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Victory in Europe» Forums » General

Subject: Lesson from East Front re Finalizing rules. rss

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Michael Dworkin
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I'm a little concerned by the several recent posts that suggest significantly enhancing complexity in order to achieve perceived realism.

I think there is a lesson -- a very valuable and positive lesson --to be learned here, from the finalization process for East Front decades ago.

At least a few of us can probably remember a cover-article in Strategy & Tactics that featured East Front just before publication. The internal article talked, in detail, about dozens of elements of chrome, or tactics, or special features. Collectively, they would have doubled playing time, tripled learning time,and shifted focus off the truly operational and strategic decisions that made East Front a superb game, well worth hundreds of playings for the insights it gives into truly meaningful command decisions.

Fortunately, in the final two mnths of development, Columbia Games went the OPPOSITE direction. It cut the length of rules, deleted the complex tactical rock/paper/fist unit-type elements, and honed in on the decisions about when and where to commit resources to HQ supplementation.

That final round of development honored three key truths: 1) "Amateurs think tactics, professionals think logistics" and 2) "focus, focus!, FOCUS!" and 3) the complexity of a system is greater than the complexity of its elements, so adding one small thing can alter all.

The lesson: keep it simple, keep it focused, don't let chrome corrode the core. Those are the lessons of the East Front development path..and I'd love to see how they play out once more.

(and, yes, I do know that Churchill said, "the fate of empires turns on a few dozen damnn new things called LSTs". So if all my good advice is wrong, lets have special rules for limiting invsionss on basis of production decisions made 15 months ahead ! (just kidding..... that's the kind of decision for World in Flames 60 hour investment.. not for this at all...I hope!)
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ralph waldo
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I agree. Columbia Games is my favorite game company because they distill the essense of a conflict into an elegantly playable package. However, I think many of us are so excited about the possibility of this game being the holy grail of playable WWII grand strategy games that we hope some of our feedback will prevent the end product from becomming axis and allies!

As a side note, I would agree that Eurofront has the most manageable set of rules for a monster WWII game. Advanced Third Reich is a headache waiting to happen. Unfortunatly, since Eurofront is a 60+ hour game, it fails me by about 40 hours.
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michele romanelli
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Really like Michael's analysis. Just hope none the less that the 8 pages long rules won't be a dogma in the development of this game. Considering the results that could be achieved, I believe that 12 to 15 pages of actual rules (excluding the gazeteer and tables) are still very reasonable and most likely needed in order to reduce risks related to approximation.
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John Griffey
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For my taste, the simpler, playable Columbia Games are the best, and I'm pleased to see VE is one of them: Julius Caesar, Hammer of the Scots, Liberty! The American Revolution, Texas Glory,

But a simple game can also be a dud if it's too simple: Sam Grant.

A too simple game can be painfully unrealistic, like Axis & Allies with its aircraft striking across oceans. This game has an Allied strategic bomber which can do that.

It can lack variety of units with a variety of abilities. The German Infantry in this game are too homogeneous for my taste. Otherwise the variety looks nice.

I like to see are multiple pathways to victory. This requires a bit more complexity.

I like opportunities for a resilient and determined player to bounce back from initial setbacks. This requires a bit more complexity. One of the big problems with WWII strategic game is that once a guy starts losing, he is doomed. That may or may not be a problem with this game.

Then there's the cheese problem. Designers often overlook that the bang-for-the-buck of a unit is not firepower divided by cost, but firepower divided by the square of the cost (assuming other factors such as speed or special abilities are equal). In this game, I fear that the Infantry, U-boats, and Stukas, all of which cost 1 PP, will be the cheese that everyone buys first.

Speaking of cheese, I'm ordered to get a cheeseburger.
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Derry Salewski
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AnimalMother wrote:
Designers often overlook that the bang-for-the-buck of a unit is not firepower divided by cost, but firepower divided by the square of the cost (assuming other factors such as speed or special abilities are equal).


Can you explain that more?
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John Griffey
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Units take hits as well as inflict hits. You can buy twice as many infantry steps as tank steps for the same cost.

Example:

Attacking are 12 PP worth of Infantry = 12 steps, firing @D2.

Defending are 12 PP worth of Tanks = 6 steps, firing @C2.

The Infantry will wipe out the Tanks, if the Tanks do not retreat.

Round 1:
6 Tank steps inflict 2 hits on 12 Infantry.
10 Infantry steps inflict 3.33 hits on 6 Tanks.

Round 2:
3 Tank steps inflict 1 hit on 10 Infantry.
9 Infantry inflict 3 hits on 3 Tanks. END of BATTLE.

Infantry loses 25% of their strength.
Tanks lose 100% of their strength.

It appears to me a wise player will always build his 1 PP/step units (Infantry, Submarines, Tactical Bombers) before building any 2 PP/step units or the 3 PP step units. 1 PP/step units are the cheese.

