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Subject: Balancing the original version (no extensions) rss

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Jon Evans
United Kingdom
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I have read a fair number of posts which agree that the vanilla version of the game is bias towards the Allies winning. I have also read a number of suggestions for balancing things including giving the Allies a lead in points.

One of the key things to me seems to be the importance of making it more important for the Allies to actively engage with Japan. Having 3 allied cards (2 Russian and 1 British which remove Japanese armies in China make it to easy for the Allies to concentrate else where but still chip away at Japan and force Japan to use up very limited Build Army cards. Linked to this is the US ability to parachute into Szehuan.

I am interested if anyone has tried playing without the British 'Ledo and Burma Roads', Russian 'Mao Tse-Tung' and the US 'American Volunteer Group Expands'cards? Or any varient of this approach?

 
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Witch Lord
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greenpasta wrote:
I have read a fair number of posts which agree that the vanilla version of the game is bias towards the Allies winning. I have also read a number of suggestions for balancing things including giving the Allies a lead in points.

One of the key things to me seems to be the importance of making it more important for the Allies to actively engage with Japan. Having 3 allied cards (2 Russian and 1 British which remove Japanese armies in China make it to easy for the Allies to concentrate else where but still chip away at Japan and force Japan to use up very limited Build Army cards. Linked to this is the US ability to parachute into Szehuan.

I am interested if anyone has tried playing without the British 'Ledo and Burma Roads', Russian 'Mao Tse-Tung' and the US 'American Volunteer Group Expands'cards? Or any varient of this approach?



I must confess that I had never thought about removing these cards altogether.

In the AH expansion however, two of those cards ("Ledo and Burma Roads" and "Vasilevsky Takes Command in the Far East") have been significantly nerfed.
 
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Barry Miller
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I'm not here to answer your question, so this is probably a waste of time, but what has been your experiences with the game? Have you or your group found it to be unbalanced after several plays?

Keep in mind that for a game to be actually unbalanced, the unbalanced results (data) must follow a pattern or a trend over several games. The data could easily be different for each group and therefor call for different remedies or no remedy at all.

I ask only in that I too have read the many "unbalanced" comments, and while all those comments certainly do form the basis of a pattern, my experience hasn't found it to be the case.

I'd say that in the games I've played, the Allies win about 55% of the time. I just played a game last week with folks from my meet-up group... As typical, the Axis started strong and the Allies caught up, but from there it's really up to the individual group or deck shuffles, isn't it? The Axis fell behind by a few points but through some clever play, were able to catch up and win by one point! (I was on the Allies side, BTW).

So my point is that while I acknowledge the core game has produced unbalanced results for many groups, I and my group haven't found that to be the case. Perhaps it's simply our play style. Thusly we see no need in trying to artificially induce balance.

YMMV of course, but perhaps you don't need to mess with the cards, whereas different groups with different playing styles might?

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James Hamilton
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I agree that different groups and play styles can adjust the balance. I think that there is a slight margin in favour of the Allies in the base game but not a big one.

As long as you are using the +30 VP victory condition then I think the only thing you need to do to balance stuff is to give the side that you think is disadvantaged a small points boost at the start of the game.

The number of games I have played where the Axis got to +28 or +29 but were pulled back by the end of the game for an Allied win. As a result I would bite your hand off for a 2 point edge for the Axis. A 3 point edge is a huge margin.

Removing cards is a big change to the game and could easily end up causing more issues than it fixes.
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Simon Croquet
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I can't bring detailed statistics because I hardly play with the same players every time, but I have the feeling that Allies win more often in a game with a majority of new players because Axis may be a bit harder to handle. Then with slightly more experienced players Axis victory becomes more frequent and with only experienced players I've seen a bit more Allies victories (sadly often with the use of economic warfare recursion).

Instead of removing cards, I would advise to play a few games, see if one side gets destroyed every time, even with more experienced Axis players.

Then in the hypothesis of an unbalanced Allies victory ratio and if the problem comes from recursion, I would advise you to replace the American status Flexible resources by its replacement card from Alternate Histories: it is rather simple: instead of a status, it is now an Event that costs no card to use (but it works only once, obviously). If you notice a martingale with Rationing-Shuffling (see this thread), follow the solution in said link.

