Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Didn't the Germans LOSE the war?

Well, we had our September tournament of Axis &Allies on the 16th, and Rob Coulson finally lost his winning streak to John Hunter and his Perfect Army of Ubermensch (PAU). I fielded a Soviet army of spotters, PM mortars and a sniper. It had some promise, but failed more often than not. I also fielded a Japanese army of six Imperial snipers and some Arisaka riflemen and Type 92 AT guns. Someone say: "LOSERRRR." Yep, I came in last place out of four contenders. Wunderbar!
Matt Mansell came in 3rd with Rob Coulson in 2nd place. We play with historical army builds, that is to say we don't mix Japanese with Germans or Soviets with Americans. We also don't allow 1945 units. AT guns are considered in camouflage until moved or fired. Mortars cannot target aircraft (as well as flamethrowers).
But John Hunter taught us a lesson: the game is inherently broken.
That's right. This game that I invested over $600 in is broken. How? Well, the Germans are overpowered for one thing. The SS-Panzergrenadier is a 5-point piece while the inferior SS-Stormtrooper is a whopping 7 points. What Mr. Hunter fielded was a German army of nine SS-Panzergrenadiers, a Brummbar, a Hauptsturmfuhrer and some other units I can't or don't want to remember. Somehow, he beat the odds and got to pick Axis every time before a match. If he was forced to play an Allied army, he would probably lose, by his own admission. Has the game come to this? Flip a coin and whomever chooses the Axis (Germans) wins? Has the perfect army been found? The answer to these questions are a resounding 'yes'.
We have tried for weeks prior to the tournament to best this PAU build, but to no avail. Terrain and tactics matter little if you have the right pieces. So what to do? Chuck the game?
I hate wasting money and I'm sure you do too. So, John Peterson and I felt a few more house rules would surely balance things a bit.
If it were me in charge of the tourney, (and it's not), I would simply swap the point costs for the SS-Panzergrenadier and the SS-Stormtrooper. But for some reason, people don't want to monkey with the printed word (or number in this case). John added the entrenched special ability to the AT guns and gave spotters a +1 on cover rolls. So far so good.
But then he adds that no more than 20% of a given force can be Elite, Veteran, Hero or 5/5 defense pieces. But you are always allowed at least one such piece. I think this makes good sense. Having a total Hero force or a total Elite tank squadron is a bit overkill and though a tad unrealistic, it makes for better balance. Remember this game is a game first and a war simulator second (I would argue fourth or fifth). It's no fun especially for newbies to play in a game where the winner is predetermined by a die roll for who picks the Germans.
I am a social gamer first and foremost. I don't play to win so much as to have a good slog of a battle where it comes down to that last die roll at the last turn. Those are the best and most memorable games, no matter what game it is you're playing. So if we have to add a few house rules to keep the game fun and viable, then I say so be it. Do these new rules doom the PAU build? Probably. But that's a good thing I believe. We need to keep the diversity and the mix of army possibilities alive without stagnating into a 'now we found the best army so the game is done' sort of deal. It's no different with Magic: The Gathering. They keep shuffling the playable cards around to keep the decks fresh and force inventive and imaginitive deck strategies into the fray.
In short, this next tourney on October 14th is going to be interesting.
I'll keep ya posted...


Blogger "crusher" said...

How come you never publish my comments?

1:44 PM  
Blogger "crusher" said...

congressman mark foley called. He want to play "board games" with you, Brian

4:37 PM  

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