Should Artillery Types be Simplified?

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Hippob4

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Something that's bugged me about HoI4 and even HoI3 for the longest time is how the only reliable piece of artillery for pretty much every single battle is your regular artillery or rocket artillery in combat.... while Anti Air and especially Anti Tank arty seem to be so rarely used meaningfully in combat.

Regular and Rocket artillery arguably is objectively beneficial and a big multiplier in Soft Damage and more. Sure, AA helps reduce Air Superiority a bit, and AT does a lot of Hard Attack. But I don't think they have much general use in head to head battles. They feel like slight buffs to units, imo.

Yes, the problem is that the AI doesn't build enough tank divisions or combine armored brigades with their infantry divisions. But the AI also spreads its armored divisions out so there's no armored thrust where you can allocate your AT units effectively in that area.

It's also a let down that Anti Air units don't get a buff while in Urban terrain, even though historically Anti Air artillery proved effective in urban CQC battle.

---

With that all said, I wonder if a better solution to make the best use of all three artillery types is to abstract them into perhaps four types of Support brigades: Horse-Towed Artillery, Truck-Towed Artillery, Mechanized Artillery, and Armored Artillery.

The first benefit being that all four types would at least cover the three artillery branches, Artillery, AA, and AT. So your average infantry unit likely will at least be using Horse-Towed to offer some basic soft damage, AA support, and AT defense as one package without sacrificing Brigade Slots and other costs like it does in HoI4 now.

Horse Drawn Arty being a mixed of light and medium artillery pieces because poor horsies can't pull that much weight.

I see Truck Towed Artillery being a slightly more expensive and decently buffed up version of Horse artillery. Being able to tow light, medium, and some heavy artillery.

Mechanized Support though, I see adding significant buffs to all three branches thanks to more horsepower to bring in more heavy artillery (as shown below), armor protection, self-propelled units, and rocket artillery a la Katyushas, Xylophones, Panzerwerfers.

SdKfz_7_halftrack_towing_Flak_88.jpg

(Mechanized towed Flak 88)

And lastly Armored Artillery would have the best overall stats, being tanks converted for artillery roles. The only downside would be fuel consumption, more expensive to produce, and maybe terrain.

Yes i know we have variants and while they're cool that they're modeled, i do feel like having multiple models of Light Tank II AA, Medium Tank III SPG, and all the additional upgraded models adds more unnecessary micro and juggling around units. I find myself usually just researching the base tanks and sometimes SPGs (again, AA and AT just seem so rarely and effectively used in head to head battles) most of the time.

In practice, what I'd ideally see as a result in division templates is:

Horse Drawn Arty = Inter-War, Early War infantry units. Late War infantry usage if low on resources i.e. German Volks divisions. Minor Countries.
Truck Arty = Early-Mid-Late War Infantry units if industry supports it. Motorized divisions. Early War tank divisions
Mechanized Arty = Elite units throughout the war. Mechanized divisions. Tank Divisions.
Armored Arty = Elite Armored Divisions

---

I understand this would change the research tree quite a bit. I don't know how it would exactly look like if you abstracted arty like I did, but i think I'd be okay just giving simple upgrade levels that improves soft damage, hard damage, AA support, defense each time you rank it up. The cost could either be really long research durations, or maybe it increases the production costs.

Thoughts?
 
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Sbrubbles

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So, you're proposing rolloing AA, AT and artilery all into one, then splitting them into 4 categories acording to their level of motorization (more or less).

Interesting, but honestly I don't really understand the gameplay problem you're pointing out nor how your proposed change solves it. Also it creates more complexity, since it generates a disconnect between batallion and produced equipment. An AA batallion uses AA equipment, a motorized AT batalion used AT and motorized equipment, but a proposed mechanized truck arty uses mechanized, AT, AA and artillery? Dunno, sounds like you're removing simplicity, not creating it.