Last but not least: The 3 events that remove a Japanese army from China are annoying, but there are ways to counter them:
- Playing Kwantung army is rarely a waste of time.
- Two out of the 3 annoying events are in the Soviet deck. If Stalin has the opportunity to play them, it means that either he is neglecting the european front and allows a successful german-italian offensive or that Germany and Italy are not putting enough pressure on him. Mao Tse-Tung rarely sees the light when axis armies are roaming in the fields of Ukraine.
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Luc
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Shoum wrote:
Two out of the 3 annoying events are in the Soviet deck. If Stalin has the opportunity to play them, it means that either he is neglecting the european front and allows a successful german-italian offensive or that Germany and Italy are not putting enough pressure on him. Mao Tse-Tung rarely sees the light when axis armies are roaming in the fields of Ukraine.


Brilliant to see someone talking about this, probably the first mention I have seen of it in all the balance threads. This is not a trivial game, most countries can fight in several ways on multiple fronts. Decisions on timing, tactics, strategy, coordination and pressuring the opponents (sometimes in multiple places) are all important and make or break a war effort. It's the game, basically. And your analysis above is spot on.
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Peter Bakija
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Shoum wrote:
I can't bring detailed statistics because I hardly play with the same players every time, but I have the feeling that Allies win more often in a game with a majority of new players because Axis may be a bit harder to handle.


I play this game a lot with other folks who play the game a lot. The Allies have a leg up. Certainly in the base game (it is kind of a significant edge in the base game, *especially* with experienced players); with Air Marshal, it is closer to balanced, but the Axis still are a little behind the curve.

The easiest thing to do it just to spot the Axis a few points. Bidding is a possibility ((i.e. make teams of three, and then bid to see who wants to take the Allies for how many points given to the Axis). General consensus seems to be about 3-4 points is probably the best balance point.

Quote:
Last but not least: The 3 events that remove a Japanese army from China are annoying, but there are ways to counter them:


Yeah, those are a hassle, but playing Kwangtung Army is *always* worth it if you are Japan. Play Kwangtung Army *before* you go into China. If you don't have Kwangtung Army, avoid China until you do.
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Tom Shydler
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I agree with the opinion that the base game has a slight bias towards the Allies. The fall of the cards,however, can make this edge significant, or make the game balanced. (I've only seen one game where the Axis swamped the Allies due to card draw sequence). We generally play with the Axis starting out with a three point lead. The Allies have still won more games, but they have been very close.
 
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Greg Whitfield
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One problem with the base game is the fact that the Allies can totally ignore Japan and concentrate on Europe. There are many options for Japan to collect points if left alone but they suffer from not enough armies. If Japan had another army or two they could earn more points from status cards forcing the Allies to do something to stop them. Perhaps a status card that made the Phillipines(I know but that is what the map says) a Supply Space would make Japan a force to be reckoned with if totally ignored.
 
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pgkashmir wrote:
One problem with the base game is the fact that the Allies can totally ignore Japan and concentrate on Europe. There are many options for Japan to collect points if left alone but they suffer from not enough armies. If Japan had another army or two they could earn more points from status cards forcing the Allies to do something to stop them. Perhaps a status card that made the Phillipines(I know but that is what the map says) a Supply Space would make Japan a force to be reckoned with if totally ignored.


With more Armies, the Japanese would be able to join in on the action in Europe while still securing plenty of points in Asia.
 
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James Hamilton
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pgkashmir wrote:
One problem with the base game is the fact that the Allies can totally ignore Japan and concentrate on Europe. There are many options for Japan to collect points if left alone but they suffer from not enough armies. If Japan had another army or two they could earn more points from status cards forcing the Allies to do something to stop them. Perhaps a status card that made the Phillipines(I know but that is what the map says) a Supply Space would make Japan a force to be reckoned with if totally ignored.


I think that an ignored Japan can comfortably pile up 10 points a turn and that is not to be sniffed at. 9 is certainly possible.
 
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Peter Bakija
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Hammy wrote:
I think that an ignored Japan can comfortably pile up 10 points a turn and that is not to be sniffed at. 9 is certainly possible.


9 is the best you can do without an economic warfare card in the base game--China (+2), Japan (+2), Australia (+2), India (+2), Indonesia and Co Prosperity Sphere (or something like that; +1)=9

If you play a Sub card on top of that, it's +11 in one turn.

