Iron War - Official Thread

  • @Frostion

    Sorry to hear of the RL time sink, I know how that goes. Currently up on a move, buried in boxes and packing tape haha.

    Still looking forward to Iron War updates though. I love this map and can't wait to see where it goes next. Especially with the resources ideas for steel/fuel.

    Catch you next round

  • @Frostion It has nothing to do with the map itself. The name of the map in the XML file (Iron War)was different from that in the zip file (iron_war), so it only worked when I changed the map name (info name) to iron_war. The issue was that the map name differed from the name of the zip file. The actual map worked fine.

  • @Frostion Also, I think that it would be a cool idea if you could unlock increasingly better technology with multiple tiers (e.g. better aircraft, ships, nukes etc) so that having a technological advantage would have more effect on the gameplay. It could also be interesting if you added more esoteric special units for different countries, e.g. occult weapons, UFOs for Germany, sea monsters for Japan. It would also be neat if there were some units that you could unlock after a certain point in the game, e.g. intercontinental bombers, more powerful, tanks and artillery, and nuclear missiles.

  • I still think this map needs more fuel. Maybe a tech advance in like 1942/43?

    For Axis it could represent an advance in synthetics, for Allies an advance in refining/shipping capacity.

    In its current state the map just isn't really playable during the endgame. The fuel totals seem scaled fairly well for the starting units and early purchasing, but doesn't account for the huge number of units that enter play in subsequent rounds. So its ok at the outset, but really starts to fall apart as things go on, especially nations that require transports or aircraft to stay in the game. By about 1943 everyone is dry, and the fuel mechanic shifts from a somewhat grinding novelty to just a delay on game resolution. After a certain point there are so many fuel units on the board that it becomes increasingly difficult to track the per round fuel consumption, but I think even if it doubled via a tech advance in the midgame, players will still be running out of gas just from the sheer number of units involved. Players would still have to do fuel triage for movement, but if more fuel production was unlocked at the halfway point it wouldn't be so extreme as to undermine the gameplay. I think it would make sense thematically as a tech advance, and solve the main issue I see right now, without upending the initial balance. Otherwise this is one of our best WW2 maps available for tripleA, and still among my top favs overall.

  • Admin

    @Black_Elk I actually think that nations need to be able to purchase/place additional fuel "refineries" or whatever you want to call them. That way they end up with a few different options in the mid/late game:

    1. Avoid buying oil dependent units
    2. Capture oil rich territories (middle east, russia, etc)
    3. Build additional oil producing units (essentially converting PUs into oil per turn)

    Otherwise I think balancing fuel on a map into mid/late game is close to impossible as some games will have more battles so less units on the map while others will have fewer battles and more units on the map.

  • @redrum I definitely agree, some system to exchange PUs for oil would be a great way to give it more nuance. But baseline I still think the overall totals are currently set way too low. I can understand the logic behind it, because you want the player to begin thinking about fuel sooner rather than later, since its such a major part of the game, but the margins are still too narrow right now. Unless the majority of starting fuel units are destroyed or sit idle in the first two rounds (both of which aren't really ideal for drumming up exitement) then the fuel is expending very quickly. I said 1942/3 but really its already on fumes by late 1941.

    If the player could buy oil directly or build more capacity, this would probably require more PUs in play. That sounds fine to me, since I'd like to see more +5 gold spots anyway, but even then it might be good to keep a tech advance in the back pocket, as another way to increase the totals over time.

    Just for some context, moving 10 ships or 10 mobile ground across 2 tiles on a given turn consumes 20 fuel. Moving 10 aircraft is going to consume 40+ fuel just to get them in the air, regardless of how far they actually end up travelling. When you look at the starting unit distribution compared to the recurring fuel totals, you can see just how quickly adding new units will outpace the available fuel. The only reason it works in the first couple rounds is because most nations have a starting reserve that's like 2 to 3 times larger than their recurring fuel production. I think tinkering at the margins there won't do the trick, unless the economy/starting unit set up is redesigned, it really needs a more dramatic increase in fuel to accomodate normal purchasing over the 8-12 rounds that most games will last.

    ps. another consideration is how much micromanaging fuel actually adds to the gameplay vs the tedium once the unit totals get into the higher numbers of the endgame. I think there can be a balance there but I feel like it needs to be more forgiving, at least on the back end, to allow for mistakes or for when plans fall apart or just the kind of major force redirects that will happen even when things are going well.

    I'd say keep everything the same for starting totals and distribution, but just allow each 'oil producing' territory to support like 2-3 more barrels over time. Have a 'barrel buy' where the player exchanges PUs for increased capacity, but still capped at some set amount so its not too extreme. Then the player can make strategic choices about how best to exploit the oil they can reach over the long haul.

    Even then though, I'd still have a late game tech advance that increases the totals on a percentage. Maybe 15-20% for both sides in late 1943 or early 44, because the endgame after that is when the largest force movements should occur. Major Axis nations could have a synthetics advance, and Major Allied nations a refining advance. Especially with the large fleet movements or drives overland that need to happen at the close, plus all the fuel unit spawns that add up over time (subs for Axis, air transports for Allies), and of course since all the interesting tech weapons also consume more fuel haha.

    Anyhow that's my thought on taking it next level. Players will still be running dry even after all that I think, but it won't be as punishingly short on oil, so that the player isn't losing all initiative due to fuel shortages during the critical time when the last VCs are in play.

