in the Med to have the Brits and British-Colonies follow Italy rather than going before. There'd be more pressure on Italy's opening attacks and more danger in the follow up since it allows Brits/Brit-Colonies to disrupt before the USA turn. I think it'd work better for Gibraltar balance as well for that reason. Also, having French-Colonies go before Iraq is helpful for the opening balance on Trans-Jordan. I also think it might also make French-Colonies and KNIL feel a bit more unique and interesting to play if paired with Soviet-France turn where they'd feel more independent as opposed to just an extension of the India-Anzac turn.
So anyhow, that's sort of my big idea for now, putting all the Brits together in turn block 4. I think it'd look more orderly at the launch window too, since it distributes the play blocks a bit more evenly throughout the game round that way, when the British factions are all together. I actually think some of the smaller factions aren't really necessary and could be folded into each other or into the larger factions but that's probably a bridge too far. Having a bunch of little guys does kind of burden the play pattern with a lot of can-opening and fighter landing exploits though. They also kinda limit the purchasing choices that might otherwise exist for a larger faction spread across the same build spots, since you don't have that tension between sacrificing in one area to bolster another, when each area already has its own economy/turn. But since the unit graphic work for the little factions is already done and the current play balance is kind of built around the idea of huddling-up with the little guys for a group defense vs larger forces, I think the ones that are already here like British-Colonies, South Africa, French-Colonies KNIL, Brazil etc are fine, but would be nice if the French-Colonies went with France in the Soviet turn block and the smaller British factions were all grouped together in the next turn Block to present as a more thematically unified thing.
Each of the Axis turn blocks feels good, there is plenty to do and the main faction usually has half a dozen moves to make in a given turn to keep it interesting. The Soviet turn feels similar to the Axis turns in scale. The USA turn not so much at the outset, but they scale up as time goes on and eventually feel like they are on the level of the major Axis players. But that middle turn for Allies feels like a struggle. I think with Britain and British-Colonies leading it, it would feel more on par with the Axis turn blocks and Soviet and USA turn blocks.
Basically a big 6 split: Germans, Soviets, Italians, British, Japanese, Americans. Basic order, which is already familiar from AA50 and such, just with more smaller factions added in to spice it up. But you'd have that kinda touchstone within the turn order to help anchor the other new stuff that might be less familiar, like resource management, the production scheme, D10 combat, move-before-purchase phase etc. But yeah, that's the order I like most, and I think could work well for the current unit spread and starting positions.
- Germany (Balkans, Finland)
- Soviet Union (France, French-Colonies, KNIL)
- Italy (Iraq, Iran)
- Britain (British-Colonies, South Africa, British-India, ANZAC)
- Japan (Thailand)
- USA (China, Brazil)
Any thoughts on doing something like that?
pps. if the smaller factions moved before the larger ones in a given turn block it would reduce the checkerboarding effect of can-openers and limit the really potent ability to land defensive fighters in forward positions, which might actually be better if the idea is to keep the smaller factions smaller. But that has the downside that the opening part of a given turn is less exciting and impactful. Obviously it'd be less thrilling to have the game round start with Finland or Balkans say haha. But when the more powerful factions lead, it does allow them to crash through the enemy line, and then have their smaller factions reinforce with defense esp air, or to blast through to the next line with mech/tanks. If the order of play was reversed I think the smaller factions would play on a more realistic scale, since they wouldn't be able to advance as quickly through their bigger neighbors' forward line. On the other hand leading with the smaller factions might help easing the player into the scale of the larger factions turn. So Finland and Balkans are quick and simple, but then scales up to G1, and same deal for all the other blocks. I think it'd probably work with the current unit distribution, though it would make the resource exchange in the opening round kind of interesting with the steel producing smaller players leading the fray. I don't know just an idea. I think the checkerboard thing happens on a lot of maps, and is kinda unavoidable in the A&A games certainly more so in a 6 player or 20 player over 5 player but even there same stuff happens just because of the way fighters work. Just a thought. Though the more I think on it the excitement of the big opener and the chance to expand the smaller dudes through quickly blitzing about is probably more dynamic overall, so maybe its not really an issue.
