Before we launch into this, let’s recap quickly the important parts from the previous developer diaries. First off we have move remaining attack, we also have designer divisions and each division has an attack frontage. The attack frontage is determined by the composition of the division and doctrines.
So first we’ll start by talking off the effect of division design on combat. Attack frontage is determined by the number of actual combat brigades as opposed to support brigades, now I sure the more observant amongst you are thinking well why not build a one combat brigade division with a large number of support brigades? That would minimise your width while maximising your combat power. Well we’ve put a bit of thought into this problem. What we came up with is the cooperation penalty, the more divisions you have committed into the front line the harder it is for them to cooperate effectively and thus your combat effectiveness starts to drop. Although I should add that this penalty is reduced by doctrine research and having a good theatre commander. Well what happens when you go down the opposite route then, then big division with a wide combat frontage? Well obviously the combat cooperation penalty is reduced, however big divisions are more expensive to supply. This creates two additional headaches for you, firstly in low infrastructure provinces you may simply not be able to supply enough divisions to maintain an adequate force to space ratio, and secondly on the offensive these units will be able to draw even less than the required supplies and take longer to re-supply back up to full offensive ability afterwards. Next is officer requirement, the more brigades a division has the more officers it requires to be fully effective, but we’ll come back to officers a bit later. If you also factor in the longer fronts, a small number of large divisions may simply not be able to hold a long front effectively. Essentially what we have aimed to do is to is try and avoid the one obvious choice and set up a series of strategic choices where different situations require different solutions.
Next onto to officers and shattering. In the top bar there is a percentage value that is your effective officer value. Building divisions increases the amount of officers your army requires, taking casualties reduces your officer value. In each round of combat a unit has a chance to shatter. The formula is based on the effective officer percentage, the casualties a unit has taken (both org and strength), the leadership value of the commander and the experience the unit has. If a unit shatters and does not have a valid supply line then it is simply eliminated. Otherwise the unit loses a large percentage of its strength and reappears in the capital ready to be rebuilt back up to full strength. So basically a well lead, well officers, veteran division to can fight on long past the effectiveness of most normal divisions. Thus late in the war, providing the Germans have been able to maintain there officer value, the majority of their divisions should be highly resistant to shattering. We are aiming to duplicate the effect where highly motivated commanders would assemble to remnants of divisions into battle groups and continue to resist the enemy advance long after effective resistance should of ceased. Just a final note about the shatter effect, since the unit is not eliminated, it will retain some of its accumulated experience. Thus once it is rebuilt from the survivors that did manage to hold cohesion, then it will be a bit more resistant to shattering next time around.
The next thing to move onto is what happens when you retreat. Two changes, firstly comes out of the new combat system with front line and reserves. As the defenders do not leave combat as a stack but as individual units, they will retreat as individual units instead of as a stack. In addition the defenders do not retreat the whole distance out of the province, instead the distance the defender has to retreat is determined by how far the attacker has advanced. So if the attacker has moved 50% of the distance into the province, then the defender only has to retreat 50% of the distance. This logical little change should help make the retreat mechanics work more sensibly.
Another change we have made is a combat effect called push back. Whenever a defender has a unit removed from the line they suffer a pushback and installations in the province suffer damage, this includes infrastructure and fortifications. Here we were aiming for two things. As you assault a fortification line you will steadily over run each strong point in turn, eventually there you will push through the line and it will be as if there are no longer any fortifications. The infrastructure effect is much more interesting, if you quickly overrun the enemy in a province you will capture the infrastructure fairly intact, allowing you to supply your advance much more effectively than if you have fought a long drawn fight that has thoroughly devastated the province. So you’ll need to think a bit about those infrastructure strikes you will be considering using to reduce the ability for defenders to draw supply and slow down reinforcement, because if you can over run the enemy quickly your only going to hurt yourself.
I suppose we should add in a little about combat events. Yes they are in and since we have reworked combat they will have different effects. However we have added a rather important change. There are now specific combat events according to if you are the attacker or the defender. So only the attacker can gain the event breakthrough (which allows his attacking stack to move faster), while only a defender can gain the event delay (which narrows the combat width available reducing both the number of attacker and defenders that can be committed). Each of the 4 doctrine paths has a specific pair of attacking and defending events associated with it (those 2 detailed above come from the spearhead doctrine path) and researching those doctrines increases the chances that those events will happen.