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Quartermaster General: Alternate Histories» Forums » General

Subject: Avoiding early game problems rss

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Chris Farrell
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While I don't generally subscribe to the theory that QMG is all that pro-Allied, I do think that the AH expansion has made it possible for the Axis to get just totally hammered early. With the Allied armies in France & China, the Allies are getting 4 extra points per turn, plus the easier objectives for the Axis to take are now garrisoned. The Axis do get more of the stronger new cards, so when it works out it's fine - we've had a number of really tense games where the Axis are flirting with being eliminated on points in the early game but come back to win late with a bunch of powerful statuses. But if Germany particularly just can't get decent offensive status cards going in the first few turns, even doing lots of card cycling by discarding, the whole thing just seems to fall apart and the Axis just get clobbered.

I'm wondering if people have experienced this and if they have house rules? It might be enough to allow one player per team to take a mulligan (redraw their initial hand). It's not terrible - if the game is going to stall out like this at least it will do it quickly - but it would be better if the early game wasn't so swingy.
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Alec Usticke
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It's a challenge for the Axis, but not an insurmountable one. I haven't seen any need for house rules. We've found AH to be very well balanced, much more than the base games or with AM.
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Mark Turner
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I was one of the more vocal people raising this issue, not because I personally care that much - I have learned to see the pleasure in imbalanced games, or games where balance shifts over time - but because I experienced such vitriolic reactions to the game experience from others.

This is not an easy game to get the table (6 people!) and people, at least in my game groups, have grown used to a certain degree of early accessibility, and immediate smooth sailing.

I think the main issue here is not the game - which is what it is, and a worthy addition to any collection - but finding a group which is willing to roll with the early punches (Axis WILL get slaughtered early and often as people get to grips with this game) in order to access the deeper gaming experience later.

How to find that group? I have no idea... it's a holy grail. Plus, even that group will have plenty of other games vying for attention.

My personal proposed solution is to book a 6-person mountain retreat, to drag everyone into the boondocks for a weekend, stock up on beer and whisky, and take this and only this game for entertainment.
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Michael Drog
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I'll bring the whiskey! I would say the reallocate resources Is used way more with AH and should really help prevent too big of an insurmountable hurdle to the axis.
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Alec Usticke
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Good point about introducing others to the game. I'd recommend you not start newbies with this expansion: Play without AH and when they fall in love with the game, you can then add the complexity of AH.
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Chris Farrell
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Guys, we were all hard-core QMG fans. We've played and like this game a lot. But spending an hour (two back-to-back games) where Germany just got rolled despite doing doing all the right things (reallocating resources as needed, even dumping most of their hand to look for good status card) is not fun and the game is just wasting our time.

This is not an isolated problem. Others are seeing this as well. I've heard reports personally from other players who've noticed this, and of course you see it on the forums.

Now, I don't think it's a *severe* problem. Plenty of our AH games have been great, and as a result we like QMG+AM+AH as our favorite configuration of the game. But if these outlying games are going to happen with more than negligible frequency, we probably need some kind of house rule to make Germany a little less vulnerable to bad distributions.
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Armand
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Have you tried separating the Build and Battle cards and the rest of the cards? I've only played twice but we played that way and it helped a lot. I read the suggestion in another thread.

You make two separate piles and shuffle each. Then you riffle the two piles together once, so you get a roughly 50/50 distribution (depending on how good you are at riffling ).

Beyond that maybe a house rule along the lines of, 'The Allies cannot control both India and China without also controlling Szechuan"? In our first game the Axis got rolled, and it was purely because of an easy +4 pts per turn starting t2 that couldn't be countered. I don't know if that's a problem others have seen, or whether it would be an adequate or appropriate fix. Just throwing an idea out there...
 
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Chris Farrell
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This is a) overkill and b) not addressing the core problem. A mechanism already exists in the game for dealing with outliers in the flow of build & battle cards - it's reallocate resources.

The problem is that the Axis now start the game substantially behind on points (-4 points at start, -6 points once the US takes the Westen US, which they are guarenteed to be able to do on turn 1). A -6 point deficit gives them only 5 turns to avoid auto-defeat. All the VP spots that they might take are now defended by armies. Ukraine may get razed and be totally unavailable. (In the classic game, China and Western Europe were basically freebies). If the Axis is just trading one-off cards with the Aliies - using events, builds, battles, and responses - it'll be very hard to get out from behind that 8-ball. They need Germany's powerful status cards, which can give them a significant action advantage, to show up. If they don't show up, and don't show up in a timely manner (probably within 3 turns), the Axis is in a very, very bad spot.
 
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Ben Vincent
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Quartermaster General 1914 includes a (single) mulligan as an optional rule in the rule book. It doesn't seem like it would hurt much to add it here.

If you think a mulligan is too big an advantage, you could adopt the CCG method where you would keep fewer cards each time you mulligan.
 
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Armand
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Axis each get to play two cards t1?

Basically would give them a chance to get a key status on the table.

There's another thread where a user (who has played 70 games) created new player powers for the Axis - essentially statuses that are in play t1. Seems like you could just use an existing status if you don't want to go that far afield.

(I would post a link to that thread but I'm on my phone.)
 
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Mark Turner
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doctoryes0 wrote:
Axis each get to play two cards t1?


I rather like this... It's a simple, easily remembered and applied solution, and is highly thematic - giving a sense of the momentum advantage from starting the war.

I am very tempted to try this the next time I get this to the table.
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Samy
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doctoryes0 wrote:
Axis each get to play two cards t1?

