ps. couple more quick thoughts on the German Bomber to Libya instead of Ukraine idea...
MarineIguana aka "BostonNWO" is currently ranked first place for the Axis faction in the Platinum tier. He is crushing as Germany hehe. This was what he had to say in the discord chat...
"Ive long favored moving Germany bomber to Libya to reduce volatility. Allies would need some compensation. I like adding Inf to Russia eastern area. Removing Inf in France, inf in Norway are also great options. These add strength to Germany with almost no strategic depth. France allows Germany to stack NE Europe with air preventing UK navy creation. Norway always goes to karelia for a reliable r3 stack."
Thematically the bomber in Libya could be said to represent the whole of the Regia Aeronautica, and justified as a stand-in for Italy's airforce, which in addition to the Med and North Africa was also involved during the Anglo-Iraqi war, as well as bombing campaigns over the British mandate in Palestine, and in fighting in East Africa earlier in the conflict. They also aided the luftwaffe during campaigns in France and in the Battle of Britain. So the sculpt being housed in Libya could be said to reflect all that stuff.
In gameplay terms, after sz7 consideration, which the bomber would still not be able to reach from a starting position in Libya, the primary issue is Egypt balance.
In the current version being used for ranked play in A&AO Larry Harris Gencon 3.0, the Egypt attack does not generally occur because either the German bomber is killed in the Ukraine attack, or, if its left alive (because Allies opt to go W. Russia wall) the Moscow fighter can be flown to Egypt to make the fight too narrow for comfort. Germany has 2 inf 2 tanks 1 bomber vs Britain 1 inf 1 art 1 tank 1 fighter which is about 75% odds for the attacker to prevail, but just shy of 70% odds for the attacker to do so with a ground unit surviving in order to take the space and close Suez.
To do that though, first Germany must win the sz17 fight with 1 battleship vs 1 British destroyer. The odds there are 90% for the attacker, but this leaves a 10% chance that the defender will prevail or fight the battleship to a draw. Since the transport cannot advance into a hostile sz if destroyer isn't killed this creates a particular dilemma for the German player, since withdrawing guarantees that the loaded transport gets smoked on UK1.
Alternatively, if the Russian player foregoes the Ukraine attack in order to send 1 fighter to Egypt (which drops the odds on Egypt attack to only about 20% even with the bomber) the downside is that it leaves 6 fighters and a bomber on the table... and with that kind of airpower Germany can land their starting aircraft in France, Northwestern Europe, or Finland and totally deadzone sz7, preventing UK from building a fleet. The situation for the Royal navy is even more dire if the Germans get into sz7 with uboats surviving the counter attack. Or if Germany elects to purchase a second bomber or more submarines for sz5, which will effectively lock UK off the water entirely until America arrives, which takes 3 turns at a minimum.
The situation is particularly fraught for UK in the Axis and Allies Online game, owing to the fact that it uses Zombies rules for the carriers, which prohibits friendly fighter landings. Essentially this means that the UK cannot drop a deck and have US fighters race in to protect it, which delays the naval build even under optimal circumstances, but makes it particularly hard when facing down 6 fighters and a bomber + whatever was bought on G1.
All this combines to put even more pressure on Russia to make the Ukraine attack, since not doing so has so many downsides. But going for it and failing is even worse. So that's the main issue there with Allied morale and feeling like losing Ukraine means losing the war, which will occur every 1 game out of 10 basically, if averages hold. Its a lot of pressure on R1 so players are just kind of holding their breath and having a mini heart attack about it right out the gate.
As an alternative, if the Bomber was located in Libya, the Ukraine dynamic would be closer to the way it is in the boxed set up where Russia has more options. The Ukraine strafe, or the Ukraine take to kill tank +fighter, or Belo blast, or W. Russia all-in would be back on the table, returning a bit more strategic choice to the Soviet's first turn. At the same time, the Axis player gets a bit of relief as well, since having the bomber alive on G1 allows for a safer attack vs sz17, or if they want to get risky there, for Transjordan attack, or against the British Cruiser, eastern front attacks etc. It wouldn't be able to hit sz7 on G1, but could still help to deadzone sz7 on G2. The question is, if the bomber to Libya seems like a cool alternative, would the Allies need a slight buff or Germany a slight nerf to offset?
In A&AO games where the Ukraine attack is run successfully the balance has been pretty tight. I think Cody said its basically 55% to 45% Axis vs Allies, which I think is pretty satisfying, but where the disparity is happening is basically that 10% of the time when Russia gets hosed in the Ukraine opener. So if we could nail that down, we might be at the 50/50 even spread that everyone pines for. Right now there are no bids, and I don't think there are any plans for a bidding process (I think the devs said it just would be too hard to implement tourney style bidding). So that is another difference between the standard face to face Gencon situation and the Online one. The hope is that maybe we can get a Gencon 4.0 tweak for use Online with the nod from Larry, to shore things up, avoiding the need for bids altogether? Fingers crossed!
I think Bomber to Libya seems like it could be a winner. If it seems like too much of a boon for Axis by itself though, possible offsets might be reducing the number of German infantry in spaces that can't influence the eastern front immediately, or giving a leg up to Russia somewhere that likewise can't immediately influence the Eastern Front balance like maybe Yakut, or a spot farther afield that would need to be moved into position vs Germany, or which might open up some counter play vs Japan. At the Platinum tier there is some intense competitive play going on, and a lot of the same people are climbing the ladder on both sides. So on the whole I think its safe to say that Gencon set up has been a success, and has definitely moved the playpattern into a much tighter game. But since the Online game is a little bit different, I think it might just need that last little push over the finish line for the ultimate prize ultimate balance sweet spot. I'd be shaking hands and giving high fives right now, but since they're telling us we still need to be all 6 feet apart maybe the online will have to step up this year, while we game remotely into each others living rooms hehe. Anyhow, that's the plan for me. Again hope all is still rocking out there. Catch you guys in a few!