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simplified combat in colonial times (cavalry, infantry, artillery).

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I'm making a reimagening of the old game colonization. You build colonies and run trade in the Americas/carribean from the years 1500-1800. Its turn-based and singleplayer, similar style to the old civilization games.

 

Now, about units/armies: Units are trained one by one (each representing some "regiment"). Basic idea for units are as follows (the three numbers are strength when attacking town/defending town / fighting outside):

 

Infantry: (2/2/2)require least infrastructure. No special bonuses.

Cavalry: (3/2/4) Fast moving. stronger outside. Gets no defensive bonus from stockades/forts when defending towns.

Artillery: (3/3/1) really slow. Very weak outside (but other friendly units in the same tile will defend before the artillery if attacked). Will half defending units fort bonus

Native fighters: gets bonus in rough terrain but is otherwise pretty weak.

 

How does this seem to you? I might have different quality units in the same group but this is my basic idea.

Edited by suliman

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First glance I was okay with it, but I think it might be simpler to move towards having Attack/Defense, and then some separate bonuses for certain situations instead of a stat line for every situation.  My biggest gripe would probably be with your artillery losing all utility outside of a town.  I would think they'd be useful at blasting units out of heavy terrain.  Giving them a stat line of A:3 D:1, but a trait like, "Halves defender terrain bonus when attacking" would cover more bases.

 

Cav still ends up complicated, with A:3 D:2, "Does not receive defense bonuses from fortifications" and "+1 attack against targets in Open terrain"

Edited by ferrous

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But i dont like attack/defense in that sense. If two cavalry units are both standing on a prairie, and one "attacks" the other (since it's turn-based) why is that one much stronger? This is why I have three distinct scenarios:

 

attacking a town (inf ok, cav little better, artillery really good)

defending a town (cav very weak, inf good, artillery even better)

fight in open (artillery very weak, inf ok, cavalry good)

 

It makes more sense to me:) I agree attack/defense is very common in such games but is it really good? It might make tactics more distinct though (for example its important to attack with cav before he attacks you)

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If you're just going for an interesting variety of units, Cavalry could be worse at attacking/defending cities. Then a too heavily mounted army has trouble taking/holding cities, but an insufficiently mounted army is destroyed before reaching a city.

 

If you want to be more historic, that time frame is sort of the fall of cavalry dominance. An infantry unit versus a cavalry unit in the field would heavily favor the infantry. One approach was to use artillery to disrupt a position enough that the cavalry could get close and rout them from the field. Another was to just use them for supporting roles: scouting, masking movements of the infantry, raiding supply lines. Something like a weaker base set of stats, but more conditional bonuses could probably simulate their place historically (still valuable but no longer capable of going toe-to-toe on an open field). You could also leave them a little overpriced for basically just a speed bonus, which is not a terrible simulation of their role at the time.

 

You might also want to consider splitting out European style massed infantry divisions and skirmishers/partisans/native war-bands. Then you can have a rock-paper-scissors system, where cavalry are poor at facing massed infantry, but can chase down and clear out skirmishers. Massed infantry is vulnerable to hit and run tactics by the skirmishers, but not critically so.

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But i dont like attack/defense in that sense. If two cavalry units are both standing on a prairie, and one "attacks" the other (since it's turn-based) why is that one much stronger? This is why I have three distinct scenarios:

 

attacking a town (inf ok, cav little better, artillery really good)

defending a town (cav very weak, inf good, artillery even better)

fight in open (artillery very weak, inf ok, cavalry good)

 

It makes more sense to me:) I agree attack/defense is very common in such games but is it really good? It might make tactics more distinct though (for example its important to attack with cav before he attacks you)

Your first scenario is one cavalry charging another cavalry.   In those situations, the charger is at an advantage.  I mostly disagree with your artillery, they work just fine against folks in an open field, in some ways better, because the enemy isn't able to take cover in a trench or foxhole.  Though if it's a turn based game, why can't cavalry dismount to take advantage of fortifications?  At that point, it's more giving cavalry a bonus when making attacks.

 

Though I kind of like Polama's stance as well, with Cavalry being a movement bonus, paired with perhaps a sight bonus.

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A turn is one year, so if cavalry is meeting on a plains in battle, its not clear that one is charging the other one. I COULD make it like that (civ does) but its not mandatory or even fully logical i think.

The idea with artillery is that they should be weak alone (without backup of non-artillery troops). This is a simplified way of doing it. Since there is no full battles (with combination of units) i need an abstracted way of handling it... Hmm not sure what is best.

 

The idea is to make cavalry weak in defending towns, as they are too well-rounded otherwise. Of course they could dismount (and "become" infantry) but a unit of cavalry would be fewer individual soldiers thus it makes sense they are less strong "per unit" in holding down a fort.

 

Cav should definitely have a speed bonus, but its not enough to make they different enough from infantry so I want something else as well (i think stronger but with weak defense might be enough).

Sight bonus would be a good idea but doesnt work with the scale of the gameworld/tiles. But maybe they can have a "scouting"-bonus when exploring "ruins" (bonus locations in the unexplored wilderness) or something.

 

Thanks for your input, it at least makes me think again:)

Edited by suliman

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Yes I do:) Did it seem like I didnt? This is how another unit can defend the exposed arty if they share tile in the wilderness.

I plan to have classic stacking (like old civ or col). A town for example will pick its best defender each time it is attacked.

