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Subject: How does this game play with just 2 players? rss

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Dan Mixer
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Finding a single player for a game like this around is a freaking miracle, finding two would be a .. well, I have no idea, it's never happened!

That being said, how does this game play 2 player? Is it a step down from 3, as in, the game was designed for 3, but by crippling one side or gaming card play, etc, they converted it to 2?
 
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Steve
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I tried 2 player once. Basically, the allies actively play either the West or the USSR each turn, while the Axis play as normal. I would not choose this game for 2 player only, but would consider using the 2-player version to teach someone how to play so that they could join in the next 3-player session. Even with all the handicapping, the allies handily won our 2-player game.
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john f stup
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the only way i have played it and it's lots of fun.
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Alberto Natta
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It does not work.

It's a game designed for 3 players, and the 2 player version just sees the Axis brutally squeezed unless they manage some rush on the West and earn a military victory.

 
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First off, I haven't played the standard two-player version, but I think that a better two-player version is possible.

Here are my evolving two-player rules:

1. Starting in 1936, the Soviet Union is treated as an Axis Protectorate. The Soviets do not receive any Action cards for Axis violations of neutrality. The Axis does not receive any Action cards for Soviet violations of neutrality.

2. As a result, the Axis receives 3 Resources per year in exchange for German promises to share battleship technology. To receive these resources, the Axis player must sincerely and audibly make these promises every year to someone in the same room. The 3 Resources end when a state of war exists between the Axis and the Soviet Union.

3. The Soviet faction is managed by the West player, but the West is not allowed to have the Soviets initiate any violations of neutrality or declare war on the Axis or the West, but see the rules below.

4. In Fall 1939, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is in force. This allows the Soviets (under West control) to initiate violations of neutrality. If either the Axis or the Soviets invade a multiple-area neutral without conquering it, the other can attack and occupy the areas available (Partition).

5. The Axis player can declare war on the Soviets at any time. If the Axis does so, the West controls the Soviet Union as a separate rival. If for some reason the West declares war on the Soviet Union (beginning with the Fall 1939 season), control of the Soviets switches to the Axis.

6. Beginning with the Spring 1941 season, the West rolls two dice every season. On a dice roll of 2-4, the West may have the Soviet Union declare war on the Axis from then on. If both Paris and London fall, The West takes unrestricted control of the Soviet Union.

7. The buffer states adjacent to Soviet Union include Finland, the Baltic States, Poland, Romania, Turkey, and Persia. The Soviet Union may not play action cards to make any of these states Associates, Protectorates, or Satellites until the 1940 Turn. The Axis player may make these states Protectorates or Satellites, but in doing so, it makes Uncle Joe nervous, subtracting 1 from the dice roll in Rule 6. per buffer state.

8. If the Soviets make any buffer states adjacent to Germany or Italy into either a Protectorate or Satellite, Uncle Adolph becomes highly motivated to make Peace with the West. These buffer states include Denmark, the Baltic States, Vilna, Warsaw, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Croatia, and the Low Countries.

Beginning on the following season and every season thereafter, Peace with the West is initiated with a roll of two dice totaling 2. Every additional buffer state subtracts 1 from the dice roll.

The consequences of Peace with the West are a permanent state of Peace between the Axis and the West. In exchange, the Axis must relinquish any conquests west and north of Germany and Italy, except Finland, removing all Axis units. Any British and French colonies lost to the Axis are also restored. Formerly conquered Neutrals become Neutrals again.

9. The victory conditions are amended. The game will continue despite the Axis conquering both Paris and London. In that case, the West player will then take full control the Soviet Union. The West can win either with Soviet Victory points or West victory points, but the points are not combined.

10. If Paris falls, an independent satellite state in Marseilles is established unless Marseilles is already conquered. If London falls, the British capitol moves to Ottawa.

11. If the West/Soviet takes military control of the Soviet Union, the Axis player can opt to take control of the West, and to put the Axis on Autopilot, in which case, all Axis units remain in place, and all Axis production is spent as follows:

a. Units in Berlin must each be built up 1, followed by the Ruhr and Munich.

b. Of what's left, at least two production must be spent in Rome, followed by Milan, if possible.

c. Any remaining production is spent creating new infantry units in Berlin.

12. If an Axis area is engaged in battle, the non-engaged player can enter military units to "help" the attack. The area belongs to the player who finishes off the last Axis unit.


If you try this out, please post your experiences and any suggestions or criticisms.

Dieter
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In beginning to playtest the rules above, I'm continually modifying the rules above to make it a little more realistic.

