Further thoughts on the map and the production spread...
Currently the map has 931 production in total.
I counted about 11 territories that have no value, these are all in the extreme north of Russia and Canada.
I think those should all be worth 1 PU, just for parity with everywhere else on the map. One of the things I like about Iron War over A&A is that it assigns 1 PU in value to basically everywhere on the map (including minor islands) which makes those northern territories stand out as weirdly inconsistent. I understand there is probably some rationale here that if those territories have zero value then Japan won't take them over, but I don't think that really works anyway, and the map would just feel more coherent if everything was at least worth 1 PU at the floor.
Making every territory worth a minimum of 1 PU would increase the total production on the board from 931 to 942.
From there I'd say just add in the remaining 58 production and distribute it across the map in areas contested by both sides, so that you can have a clean total of 1000 Production in play.
I'd do this by adding more +5s to both sides, or perhaps a few more convoy sea zones, until you hit the magic number of 1000 total. It might seem arbitrary, but there's something to be said for having clean round numbers, and I actually think it would be about the right amount to get a cool playbalance going on this one. 58 PUs is a lot of wiggle room to raise up a few VC values, and to add a few more spots capable of producing factories or adding in some more convoys to spice up the naval game. Especially if it was combined with the idea in posts above to spread out the value from some of the Axis capitals to adjacent contestable spots. All said that should be enough to activate a couple dozen new territories or sea zones at the +5 threshold. So yeah, anyway, that just seemed like a good milestone to try and hit for the next one, since it would also look all neat and tidy from the birds eye, with 1000 Production total as the goal.
Base 10 PUs cost for infantry
1000 total production on the board
Just has a good feel don't you think?
It provides a simple way for people to kind of get their head around things at the macro scale. Thinking in terms of hitpoint replacement, that's essentially 100 hitpoints worth of production value on the board, split across 20 factions. which feels clean to me. I think you could of course design a balance around any production just by adjusting starting income and starting unit position, so I rather like it when I open a map and see a lot of clean numbers in the stats columns for the opening rounds.
Here's an example of what I mean...
Turn Block 1
Turn Block 2
Turn Block 3
Turn Block 4
South Africa 20
Turn Block 5
Turn Block 6
Out of 1000 Production on the board.
Since Axis have the larger starting forces at the ready, and more of the Allied starting production is in immediate contention, this roughs out to be more of a 50/50 production split in early rounds after Axis initial conquest. Basically I went around and upped the values (usually within 5-10 PUs) from the current totals nation by nation. And then going for the whole round number phenomenon of 1000, it was pretty damn close to that split. To match it up with the totals after that I basically just doubled the value of China to 40 PUs. To me this makes sense, both from an historical perspective and from a gameplay one.
China's contribution to the war effort is consistently undervalued in these games. Historically the United Front in China KMT/CCP tied down the Imperial Japanese Army in a massive way for pretty much the duration of the war.
The IJA had an army that was what like 1 million strong, preoccupied with the fighting in China for almost the whole decade since the late 30s. The main reason Japan wasn't able to do the kind of wild stuff in the real war that it typically does in an A&A game lol because the war in China was such a grind.
So to get something more like that going here, easy fix I think is to increase the power of China vs the Japanese stacks via more Chinese production per turn. In the grand scheme even 40 production is still pretty minor, but that just seemed a fitting scale to me, since it at least allows China to actually fight back vs the Japanese stompfest with 3-4 hitpoints per turn if they can maintain their production front.
Anyhow, that's just an idea of how it could be done, working backwards from the overall totals. The play balance is determined largely by which starting territories are in contention and the strength of the starting forces facing off, but I think most of this would work without having to massively redraw any of the battle lines. It just changes the kind of stuff that can happen after the opener via purchasing and production expansion (since you got more cash for a few +5s to make viable spots). Axis starting totals are based on the current, but I still think the money could come out of the capitals and into the more peripheral contested zones, or even to convoys, and still match up on the totals (Especially if coming down to 20-30 in value for Japan, Italy, West Germany, which I think would be better). Anyhow, that's where my head was with it earlier tonight. What do you guys think?
The scale of the war in that theater was massive. Just by the sheer numbers it dwarfs many of the other arenas of fighting. Plus it was an active theater from 1937 till the final days, so clearly a long slog.