(On a side note, a lot of mods add this complexity between battalion and equipment by creating with equipment categories like horses, radio, squad weapons, etc. I personally hate it, because while it looks like a nice bit of detail, after the novelty wears off it ends being just another uninteresting hoop to jump through without any real strategic consideration)
 
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Hippob4

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So, you're proposing rolloing AA, AT and artilery all into one, then splitting them into 4 categories acording to their level of motorization (more or less).

Interesting, but honestly I don't really understand the gameplay problem you're pointing out nor how your proposed change solves it.
1. Currently in Hoi4 Regular/Rocket Arty is the only arty that's effectively used in every engagement. AA and AT only offers tiny Soft Damage. AT is barely used against tanks because the AI doesn't build enough tank divisions and spreads its units all across the wide front. So AT is mostly used against soft units for little gains when you could have added regular arty instead (there's a cost to using AT and AA too. Resources, factories, brigade slots)

2. Simplifying arty would help with AI division templates, would give units more of a fighting chance in general across the front if for example Anti Tank guns were generally attached to units because right now the AI hardly equips infantry divisions with AT (which makes player tank divisions sorta unstoppable), would cut down on the current micromanagement with having to juggle different arty types and tank arty variants in the Designer, Factories, and Equipment Stockpile
 
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1. Currently in Hoi4 Regular/Rocket Arty is the only arty that's effectively used in every engagement. AA and AT only offers tiny Soft Damage. AT is barely used against tanks because the AI doesn't build enough tank divisions and spreads its units all across the wide front. So AT is mostly used against soft units for little gains when you could have added regular arty instead (there's a cost to using AT and AA too. Resources, factories, brigade slots)

2. Simplifying arty would help with AI division templates, would give units more of a fighting chance in general across the front if for example Anti Tank guns were generally attached to units because right now the AI hardly equips infantry divisions with AT (which makes player tank divisions sorta unstoppable), would cut down on the current micromanagement with having to juggle different arty types and tank arty variants in the Designer, Factories, and Equipment Stockpile
Sounds like the problems you're describing is the the AI doesn't use the tools the game offers (in point 1, the AI doesn't use tanks, and in point 2, doesn't use AT). To me this is a problem you solve by improving the AI, not by removing complexity by rolling all artileries into a single category. The current system allows the player to do different things in the division template to suit their needs (different, varying levels of AA, AT and Artilery, which creates fun little puzzles to solve), but it's not so complicated that it can't be used by the AI with some standard, decent templates.
 
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Hippob4

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Sounds like the problems you're describing is the the AI doesn't use the tools the game offers (in point 1, the AI doesn't use tanks, and in point 2, doesn't use AT). To me this is a problem you solve by improving the AI, not by removing complexity by rolling all artileries into a single category. The current system allows the player to do different things in the division template to suit their needs (different, varying levels of AA, AT and Artilery, which creates fun little puzzles to solve), but it's not so complicated that it can't be used by the AI with some standard, decent templates.
Oh yeah, that's the thing why I want arty to be streamlined.

I have very little faith that Paradox can solve the game's AI issues. I just don't think the AI is capable of adapting to the complexities of HoI4's many systems and unable to think big picture and on an 'operational' level.

In many ways HoI4 feels like it's designed for human players first. And I had a lot of fun when I played one MP game against my friend where we both effectively used templates efffectively in these pitched battles (allocating a lot of armor, AT, AA, etc to control an important strategic sector).

But I just can't see the AI ever coming close to thinking rationally, strategically, and cunningly like a human player. Even defending important VPs doesn't seem important to the AI. I've never had a compelling urban battle the likes of Stalingrad because the AI never funnels units to defend important cities. So often Berlin, Stalingrad, London, Paris, Tokyo etc are defended by like, 1-3 basic infantry divisions which is... lame.

And it's why i think the game would benefit from simplifying concepts for the AI. Like besides simplifying the Artillery, I think creating a system for Garrisoning Cities/Forts like EU4, Imperator, CK3, etc would make Urban battles more prolonged and challenging. The AI would benefit from being able to hold Urban VPs longer rather than plopping 1-3 units.

