One of the most daunting challenges faced by any military leader is keeping an army supplied with all the goods and services it needs to maintain itself in the field. Forget about strategy for a moment—it’s logistics that wins most battles. As the old saying goes, “amateurs study tactics and professionals study logistics.”
The supply system represents the means by which supplies are broadcast forward from their point of production through a series of intermediate staging areas to the point of consumption (e.g., troops in the field). In game terms, supply points are produced (and accumulated) in various map locations, moved as needed to friendly structures and storage units within range, and then delivered to combat units (again, within range). This chain of supply (from production to consumption) is handled automatically and requires no input from players.
Supply sources will strive to distribute their supply surplus to nearby structures and units that need it. This will trigger a chain reaction, with supply being forwarded from one structure to another until it reaches the farthest units/structures. This process is automated and conducted in three consecutive “push” steps, taking many parameters into account.
This automated distribution of supply is able to forward large amounts of supply points, provided you have the right infrastructure. Generally, it means you have set depots in key locations. If you are a veteran of our previous AGE engine games, then you’ll be pleased to learn that there are novelties that augment the degree of control you have over the supply system.
Supply depots can now be turned on and off! This means that you can ‘shut down’ a depot, thus removing its ‘supply call.’ This will automatically lead to a larger distribution of supply to the nearby structures. Also, depots can now be built and improved in size a total of four times. Again, a larger depot will have a tendency to call for more supply than a smaller one.
In Colonial regions, there is also a new feature that will kick in: supply decay. This represents the fact that it was almost impossible to mount large-scale operations in regions that were not sufficiently developed. It is still possible in some areas to maintain corps-sized forces (e.g., in India), but you should really forget about that in the more savage lands. Here, we took the opportunity to introduce colonial troops and colonial leaders. These elements are much more resistant to this kind of logistical nightmare, and leaders can convey a ‘protection’ against supply decay for the troops under their command. All is well, then? Yes, if you don’t forget that a colonial leader can only lead a few thousand men! If you've ever dreamed about crushing the Zulus with 150,000 British troopers, well, just forget about it; that is impossible…
Last but not least, the algorithm is faster and more efficient than before. It takes at most a few seconds each turn to distribute supply over the entire world, for all nations, and it is able to better predict where the needs are by taking into account the size of your armies.
All in all, you’ll see that the system works very nicely, and is totally logical. You can’t play the bean counters here, meaning you won’t be requesting 300 points here and 200 points in another place (we strive to reduce micro-managing, after all), but instead, you’ll think as a high-level commander: how your supply net is organized, how it should be protected from enemy raids, and what you should do to improve it further. This is the essence of strategy!