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Victoria 3 - Dev Diary #23 - Fronts and Generals

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Hello and welcome! Today we will dig into the core mechanics of land warfare, including Fronts, Generals, Battalions, Mobilization, and more. But let’s take a moment first to recall the pillars of warfare in Victoria 3 from last week’s diary, which should be considered prerequisite reading to this one.

  • War is a Continuation of Diplomacy
  • War is Strategic
  • War is Costly
  • Preparation is Key
  • Navies Matter
  • War Changes

Before we get started I want to point out that a few of the mechanics I will be mentioning below are currently still under implementation in the current build. While development diary screenshots should never be taken as fully representative of the final product, this is especially true in this case. In some cases images will be artistic mockups and visual targets, and in other cases very rough in-game screenshots that will be revised before release. The reason for this is simply because, as we have stressed previously in these dev diaries, Victoria 3 is a game about economics, politics, and diplomacy first and foremost. War is a very important supporting system to all those three which tie them together, but we needed to make sure those three aspects were mature enough before we put the final touches on the military system. Furthermore, being a drastic divergence from how warfare works in all other Paradox games, these systems have required a lot of time in the oven to feel as fully baked as the others. Once we are closer to release we’ll make sure to update you on any revisions, and release more finalized in-game screenshots!

First I want to present the concept of Fronts. In Victoria 3, rather than manually moving armies around the map, you assign troops (via Generals, as we will see later) to the border provinces where two combatants clash. All combat takes place on these Fronts, where a victorious outcome consists of moving the Front into your enemy’s territory while preventing incursions into your own.

Fronts are created automatically as soon as two countries begin to oppose each other in a Diplomatic Play, and consist of all provinces along the border of control between those two countries. Therefore a Front always has one country on either side, but it is possible for Generals from several countries to be assigned to the same Front.

Let’s take a look at a screenshot from the current build of the game:

An early draft view of the Texas Utah Front. This Front belongs to the Texan Revolutionary War of 1835, which is in full swing on the game’s start date. Two Texan Generals are assigned to this Front, Samuel Houston with an Advance Order and William Travis with a Defense Order. On Mexico’s side, José de Romay is advancing with 10 Battalions. The four stars on either side indicates relative average fighting skill compared to the world’s best - here Mexico and Texas are tied with 40 Offense and 35 Defense each. From Mexico’s perspective this Front has a slight advantage at the moment and indeed one battle on this Front has already been won by them.
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As mentioned at the top, these visuals - and all other images in this diary - are far from complete! We have many parameters left to expose, more UI layout to do, and more visual effects to add before release. Everything you are seeing today is only to give you a better idea of the mechanics, but is in heavy revision as we speak and will look different on release. As such it is not to be taken as representative of what you will see in the final product.

The health and status of your Fronts is a primary indicator of how well the war is going for you. Do you have more troops on the Front than your enemy does? That’s pretty good. Have you advanced it far into enemy territory? Great. Are your soldiers there demoralized and dying in droves from attrition? Double-plus ungood.

In a large end-game conflict you might have hundreds of thousands - possibly even millions - of soldiers in active service, which is a lot to keep track of. The number of active Fronts, however, is likely to be much more manageable. The design philosophy here is the same as with the economic Pop model. Our aim is to make the game playable and well-paced, without requiring frequent pausing, on every scale while retaining the detail and integrity of the Pop simulation. For warfare, the scale ranges from a small border skirmish between minor nations in single-player to a massive multiplayer world war involving every Great Power. Using the Front system we can account for every individual Serviceman and Officer in meticulous detail while giving the player a high-level strategic interface to monitor and manipulate. Much like with the economic interface of Buildings or the political interface of Interest Groups, from this Front view you can drill down through your Generals all the way to the individual Pops that actually do the fighting if you want to.

After a particularly punishing battle the Texan Barracks are desperately trying to recruit replacements to send to the front.
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Generals are characters who command Servicemen and Officers into battle on Fronts. Every country will start the game with one or a few Generals - many of them straight out of the history books - and can recruit more as needed.

Generals are recruited from Strategic Regions, and gain command of as many locally available troops in that region that their Command Limit allows. Command Limit is determined by their Rank, which ranges from 1-star to 5-star. If several Generals are headquartered in the same Strategic Region, the troops are split up between them proportional to their Command Limit as well. Military operations can be complex to manage, and to model this every General costs a certain amount of Bureaucracy to maintain. You can promote Generals freely, but while higher-ranking Generals can effectively command more troops they also cost more Bureaucracy.

Like other characters, such as Heads of States and Interest Group Leaders, Generals have a set of Traits that determine their abilities and weaknesses. Admirals, their naval counterparts, work the same way. These Traits determine everything about how the characters function and what bonuses and penalties they confer onto their troops, their Front, and the battles they participate in.

All characters have a Personality Trait, with different effects depending on what role they fill. For example, a Cruel General might cause more deaths among enemy casualties, leaving fewer enemy Pops to recover through battlefield medicine or return home as Dependents, while a Charismatic General might keep their troops’ Morale high even when supplies run short.

Characters can also gain Skill Traits which are unique to their role. Generals may develop skills like Woodland Terrain Expert that increases their troops’ efficiency when fighting in Forest or Jungle, or Engineer that increases their troops’ Defense. Freshly recruited Generals start with one of these but can gain more as they age and gain experience. Many Skill traits have several tiers as well, so Generals that remain active across many campaigns may deepen their abilities over time.

Characters may also gain Conditions due to events or simply the passage of time. These often affect the character’s health, but might also influence their popularity or ability to carry out their basic duties. Shellshocked is a classic example of a Condition your General might gain.

This fellow (whose full name I refuse to write out) has a Direct personality, prefers to command troops in Open Terrain, and is an expert Surveyor of the battlefield. He’s also become Wounded, probably as a result of some recent skirmish.
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Like all characters, Generals and Admirals are also aligned with an Interest Group - which is often, but not always, the Armed Forces. For Heads of States and Interest Group Leaders the impact of this political allegiance is obvious, but why (you may ask) would this matter for Generals and Admirals?

In addition to industrialization and revolutions, the 19th Century was also known for its revolving door between military and political office. Often given assignments far from the capital with very limited communications, Generals and Admirals were given access to enormous man- and firepower and sent off with little possibility of oversight to see to the nation’s best interests. This autonomy not only granted them considerable geopolitical power while in the field, but also made them extremely popular figures once returning home from a successful campaign. As such, in Victoria 3 your decisions on who to recruit, promote, and retire - which should ideally be based on meritocratic concerns - sometimes have to be tempered also by concerns for internal power balance and stability due to the impact Generals can have on the country’s Interest Groups.

First off, the character contributes directly to their Interest Group’s Political Strength, which as we know determines their Clout. The amount provided is dependent on their rank, so granting a promotion to a promising young General will also increase the influence their Interest Group wields.

Second, if a General is becoming a little too big for their boots - or perhaps crippled by adverse Conditions, like that 79-year old fossil who just won’t leave active service despite senility and various ailments - and you want to force them into retirement so someone else can take command of their troops, their Interest Group’s Approval will be impacted. Understandably so, since you just robbed them of some political power!

Third, and most important, if an Interest Group becomes revolutionary - which will be the subject of another dev diary - their Generals and Admirals will take up against you. If you’ve put all your eggs in the basket of some farmer’s boy who turned out to be a strategic genius and you suffer an agrarian uprising, you may end up fighting a rebellion against that same brilliant commander using fresh recruits still wet behind the ears.

Commanders can also be the focal points of special events, caused either of their own volition or by a situation you have put them in. Your decisions in these events may end up affecting your country in any number of ways.
dd23_4.png

Both Generals and Admirals can be given Orders which they are obliged to try to carry out. We will go over Admiral Orders next week. The Orders you can give Generals are quite straightforward:

Stand By: the General returns home from their current Front, dispersing their troops into their home region’s Garrison forces to slow down any enemy incursions
Advance Front: the General gathers their troops, moves to the target Front, and tries to advance it by launching attacks at the enemy
Defend Front: like Advance Front except the General never advances, instead focusing only on intercepting and repelling enemy forces

These orders may end up executed in different ways depending on the General’s Traits, resulting in different troop compositions and battle conditions during the operations. For example, a Reckless General may provide his Battalions with increased Offense during advances, but fewer of his casualties taken will recover after the battle. Further, his recklessness may lead to making a Risky Maneuver during a battle, which could prove a brilliant or catastrophic move. If you want to play it safer you could assign a Cautious but well-supplied General to a frontline, even though that may be less prestigious.

Generals charged with advancing a Front will favor marching towards and conquering states marked as war goals, but their route there may be more or less circuitous depending on how the war is progressing and possibly other factors such as the local terrain. Other such designated priority targets, which the player could set themselves to alter the flow of battle, is a feature we’re looking into adding to represent strategies and events such as General Sherman’s march to the sea. This is not currently in the game but is something we think would add an interesting dimension to the strategic gameplay, so something like this is likely to make its way in sooner or later!

