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Thread: One-feature-a-day articles: #7 Combat units and postures

  1. #1

    Lightbulb One-feature-a-day articles: #7 Combat units and postures

    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.


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    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.


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    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!

  2. #2
    The combat system seems incredibly extensive. Looking forward to playing around with it.

    In the second screen, the nationality of each side is very unclear. On the title indicates that the winning side is American. Shouldn't there be little flags added?

  3. #3
    Lt. General ashandresash's Avatar
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    Gorgeous.

    Liking in special the adaptation to colonial conditions. As well as the addition of more ranges, in order to represent all the diversity you could find on weapons of this era.

    Congrats again... looking for release day! (is it 7th of June?)
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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Romtos View Post
    The combat system seems incredibly extensive. Looking forward to playing around with it.

    In the second screen, the nationality of each side is very unclear. On the title indicates that the winning side is American. Shouldn't there be little flags added?
    Oh you are definitively right, this is an old screen... will post a newer one though.

  5. #5
    Major Thormodr's Avatar
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    Sounds great.

    I especially like the idea of colonial troops.

    No more huge stacks marching across the wastelands.

  6. #6
    This sounds so simple when you explain ;-) I just hope I get into the combat system this time around. I didn't have much luck with RoP.
    Frontage and guerilla combat sound great. Finally a game that acknowledges the problems of asymmetric warfare.

    By the way, kudos on posting an article on the weekend.
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  7. #7
    AACW it is, only on a much larger scale... simply wonderful. :-)


    However, there lies my greatest fear: how effective will the AI shipment of troops from the main land to far away regions be in the game? I've watched many HOI battles where the AI transported a small bunch of troops half across the globe and died instantly, or transported gigantic stacks and died from attrition or died from ship attacks without a proper defense fleet.


    Great Britain has a large empire; will troops from London effectively be transported to, say Khartoum (yes I know, Gordon Pascha) or will there just be colonial troops?


    Will there be special scripts for the mainland defense in case of war, so to deconcentrate the fleet in smaller patrol fleets to avoid an invasion (I still hate HOI3-AI for not defending GB properly)?


    In AACW there was only one theatre, in PON there will be many... best of luck to you, Pocus.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by chrism2012 View Post
    However, there lies my greatest fear: how effective will the AI shipment of troops from the main land to far away regions be in the game? I've watched many HOI battles where the AI transported a small bunch of troops half across the globe and died instantly, or transported gigantic stacks and died from attrition or died from ship attacks without a proper defense fleet.
    Actually I wonder in general on how effective could be the AI in a game so fascinating but also revealing more complex sides at every further disclosure of details in its design. Computer wargaming experience teaches us since long that AI is effective when managing not too many variables, but is quite predictable and easily fooled the more questions it has to solve (chess engines are by now very successfully built due to the few rules and pieces in play in a chess match). It may be that the AGEOD engine has reached a development that puts it on a level much higher than previous AIs. It's a great bet, and we all are hopeful, as a successful AI is one of the most attractive features in a strategic game, my view at least.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Pocus View Post
    Oh you are definitively right, this is an old screen... will post a newer one though.
    Thanks Pocus, I was going to ask about the draped flags too, I'm used to seeing them in RUS!

  10. #10
    About your AIs concerns, they are very legit. And we realized something since some time now. That an AI, baring having a super team just for it (and even that is no insurance of success) is only at most a mediocre opponent, unless you take some provisions and measures. So humility and pragmatism guided me here. This is why Pride of Nations introduces the concept of 'strategic redeployment'. The rules for SR are different for the player and for the AI, but you should not see abuses by her in the end, hopefully. With strategic redeployment, a player in peace can have troops in a fleet moved to a distant harbor within 15 days. There are several limitations, like a range limitation, the fact the troops must be loaded into the fleet, the nation must be at peace etc. For the AI, the same rules applies except that the 'at peace' condition is replaced by 'no enemy nearby the starting harbor or the ending harbor' (this include no blockade), and if the fleet is missing, one can be grabbed close to the starting harbor to make the move.