It seems to me all the AI mainly cares about is having as wide of a front than it does force concentration.

Simplifying arty wouldn't fix the AI wide frontlines problem (honestly, i think until we reach human-level AI thinking, the best alternative to maximizing force concentration would be to reduce the number of provinces in HoI4), but it probably make the AI a bit more challenging (less easy to overrun with player tanks) and take some strain off the AI and players when it comes to managing the Division Designer, Factory Allocation, and Equipment Stockpile.
 
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I guess the motorized/towed artillery types should get some sort of extra buff to account for being able to tow bigger guns. This helps bridge the gap between line and tank variants. Im not sure we need to add mech as a type.

Without a specialized gun traktor equipment for mek arty, or battalion modifiers to nullify the stats, using mech equipment would add a lot of defense.
 
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I guess the motorized/towed artillery types should get some sort of extra buff to account for being able to tow bigger guns. This helps bridge the gap between line and tank variants. Im not sure we need to add mech as a type.

Without a specialized gun traktor equipment for mek arty, or battalion modifiers to nullify the stats, using mech equipment would add a lot of defense.
I guess the idea is that Mechanized halftracks can pull in even heavier artillery (stronger engines than trucks'), rocket artillery like Katyushas and Xylophones would be included, and they can come in their Self Propelled AA, AT, SPG variants.
1617451858839.jpeg

US_27th_Field_Artillery_Troops_in_T12_75mm_GMC_M1897A4_M3.jpg


I mean, currently HoI4 doesn't even have mechanized self propelled units, only Self propelled tank variants and separate truck drawn arty, AT, AA, Rocket units.
 

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We do have the armoured car anti tank variant, and katyusha/panzerwerfer style rocket artillery are in the game.

I'm not sure if more types of battalions equipment would be good, or if we just need to rebalance/abstract what we have.
 
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Personally I feel like the AI should be made to understand the various division types, deploy no more than it can supply, and that artillery should be sorted by how much of it is available to each quality type of division, rather than the ART/AA/AT distinctions.
 
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I'm happy people have faith in Paradox somehow miraculously solving the AI issues.

But i just think unless Paradox streamlines and abstracts concepts so the AI can understand the system easier, the AI will never be able to take advantage of the Division Designer, frontlines, and so on.

I earlier saw people disagree with a user who also thought the Division Designer hurts the AI more than it makes the game challenging and interesting. Sure it's neat to customize your divisions and see exactly how many artillery pieces are available or missing in the division. But so many times I will see the AI just be unable to deploy the right type of units at the right spot, or use the designer well while taking into account equipment and production.

Like, why is the German AI only building Weapons III equipment when they're 53K in the red deficit for Small Arms and every division is underequipped? Shouldn't they be mass producing Weapons I and some factors to Weapons II and III?

A human player can see the relationship and issues and rectify it. AI, though? I just don't think we have AI that is capable of processing all this and more.

---

But back to simplifying Arty, i still think having *28 different types of artillery and SPG equipment and units* is just too much for the AI to handle, and straining on players to juggle with when you can easily just simplify them into just 4 different types of arty support. Horse, Truck, Mechanized, and Armored Artillery.

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Something that's bugged me about HoI4 and even HoI3 for the longest time is how the only reliable piece of artillery for pretty much every single battle is your regular artillery or rocket artillery in combat.... while Anti Air and especially Anti Tank arty seem to be so rarely used meaningfully in combat.




