In most grand strategy games there is an element of resource management that allows the player to make choices that can either take him down a historical path or a deviation if desired. The challenge here is to make a system that incorporates as many of the elements of the day without steering the focus of the game away from the war in the field. I wanted to create something that was simple, played quickly and yet still had an impact on the outcome of the war.
Here is the production phase in its current form:
- Economic Maintenance
- Manpower Deployment
- Collect Economic Points
- Naval Warfare
- Allocate Economic Points
- Reveal Initiative Bid
- Allocate Supply
Throughout my original draft of the rule book, the lead paragraph of each section began with: “The idea.” This told my rules reviewers and playtesters what I was trying achieve with a given rule or set of rules. Here is the original vision for the economic system as written in August of 2011.
The original idea was to include an economic component that required management and planning while not becoming the focal part of the game. The system needed to reflect that once you built an asset of war, you still needed to maintain it. Simplicity was key.
Here is a picture of the current playtest version of the player board taken from the Vassal module. It is here that economics and technology are managed. The flags are used to mark the current values of each category.
To begin the production phase, the markers for artillery, air, and supply are reduced by one (or two if the level is very high). These are the maintenance costs of having large artillery guns, an air force and getting supplies to the fighting men. If you want to maintain your assets of war, you must allocate precious economic points here.
Manpower Deployment & Collect Economic Points
The placement of new infantry blocks and collection of economic points to spend is based on a table. Players place new blocks in London, Paris or Mainz. “Economic Points” (EP) is akin to the economic resources a power has to spend to produce assets of war. In the play test copies, they are currently collected as cubes. I have a bunch from old Risk games and enjoy the tactile feel of the cubes. Chits could easily be used here or a mental count as the number collected and spent is very small and before being spent they must first survive…
Alas the economic points must first survive naval warfare before they are spent. The naval aspect is an abstraction I’ll explain in a later post. Let’s just say that as the war goes on, it can really hurt both sides.
Allocate Economic Points
Whatever remains after naval warfare is resolved may be spent. The purchasing system is again, very simple. Every item that may be purchased has a cost of 1. Odd you say? How can everything have the same cost when certainly the value in play is not? I can say thus far through play testing that the system works. The value of each item lends itself to any number of given strategies taken on by a player. Thus far there is not one sure way to achieve victory i.e. if I put all of my EP into artillery, I can blast right through my opponent.
Here is what you can spend your EP on:
Adjust the Air, Artillery or Supply Maintenance Track up One: Increases the number of air or artillery units that can be used in a turn or the number of hexes that can be supplied for each point spent.
Air, Artillery and Tank Units: Place a new chit of the chosen type on the player aide or increase the value of an existing chit by one. Tank units require completion of the tank technology first.
Cavalry Units: Infantry units placed in the capitol during production may be converted to cavalry at a ratio of 1:2 (2 infantry make 1 cavalry) units by paying 1 cube. Each cube allows up to 4 MPV of cavalry to be formed.
Eastern Front: Add one cube to the Eastern front bag (Central player only). Limit 1 per 10 MPV on the Eastern Front card.
Fort Repair: Add one to the value of any damaged fort that is friendly controlled. Only one repair may ever be made to any fort. Belgium forts many not be repaired. Forts with a value of zero may never be repaired.
Initiative Bid: Each player may set aside any number of cubes to bid on initiative for the turn. These cubes are revealed simultaneously at the end of production. The power with the higher bid will go first during the turn. Cubes used this way are considered spent. A tied bid does not change initiative.
Logistics Point: Advance the Logistics track by one. No more than three may be purchased per turn. These are used later for various actions (6.0).
Naval Blockade/U-boat Offensive: add one cube to the Naval Operations bag (Central limit 2, Allied 3).
Technology Advancement: Advance one space on the technology track in one chosen area. Limit one advance in each area per production phase.
The Production Phase is completed simultaneously. Once both players have finished, the initiative bids (if any) are revealed. Then both players determine if any blocks are out of supply (OOS). OOS units are marked and the action phases begin.
Play tests have shown the production phase to take about 5 minutes with experienced players and closer to 10 the first time through.
I’ll cover The Eastern Front, Naval War and Logistics Points in greater detail in future posts. Please post any questions you may have along the way. I am happy to answer any that arise.