From: Cambridge, UK
Ashtar, I agree in general with the sentiment. Yes, we want a historical game. However, France never built up and utilized its navy. It never got Sweden or Denmark or Portugal or Naples on its side...well, some of them sort of, for a while. Basically, as you stated earlier a historical wargame takes a specific time period and then from that point on it becomes an alternate history game, though it should have some historical constraints and flavor.
The "England was impregnable after Hastings" is not quite true. The Dutch landed in the 1660's, but didn't bring alot of troops. Their bad. The French landed in 1797 at Fishguard, but once again, not in force. The point is that the Brits should have a HUGE advantage. They do. But, to use your argument, to make this a good and balanced game, they should not be invincible. Adding in some of the naval OPTIONS, shouldn't destroy this balance. If SP and FR still gang up on GB, there will be trouble. If you add in RU and/or TU (and they can get their navies together), then it becomes more trouble.
So, I agree with your sentiment, but I don't see the naval options to skew the game. I've played with both and one just adapts and overcomes to any changes needed.
There is an underlying assumption in your approach that the scientific approach of GB having a full knowledge of enemy fleets is ideal and realistic. I don't think this is true. Read the Keegan Book on Military Intelligence in War and you will have an idea how you might be mistaken.
Let me give you my point of view. EIA is a GRAND STRATEGY game. This means a game where realism meets playability (i.e., you have to balance the twos whatever the Keegan says) to give us (a) an enjoyable game with (b) a pretty good flavor of the Napoleonic era. Therefore GB having "a full knowledge of enemy fleets" could not be realistic but it could indeed be ideal in a sense I will try to explain you in the next lines.
I agree with all you write here except the word "Unfortunately". I think that the uncertainty of a single naval battle changing the course of the war reflects realism and, more importantly, a lot more fun to the game. Granted, the French/Spanish/Russia combined fleet or separate fleets should still have an uphill battle, but there should still be a small chance for the two and a good chance for the three combined. And don't forget the vital dynamic of GB choosing its move sequence at sea, which will enable it to beat its neighbors in detail, much like Napoleon does on land.
I'll try to be clearer: with EIA rules GB alone cannot NEVER conquer France, while France alone is almost never able to conquer GB. IF your proposed changes shift the game to a situation in which France alone has a considerably greater chance to conquer GB, this will completely alter the game, at all levels, from military to diplomatic. This is what you should have to playtest, global effects. You think it will makes game funnier, but I strongly doubts, I am not sure that EIA games in which an incompetent GB players gets invaded by France in the first couple of years could be defined as "fun"...
I believe that balance can be obtained readily with all powers by the other powers combining their forces with the exception of Great Britain. Once France or Spain or Russia loses its Navy, it is nearly impossible for any power or set of powers to threaten GB. I know you know this from your experiences with Operation Agamemnon.
Actually this is the first time ever I am playing with GB (I usually prefer France). Let me give me a few comments based on this experience:
1. I think I could have wiped out the France fleet only thanks to a combination of (a) good political play by my side - which granted me a loyal Prussian ally - (b) bad strategical choices of the French player which placed ALL his fleets in Amsterdam. (c) The well know single
corp bug, so that his single Amsterdam guarding corp could not call for reinforce the entire Grand Armee sitting nearby.
2. Overall the French did a great mistake. Almost comparable to a GB player letting Napoleon cross the channel. It is only logical that as a consequence, I (GB) have been rewarded by a favored position. Also a French player would find in a much favorable position to win the game after he forces GB to unconditional surrender.
3. Again, Turkish fleet was almost wiped out by (a) Turkish mistakes and (b) lack of Naval evasion, which allowed me a sure surprise attack.
4. Operation Agamennon is only starting now, and I am not sure at all I will be able to ward off the combined Russian and Spanish fleets
from British shores. As a matter of fact I have to invest much of my resources to fight France and, by one game year from now, I will start to be slightly outnumbered.
To establish balance, the new naval build costs need to be embraced ($7 or $8 a HS and $3 or $4 LS), naval build times need to be reduces to around 12 months for a HS and 6 months for a LS, and a more varied naval combat system with hidden fleet sizes needs to be established.
I agree that increased build and money cost for HS, as much as the lack of naval evasion, to a certain extent (I still have to discover how much) tips the balance towards GB. But the solution is to restore old BALANCED EIA rules (with proper build costs and naval evasion), not to propose out of the blue changes without any testing. The extremely low building cost you propose would basically strip GB of his "almost equal to France" status.
GB can not be impregnable. It was not historically. Read the contemporary writings of the time, particularly the reaction to the defeats at sea to the US frigate navy.
This is questionable. (a) Indeed GB has been historically impregnable since the battle of Hastings. It could have been luck, it could have
been bad strategies by the French, but we cannot know for sure. As a matter of fact we have only an historical outcome. France (+ minors) alone was unable to invade GB. We just want a game which recreates that historical feeling. Thus it should be relatively rare to see a game where London is occupied. (b) In 1812 war against US, the royal navy was not fighting to defend its shores, but just fighting in some not so important backwaters. Moreover, the US navy is not the France, Russian or Spanish navy.
As a final note, I have (and I am still) played only once as GB, but I found that is a common attitude between EIA players to complain about GB supposed impregnability. Honestly, I found it a bit silly, it is just like a GB player would protest since he has not enough corps to invade France alone and would keep asking for more of them until he can field a 140 factor British army to face la Grand Armee. No, you cannot. GB cannot take Paris alone. Dot!
As I said, I am not a priori against new OPTIONAL naval rules, but I strongly oppose any shift in global power.
First of all, if you make GB more easily to invade you should recalibrate VP: lower GB and increase France. I have once read a statistics of
winning powers and it was reasonably balanced.
Secondly, once you recalibrate VP, you should extensively check and be sure that the complex political dynamics are still as fun as in original EIA when - lets say - 50% of games ends up with an occupied London early on.