Fronts targeted to Advance or Defend can also be a Front belonging to a co-belligerent, as long as you can reach it by land or sea. For example, if Prussia supports Finland in a war of independence against Russia, they could send one or two Generals to advance their own Front against Russia and another to help defend the Finnish-Russian Front, ensuring Finland can stay in the war for as long as possible while simultaneously striking at Russia’s own war support. To do so it needs to send its troops helping Finland across the Baltic, which require naval support we will learn more about next week.

Generals cannot be given Orders unless they are Mobilizing. In peacetime, all Generals will be demobilized, doing whatever it is 19th Century Generals do in peacetime (probably drink copious amounts of wine, have sordid affairs, and plot against their governments) while their troops are on standby doing occasional drills to keep readiness up. As soon as a Diplomatic Play starts, and for as long as the country is at war after that, players have the option to Mobilize any and all of their Generals, which will increase the consumption of military buildings (guns, ammo, artillery, etc) and start the process of getting that General’s troops ready for frontline action. The speed by which troops are readied is dependent on the Infrastructure in their local state, so high-infrastructure states can mobilize many more troops quickly while low-infrastructure, rural states might take much longer to gather and organize a lot of manpower.

This means when you choose to start mobilizing, and how many Generals and Battalions you choose to mobilize, will matter a lot to your initial success in the war - and as everyone knows, the first few battles could well prove decisive if the other party is taken by surprise. The magnitude of mobilization becomes immediately visible to the other participants in a Diplomatic Play as soon as the decision is taken. Choosing to mobilize big and early in a Diplomatic Play tells the other participants two things: one, you’re serious, and two, you’re hedging your bets that this won’t end peacefully. This in turn can trigger a cascade of mobilizations, and before you know it, a peaceful solution is no longer on the table. Choosing to hold off on mobilization until late means you save precious money and lives until it’s needed, but may cost you the war if that’s what it comes down to.

Mobilized Generals cannot be demobilized until the war is over. Once you’ve committed your troops to the war, they expect to be in the field and well-supplied until a peace is signed. If getting what you want out of a war takes a long time, your expenses may eventually begin to exceed the value of the potential prize.

In-progress artistic mockup of an Army overview, listing all your Generals with shortcut actions. In this case only General Long-Name has been mobilized (activated), preparing his men to go to the front at the expense of increased goods consumption and attrition.
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Your land army is composed of Battalions, which are groups of 1000 Workforce with Servicemen or Officer Professions. Like all other Pops these work in Buildings, in this case either Barracks or Conscription Centers. The difference between these are that Barracks are constructed manually and house the country’s standing army, which are considered permanent troops, while Conscription Centers are activated as-needed during a Diplomatic Play or War and recruit civilians into temporary military service. In addition Barracks have a wider selection of Production Methods to choose from, particularly high-tech late-game Production Methods. How your army is divided between professional and conscripted soldiers depends on your Army Model Law, which we will cover in more detail in a few weeks.

The Production Methods in these two buildings work like other Production Methods do: they employ Pops of certain Professions, and consume goods to provide a set of effects. In this case they employ Servicemen and Officers in proportions depending on your organization style, consume a number of military goods, and in return provide Battalions with different combat statistics such as Offense (indicating how useful they are during an advance) and Defense (indicating how useful they are when defending against an advance).

Since military buildings work according to the same logic as other buildings, such as factories and plantations, all core mechanics such as Market Access, Goods Shortages, Qualifications, etcetera apply to them in exactly the same way. If one of your Barracks’ Battalions are supported by Armored Divisions but you cannot supply it with enough Tanks, recruitment will slow down to painful levels and both Offense and Defense will suffer. If you don’t have enough qualifying Officers the number of Battalions the building can actually create will be throttled. Just because you have researched a new type of artillery piece or a more efficient way of organizing your army doesn’t mean you’ll be ready to modernize straight away, and if your local infrastructure suffers the acquisition cost for the requisite goods could reach astronomical levels.

Upgrades to Production Methods in military buildings take considerable time to take effect. While any goods consumption changes happen immediately, improvements to combat effectiveness takes some time to realize. Keeping military spending low during peacetime by reverting your military to pre-Napoleonic warfare doctrines might be pleasant for your treasury but less great for both your war readiness and Prestige, the latter which is directly impacted both by how large and how advanced your army is.

In-progress artistic mockup of a Battalion/Garrison-focused list. Illustrations are selected for a collection of similar Battalions based on dominant Battalion culture (defined by the Pops in the military building) and tech level (defined by the Production Methods in use in the military building). Collections can be expanded to display the full list. From there the player can click through from a given Battalion to the military building supporting it.
dd23_6.png

All this leads us to Battles. Advancing Generals will eventually gather enough troops to launch an attack into one of the enemy-controlled provinces along the Front, which will be intercepted by defending troops and possibly an enemy General. In short, a battle then takes place over some number of days until one force has taken enough casualties and morale damage to retreat. We will go over in more detail how battles play out in a future diary, but suffice to say for now that a bunch of Battalions go in along with a number of different combat-related stats and conditions, some of them related to the General and their troops, others due to conditions like province terrain and chance. If the advancing side wins, they capture a number of provinces depending on how large their win was, what sort of technology they use, how dispersed or concentrated the enemy forces are across the region, and so on. If the defending side wins, they repel the advancers and will likely be able to launch their counter-attack at a nice advantage.

An item of note here is that just because one General might command 100 Battalions while the other side’s General might only command 20 does not mean every battle outcome on this Front is predetermined. A single Front can cover a large stretch of land and just because a General with 100 Battalions is “on a Front” does not mean they travel with 100,000 individuals in their encampment; those Battalions are considered to be spread out, simultaneously planning their next advance while intercepting enemy advances, and as such the force size each side in the battle can bring to bear may vary. Furthermore, Battalions under the command of other friendly Generals on the same Front may be temporarily borrowed for a certain battle, and even Battalions without mobilized Generals (considered part of the region’s Garrison) can be used to defend against incursions. However, Battalions not under the direct command of the General in charge of the battle do not gain the benefit of his Traits.

This variable sizing of battles, particularly when combined with mobilization costs, counteracts the otherwise dominant strategy of “doomstacking” and make wars feel more like a tug-of-war than a race. Each side can choose to either try to gain marginal advantage over the other on the cheap, or spare no expense to increase their chances for an expedient victory, with any position on this spectrum being a valid option in different situations.

We’ll get deeper into some of the combat statistics that go into resolving a battle in a few weeks when we explore military buildings in more detail, and we will talk more about how Battles play out and look on the map in a diary a little further down the line. We’re anxious to show them to you, but need to give these visuals a little more attention first!

That’s land warfare in a nutshell. In the two upcoming dev diaries we will go over the major role that navies play in this system as well as the economic and human costs of war, which are closely interrelated. For now I want to close by saying that we appreciate your patience in waiting for details on warfare mechanics! The reasons for why we’ve chosen to diverge so far from the classic GSG military formula would be hard to grasp until you’ve seen how the different economic, political, and diplomatic systems function.

Next week we will talk more about warfare mechanics as we get into how your navy plays into all this. Until then!
 

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commissar roach

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This comment is reserved by the Community Team for gathering Dev Responses in, for ease of reading.

Al-Khalidi said:
If two nations are at war, do they have just ONE front? Like if Ottomans are in war with russia, is Caucasus front and Danube front a one front?
Can we divide a border with enemy into several frontlines?
Contiguous provinces between two hostile nations act as a single Front, no matter the length. Fronts cannot be divided manually, but if two countries border in two different places they will of course have multiple active Fronts.

We did, in the past, play around with auto-splitting Fronts that went past a certain length into multiples. In the end it didn't add anything to the game and resulted in a lot of logical headaches (how do these Fronts interact when they move? what if the border length decreases again, do the Fronts merge? what if one Front disappears but the other is still valid, what happens to the Generals assigned? etc). In the end what matters in this system is which General is assigned to lead their forces against which country.

Al-Khalidi said:
Can we give more specific orders to frontlines? Like: "advance towards province x"?
What we're considering adding is a method of prioritizing the various targets in the war, and setting custom targets, on a national (not Front- or General-) level. What we need to be careful with here is to not add methods of control that make the player technically able to control with precision how Generals act in every moment by microing their priorities.

lunelune2413 said:
Will there be 3d units on the front lines to perhaps give the warfare a feeling of actually happening and not just some sounds and random explosions?
Wartime map graphics is something we'll definitely return to in a later diary.

SausageSpirit said:
will generals be able to become politicians and/or take over the government?
Characters can switch roles under certain circumstances, yes. They cannot currently hold multiple roles at once, though.

baky123 said:
This looks great. When you talk about getting new artillery, does that mean that different tech levels of artillery (and other military goods) count as separate goods?
Different tech tiers of military goods are not modelled as separate goods but rather as larger quantities. This doesn't just go for military goods but all goods in the game: increased quality is modeled as an increase in quantity. Better bakeries don't produce different bread, just a larger number of Groceries. When Pops buy better quality clothes, we represent that as more clothes rather than level 5 clothes.