Horse Drawn Arty being a mixed of light and medium artillery pieces because poor horsies can't pull that much weight.
In fact, Wehrmacht infantry artillery was, throughout the war horse drawn. And it included biggest guns.
I see Truck Towed Artillery being a slightly more expensive and decently buffed up version of Horse artillery. Being able to tow light, medium, and some heavy artillery.
Main benefit of trucks was much easier transport of ammo and slight increase in speed of unit movement. Guns were exactly the same as those that were drawn by horses.
Mechanized Support though, I see adding significant buffs to all three branches thanks to more horsepower to bring in more heavy artillery (as shown below), armor protection, self-propelled units, and rocket artillery a la Katyushas, Xylophones, Panzerwerfers.
You have to ask yourself what you want here - tracked/halftrack towing vehicles? Those were often just unarmoured trucks on tracks, with better cross country move capabilities.
Or tracked/halftrack mounted weapons? Then those were almost exclusively light guns. In fact, rocket arty was used as it was very light (and thus possible to install on lighter vehicles) compared to normal guns of the same power. Medium-heavy guns (like 150mm) were carried on modified (though often lightly armoured and open topped) tank chassis and those qualify below.
In fact, I consider those HT mounted AT guns and light arty pieces to already being included through bonuses MEC has over INF/MOT.
And lastly Armored Artillery would have the best overall stats, being tanks converted for artillery roles. The only downside would be fuel consumption, more expensive to produce, and maybe terrain.
Removing tank variants is a massive change to pretty much all aspects of HOI4 engine. Besides, heaviest guns were not vehicle mounted but towed. SP Arty were mostly 100-150mm in caliber. WWII heavy field arty was 170-210mm mid and late war.

What is most surprising is that HoI4 do not model one of the most common combat vehicle of WW2 - German stugs/russian SU and ISU - simplified tank chassis with tank armour and light-medium gun used mostly as inf support.
In game SP-Art is lightly armoured, no breakthrough "Artillery on tracks" like German Wespe, Hummel, US Priest or UK Sexton while SP-AT is specialized AT vehicle like German Jagdpanzers, US M10, M18, M36, UK Archer, Achilles.
Instead, "STUG" variant should have same armour as tanks, lower breakthrough and higher SA (half way between tank and SPArt?). HA should be lower than tanks. They should be significantly cheaper than tanks as well.
 
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In Hoi3 with HPP (historical plausibility) mod, this was a reality. That was one of the best mods there, with lots of good overhauls, with some that were in part introduced in HoI4, like research. The artillery system was much better and simple in that mod, sadly wasn't implemented here. They way that artillery is implemented here is very gamey and leads to lots of abuse against the AI.
 
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George Parr

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In Hoi3 with HPP (historical plausibility) mod, this was a reality. That was one of the best mods there, with lots of good overhauls, with some that were in part introduced in HoI4, like research. The artillery system was much better and simple in that mod, sadly wasn't implemented here. They way that artillery is implemented here is very gamey and leads to lots of abuse against the AI.
How exactly is the current implementation of artillery gamey?
And how would a mixed unit somehow be less gamey?

Quite frankly, I don't see any point to the suggested change. It makes things worse and more unhistoric. All for a supposed "improvement" for the AI that you don't even know would exist. Saying that you don't have faith in Paradox fixing the AI to deal with the current system makes no sense if you consider the fact that the suggested change would require reworking the AI so it could use a different system. If you deem Paradox not being capable enough - or not bothering to use the necessary ressources - to get the current system working, what makes you think it would somehow be different when you overhaul an entire part like that?

Simply put, with divisions being based on battalions, all type of units should exist exactly in the way they did in reality. Or as close you can get to represent that. Don't make things worse for players, just on the vague hope that the AI might be better off. Your change may just as well make things worse for all players and the AI.
 
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Saying that you don't have faith in Paradox fixing the AI to deal with the current system makes no sense if you consider the fact that the suggested change would require reworking the AI so it could use a different system. If you deem Paradox not being capable enough - or not bothering to use the necessary ressources - to get the current system working, what makes you think it would somehow be different when you overhaul an entire part like that?
The proposed change is not really a system. It is just a progression of no guns -> cheap guns -> more expensive guns -> even more expensive guns. It does not involve the need to decide anything new based on the enemy's composition.