In Alternate Histories, you can get +1VP for having 3 navies and then another +1 for having one of those navies in the Central Pacific, so in AH, Japan can pull off a static +11 per turn under optimal conditions.
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Jon Evans
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greenpasta wrote:
I have read a fair number of posts which agree that the vanilla version of the game is bias towards the Allies winning. I have also read a number of suggestions for balancing things including giving the Allies a lead in points.

One of the key things to me seems to be the importance of making it more important for the Allies to actively engage with Japan. Having 3 allied cards (2 Russian and 1 British which remove Japanese armies in China make it to easy for the Allies to concentrate else where but still chip away at Japan and force Japan to use up very limited Build Army cards. Linked to this is the US ability to parachute into Szehuan.

I am interested if anyone has tried playing without the British 'Ledo and Burma Roads', Russian 'Mao Tse-Tung' and the US 'American Volunteer Group Expands'cards? Or any varient of this approach?



Thanks for all the comments on this question. Sounds like it has not really been tried but that the expansions improve the situation. Understand why there is some reticence with dropping cards. I think I will try out giving the Axis a 3 point lead in the original game and see how that plays out.
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bakija wrote:
9 is the best you can do without an economic warfare card in the base game--China (+2), Japan (+2), Australia (+2), India (+2), Indonesia and Co Prosperity Sphere (or something like that; +1)=9


That's what happens in practice, yes.

Although in theory, it is actually possible to get 10 VP/turn with Japan. For example:

1) Build a Navy in the Sea of Japan, use China Offensive to build in China and SE Asia;
2) Build Army in India;
3) Build Navy in South China Sea, use Special Naval Landing Forces to Build in Australia;
4) Remove Army in SE Asia, Build Army in the Middle East;
5) Battle Ukraine, perhaps with German help; remove Army in Japan and Build Army in Ukraine;
6) Remove Army in Middle East, Build Army in Japan.

As I said, this essentially never happens in practice. We came close to doing this though (at least up to point 5, for one or two turns) in several of our games, so in theory you might eventually get this to work if you play often enough
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Yury T
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I have some ideas about balancing the game with expansions, but they could be implemented with base too.

I suggest to give Germany, Italy and Japan special starting statuses.

Here is my post about them: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1650262/buffing-axis-te...
 
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Peter Bakija
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Witch Lord wrote:
Although in theory, it is actually possible to get 10 VP/turn with Japan. For example:


Heh. Well, yes, it is certainly theoretically *possible* to have 5 armies in 5 supply centers, but it is, generally speaking, unlikely :-)

I don't think I have ever seen such a thing happen in actual play in a *lot* of games.
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bakija wrote:
Heh. Well, yes, it is certainly theoretically *possible* to have 5 armies in 5 supply centers, but it is, generally speaking, unlikely :-)

I don't think I have ever seen such a thing happen in actual play in a *lot* of games.


Yeah, so far I've never been able to pull that off with Japan either. I just came very close on a couple of occasions.

It's a bit more common with some of the other factions - I've had quite a few games where the British were in UK, India, Australia, Canada (with McKenzie) and Western Europe. Or where the US had both coasts, Szechuan (with American Volunteer Group), India and China.

And the Germans can even beat that if they manage to lay down the Trifecta and a well-timed Autobahn cool
 
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I apologize if I stray a little bit off topic with this post (although it's still about the main issue of balancing).

As I've already said a few times, I've always found the AH expansion to be quite well balanced. Recently, I've tried to break this down a little more, and I've made the observation that, at least in my group, one-on-one games tend to slightly favor the Allies, while the Axis tends to win a bit more often when there's six players at the table.

I think this is because in AH, it's really crucial for the Allies to coordinate their strategies and work well together as a team. Sure, this is always important for the Axis as well, but in AH the Allies definitely need to keep the pressure on the Germans to keep them from turning into a powerhouse. If one of them slips up, that can immediately open a window for Germany to stir up trouble.

So... If you find that in your meta the Allies are at an advantage, perhaps you might want to try playing AH with 4 or 5 people instead of 6, and letting a more experienced player take Germany and Italy (and Japan if there's 4 of you), whereas the Allies are each played by different people, and see if that changes anything?
 
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