One thing I like about 6 block spread, is that it gives each Allied player a foothold on the other side of the board, and more equal wieght in terms of total production and TUV. USSR is the big meat grinder on the Allied side, here with a little sideshow in French Africa and South Asia and Dutch pacific. Britain block is like the globe-trot desperate defense player. USA is pretty much what it usually is, the slow build-to-slam towards the endgame on at least one side of the board. I think it'd pair off the Axis turn slots nicely. Basically so the launch screen looked like this...
Soviet Union Allies
KNIL 'Dutch-Colonies' Allies
South Africa Allies
Also I had forgotten that FastAI does pretty well on this map. I think FastAI actually makes for a more compelling opening turn than HardAI in this one, at least from what I saw it doing just now in a Japan solo game vs FastAI. At least AI Germany took the Narvik steel while retreating their fleet, and more aggressive turns from most factions. Obv its faster being FastAI, so the game advances more quickly in Solo PVE type situation which is nice.
FastAI kept it scrappy for 10 rounds before going down. FastAI is more aggressive than HardAI which I think works better for them generally on this map. Despite being perpetually dry on fuel FastAI still throws its weight around pretty well. You can see from the FastAI back and forth though how the current turn order really favors Italy over Britain, especially for control of France (which usually winds up under Italian control eventually rather than G.) Little guy Axis sprawl begins usually as soon as Stalingrad or India is snaked. Here Balkans and Iran got pretty large with Iran eventually taking Siberia, and FastAI Thailand expanding pretty far afield up into Mongolia after the India crush J3. The Japan sprawl pretty much comes down to the number of hits taken in Sumatra and Chunking attack. If Japan comes out clean they can trot the globe, if not its still their best push position to nail French Indo, Chunking and Sumatra as quickly as possible. So I think going south that way is def their best play over like northern push against Soviets or messing about in the central Pacific. I think having Iwo and Saipan as +5s would help give them more of an underbelly to guard. And Midway, Alaska or Kamchatka at +5 would be a draw. Anyhow, here was the Japan solo after Axis VC take in the 10th.
I think if the turn order was revised like the sequence listed above, it would make each of the 6 turn blocks entertaining for independent Solo play vs Fast AI. Basically to have the 3 turn blocks on the Allied team each capable of a solo 'scale up' similar how it works right for the 3 turn blocks on the Axis team
I noticed that FastAI doesn't purchase new production which is a bit of a downside, though honestly in a normal dozen round game it doesn't seem to hamper them too terribly much. AI purchases more aircraft than it could ever hope to move though hehe. It'd be nice if there was an easy way to give them a large amount of fuel from the launch menu or just as part of the AI player setting.
I tried a UK solo just to see how it felt. Britain's big play pretty much hinges on the West Germany crack, though its fun to tango in Scandinavia and North Africa, they don't have quite enough loot to press both at once and there's no major payoff until you can snake West Germany so that seems priority number one. Its easier to get on West Germany for amphib than the Med/Italy I think, and bit more straightforward than trying to cut across the Baltic or swing north to the Russian backfield. Canada is mainly just flying over the air transports and trying to build up enough fuel to get those into range, which took me a while. FastAI Japan went pretty hard vs the tiny islands and an early spread into ANZAC but then they got turned back. FastAI China put em through their paces on the mainland so it took em about 10 rounds to handle Chunking. Eastern Front tussle is pretty similar to the last one, though Soviets are fairing somewhat better here, stalling off the Axis drive a bit more forcefully. For Britain getting up into the 100s kinda requires a kill on either West Germany or Italy, so seems like they have just enough to eek it out after a dozen or so rounds build up. I still think they'd be fun as part of larger player block going after Italy. That'd make the sand and sea warefare in the med a bit more intense I feel.