Of course in practice the attacker would bring in Infantry to absorb hits.

Attack with 6 Tank steps (@C2) plus 4 Infantry steps against 12 Infantry steps.

Round 1:
6 attacking Tank steps inflict 2 hits.
10 defending Infantry inflict 3.33 hits. Two hits are put on attacking Infantry, 1 hit on attacking Tank.
2 attacking Infantry steps inflict 0.67 hits.

Round 2: 5 Tank steps, 2 Infantry steps attack 9 Infantry steps.
5 attacking tank steps inflict 1.67 hits.
7 defending Infantry inflict 2 hits. One is put on attacking Tank, one is put on attacking Infantry.
1 attacking Infantry scores 0.33 hits.

Attacker losses: 2 Tank steps, 3 Infantry steps, - 7 PP
Defender losses: 5 Infantry steps = 5 PP.

If the attacker had attacked with 12 Infantry steps it would be about the same:

Round 1:
Attacker loses 4 steps, defender loses 2.67 steps.

Round 2.
Attacker loses 3 steps. defender loses 1.67 steps.

Attacker losses = 7 Infantry steps = 7 PP
Defender losses = 4.33 steps = 4.33 PP.

So by using 3 Infantry blocks of 4 steps each, instead of 2 Tank and 1 Infantry block, the attackers losses are about the same in PP, but he inflicts only about 14% less losses on the defender.

So Infantry are about 87% the value of Tanks, even on the attack! And they are vastly superior on the defense.
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Chris Rice
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One thing that no one has mentioned in the analysis of infantry v armour is that there is more to it than blocks and dice, there are cards too.

There are several cards that give a bonus to armour but not to infantry.
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John Griffey
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There are many more Allied cards that give +1 F to Infantry, than Allied cards giving +1 F to Armor. With the Axis, the bonuses are divided evenly between Armor and Infantry.

Allied Infantry and Armor bonus cards:
1939: Polish Infantry +1 F all battles.
1940: British Infantry +1 F defending ;
1940: French Infantry +1 F defending Maginot.
1941: British Infantry +1 F defending one battle.
1942: Soviet Infantry double defense one battle.
1943: Soviet Infantry +1 F defending one battle.
1943: Soviet Infantry +1 F attacking one battle.
1943: Soviet Armor +1 F one battle.
1944: Soviet Infantry +1 F one battle.
1945: All Soviets +1 F attacking Berlin.*

Axis Infantry and Armor bonus cards:
1939: German Armor +1 F one battle.
1941: One German Infantry fires before any defender in one battle.
1942: All Italian Infantry +1 F in North Africa.
1942: German Armor +1 F in one battle.
1943: One German Infantry unit fires +1 F at enemy Air or Tank.
1943: German Armor +1 F in two battles.
1944: German +1 F in one battle in North Africa.*
1944: All Germans +1 F in one battle.*
1945: German Infantry +1 F one battle.

*Bonus can be used by all units, land, sea, air in land battle.
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Tom Dalgliesh
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John, remember the effects of stacking. 12pp of Infantry (12 steps) will certainly defeat 12pp of Armor (6 steps), which translates into three 4-step infantry versus two 3-step armor. BUT 3 armor units (max ground stack) will defeat 3 infantry units of the same strength. Over time, the PP losses for armor will be greater, but the battle you win with them might gain you Moscow or Berlin, or allow an exploitation that causes significant enemy supply losses. That has always been the advantage of armor. The trick is to find the right mix of arms for each battle; air and armor for punch, infantry to take hits. They call it "Blitzkrieg", and you will lose most battles in VE if you ignore the higher priced units.

And yes, I am trying to streamline the rules.
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John Griffey
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One of he coolest things about your games is the units which have special capabilities, such as the Indians in Liberty! The American Revolution or Wallace in HOTS. It'd be nice if the pricier units had little special abilities, which could be added as optional rules.

Strategic Bombers: roll double dice when attacking a fourth,"strategic" target category which includes Factories, Resources, Victory Points, Enemy can't count VP hit in Strategic Attack until after the next Victory Phase. Enemy can't use Resources hit in Strategic attack until after next Production Phase.

Battleships: double defense unless hit by Tac Air such as Stukas. Battlecruisers (2 PP, C2) do not enjoy double defense but move 3.

Tac Air: cost 2 PP per step but can select the specific unit in the target category they are hitting.

Submarines: do not control their sea zone, can move through enemy controlled sea zones. Enemy units can move through Sub's sea zone.

Tanks: only Tanks can move into two successive enemy controlled areas. If a Leader begins movement stacked with two Tanks, the two Tanks can move as if they were one unit to bring Battle to an adjacent area. (This s a different and more powerful Schwerpunkt from the one I proposed earlier.)
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michele romanelli
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Very cool John, I would like some more chrome too!
 
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