  • Been thinking also about dimensions of victory. In A&A style games its usually by total number of VCs controlled, and the economic balance usually has a more fantastical version of WW2 where Axis have a better shot at achieving rough parity through crazy world conquest. But I think for a game patterned more on historical realities like overwhelming Allied superiority in cash and resources like oil and such, it might make more sense for Axis victory to just be holding Berlin and Tokyo and their core territorial gains past 1945. More of a sudden death resolution, where Allies can still lose if Axis can prolong the fight into 46 or beyond?

    It would make sense thematically, since in reality, winning for the Axis would probably have meant just surviving long enough through some kind of stalemate at best. I think that would be a fun concept, since a managed defense like that can be just as interesting as a world steamroll to take 20 VCs on a mad dash. It also kind of inverts the usual scheme, where the clock is ticking against Axis and instead has it ticking against Allies, which might be cool for the gameplay and to keep both sides engaged till the final rounds.

    Then team Axis wouldn't need as much fuel in the endgame, since the dugout would be more baked in. Using tanks and fighters on defense, Kamikaze and such. Japan and Germany had what like 80% of their fuel disrupted or knocked off in the course of the war? I know it was mainly coal and synthetics anyway, but in that same time the Allied production of crude doubled like year after year, with more than 2/3rds of the world's supply. I think to model that in any way realistically it would make sense for the victory conditions to reflect something more achievable for Axis, like just not dying up to a certain point at the dawn of the nuclear era.

    Had a long convo with CWOMarc about it a while back, in a G40 context, but he raised some ideas more generally for WW2 victory conditions. Just going to quote a part I found interesting...

    "On the German side, the conceptual model of fighting a series of short, decisive campaigns initially went well. Germany achieved a quick and complete victory on the Eastern Front, conquering the eastern side of Poland, then got a long break (the Phony War) during which it was able to rest, reorganize, plan and train for the next campaign. It then achieved a quick and complete victory in Denmark and Norway, then another quick and complete victory against the Low Countries and France. Against Britain, however, the German campaign of May-June 1940 did not produce a victory, but rather a second-best result: what I call a “sustainable stalemate.” Germany knocked the BEF out of Continental Europe, forcing it to abandon all its equipment in order to evacuate its men, but it proved unable to invade and occupy Britain or to force it to capitulate. Britain survived and stayed in the war, but was in no immediate (or even medium-term) position to invade and liberate Western Europe or to force Germany to capitulate. Hence, the two sides were essentially deadlocked, and were reduced to fighting each other on the ground in fringe territories (like Africa), in the air (in reciprocal bomber offensives) and at sea (the Battle of the Atlantic), with the air and sea campaigns being the start of attritional warfare between the Britain and Germany. This went on for years, and did not change fundamentally until the mid-1944 D-Day landings in Normandy and Anvil-Dragoon landings in Southern France signaled the resumption of maneuver warfare in Western Europe, and the gradual driving back of the Germans out of France and into Germany.

    On the Eastern Front, in 1941, Germany initially tried to win a quick victory over the USSR through maneuver warfare. The Germans managed to push deeply into Soviet territory, but not deeply enough to achieve either a decisive victory. (“Deeply enough” would have meant the Urals, or possibly just the A-A line, but my feeling is that it was simply unrealistic for the Germans to get that far.) Instead, the Germans ran out of steam, then got pushed back part of the way by the Russians…who in turn ran out of steam. This scenario was repeated in 1942-1943, with the Germans pushing eastward towards Stalingrad and the Russians pushing them back. In other words, the two sides engaged in a combination of maneuver warfare and attrition warfare for about two years, with the maneuvering component mainly being a back-and-forth see-sawing of the front (similarly to what happened in North Africa) and the attrition component mainly being a huge consumption of manpower on both sides. The fundamental change on that front occurred in the period following Kursk, when the Russians were able to finally start pushing the Germans back without getting stopped.

    How could we define “winning conditions” for Germany in this context? Physically overrunning Britain proved impossible because of the Channel and physically overrunning Russia proved impossible because of its sheer size, so we can rule out physical conquest as an indicator of victory. The number two option then becomes getting Britain and Russia to quit. Germany did make some progress in that direction: Britain’s convoy situation got pretty grim on a couple of occasions, and the USSR supposedly put out some peace feelers to Germany at one point. All in all, however, Britain and the USSR weren't too strongly motivated to capitulate unless their resources were exhausted – and neither ever got to that point. The number three option then becomes achieving a sustainable stalemate on each front. To “win” in practical terms, Germany would have had to be able to defeat the 1944 Anglo-American landings in France (and any subsequent ones made in 1945 and thereafter) and would have had to be able to keep playing “push me, pull you” with the Soviets on the Eastern Front: falling back from Soviet advances in the winter, and driving forward into Soviet territory in the summer. So on that basis you could say: if the Germans can achieve this on the game board, and can sustain it for long enough, they can be considered to have won by default because they’re holding on to their gains no matter how hard the Allies try to defeat them. Conversely, if the Allies manage to regain and hold significant territorial space that the Germans have conquered, they can be considered to have won because the momentum is on their side. You could call this the “barometer” approach rather than the “thermometer” approach. With a thermometer, the single reading given at a single moment is meaningful; with a barometer, the meaningful information is the trend shown over time, i.e. whether the pressure is rising or falling.