I noticed in this one that FastAI Japan sometimes crashes its fighters into the sea on non com. Here they did it on J4 and J5.
2020-9-10-Iron-War German Solo G6.tsvg
In this one vs hard AI they did it crashing the bomber into the south china sea on J3. Not sure if its related to fuel but mostly seems to effect Japan with the aircraft crashing. HardAI Soviets are pretty monster with a ball of death on Leningrad like 70 hitpoints deep lol
I also really like this map & many thanks to Frostion for developing it & Black Elk for his input & testing.
I also think that a lack of oil hinders the play somewhat & yet that is part of the appeal of the game.
I have made some adjustments(editing) by adding & subtracting units, factories, territory owners, etc. . Interestingly, I recently had added synthetic oil to Japan's islands to give Japan a boost & what do you know Black Elk had the same concept in mind.
As you can see if you download the game, I have added neutral territories to the USA & between Japan/Russia. This usually results in USA from fully engaging in the war until rd 3 (It took USA sometime to get the country fully on board). Likewise, Japan & Russia don't go at it, if at all, until rd 3 which allows Japan to attack SE Asia & the islands(Neutrality Pact).
IRON WAR(The MASTER!).tsvg
Speaking of the islands, I have added a number of oil barrels to the region to make it worth fighting for.
I have one sub pen in W. Germany & one airfield in Moscow.
In testing, using the computer(hard), I have found that the axis & allies both can win.
I'd be interested in ones giving it a try & I'd appreciate any feedback.
P.S. I am using the older engine version because I read that the newer engine doesn't build new factories when it should which is important for this game. Is that still a concern?
Nice! I haven't been able to get it running, but I like what I'm hearing. That idea about using neutrals is interesting. I think the way neutrals play on this map, there should be no pro sides neutrals. Instead if the area was historically a belligerent (entered the war at any point on either side) then those spots should be high value and more weakly defended with fewer neutral armies defending them. If the territory/region never entered the war historically, (remained neutral throughout), then those spots should be much lower value and heavily defended with larger neutral armies. That'd be across the board, but with only one type of neutral throughout.
I think the mechanics are such that it'd just work better that way to simulate a historical feel. Something like taking the Bosporus/Turkey or Spain or Sweden for either side should be a major effort with less payoff, whereas spots like Greece or Benelux should be high value (like Iceland and Norway are currently), since those ended up being active theaters historically. Using that method you could also make taking over Mexico and central America a thing that USA does, similar to how they currently move on Greenland and Iceland if left to themselves. I guess like you described above, but where bringing North America into the war takes a round or two. The same could be done with UK in Canada, and seen as like mobilization round. On Axis side a similar thing could be set up, bringing the start feel to kind of like 1937-1940, where the major powers move into and occupy lightly defended or empty neutrals nearby corresponding to the early expansions of the war (Japan into Manchuria, Germany into Austria Poland Denmark the Low Countries etc). With like a starting round move out you get that early push build. It might be helpful too for fleet positioning since steel is really the limit on naval build in first round. Just on the America/Japan side I also think the map would be more interesting if Alaska and Kamchatka were both +5 spots, for a North Pacific path either direction. I can see a lot of ways to open the map up and give it a new twist. How do you feel about the mech balance?
Anyhow interested to see more of your ideas. I dig this map as a template for a different style of A&A play kinda built around how the AI performs. That's rough that the AI doesn't build factories in this last iteration. I didn't see any purchased come to think of it either vs hard or fast ai. Which I guess must say something about the map still being pretty strong if the AI can maneuver units that well without forward production lol. But yeah, definitely I think the map is generally improved by more factories and more territories at +5 that could support them, along with more green barrels too hehe.
I'll keep trying to get it working. I'm ever a dunce with relearning how to get everything to work haha. Catch ya in a few man
Sounds really forthebirds. I'll give it a try as soon I finish my current WAW. By the way, is there a recommended side to take that gives the most challenge? I am condemned to play solo vs. AI. And I like playing a single nation and try to rely on it's allies. My favourite is usually Italy.
