ORIGINAL: brian brian
I think there are two approaches to World in Flames. One sees the game as a recreation of history, and things that would more than likely not have happened in the real war are things they don't want to see in a game of WiF. Other players see the game as a game to play, and any move valid in the rules is a valid play. When these 'gamey' tactics become too common or popular, over time the rules have been strengthened to discourage them though generally without making them completely impossible. A good example is the latest (still optional as all new rules are) US Entry modifiers for any Japanese adventures west of Siam, which are very good and an important addition to the game in my opinion.
I do not know how the breakdown of players of the game would work, but it would be a very interesting survey question. I think the it's-just-a-game camp is bigger, either 60-40 or 2/3 to 1/3 or perhaps even larger.
Personally, I feel that it is just a game and however the players want to play it should be fine. Nonetheless I always support new rules language to get rid of silly game tactics. The new Lending Limits optional is another one I like to reduce the French BPs sent to the CW the turn Vichy is obviously going to be declared for example. But without such rules language, players are going to use whatever legal exploit they can to win the game, and without such a rule I would send all those French BPs to the CW every single time. I do not feel the game should ever force players in certain directions because that was how it was done historically and that is the antithesis of the WiF design philosophy since the beginning and a prime reason behind the great success of this game now over 20 years old and still going strong. And I still strongly object to a few of the decisions that were made during the creation of the new map that were done in this style because some one wants the game played in certain ways but not others, something that should be handled by rules and not by drawing the map.
Whether one chooses to use a gamey tactic is a personal choice. Clearly, Patrice, you would not, and that is fine. But when programming the AI I really feel that it should not be hobbled by such concerns as more often than not it's human opponent certainly won't be, especially on small and very debatable matters of history such as this one. Wosung (where has he been lately? someone get him some free time and bring him back here) long advocated a 'historical' mode for the AI, and I can't remember Steve's decision on that but I feel it would certainly be a game feature that would be used. I do not know how difficult it would be to add such processing to the LAIO scripts, whether certain decisions could be flagged as not possible in 'historical' mode or whether completely separate scripts would be needed. If the latter then clearly it won't be happening for the first release of the game.
Regarding an Allied naval mission to the Baltic, here are some thoughts. Churchill was quite keen to try this; he wanted to use some of the old "R" class battle-ships with an extra skirt of armor to handle all the mines they would hit. After a while his subordinates politely had to tell him no one else wanted to do it. Clearly it would have been a suicide mission. One of the big advantages the Allies have in WiF over their real-life counterparts (really true of all countries, but the Western Allies more than the others), is that they can order the little cardboard pieces around with no concern for human casualties, only for economic costs of replacing them and potential future needs in the game. Until the game has a definitive Manpower rule, which is currently under development in the standard completely-optional-for-now manner, this will remain the case. Even when such a rule is in play, it still won't limit the players at the end of the game, when the goal is to take objectives before time runs out and cardboard casualties do not matter. Going beyond mapower limits to match personnel to new weapons is something I don't think will ever be added to the game.
All that said, it is still good Allied play to send in these French cruisers. Disrupting your enemy's plans is a prime element of good military strategy. Germany can have a lot of goals on the first turn; aside from Poland they may be interested in campaigns in Denmark, Yugoslavia, the Netherlands, Belgium and possibly even France itself (100% ahistorical but no one would advocate not doing it for that reason). If the CA raid works, the Germans have to choose between taking a combined impulse to replenish their convoys or plunging ahead with another land impulse (or perhaps they were planning a different naval mission aimed at Rotterdam). All of these decisions are made with the possibility of bad weather appearing at any time, shortening the turn and restricting land operations considerably. On the first French impulse, the weather is guaranteed to be good. On that impulse, the surprise impulse, the Germans can not react aircraft to deal with this attack. On their own first impulse they could perhaps send out air escorts to the 0 or higher boxes, but they only have four air missions available and I think it is wiser to use some of those same air assets to bomb the Danish and/or Dutch navies or the Yugoslavian army. Perhaps since they don't need much FTR cover in these campaigns they can use a few FTRs in the Baltic I guess, which gains them a little protection. So just the threat of doing this by putting a few French cruisers in Brest might already gain the Allies something. So on the French impulse a couple speed 6 cruisers in the 4 box in the Baltic Sea have a 50% chance of finding the German CP and more than likely sinking or aborting all of them once they roll a 5 or less, and then the Germans have an extra headache in their decision making. So with rule 17 Vichy I send in the French CA, and neither do I have the Germans set up CP in the Baltic at start. As for the future of those French CA, they could end up Free French, that is true, but the French have a lot of CAs and only a limited amount of ports that will go Free French. So I think it is a perfectly valid play. It is not 100% ahistorical, no one could know that. I would wager that if the French Admiralty had asked for purely volunteer crews for such a mission on September 2nd, 1939, they would have found them.
And ironically playing with the newer Vichy system than will be in MWiF, I no longer do this mission as I feel the chit that might be generated for the German side is more important to the eventual Vichy creation system and it's influence on a Gibraltar campaign than the slight potential economic harm done to the Germans.
Regarding putting the AMPH within range of Allied bombers deliberately, I feel that is definitely bad play. And the Allies only need one air mission to sink the AMPH, still leaving plenty to bomb the Ruhr or attempt a ground strike on Rundstedt. Deciding to go for a 1941 Barbarossa before you even set up the pieces is smart. Revealing this to the Allies immediately is not. Having the AMPH sunk and perhaps later in the turn or the year having the TRS impacted as well without rebuilding them is an obvious indicator that a Sea Lion is not in the cards. This is far more valuable to the Allies than a couple of lost German production points on the first turn. If I am going to do a '41 'Barb I even lay down a German and Italian AMPH on the first turn to keep the other side guessing for a little while longer, though it is scary to waste BPs like that if the Russians are willing to attempt 'stuffing' the border.
I agree wholeheartedly. And add one tick to the quantity of "gamers" versus historical replicators please.
Also as you mention in a later post, the tactic encourages the German to invade Denmark in order to extract his "pound of flesh" in revenge. But the 1939 entry chits are much better for the US than those in 1940, so this may be a large consideration as well. Also if rain comes in impulse 3, the CW can interfere with (and should be positioned to threaten so) the conquest of Denmark. So normally, the Germans wait until the weather is fine.
Overall, there are more pluses than minuses to a Baltic Sea sortie for the Allies, IMO. As for the argument that it should not be done because it is ahistorical - well, change the rules or forget it! Should the allies never invade Yugoslavia in 1943 or Sardinia in 1940 or China in 1944 because they are all ahistorical? Should the Axis decline aligning Turkey or Spain if they can? Or attacking Spain? Those are ahistorical too. Especially aligning Spain since the Axis would have to commit the compounding ahistorical sin of first invading Gibraltar.
I do agree that the German should not be intimidated into waiting to take a Naval or Combined to put his convoys out. A good antitdote actually is to put a 4-3 fighter into the zero box in Impulse 1 - costs 1 air mission but requires the French to spend 4 surprise on combat choice.