    I’m not going to analyze Japan’s situation in much detail because, frankly, I don’t think Japan ever had much of a chance to win. It was already wearing itself down in China when it launched (with the bare-bones forces it could spare) its 1941 campaign of conquest in the Pacific and Southeast Asia, so right from the start it was biting off more than it could chew. In my opinion, Japan’s only realistic chance of achieving sustainable conquests in the Pacific and Southeast Asia would have been if it had done something that can’t be modeled into A&A (because it would distort the game too badly): attacking the British and Dutch colonial territories it wanted, but not going to war against the US. Japan’s vague strategic hope was that the Americans would get tired of fighting a losing war against Japan, and would eventually sit down to negotiate a treaty that would allow Japan to keep its gains. This hope would only have worked if Japan had left it up to the US to decide if it wanted to enter WWII, and thus if the US had gone to war without the powerful motivation and the sense of outrage that Pearl Harbor caused."

  • Admin


    @Black_Elk @redrum
    I agree that there is a problem in regards to the lack of fuel that starts some rounds into the game. Fuel thirst has always been the intention, but it is nevertheless potentially fun spoiling for the gameplay. After some consideration, I like the solution redrum gave as it gives options/further motivates the players to make some choices/follow strategies if they don’t want to run out of fuel: Avoid fuel units, focus on capturing fuel, conserve fuel … or now … purchase fuel.

    I have implemented a “Synthetic-Fuel” (unit). It is essentially a buildable version of the fuel producing barrel. It must be built and placed at a factory. Everyone can purchase it, but only Germany has a unit of this type on the map from round 1 (just for the looks and to make players aware of its existence).

    It costs 5 PUs (half price of an Infantry) and produces 1 Fuel per round, just like normal fuel production. Unlike the normal capturable fuel barrels, Synthetic-Fuel production is destroyed during capture, just like factories. So I guess players would want to build them at the safest territories.

    I see this solution to the fuel problem as not ruining, but just easing a bit, on the original idea about players always having to be thirsty for fuel. Even though players should probably buy/plan their fuel policy many rounds in advance, players can now choose to pay their way out of the fuel needs.

    I hope to upload this to GitHub soon, but what do you think about it at first glance?

    @John-Cena said in Iron War - Official Thread:

    ... it would be a cool idea if you could unlock increasingly better technology with multiple tiers (e.g. better aircraft, ships, nukes etc) so that having a technological advantage would have more effect on the gameplay. It could also be interesting if you added more esoteric special units for different countries, e.g. occult weapons, UFOs for Germany, sea monsters for Japan

    As much as I like the idea about increasing technologies and advancements, I can’t see this being implemented into Iron War this late into the game-development. There would just be too many things to consider, balance, adjust and so on. I would rather implement this into another map of mine that is still in early development. This is the sort of features that needs to be thought into a map from start, as I see it. I also like the idea about uberweapons, wonderweapons etc. But one of the concepts of Iron War is standardized unit types, so it would be kind of strange to start implementing nation specific special units. Sorry to disappoint 😮

  • Admin

    @Frostion Yep, pretty much exactly what I was thinking. Not sure on how much they should cost but 5 PUs seems like a decent start as I was thinking somewhere between 5-10 PUs.

  • Sounds rad! I dig that its destroyable too. I think that should probably be enough to solve most issues, since a player who builds them early on should be able to get enough juice flowing to handle the needs of later rounds. It also creates some strategic tension between gunning early and trying to max place combat units for conquest to seize the initiative vs developing fuel infrastructure early so you can press in the late game. Nice work!

  • Also forgot to mention but I think the introduction of this unit may also solve the issue of playbalancing the solo challenge vs the HardAI. Since they're destroyed on capture, adding synthetic barrels to the enemy capitals via edit mode would allow the AI to overcome some its fuel management deficiencies without giving the human player an advantage when they eventually start taking those VCs for themselves. Since the hardAI is pretty competent otherwise, this will probably reduce the need for a recurring bonus to even the odds for the machine. I like it.

  • Any thoughts on a possible income bump or some more +5 spots for the land grab, to add to the pie over time?

    I still like Benelux for the North Atlantic.

    Buenos Aires for the South Atlantic.

    Algeria and Greece for the Med.

    Madagascar for the Indian Ocean.

    Kamchatka and Southern Alaska for the North Pacific.

    Okinawa and Midway for Central Pacific.

    Malaya and Papua New Guinea for the South Pacific.

    I think the addition of those spots at +5 would make for an interesting factory game in each of their respective theaters, with some interesting push and pull for the naval game. I think they pair off well against each other so the influx is fair to both teams. Probably most of the extra cash per round ends up going to more fuel barrels and such, but I think +5 territories add the most to the game overall for strategic depth and dynamism. The spots above would be adding around 45 PUs all in all to the map, but split over several nations/neutrals so I don't think it'd be too pronounced. All are contested regions allowing the income swing to either side depending on how people play it, so I think any of them could support a boost.

