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Victory in Europe» Forums » General

Subject: Russian Play-balance Issues are Holding up Finilization of the Rules rss

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ralph waldo
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I talked with one of the Columbia Games people and he stated that they were trying to fine-tune the Russians. The problem stems from the fact that the game designers want to allow Russia to attack at any time during the game(unlike most games where they must wait until, say 42). From what I was told, here is the problem:

1. In a two player game, the British player often has the Russians attack early, using them as cannon-fodder, but dealing a crippling blow to the Germans.
2. They are toying with the idea of weaken the early war Russians so that it is near suicide to do this.
3. This is apparently not as much of a problem in a three player game, because in a three player game the Russians and the British/Americans are ultimately competing against each other for victory points. An early attack by the Russians would apparently give the British/American player too much of an advantage to make it worthwhile to a Russian player.

My concerns (admittedly without being part of the playtest) are as follows:

1. Perhaps the real problem is that an attack by the Russians at the same time as the French WOULD HAVE historically doomed the Germans. So trying to allow this level of flexibility just wrecks an otherwise "fun" war.
2. If you make an early attack by the Russians suicide, are you hurting the overall ability of the Russians to compete in a three player game?

Perhaps one solution would be to have different declaration of war requirements for the two and three player games. My gut feeling, however, is that this will be too difficult to play-balance. Here is a paradox that the game designers will not be able to overcome, in my opinion, if they want to preserve play balance:

1. If the Russians ARE strong enough to take on the Germans during the war in France, then WHY would they not attack (particularly in a two player game). In this scenario, the Germans are usually doomed, and you will rarely get an historical looking result.
2. Conversely, if the Germans ARE strong enough to take on both the allies and the Russians in, say 1940, then WHY would't they attack Russia early. In this scenario Russia suffers an additional year of early war and is doomed. A more traditional historical result is also, again, unlikely.

I like the fact that the game designers are trying to give maximum flexibility and replayablility--the designers are aiming for a great GAME, not necessarily a great SIMULATION. I agree with this philosophy, but I doubt that they will be able to overcome the paradox above.

HOW ABOUT THIS AS A POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Have a diplomatic die roll for Russian early declaration of war tied to the size of the German garrison along the Russian border. (for Example 11+ for a very strong garrison, 9+ for a typical garrison, and 7+ for a week garrison. The allies would be required to use their diplomacy roll to attempt an early Russian entry. If Germany does not declare war by the traditional June 1941 date, then they are allowed to declare war freely thereafter. You can also include an optional rule that allows the Russians to declare war anytime for the three player game.

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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Excellent solution. I hope Columbia takes that up. Russia should have the option to invade but within reason.
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John Griffey
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Solution:

USSR benefited from a war between the Western Allies and Germany, and by USSR avoiding war with Germany. So, in

Three Player Game
+1 VP to USSR for every five cards USSR is at peace with Germany.
+1 VP to USSR if Germany attacks USSR first.
-1 VP from USSR if USSR attacks Germany first.
-1 Diplomatic Table DRM for USSR if USSR attacks Germany first.
- 1/2 VP from USSR for each at-start USSR VP area occupied by Axis at any point in the game; the 1/2 VP is subtracted even if the USSR later retakes the USSR VP.
- 1/2 VP from Western Allies for each at-start Western Allied VP area occupied by Axis at any point in the game; the 1/2 VP is subtracted even if the Western Allies later retakes the at-start Western Allied VP.

Example: historically, USSR player lost 1.5 VP because three USSR VP were Axis occupied, but gained 1 VP because Germany attacked USSR first. Also, USSR gained 1 VP by being at peace with Germany through 8 cards. So USSR gains 0.5 VP by staying out of the war. The Western Allies lose 0.5 VP from Axis occupation of Paris.