For example the current German AI infantry template does not include AT - based on the guesstimate of enemies not having significant amounts of armor. Conversely, Allied AI infantry divisions don't have AA, based on the guess that they will achieve air superiority. These guesses can easily turn out to be fatally wrong without the AI being able to adapt. Folding the artillery types into one removes the need for the AI scripter to guess what works against a particular enemy.

Having each AI template use the generic artillery battalions is far easier a change than making them adapt to shifting requirements in the current system.

Sadly this game is primarily designed for the cool factor from a new player's perspective.
 
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I am not in favor of what you propose but rather the opposite, the technological map should be less abstract and more concrete, for example, it would be necessary to implement more artillery variants such as a light and heavy variant within anti-aircraft artillery or different types of artillery
 
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Conversely, Allied AI infantry divisions don't have AA, based on the guess that they will achieve air superiority. These guesses can easily turn out to be fatally wrong without the AI being able to adapt. Folding the artillery types into one removes the need for the AI scripter to guess what works against a particular enemy.
..or you can just remove AT and AA artillery from the game. I mean, that basically what you do anyway.

i still think having *28 different types of artillery and SPG equipment and units* is just too much for the AI to handle, and straining on players to juggle with
I'm often very fast to shout 'overbloat', but here I have to ask: is there any example of player who complained about too much artillery types, because it was straining him or her?
 

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I wouldn't mind borrowing a note from MtG's treatment of naval AA, not to mention Hoi3's research, and have the strength of tank guns improved by research in the AT artillery tree.

You could rush a HTD, but with no AT research you'd just have interwar twin MGs or a 37mm cannon on it. So the disparity between vehicular and towed capability would disappear, and there'd be a reason to invest in AT research even if you didn't plan to use many towed guns (much as you might research the AA branch for the sake of your ships, rather than support AA).
 
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I wouldn't mind borrowing a note from MtG's treatment of naval AA, not to mention Hoi3's research, and have the strength of tank guns improved by research in the AT artillery tree.

You could rush a HTD, but with no AT research you'd just have interwar twin MGs or a 37mm cannon on it. So the disparity between vehicular and towed capability would disappear, and there'd be a reason to invest in AT research even if you didn't plan to use many towed guns (much as you might research the AA branch for the sake of your ships, rather than support AA).
If they went that route, I would hope they would automatically unlock the variants like AA and TD when you research the appropriate combination of hull tier and weapon. I imagine tank gun tech could come from the hull itself.

I wouldnt want to interrupt the flow of the game by making a tank designer like the MTG ship designer.
 
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I think a better way to streamline it, especially if you want to do it for the AI's sake, is allow players (and the AI) to assign artillery and perhaps other support companies directly to armies.

So let's say you have an army with 5 Anti-Tank support companies directly assigned to it. If three of your divisions encounter tanks, each of them receives an AT company, which is then returned to the army when the battle is over.

Would help the AI out a lot, and also make AT support companies a lot less situational.
 
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If they went that route, I would hope they would automatically unlock the variants like AA and TD when you research the appropriate combination of hull tier and weapon. I imagine tank gun tech could come from the hull itself.

I wouldnt want to interrupt the flow of the game by making a tank designer like the MTG ship designer.
I believe that a solution that could facilitate the players the theme of the designer and that was not so heavy would be when investigating a helmet or chassis a series of decisions would arise to unlock certain pre-defined historical models that are very characteristic for the nation. These decisions could only be unlocked when you have researched certain technologies or modules that require that model in exchange for a certain corresponding experience cost depending on the model. That would be something very similar to what was seen in a Watlzing Matlida mod

These predefined models could be modified later, being a variant of this

Personally, they would see nonsense, I could make a tank destroyer without previously having investigated the basic anti-tank canon and normally that was how it was historically and the part of the tank destroyer was normally to split an anti-tank gun mounted armored chassis like any self-propelled element.