I am wondering if any thought has been given to adding some sort of morale balancing mechanisms. The reason I ask is that, in a PBEM I am in, the Nationalists have concentrated a huge force under Franco that is marching relentlessly in the northern area, vaporizing any Republicans unlucky enough to be in the way. These are unequal fights - Franco usually has around 65,000 men to foes with less than a third as many. The Nationalists are getting 4-10 NM each fight, which has created over time a morale edge of 164 to 55 for the Nationalists - very close to auto victory.
Meanwhile, the Republicans have been taking over the rest of the map - core Nationalist areas like Zaragoza, Segovia, Cuidad Rodrigo, etc. The Republicans have cut the Nationalists in half and are about to take Jaen and start reducing the Nationalists completely in the SW area of Spain.
The problem is that, as city after city falls to the Republicans, while it affects loyalty in the cities they hold, it has little NM impact. After the Franco Death Stack began its march, which resulted in a couple of cities falling, the Republicans have taken about six cities themselves, but lost about 40 NM to the battles.
Thinking this over, it makes sense to forget about front lines, forget about cities - forget about everything except forming a huge stack. So long as you are drawing enough supply from somewhere, you will rapidly drive your enemy's morale down. Losing cities may affect the war over the long term, but who cares since every NM you gain, and your enemy loses, is a permanent gain? Something is amiss. The Republicans are about to surrender despite having a 10-7 edge in combat power and control of well over half the map - including 5 of the 8 main objective cities.
I think there are some obvious solutions. First, NM loss from battles needs to be toned down, while there should be some NM impact from taking (and holding) cities. For example, in RUS, holding certain key cities grants NM each turn, usually only under special conditions though. Second, both sides need to have some NM "trigger" events they can use EP for. AJE and RUS have mechanisms like this. For example, in RUS, when the Red side falls below a certain NM, they can spend rubles to gain some back. In AJE scenario of Hannibal Terror of Rome, when Roman morale falls below certain levels, they have access to special options to spend EP raise it.
Here are some ideas how this might work in ESP. The idea is to allow each side to recover, but impose a cost.
- Let them choose morale boosting options at the cost of VP, which can represent surrendering more and more control to the Communists and Soviet Union. Each time this happens there is a loyalty check as if they lost a city, to represent discontent from the non-Communist factions. This represents a choice to prolong the war through increased internal represssion, at the cost of ultimate victory
- the Republicans can also choose morale boosting options, this time at the cost of money, to represent giving the Anarchists and other anti-Soviet leftist groups more power. This doesn't have a loyalty impact, but instead taking this course results in a random check of units which are created by Soviet aid (e.g. the international brigades, armor, aircraft) to see if these are removed. This would reflect Stalin's anger at the Republicans aiding his hated ideological rivals
Every time the Republicans take one of the above options, there would be a random chance they would lose the opportunity to ever again choose the rival option.
- the Nationalists can choose to boost morale by spending VP, which represents a deepening of the ties to Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Over the long term, while this keeps the Nationalists afloat, it weakens their image among the Western countries and also angers some Spanish nationalists who resent the foreigners
- the Nationalists can also boost morale by spending money, to represents, which represents a decision to decentralize power to the various factions like the Falange and Carlists. While this keeps the regime afloat, it will anger its foreign sponsors, as Hitler and Mussolini call into question the ideological commitment of the Franco regime
As with the Republicans choices above, every time the Nationalists choose an option, there would be a random chance they would lose the opportunity to ever again choose the rival option.
You could also think of tons of other possibilities. Trigger events. The chance of awarding NM each turn you hold each major city of a particular "region." Having the capitals - Madrid and Burgos - act as a "floor" while in friendly hands, adding NM if it falls below a certain level (which would make holding the capitals a big deal). Events related to separatism (Basque, Catalan). Identifying "regional" units that have a malus if they operate outside their region. Adding more meaning to the various factions on each side.