Thanks for all the comments. Sounds like most people would like more options/ realism in the tactical side of the game. In a period of history that witnessed East versus West this aspect of the game should be given more attention. Also, it is very boring to have to chase down an enemy for multiple turns after defeating them. Either give a way to auto assign pursuit or make it more realistic by only allowing one follow up conflict and then the enemy army melts away like they did in history. I just watched some promo videos for the upcoming Napoleon's Campaigns 2 and the french guy (Phillipe?) who is in charge explains some really cool features to their tactical battles; including a pre-battle screen to organise your army disposition and give orders to each flank (plus a reserve). I would love to see Paradox adapt this for CK 2; EU3 and Vic 2.
"Nobody ever won a war by dying for his country. You win by making the other poor son of a bitch die for his country." Gen. Patton.
I, for one, am against any sort of tactical interactivity in battles. Why? There are two reasons:
1) Tactical battles break the strategic focus for the player. When you play 4+ battles in a Total War game, with each lasting 10 - 20 minutes, you really lose focus on what is going on the strategic level. The length of a single campaign is drastically increased, and let's admit it, the tactical battles soon get repetitive, because the AI is predictable.
2) Either the tactical battle mechanics is trivial, or the AI sucks at it. I haven't seen any other option - in Total War games, the AI sucks, allowing the player to achieve unrealistic victories against stronger opponents with unrealistic low losses. That distorts the strategic level quite a bit - the AI must be able to predict battle outcomes (at least roughly) to formulate any sort of reasonable plan.
I really enjoyed the system in Dominions 3 - you do the preparation, and the battle plays itself non-interactively, you can only watch. That said, it would be interesting if the ruler could make decision that would affect the troop composition more. I believe that England had a law that ordered every young male to practice with a bow, and regular tournaments were held - and that gave English their famous longbowmen. The power juggling between the four classes in CK1 was quite a nice touch. The generals should be able to arrange troops in a meaningful manner, according to their martial stat, and tactics should matter more.
However, according to what I read about warfare in Middle Ages, the troops were notoriously difficult to control. The knights were impetuous, deciding to attack when they wanted (Creche), the mass levied infantry was untrained and of low morale. More elaborate tactics than initial formation and decision when to commit were hard to execute.
Yeah, I think uncontrollable armies and auto-calculated battles are part of the flavour of any Europa Universalis game. It would be weird to break with this. But influencing army composition or choosing the single-flank option in armies other than holy orders or mercenary bands could help. That or a nerf to single-flank stacks (alongside the nerf of re-raise).
The single flank stacks need to be fixed. Make them spread their damage out across all 3 enemy flanks, or something. As it is, they invariably wipe out the enemy center, even if they later get defeated.
Related to this I think: I'd like to see battle related events actually.
I want a chance for an option to pop up that tells me that my ruler has a chance to lead to a charge personally, giving noticeable bonus for my own forces at the risk of his own life and affecting his traits. Like:
Charge! Gain Brave trait. 80% enemy loses 0,2 morale. 20% You die!
Lead from behind. 50% gain Craven.
to take Austerlitz as an example, while the actual Battle took place on one day on the Pratzen heights, there were still several days of preliminary skirmishing, deception, and general preparation before that.
Meanwhile, Paradox has it occur over several days, with thousands dying each "tick" yet the no single decisive action itself. This even fails to consider stand-offs that happened such as the occasional non-aggression of hostile armies during the Levantine holy wars
I like the battle style of the "Pax Romana" Game.