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Thoughts on game balance
First, I want to say that I really like Crimson, and it's exactly the kind of
war game I've been searching for for Linux for the last two years. I don't
know why I didn't find it before, though. But I'm really enjoying it, and in
the last couple of scenarios I played well enough that I was glued to the
edge of my seat for the whole game. So I'm very happy with it.
That said, I've been thinking about game balance, and here's what I've got.
On attack, both artillery and air units seem to be weaker than they should.
It seems to me like a gunship should be able to take out a tank unit with one
attack, or two at the most. Bombers should be able to take out anything on
the ground with one attack. Interceptors, presumably intended to fight only
air units, should be extremely effective against other air units, but may
require two attacks to get them. Fighters should be slightly weaker, but not
much (unless I've got them backwards). AA guns and howitzers both should be
able to take out a unit with one or two attacks at the most, and/or fire at
multiple targets each turn. Or have a firepower spread across all the
targets they fire at, and let you fire weaker shots at multiple targets or
one really powerful shot at one target.
On defense, both artillery and air units seem to be stronger than they should.
:) Consider that artillery might have a squad of infantry for defense, but
likely don't have anything tough. And the gunners themselves should probably
have hand weapons, but if they used them in defense it seems like they should
lose the turn's attack because they're too busy fighting defense. Maybe we
don't want that kind of detail, though. :) In any case, I figure that any
unit capable of firing at air units are going to have something portable and
powerful enough to take them out with one or two hits. We're dealing with
highly advanced, right? In today's military, marines carry some AA weapons
(the old ones were called LAW's, but there are newer, more powerful ones)
because their automatic rifles don't do jack against the armor of an air
unit. While the things aren't usually as powerful as a missile mounted on a
jet, or shot from an AA unit, they are pretty powerful. So I would assume
that a single infantry unit would have such a squad within it. Not that I'm
a military expert or anything.
In any case, I'm finding that artillery and air units are both far less
effective during actual use than they should be, because they're matching up
more or less the same as the tanks. I realize they're capable of flying over
any terrain and that gives them a pretty good mobility advantage, but it's
not enough. When/if they get surrounded, they should either be able to shoot
their way out pretty easily or fly over the enemy units. Further, it
shouldn't even be possible for ground units to surround an air unit and
prevent it from escaping. As it stands, if your gunship gets surrounded,
he's probably toast. Air superiority is big in modern warfare, but is mostly
nullified in Crimson because of this particular trait of air units. The
mobility advantage of air units could be turned into both an advantage and a
disadvantage, if you require them to move each turn (except for gunships,
which are presumably able to hover). Then you can make them extremely
powerful, but they have to keep moving or they crash. Combine this with
ramming (mentioned below) and it would make them very...interesting. :)
What do y'all think about a second movement phase after the firing phase is
resolved? I ask because that's how Ogre/GEV did it, you got a second
movement phase for GEVs (Ground Effect Vehicle, aka hovercraft). That made
your GEVs very useful, if light, strategic pieces. I realize that in Crimson
the hovercraft can also carry troops, but there isn't a piece capable of 'hit
and run' tactics. In a battle against superior numbers, which most of them
are, hit and run tactics are essential to being able to win. With them
missing, well, maybe I'm just a poor tactician after all. ;) In any case,
I'm thinking that air units (with the possible exception of gunships) and
hovercraft should have a second movement phase after the firing phase. In
Ogre and GEV (the same game sold in different packs with different maps and
assortment of pieces, but the rules were the same) you could move your GEVs 4
hexes in the main movement phase, but only 3 in the second movement phase.
I'm thinking a similar arrangement here would be very useful and effective.
In any case, in Ogre, the second movement phase basically put all of your
GEVs on the flanks, so you could respond very quickly on the flanks (which
need faster moving pieces anyway). Or you'd put them on your enemy's flanks
and have them charge through holes you leave in your own flanks, attack, and
then pull them back (except that you could stack multiple pieces in the same
hex, if I recall correctly, but it's been over 10 years since I played it).
With air units, you can actually keep them behind the front line, fly them
over the line, attack, and then pull them back and let your ground troops
stand for defense (which is what happens on your opponent's turn).
Two more things I'd like to see, though. :) Ramming, such as when a powered
unit like a gunship or a tank are so weak they can't mount a serious attack,
but they can use their vehicle as a weapon to make a big explosion. And also
being able to split infantry and distributing the remaining power of the
infantry amongst the new divisions. For example, a full-strength infantry
(6) could split into 6 1-strength divisions, or 2-5 variable-strength
divisions. That would make them far more useful on the front lines where
they can split to fill in the gaps that occur from time to time. Especially
in the hopeless scenarios (which most of them seem to be) that would make
them far more effective than they already are. Then they would be able to
recombine, up to 6 strength, of course. Just an idea. Filling in the gaps
in the lines is a problem that has haunted generals for thousands of years
and isn't likely to go away... ;) If the other units are intended to be
units of vehicles rather than single vehicles, then they should be able to do
this too, logically. But if they can, and the infantry can, then there's no
significant advantage gained with infantry (other than the fact that they're
the only ones capable of taking a city). Oo, one more. The suicide stand.
:) Basically, you tell a piece "Kill everything until you get killed". So
they get some sort of enhanced power because of the resulting surge of
adrenaline a real unit would experience, but in exchange for that they are
dead soon. Like maybe give them 3 turns of high power, and then make them
really really weak afterwards.
Just some thoughts, anyway. Maybe it's obvious that I've been looking for a
good game similar to Ogre/GEV, and Crimson is the closest to it that I've
found. Those games were really cool, if painful to play because they were
regular board games.
Besides all of that, I haven't played this game with my sound turned on. Is
there any background music? If I provide some good throbbing metal tracks,
would you guys be interested in them? I can provide complete stereo tracks,
and I can even compose them in such a way that they'd be interchangeable (by
putting them all at the same tempo, and/or having each track end solidly at
the end of a measure). You can find some poorly-mastered samples of my music
at http://www.davefancella.com/index.php?page=Music . Metal seems to go well
with board games, but then again I think metal goes well with everything. :)
I might be able to coerce my digital effects processor to turn guitar sounds
into various machine sounds, like chopper blades and so forth, or even
explosions. Interested in that stuff, or are we all set already?
Visit my website!
Quick, sing me the BUDAPEST NATIONAL ANTHEM!!