There's some exception to this! Luxury Clothes and Luxury Furniture are separate goods from the basic versions. Similarly there are distinctions between Man-o-Wars and Ironclad ships, since this represents not just an increase in the quality of a fleet but a huge shift in approach where entire industries had to retool.

It would of course have been possible for us to add every military invention as new goods, but other than performance concerns it would also have made e.g. the trade game a lot more cumbersome as you'd have to ensure you trade with the country who produces exactly the guns your troops need, and if they switch to something different you have to find a new trading partner, etc.

Make Victoria 3 said:
Can you still choose who to recruit to avoid the recruitment of rebellious minorities for example?
When recruiting new commanders you're given a few options to preview and choose between.

CassalettIV said:
Does the Mobilize button also have a spending prediction feature? So we can calculate how will our budget look instead of suddenly being in the red.
We're working on it, yeah!

TempestM said:
Why not? What if I peaced out separately the other biggest participant and now I have only some small minor to fight? Why would I need all my troops mobilized
Yep, this is a thing we've noted, and will likely design some sort of exception for when such edge cases arise. But permitting Generals to demobilize anytime would take away the whole dynamic of choosing when to mobilize which troops, so the default will be that by committing those troops you've committed for the duration of the war.

3NGaming said:
Will there be ways to influence how fast we want our advance to be, deciding between a slow methodical march to a fast Blitzkrieg? And will we be able to influence how many troops we have in a certain area, in order to prop up areas we think is less hard to defend while letting areas such as mountains less defended due to their terrain?
There are a number of factors that influence these things. Your decisions here come down to which Production Methods you activate in your military buildings, which is what determines your Battalions' attributes, and which Generals you hire, promote, and deploy where. In other words, you don't say "we're going to win this war with a slow methodical march", you ensure you have Generals who take their time, ensure good supply, and stay away from putting your war budget into newfangled inventions like tanks.

oktaium said:
Ok, this is good but how do colonial wars work do I need still need to mobilize my army at some point. Isn't there a standing army dealing natives and easy wars
"Mobilization" as a term in Victoria 3 covers everything involved in getting Battalions readied and organized under the command of a General. So in your situation, if you have built some Barracks in a colony and recruited a General to lead them, you can choose to Mobilize only that General if you wish. Despite your colony probably having low Infrastructure, since you're not mobilizing very many troops they will probably not take too long to get ready, and since the General is right next to the Front it won't take him long to travel there to advance it.

On the other hand if your standing army was in London, you might have a much larger force under a more experienced General, but it will take him considerable time to travel to the Front by your colony. There's also the issue of naval supply to consider in that case. So it can definitely be beneficial to maintain a local colonial force to defend your colony if tensions run high there.

RestrrepoMU said:
Will mobilizing during a diplomatic play have an effect on the other participants? Can it ramp up the pressure, or scare off participants?
We definitely plan to have the AI react accordingly, yes.

Nirmara said:
Is there any plan of having specialized units being part of the army such as Mountaineer, Guards, or even Tank?

I am guessing this could be represented as a production method, but the screenshot shown has Infantry, Artillerie, Cavalry, Engineer (?), Medical Corps.
We'll be covering military Production Methods more in a couple of weeks! But I can confirm that what you listed as "Engineer" is actually the category for "Specialist Corps".

Froonk said:
How will fronts work in wars that do not have continuous borders between multiple states? Will overseas expeditions be part of naval warfare or land warfare?
If there's a war between, say, Iceland and Britain, (at least) one Front would have to be created via a Naval Invasion, which I'll cover next week.

aantia said:
Very interesting.

Regarding the per general unit caps, it looks like they're hard caps, right?
It seems to me that it might be a good idea to be able to go over that cap at a cost in Bureaucracy (or something). You could then perhaps have technologies that reduce that cost; that way, as your military administration improves, you can have your best general command a higher percentage of your troops.
They're hard caps for how many Battalions that General can directly command. A particular battle can include troops outside of that General's direct command as well, if there are multiple Generals on the Front or if there are Garrison forces to draw upon for defense. But only directly commanded troops benefit from the General's traits.
The reason it's not a soft cap is because the dynamic of only being able to grant a General more troops than their peers through giving them Promotions, and the political implications from that, is an important design element we don't want to water down.

MeforVictory said:
What happens when two (previously split) fronts collide? Like a Southern and a Western Front linking up?
They merge, and all Generals assigned to either are now assigned to the same Front with the same Orders as before.

samgamer123 said:
love this! I know that its all work in progress and hope u update us as it develops. Thank you! There is war:cool:

Wanted to ask during a war how much time does a player normally spend at the current moment on micro of domestic affairs (economy, politics, etc) versus military affairs like generals and front orders? or how much time do u intend the player focusing on economy vs military?
When I play, I tend to spend a lot more time than is technically necessary paying attention to the frontlines, because I'm interested in seeing how things progress. But things don't slow down at home just because there's a war on (rather the opposite) so you can't ignore that side of it. Your domestic affairs also strongly influence how long you can stay in the war, which is major reason to ensure you see to your "home front" as well. In raw numbers, for me it's 60/40 frontlines/domestic, but I'd say the design target is to permit for a split of up to something like 30/70 as needed.

.Del said:
Also, question: Let’s say I’m Germany at the start of WW1 and I decide to implement the Schlieffen Plan and invade Belgium, what happens to the Belgium-German frontline once I pushed enough to touch France’s borders? Would it merge with the existing French-German frontline?
Yes, assuming the provinces are adjacent the Fronts will merge.

Jansay said:
I don't understand how 100 battalions vs 20 battalions can't be a sure thing. Sure, that 100 is spread over the large front but so is the other one, right?
Oh, it is almost assuredly a sure thing over time, but not in any given battle.
This matters because every numeric advantage in manpower is squared over time. So if the first battle was sized 100-20, it would assuredly win and would probably on average leave 93-10 battalions remaining. The next battle would have an even greater advantage, and so on.
But with the sizing of each battles being closer together, the outcome of any given battle is less guaranteed, and over time a numeric advantage is not squared in the same way. This doesn't mean that there's a good chance the country with 100 battalions will lose, but since war is a considerable expense the opportunity cost of maintaining those 100 mobilized troops vs the ease of winning will be greater than for the country with 20 battalions.

cac579 said:
So what is the point of provinces in this new system? Nothing about the front makes it clear why the amount of provinces was increased
Provinces were increased to model frontline movements on a more granular level, particularly so as to better simulate the changing conditions between 1836 and 1936.

Al-Khalidi said:
Thank You for answers! So do I understand right: when the war starts (after we finish preparation stage) we have little to none influence on events? I really would hate if those memes about Victoria 3 warfare being just a risk game were true :(
You can give new Orders to Generals at any time; choose to mobilize more of them; give Orders to Admirals, which are quite different from those available to Generals and which we'll learn more about next week; choose to activate more Conscripts (more on that in a couple of weeks); choose to move them to different Fronts or focus on specific Fronts; and handle all the economic aspects of the war and its impact on your industry and Pops, to name a few things you might need to deal with during war, in addition to all the stuff you usually deal with during peace.

wisecat said:
Can someone please explain - why I see Victoria 3 DD only about 3-4 pm GMT on THURSDAYS when they are dated WEDNESDAYS?
We are implementing DDs ahead of time to make sure that everything works as it should - and hitting "Publish" button on Thursdays. Sometimes it may result in a date inconsistency. :)

Katakras said:
Can generals die in battle? And if so, what happens to their interest group? And to the troops they are commanding?
Generals dying in battle would be a random event type thing, there's no specific mechanics for this. It is however not uncommon for Generals to gain various Conditions during war, which affects their health and can cause them to die at some point in the future. This can also happen naturally due to age.
When Generals die their Interest Group will lose the Clout they conferred upon them and their troops would be reassigned to other Generals, or the Garrisons if nobody has enough Command Limit for them.

EntropyAvatar said:
I think you will still run into a lot of these corner cases when dealing with fronts against multiple neighbouring countries. Also, very longs fronts bring up their own difficulties: from a supply and combat perspective, it should actually matter where troops are concentrated along the front. Some parts will be in high infrastructure areas and some parts in distant hinterlands. With a very long front, a general's troops could effectively be teleporting from battle to battle.
We've definitely run into a lot of edge cases with how Fronts behave while developing this system, but it currently looks quite stable.
Since we actually compute how many units are allowed to be involved in a given battle and don't throw all of a General's men into battle after battle, the risk of units "teleporting" even along long fronts is in practice virtually non-existent.

Alsadius said:
And if a front splits? Say, the Italians and French push into Bavaria in WW1 and link up, but the Germans rally and push them back, with the front re-splitting at the Swiss border. (With some of the German minor state coalitions that can plausibly exist, I'd expect a lot of this if we see Prussian- or Bavarian-led alliance groups fighting in the 1850s or so.)
Then they split, the Generals decide where to go, and if any newly created Front ends up unstaffed (maybe you only had 1 General on the Front that split) you are notified.

