These are fair points. I do not speak for the WIFFE community nor do I have any official status, and I apologize if I'm over reaching. I cannot read minds and I haven't taken polls.
I hope people don't mind that I actually do want to maintain anonymity (and I especially don't want continuance of this thread in a personal e-mail) but I am not an employee Of ADG. I am one of the dozens of active WIFFE players who have been around the game since it came out. (Of course, nobody really knows how many active players are WIFFing in their basement without participating at tournaments and forums.)
My main concern and point is that in the zeal that people have to improve the game here, which I think is very beneficial, some readers on this forum who haven't played the board game may get the impression that a new mechanic that breaks the game has been discovered, that ADG is sleeping on the sidelines, and that refusing to make design changes will perpetuate a broken, unplayable game.
So, let's be objective - what I'll do is to tell each one of you reading this post to go to the board game forums yourself. Go to the archives. Look up the reports on the tournaments; look up the hundreds of posts on 42 Barbarossa vs. 41 Barbarossa; this is the best way of getting objective data on the state of the game from the majority of posters. I'm a lurker there. When I report that the majority of community views something, it is my subjective summary of these reports and posts. Since Paul is correct that I don't have any status to 'report' these officially, go look at them yourself. I think I did a good job of summarizing, but it is hard to be objective about yourself.
Even better is to look at the reports and results from the actual tournament games. I don't know the EuroWifcon results as well, but issues from forward defense just haven't been mentioned from the reports I have seen especially from the US tournaments.
Also, take a look at the rule proposal changes in the annuals; some of these are potential fixes (again, sometimes 'fixes' are specific to game communities that have different issues from others) and sometimes they are just 'neat' - but again, we haven't seen much about changing this rule about forward defense.
Also, look at the progression of game rule changes. Many of these have come from weird stuff that the designers never thought of. An example was early was that when Germany DOWed a minor, like Greece, players would align Greece to China (to make the CP's hard to attack). So this rule was changed. Germany would go through France, not take Paris, go into Spain with their army, and then after the army was already in Spain, take Paris and declare Vichy. So the surrender rules were developed. Of course, there have been some changes to main rules, like the 2 D 10 table, although 1 D 10 is still an 'official' rule (it seems that 2 D 10 is played far more commonly). Forward defense is more akin to this; it is a 'main mechanic'. It was CLEARLY put there on purpose as a major, central rule.
As I said, you guys might be right and I have no problem with people reporting their impression of a game breaking game problem - so I hope you don't mind my (admittedly subjective) culling of the discussions on the boards for the last decade. Indeed, personally, I find your arguments pretty convincing and I'm starting to question the conventional wisdom for myself.
So the bottom line for me is that anyone interested in computer WIFFE who has read this forum, I encourage you to go to the board game boards and read what they say over there if you don't trust me as a reporter of them. There is an active community. I can also say without contradiction that the game designers, ADG (Harry Rowland), is still active in maintaining the game. Sometimes computer games are made long after the board game is supported, that isn't the case here. Sometimes people find issues that the collective whole has not - that may or may not be the case here. I reported my interpretations, I think they are good, but I'm human like everyone else. I'm just another long time WIFFE player at the end of the day.
Paul, you say that your view of stuffing comes also from you have read and seen. I just haven't read and seen these; of course I haven't been to all of the tournaments and read every post on every WIFFE forum. If these issues have posted before, then I apologize. Have there been tournaments where this has been a major issue? If so, can you say why ADG didn't change the rule?
My other concern here is that I think it is a little unfair to the Matrix design team - when an active group asks to change a major, central rule to the game that Harry Rowland hasn't changed. You put them into a tight spot. Do they listen to their 'constituents' or to the game designer? As I said, there are a lot of other voices out there. You are right, I don't speak for them, I did however try to summarize my view of them. A very large part of the WIFFE crowd (whom I am defining as the people posting on the boards) won't consider any rule 'official' unless sanctioned by Harry Rowland. I'm 'old school' here - I think the best way to get a rule changed is to take it to Harry Rowland, not put pressure on the Matrix design team and put them in a position where they are effectively asked to override ADG. Isn't that unfair?
One counter to my argument is that by the nature of how easy it is to house-rule, maybe people had problems but didn't report them or deal with them at tournaments. This is possible, although given how vocal the boards are I personally think it is a bit unlikely. As I said before, no one is harmed by having the computer game have an option to allow Germany to break the pact any time they want, or with a different ratio, etc. Why not?
Zorachus99, my impression of the reason for the rule is a little different. And just to be clear, yes, this is my understanding of reading, discussions with other WFF players, hearing from Larry Whalen and Harry Rowland talk about it, etc. Please read disclaimer.
Ok, my impression was the fact that the Soviet Army was placed forward in real life, most WIFFE players would not allow the Soviet army to be caught at the border, and certainly nobody should be within range for a groundstrike. Therefore, the mechanic was included to produce two results - one, the real life result is possible, and two, that the mechanic of forward vs. rear defense has a strategic element to give players strategic choice and variability. The design idea (disclaimer: this is my interpretation) was to make the choice 'roughly equivalent'. Therefore, the probability of holding the pact for the Soviets is supposed to produce the weighted average result of [probability of holding pact x benefit of holding pact] + [(1 - probability of holding pact) x cost of getting caught if it fails] is roughly equal to a rear defense.
My view is that if the probability of holding the pact really is 80% it probably is out of kilter, but it is supposed to be pretty high (certainly above 50%). Conversely, saying that it is high means that the game will get bad reviews may not be correct - there have been many game reviews of the board game, it has the exact same mechanic, and I don't recall this point as ever being a major issue in board game reviews where the crowd tends to be a bit more 'realism' based.
The oddest part about this entire thread for me, and the reason I'm posting here, is when I read it I started scratching my head - because my impression had always that the mechanic wasn't working for the opposite reason! I practically never see the tournament games with a forward defense in 1941 (obviously 1942 is a different story). That is, I thought the mechanic was broken the other way! (I'm also not counting forward defense when Germany has busted in France and their army just isn't strong enough to conquer the USSR - this is the accidental sitz strategy and often it is then the USSR that is trying to break the pact.)
At any rate, like everyone else here I am trying to do my best to help the game and the game process. I admit to a little bit of arrogance in that I do think I've played longer and followed the game more than some of the other people disagreeing with the 'stuffing is broken' crowd and I thought I could add my part, both to design philosophy and to strategy.
Mostly, I especially thought it unfair that a computer game designer be asked to override Harry Rowland when Harry Rowland is active in maintaining the game.
Anyway, I think I've failed, I've become more divisive than helpful. I pretty much don't have any more to say on this topic.
All the best.