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Girsanov

Units with Guns in Turn Based Strategy/Tactics

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In some Turn Based Strategy (TBS) games set during time period where guns are prevalent (futuristic, modern, WWII etc), units with guns are given a range of only 1. That is, they only attack the spaces around them (hex or squares) like a melee unit would. This has the benefit of being very simple and clear cut. It is very easy to figure out which units are in danger of being attacked by looking at how far your opponent's units can move. The downside is that the identity of ranged and melee units are somewhat lost, except for units like artillery for example that can attack many squares/hex away. A basic soldier armed with a rifle would have the same range as an alien armed with tooth and claw. Another way to do it is to let all units with guns be ranged units. So in a TBS with modern warfare theme, just about every unit can attack several squares/hex away. Would this become too complicated? An enemy unit's reach would be its movement range + attack ranged - not as easy to figure out if there are several units on the field. What are the benefits/drawback of both systems that I may have overlooked? Perhaps the more experienced TBS players on this forum can advise me on this?

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You could possibly try abstacting the units tactical range via a bonus mechanism eg. close combat weapons negate cover of opposing unit and unit loses its on cover bonus or something similar, so representing their advantage at close quarters.

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How much you want to abstract the game mainly depends on what kind of game you want to make, something like risk or a tactics rpg.
Both can work fine but you do want to control the total complexity of your game so a highly abstract system like risk is good if you want to simulate a entire war but for a more detailed simulation you probably only want to give the player control of 12 or so units, x-com is a good example of the later in a modern setting.

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Quote:
Original post by Girsanov
The downside is that the identity of ranged and melee units are somewhat lost, except for units like artillery for example that can attack many squares/hex away. A basic soldier armed with a rifle would have the same range as an alien armed with tooth and claw.

Most TBS'es that I've played only contain 'ranged' units, so the difference between melee and ranged is not a problem - there simply are no melee units. I think the system works pretty well for distinguishing between artillery units and 'normal' ranged units.

Quote:
Another way to do it is to let all units with guns be ranged units. So in a TBS with modern warfare theme, just about every unit can attack several squares/hex away. Would this become too complicated? An enemy unit's reach would be its movement range + attack ranged - not as easy to figure out if there are several units on the field.

You could display a units 'reach', that is, it's movement combined with it's range.

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Hi,

I know this might be incompatible with your engine, but you could consider
letting melee units to have an attack range of 0, such that they can only
attack units that are on the same hex. When your melee units are attacking
your enemy would do friendly-fire damage when they attack you from outside
the hex, because your opponent cannot specific target your units without
also targeting his own units. Artillary units are defenseless against melee
units due to minimum range as usual.

Another way to differentiate between melee and ranged attack is to enforce
an attack order by letting ranged units attack first, followed by melee.

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Yay, a thread about my favorite genre! :-)

Wow, I got carried away with this... If it's too long, just read the first paragraph, only one that's directly relevant...


Many TBS games will display movement range as one color (say blue) and attack range on top of that as another color (ex. red). This eliminates the "difficulty", although I must say, if you're unwilling to keep track of such things, tactics games probably aren't for you.

Another consideration with guns is that depending on the level of realism you're looking for, you may either need to have them do a LOT of damage relative to health, or explain why they don't somehow (energy shields are the traditional method, but they may be overused...).

Finally, in a game that's heavy on ranged combat, one aspect that takes on greater importance is vision. If your fog-of-war engine or whatever you're using to handle this isn't up to snuff, the balancing will be much more difficult.

Just some things to think about. Your game sound very interesting... keep me posted!

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As others have noted, it really depends on what scale (both space and time) you're working with. Realistically, rifles have a range of a few hundred meters. Are your map spaces smaller than that?

If not, the traditional solution is something like "first strike", giving the ranged unit a chance to attack a non-ranged enemy once, without it striking back. Assuming you have some kind of multi-round combat system.

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If you took Civ 4's method of giving some units vulnerabilities to others I think you could recapture some of that lost identity.

From a design point of view I think you can solve a lot of confusion for the player with UI overlays indicating range. You could even be nice enough to highlight units under threat. So I don't think the problem is there.

I think the main problem is in dealing with AI. I haven't worked on this myself (so take with a grain of salt), but a few AI coders I've talked to have commented on how factoring in influence of range on top of movement is so much more difficult than if units can only affect a single node or grid space on the map.

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Thanks to everyone who replied and for the many ideas/suggestions given! Sorry if I didn't reply to everyone's comments.