Sapa Inca said:
In case of one general having capacity to command all armies from a specific strategic region, there is some advantage in recruiting more than one general per strategic region?
1. Flexibility; having Generals with different qualities can be a good thing
2. Political concerns; having a single General in command of all your troops could make one Interest Group too cocky / powerful
3. Command Limit; if you have a huge army, or want the ability to command a large number of conscripts, you might need several high-ranking Generals to effectively command them all

King Doom and Ice Cream said:
I can think of one reason fronts could be split: terrain. With a giant front, how can I make sure my mountain expert general sticks to the mountains?
Your mountain expert will favor defending in the mountains if this is possible. But he can't hunker down in the mountains and never risk getting attacked outside of a mountain province, because he's been charged to defend the entire Austrian front - not to avoid engagements with the enemy if a mountain encounter is impossible. If there are multiple defending Generals on that front though, this increases his chances to only be engaged in his preferred terrain. You tell your Generals who to advance and defend against; they try to accomplish this to the best of their ability given the resources you've made available to them.

GeBuch said:
Does impassable terrain exist in some form? And if it does exist, does it split frontlines?

If it does not exist, is there a possibilty that it will be added later, as has been the case with most other games?
Impassable terrain exists and will split Fronts, yes. However, since province-based unit movements are not a thing in Victoria 3, there's less need for very small patches of impassable terrain that would otherwise cause a lot of Front fragmentation. Most impassable terrain in Victoria 3 is of the "inhospitable wasteland" variety like deserts and tundra.

Vernichtere said:
I've been playing the company's games for about 20 years.

I have to say that I am satisfied. It will of course depend heavily on the execution of the calculation models.

Will there be a way to maneuver or train the commanders?

Do the commanders also have a nationality? I mean by hiring a gifted Pole as Russia and then maybe get a Polish uprising.
Commanders will gain experience over time and faster while in the field. This affects the rate at which they gain or improve their Traits. You cannot explicitly "train" them though, it's assumed they're always trying to get better.
All characters have a Culture, and while the Generals you recruit tend to mostly be of your primary culture(s) it's possible for minority culture Generals to join cultural uprisings.

Ulysses Edmundsson said:
One thing I'm having trouble visualizing is how front lines would work when you're fighting with someone against a common enemy. Can you station troops/make a front line in allied territory (the part about Finland and Prussia vs Russia seems to confirm this, but I am still having trouble visualizing it)? If a front pushes into enemy territory, who occupies the newly taken land if you have more than one country fighting on that front? And is land "occupied" in the same way as it is in Victoria 2 (where you essentially can't interact with it) or Hoi4 (where you can build infrastructure/factories)?
You would give your General a Defend Order, and when prompted which Front to defend, select the Finnish-Russian Front (which already exists, since Finland and Russia are hostile towards each other). If you're actually Advancing that Front on behalf of Finland, it's still Finland that is the "occupier" since this is the Front that has moved. You cannot directly interact with occupied territory (it'd suck to have had a state occupied for a couple of days during which the enemy just demolished all your factories and made half a million people unemployed) but you hurt it indirectly - more details on that in a few weeks.

King Doom and Ice Cream said:
Are troops assigned completely automatically, or do we have some control over it? If I have two generals in a strategic region, can I give all my tank to one of them, or are they split randomly or proportionally? Also, if I have only a single, sparsely populated state in a strategic region, does that mean I cannot use the troops there in a meaningful way without creating an expensive general purely for that state?
Troops are assigned automatically, to some degree in accordance with Rank, but also prioritizing minimizing fracturing between military buildings. So a certain General is likely to get all 10 Battalions from the Barracks in one state, while another get 20 from three different states, rather than the first getting 2-3 and the second getting 5 from each state. This way you can tell which General has command of units from which Barracks and make adjustments accordingly.

Battalions from Strategic Regions without Generals can still defend their region from incursions, but do so completely hands-off without the benefit of a General's trait and with no ability to concentrate them on a specific Front. But a single General with low Command Limit is not particularly expensive in Bureaucracy, virtually all countries would hire one in that situation without breaking a sweat.

Guillaume Henri Dufour said:
What happens to troops when the states in which their barracks are located are conquered by the enemy?
They can no longer be supplied by their Barracks, which will cause the General's supply score to drop proportionally to how large a percentage of the force they make up. This in turn decreases the max morale of all troops under that General's command.

Imperator314 said:
With this new mobilization system, how will garrisons work? For example, in places like Gibraltar, Hong Kong, etc. you might want to constantly keep relatively large numbers of troops at high readiness. Do you just build lots of barracks in these places?
CharlieFox said:
And if you build barracks overseas, will army pops migrate from the homeland to fill them if there are not enough eligible local recruits? In places like Gibraltar there might not be enough elegible local pops to properly garrison them. Not to mention you might not want a garrison with local pops if you fear a local rebellion.
Yes, you build Barracks to recruit soldiers who go into the Garrison by default, and will only leave it if they're assigned to a mobilized General.
Since Barracks are buildings, they hire according to the priorities of normal government buildings do. If they run out of local qualifying Pops to hire they won't forcibly move people from other parts of your country there, but over time people will move there naturally to take those available jobs.

Tiax said:
In CK3, there's a system where within a battle, there are a bunch of advantage rolls that add a bit of extra strength to one side or the other. The trouble is that because each battle consists of many such independent rolls, the variance washes out and the rolls barely matter. Where do you strike the balance of variance with fronts and battles? Does any individual battle really matter if there are going to be many of them before the front is won or lost?

A 100 vs 20 front is a "sure thing", but what ranges of strength ratios do you envision not being a "sure thing"? In a vacuum, how should we think about the odds of victory in a 60 vs 40 front, for example, assuming all else is equal?
All other things being equal and taken as an average, intuitively I'd say the odds of a 60 / 40 Front should work out to about 70 / 30 with this system.

With a traditional system where all troops in a stack are involved in every battle, there can still be a number of variables that smooth out the squared effect of numeric advantage (like combat width, for example) but what it comes down to is usually the dice in that first battle. If the first battle favors the underdog, the post-battle numbers might be 40 / 35 and at this point all bets are off. But if the first battle favors the advantaged side, it might be 55 / 20 and then the rest is just a given.

The other aspect of relevance is that our peace system doesn't necessarily require a front to be "won or lost" - it can sometimes be enough to have made only a partial incursion to force a peace deal, without wiping out the other country's whole army. So even if your 60 / 40 has been reduced to only 30 / 20 and not the big win you hoped for, if you've made gains in the process that might be enough to get what you want. More on peace in a few weeks.

Waplo said:
I have two questions.
The first one is related to the size of wars, since the DD mention border skirmishes. Will it be possible to keep a war between large nations limited?
Let's say I'm fighting the AI for an interest we both see as secondary, if I mobilize only partially can I expect them to do the same or they will always fight with full strenght? If I win the first few battles, would they accept a peace offer where I ask for less than my original war goal so we can both avoid a costly continuation of the war or it's always a fight to exhaustion? I understand limited wars are possible in theory, but is the AI capable of understanding it?
This is precisely our aim, and so far I'm quite hopeful.
Waplo said:
The second question is related to asymmetrical warfare, both internal and international.
Is there a guerrilla tactic? From what I see here only traditional warfare between organized armies is modeled. I think this new system is exceptionally suited to represent also behind the line military actions, anti-rebel operations and so on. Please consider this.
There is no specific "guerilla warfare" mode, though I agree with you that this system is well suited to it and we have discussed it internally already. It's unlikely we can include this for release but it seems very likely to appear in the future. On that note I can also mention that "limited wars" in the sense of wars limited to a certain geographic region (e.g. colonial wars) is also something we think would work very well in this system, and are considering in much the same way.

IVM.Firefly said:
Speaking of which, will each province have a name? I always disliked the fact that HOI4 removed that. It would give provinces more of a purpose in the game, if only a cosmetic one. Provinces getting less and less important is my main worry about this game so far.
No :( Because if I asked people to write unique names for 40,000+ provinces they'd quit :(:(:(
On the upside, there are 4-5 named cities in every state region, which means over 3000 uniquely named specific locations!

Spartakusbund said:
Can you give some insight into the factors that decide how big a battle is?
We're currently fine-tuning this actually, but some variables we're using currently include the base command limit of the Generals involved, the size of the Garrisons, the power differential, and the length of the Front. Tech will also play a role at some point, so early battles tend to be smaller than the potential meat-grinders towards endgame.

$ilent_$trider said:
I agree. I like the concept of having fronts where you assign generals and troops. Because Vic2 Wars are just a drag of bringing all your stacks to a single place and then play hunter-stack-a-moles and then carpet sieging everything. On the other hand, given the example above, there will actually be a SINGLE front between USA and Canada? That feels off. Why not a simplified battle planner from HoI4? Where we can give generals more specific commands besides: GO THERE, START WALKING FORWARD, STOP ONLY WHEN A PEACE DEAL IS REACHED.
In the case of US/Canada, the Fronts would be bisected by the Great Lakes at least. There are also a great many decentralized nations that would interfere with longer Fronts from time to time.

cosmeIII said:
How dependent on strategic regions is this feature?

Let me put a mockup example. Germany blobbed all over Europe and now are at war with Russia. There are two theoretical strategic regions in westernmost Russia, let's say the Baltic strategic region and the Ukrainian strategic region.

