A couple good idea for tactical combat from other games

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Nerdfish

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Mostly another idea for age of wonders IV, when and if Triumph develops it.

- Keep track of health of individual soldiers in units.
This turned out to be a great game feature from 40K Sactus Reach and Battlesector.
Each unit is comprised of multiple separate entities or models, each of them have their own health pool and make their own attacks.
There are several interesting consequences to this.
1. Certain weapons and units will be much better suited at dealing with higher tier units as opposed to lower tiered ones comprised of many individuals.
The world's most powerful assassin with daggers that does 50 damage per swing can kill a dragon in one round, but will barely scratch a militia squad.
Conversely a dragon's breath would wipe out entire units of lower tier units in one swoop as it has uncapped number of targets.
2. Lower tier unit can get late game upgrade allow them to merge, thus prevent them from becoming obsolete.
T1 and T2 unit can start out with 5 members which then can be upgrade to 10 members in mid game, finally again to 20 members in the late game.
These larger groups can be formed by merging existing units on the strategic map, or produced directly.
3. Firepower of lower tier units decrease as they take damage, but not as much for higher tier units.
Because higher tier units are comprised of less model with individually higher health, they will drop models only if they are at very low health.
There would be a tactical advantage to focus fire on high tier units (especially single entity like heroes or T4 monsters).

- terrain can be effected by status.
This is an idea from divinity series. Basically different terrain types have different status resistance.
Status effects that affect units also applies onto the terrain they said on if the ground fails the save.
For example, a spell may cover say, 7 hex or so in oil, slowing units in it, but if it's raining and the ground is wet, this spell may not work on all those hexes, or last as long.
If a fire spell subsequently target a hex covered in oil, it has a high chance of igniting that hex, which can than spread to all adjacent oiled hexes, creating a large wall of fire.
Another example is that a battle takes place in the domain of wetland spell may have many hexes of wet muddy ground, which slows down units.
If a lighting spell target one of these hexes, it has a high chance of electrifying the hex, which then spread to adjacent wet hexes, stunning every unit in those hexes.
This allow clever use of magic to turn the tide against even armies that could not be defeated in normal circumstances.
In addition, trees and other obstacles may have hit-points. doing a lot of damage may knock down down making the hex passable.
Ice should also have a HP pool, depleting it would cause the ice to crack and destroy units standing on it.
But ice hexes should also have a large amount of armor, so that only heavy physical attack or fire can affect it.

That's it for now. If I come across anything else I will post them here.
Have you found anything that AOW can learn from as well ?
 

coodav

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Nerdfish - You are talking about intricate game mechanics which were present in several of these games that take careful consideration. I recall some of the mechanics you have here present in Master of Magic, Civ, and others. It is hard to really judge how it went in them, because the usefulness of those game mechanics is... sketchy. I think most were eliminated for a reason. Take the decreasing unit effectiveness. That was in MOM, and was generally eliminated in later games, because a few well-placed hits will completely eliminate an entire army's damage potential. The lack of potential felt bad. And I don't know if that is strategy at its highest level.

At the same time, I would love for things like this to be integrated. Problem is, what it would take? How can you have a damaged unit be reduced in effectiveness, but still stay dangerous? Does it scale down partially? Do you have six 'bound' individual units in a group? Then, would AOE damage all of the units in the group, not just one?

Take a shieldman / 'tank' unit. Say it's made of six units. I take a few attacks focusing them down. The unit lives, but one shieldman is left. Game-play wise, the unit is ineffective. I can leave the tank alone now, without much worry. I don't know about that. You want consequences for improper game decisions.

I think you are onto something, but here is the gig. No matter what decisions they make, it has to be fully integrated. There is a reason that the big super-4X-games were rated where they are:


They took something and made it better. Just be careful what you wish for. Whatever gets picked has to be genius.
 
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Nerdfish

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Nerdfish - You are talking about intricate game mechanics which were present in several of these games that take careful consideration. I recall some of the mechanics you have here present in Master of Magic, Civ, and others. It is hard to really judge how it went in them, because the usefulness of those game mechanics is... sketchy. I think most were eliminated for a reason. Take the decreasing unit effectiveness. That was in MOM, and was generally eliminated in later games, because a few well-placed hits will completely eliminate an entire army's damage potential. The lack of potential felt bad. And I don't know if that is strategy at its highest level.

At the same time, I would love for things like this to be integrated. Problem is, what it would take? How can you have a damaged unit be reduced in effectiveness, but still stay dangerous? Does it scale down partially? Do you have six 'bound' individual units in a group? Then, would AOE damage all of the units in the group, not just one?

Take a shieldman / 'tank' unit. Say it's made of six units. I take a few attacks focusing them down. The unit lives, but one shieldman is left. Game-play wise, the unit is ineffective. I can leave the tank alone now, without much worry. I don't know about that. You want consequences for improper game decisions.

