OK- I know the reasons (or at least some reasons) why limits are in place with troop sizes in war games. It discourages turtling; thematically on any spatial map a hex/grid/territory can't hold an unlimited number of troops- those borders are to simulate limited space; it "caps" how much power you can amass and mitigates a runaway leader.
I get and agree with the reasons why- especially the turtling bit. My current design I tried an unlimited unit cap, risk style, and 1 guy just kept building his army bigger and bigger and someone else won before he could even get it in play. I think it was more poor play on his part, but it wasn't "fun" for him to sit there with a big army doing nothing to then lose. Even though I can't stop poor play, I can at least design in a way that discourages it and points people toward optimal play.
So I think I need a unit limit. But if I can avoid a rule just for the sake of a rule, I try. I listened recently to a bit on design theory, I believe in a podcast, but I listen to quite a few so I don't recall which (or maybe it was even a post on here?). But the guest made the case to design in such a way that encourages good behavior and discourages bad behavior without adding arbitrary rules. The example was Skyrim. The designers didn't want you to beat up every person in every village, but instead of making that impossible with a game rule (like many games), they just added a consequence: guards who will mess you up. so you COULD beat up villagers, but you don't WANT to do that because of the consequence. A consequence (or reward) while I suppose are still "rules," fit the theme, and add to the immersion verses a ruleset of cans and can'ts.
So design goal #1- implement consequences and rewards in such a way that discourage turtling and encourage getting into the fray quickly.
But that's not all. See I think this can be "solved" pretty easily. Add some kind of governor like "houses" or "food" or "money". You need to have enough of X to get Y army size. Or you need to pay an X upkeep to keep Y army size. That's all fine, and is even thematic I suppose. But is arithmetic and bookkeeping fun? Not really.
Design goal #2 therefore is implement design goal #1 in such a way that doesn't add a layer of complexity and bookkeeping. I'd rather just have an arbitrary unit size than do that (which is how I'm playtesting my current design.)
Any ideas? Or examples you've seen an elegant solution to troop size? I'm thinking hard on this one- I hope I'll come up with something myself as well and I'll post here if I do