After much thought I have decided to throw my antlers into the ring. Seeking a Japanese opponent for a PBEM grand campaign. Much open to negotiation, other things not so much. I can't promise an epic game, but I think I can promise one which is different than most. To wit:
1. GC, any scenario. I have played AI games of Scenario 1, 2, and DaBabesLite A.
2. Would play expanded map, but prefer not to play with stacking limits as I have not done that yet and in a first PBEM game there are many other things to watch.
3. Either 1- or 2-day turns.
4. Prefer to play with michaelm's just released beta patch. It addresses some serious bugs and adds important new rules for aviation support.
5. All set-up variables negotiable except auto-sub ops need to be OFF and Dud Torpedoes need to be ON.
6. I prefer to play without hexes showing, but will agree if this is a deal-breaker.
Here is where I hope I gain interest and expect to lose it as well. I am looking for a non-standard PBEM game as this has come to be defined in the general AE forum culture.
1. No house rules. Play the code as written. If it is an absolute deal-breaker I will play with PPs paid for cross-border movement, but I have little desire to play with an external set of restraints which must of necessity intrude on each turn's planning and execution. I know that it has grown to be accepted that a game without HRs must devolve into "gamey chaos", but I do not believe that must be the case. First, I have only played the AI, and it by definition plays to code, so I have not witnessed many of the actions some consider "gamey." Second, I believe a fundamantal historical base is designed into the game by the developers, and arbitrarily changing that balance can easily turn over the boat. Additionally, I am convinced that HRs which might make sense in the early game are ridiculous in the late. I intend to play an entire CG, or die trying. Third, many "gamey" practices such as single-ship ammo sponges are fiddly. I don't do fiddly. Fourth, I believe in the Golden Rule, and I believe in games and sports in its corollary: "Do Unto Me, and I Shall Do Unto You Worse."
Simple, right? I am a fair person, a Libra in fact, so it's built in. I don't think that many/any of the practices proscribed by common HRs matter in the long run of the game, but rather do in fact contribute to the tedium of some turns which can increase the chance of one player deciding to leave. I would prefer a crisp, forward progressing experience controlled by the value and exellence included by the designers. The dang thing is hard enough without having to shuffle through a stapled stack of well-thumbed house rules to see if you can fly THIS plane at THAT altitude.
2. Play it as a game, not a sim. Congruent with the idea that the game was well designed and executed by both of its parent teams is the reality that VPs and auto-victory underlie the thing. They are its foundation. Yet so many times we have seen otherwise well-played games and AARs peter out and die in mid-war because the opponents either explicity or implicity rejected this and "played for the experience." Or say "I know when I've won or lost." Rejecting VPs and auto-vic is anyone's right of course, but I prefer to see it as an entire level of the experience, as important to the planning and risk calculations as the actual switchology in each turn. Auto-vic ought to be the wolf snapping at your heels every day; VP points the coin of the realm. "How am I doing here in October 1942?" the player asks. The answer is designed in.
The manual describes how victory is calculated. The Allied player CANNOT win except by auto-victory, so those who play the Allies and say they're not playing for that are saying they know they have lost the game before they start. Auto-victory should be the Allied player's whip. He must achieve it, and his time is limited. Conversely, the Japanese player can win by merely surviving. By preserving a core and with deft maneuvering, trade-offs, and husbanding resources, he can win the game without aggressive action. The two impulses were carefuly balanced and I hope to find an opponent who agrees, and who sees the reward of playing to the end, sucking all of the value put into the experience by the development teams. The first year is interesting, but so is the last, albiet different. A Japanese player who persists, despite inevitably being battered, will learn things and see things his tremulous 1943-quitting brother will not.
Thus, I am seeking an opponent who wants to play the game as designed as it applies to auto-vic as well.
Allied HQ--Frostbite Falls has recently been in contact with an Antipodean guru, he of encyclopedic knowledge to all things AE. This agent, codenamed "RockyRoo", has proposed the following, highly interesting sweetener to the above perhaps hard medicine:
If auto-vic occurs in 1943, 1944, or before August 1945 the victor shall take his victory lap, pour champagne on his head, rub blue mud on his belly--whatever the local custom dictates. He may then AT HIS OPTION choose to continue the game until the end of the war in 1946. If he chooses the game can end with his victory. However, if he chooses to continue, when the final victory level is calculated he shall have added either one (1) or two (2) (negotiable) levels to his final victory condition.
For example, to quote RockyRoo, "Say Japan achieves an auto victory on 1 January 1943, but the game is continued until time expires as outlined in s.17.1. of the manual. In that instance the manual says the final victory level is shifted 2 levels towards Japan, resulting in an adjusted "draw". My suggestion is that because Japan had achieved an earlier auto victory, the final adjusted victory level would be shifted a further one (or two) level in favour of Japan so that it actually amounts to an adjusted Japanese Marginal victory (or Japanese decisive if you adopt a 2 level shift)."
I do not recall if the game code continues to monitor for auto-victory after the first one is achieved. Thus if, say, the Japanese achieve one in January 1943 and the game then progresses, the players would monitor for a second auto-vic ratio as described in the manual. Very often the first would be a Japanese victory, and the second an Allied, but the proposed rule here would reduce the Allied player's achievement due to the earlier 1943 loss. If the second ratio were not achieved and the game continued to game engine shutdown in 1946 the final vicotry calculation would be adjusted based on the first auto-victory.
The effect of this practice would be to accept auto-vic for what it is: a decisive defeat for one player. But playing on dimensionalizes the victory in both its facets, and I believe, for those who favor an historical view of the game, also demonstrates how near run a thing 1942 was for the Allies. Change a few occurances and the end would have been quite different.
I believe this proposal meets many of the objections to auto-victory. First, it encourages it because the game need not end if it happens, and thus all that 1942 effort is not wasted. Second, it gives the option to quit to the winner, who may take it if he has been in a game with someone who is overmatched and should practice further, but does it in a manner where no one has to quit suddenly and slink away. And finally, it allows the chance for both players to see the entire span of the game product as well as for an earlier auto-vic loser to come back and even the score somewhat. It balances.
So, if you are at least moderately experienced in playing the Japanese and could enjoy a game built on the frameworks above, I'd like to hear from you. If you have only played the AI before, I'd like to hear from you. If you fear you're not very good, I'd like to hear from you. If you would like to write an AAR wherein you seek help and advice from one or several Fearless Leader(s) known to be experts in Japanese management, I want to hear from you. Despite having played AE from the first week it shipped I know I can be beaten, possibly by 1943, but I also know I'll try to make you earn it. And that, failing death, sickness, revolution, or major meteor strike I won't quit the game early. I've played it to the end, and the end is a blast.
If anyone is still reading this and is intrigued by the style of game I propose . . .
< Message edited by Bullwinkle58 -- 9/24/2012 3:38:01 PM >