I think you are onto something, but here is the gig. No matter what decisions they make, it has to be fully integrated. There is a reason that the big super-4X-games were rated where they are:


They took something and made it better. Just be careful what you wish for. Whatever gets picked has to be genius.
A unit does not need to do damage to be dangerous. A unit with even one model left can stay useful by interacting with other mechanic.
Take your example of your unit of swordsman with shields. There is one man left. It can do following things:
1. it can be used to provoke a retaliation, since units have a limited number of relations, it can allow another unit to attack without taking damage.
2. It can be used trigger a flanking bonus. Attacking from a different direction, a unit with one man left can force an enemy unit to turn around,
allowing another unit to inflict flanking, or even backstabbing damage.
3. It can be used to occupy a hex. It can be used to obstruct an enemy cavalry charge against an archer, for example, even just for one turn.
It can also be also be used to physically obstruct a ranged attacked forcing the enemy to shoot them first.

Of course it take some testing to evaluate how well a feature will mesh with a new game. However first the designer must first be aware the feature exist.
That's why I made this thread. known unknowns are easier to design for, than unknown unkowns.
 

coodav

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A unit does not need to do damage to be dangerous.
It did, actually. Sucked for tanks. They just didn't make sense.

1. it can be used to provoke a retaliation, since units have a limited number of relations, it can allow another unit to attack without taking damage.
Maybe. If that retaliation mechanic is in the game. That isn't what happened back then.

Plus, if there is a retaliation, AOE effect, or anything else, the unit is gone, without a trace.

2. It can be used trigger a flanking bonus.
Yes, it can allow another unit additional damage. Again, only if that mechanic is in the game. Plus, the flanking mechanic has its own problems.

3. It can be used to occupy a hex.
Well, I guess. And yes, the unit is still around. Until it gets killed with a misfire, or a grenade gone wrong. Or some scout puts it out of its misery with the one movement point it has left.

And that it is fine, but these mechanics have to be well integrated. It is clear to see that AOW-PF originally shipped in a badly integrated place. Much persists to this day.

Not to say the system doesn't have potential. It would be great to have rock-paper-scissors in a variety of ways, generating well-made, fully fleshed-out systems. I think a flanking / depletion system could be the centerpiece, possibly allowing you to counter either single-unit stacks, or multi-unit stacks, in a way that makes sense --- but not with the current approach, lack of environmental interaction, and lack of imagination. They have to really work on it.

And all of this probably pales in comparison to a good AI. If they focused on that, I bet they could make a horrifically basic poke-wannabe fight exciting.
 
Tactical phase, Initiative System and Command Points

Nerdfish

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Here is a couple more

- Tactical Phase
Armies should get a chance to position their units before battle ! This is in almost every other tactical game.
tactical Phase should only be disabled for special situations, like defending army during an ambush does not get a tactical phase.
Heroes skill may expand deployment areas. Units skills may allow units to deploy outside deployment zones during tactical phase (vanguard deployment)

- initiative Gauge
This was a Good system from a number of games, Sora no Kiseki and Heroes of Might and Magic V came to mind.
One issue with very large ranged armies (Dreadnoughts in AOW3 came to mind), is that they decmimate or completely crowd control one another on the first turn. Whoever goes first can inflict serious damage from the other. So instead of armies taking turns, a speed system can determine order of action for units in BOTH armies.
for instance a combat involving 2 units, one with speed of 3 and another one of 5.
on the first turn, both unit add their speed to their initiative gauge. so unit A have count of 3 and unit B have count of 5.
unit B have highest initiative count of all unit, so it takes a turn, removing its speed of 5 and resetting its gauge back to 0.
On the second turn, both unit again add their speed to their gauge. unit A would have 6 and B would have 5.
A would now take a turn, removing 3 from its gauge.
On the third turn, A would have 6 in its gauge and B would have 10, so it's B's turn
On the forth turn, A would have 9 in its gauge but B have 10, so B takes another consecutive turn.
To prevent any surprises, the predicted turn sequence should be displayed in a column on the left side of the screen.
This system means a fast rogue will take turns more often than a clunky warrior, further differentiating units and factions

- Command points

An army wide shared resource generated by heroes (and perhaps rarely some T4) that allow units to take consecutive actions.
This system is seen in Valkyria Chronical series, as well as 40K Mechanicus. (It's a little excessive in Valkyria)
Basically, Heroes generate command point on their turns. at any time during a unit's turn, the controlling player may choose to consume a command point,
which will increase the unit's current action points by it's maximum amount.
(Say a knight already used one action point to move, and now has 2, and a command point is used on the unit, it now has 5 action points)
Action points allow units to perform acts of great heroism, but is rare and have to be used judiciously.
Beside being generated by heroes, it may also come from certain buildings, or tactical spells.
Certain unit ability may also consume a command point, in that case the unit does not gain additional action points
(A rapid reload, for instance, consume a command point, and instantly reload an artillery unit.)