In A&A the treatment is generally to have China be like the weak link on team Allies, or treated with special rules or whatever, but I prefer the approach in Iron War where they are a full fledged nation and playing according to the same rules as everyone else. Obv they still spam infantry for the most part, just because they are smaller and that unit is their best buy. Still I think it would be cooler if they were represented more to scale at 40 PUs for a few more hitpoints, so they could go more toe to toe with Japan, or at least hold out a bit longer.
ps. I also had a few ideas, more related to starting units. One idea was to give British-India an air-transport in Nepal, so they could do something like this... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hump
An air transport flown from Nepal, could carry a dude into Chunking on Non-Com, which would represent the air lift. After Japan occupied Burma, that was basically the only route into China for resupply.
You could also have a USA strategic bomber located at Midway. This could reach Chunking on the first turn, and would signal an opening significance for that island. I'd like to see Midway at 5+ maybe. But anyhow, that strategic bomber if flown to China, could represent all the USA airbases and such and various activities that the US did when they switched support from Japan to China in the lead up to the 41 attacks and the larger Pacific War. US bomber actions from bases in China were like the main reason for the Japanese offensives in 44 to finally destroy those airfields with this one...
Taiwan/Formosa would be more interesting as a +5 tile during the endgame, and an offset for China, since it begins under Japanese control.
Xinjiang or Kashgar I think could be a true neutral at +5 to represent the soviet client state that existed there, while giving China something to do to control those western provinces. I think it would be better to have the extra PUs/Steel there in Xinjiang rather than in Tibet, which was pretty remote. But doing a neutral thing for Xinjiang would give China some east/west tension similar to how Tibet functions now. China would have a clear strategic choice to make, between whether to focus 100% on Chunking defense, or risk diverting some units to conquer the neutral Xinjiang spaces for increased production. Or alternatively Allies could take it over with Russia for a more Soviet supported theme in China CCP style. Thematically it would correspond to this situation which had Xinjiang up for grabs...
But just gives some flair there for a new slant on the playpattern in central Asia vs Japan I'd think.
On the Pacific side, Japan defeating China should feel comparable to Germany defeating the Moscow pocket on the Europe side, just in terms of scale and play relevance to the endgame. Instead of the usual situation where Japan mows over China and just keeps pressing into USSR without skipping a beat. Using China as more of a linchpin for central Asia, where the Allies have to coordinate their stacks and fly in aircraft to prop it up, but where they have a chance of actually holding the line or fighting back. The way the geometry is set up, Lanchow would be the optimal defense line, but China ends up being split between Chunking itself and Lanchow. I think they just need to be bigger and have more money. Because Japan can land 20+ hitpoints against them easily when they consolidate the transports.
A bomber from midway could reach most of the Allied active theaters across the pacific, ANZAC KNIL or Russia too so stuff like that would be cool, but optimal would be Chunking which fits the historical pattern.
I'd also maybe think about putting a few US fighters and air transports scattered across a couple spots in the Philippines chain, Guam, Wake etc. Having US aircraft in places like that would make it more intense, because if Japan didn't kill them on J1 then they could fly to China and represent the Flying Tigers or do other things to give Japan headaches. So that's a way to also create some serious tension on J1. Otherwise I think Japan is just stomping into one VC/factory after the next using all their transports at once for the quick kill. Without a strong incentive to fan out (most islands are only 1-2 PUs) Japan can kind of just ignore the many smaller islands which historically they conquered at the outset of the Pacific War, in favor of a single large push that puts fewer hitpoints at risk on the follow up. Just having a starting US aircraft unit in some of those places would offer a major incentive for Japan to try and kill them off on J1, before they can fly away. Perhaps a pair of fighters in the Philippines chain, or 1 air-transport added to Guam, a bombers at Wake or Midway. Stuff like that. This would create dynamism for the opener in that theater, with more targets for J1 attack. Offering different options for Allied counter play, depending on which US aircraft (if any) survived the initial Japanese wave.