Let's say the front between Germany and Russia encompasses all of the Baltic region, then a tiny snippet of the Ukrainian region. Are we going to have to assign a small number of battalions and a general to that tiny snippet of an Ukrainian region or will the entire front between Germany and Russia be one whole unified front with no splits due to strategic regions?
The latter. Splitting Fronts by Strategic Region would be way too arbitrary and annoying to manage since Fronts shift around. Strategic Regions are only used to determine the "home" of Generals and Battalions.

Jamaican Castle said:
I'm not sure I follow this. If I have a mountain specialist and I tell them to attack the enemy's forest specialist, do they fight in a mountain, a forest, or neither? (Assuming that all three of these options are present on the front.) Is it dependent on their relative command ability or some other trait/skill?
It's weight-based, not deterministic. But in this case there's a high chance that the battle will take place in either mountain or forest compared to other terrain - because the advancing party will want to fight in mountain, while the defending party will want to fight in forest, so both will try to arrange for the battle to transpire in "their" province.

An important mindset shift here is that it's not that one army is trying to seek out another army to do battle, but rather that the advancing army is trying to capture territory - preferably without a fight, or fighting as small a number as possible - while the defending army is trying to stop that with as large a force as possible. This is a bit different from other PDS games where you usually try to make your stack chase down an enemy stack, with sieging provinces being something you only do after the enemy stack is defeated and before they come back with a larger force.

Wulfburk said:
And how many european fronts does a war between Netherlands and Germany versus Belgium, Luxembourg and France has? One continuous front? 4?
Netherlands - Belgium
Germany - Belgium
Germany - Luxembourg
Germany - France

Clophiroth said:
So the political power they get from generals depend on how many troops they command?
Yes, indirectly - it depends on their Rank, which affects how many troops they are "owed".
Clophiroth said:
Can we reassign generals so we send problematic generals to minor armies in the colonies instead of keeping them at home with the big army?
Rehoming Generals between Strategic Regions is not part of the system as this would be too fiddly and introduce some unfortunate exploits. However, getting this option as a one-time thing to deal with a problematic General would be a very cool event! I'll ping the appropriate people. :D

Arbus said:
This seems very flawed. It makes total sense for factories, and even some sense for administrative buildings, but military deployment doesn't work like that at all. If you recruit some lads from Yorkshire, you can ship them to Singapore tomorrow, whether they like it or not. You don't build a barracks in Singapore and then wait for the lads to take their sweet time to pack up.
You can build Barracks in Yorkshire, recruit your lads, and send your Yorkshire lads to Singapore when there's trouble brewing there if you like.
You can also raise conscripts in Yorkshire and ship 'em out as you need them.

But we're not talking about sending an army for temporary deployment overseas here. If you want a military base in Singapore, that houses, trains, and equips your troops, serves as a military logistics center, and supports their families for multiple generations - your ability to operate it will depend on the local market access, infrastructure, population etc. in Singapore. You can encourage Pops to move there from other parts of your country, certainly, but that's a separate mechanic.

Arbus said:
Thank you, that's very reassuring. Staying on that example, if I do ship them from Yorkshire to Singapore because trouble is brewing, but I don't have a barracks there, will they all starve? In other words, are barracks your only logistics center?
The Barracks in Yorkshire is still considered their logistics center, so the troops now in Singapore must be supplied via an overseas route (more on that next week) from the Barracks in Yorkshire that handles all their acquisitions.
 
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Hello and welcome! Today we will dig into the core mechanics of land warfare, including Fronts, Generals, Battalions, Mobilization, and more. But let’s take a moment first to recall the pillars of warfare in Victoria 3 from last week’s diary, which should be considered prerequisite reading to this one.

  • War is a Continuation of Diplomacy
  • War is Strategic
  • War is Costly
  • Preparation is Key
  • Navies Matter
  • War Changes

Before we get started I want to point out that a few of the mechanics I will be mentioning below are currently still under implementation in the current build. While development diary screenshots should never be taken as fully representative of the final product, this is especially true in this case. In some cases images will be artistic mockups and visual targets, and in other cases very rough in-game screenshots that will be revised before release. The reason for this is simply because, as we have stressed previously in these dev diaries, Victoria 3 is a game about economics, politics, and diplomacy first and foremost. War is a very important supporting system to all those three which tie them together, but we needed to make sure those three aspects were mature enough before we put the final touches on the military system. Furthermore, being a drastic divergence from how warfare works in all other Paradox games, these systems have required a lot of time in the oven to feel as fully baked as the others. Once we are closer to release we’ll make sure to update you on any revisions, and release more finalized in-game screenshots!

First I want to present the concept of Fronts. In Victoria 3, rather than manually moving armies around the map, you assign troops (via Generals, as we will see later) to the border provinces where two combatants clash. All combat takes place on these Fronts, where a victorious outcome consists of moving the Front into your enemy’s territory while preventing incursions into your own.

Fronts are created automatically as soon as two countries begin to oppose each other in a Diplomatic Play, and consist of all provinces along the border of control between those two countries. Therefore a Front always has one country on either side, but it is possible for Generals from several countries to be assigned to the same Front.

Let’s take a look at a screenshot from the current build of the game:

An early draft view of the Texas Utah Front. This Front belongs to the Texan Revolutionary War of 1835, which is in full swing on the game’s start date. Two Texan Generals are assigned to this Front, Samuel Houston with an Advance Order and William Travis with a Defense Order. On Mexico’s side, José de Romay is advancing with 10 Battalions. The four stars on either side indicates relative average fighting skill compared to the world’s best - here Mexico and Texas are tied with 40 Offense and 35 Defense each. From Mexico’s perspective this Front has a slight advantage at the moment and indeed one battle on this Front has already been won by them.
View attachment 772182
As mentioned at the top, these visuals - and all other images in this diary - are far from complete! We have many parameters left to expose, more UI layout to do, and more visual effects to add before release. Everything you are seeing today is only to give you a better idea of the mechanics, but is in heavy revision as we speak and will look different on release. As such it is not to be taken as representative of what you will see in the final product.

The health and status of your Fronts is a primary indicator of how well the war is going for you. Do you have more troops on the Front than your enemy does? That’s pretty good. Have you advanced it far into enemy territory? Great. Are your soldiers there demoralized and dying in droves from attrition? Double-plus ungood.

In a large end-game conflict you might have hundreds of thousands - possibly even millions - of soldiers in active service, which is a lot to keep track of. The number of active Fronts, however, is likely to be much more manageable. The design philosophy here is the same as with the economic Pop model. Our aim is to make the game playable and well-paced, without requiring frequent pausing, on every scale while retaining the detail and integrity of the Pop simulation. For warfare, the scale ranges from a small border skirmish between minor nations in single-player to a massive multiplayer world war involving every Great Power. Using the Front system we can account for every individual Serviceman and Officer in meticulous detail while giving the player a high-level strategic interface to monitor and manipulate. Much like with the economic interface of Buildings or the political interface of Interest Groups, from this Front view you can drill down through your Generals all the way to the individual Pops that actually do the fighting if you want to.

After a particularly punishing battle the Texan Barracks are desperately trying to recruit replacements to send to the front.
View attachment 772184
Generals are characters who command Servicemen and Officers into battle on Fronts. Every country will start the game with one or a few Generals - many of them straight out of the history books - and can recruit more as needed.

Generals are recruited from Strategic Regions, and gain command of as many locally available troops in that region that their Command Limit allows. Command Limit is determined by their Rank, which ranges from 1-star to 5-star. If several Generals are headquartered in the same Strategic Region, the troops are split up between them proportional to their Command Limit as well. Military operations can be complex to manage, and to model this every General costs a certain amount of Bureaucracy to maintain. You can promote Generals freely, but while higher-ranking Generals can effectively command more troops they also cost more Bureaucracy.

Like other characters, such as Heads of States and Interest Group Leaders, Generals have a set of Traits that determine their abilities and weaknesses. Admirals, their naval counterparts, work the same way. These Traits determine everything about how the characters function and what bonuses and penalties they confer onto their troops, their Front, and the battles they participate in.

All characters have a Personality Trait, with different effects depending on what role they fill. For example, a Cruel General might cause more deaths among enemy casualties, leaving fewer enemy Pops to recover through battlefield medicine or return home as Dependents, while a Charismatic General might keep their troops’ Morale high even when supplies run short.

Characters can also gain Skill Traits which are unique to their role. Generals may develop skills like Woodland Terrain Expert that increases their troops’ efficiency when fighting in Forest or Jungle, or Engineer that increases their troops’ Defense. Freshly recruited Generals start with one of these but can gain more as they age and gain experience. Many Skill traits have several tiers as well, so Generals that remain active across many campaigns may deepen their abilities over time.

Characters may also gain Conditions due to events or simply the passage of time. These often affect the character’s health, but might also influence their popularity or ability to carry out their basic duties. Shellshocked is a classic example of a Condition your General might gain.