In my test game, Germany acquired Poland as a Protectorate, which I realized would have made the Soviets really angry. At the beginning of 1938, the Soviets reduced Poland to an Associate, and started courting Bulgaria and Greece.

I'm tempted to begin the dice rolls in 1939 at lower odds.

So, there's a line of buffer states between Germany and the Soviet Union. In 1938, I let the Soviet Union attack (and conquer) Finland as an experiment, followed by Germany attacking and conquering Paris despite British aid.

The Germans launched the attack beginning with a surprise attack in the North Sea with 4 CVs of Fleet, 6 CVs of Subs, 3CVs of Air Force, which sent the British Navy limping back to London. Marseilles became Vichy France.

So Britain is now under siege. In 1939, the Battle of Britain commenced, with Germany holding the English Channel with its fleet, its submarine fleets hold the North Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, and the Luftwaffe is pounding London. The West faction feels very lonely right now, and prays for early Soviet intervention. The Soviets are getting stronger and stronger.

I saw the need for an additional rule regarding victory. Even if both France and Britain are conquered, the game should still proceed with the "clash of giants," the war between Germany and the Soviet Union.

 
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These two-player rules really work because the West player also gets to fully control the Soviet player later in the game. If the Axis player doesn't take out both Paris and London, the West/Soviet player is likely to win.

I think this version is simple and a lot of fun!

Dieter
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My first two-player test game is now ready to begin the 1940 turn, and it's truly scary!

1939 saw the Germans hammering the British, who are protected only by a 4CV Fortress unit in Glasgow, a 4CV Fortress in London, along with two 1CV Fleet units, and typically three 1CV Air Force units, which get shot down by the Luftwaffe every year.

The Soviet player is quietly building a terrifying army along its borders, managed to get Turkey as an Ally, and used it to conquer Bulgaria and then Romania (an Axis Associate, but not a Protectorate). The Soviet army in Finland is threatening the German possessions of Norway and Sweden.

The Germans got the LST technology and desperately hope they can finish off the UK before facing the Soviets. They are pitifully weak all over except for the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe.

Stalin might well be able to sweep across war-torn Western Europe, but at this point, the Soviet/West player might win without war.

I made some small rule changes above concerning the buffer states between Germany and the Soviet Union that you can review in a post above.

Dieter
 
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1940 was a disaster for the Axis player.

The USA became a Western Satellite but was blockaded.

Hitler had to choose between a final gamble to finish off Great Britain with an invasion of London, or to continue suppressing London and move the bulk of the Wehrmacht to the East to conquer as many neutrals as possible for the purposes of limiting Soviet expansion and gaining Resources.

What to do?

Since the Axis blockaded the USA and the Western Med, controlled both the English Channel and the North Sea, Hitler gambled with Operation Sealion.

With good dice rolls, he could pretty much finish off the West, delaying any significant threat until after the Soviet Union was dealt with.

In the event, the dice favored the British, who defended London with four (!) newly build 1CV Air Force units, two 2CV Fleets, and most importantly a 4CV Fortress unit (there was another one in Glasgow as well).

The Germans attacked with everything they could bring to bear on London--7 Air Force CVs, 5 Fleet CVs, 4 Sub CVs, and landed 7 CVs of Infantry---seven units in all. When the smoke cleared after two seasons, everything suffered significant attrition, but most importantly, the German Infantry was destroyed at the cost of only 1CV lost from London's Fortress.

In the meantime . . . the British launched an inept campaign against Tripoli. However, the USSR captured nearly all of Eastern Europe. Greece was a Soviet Protectorate, Poland was partitioned, and Czechoslovakia was an Axis Associate. The Red Army looked like a tidal wave pointing at Germany!

At this point, it looks like the Axis has no choice but to build up a big defense, hopefully declaring war before Stalin rolls a 2-5 (E. Prussia is threatened).

Or maybe, the game will end with a build fest: the Soviets building up their Industry while the Axis is limited by their lack of resources and fending off the USA.

I made some more adjustments to Stalin's mood rolls, and wondered how the rules permit building a defensive "zombie army" of 1CV units all in a single area. Hmmm.

Dieter
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1941, saw the British building back up, and retreating from Libya after being trounced by the tenacious Italians in Tripoli. Likewise, the Axis left the West alone, and began building frantically in preparation for the ominous wall of red units in Eastern Europe.

The Axis and the Soviet factions have nearly the same production. The Soviet faction is significantly ahead in military strength, the Axis is significantly ahead in technologies.

Luck favored the Axis with no dice roll that would have allowed the Soviets to declare war in Spring, Summer, or Fall.