J1 is always a challenge, because I guess on the one hand you'd want them to focus on French-Colonies for a 1940 opener, whereas the big sprawl actually happened at the end of 1941 when they took over basically the whole south Pacific. But in gameplay terms, I think it's probably easier to have Japan do the big sprawl on their first turn rather than their second. Basically going islands first, then reorienting on India and South East Asia afterwards, since that is where they naturally want to end up anyway. In the current set up, after knocking off French Colonies the strong incentive is to crash immediately into Sumatra or directly against India, rather than doubling back to mop up all the minor Dutch, ANZAC and USA islands in the central pacific. This is because the production is weighted on India, and South East Asia much more than the central pacific, and every additional turn that the Allies can build out of their factories is a massive stall for Japan. If instead, the big Japan sprawl came at the opener, then US fighters could anchor the fighting towards certain smaller islands even without a big price tag on the territory, and still create some optimal attack patterns for J1. The strong Japanese priority would be to destroy US TUV before it can escape on USA1, so that could be used in lieu of higher production values for such islands while still drawing the fighting there. Though I still favor more islands at +5, since then the draw is baked in for either side.
It may be that I'm thinking more 1941, since this map would be fun for that. But yeah, once the main map is established, I think a lot of that stuff could be handled pretty easily with a set up tweak if you wanted to try for a second start date in late 1941 or maybe corresponding to late 41/early 42. I think the production spread is the most significant thing over all, the actual map PU values, since those cannot be easily changed on the fly in the same way that starting income or starting units can be. I'd like to see what Frostion has in mind for the +5s and such, and then build off that for a possible later start date scenario if people are into it.
pps. Here's something I tried just for an experiment with the AI. I noticed just now that it is possible to place starting factories using EDIT MODE anywhere, even if the territory value is less than 5 hehe.
So I just added a gang of factories across the whole map to see how far I could push the idea.. This is a little more extreme/absurd than I think it really needs for a production front, but I was curious how it would play out under such conditions against an AI that was able to build at many more forward locations. Here is a save using post 2.0 stable.... I was guessing there were enough factories in there that the bug wouldn't make a difference. In Iron War once they are destroyed they can't be replaced via purchase owing to the gold spot rule so it was just a one off, but thought it might be interesting to try. I also added either 5 or 10 green barrels to each nation according to their scale so the AI could compete. It gives the player a fuel cushion as well since I did it for both sides, but I think it'd probably feel fine at that level anyway for most. Anyhow I like the idea of a few more factory clusters.
2020-9-23-Iron-War Added Factories.tsvg
I took control over the final turn block USA/China/Brazil, so this is what the computer did up to USA1 first turn.
2020-9-23-Iron-War Added Factories USA1.tsvg
Kinda cool I thought. Just from seeing this as an example, I'd say a few more starting factories scattered about at a couple additional +5 territories would be pretty cool. Not as many as I added there probably haha, but a one or two added in to each contested theater would definitely crank up the heat quite a bit I think. The computer makes some interesting placement choices sometimes, and seems to spread around a bit. Like Brits bought a tank for Gibraltar, Japan a tank for Saipan hehe. But for the most part they push the hitpoints where you'd expect along the main fronts. Hopefully they can fix the factory bug soon, but maybe a nice reason to add a few more to the set up in historical spots. Austria, Korea, Sicily and whathaveyou, with one or even a couple more for each nation depending on their faction's size. The computer definitely suffers from not being able to build new factories though, especially Germany, but Allies too like USA if the AI can't build out Iceland or Morocco. Maybe Midway, Southern Alaska and Panama would be fun too. Britain probably Scotland or N. Ireland would make the most sense, but I also like Ontario or Labrador or Nova Scotia if trying to light up North America on the Canadian front. Could do the same for the interior of the US, like in Midwest or Texas. Basically so there are some fall backs under invasion USA type endgame, where Axis are ascendant and going globe trot style. Since you know everybody likes to play out that kind of game lol
Iron War 1941?
Attached below is a separate Edit save showing what the ownership of the map might look like for a 1941 start date....
The main feature is that by 1941 metropolitan France has already fallen. Control of Vichy, Algeria, Tunisia, Syria, Madagascar etc are assigned to Germany.
Hanoi and French Indo are assigned to Japan.
In East Africa, the last Italian held territory for a 1941 start date would be Ethiopia.
Madagascar should be a target for Allies in 1941 under Vichy/German control.
Soviets should control Eastern Turkey(Armenia) and the invasion of Iran by Anglo-Soviets should already be under way to mark 41 in the mid east.
