This might be somewhat controversial, so I’d like to run it past everyone before trying it out. I’d like to introduce as a house rule an enhancement to speed up play for those game groups who want to finish a game in a reasonable time frame, and are willing to deviate from the original rules a little. Let me know what you think.
Presently there is only way to speed up the game through phase skipping, which appears from the comments on the forum to be used only for a few naval phases. We also know that during most of the game, many players are at peace, and are not really doing much, so they could potentially skip several phases per month (i.e. their reinforcement phase when no reinforcements are coming, their naval phase, and their diplomacy phase, or about 75% of the phases in some months,). Doing so would greatly speed up the game (imagine a game that is 75% faster then the current one), to the benefit of the group of players, so why are they not doing it?
Well, I think it is because there is no incentive to do. In fact there is only a disincentive in the form of a small chance that they will miss something, and this is enough of a disincentive not to skip.
What is missing from the skipping option is an incentive. To fix this, I propose as a house rule, to offer players 1 victory point per year for every 12 phase they skip (points awarded at the end of the year by host). The max players could skip is 12 naval phases, 12 diplomacy phases and 9 reinforcement phases, for a maximum of 2 VP’s per year, or 20 per game. This sound like a lot, but if everyone skips, then everyone gets 20 VP’s, so there is no advantage to anyone and game balance in maintained (in reality, GB and France probably can only skip <24 phases and only get 1 VP per year, so they are at a 10 VP per game disadvantage). Players starting a game with these rules could build it into their bidding strategy, and bid more/less for certain countries if the SIP fast game option is selected.
The benefit of this plan is that 5 players would likely skip at least 24 phases per year, and the other 2 would skip 12, so 144 or 40 % of the 364 phase per year are skipped (if partial points are awarded, then this increases to more than 50% skip phases). This is a huge difference in terms of game speed. A game getting only 2 phases done per year with partial SIP VP awards would take just under 2.5 years to complete (about 20 months for games moving at 3 phases per days), as opposed to normal >4 years. It also helps keep the game tempo, so there is less chance of players getting bored and dropping out when little is going on.
The above system could be modified when simultaneous phases, auto-foraging and peace mode reinforcement are introduced, as discussed elsewhere. Any thoughts?