    ps. Just started my first game with the new fuel system vs HardAI Allies using the pre-release. Was curious to see if the AI would purchase any synthetic fuel on its own, so far haven't seen one drop but it's still early. Maybe they will eventually place some so I'll play a few rounds to see. But on the player's side I like it. The price point at 5 PUs per barrel feels pretty good for what you get, and considering the fact that they're destroyed on capture. I think 10 would probably feel a little high, and a cost of 5 is also nice for the remainder purchasing thing, since it gives players something worthwhile to buy under the entry level combat unit (AAgun at 9). Clearly the return is better the sooner you buy the synthetic fuel, but I think there is definitely still some tension in early rounds to get out early with combat units and not spend too heavily on fuel. Germany especially really needs to throw everything and the kitchen sink at Leningrad to have a good shot on it before the Russians start stacking to the ceiling, so I think they might hold off a few rounds with fuel buys to focus on getting that early edge over the Soviets. Italy and Japan need to make big moves in the second round though, with a lot of re-positioning, so they're probably smart to get some fuel going sooner rather than later, but in general I think a conservative player who buys a barrel every round, or maybe a couple every other round should be in a good position for the endgame. The Minor Axis powers are probably good to pick up a barrel or two when they can with a remainder, since they often have some pocket change left over and can use the fuel if they enter the fighter game later on. Iraq and Iran can probably use an extra barrel or two over time to try and get the most out of their oil exchange aid phase.

    On the Allied side the Brits might be smart to make a bigger fuel buy early on, so they can get the most out of it, since they get thirsty pretty quickly and have that safe spot in Canada to place the fuel. For most of the rest though I think they probably have the same tension that Germany does, having to choose between getting out early with combat units or building up fuel reserves for the big drives later on. I'm enjoying it and dig the new fuel concept a lot.

    I'm guessing for a solo challenge vs the AI probably an Edit of like 10 extra barrels to the Major enemy Capitals would be enough to keep them fairly competitive and still moving in later rounds. Clearly going against the computer still doesn't reflect a normal PvP situation, since a human player can get like half a dozen friendly fighters propping up Russia on the Eastern front and do various things to stall Japan in the south Pacific with naval blocking. But the machine still puts up a decent brawl when it has the juice to move its ships and fighters around, even if its a little chaotic.

    Anyhow, coming up on J2 now, with a few hours to kill hehe...
    Catch you in a bit

    Elk vs HardAI Allies synthetic fuel Japan round 2.tsvg

    Elk vs HardAI Allies synthetic fuel Japan round 4 combat.tsvg

    Went a dozen rounds per usual, till I started getting sleepy. The AI Soviets and Brits fought pretty hard, holding out till the end while Axis did the globe trot. We steam rolled out the gate (not having to face down any sort of bonus this time) and snatched India with a quickness as a result. Pretty flush with oil for the most part, but still started running dry in the endgame, which was good... Probably kept Siberia kicking a bit longer than expected since kept having to choose between ships, air, or tanks once the stacks started guzzling. Didn't see the AI drop any synth barrels, so I think next time I'll try giving them a few extra via edit at the outset to see how they fair, then determine what kind of income boost they need for an even fight. This one was fun for a stomp though. I enjoy the new system. It makes fuel feel like a more interesting part of the game now that we have more ways to influence the flow. Nice work!

    Only thing I can think of is that we might want to cap the total number of synth barrels per territory so players have to spread them out a bit across their various factory locations. Like maybe 2 per territory or something? That way the Minors don't stack too heavy, and the Majors have to put some of their synth fuel in contested locations if they want to continue expanding their reserves. Might also encourage more factory builds and an incentive for the more isolated Minors to try and take a second +5 spot, so that they can increase their total fuel capacity. With unlimited placement at a secure spot, it might be a little too easy for players to build up a large reserve and spam fighters. I think a cap at 2 or maybe 3 synth barrels per factory would keep things reasonable, while ensuring that the regular oil spots still remain critical and that the players still feels the thirst. Otherwise though I'm digging how it works.

    Elk vs HardAI Allies synthetic fuel Italy round 13.tsvg

  • Made a quick edit just to see what it would look like if every starting factory had a synth barrel like Germany does in the latest iteration. I think it could actually work pretty well PvP even if the fuel for purchase was capped at like just one synth barrel per territory. Basically the destroy-able synth barrels could be interpreted as the reserve supply within a factory territory or the fuel logistics/distribution network (the tankers and pipelines or trains and planes, stuff that can be blown up), while the capture-able regular barrels would be like the actual oil fields and the stuff still in the ground... All goes to the same totals for gameplay movement purposes, but since you need a factory already in place to produce a synth barrel, there is that slight delay if a territory is trading hands, before the it can be fully exploited. Thematically, the synth barrels could represent fuel that's already been refined and in use above ground, while the regular barrels are like what you're digging and drilling out of the earth. Or at least that's one way it could be imagined.

    all starting factories with synth fuel.tsvg

    I think with a tight cap at 1, players would have a pretty strong incentive to capture each other's factory locations (to destroy the enemy supply, and develop your own added fuel), contesting the various VC's and +5 spots in the process. Under such conditions the Gold tiles would be really key to expanding the fuel reserve beyond the starting threshold, and to keep from running dry on the march down the road, since you'd need all the factories you can grab to place enough synth barrel units. If it was capped at 1 per territory (just like the factory unit), that would probably give room to keep the wheels turning into the endgame, but without risking a runaway oil bananza like might happen with unlimited placement. If 1 is too narrow, then could always go up to 2 or 3 per, but I think 1 might actually be enough.