Otherwise farther on the Pacific side it looks much the same as 1940 for the opener, aside from Indo China, because the start is imagined to be basically Dec 1941 by the time the turn order sequence reaches Japan. This allows for a similar expansion pattern on the first turn from Japan and USA to the one they have in the 1940 map, but perhaps with some adjustments like added aircraft or bolstered fleets to jumpstart the Pacific War.
The main difference globally by sides would be that Germany is already at their 1941 territorial extent from the start, so in addition to France, the Low Countries and Scandinavia, they'd already be into Belo, Ukraine and the Baltic States too. Axis would also control Greece and Crete by that timeline. Germany would have basically twice the starting production of 1940, so basically a realignment of the German and Soviet units primarily, and to a lesser extent Italy, Iran, France, French-Colonies, British-Colonies to create a balance off that kind German position.
For the 1941 timeline Iraq should basically be designed to fall in the first round (or at least have that as an option), with Iran up for grabs in the second round, corresponding to the sequence of Allied invasions historically. It would work well if the British block followed the Italy/Iraq/Iran block in the turn sequence for that. That way Iraq could get a build in before British-Colonies moves, and we could create some tension that way for the British-Colonies opener, between Baghdad front vs Iraq/Iran and Cairo front vs Germans/Italians coming from the west side. Italian Ethiopia I think would also play rather differently without Somalia, but it could still present an Axis choke point, and a little bit of tussle there, but with the Allied production front realigned there, I think it shifts the focus more on the North for both sides.
Having Germany in a more forward 1941 position I think also recommends that USA and Britain have a couple transports for the Atlantic from the start, so they can move on Africa sooner.
For Japan's part it would be cool to really dime out J1 and give it attack pattern Delta hehe. The challenge would be to hit Philippines, Guam, Wake and almost all of the Dutch East Indies, while sinking the US fleet at Pearl on J1. In China the Japanese front is basically Burma and Changsha for 1941. I think it would have a comparable feel to G1 in 1940 just in terms of scale, it might be cool to have a J1 like that with a big push across a broad front to open.
I think on the Atlantic side we could design a unit balance that has more pressure on Allied convoys G1, but an accelerated Torch opener by the Allies into North Africa. An El Alamein tank battle could be set up too, since German armored units could be positioned in Tunisia opposite some British-Colonies armor in Egypt for Rommel style fun. This could build to more rapid Allied pressure on Italy via Morocco and the Western Med in rounds 2-3, to offset the fact that France and Scandinavia are under German control from the start. The Germans don't have that initial distraction, so instead Allies would provide a new one with the Torch front and the Egypt/Eastern Med East front.
Meanwhile the German Eastern Front vs the Soviets can be more advanced and built around the siege of Leningrad and battle of Stalingrad lines, with Germany positioned to take down either the north or the south as part of their opener. Russian counters on turns 2-3 could come from armor positioned further inland, to simulate Kursk and such when they arrive after a delay of a turn or two. Should be able to cover most of the big stuff that went down in 41/42 during the opener so that the second and third rounds still kinda look and feel like 42/43. The basic character on the Atlantic side would be Axis in a more defensive posture (having just conquered almost all of Europe) and trying to hold onto Fortress Europa vs Allied counter press, whereas on the Pacific side its sort of the reverse, Allies trying to hold vs Japanese mass blitz across the Central and South Pacific.
J1 script would essentially be 7/8 December 1941 when the Japanese took over Thailand and attacked Singapore, Hong Kong, Guam, Philippines, Wake and Hawaii to start the larger Pacific War.
In January of 42, they attacked Dutch East Indies, New Guinea, Rabaul, Solomon Is etc which could also be possible in a J1 script. Or it could follow naturally off the J1 script into J2. US Aircraft could be used as an incentive to draw Japan into the desired attack pattern vs US territories on J1, Green fuel barrels could be used as an incentive to continue the press vs Central Pacific press on J2. I think that's the easiest way to set it up.
