So TEU mentioned that he thinks the Central Powers have the advantage. I'll give my 2000 cents:
In my tentative opinion I think the Centrals are in a bind. The first long term problem for the Centrals is there isn't a way to reliable defeat Russia. If Russia adopts a long term strategy to minimize NM losses (after their violent attacks in 1914) and take advantage of their overpowered Industry Tech (+125 MPP per turn per tech advance which is double what Germany gets) and large tech pool (1600 is as large as Germany, we are talking about a country which couldn't produce its own aircraft or submarines and had to rely on foreign imports) then I don't really see how you force their NM to get low enough for the Bolsheviks to take over. Russia has a LOT of space to trade for time. Once Warsaw is lost the remaining NM objectives you have to lose aren't that impactful (-1000 or so each), and it takes MANY turns for the Centrals to get to them. If Russia simply retreats and entrenches one hex every turn on fronts where the Centrals want to attack, then you can do so for a very long time. There just isn't anything forcing Russia to stand and fight. The Germany levels of MPP per turn (700+ is quite possible) once they get level 3+ Industry Tech means they can always repurchase any losses and Russia actually starts buying extra corps even if they have taken very high losses consistently. This combined with 4 artillery units (they can purchase up to limits before their scripted artillery spawns) makes it impractical to push against Russia in multiple sectors. You're not going to take Riga Kiev or Minsk for a LONG time if ever, and Russia can even make a stand near Brest-Litovsk if she chooses to do so. The Russians are perfectly capable of firing their artillery shells and destroying a Central corps every now and then while simultaneously retreating and taking no losses.
I will note that I haven't explored enough is what exactly triggers the series of events in Russia. I gather they need low NM, something like 10%, but I'm not sure exactly what level of low NM triggers what. There are a series of desertion events which help weaken Russian corps and I'm not sure what triggers those. So to have a complete opinion on Russia I'd need to review the exact numbers. I think I can reliably get Russian NM below 50%, but the problem is once you get them there they just start retreating and refusing to engage. I want to examine this further.
The other long term problem for the Centrals is diplomacy. Specifically the Netherlands will deal NM damage every turn to Germany if she is anything but Central-aligned. And the reality is that the Entente get an insane number of diplo chits with no restrictions and the Centrals simply can't match this. Not sure why they give the Entente 18 diplomatic chits (UK France Italy Russia) while the Centrals only get 12, but basically there's no way to stop the Netherlands from swinging. And again it isn't really even the large MPP loss (65 seems too large, should be like 35 and just give Germany a couple extra cities to make up for the difference) that is the main problem but it's the NM damage every turn that hurts the most. I'm not quite sure what historical events the developers are intending here because there already is blockade which deals NM damage every turn. Was the Netherlands really a giant supplier of calories for Germany? Did millions of tons of grain come through the blockade and sneak into Germany to the Netherlands during WWI? There's also a NM hit to Germany once Norway swings but the Netherlands is the main way to hurt the central powers using diplomatic chits. I think the France Russia and Italy should lose some diplo chits (come on was Italy really able to influence anyone at all during the war?) and probably Russia and Ottomans shouldn't be able to influence far away countries like Netherlands... or Spain.
France may be the Entente's main problem and the main reason is they lose Verdun which causes a ticking NM loss for France. And the Entente has to place most of their artillery in France to hold the line and prevent prevent a French collapse. But here is why I think ultimately French NM will outlast German NM: the UK has a giant NM pool and can take over much/most of the fighting in France. Yes between France and the UK that's a giant 95000 NM pool (I know events subtract or add from this but still it's roughly accurate). And worst of all for the Central Powers, there's no ticking NM damage that affects UK (unless you want to try convoy raiding in the Atlantic against a competent Entente admiral, good luck with that). Ultimately this combined NM pool can outlast Germany's pool, especially given the artillery levels on the front, which again make most of the possible advances in France impossible. Again, the ability to get an "extra" artillery unit (purchase up to limit before your event arty spawns) helps tremendously. Industry Tech gives the UK (really every major, except Serbia and possibly Italy and Ottomans) quite a bit of extra MPP which goes into purchasing extra units and the front fills out which makes a "breakthrough" impossible even if a successful attack is carried out. The issue becomes less about fighting and winning battles and more about how much NM are you losing every turn due to events. The loss per turn is zero for the UK*.
*Yes you can rail in an Austrian army to share some of the NM losses between the centrals, so it's not just the Entente that can manage NM pools in this way, but the Austrians have a smaller pool and weak technology....
Elsewhere Italy is a liability for the Entente and the Caucasus front is a liability for the Centrals. I think both sides are just trying to limit the damage here. I think it's difficult for either theatre to become fatal for either side (progress is slow in the Caucasus and the Entente can always rail in units to help Italy). If the Russians choose to place an artillery in the Caucasus then either the Ottomans ultimately give up Erzurum and Trabzon or it basically becomes a NM farm for Russia where they devour an Ottoman unit every couple turns for the badly needed NM. I think the Ottomans could use an Enver Pasha HQ in the Caucasus upon mobilization and I would actually give the Italians a half strength artillery unit and one chit invested in Trench Warfare to start. I was reading about the Italian generous use of artillery during the early battles of the Isonzo.
So yeah I do suspect the Entente has it better in the long term. I think Russia needs its tech levels and economy toned down and probably needs higher NM penalties upon retreating because I don't see them falling apart in 1917 as they did historically if the Russian player moves to avoid this. The Ottomans are weak and will need to be bailed out in one way or another. And probably most critically Germany takes quite a bit of ticking NM damage and in my opinion Germany runs out before France does.
I think the intention was for unrestricted sub warfare to give Germany a NM boost every turn (or every now and then). But in MP it just isn't possible for Centrals to raid with subs in the Atlantic (raiding in the Med more possible once you take Greece but this doesn't have any NM Objective hexes). Your subs WILL gets spotted either leaving or returning past the blockade or simply out at sea. Entente submarines and aircraft are excellent sub spotters, S&I will randomly detect your subs when they are vulnerable, and if those somehow fail the Entente can simply do it the old fashioned way by patrolling with surface vessels and keeping an anti-sub mob ready in a central location. Any raiding you do isn't worth the NM and MPP swing from losing subs (not to mention you anger the USA).
-Lower Russia tech pool to 1400 from 1600 (this is WWI not WWII, Russia was NOT a tech leader)
-Additional penalties for Russia to retreat (Russian regime historically was shaky and should be in mortal danger if the war appears to be going badly, collapse in 1917 should be a real threat)
-Change Industry Tech to +10% instead of +15% (should reduce late game unit bloat)
-Reduce max chits invested and max tech level in Gas/Shell Production from 3 to 2 to slightly slow it down and limit shell production from 4 to 3
-Change max stored shells from 10 to 3 + logistics
-Reduce Entente diplo chits (UK France Russia Italy) from 5/5/5/3 to 5/4/3/1 (lower Ottomans from 3 to 2) and restrict Russia and Ottomans from influencing Netherlands Spain etc.
-Give Italy a starting arty unit and give Ottomans a low quality starting HQ in the Caucasus, give Italy one chit in Trench Warfare being researched
-Reduce the effect of the Netherlands both in MPP and NM unless there's some great reason why this nation was so critical for German food imports (I don't believe the Netherlands changed its export policy during the war, it was also affected by the blockade and experienced food shortages on its own)
-Also reduce the ticking NM effect of Verdun to balance it
-And finally, Make Unrestricted sub warfare Great Again
< Message edited by Chernobyl -- 2/4/2021 6:24:13 PM >