Campaign Design for Strategic Command
1] Once you set the belligerence status of any country to anything you are locked out of changing it. So you have to be real sure as to what you want joined or surrendered before you do a lot of other work because you don't get to change it. Without starting all over again. Exception a minor that you do not set at all can be set in later editing sessions but not changed once set surrendered or joined. Remember if a nation (Major or minor) is set to surrendered then there will be no plunder reward if it is liberated. If it is joined then there will be a plunder reward if it s conquered.
2] It is possible to set a major as surrendered and still give it hexes of control. This is useful to temporarily put resources out of play at the beginning of the game. Two points to take care with this though. First remember that if on a resource hex at the end of a "friendly" turn all adjacent non-resource non occupied hexes will change to that ownership. This can have the unintended effect of messing up supply lines. Second if the hex in question is a capital hex that country will surrender or be liberated at the end of the "friendly" turn. Though the MPPs go to the surrendered major so have no effect. Unless that major is liberated in which case in will then start to collect MPPs for any hexes it controls but will not be credited with MPPs accrued while surrendered. So care has to be taken if it is desired that hexes should be overrun before the surrendered major is liberated. Other wise you can wind up with weird stuff like an Italian colony in Canada that the AI has made no effort to liberate.
3] If you set hex ownership oddly as above or if you set hex owner ship to a hostile major the AI will prioritize defending friendly owned hexes before liberating hostile controlled hexes. Example I wanted Germany in the scenario I am working on to be initially stronger and I did not want the US to join with a rack of equipment already built. So I made all the US except DC under German control so Germany gets MPPs but cannot build ground units there as not connected by land. They are able to build and operational move aircraft there but an AI player will probably not do this. My theory was that after 6 turns the US would build a corps in DC and start liberating these hexes. But NO! The US built a corps after 6 turns then sat in DC until it had enough MPPs to build an army! Only then did it start liberating the hexes. When it had enough MPPs to build another Corps it then immediately shipped this off to Europe before all the hexes were liberated! Hexes in Russia set to Surrenderd Italian control were ignored by the Russians for quite a while. They were more likely to be liberated if adjacent to supply lines than if initially close to a Russian unit or so it seemed.
Any way the idea here is that lacking an ability to edit resource hex values. A lot of interesting stuff can be done to manipulate MPP levels by messing around with hex control. Unfortunately the AI cannot be counted on to approach this in a rational manner.
This all just reinforces the truth that a scenario balanced for AI play looks a lot different than a scenario balanced for Human v Human. This though is true for all computer games. Many of the ideas above might require "House Rules" If intended for H to H play.
January 28, 2003
I have designed five or six campaigns so far, including the first custom campaign ever for Strategic Command, so some of these challenges are actually behind me. But still, I haven't been able to find a way to make everyone happy. It doesn't look like anyone has the magic answer on this. The problem is that as soon as you weaken the player (Side A) enough to where taking on the AI (Side B) is a challenge, then when the player plays as Side B, he steamrolls right over the AI as player A. My Cold War campaign was nice in that sense because there are no historically accurate results to worry about.
The only way I can think of making this work is to sacrifice one of the four aforementioned factors of balance. The work around, as I see it, is to have varying MPPs and research points for the Axis and Allies that are biased against the player - since we must recognize that the player has a tremendous advantage over the AI. Thus each campaign would have an Axis setup and an Allied setup where the MPPs and research are the only things that are different between the two setups.
Perhaps the other thing is to recommend certain starting settings for experience, etc.
Balancing a campaign so that it is equally playable as the Axis or Allies, and use historical OOBs, locations, unit strengths, research points and also consistently allow for historically accurate results is an interesting challenge to say the least.
It seems like we can design a campaign that is historically correct, using proper OOBs, balanced and historically playable for one side, but then one that is not for the other.
The AI apparently doesn't have a good grasp on how strong his units are.
For my "1939 Fall Weiss Revisited" campaign, my historically pretty accurate OOBs led me to conclude that many of the German units not facing France should be weak (as should French and British units) to simulate units that were still being fleshed out/paper units, etc.
However the German AI assaults the Maginot Line from the Rhine River with 2, 3 and other similarly substrength units allowing for unrealistically easy kills by the French forces.
So I had to remove some of the German units and strengthen other weakened ones correspondingly. Now things are working better.
August 18, 2003