This fellow (whose full name I refuse to write out) has a Direct personality, prefers to command troops in Open Terrain, and is an expert Surveyor of the battlefield. He’s also become Wounded, probably as a result of some recent skirmish.
View attachment 772185
Like all characters, Generals and Admirals are also aligned with an Interest Group - which is often, but not always, the Armed Forces. For Heads of States and Interest Group Leaders the impact of this political allegiance is obvious, but why (you may ask) would this matter for Generals and Admirals?

In addition to industrialization and revolutions, the 19th Century was also known for its revolving door between military and political office. Often given assignments far from the capital with very limited communications, Generals and Admirals were given access to enormous man- and firepower and sent off with little possibility of oversight to see to the nation’s best interests. This autonomy not only granted them considerable geopolitical power while in the field, but also made them extremely popular figures once returning home from a successful campaign. As such, in Victoria 3 your decisions on who to recruit, promote, and retire - which should ideally be based on meritocratic concerns - sometimes have to be tempered also by concerns for internal power balance and stability due to the impact Generals can have on the country’s Interest Groups.

First off, the character contributes directly to their Interest Group’s Political Strength, which as we know determines their Clout. The amount provided is dependent on their rank, so granting a promotion to a promising young General will also increase the influence their Interest Group wields.

Second, if a General is becoming a little too big for their boots - or perhaps crippled by adverse Conditions, like that 79-year old fossil who just won’t leave active service despite senility and various ailments - and you want to force them into retirement so someone else can take command of their troops, their Interest Group’s Approval will be impacted. Understandably so, since you just robbed them of some political power!

Third, and most important, if an Interest Group becomes revolutionary - which will be the subject of another dev diary - their Generals and Admirals will take up against you. If you’ve put all your eggs in the basket of some farmer’s boy who turned out to be a strategic genius and you suffer an agrarian uprising, you may end up fighting a rebellion against that same brilliant commander using fresh recruits still wet behind the ears.

Commanders can also be the focal points of special events, caused either of their own volition or by a situation you have put them in. Your decisions in these events may end up affecting your country in any number of ways.
View attachment 772186
Both Generals and Admirals can be given Orders which they are obliged to try to carry out. We will go over Admiral Orders next week. The Orders you can give Generals are quite straightforward:

Stand By: the General returns home from their current Front, dispersing their troops into their home region’s Garrison forces to slow down any enemy incursions
Advance Front: the General gathers their troops, moves to the target Front, and tries to advance it by launching attacks at the enemy
Defend Front: like Advance Front except the General never advances, instead focusing only on intercepting and repelling enemy forces

These orders may end up executed in different ways depending on the General’s Traits, resulting in different troop compositions and battle conditions during the operations. For example, a Reckless General may provide his Battalions with increased Offense during advances, but fewer of his casualties taken will recover after the battle. Further, his recklessness may lead to making a Risky Maneuver during a battle, which could prove a brilliant or catastrophic move. If you want to play it safer you could assign a Cautious but well-supplied General to a frontline, even though that may be less prestigious.

Generals charged with advancing a Front will favor marching towards and conquering states marked as war goals, but their route there may be more or less circuitous depending on how the war is progressing and possibly other factors such as the local terrain. Other such designated priority targets, which the player could set themselves to alter the flow of battle, is a feature we’re looking into adding to represent strategies and events such as General Sherman’s march to the sea. This is not currently in the game but is something we think would add an interesting dimension to the strategic gameplay, so something like this is likely to make its way in sooner or later!

Fronts targeted to Advance or Defend can also be a Front belonging to a co-belligerent, as long as you can reach it by land or sea. For example, if Prussia supports Finland in a war of independence against Russia, they could send one or two Generals to advance their own Front against Russia and another to help defend the Finnish-Russian Front, ensuring Finland can stay in the war for as long as possible while simultaneously striking at Russia’s own war support. To do so it needs to send its troops helping Finland across the Baltic, which require naval support we will learn more about next week.

Generals cannot be given Orders unless they are Mobilizing. In peacetime, all Generals will be demobilized, doing whatever it is 19th Century Generals do in peacetime (probably drink copious amounts of wine, have sordid affairs, and plot against their governments) while their troops are on standby doing occasional drills to keep readiness up. As soon as a Diplomatic Play starts, and for as long as the country is at war after that, players have the option to Mobilize any and all of their Generals, which will increase the consumption of military buildings (guns, ammo, artillery, etc) and start the process of getting that General’s troops ready for frontline action. The speed by which troops are readied is dependent on the Infrastructure in their local state, so high-infrastructure states can mobilize many more troops quickly while low-infrastructure, rural states might take much longer to gather and organize a lot of manpower.

This means when you choose to start mobilizing, and how many Generals and Battalions you choose to mobilize, will matter a lot to your initial success in the war - and as everyone knows, the first few battles could well prove decisive if the other party is taken by surprise. The magnitude of mobilization becomes immediately visible to the other participants in a Diplomatic Play as soon as the decision is taken. Choosing to mobilize big and early in a Diplomatic Play tells the other participants two things: one, you’re serious, and two, you’re hedging your bets that this won’t end peacefully. This in turn can trigger a cascade of mobilizations, and before you know it, a peaceful solution is no longer on the table. Choosing to hold off on mobilization until late means you save precious money and lives until it’s needed, but may cost you the war if that’s what it comes down to.

Mobilized Generals cannot be demobilized until the war is over. Once you’ve committed your troops to the war, they expect to be in the field and well-supplied until a peace is signed. If getting what you want out of a war takes a long time, your expenses may eventually begin to exceed the value of the potential prize.

In-progress artistic mockup of an Army overview, listing all your Generals with shortcut actions. In this case only General Long-Name has been mobilized (activated), preparing his men to go to the front at the expense of increased goods consumption and attrition.
View attachment 772187
Your land army is composed of Battalions, which are groups of 1000 Workforce with Servicemen or Officer Professions. Like all other Pops these work in Buildings, in this case either Barracks or Conscription Centers. The difference between these are that Barracks are constructed manually and house the country’s standing army, which are considered permanent troops, while Conscription Centers are activated as-needed during a Diplomatic Play or War and recruit civilians into temporary military service. In addition Barracks have a wider selection of Production Methods to choose from, particularly high-tech late-game Production Methods. How your army is divided between professional and conscripted soldiers depends on your Army Model Law, which we will cover in more detail in a few weeks.

The Production Methods in these two buildings work like other Production Methods do: they employ Pops of certain Professions, and consume goods to provide a set of effects. In this case they employ Servicemen and Officers in proportions depending on your organization style, consume a number of military goods, and in return provide Battalions with different combat statistics such as Offense (indicating how useful they are during an advance) and Defense (indicating how useful they are when defending against an advance).

Since military buildings work according to the same logic as other buildings, such as factories and plantations, all core mechanics such as Market Access, Goods Shortages, Qualifications, etcetera apply to them in exactly the same way. If one of your Barracks’ Battalions are supported by Armored Divisions but you cannot supply it with enough Tanks, recruitment will slow down to painful levels and both Offense and Defense will suffer. If you don’t have enough qualifying Officers the number of Battalions the building can actually create will be throttled. Just because you have researched a new type of artillery piece or a more efficient way of organizing your army doesn’t mean you’ll be ready to modernize straight away, and if your local infrastructure suffers the acquisition cost for the requisite goods could reach astronomical levels.

Upgrades to Production Methods in military buildings take considerable time to take effect. While any goods consumption changes happen immediately, improvements to combat effectiveness takes some time to realize. Keeping military spending low during peacetime by reverting your military to pre-Napoleonic warfare doctrines might be pleasant for your treasury but less great for both your war readiness and Prestige, the latter which is directly impacted both by how large and how advanced your army is.

In-progress artistic mockup of a Battalion/Garrison-focused list. Illustrations are selected for a collection of similar Battalions based on dominant Battalion culture (defined by the Pops in the military building) and tech level (defined by the Production Methods in use in the military building). Collections can be expanded to display the full list. From there the player can click through from a given Battalion to the military building supporting it.
View attachment 772188
All this leads us to Battles. Advancing Generals will eventually gather enough troops to launch an attack into one of the enemy-controlled provinces along the Front, which will be intercepted by defending troops and possibly an enemy General. In short, a battle then takes place over some number of days until one force has taken enough casualties and morale damage to retreat. We will go over in more detail how battles play out in a future diary, but suffice to say for now that a bunch of Battalions go in along with a number of different combat-related stats and conditions, some of them related to the General and their troops, others due to conditions like province terrain and chance. If the advancing side wins, they capture a number of provinces depending on how large their win was, what sort of technology they use, how dispersed or concentrated the enemy forces are across the region, and so on. If the defending side wins, they repel the advancers and will likely be able to launch their counter-attack at a nice advantage.

An item of note here is that just because one General might command 100 Battalions while the other side’s General might only command 20 does not mean every battle outcome on this Front is predetermined. A single Front can cover a large stretch of land and just because a General with 100 Battalions is “on a Front” does not mean they travel with 100,000 individuals in their encampment; those Battalions are considered to be spread out, simultaneously planning their next advance while intercepting enemy advances, and as such the force size each side in the battle can bring to bear may vary. Furthermore, Battalions under the command of other friendly Generals on the same Front may be temporarily borrowed for a certain battle, and even Battalions without mobilized Generals (considered part of the region’s Garrison) can be used to defend against incursions. However, Battalions not under the direct command of the General in charge of the battle do not gain the benefit of his Traits.