Basically would give them a chance to get a key status on the table.

There's another thread where a user (who has played 70 games) created new player powers for the Axis - essentially statuses that are in play t1. Seems like you could just use an existing status if you don't want to go that far afield.

I essentially tried this once by allowing everyone to pick a status/build/reaction card that would definitely be in their first hand. I used this to prevent really bad status starts for Germany in the basic game (rare but determines the entire the game). Seemed to work well enough. Is it enough for Alternate Histories?
 
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Peter Bakija
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cfarrell wrote:
While I don't generally subscribe to the theory that QMG is all that pro-Allied, I do think that the AH expansion has made it possible for the Axis to get just totally hammered early.


Our experience of this is that it isn't really a big deal. Yeah, the Allies can get a good lead early if the Axis are floundering, but even without much in the way of special cards, it is pretty easy for both France and China to be dead by T2, such that the Allies get zero points from them on T2; both Germany and Japan get plenty of nutty new cards that specifically help them kill France and China, but even with just, like, Land Battles and whatever, China and France shouldn't live past T2, and the Allies should really only get points for them on T1, at best.

I mean, yeah, if Germany and Japan are totally sucking it up, they can fail to kill them. But with reduced cost Reallocate Resources and just, well, opening hands, this shouldn't really be that much of an issue.
 
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R Rock
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I've considered playing with an Axis only variant of the Preparing for War promo card:

"At the start of the game each Axis player may choose a single Status or Response card from their initial hand to put into play instead of being discarded. If an Axis player receives an initial draw with less than 2 status and/or response cards they get a free mulligan until they do."

This is a little weaker than Armand's suggestion of a double initial turn and almost as easy.

We're not at expert play level and never will be - we always have new people, enjoy a variety of games, and simply can't play as often as we might like. As is, we enjoy the game when it goes well, but it is really easy for us to have a very unsatisfying game of QG or QG:AH where the Axis just get crushed and we've wasted half an hour or more for no enjoyment (and makes people not want to give the game another try).
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Chris Farrell
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I'm glad we're having this discussion, because I realize the main threat here is when Germany fails to occupy Western Europe on Turn 2. There are a few ways this can happen: Lend Lease, or if the UK has the ability to build a French Army. But they aren't very common. If Germany knocks out the French army on Turn 1, it's pretty hard to rebuild because it requires a French build card (the UK can't get there). I think in one of our two games Germany did fail to kill that army, and it ended badly. So the Germans simply must eliminate that army turn 1, reallocating resources if necessary; they don't have a choice. They can still get hosed if the US/UK have the right cards, but it's pretty low-probability.

It's still possible for Germany to be in trouble if they don't draw Status cards, so I do kinda feel like giving each alliance one mulligan might be the cleanest and lowest-impact way to eliminate a few outliers (a bit like the Peace Treaty promo card, but the sides don't have to agree).
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Peter Bakija
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cfarrell wrote:
They can still get hosed if the US/UK have the right cards, but it's pretty low-probability.


And keep in mind that there is still Italy that can help out if something wacky happens (or even if nothing wacky happens, German T1: kill French; Italy T1: build army in Western Europe). And also various cards that help out (T1 Blitzkrieg; the card that says "Kill Western Europe and put a German army there"; bolsters that let the Germans act twice).

Like, it is *possible* that the Germans can kill the French on T1, and then by T2, there is an Allied army in Western Europe (T1 US Arsenal of Democracy, for example), but most of the time, it probably won't happen. What is important is that the Germans don't just leave the French army in Western Europe and ignore it.
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Mark Turner
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cfarrell wrote:
I'm glad we're having this discussion, because I realize the main threat here is when Germany fails to occupy Western Europe on Turn 2. There are a few ways this can happen: Lend Lease, or if the UK has the ability to build a French Army. But they aren't very common. If Germany knocks out the French army on Turn 1, it's pretty hard to rebuild because it requires a French build card (the UK can't get there). I think in one of our two games Germany did fail to kill that army, and it ended badly. So the Germans simply must eliminate that army turn 1, reallocating resources if necessary; they don't have a choice. They can still get hosed if the US/UK have the right cards, but it's pretty low-probability.

It's still possible for Germany to be in trouble if they don't draw Status cards, so I do kinda feel like giving each alliance one mulligan might be the cleanest and lowest-impact way to eliminate a few outliers (a bit like the Peace Treaty promo card, but the sides don't have to agree).


When a first move is obligatory in order to avoid a collapse of one team, that seems a problem, no?

If this is the case, why not simply adjust the starting positions to a situation where multiple options present themselves.
 
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Peter Bakija
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MrMT wrote:
When a first move is obligatory in order to avoid a collapse of one team, that seems a problem, no?

If this is the case, why not simply adjust the starting positions to a situation where multiple options present themselves.


'Cause presumably the starting positions were set up that way to balance out the rest of the game.

All indications are that the Axis got much better stuff than the Allies in AH, and the game is reasonably balanced, France and China included. Yeah, the Axis is kind of railroaded into killing France on the first turn (and Japan needs to kill China as soon as possible), but even then, the game is pretty balanced, so it's fine. Yeah, if the Axis decides to ignore France and China and just leave them there to accumulate points for the Allies, things can go off the rails quickly. But Germany and Japan also have plenty of card options for dealing with them, and it works out ok. And as such, gives the Allies a few more interesting options (involving the existence of France and China as entities).
 
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Armand
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Plus it is still a WWII game. 'Alternate histories' aside, you can't really initiate hostilities in Antarctica.
 
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