I usually play a few of the major nations. Playing the axis first I think would be the the most fun. I would play as Germany, Italy & Japan.. I think, though that playing the allies is fun also.
In answer to Black Elk, I didn't think the Mech was unbalanced but , to be honest, I didn't buy many of them. Now that you brought it to my attention I may consider buying more of them because I see your point regarding its value. I hope that you can get the game to run.
Alright took me a hot minute to get it working but finally got it to open. I think what had happened was that I had auto-updated the 2018 stable by accident after redownloading. This time I ignored all those prompts so it worked with 188.8.131.52.13... though there are some graphical elements with the map still displaying like a crossbar artifact when when I scroll about. But I can see some of the changes you mentioned. For anyone curious here is a screen of North America to see what forthebirds was talking about....
Essentially it makes the interior of the US true neutral so they have to be conquered/activated before the USA is collecting that income. There are some things I like about that approach, and some things I don't. So for example I like the concept of an initial stall of a round or two for build up/expansion before the nation is at full strength ready for war, but dislike the idea of presenting the USA as kind of fictitiously fragmented and nerfed on starting production. I think has some cool ideas for starting unit adjustments and territory ownership for the opener, but also has the downside of conflating the 1940 start date with one that in some respects looks more like 1941 or later.
Basically I think the same could be achieved using other neutral territories that make a bit more sense for the timeline and which would give a similar effect. But doing what you did for Mexico City (which is true neutral here rather than pro allied) but doing it for basically all those spots in Central America and South America or Cuba etc that might make sense, and just moving whatever starting steel or barrels might need to be moved to make that work.
Some things I like a lot (obviously hehe) is the changing of status from Pro-side neutral to 'true' Neutral, so that either side can grab them. The situation here with the way freethebirds has Mexico City, Morocco, Sweden, Spain etc. But I would try to be more consistent with it. So for example, if Spain is true neutral then Tangiers should be too, or like if Mexico City is true neutral, than so should Northern Mexico etc. I'd also suggest like the post above, that if the region represents one that wasn't historically a belligerent, then those spots should be much harder to "activate" through conquest, than the spots which were historically involved in the war. But basically having everything be the same as far as neutrals go, with the only differences being how much the territory is worth, and how many neutral armies are within the territory. But no pro-sides basically, that'd be my jam.
So on the vanilla map for example, there are strong incentives for Allies to conquer Pro Axis Sweden and Spain, or for Axis to attack True Neutral Turkey, or to have Brazil go on a painfully slow rampage vs Pro Axis spots like Argentina, even if nothing even remotely like that happened during the war haha.
Instead if the idea is to have a kind of neutral stomp in the opening rounds, then it should be focused on the neutral territories that actually ended up in the war, so Greece, Mexico, Iceland, Morocco all make a lot of sense, whereas spots like Afghanistan or Turkey etc really don't make much sense. The Pro Axis or Pro Allied division of neutrals complicates this I think, and creates conquest patterns that are kind of backwards in the vanilla map in pretty much every region where they exist (with the possible exception of Mongolia (which really was a Soviet satellite state, where it might maybe make sense to have the Russians freely moving about there.) But for the most part the pro side neutrals kind of do the opposite of what they should be doing, by painting a big target on the spot for the opposing team. Similarly it creates a bizarre situation in some parts of the map, where you actually want the enemy to kill your pro-side neutrals so that you can then reconquer and claim the production directly (e.g. how Morocco works in vanilla.)
Some other things I like here would be the added green barrels and factories, having Denmark under German control from the outset, or how more ships are in forward positions like German subs further out in the Atlantic for example, or how the naval balance off Truk Japan vs USA is set in forthebirds idea. Though I think I'd prefer more transports for the Allies and fewer for Axis. Since mass transports moves are so powerful, and even in vanilla the disparity in transport capacity creates a very different feel between how Axis plays compared to how Allies play.