    Now you have 2 ways to react I believe. You can be disappointed by that... But then you must realize that to my knowledge no development team ever managed to have a game spanning over the whole globe with AIs able to make long range transportations in an optimal way. So it is good to have 'wishful thinking', but people must also be pragmatic. Or you can be satisfied, knowing that this ensure that say the British AIs is able to redeploy troops from London to Freetown, then Freetown to South Africa, almost routinely. She can even send back weakened units to the homeland for proper rest. There is no way you'll see that in another game I believe, unless the game uses also some kind of SR. The AI, with SR also perceives quite well the adequation of troops in regard to colonial/non colonial territories. i.e light brigades are sent overseas for example, but heavy infantry corps remains in the metropolitan area.

    As for the invasion AI (and this should remove one of your concern too), it is fully 'manual', i.e no SR for the invasion AI. It is much slower and intelligent than a competent player, but the AI definitively knows how to invade from afar your territories.

  11. #11
    General Laffertytig's Avatar
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    this game sounds more n more like a must buy. as ive been readin through the DD's i have been wonderin how the AI is gonna handle such a deep game, will be interested to see how it shapes up.

    how is mp, is it stable? im assumin games can be played via tcp/ip.

  12. #12
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    The combat system sounds very complicated. I was actually very disappointed by your other game, Rise of Prussia, because the tutorial wasn't that comprehensive and instructed to read a lot of things in a gigantic manual. I hope the tutorial in RoN will be much better and explain the combat system in more detail.

  13. #13
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    I like how you use small changes in game rules in order to help the AI. ATM it's close to impossible to create a challenging AI in the game set on a global scale, so the linear approach (i.e. same rules for both the AI and the player) is bound to result in an easy game. I think that we would be disappointed if the most challenging aspect of the game was the micromanagement itself. Personally, I think that the results are important, as long as rational strategies are effective against the AI (it should never be immune to sth).

  14. #14
    Major Variton's Avatar
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    What do the numbers beneath the unit picture in unit counters stand for? Number of troops?
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    General Laffertytig's Avatar
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    got a question bout force limits.

    if turned on, the manual says that armies must be kept in line with historically sized armies those nations actually fielded. but the armies nations fielded in say 1850 were different in size compared to armies durin ww1 for example.

    do these force limits change as the years roll by? also, is it possible to increase the potential size of your army by conquering more land = more manpower?

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Variton View Post
    What do the numbers beneath the unit picture in unit counters stand for? Number of troops?
    overall combat power, an abstract and amalgamed value of all combat stats of the units of the stack. not used directly in combat, but a good mileage of what you can expect from your troops.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Laffertytig View Post
    got a question bout force limits.

    if turned on, the manual says that armies must be kept in line with historically sized armies those nations actually fielded. but the armies nations fielded in say 1850 were different in size compared to armies durin ww1 for example.

    do these force limits change as the years roll by? also, is it possible to increase the potential size of your army by conquering more land = more manpower?
    yes, you get regularly force pool additions.

    In a few cases, like switching a colonial area to Formal Colony status, you get extra units in the force pool too. Also some events allow you to expand or diverse your units. The general rule though is that conquering a new land don't mean having more units in the force pool, although it can still lead to more conscripts, the 'currency' that allow you to recruit the units.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pocus View Post
    yes, you get regularly force pool additions.

    In a few cases, like switching a colonial area to Formal Colony status, you get extra units in the force pool too. Also some events allow you to expand or diverse your units. The general rule though is that conquering a new land don't mean having more units in the force pool, although it can still lead to more conscripts, the 'currency' that allow you to recruit the units.
    It dependend on what land you conquered. Prussia's conquering of Germany and Alsance-Lorraine would gain you force pool, but it would not happen, say if Prussia conquered Denmark.
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