In Pride of Nations, the combat units are really, really diverse. They range in size from a tiny colonial column, to huge, 30,000-man corps. Using colonial units in metropolitan territory is not very optimal (in fact, almost useless) and using large combat units in colonial territory will only lead to many men dying rapidly from lack of supply. Aside from this, there are many different units to play with.
The common factor to all these units is a score of statistics. We will detail some and how they interact within the game. One of the most important data is the offensive or defensive combat factor. If your unit is in offensive posture (a necessity if you want to gain control of a region), then during combat this will be the factor used. As you can guess, the defensive combat factor is used … in defense. This allows us to simulate, with combat posture, how some units are fit for some kind of operations. This factor by itself only determines the hit probability of the opponent (provided he doesn’t get a modifier from his protection rating or others parameters). Damage when a hit is scored is determined by other values though, and some units will hit often with a low damage (and have a high rate of fire, another factor), while others have a different profile.
But that’s not all, because each unit has this set of combat parameters for 4 different ranges, from long range to close quarters. Again, this is done this way not just for the sake of adding complexity, but so that the game engine is able to simulate artillery fire harassing the troops before an assault, machineguns unleashing a devastating fire at close range, with a high rate of fire, or armored cruisers easily ripping apart sailing ships while they are comfortably protected by the range of their guns, or the protection value of their armor.
This is just a glimpse of the realism of the system that will be unrolling by itself once you click on end turn. “Every battle is won before it is ever fought,” said Sun Tzu. This is particularly true in PON. Because you have to think ahead: consider whether your army is correctly organized, or if the cohesion of your troops is enough to withstand a possible attack, if the general you put in charge is the right man at the right place. But once your thinking ahead is done, there is nothing to do but pray things turn out right!
For the sake of completeness, we will talk of 2 concepts that are both important, and interesting. First, there is the concept of frontage that we introduced in 2006 with Birth of America. Frontage indicates how many troops can fit on your battle line. This value is rather variable, as some troops don’t use up much frontage in some terrains, but a lot in others. Or some generals are able to boost your frontage, but only in open terrain, and not in, say, mountains. Combine that with guerilla units, and you start to perceive that colonial battles will not always be straight-forward affairs. You can (and should) rely on your Maxim machineguns, but there will be time where the natives will fall on your regular infantry with nasty consequences.
Each turn, you can change the posture of your units, in a procedure that has been a part of the AGEOD engine from the beginning. Each stack can be on assault posture, seeking battle with any enemy in the same region with it including those inside structures, offensive posture, where units inside structures are ignored, in defensive posture, accepting battle if offered but not actively seeking out the enemy, and in passive posture, where the unit will avoid battles and try to retreat if attacked.
The last issue to be discussed in this article is rules of engagement. The second set of 4 buttons available for each of your stacks are complements to the posture buttons (the offensive, defensive, passive buttons). RoE allow you to tell the combat engine that you want to make an all-out attack (or defense to the last man), or on the contrary you are just in for a gentle ‘recon in force’, or a ‘retreat when you see the enemy’ sort of thing.
With all these features, even if the battle themselves are automated; you can really tailor the behaviors of your armies or fleets. Trust us, the system is proved itself over many years, with games of large scope like American Civil War!