First time poster. I wanted to give my feedback and appreciation to the guys at Eugen for the competitive AG campaign. Its been something that me and a friend have looked forward to for some time and playing it over the last while has been great fun.
We are 3 campaigns in now, now between my main opponent and I there has been considerably more time spent still on games vs the AI and I wanted to give some feedback about some areas of the game I believe dont feel well suited to player vs player exploitation.
There are three real issues I have with the AG mechanics so far. Those are primarily summed up as: Air Mechanics, Bombarding and Post Battle Mechanics. The former two I believe tend towards negative play experiences when handled from the perspective of two human players who are able to interact with the game. The latter I believe just needs a bit of work.
Breakdown as follows (Disclaimer: My opponent and I agree to play all games in Tactical Mode unless with unanimous consent, if we cbf with resolving a massively lopsided batte for instance. As such, our experience is mostly colored by how the game interacts when playing out each game on a map)
Air Mechanics: The games strategic layer makes air into an extremely binary force multipler. My opponent and I have found that in any game where air power is called in, the side with an air detachment has such an overwhelming advantage that we dont recall any instances where that side has lost a game (Save for instances where we have called in a Recon detachment for the extra Command Points on spawn and throughout the TAC game, more on that later.)
Air Wings feature a monsterous amount of bombers to summon in, and the nature of regiments in AG is that individual units possesing any amount of AA is the exception rather than the rule (And NO division has enough AA to deal with the full complement seen in larger wings.) Conversely, deployment of Air Support on some maps can be incredibly tricky. A single deployed Flak or a side with an undamaged fighter wing can easily shut down an entire air force. Being able to skunk and entire airforce by running air sup over the runway is redick and my friend and I ban such a play between us (Yes this can be countered by a single flak between points A and B but honestly this shouldnt be as big of a problem as it is an the game should provide some mechanics to de-incentivize this.
Playing games in tactical can be experiences in turkey shooting with limited counter play save just minimizing the loses you suffer as you spend 30 minutes getting picked apart by air.
There are a number of ways I feel as though this could be changed for the better though:
Nerf Anti-Air Mechnanics on the Strategic Layer
1) Flak/Air Sup missions dont do as much damage on engagement. Also they dont deflect or cancel missions unless there is a critical success involved. (The damage would be down to about 1-5 planes lost instead of the massive casualties inflicted in a base interception. This means that you could afford to run some missions into enemy air space over the course of a game, but you couldnt do so forever cause two bad engagements (Where you lose 8-12 planes) might start to drain the efficency of the unit.
2) Adjust air sup missions near airfield some how. Some sort of game modifier to adjust this tactic would be nice, dont remove it. I do think that if you have massive air superiority over an opponent you should be able to leverage that somehow but I think it should be harder to accomplish than it is. I think this can be handled in a number of ways but I think that if the auto resolved air to air interception included a bonus level of attrition for the attackers to closer they are to the airfields (Representing ground AA fire and other supporting elements being so close), this would mean that oppressing an enemy air movement over their base would be something that might be difficult to do long term forcing you to instead play your fighter wings back a bit to cover advancing groups in a more traditional sense.
Buff Anti-Air capabilities on the Tactical Layer (These are just some ideas, not to all be taken in conjunction with one another, but I think properly applied even just one of these combined with changes above to get the air into the battle more often might help.
1) More AA elements in regiments (This is hard to do for obvious reasons. AA tech is either provided in ample/massive quantities in AA regiments or they are enemic at best, capable of at best shooting down 1 bomber/fighter in a local area with concentrated effort (Some notable exceptions apply, but they are more exceptions that prove the rule.) Perhaps in the instance of an air wing being used the HQ section gets a couple of 20mm cannons as free reinforcements? I dont like this idea as much
2) Reduce Command Points offered by Air Wings. Air Wing dont provide the full 20pts and 3/4/5 command points per turn on tactical battles. Sometimes we call in a 10 plane recon detachment just to get the extra 20pts on deployment and extra command points throughout each phase. This honestly feels a bit gamey and combined with how generous spawing is from phase C onwards it seems like a bit much. Reducing the command points is a way to help mitigate this.
3) Increase the reload/refuel/repair speeds for ground attack units massively for battles. Air wouldnt feel as dominating if it took longer for the units to turn around. Again, playing 30 minutes of just spawning and sending in bomber after bomber on a carousel is not a great play experience. If a Bomber is making a run only every 5-8 minutes instead though, that would be tricky.
4) Reduce the cost of bombers to just 1 or 2 but they only get to make one run and then you have to 'buy' them again. I dont know if the game would support this type of mechnaic easily.
5) You only get a fraction of the Air Wing into the combat. Nobody needs 28 Bombers in a tactical mission. The nature of those resrves only gets more oppressive the longer the game goes. Perhaps you dont get to call in any more air units after phase C starts? Another idea is that if your battle takes place within the field of an AA battery, then at the end of the battle you roll for each unit you called to the fight and those ones might be lost?
As a mechanic, this one feels much more oppressive under the hand of a skilled human player than it ever was when facing down an AI. Honestly though, the power of this ability is pretty nuts and I think it wouldnt hurt if it got toned down just a little bit.
Bombards are less devastating. Bombard as a debuff prevents you from joining any battles for a turn after it has been applied to you. It also reduces the maximum number of command points you receive as part of resupply next turn. The effect is based on the state of your unit.
A unit that is bombarded has its AP reduced based on its current situation (Dug In loses down to 2, Deployed Loses down to 1, All other units hit lose all remaining points.) While it has been bombarded, it can only be involved in a battle if it is the direct target of an attack. It may not use any of its remaining AP to partisipate in any battle. DUring its next resupply it will recover only a single point of AP. This means it might chose to make a weak retreat or possible or hold its position until next turn so it might attempt to defend again.
Alternatively similar rules above but the maximum potential of the bombard is based on how big the attacking battery is. 105mm Howitzers might deal 2 damage of AP to a target and reduce it to 1 AP regained next turn but a full salvo from 152mm Cannons would lock the unit in place as it does currently (Which wouldnt be as bad since those units are more rare)
I believe that retreats or post battle resolution could use a bit of work.
1) More of a clarity issue, but all the rules on what/how/when a regiment would be DESTROYED as part of a battle interests me. I have had a unit not even half its command section, win a minor victory, and then destroy itself. I have had other units suffer total defeat, near complate loss of command section, have no legal spot to move on retreat, then just simply get disorganised. This isnt so much a request for change, but if any reader gets this far is there some resources I can look into the figure out how this works?
2) Loser should get to pick retreat paths. During the Baranovitchi campaign I spent alot of time playing an elastic defence of my lines as the Germans. I built by defensive lines with the intent that during attacks, my troops would fall back in logical patterns away from the enemy with clear paths for them to push backwards. What actually happened though was now on two occassions, retreating units instead walked diagonally TOWARDS the enemy, two spaces instead of pushing back one space directly away from the source of aggression. This left me in situations where I exposed units of artillery to counter attack in the same turn they started 3 squares away from enemy units. Maybe there a method to this madness but the way it resolves can be incredibly unintuitive.
Thank you for reading this far if you managed to. Regardless of the above I have had some great times with this game so far and I look foward to playing even more into the future.
Cheers and thank you.
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