This variable sizing of battles, particularly when combined with mobilization costs, counteracts the otherwise dominant strategy of “doomstacking” and make wars feel more like a tug-of-war than a race. Each side can choose to either try to gain marginal advantage over the other on the cheap, or spare no expense to increase their chances for an expedient victory, with any position on this spectrum being a valid option in different situations.

We’ll get deeper into some of the combat statistics that go into resolving a battle in a few weeks when we explore military buildings in more detail, and we will talk more about how Battles play out and look on the map in a diary a little further down the line. We’re anxious to show them to you, but need to give these visuals a little more attention first!

That’s land warfare in a nutshell. In the two upcoming dev diaries we will go over the major role that navies play in this system as well as the economic and human costs of war, which are closely interrelated. For now I want to close by saying that we appreciate your patience in waiting for details on warfare mechanics! The reasons for why we’ve chosen to diverge so far from the classic GSG military formula would be hard to grasp until you’ve seen how the different economic, political, and diplomatic systems function.

Next week we will talk more about warfare mechanics as we get into how your navy plays into all this. Until then!
I see some potential here! I was skeptical initially but I am happy you are trying something new. I am however wondering how can a player Impact military outcomes after war has begun. This absolutny needs to be included. More specifically:

How do we do encirclements? Can we order our fronts to move to specific province in order to trap and encircle enemy armies?

Also, I like your honesty. Long names can be tireing
 
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Al-Khalidi

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Hello and welcome! Today we will dig into the core mechanics of land warfare, including Fronts, Generals, Battalions, Mobilization, and more. But let’s take a moment first to recall the pillars of warfare in Victoria 3 from last week’s diary, which should be considered prerequisite reading to this one.

  • War is a Continuation of Diplomacy
  • War is Strategic
  • War is Costly
  • Preparation is Key
  • Navies Matter
  • War Changes

Before we get started I want to point out that a few of the mechanics I will be mentioning below are currently still under implementation in the current build. While development diary screenshots should never be taken as fully representative of the final product, this is especially true in this case. In some cases images will be artistic mockups and visual targets, and in other cases very rough in-game screenshots that will be revised before release. The reason for this is simply because, as we have stressed previously in these dev diaries, Victoria 3 is a game about economics, politics, and diplomacy first and foremost. War is a very important supporting system to all those three which tie them together, but we needed to make sure those three aspects were mature enough before we put the final touches on the military system. Furthermore, being a drastic divergence from how warfare works in all other Paradox games, these systems have required a lot of time in the oven to feel as fully baked as the others. Once we are closer to release we’ll make sure to update you on any revisions, and release more finalized in-game screenshots!

First I want to present the concept of Fronts. In Victoria 3, rather than manually moving armies around the map, you assign troops (via Generals, as we will see later) to the border provinces where two combatants clash. All combat takes place on these Fronts, where a victorious outcome consists of moving the Front into your enemy’s territory while preventing incursions into your own.

Fronts are created automatically as soon as two countries begin to oppose each other in a Diplomatic Play, and consist of all provinces along the border of control between those two countries. Therefore a Front always has one country on either side, but it is possible for Generals from several countries to be assigned to the same Front.

Let’s take a look at a screenshot from the current build of the game:

An early draft view of the Texas Utah Front. This Front belongs to the Texan Revolutionary War of 1835, which is in full swing on the game’s start date. Two Texan Generals are assigned to this Front, Samuel Houston with an Advance Order and William Travis with a Defense Order. On Mexico’s side, José de Romay is advancing with 10 Battalions. The four stars on either side indicates relative average fighting skill compared to the world’s best - here Mexico and Texas are tied with 40 Offense and 35 Defense each. From Mexico’s perspective this Front has a slight advantage at the moment and indeed one battle on this Front has already been won by them.
View attachment 772182
As mentioned at the top, these visuals - and all other images in this diary - are far from complete! We have many parameters left to expose, more UI layout to do, and more visual effects to add before release. Everything you are seeing today is only to give you a better idea of the mechanics, but is in heavy revision as we speak and will look different on release. As such it is not to be taken as representative of what you will see in the final product.

The health and status of your Fronts is a primary indicator of how well the war is going for you. Do you have more troops on the Front than your enemy does? That’s pretty good. Have you advanced it far into enemy territory? Great. Are your soldiers there demoralized and dying in droves from attrition? Double-plus ungood.

In a large end-game conflict you might have hundreds of thousands - possibly even millions - of soldiers in active service, which is a lot to keep track of. The number of active Fronts, however, is likely to be much more manageable. The design philosophy here is the same as with the economic Pop model. Our aim is to make the game playable and well-paced, without requiring frequent pausing, on every scale while retaining the detail and integrity of the Pop simulation. For warfare, the scale ranges from a small border skirmish between minor nations in single-player to a massive multiplayer world war involving every Great Power. Using the Front system we can account for every individual Serviceman and Officer in meticulous detail while giving the player a high-level strategic interface to monitor and manipulate. Much like with the economic interface of Buildings or the political interface of Interest Groups, from this Front view you can drill down through your Generals all the way to the individual Pops that actually do the fighting if you want to.

After a particularly punishing battle the Texan Barracks are desperately trying to recruit replacements to send to the front.
View attachment 772184
Generals are characters who command Servicemen and Officers into battle on Fronts. Every country will start the game with one or a few Generals - many of them straight out of the history books - and can recruit more as needed.

Generals are recruited from Strategic Regions, and gain command of as many locally available troops in that region that their Command Limit allows. Command Limit is determined by their Rank, which ranges from 1-star to 5-star. If several Generals are headquartered in the same Strategic Region, the troops are split up between them proportional to their Command Limit as well. Military operations can be complex to manage, and to model this every General costs a certain amount of Bureaucracy to maintain. You can promote Generals freely, but while higher-ranking Generals can effectively command more troops they also cost more Bureaucracy.

Like other characters, such as Heads of States and Interest Group Leaders, Generals have a set of Traits that determine their abilities and weaknesses. Admirals, their naval counterparts, work the same way. These Traits determine everything about how the characters function and what bonuses and penalties they confer onto their troops, their Front, and the battles they participate in.

All characters have a Personality Trait, with different effects depending on what role they fill. For example, a Cruel General might cause more deaths among enemy casualties, leaving fewer enemy Pops to recover through battlefield medicine or return home as Dependents, while a Charismatic General might keep their troops’ Morale high even when supplies run short.

Characters can also gain Skill Traits which are unique to their role. Generals may develop skills like Woodland Terrain Expert that increases their troops’ efficiency when fighting in Forest or Jungle, or Engineer that increases their troops’ Defense. Freshly recruited Generals start with one of these but can gain more as they age and gain experience. Many Skill traits have several tiers as well, so Generals that remain active across many campaigns may deepen their abilities over time.

Characters may also gain Conditions due to events or simply the passage of time. These often affect the character’s health, but might also influence their popularity or ability to carry out their basic duties. Shellshocked is a classic example of a Condition your General might gain.

This fellow (whose full name I refuse to write out) has a Direct personality, prefers to command troops in Open Terrain, and is an expert Surveyor of the battlefield. He’s also become Wounded, probably as a result of some recent skirmish.
View attachment 772185
Like all characters, Generals and Admirals are also aligned with an Interest Group - which is often, but not always, the Armed Forces. For Heads of States and Interest Group Leaders the impact of this political allegiance is obvious, but why (you may ask) would this matter for Generals and Admirals?

In addition to industrialization and revolutions, the 19th Century was also known for its revolving door between military and political office. Often given assignments far from the capital with very limited communications, Generals and Admirals were given access to enormous man- and firepower and sent off with little possibility of oversight to see to the nation’s best interests. This autonomy not only granted them considerable geopolitical power while in the field, but also made them extremely popular figures once returning home from a successful campaign. As such, in Victoria 3 your decisions on who to recruit, promote, and retire - which should ideally be based on meritocratic concerns - sometimes have to be tempered also by concerns for internal power balance and stability due to the impact Generals can have on the country’s Interest Groups.

First off, the character contributes directly to their Interest Group’s Political Strength, which as we know determines their Clout. The amount provided is dependent on their rank, so granting a promotion to a promising young General will also increase the influence their Interest Group wields.

Second, if a General is becoming a little too big for their boots - or perhaps crippled by adverse Conditions, like that 79-year old fossil who just won’t leave active service despite senility and various ailments - and you want to force them into retirement so someone else can take command of their troops, their Interest Group’s Approval will be impacted. Understandably so, since you just robbed them of some political power!

Third, and most important, if an Interest Group becomes revolutionary - which will be the subject of another dev diary - their Generals and Admirals will take up against you. If you’ve put all your eggs in the basket of some farmer’s boy who turned out to be a strategic genius and you suffer an agrarian uprising, you may end up fighting a rebellion against that same brilliant commander using fresh recruits still wet behind the ears.