    Basically it would be like the green fuel barrel is associated with the factories, but has to built/replaced separately if destroyed. Maybe could also be subject to bombing? That might be cool. But even if it just worked like it does now I think it might be fun to use the unit to push the fight around the map a bit, building off the various contested factory locations. Anyhow, I don't think they need to be in place from the getgo, just wanted to see what the totals might look like in that edit above, but I like the idea that they have to be placed at existing factories and that they get destroyed when conquered. With a hard cap there would also be a reason to invest in factories even if you don't necessarily need them for combat unit placement, since fuel is so key to the game. But yeah so for so good. It gives the whole game a cool new spin, since now you can knock off the opponents fuel as well as building up your own. Makes the resource management feel much more gratifying. Nice work!

    Also, here are couple edit saves I was going to use for the solo challenge. It adds 10 synth barrels to the starting factories for either side. Since the AI doesn't understand how fuel works or how to conserve it, this should allow the machine to build up a huge reserve and basically have infinite fuel or at least more than its likely to use. For a harder challenge will probably add an income boost on top of that, (maybe flat rate at like 10 or something to see how that looks first) but thought I'd start here now that we have the new fuel unit to play around with. I dig it

    Allies 10 synth fuel per starting factory.tsvg

    Axis 10 synth fuel per starting factory.tsvg

  • Gotta say, I still think it would be nice to add Canada. In gameplay terms there's not a whole lot you can do with the Brits out of N. America right now, since its sort of just there as a way to hide British resources further afield and to have a safe spot to drop ships out of Halifax. But we could easily make Newfoundland or Labrador a British +5 spot, since those actually were under direct British control at the time. The Dominion of Newfoundland reverted to a crown colony in the 1930s and didn't become part of Canada proper again until after the War. So could use that to have a north american production spot for the Brits that would make sense historically, with plenty still left over to support an additional Canadian player.

    Currently Britain has 58 production, but with only a small fraction of that coming from the actual British Isles.

    England, Scotland, N. Ireland, Hebrides, Orkney, Shetland, Gibraltar, Labrador and Newfoundland could support a British economy at around 40-50 PUs and I don't think it would look out of place, given how much Italy and Balkans etc are worth. All you'd really have to do is increase Newfoundland to 5 PUs with some oil and steel, and raise England itself to like 20 or 30 and you're basically there already. Or you could just increase the value of a couple convoy lanes.

    Having England at such a low production value kind of discourages Sea Lion when compared with going East vs Russia, and also makes the Allies rather less likely to consider liberating London as a top priority if it does wind up falling to Germany. Right now after the first round or two, there's really no reason to ever build combat units out of North America as the Brits, since you're better off just placing fighters or high value ships out of England once the US can cover the Celtic sea zone.

    Meanwhile you'd have about 30 PUs left (sans Newfoundland and Labrador) to support a Canadian player. With a Canadian convoy lane added in you could have that up to 40 on par with Anzac, and another Ally to focus on actually moving ships and air across the North Atlantic (something that the Brits don't really need to do much of right now, with the exception of their freebie air-transports.) Could stick them in the final block with USA, China and Brazil which would give us a total of 24 playable nations which seems like a nice number. Would just need to re-tint some units and past over the union jack roundel with a maple leaf and we'd be good to go.

    I know its not a top priority and a dead horse I'm beating, but I think would kind of complete the game, and help to justify all the other minor British factions we have like S. Africa and whatnot. Since you could say that one of the added historical themes of Iron War is the dissolution of the British Empire into all the various commonwealth and independent nations that it morphed into as a result of the Second World War.

    I know it'd be a change, but in the last few iterations some big changes were made. The Airbases and Sub-pens for example introduced 135 TUV per round, probably about 1200 or more TUV over the course of an average game, which is pretty significant, but those seem to work reasonably well. I think adding another player would probably be less dramatic than that on balance, since it would be nerfing Britain slightly overall and the added income would be getting split over another player-nation's turn. If Canada followed US in the turn order, you wouldn't really have to worry about can-opening exploits beyond what the US can already do for the Allied team. If it needed an offset for Axis parity, we could maybe add a couple convoy lanes for the Axis team or something. Anyhow, just a thought. I think it could be fun for a redux.

  • Started a new one vs the HardAI Axis this time. Gave them the extra starting fuel and a flat bonus of 20 for the Majors and 10 for the Minors. So far they've opened pretty well. Of course they still struggle with the Middle East, but that fight is very narrow and hard to prevent a route even in PvP if Russia and British-Colonies go for broke, but otherwise pretty solid showing from the computer. HardAI Germany seems to do better in their opener if they get a reload at combat to press as hard as possible, since they seem to recalculate and launch a few more battles if given a second look. They redirected their air power and ran a couple more attacks with their big infantry stacks. Hard AI Japan also pushing reasonably well vs the block from French Colonies. They just smoked the Russian far east armies that tried to dig in at Vladivostok and so seem poised to march.

    Trying to keep pace as Allies with some extra synth drums bought here and there, hoping British-India and British-Colonies will be able feed a fledgling fighter force with all that added juice hehe. Also got Brazil awash in a pair of green barrels to see if those smoking cobras can make a more effective Atlantic crossing with little extra fuel per round hehe. Anyhow, still early days, only in the second round, but its shaping up to be a fun brawl so far.

    Elk vs HardAI Axis synthetic fuel USA round 2.tsvg

    Catch you in a few!

