Crusader Kings II - Dev Diary 10 - Combat

Crusader Kings II - Dev Diary 10 - Combat

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Doomdark

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Time again for my monthly (well, roughly) pastime of developer diary writing! Last month, I might have mentioned plots and intrigue, but I think I'll hold off on that a bit more... Instead, let's talk about units and the combat system.

Like in the first Crusader Kings, military units are of variable size and composition. Each can contain any number of each of the seven troop types (light and heavy infantry, pike men, light cavalry, knights, archers and horse archers.) Most units are raised from a corresponding settlement (castle, church or city), their size and composition dependent on the improvements constructed there. Others belong to a mercenary group or holy order, etc. Units are discrete and cannot be merged or split into smaller parts, though of course they can be grouped together in armies. The basic system should be familiar to anyone who has played the original Crusader Kings.

Crusader Kings II Alpha - Harold vs Harald.jpg

Combat, however, is different from our other games. As soon as they are grouped together in a larger army, units are are assigned to one of three positions; left flank, center, or right flank. This is done automatically, but can be altered manually by players so inclined. On the battlefield, each position fights separately - normally against the corresponding part of the enemy army. Combat between positions is divided into three phases; skirmish, melee and pursue/flee. My left flank can be skirmishing against the enemy's right flank while my center is locked in melee, etc. The seven unit types have different strengths and weaknesses, so that for example archers excel at skirmish and knights at melee. The leader of each flank (a character), will pick combat tactics, which determines if his position should strive to close for melee, or avoid melee, etc. When an enemy position breaks, it will flee, and the pursue phase ensues. The longer the phase lasts, the more losses that contingent will sustain, but on the other hand, the pursuing force will not be assisting against the remaining enemy positions - also a tactical decision by the flank commander. Combat tactics are similar to the combat events of Rome, but more developed. (Btw, combat tactics are fully moddable.)

Crusader Kings II Alpha - Siege of York.jpg

Apart from combat tactics, there are also more traditional combat events, for example when commanders get wounded, killed or imprisoned, or when they improve on their martial skills. Sieges work in a similar fashion, but emphasizing morale loss, and with a different set of combat tactics. A commander with a high Intrigue skill might even manage to bribe some defenders into opening the gates. What about fleets? Unlike CK, ships do exist in Crusader Kings II, similar to the galleys in Rome. They are raised like normal troop levies in coastal provinces, but can only be used to transport troops - not to fight or block straits (large scale naval battles in the period were rare to say the least.)

Crusader Kings II Alpha - Battle of York.jpg

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that if an army is victorious, all commanders will bask in the glory and gain prestige. Conversely, the shame of defeat results in prestige loss. So, choosing to lead the army yourself can be profitable in terms of prestige, but of course, war is a dangerous business...

Enjoy the screenies and stay tuned for the next dev diary - sometime in August. :)



Henrik Fåhraeus, Associate Producer and CKII Project Lead
 

Doomdark

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So I can recruit units, or will my vassals create their own and bring them when called to arms? (like happened in Lords of the Realm 3)
You raise the levies of your vassals and they are then under your control. Your vassals will not autonomously try to "help" you, like in CK. I plan to talk more about this in a Warfare dev diary.

Finally, will there be restrictions on what units can be raised in what provinces? A French army composed of cavalry archers would be silly to say at least.
Almost. Province culture affects the composition of all levies from that province.
 

Doomdark

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Second and for the culturephile discussion esther england is saxon there is your aanswer. What i so want to know is. Of the army is organized in three parts, who is going to kras what?. Apperently the king controls the main part, but who is going to control the flanks? Based on titlea and then martial or marshall first?

I remember times when i merged the armies of marshall martial the god of battles and duke whimpy his whimpiness and whimpy his whimpiness got command :mad:
Rank decides, but you can replace leaders manually, unlike in CK. (However, a duke might not be pleased to be replaced as flank commander by a mere knight, etc.)
 

Doomdark

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since you've now confirmed no naval combat, what's going to stop the sheikdom of cornwall from appearing within 50 years like in every game of ck i've ever played?
ai?
 

Doomdark

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So basically instead of automatically putting the troops in ships and shipping them to the province you want, like in CKI, you just added some micro to it? Wasn't the CKI system easier for the AI to use?
It is a bit more micro, but not much, especially if you're used to our other games. As for the AI, it's not a problem.
 

Doomdark

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Hmm. Does this mean that an army consisting of three units is a no-brainer, because less than three won't be able to fill all the positions and more than three will leave some units out of the battle?
Yes, it's normally best to have at least three units in an army. However, a single huge center unit will still beat off three tiny ones, especially if it has a diverse mix of troops.
 

Doomdark

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If there's some specific system that causes ai to focus more on local provinces could you tell us about it?
I will talk about that in an upcoming dev diary on warfare.
 

Doomdark

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Great DD, sir! A couple of questions now, if you wouldn't mind:

1) Do traits affect combat tactics? Like would a cowardly character be more inclined to avoiding melee combat or more likely to retreat? (And would a brave character be inclined toward the opposite?)
Absolutely!

