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On September 11, 1999, Tom Cannon wrote:
I read through your site today and found it interesting. However, I don't agree with the basic problem you have set out to solve. In my playing experience the situation of densely defended cities only occurs when playing on single maps for each player. The unit densities were quite high primarily due to the limited manuevering room.

Once scenarios of two maps each (4 total) are used it should be quite difficult to keep this level of density in ALL cities. Of course, this requires your opponent to be capable of projecting force in multiple directions. Players usually must decide to attack in one sector while defending in another. This is where the key factor of combined arms differentiates the player's production choices. Mobile forces and control of the sea will enhance a players ability to create multiple threats with a single force. A player faced with multiple threats must either spread his resources to defend them all or concentrate resources to defend a few. Either strategic choice should create a more dynamic game.

This is an excellent point. I have constructed scenarios that attempt to do this, especially by creating cities which would provide resources to the enemy, while NOT providing resources for the player. In one version, this represents the fact that a player must provide a certain amount of production to the needs of the public, ie - food, clothing, etc. A conquering army can disregard this to some extent. Thus, certain cities would be covered with a token (penny) and would not provide production for a player, but if they are captured, they do provide production to the other player. This results in forcing a player to protect more cities than production allows.

If time or desire limits you from playing 4 map scenarios then the SIMPLEST approach to solve the unit density problem is to lower the number of starting units. Commanders should never have enough forces to cover all threatened areas. This requires resource allocation decisions as players decide which city is worth defending or attacking more than others. Fewer starting units should create opportunities for players to attack weak areas of the front and create a more dynamic game. However, I would suspect that the limited movement area will still create problems. In my experience, the larger maps make for more interesting games, even when the number of units is small.

In my opinion the current stacking rules work well to reflect the bloody costs of attacking a fully defended sector of any terrain during WW2. (2 map games reflect more WWI, then WWII which is why we don't use them except to teach new players) Manuever is the key. We have found it requires a longer time frame to take such a defended spot. First, air supremacy is needed to provide support for ground forces. This usually requires a systematic capture of most, if not all, of the airbases in range of the key hex. In effect, you isolate the hex over time so that it cannot withstand several turns of repeated heavy airstrikes (and naval bombardment if on the coast). This requires not only a proper force mix but a carefully run production system to feed replacements into this sector of the map. At the same time, a force is required to repulse any relief attempts by the opponent. Using the same force to accomplish all these missions will doom any, but the luckiest of attacks. Multiple forces with multiple roles is absolutely essential.

I think that in any case, the current supply rule (units that are not in supply may not cut supply) still needs to be adjusted. Attacks on supply should be a necessary aspect of any campaign and the current supply rule makes them very difficult to achieve.

A final note The psychological preferences of the players will greatly affect any scenario. For example,if no outside force is introduced to encourage combat, then many players in a game with equal production systems will gladly build forces rather than risk combat. However, most battlefield commanders did not have this luxury so the problem becomes - how does the GAME encourage players to fight. You mention some of the problems with adding these incentives into a scenario. The SIMPLEST approach might be to create a starting advantage in force size and/or production capability for one player. The side with higher production can simply sit back and build faster than his opponent. This requires his opponent to attack first in order to balance or shift the production system in a favorable direction.

I agree. Most of the "official" scenarios from Columbia take this into account and are set up to cause action in this manner.

While your rules appear simple I believe adjusting the situation using the current rules is simpler and has the same effect.

Hope you are still enjoying Victory. We are having a blast with it! My last experience was a 3 player, 9 map scenario at the World Boardgaming Championships in Hunt Valley this summer.

Tom Cannon

Thanks, Tom. I appreciate your input.