The Allies benefited diplomatically and financially from not being allied to the communist USSR. Germany's image was hurt. So, in

Both the Three and the Two Player Game
USSR Early War Incompetence: Until Fall 1942, USSR attackers must retreat after the First Round of a Combat, unless they expend a Leader step for a Second Round, in which case they must retreat after the Second Round of Combat.
+2 VP to Germany if USSR attacks Germany first.
+1 to the resource value of each Allied Convoy Zone while USSR and Germany are at peace.
+2 DRM on USA Diplomatic Table if France has surrendered, and Germany and USSR are at peace.
+2 PP to Germany and +2 PP to USSR while they are at peace.
--No Lend Lease Event card benefits USSR unless Germany attacked USSR first.

Germany's attack on the USSR meant Germany would lose its independence, and be dismembered, if it lost the war. (Here we are, seventy years later. Germany is still little more than a Satellite of the USA.) If USSR had attacked Germany first, Western Allies could not have countenanced the harsh Allied decision at Potsdam. Germany would have been punished less far less severely.
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Björn von Knorring
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I might miss the obvious or I don't see the forest for all the trees...

The simplest way seem to be to give Soviet a certain number of blocks at start. At certain points they get more and more blocks so they will grow stronger over time. The can attack Germany in 1939 but with a puny little force. 1940 is better but they still don't have much etc.

If Germany attacks, they get so and so many more blocks. So an German attack on Soviet in 1939 is possible but the Russians will have much more troops than if they attacked Germany.
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Derry Salewski
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myth1202 wrote:
I might miss the obvious or I don't see the forest for all the trees...

The simplest way seem to be to give Soviet a certain number of blocks at start. At certain points they get more and more blocks so they will grow stronger over time. The can attack Germany in 1939 but with a puny little force. 1940 is better but they still don't have much etc.

If Germany attacks, they get so and so many more blocks. So an German attack on Soviet in 1939 is possible but the Russians will have much more troops than if they attacked Germany.


That's what I was thinking.
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John Griffey
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waldowanda wrote:
. HOW ABOUT THIS AS A POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Have a diplomatic die roll for Russian early declaration of war tied to the size of the German garrison along the Russian border. (for Example 11+ for a very strong garrison, 9+ for a typical garrison, and 7+ for a week garrison. The allies would be required to use their diplomacy roll to attempt an early Russian entry. If Germany does not declare war by the traditional June 1941 date, then they are allowed to declare war freely thereafter. You can also include an optional rule that allows the Russians to declare war anytime for the three player game.


I too like that for its simplicity. Use the big USSR Order of Battle, which is more historically accurate.

Two-Player Game Rules
--To activate USSR units for attack for the remainder of the game, the Western Allied Player's Diplomacy dice roll must be twice, or higher, the number of German units in Finland, East Prussia, Rumania, and Slovakia. Count Italian and Axis Minor countries' units as equal to 1/2 a German unit for purposes of this rule (i.e., for each Italian and Minor Axis unit the Allies must roll a point higher).

USSR Activation Dice Roll Modifiers:
+3 for 1941.
+6 for 1942.
+9 for 1943, etc.
+6 if USA is at war.

Example: In 1942, there are eight German, two Finnish, and two Rumanian units in the border areas. The Allied Player must roll a 20 (10 x 2) or higher with two dice to activate the USSR for attack. The USA is in war (+6 DRM) and it is 1942 (+6 DRM). The Allied Player must roll an 8 or higher to activate the USSR. The probability of activation is 5/12--pretty good odds.

-- If USSR attacks first, Axis gains +2 VP.
-- Until Red cards of value 8 or more have been played, USSR attacks are limited to one Combat Round, or to two Combat Rounds if a Blitz Attack is used, after which the USSR must retreat.

Three Player Game Rules
-- USSR Player is free to attack Axis, or not. There is no Allied Diplomacy dice roll to activate USSR to attack.
-- If USSR attacks first in 3-Player Game, USSR loses 2 VP, Axis gains 2 VP.
-- Until Red cards of value 8 or more have been played, USSR attacks are limited to one Round, or to two Rounds if a Blitz Attack is used, after which the USSR must retreat.

Note: the reason for the VP penalties/awards for USSR initiating the attack are 1) play balance and 2) politics. USSR would be the double-crosser and aggressor, not Germany. USSR's reputation, and thus its political standing, would be weakened, not Germany's.
 