2) Will characters be able to get a reputation from combat causing other characters to see them as monsters or invincible (kind of like the case of the Saracens being terrified of King Richard for a while because of his reputation)?
Not as such, but it's a nifty idea. :)
 

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What is the point of having ships present, since they play decorative role, i.e. only for transportation? How is this different from CK1, where it costed to be shipped to other lands?
Several different reasons to create more strategic options.

1) Limit on when you can move across seas, as ships have to be at places to transport.

2) Limit on how many troops you can ship, as you don't build standing fleets in ck2.
 

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What is the point of having ships present, since they play decorative role, i.e. only for transportation? How is this different from CK1, where it costed to be shipped to other lands?
1) It does not cost money, but you are limited by your port capacity.
2) You can build improvements to increase your port capacity.
3) It is more consistent with our other games.
4) You get reactions from your vassals when you request their ships.
5) It allows us to gain ships through events, or by hiring naval mercenaries, etc.
6) It allows us the possibility of adding naval combat in the future.
 

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Are there penalty's for having one big center fighting against an equal numbered army, who has splitted up into three groups. As the get the effect out encircling, outflanking etc. Or do you get a bonus, as the huge center will make use of Schwerpunkt?
The two flanking units will basically get free attacks on you, but we are still working on the exact balancing mechanics.
 

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If ships can't be lost by fighting, how do they disappear? Do they have a lifetime or are they destroyed by events?
They cost maintenance while raised, and your vassals won't like that either.
 

Doomdark

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Is there any relations penalty for force mobilizing your vassals now that they don't answer the call to duty themselves? And if they are force mobilized will they be less than eager to put in the full effort when the fighting starts?
People keep steering this into the territory of the next dev diary. :) Very well then; the size of the levy you raise from your vassals directly depends on their opinion of you. Every year you keep their levy in the field, they will think less of you.
 
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Tegus

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Come on Doomdark, you know we are going to push it if we can. Especially if you are here answering. :)

The siege of York screenie is nice. Looks like the siege doesnt just have a morale bar for the defenders. I see troop numbers and fortification levels.
Actually the morale bar is for the defenders. Our artist made a trebuchet(he's likes trebuchets :) ) as the icon but we'll change it to a castle or something when he has the time.
 

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Will the army composition matter in deciding whether the fight is in skirmish or in melee phase? Or: will a light calvary and horse archers Mongol army be able to stay for a very long time in the skirmish phase while fighting a heavy infantry and pikemen German army?
While we haven't finalized the combat tactics yet, this is a behavior we desire. Since the tactics are scriptable one could easy script that if the majority of the flank is archer types, you will prefer tactics that does not change to the melee phase. This is doable today, but I think we'll also need to add an effect that compare the martial skills of the flank leaders, so the one with higher stats have higher chance of controlling the phase.

This would mean that a character with good martial skill could force the combat to stay in skirmish for a very long time, which I think is a cool feature :)
 

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Is there any kind of penalty for having too much cavalry and not enough infantry like the combined arms bonus in EU3? Or can you just have big stacks that are mostly heavy cavalry and terrorize the enemy without consequence? :D
Not per se, but we have a tactic right now that boosts certain unit types, and lowers the stats of others. Since each tactic has a trigger, one could add certain "bad" tactics which gives severe penalties to certain types.

Thanks for the DD.
Looking forward to the game much appreciate.

Very happy about the combat details so far.


One question regarding the aftermath of a battle:
Still suffering the bad experience from your later games in this part...
How to handle this aftermath?
You think it is possible to balance the game out so we will have some realistic 2-3 decisive battles in some minor conflicts -> No WW1 in York vs Norfolk f.e. ;-)

And of course will there be some kind of attack/move delay to prevent pingpong? (only would work with decisive loss of men, too)
I hate these battles of two zero morale armies last for two weeks and suffer nearly zero losses...
We aim for big decisive battles in CK2.

Hopefully ping-ponging will be less of an issue in CK2, since when you win a combat, the losing flanks are still retreating for a couple of days, which gives the winner a couple of free hits. We've also removed the retreat delay when entering combats(so you can retreat day one), but since you will retreat a couple of days(thus giving enemies free hits on your troops), this is really something you want to avoid.
 

Tegus

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So how does reinforcing work? If I'm English and lose troops while fighting in Turkey, do I need to raise more troops manually in England and ship them to my armies in Asia, or will my armies slowly recover automatically like in EU3?
Reinforcement is currently reserved for mercenaries and holy orders :)
 

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I see, I see. That's pretty neat. Although because battles are more decisive now, does that mean one bad loss in a far away land will pretty much mean the end of your campaign for a while? If you lose, I imagine you retreat and then the enemy can persue you can clean up what's left. Is that correct?
This is still something that needs to be balanced, but as of now fleeing units move a bit faster, so they should have a chance to regroup.