I think a challenge with a map like this that is rather large and with a unit roster this involved and a large number of player faction is how to keep the first round from becoming kind of overwhelming. Or basically trying not to get stuck with a really lengthy scripted opener for everyone. Part of me thinks this map would benefit from many fewer units on the board at the outset, and instead have a build up production feel to the first round that simplifies what's going on. Basically a first round that doesn't involve a ton of major TUV exchanges, or battles that have to be fought to have any prayer of winnning, especially with the main fleets, which I think is a flaw in many A&A type games. Probably because I've played the opening round so many times by now that I am very familiar with it, the opener seems straightforward, but I know it didn't feel that way the first time I played haha, where I can remember thinking that it felt kind of insane. But G1 was entertaining enough to keep me engaged with it and now I kind of dig the big first turn from G. Still I think I'd lean towards maintaining the starting unit set up from Vanilla, and focus first on the production spread and the fuel, by tweaking the neutrals and adjusting the values there. Or adding more +5 spots or starting factories and such, before tweaking the big player nations.
But anyhow, I'm all for doing anything that generates interest in this map, since I think it has a lot of cool stuff going on, and pretty different from some of the other WW2 themed maps. I really think the playbalance for this one should be approached more from the Player vs AI perspective rather than the 1v1 PVP perspective, because I think the former is the more likely method of play. I think it'd also be easier I think to adjust for PvP balance with a bid, than it is to do the same for the AI, so I think it would be more fun to have a map that plays really well vs the AI by default, and then give recommended Bids for 1v1 if one side or the other turns out to be overpowered in that playstyle.
To Mora's Q, I think the map is most entertaining taking control of the Axis side, or to play as one of the major Axis nations vs HardAI. This mainly because the computer fails to do some of the things that a human would especially on G1, and AI Allies seem to manage the sprawl a bit better. But there are some things the computer fails to do as Allies as well, the main one would be the blocking maneuver from French Colonies or KNIL, to prevent Japan from taking French Indo China on J1. The set up in freethebirds adjustment is different (China is stronger, Mongolia is stronger, Russia is weaker, and Japan has many more transports and units they can pick up from the islands.) I haven't done a full play through to see, but just a cursory review has me thinking it is decidedly in Japan's advantage. That could make it more fun to play as USA vs a computer Japan, which may have been the idea there. But I think Japan would crush pretty hard if controlled by the human, since they have a lot more to work with there. I think you'd probably see the same from Germany and Italy, so I'm guessing the idea was to bolster them more for a computer controlled Axis. The HardAI makes a much stronger opener with Germany here for example. There are a few other things going on as well that make that the case, primarily just having more German boots on the ground (freethebirds has them colocating with Balkans and Italian troops the outset in many starting territories outside of Germany proper.) But yeah, just at a glance, I'd say playing as Allies vs computer controlled Axis would be more entertaining here than in vanilla.
My first step though would be to take vanilla and rework the turn order. Then change the neutrals to eliminate all the Pro-Axis and Pro-Allies neutrals and have only one type of neutral throughout. Then adjust the resources and production values to play up the lily pads at +5 and make sure there is sufficient steel and fuel for everyone to play well together. Then rework the starting units to accommodate those tweaks. And finally adjust the starting Income and starting Resources for each player, based on whatever the balance by sides recommends after doing all that other stuff.
But that requires editing more in the xml, since edit mode doesn't allow for some stuff we might like to do, such as changing the PU value of a territory to +5 say, or things of that sort. Not sure how much Frostion wants us messing with it, but I'd be game to try a mod off it if anyone is interested in working it up. Call it Iron War 1941 or whatever to distinguish if needs be, but I can see a lot of areas that would be fun to play with. Especially regarding the unit roster and steel.
Anyhow, gotta go grab some lunch but I'll cruise back through later to see what's cracking haha.
edit: right on I see forthebirds just posted too. I'll stop back by later to talk shop after making this sandwich lol.
ps. I've got a gang of free time today, so I'll probably take a bong rip here and play a game as either side vs HardAI using 1.9 and that forthebirds save. I'll post the saves when I finish a dozen rounds or whenever 20 VCs like I usually do a few hours from now.