    Ps. pretty fun so far.... AI Il Duce has been making a breakout and just sent Italian U-boats to wreak havoc in the Persian Gulf hehe. A surprisingly historical attack just occurred from AI Japan at Guadalcanal. Can't let this press towards New Zealand stand! Trying to keep things hot along the Burma road while they're preoccupied elsewhere with a walk-in over the Soviet Far East. Germans are creeping on the Russian VCs with their Balkan buddies. Stalin is chain-smoking right now waiting on FDR to deliver hehe

    Elk vs HardAI Axis synthetic fuel USA round 4.tsvg

    Took it a dozen rounds before locking down Europe. On the Pacific side Japan still has some teeth but the Chinese fighter wall prevailed and Allies are now driving on Coastal China. Overall it felt pretty good with the flat rate boost at those levels, 10 for the minors and 20 for the Majors per round. I think the way the production spread is set up it's a little easier to gang up on W. Germany than it is to go after Italy, so Il Duce lasted for a while before eventually getting snaked by Brazil. AI Germany seems to sink or swim depending on whether they can take Leningrad. They come undone pretty quickly if the Allies can knock off W. Germany. Surely in PvP the Axis will prioritize the German heartland above all else, which the AI doesn't do very effectively, but I wonder if it might make sense to redirect some of that coastal German income to Austria-Bohemia?

    If like 20 PUs were shifted inland from W. Germany to Austria it might make the defense of the German capital a bit more engaging during the final rounds, since the swing in the west wouldn't be quite as dramatic when the Allies eventually roll it up. Also if the Germans could set up a production center in the middle of Europe that is safer from bombers and isn't vulnerable to amphibious assaults, it might help the Axis balance there post D-Day when the Allies are making their final press on Berlin.

    Elk vs HardAI Axis synthetic fuel USA round 12.tsvg

    Pps. Got another one going against the HardAI Allies, same deal as the last one with extra starting fuel, 20 flat boost to the Majors, (Russia Britain and USA) and 10 for the rest. Axis took the TKO early for VCs, but Allies definitely had some fight left so it wasn't decisive, and they've been playing pretty well into the mid-game. As Germany and Italy we went all gangbusters vs the Soviets, but in the far East the Russian bear is still bouncing around giving Japan headaches. Saw some good naval strikes from the machine and a bit of back and forth on all fronts. AI Allies still stacking up in Africa and India. Probably give it another half a dozen rounds and see how long they can keep it up with the boost.

    Elk vs HardAI Allies synthetic fuel flat bonus Japan round 6.tsvg

    Soviet AI is still kicking, Stalin has retreated to Fortress Irkutsk with British fighter cover. Japan is almost ready to crack India heading into the 12th round, but elsewhere the Allies have been somewhat resurgent. Battle for the Atlantic is down to some massive fighter walls with England still stacking, feels like it break either way there. Il Duce still getting harassed on the African front, but we finally knocked off the cape. The boost definitely seems to be keeping that Hard AI kicking into the endgame. Going to give it a few more rounds before I crash. Catch you next time!

    Elk vs HardAI Allies synthetic fuel flat bonus Italy round 11.tsvg

    Finally smoked the British Isles with Germany after a 2 round build up. We had to massively expand the synth stockpiles to get enough fighters on it, but eventually succeeded in forcing a resolution with Britain. London is ours at last, but the Americans evac'd like 20 something fighters in the final hours before the big battle, to set up a new air wall in Greenland.

    Meanwhile Irkutsk has proven a tougher nut to crack. The Brits flew in a fighter wall from Western Canada, and propped up the last Russian stronghold just long enough for the Soviets to get some meat back on their bones. The Reds are surprisingly flush with cash despite being down to the fingernails in overall production capacity, so they've started building bombers and bouncing them around all over the place. And they're still harassing Japan in the Far East with the occasional surprise tank strike. India is toast per the long term U-GO plan, but ANZAC is still beefy and the Americans seem determined to keep playing cat and mouse trying to find a way into the South Pacific.

    Italy still has their hands full though, and West Africa has remained an active front throughout. British Colonies and France still trying to kick in the back door, and looks like the USA is making a press in the South Atlantic now as well, after getting pushed out of the North Atlantic. They're stacking up ground forces Angola at present, giving the Italians pause after their recent triumph over South Africa. I feel like the HardAI deserves a minor victory of some sort for fighting this hard this long hehe.

    Elk vs HardAI Allies synthetic fuel flat bonus Italy round 13.tsvg

    Enjoying it at this level for the boost so far. I think the new fuel system works pretty well. You still feel the need to manage fuel consumption, but feels more engaging now that you can build for heightened demand over time. I dig it.

  • Here's the final from that last game vs HardAI Allies with the boost... Finally eliminated the last Soviet holdout in Irkutsk with a nuclear strike! cause it's getting late hehe.