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ralph waldo
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I am fine with the "start with less blocks" solution. I would simply point out however, that doing so might arbitrarily alter the historical force composition and capabilities that the Russians had in 1939 and 1940. Presumably some research was conducted to determine historical OB's and capabilities. It is understood that Columbia Games intentionally fudges force pools for sake of play-ability, but presumably we don't want completely fictitious OB's. In any event, I will be fine with any solution as long as the play-balance is good, and a standard "France then Russia" approach does not become a complete rarity.
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Don Cooper
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The German's were fearful of an attack by Russia before operations could be resolved in the Western theatre. Hence the reason for the Nazi-Soviet pact. The massive purges of the Russian army officer corp, as well doctrinal changes in armor warfare, made any attack plans questionable. Even their attack against Finland was a disaster. Russia, historically, has never conducted an offensive before or since WW II in which they were the active belligerent that initiated the war and were successful. That said Stalin seriously contemplated maybe not attacking Germany but some of the Eastern European nations, such as Rumania, Bulgaria and even Hungary. The Balkans have always been high on Russia's strategic grocery list. In many games the USSR is neutered till the Spring of 1941. I always found this straight-jacketing the USSR player who sat around waiting for the inevitable attack by Germany. In a two player game the USSR is an inactive but assumed British ally prior to June 1941, which is far from the truth. Britain barely had a diplomatic mission to Moscow. In fact, the British government thought of sending troops to support Finland in their defence against the Russian attack. I think the idea proposed is workable, leaving some responsibility to the German player and the rest to chance.
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ralph waldo
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DUMASCLUB wrote:
The German's were fearful of an attack by Russia before operations could be resolved in the Western theatre. Hence the reason for the Nazi-Soviet pact. The massive purges of the Russian army officer corp, as well doctrinal changes in armor warfare, made any attack plans questionable. Even their attack against Finland was a disaster. Russia, historically, has never conducted an offensive before or since WW II in which they were the active belligerent that initiated the war and were successful. That said Stalin seriously contemplated maybe not attacking Germany but some of the Eastern European nations, such as Rumania, Bulgaria and even Hungary. The Balkans have always been high on Russia's strategic grocery list. In many games the USSR is neutered till the Spring of 1941. I always found this straight-jacketing the USSR player who sat around waiting for the inevitable attack by Germany. In a two player game the USSR is an inactive but assumed British ally prior to June 1941, which is far from the truth. Britain barely had a diplomatic mission to Moscow. In fact, the British government thought of sending troops to support Finland in their defence against the Russian attack. I think the idea proposed is workable, leaving some responsibility to the German player and the rest to chance.
I thought your comments were very good Don. The idea of placing restraints on a DOW against Germany while allowing Russia to attack whichever neutrals it wishes. This brings up another point, once more, about the revised diplomacy rules: attacking a neutral does not affect diplomacy rolls for other nations in the new beta rules. Some simple mechanism should be present to reflect the diplomatic repercussions of invading neutrals. I thought my idea of a "trump card" effect, where the last player to invade a neutral suffers a -1 diplomacy modifier, which remains in effect until the opponent(s) invade a neutral (which would then shift the modifier to them). The only caveat, I suggested, was that traditional neutral allies, such as Rumania, Finland, etc. might not be affected. In this instance, any neutral with a favorable modifier (say 8+ or less) would not be affected.
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Please let the guys devolop the game and published it, then let us have all this comments about the rules. Ok?
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Willem Boersma
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waldowanda wrote:
I am fine with the "start with less blocks" solution. I would simply point out however, that doing so might arbitrarily alter the historical force composition and capabilities that the Russians had in 1939 and 1940. Presumably some research was conducted to determine historical OB's and capabilities. It is understood that Columbia Games intentionally fudges force pools for sake of play-ability, but presumably we don't want completely fictitious OB's. In any event, I will be fine with any solution as long as the play-balance is good, and a standard "France then Russia" approach does not become a complete rarity.


So perhaps, rather than adding blocks, adding STEPS would be the way to go?
 
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