I'd be interested in continuing to develop this map for a Solo vs AI playstyle. I haven't messed with xmls and such in forever, but we could give it a go if anyone is game. I've been following along for a while, but not sure if Frostion has plans to develop it further? Its definitely one of my fav maps though, so I think it would be fun to work on.
I'm glad that Black Elk got the game to work. This certainly is a work in progress, although, like you I've been working on this for some time and have tweaked it to death.
I have not tried the bid route , nor have I given an added % to a nation which may be a good idea for sure.
What I was trying to do was balance the game , to make it somewhat historical and to make it fun. I would say that I gave more weight to balancing the game than the historical part. For example , I made N Mexico allied neutral so that the USA could move troops thru it immediately to get to S. Mexico. I only wanted to tie up the USA for 2 rounds and not 3.
I agree that the first round has a lot of moving parts but in my mind that allows for a lot of different openings and counter moves. After the first round the game moves much faster.
I do agree also that Germany & Japan are stronger at the beginning (Rise of the Axis). After all the allies start with a huge advantage in VC.
I wanted the axis to be strong enough that that allies must work together to beat them.
Things usually even out about round 4 or 5 when its either sides game.
I have played where the allies won in VC and other times in PU's.
The axis usually must win in VC.
Anyway, I'm open to suggestions and like you I don't want to step on Frostion's toes.
I'm good at editing but that's about it.
Right on, I did get it working but I noticed almost immediately on G1, that the number of combat rounds in a given battle seems to be capping out much lower. I think it maxed at 5 exchanges between attacker and defender instead of 10. Not sure if that's from moving back to 1.9 engine, but definitely has an effect esp on smaller infantry/art battles.
With this set up I'd probably do something like this for G1 combat move...
Then consolidate as much of the fleet together off Iceland as possible, with every sub in range on non com. The balance on Lenigrad I think would have to be G4 timing instead of the G3 timing of vanilla, just from the way France is set up, and the fact that 4 of the steel prob goes to the Graf Zep Carrier instead of all 6 to mass transports. I do that G2 instead, after pulling the whole fleet back to the Channel, and ready to mass transport East on G3. Ukraine balance here favors Germany more than Vanilla, so I'd go for the stomp there then push up the Leningrad VC to join with amphib units on G4 to crack Soviets. G has enough starting air to prop up Iran I'd think if needed, but I'd just gun east I think. For Med the choice between Vichy or Gibraltar is more interesting than vanilla, though the reduced number of combat rounds in a given battle makes those fights risky. Iceland is similar, or any ground fight that's not a blow out in the first couple rounds. Not sure exactly what's going on with that, sometimes even 10 rounds of fighting isn't enough, in battles involving weak attack units like inf or aaguns. But anyhow, I like the strategic choice there. I think taking the swedish steel probably worth sending a fighter or bomber, since G benefits most from early steel to buy transports and move the dudes after conquering France. I'll check it out some more after walking the dog.
For the save attached above I used tripleA 184.108.40.206.13066 was that the build you used. Maybe the combat round maxing out thing was something from earlier builds and I just didn't notice cause I take forever breaks haha? I'm going to reload and reboot just to make sure its not something else.
Anyhow, other than the combats cutting short, I think its an interesting set up. I like the idea of each player nation or each player bloc having a clear strategic choice to make on the first turn so it has that kind of push and pull going on. And the added German subs and tweaked opening position definitely throw a new slant on G1 which in Vanilla is kind of scipted for me by now. But yeah I'll give it a run after a run.
catch ya in a few dude
ps. something like this maybe I think at the end of the opening turn block. I sent the channel fleet east to prop up the carrier build with the Finnish pocket fleet in the baltic. To converge on channel G2. I like that the Soviets have a transport up north to threaten Norway or shuttle units. Anyhow, will see what the hardAI does with this one when I get back in an hour or so.