    Elk vs HardAI Allies synthetic fuel flat bonus Japan round 15.tsvg

    Good times! Overall I feel like the new fuel mechanic works quite well, and also reinforces the significance of steel. You can develop attack power with aircraft more effectively now, since there is a way to increase fuel production, but its still expensive to build up that kind of reserve. Even with air in place the AI does a pretty good job of countering, so you still really need to max the steel for ships and mobile ground to get enough defensive hitpoints in the water to keep enemy airstrikes at bay, or to move enough hitpoints on the ground to overcome enemy defensive air walls. I like it because if you try to just go with fighters and carriers and such, they become so fuel intensive to move that you need to balance unit production against fuel production or risk getting stalled out. Another fun aspect is that the synth barrels now allow the minor powers to feel more important during the endgame. The little guys have a stronger incentive to take territory up to the 20 PU point, since if they build some fuel every other round, and hit that economic threshold, they can buy fighters and fly defensive pips to the front to help their buddies. For the Major powers, the synth barrels seem pretty well tied in to the overall production balance, since there is a tension between dropping barrels and combat units, and sometimes its good to invest the 25 PUs in a factory just to have a spot to spend the extra 5 on a barrel next round hehe. Anyhow I found it enjoyable.

    On the AI's side the only nation that really seemed to struggle in developing a functioning fuel reserve was ANZAC. Everyone else on AI team Allies stacked fuel and moved their units pretty effectively with the boost, but the Australians were stuck burning through all their oil every turn, so they never really had enough to position all their units. I think they might be a little dry relative to the type of units they need to buy, even with an extra 10 synthetics on the edit boost. But otherwise it felt pretty good. At 20 extra PUs per turn for the big 3 on the Allied side the Majors can fight on a lot longer after absorbing the initial rush from Axis, and the Minors slog pretty hard with an extra 10 PUs per turn since it allows them to keep the peripheral fronts active. I'll probably go again for another match tomorrow if I have time. I like the latest version a lot, nice work!

  • ps. more thoughts on Australia and other production ideas... I think currently the Solomon Sea Zone and surrounding territories is undervalued. Given how significant this region was to the Japanese war effort, with the major naval base they built at Rabaul on New Britain, and the protracted campaigns they fought for control of the Solomon Islands and Guadalcanal, it should probably be highlighted for historical significance. I see a few things we could do to make the fighting around here more dynamic.

    First I think New Britain (Rabaul) could support a +5 gold spot, and serve symbolically for bases at Solomon Islands and Guadalcanal (which could themselves be increased from 1 to 2 PUs without raising eyebrows, and allow Japan to help Italy vs British Colonies income by targeting Solomons/Guadalcanal). Perhaps with some resources attached so both teams have a stronger incentive to contest the Solomon Sea Zone and each of those islands. But I like Rabaul at +5 for a potential factory, because its controlled by Australia at the start, and a bit more isolated than New Guinea, but still activates the Solomon sea zone which is along a key transit lane. It could play off Truk, Hawaii and the Anzac starting factories, to create another lily pad for either side and a convoy lane near these Islands (perhaps in New Hebrides Sea Zone, Fiji sea zone, or New Zealand Sea Zone) would also help, and might bring the current convoy lane in South Pacific 10 Sea Zone into play. Basically I think the goal should be to encourage a naval conflict and amphibious landings between Japan and the US/Australia around the Coral Sea and adjacent zones, since the battles fought there were hugely significant turning points in the actual war.

    All this stuff could build off the existing Japanese starting factory at Truk, so that the Japanese player feels more of a pull to the South East Pacific, and more pressure to try and cut the Allied supply line to New Zealand/Australia. Right now the conflict seems more static than it should be, and it's a little too easy for either side to just ignore or bypass the other, whereas a historical theme should probably be showcasing these locations a bit more. Right now the strongst natural pull for Japan is to go after India/Russia to help the Axis team, so anything that helps keep the war anchored in the South Pacific would give a more satisfyingly historical play pattern and any tweaks production wise would be warranted for that purpose mainly. Not to match the real world production levels of various islands (relative to other similar islands), but more for strategic/historical significanc to the War.

    I feel that something similar could be done on the Europe side of the map for places like Benelux, Sicily and Greece, where a +5 gold space would encourage more fighting over historical hotspots. Benelux in particular would be ideal for a +5, because it would give the Western Allies somewhere to focus after France that isn't going just straight for the jugular on W. Germany.

    I like how Liberating France for the French slows down the D-Day crescendo, but it also denies Britain/USA a way to build up on the continent other than just putting everything into an amphibious assault on W. Germany. Benelux would make a lot of sense since it starts neutral, and because the port of Antwerp was considered critical for liberating the rest of Europe from the early days of the war to the Battle of Scheldt in 1944 following the Normandy breakout. Having it at just 3 PUs makes the territory kind of an afterthought, but if it was +5 and a potential US or British factory location, I think it would make the whole D-Day game in W. Europe a lot more interesting. Right now the collapse of W. Europe when it occurs feels very rapid, without much opportunity for Market Garden or battle of the Bulge type scenarios. I think Austria-Bohemia at +5 would also help, and provide an endgame counterbalance. But one thing I like about having more spots to protect (and at least one space that can serve as a potential US factory) is that it kind of simulates the gamble that the Normandy invasion actually was. Like the game can't model things like espionage or deception, Garbo style intrigue with feints to Calais and whatnot, but with Benelux activated like that it would give the German player some pause about how to handle France. If they pull south to stack Normandy, then Allies might drop in France or Benelux, or stack one spot to hit the other the following round. So you'd have a kind of push pull on the build-up, but I think it'd more oriented on Allies clearly trying to put heat onto Western Europe before going directly at W. Germany via amphibious landing, which always feels off in A&A style games. The North Sea Zone is critically powerful on this map though, if Germany can't control it vs amphibious the Allies are well ahead, but I think having an intermediate space like Benelux to draw some attention off W. Germany might help with it. Having a production fallback to Austria would also make the final drive to Berlin (or battle for Italy if Allies go there first) a bit more dynamic.