Africa would also be a little different. For this time period Free France, was basically confined to just the region of Equatorial Africa immediately surrounding Gabon on the Iron War map. Basically the area corresponding to the dark red shown on this wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_France
Since the battle to take Gabon from Vichy in 1940 was the only major battle other than Dakar to take place in West/Central Africa that front is more downplayed here. For a 1941 start date the battle of Gabon could be seen as having just occurred right before game start. I think it would make sense to have France retaking most of those West African territories from Germany/Vichy control with a simple walk in for most cases. By the time of torch in 1942, Allies had retaken all of West Africa, Syria and Madagascar for Free France. In the game I imagine Free France like that, clawing its way up to an income by claiming tiles that are basically empty or just lightly defended. This would work well with Free France moving in the Soviet turn block, but having Britain/British-Colonies move in the next turn block (After Italy). Free France would also need a somewhat larger starting purse to fight from this position, since their production would be even lower here than it is in 1940, but that's fine. As long as they have 1 factory at Gabon and a transport to move units to Ivory Coast and the surrounding zones that's enough to have a role in the game, at least once the USA starts getting involved.
Italy would be in a weaker position vis a vis Somalia/Ethiopia, so I think this should shift the overall emphasis away from Central Africa as a major theater of war, and put the playbalance more on North Africa where it makes more sense for 1941/42. Some early actions by France and British colonies to occupy largely empty spots in West Africa makes sense, but not a big slogfest vs Italy across the whole of East Africa since that was largely handled by late 41 except for the final Italian stand in Ethiopia. Instead this one would be more about Axis posturing to hold off the Allied advance on North Africa and to defend Italy and the Balkans from Allied invasion there via the Med.
I just reassigned control and emptied the tiles of all units in the spots that changed hands for a quick read. You can imagine of course that Germany's starting forces would have to be largely rebalanced, and some other changes to starting unit compositions around the globe tweaked to fit the theme, but basically repositioning the starting territory ownership along these lines for the 1941 feel...
2020-9-23-Iron-War 1941 Ownership.tsvg
Here's one showing basically the same German starting units as 1940, but fanned out for a more 1941 style positioning. Something similar could be done for the other factions where it makes sense. Perhaps adding a couple tanks or aircraft here or there, to signal that the timeline has advanced a year. Maybe each nation shaves off a few inf as casualties buts gets another heavy hitter like a fighter, a tank, or ship distributed around the hotspots, to give them some added punch for 41. Here the edit shows G with the same basic number of starting aircraft and ships (the air transport repositioned to Crete, Kriegsmarine to Baltic sea etc) but I could see Germany with like an added dive bomber or maybe an extra tank or some extra subs prowling the Atlantic, just to mix it up from the original 1940 start and signal 1941 opener, while still building off similar overall numbers so it'd have the familiar feel.
2020-9-23-Iron-War 1941 Ownership + G Units example.tsvg
How to handle Soviet Japanese Non Agression Pact
I continued filling out that Edit Save to highlight a more 1941 feel, adding some new weight to each faction via starting units.
Building on the idea by @forthebirds I thought something like this might be cool for the demilitarized border between the Soviet Union and Japan... Basically I added 4 true neutral stacks along the border, just large enough to be a real deterrent, with two territories coming from Japan, and two territories coming from USSR. By adding the Japanese or Soviet flag on top of the neutral forces, it creates that cool 'contested zone' diagonal stripping on the map from the outset, which I think would be a nice way to illustrate the idea of the NAP being in effect. Of course either side could bust in whenever they want, but it would hold for the early game most likely since 10 hitpoints is a pretty decent wall. I just did a generic stack for each, with a fighter for some teeth, but it could basically be weighted to whatever scale makes sense for the Japan/Soviet units nearby. Just to put that front on ice in early rounds so the focus can be on the invasion of Philippines, Pearl, and waring against the Western powers initially. Looks something like this for a basic vibe...
I also liked that idea forthebirds suggested to have a few more German subs farther out into the Atlantic gap. Anyhow for this one, everyone got a boost across the board with a couple choice units here and there to round out the starting forces, larger airforces and such where it seemed to fit for the historical play pattern or for logistical routes then current. Just tinkering around the edges to try and create conflict zones that would make sense for 1941 to give a rough feel. Obviously its abstract, so things could be tweaked, but just trying to get a basic shape of things how it might look for that kind of start date. I'm still working on it but figured I'd share where I was at to see if anyone has more ideas for something like this.
2020-9-23-Iron-War 1941 New Draft.tsvg