Will the Axis be able to hold off the all but inevitable Soviet onslaught? Or will the Axis attack?

As a result of these experiences, I revised the buffer state rules above concerning Soviet encroachment, and I introduced the possibility of Axis Peace with the West, which was a very real concern to Stalin.

1942 should be interesting.

Dieter

 
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We're in Summer 1942 and it's Showtime!

The West player rolled a 4 which frees the Soviets to attack The Axis. The consequences of the Axis decision to beat down the West and to invade the UK have now become painfully apparent.

In the West's Fall season, they managed to knock out the German Sub unit in the North Atlantic, but the English Channel and the North Sea are still controlled by the Axis.

The Axis considered preempting the Soviet Declaration of War but decided to turn turtle instead. In the Summer and Fall seasons, the Soviets rolled over Scandinavia, and took all of Eastern Europe, except Warsaw. Austria and Venice were also conquered. In Fall, the Germans left only a 1CV Fortress in Warsaw, choosing to shore up Berlin, The Ruhr, and Munich.

In 1943, the Axis will forfeit the 3 Resources from the USSR, but their low population is now the critical factor.

There's little chance that the Axis will win. The questions that come to mind at this point include:

* If the Soviets are allowed to attack, are they unstoppable?
* Is this two-player game unbalanced?
* Should the Axis player be allowed to switch over to the West at this point to begin the race for Berlin? The Axis would become passive--allowing any remaining production to be automatically spread between its remaining units.

There's no question this version is a ton of fun, but I will need to do more initial playtesting to make any fundamental changes needed.

Dieter
 
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1943 The Race for Berlin

Because the West/Soviet player managed to gain military control over the Soviet Union, the Axis player opted to put the Axis on Autopilot and take over the West position. The game has changed now to a race, and I'm adding two new rules to the two-player game:

11. Axis Autopilot - All Axis units remain in place. All Axis production is spent as follows, if possible:

a. Units in Berlin must each be built up 1, followed by the Ruhr and Munich.

b. Of the remaining available production, at least two must be spent in Rome, followed by Milan.

c. Any remaining production is spent creating new infantry units in Berlin, followed by any unengaged Home Territory.

12. If an Axis area is engaged in battle, the non-engaged player can enter military units to "help" the attack. The area belongs to the player who finishes off the last Axis unit.

In the event, the newly minted West player trounced the Kriegsmarine in the North Sea with 12 units of Air, aided by a US fleet. The Invincible Soviet Army liberated Warsaw in Spring 1943, and then in Fall, attacked Berlin, Munich, and Rome. They were decimated but remain engaged. Meanwhile, the British retook the Low countries and the Americans freed Paris--all of France except Marsailles. The West plans to attack the Ruhr next, and if the Germans hold out, Move into Berlin to "help."

Nothing is happening in North Africa, the British and Italians are content to leave each other alone, focusing on Europe instead.

1944 should be interesting!

Dieter
 
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Spring 1944

It's over.

The Allies had the first Spring turn and engaged The Ruhr but did not conquer it. The Invincible Soviet Army, though severely battered, reinforced and captured Rome, finished the battle for Munich, and then with the rest of their reinforcements, captured Berlin!

The West (formerly German) player had 17 production and 86 CVs (spread out) while the Soviet (formerly West) player had 18 production and 62 CVs. They occupied all of Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Austria, Southern Europe, and Turkey (as a satellite).

The Axis risked a year to beat the British to a pulp and attempted an invasion of the UK, which failed. This cost them a year and perhaps the war.

The proposed version of the two-player game was definitely exciting and fun! But was it balanced? There's no way to tell without a ton more play testing!

The key mechanic is the two phases of this two-player game:

Phase I:
The West vs the Axis, the Soviets are neutral but controlled by the West. The Axis and Soviets are careful not to encroach on each other's border states, and the Axis receives 3 Resources per year from the Soviets.

Phase II:
By a roll of the dice, the Soviets become a belligerent, either by declaring war or being declared against. The West optionally takes over the Soviets, and if so, the Axis optionally takes over the West. The Axis becomes passive, simply building units defensively according to a precedence formula.

Victory is automatic to the player controlling two capitals (in this case, Rome and Berlin). In all other cases, victory is determined by production level as described in the regular three-player game.

Dieter
 
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Geoff Conn
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Post your revised rules as a variant Dieter, then start your own thread for its discussion and session reports.
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Thank you, Geoff. I'm really excited about this version. It just needs a few more tweaks, and then I'll post the rules as you suggest.

 
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