    An increased value on Sicily, could likewise benefit the battle vs Italy in the Med, allowing a more historical feel to the campaign to knock off Rome. Like where it develops in stages rather than all at once. In general I see +5 spots as adding to the strategic depth of the gamemap wherever they exist. I understand the argument of wanting to reserve special status of +5 locations and forcing players to develop logistics further afield, but the map is also very large and could definitely benefit from more ways to push the production fronts. That's why I suggest using those major historical battles/contests as a way to justify the higher value of some specific spots, even if they aren't necessarily always major industrial centers like Holland, still, the strategic value and the fact that major forces/invasions occurred there provides ample justification for minor variations in my view.

    Any income balancing for parity by sides to accommodate production value changes for more +5 spots could be adjusted for with convoy lanes to the other team. Axis convoy lanes for example would be an easy way to offset any potential advantage that accrues to Allies, while Allied convoys do the same for any Axis advantage. A lot of the extra cash from any of those sources will likely go into fuel purchases during the endgame when the stacks get large. But on the whole I think the map really benefits most from +5s. They are the territories that make the game and allow for different kinds of attack patterns depending on the strategy.

    The Benelux Low Countries would probably be the most fun if I had to pick just one. But I think the map could support another half dozen +5 gold spots. Just done up for historical flare.

    Also here is another Synth Fuel edit for Solo play. It adds 20 barrels to the starting factories for either side. I'll run another test, but I think that should be more than enough so that the AI doesn't have any issues moving units well into the endgame, or at least for as long as they are still alive. I think its a good way to see how the new fuel thing works, even if only on the player's side. It can take some getting used to, but the new fuel unit definitely allows the player to scale up for larger forces over time... Anyhow I think these should work pretty well for learning the ropes against the machine, and you can add a flat rate bonus to the AI for a harder challenge.

    Allies 20 synth fuel per starting factory.tsvg

    Axis 20 synth fuel per starting factory.tsvg

  • Got a fun one going vs HardAI Allies at the 20 fuel 20/10 flat boost. We had a legit Pearl strike from AI Yamamoto, but alas they got backed down by the American carrier. Lot of ships afloat in the Pacific early on. Meanwhile on the Europe side Axis are pushing on Russia pretty well. First looked like Stalingrad, but Finns on the March, are telling me they might be headed North! hehe Anyhow so far so good. Haven't seen the AI stalling much as they all have a comfortable reserve. Other than the sweep of Mideast sweep by Russia/British-Colonies they're still in the fight. Normandy might be a possibility now though, since AI Axis left W. Germany pretty light. Will see how it goes. Catch you next round

    Axis 20 synth fuel per starting factory flat rate bonus Russia round 3.tsvg

    Big round for the Americans... AI left themselves open to the air blitz on Tokyo and W. Germany, so had to try for it. Brazil came big too, with the liberation of France and a sneaky hop to Denmark to seize the strait. Japan knocked off the Chinese, but Zhukov is driving on Manchuria, and with the recent US smackdown on the home island it might be lights out for the Empire. Will see how well they manage afterwards with the fuel reserves they've built up out of their last stronghold in Canton. On the Europe side, Germany went after Stalingrad after all, and the Finns took Archangel with a stealth blitz. Normandy held out long enough for France to drop a factory though, so the second front is now open for business.

    Axis 20 synth fuel per starting factory flat rate bonus Russia round 5.tsvg

  • Admin

    @Black_Elk I will have to study these savegames in detail at some point ☺

    I really wish that the AI could learn to value of and then purchase resource generating units like these barrels. There is no doubt that the AI would do better on maps that include special purchable units that do not function as combat units. Like units that are used for settings/triggers, resources etc.

    @redrum is it possible for the AI purchase programming to, at some point in the future, also take a purchasable unit’s resource generation ability/stats (also non-PU) into consideration when purchasing? I guess many other AI “other resource” improvements are on the to-do list before something like this.

    Until the time when the AI learns to handle non-PU resources better, would it be possible for the AI to have a “randomness” factor build into itself, a feature that would automatically come into play when the purchase options included one or more non-combat and at first glance (from AI point of view) worthless units?

    If the AI players purchase options included special units, the AI could maybe allocate a % of available PUs (like 5%-10%) to use on these special units. And if these PUs are inadequate for a purchase, then the AI could be set to save up the PUs for later purchase.

    Alternatively, the AI could be programmed to Purchase special units by just adding a “randomness” factor to the AIs purchases. Like if 20% of the available PUs was spendt randomly on ALL available units every time the purchase screen included special units. At some random point, special non-combat units would be purchased and this would probably benefit the AI player since the mapmaker has made the special units available.

    @redrum, have you given something like this any thought? 🙂

  • Admin

    @Frostion Anything is possible 🙂

    Buying resource and resource generating units would definitely fit into enhancing the AI to understand using other resources when purchasing as right now it just checks that it has enough non-PU resources.

    I've thought about the "random" approach but it ends up usually being worse as there are a lot of different types of non-supported units (resource related ones are just 1 type) and many of them should only be bought in certain situations. In this example, it would be pretty bad for say the USA AI to buy synthetic fuel turn 1 or the minors that have tons of fuel to be using their very limited PUs to buy synthetic fuel.

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