I am trying to start (and hopefully finish in 1-2 years) a small TBS project as a hobby. It is meant for my friends and the small community around me, most of which have probably never played TBS games. Hence, I am wary of making the game too complex.

This thread is where I roughly described my goals and asked for advice:

Advice for Turn Based Strategy/Tactics design?



So more info on what I am looking for :

- Realism isn't important but I want it to be somewhat plausible.
- Small game. Probably less than 10 units.
- Futuristic settings => Everyone have guns except for some Aliens who relies on the old fashion tooth & claw.


These are the different treatment of units equipped with guns under consideration (thanks for the input from this thread!) :

1) Attack range of 1. Treated in the same way as Melee.

2) Attack range greater than 1 while Melee has attack range 1.

3) Attack range of 1. Melee needs to move into the same hex/square to attack. (not likely to be used since I intend to only allow one unit in a hex/square at all times)

4) *NEW* Ranged units can attack with unlimited range but is subjected to line of sight requirements. Also, they have a maximum and minimum range such that they suffer damage penalty when attacking units beyond their max or within their min range. (this is like the Heroes of Might and Magic system)


I think 4) has the most potential. What do you guys think?>

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As drakostar mentions, scale is the biggest deciding factor.

1. If a mountain region will fit into one tile/hex/square of your game, then you should keep ranged units the same as melee units, and just modify their bonuses and penalties.

2. On the other hand, if a tile in your game is the size of a real world floor tile (around 40 inches or 1 meter), then it would be extremely generic for ranged units to have an attack range of 1. In this situation, you can easily get away with unlimited range for them, where their attacks are only limited by their line of sight.

If #2 is the case, and you're only dealing with modern or futuristic ranged weapons (no slings or bows & arrows), decreasing damage with range will only be useful if you can zoom out and shoot targets that are 50+ tiles away. Things like monsters/aliens spitting acid also won't decrease damage with range, but the spit velocity should cause it to land before it gets very far (3-5 tiles).

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Quote:
Original post by Kest
As drakostar mentions, scale is the biggest deciding factor.

1. If a mountain region will fit into one tile/hex/square of your game, then you should keep ranged units the same as melee units, and just modify their bonuses and penalties.

2. On the other hand, if a tile in your game is the size of a real world floor tile (around 40 inches or 1 meter), then it would be extremely generic for ranged units to have an attack range of 1. In this situation, you can easily get away with unlimited range for them, where their attacks are only limited by their line of sight.

If #2 is the case, and you're only dealing with modern or futuristic ranged weapons (no slings or bows & arrows), decreasing damage with range will only be useful if you can zoom out and shoot targets that are 50+ tiles away. Things like monsters/aliens spitting acid also won't decrease damage with range, but the spit velocity should cause it to land before it gets very far (3-5 tiles).


Oops, I forgot to mention the scale!

I am not going for 1, where each tile contain a "region". It is more like 2 but probably not to scale with real life. Right now I am using a scale similar to the one used for Starcraft where an armored tank is the size of 4 marines. The entire field is just a few hundred metres across.

I think I am going with your suggestion that modern/futuristic ranged weapons in a scale similar to 2 have unlimited range. And thanks for the idea regarding acid spit velocity! Didn't think of that.

Decreasing damage with range might simulate the variability in accuracy encountered when shooting someone who is 100 metres away? I don't intend to use a random "to-hit %" and so reducing damage seems like the next best choice.

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I quite like how some games (eg Fantasy General or Wesnoth) abstract away ranged weapons, instead giving them the advantage that units without their own ranged attack can't strike back when attacked by a ranged unit. You still need to be adjacent to attack though.

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Another idea you can use to simulate range is the order in which you resolve the combats.

If you ahve longer ranged weapons attack and do their damage first, then you can reduce the effectiveness of the shorter ranged unit, which get to have it's attack after the longer ranged units have had their turn.

For instance:
Longgunners unit: Range 5, Hits 0.5, Size 20
Handgunners unit: Range 2, Hits 0.5, Size 20

The Longgunners unit get to attack first and does Size * Damage (10 damage total) to the Handgunners which loose 10 units leaving them with 10.

The Handgunners then get to attack, but they now only have 10 units left. So Size * Damage gives a total damage of 5 and the Longgunners loose 5 units. leaving them with 15.

So long ranged units can have an advantage over short ranged units. This can be balanced by giving the Shorter ranged unit a higher hit rate (in this example to make them even the hit rate would need to be 1 for the Handgunners, but with other factors that would be in your game you might not want to make them too similar)

Unit that ahve the same Range value would act concurrently and both make their attacks before the damage was calculated.

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