Commanders can also be the focal points of special events, caused either of their own volition or by a situation you have put them in. Your decisions in these events may end up affecting your country in any number of ways.
View attachment 772186
Both Generals and Admirals can be given Orders which they are obliged to try to carry out. We will go over Admiral Orders next week. The Orders you can give Generals are quite straightforward:

Stand By: the General returns home from their current Front, dispersing their troops into their home region’s Garrison forces to slow down any enemy incursions
Advance Front: the General gathers their troops, moves to the target Front, and tries to advance it by launching attacks at the enemy
Defend Front: like Advance Front except the General never advances, instead focusing only on intercepting and repelling enemy forces

These orders may end up executed in different ways depending on the General’s Traits, resulting in different troop compositions and battle conditions during the operations. For example, a Reckless General may provide his Battalions with increased Offense during advances, but fewer of his casualties taken will recover after the battle. Further, his recklessness may lead to making a Risky Maneuver during a battle, which could prove a brilliant or catastrophic move. If you want to play it safer you could assign a Cautious but well-supplied General to a frontline, even though that may be less prestigious.

Generals charged with advancing a Front will favor marching towards and conquering states marked as war goals, but their route there may be more or less circuitous depending on how the war is progressing and possibly other factors such as the local terrain. Other such designated priority targets, which the player could set themselves to alter the flow of battle, is a feature we’re looking into adding to represent strategies and events such as General Sherman’s march to the sea. This is not currently in the game but is something we think would add an interesting dimension to the strategic gameplay, so something like this is likely to make its way in sooner or later!

Fronts targeted to Advance or Defend can also be a Front belonging to a co-belligerent, as long as you can reach it by land or sea. For example, if Prussia supports Finland in a war of independence against Russia, they could send one or two Generals to advance their own Front against Russia and another to help defend the Finnish-Russian Front, ensuring Finland can stay in the war for as long as possible while simultaneously striking at Russia’s own war support. To do so it needs to send its troops helping Finland across the Baltic, which require naval support we will learn more about next week.

Generals cannot be given Orders unless they are Mobilizing. In peacetime, all Generals will be demobilized, doing whatever it is 19th Century Generals do in peacetime (probably drink copious amounts of wine, have sordid affairs, and plot against their governments) while their troops are on standby doing occasional drills to keep readiness up. As soon as a Diplomatic Play starts, and for as long as the country is at war after that, players have the option to Mobilize any and all of their Generals, which will increase the consumption of military buildings (guns, ammo, artillery, etc) and start the process of getting that General’s troops ready for frontline action. The speed by which troops are readied is dependent on the Infrastructure in their local state, so high-infrastructure states can mobilize many more troops quickly while low-infrastructure, rural states might take much longer to gather and organize a lot of manpower.

This means when you choose to start mobilizing, and how many Generals and Battalions you choose to mobilize, will matter a lot to your initial success in the war - and as everyone knows, the first few battles could well prove decisive if the other party is taken by surprise. The magnitude of mobilization becomes immediately visible to the other participants in a Diplomatic Play as soon as the decision is taken. Choosing to mobilize big and early in a Diplomatic Play tells the other participants two things: one, you’re serious, and two, you’re hedging your bets that this won’t end peacefully. This in turn can trigger a cascade of mobilizations, and before you know it, a peaceful solution is no longer on the table. Choosing to hold off on mobilization until late means you save precious money and lives until it’s needed, but may cost you the war if that’s what it comes down to.

Mobilized Generals cannot be demobilized until the war is over. Once you’ve committed your troops to the war, they expect to be in the field and well-supplied until a peace is signed. If getting what you want out of a war takes a long time, your expenses may eventually begin to exceed the value of the potential prize.

In-progress artistic mockup of an Army overview, listing all your Generals with shortcut actions. In this case only General Long-Name has been mobilized (activated), preparing his men to go to the front at the expense of increased goods consumption and attrition.
View attachment 772187
Your land army is composed of Battalions, which are groups of 1000 Workforce with Servicemen or Officer Professions. Like all other Pops these work in Buildings, in this case either Barracks or Conscription Centers. The difference between these are that Barracks are constructed manually and house the country’s standing army, which are considered permanent troops, while Conscription Centers are activated as-needed during a Diplomatic Play or War and recruit civilians into temporary military service. In addition Barracks have a wider selection of Production Methods to choose from, particularly high-tech late-game Production Methods. How your army is divided between professional and conscripted soldiers depends on your Army Model Law, which we will cover in more detail in a few weeks.

The Production Methods in these two buildings work like other Production Methods do: they employ Pops of certain Professions, and consume goods to provide a set of effects. In this case they employ Servicemen and Officers in proportions depending on your organization style, consume a number of military goods, and in return provide Battalions with different combat statistics such as Offense (indicating how useful they are during an advance) and Defense (indicating how useful they are when defending against an advance).

Since military buildings work according to the same logic as other buildings, such as factories and plantations, all core mechanics such as Market Access, Goods Shortages, Qualifications, etcetera apply to them in exactly the same way. If one of your Barracks’ Battalions are supported by Armored Divisions but you cannot supply it with enough Tanks, recruitment will slow down to painful levels and both Offense and Defense will suffer. If you don’t have enough qualifying Officers the number of Battalions the building can actually create will be throttled. Just because you have researched a new type of artillery piece or a more efficient way of organizing your army doesn’t mean you’ll be ready to modernize straight away, and if your local infrastructure suffers the acquisition cost for the requisite goods could reach astronomical levels.

Upgrades to Production Methods in military buildings take considerable time to take effect. While any goods consumption changes happen immediately, improvements to combat effectiveness takes some time to realize. Keeping military spending low during peacetime by reverting your military to pre-Napoleonic warfare doctrines might be pleasant for your treasury but less great for both your war readiness and Prestige, the latter which is directly impacted both by how large and how advanced your army is.

In-progress artistic mockup of a Battalion/Garrison-focused list. Illustrations are selected for a collection of similar Battalions based on dominant Battalion culture (defined by the Pops in the military building) and tech level (defined by the Production Methods in use in the military building). Collections can be expanded to display the full list. From there the player can click through from a given Battalion to the military building supporting it.
View attachment 772188
All this leads us to Battles. Advancing Generals will eventually gather enough troops to launch an attack into one of the enemy-controlled provinces along the Front, which will be intercepted by defending troops and possibly an enemy General. In short, a battle then takes place over some number of days until one force has taken enough casualties and morale damage to retreat. We will go over in more detail how battles play out in a future diary, but suffice to say for now that a bunch of Battalions go in along with a number of different combat-related stats and conditions, some of them related to the General and their troops, others due to conditions like province terrain and chance. If the advancing side wins, they capture a number of provinces depending on how large their win was, what sort of technology they use, how dispersed or concentrated the enemy forces are across the region, and so on. If the defending side wins, they repel the advancers and will likely be able to launch their counter-attack at a nice advantage.

An item of note here is that just because one General might command 100 Battalions while the other side’s General might only command 20 does not mean every battle outcome on this Front is predetermined. A single Front can cover a large stretch of land and just because a General with 100 Battalions is “on a Front” does not mean they travel with 100,000 individuals in their encampment; those Battalions are considered to be spread out, simultaneously planning their next advance while intercepting enemy advances, and as such the force size each side in the battle can bring to bear may vary. Furthermore, Battalions under the command of other friendly Generals on the same Front may be temporarily borrowed for a certain battle, and even Battalions without mobilized Generals (considered part of the region’s Garrison) can be used to defend against incursions. However, Battalions not under the direct command of the General in charge of the battle do not gain the benefit of his Traits.

This variable sizing of battles, particularly when combined with mobilization costs, counteracts the otherwise dominant strategy of “doomstacking” and make wars feel more like a tug-of-war than a race. Each side can choose to either try to gain marginal advantage over the other on the cheap, or spare no expense to increase their chances for an expedient victory, with any position on this spectrum being a valid option in different situations.

We’ll get deeper into some of the combat statistics that go into resolving a battle in a few weeks when we explore military buildings in more detail, and we will talk more about how Battles play out and look on the map in a diary a little further down the line. We’re anxious to show them to you, but need to give these visuals a little more attention first!

That’s land warfare in a nutshell. In the two upcoming dev diaries we will go over the major role that navies play in this system as well as the economic and human costs of war, which are closely interrelated. For now I want to close by saying that we appreciate your patience in waiting for details on warfare mechanics! The reasons for why we’ve chosen to diverge so far from the classic GSG military formula would be hard to grasp until you’ve seen how the different economic, political, and diplomatic systems function.

Next week we will talk more about warfare mechanics as we get into how your navy plays into all this. Until then!
If two nations are at war, do they have just ONE front? Like if Ottomans are in war with russia, is Caucasus front and Danube front a one front?
Can we divide a border with enemy into several frontlines?
 
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LucasG21

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Can we expect "Person with a very long name", or some variation on it, to be in the game proper? As silly as it seems, it is irritating to see names that are cut off abruptly, and it might be better to simply have the name initialized or replaced outside of the character viewer.
 
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