And like civ 3 each unit has 3hp (dead at 0, no penalty for being "damaged"). Hp can be restore by resting in a town (one unit and one hp is healed each turn per town so the entire stack cannot be healed).

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Just a possibility, may or may not be to complex:

 

Cavalry pretty much was a shock unit. Devastating on the attack, weak on the defense. And also weak once that first attack came to a halt within enemy lines if these didn't break. Of course this has changed a little in colonial times, as cavalry no longer was as unstoppable without pikes or similar heavy close combat weapons, but infantry no longer fought in just as deep formations anymore, giving cavalry a higher chance of not getting stuck.

On the other hand, cavalry attacks always had and kept a very strong psychological element. a full unit of big horses charging at your line at full speed must have been a terrifying sight to behold, especially when you had no real means to defend yourseld (which against a musket armed unit could just mean an attack from the side, were almost no musqueteer still had time to bring his weapon to bear before the cavalry crashed into the unit.

 

 

Now, instead of just cavalry > infantry in the open. Why not differentiate who attacks and defends? It must have been pretty rare with the cavalry units speed, but a cavalry unit caught in the open by an infantry unit will be a sitting duck. If there is not enough space for building up momentum for a counterattack, the cavalry unit faces the option of fleeing and hoping for taking not too much casualities, or be wiped out by the numerically superior and better armed infantry (remember, shooting from horses backs was only really possible with short weapons like pistols, because of the instability of the "horse" platform)

 

This will of course lower the value of the cavalry unit. For one, the cavalry should be fast enough to dictate the engagement for one, meaning as long as a player does NOT forget to use his cavalry the way its meant to be, not to hold lines or guard things, but as a mobile reserve, the cavalry will always be in the better position. It will mean that cavalry and infantry get their "roles" even outside of terrain considerations.

Also, you could add a psychological effect to a cavalry charge. Which could either mean that cavalry gets an additional bonus on the attack (which, given you want to go so much into detail, should be higher for charges to the side or rear of infantry units... which is something cavalry is especially good at). Or, if you add psychology, that a cavalry charge can easely break an infantry units moral and force them to flee even before the cavalry unit makes contact (which means an ugly slaughter among the infantry men should the cavalry unit decide to run them down).

 

 

As for artillery, one important aspect to artillery is field of fire and time to turn the weapon. Which in turn means artillery needs to be setup at the right spot from the start to be really useful.

Find the right position for your artillery, and it can have just as much a devastating effect as a cavalry charge from the side (which is something SOME tried to achieve, with artillery firing sideways into the not so deep but very wide lines of the infantry in the day of musket warfare).

Misjudge the right position, and you will have to move the artillery during the fight which takes A LOT of time (most artillery should be slow to move, not because of the actual transport, but mostly setup time, and moving into position by human power for the last few meters)... or your artillery will not do much during the fight.

 

A more limited field of fire, slow movement, maybe a longer aim time (compared to muskets) could offset long range, devastating damage to whole units, and the sheer psychological effect of being shot at from units you cannot reach with your weapons, and seeing whole ranks of soldiers being horribly killed by a cannon ball.

Artillery should take some preparation time to adjust to a new target, but when aimed in, should do heavy damage to the targeted unit. On the other hand, because of that time it takes to adjust the aim of cannons, moving cavalry should be a harder target to hit for artillery (whereas a musqueteer unit should have a devastating effect on a cavalry unit charging from the front, if the musqeteers are well trained and can keep their cool).

 

 

Just some random ideas

 

 

 

But i dont like attack/defense in that sense. If two cavalry units are both standing on a prairie, and one "attacks" the other (since it's turn-based) why is that one much stronger? This is why I have three distinct scenarios:

 

Its both simple physics and a question of human psychology. And lastly, having the tactical advantage.

 

The attacker chooses were and when to attack. He can control the fight to some extent. Units ALWAYS have way more lag to their reaction than single soldiers. If the attacking cavalry manages to attack from the side or rear (maybe because nobody in unit being attacked watched the side or rear often enough to see the attacking unit before it was already to late to reorganize the unit), the defending unit has a HUGE disadvantage.

Also, the soldier in the defending unit might not be prepared (yet) for a fight. The attacking cavalrymen are.

 

Simple physics dictate that the soldier with more momentum has an advantage. His blows, if using the momentum, have way more power. The defender of course CAN use the same momentum against the attacker, but chances are the defender will have less time to judge the right attack vector, while the attacker has already aimed for his target and formed an attack vector way before that.

Momentum is the SINGLE BIGGEST weapon in a cavalry attack. Without momentum, the cavalrymen can use the additional heigh for more devastating blows given the right weapons. At the same time, they can be easely dragged from their horses by numericaly superior infantrymen.

 

Psychology. If a cavalryman charges you with full speed, you will need a hell lot of nerves to stand there to take the attack at full force. Even if you sit on horse, the psychological effect is still there. You KNOW the enemy has the advantage. You KNOW how devastating a cavalry charge is (you do this yourself as cavalry all the time).

Lets not get into the psychology of their mounts. Whith even the best trained horse loosing their cool at times.

 

 

Then, last but not least, cavalry would dismount on the defense and fight on foot, BECAUSE only this way they could use some weapons, like muskets, or later rifles and machine guns, to full effect. And in the defense, a musket line oriented at the attacker still is better than a bunch of mounted soldier only being able to use their pistols and else waiting for the clash to use their swords and sabers. On horses that certainly are getting just as nervous as their riders as the enemy attack approaches.

 

 

Oh, and before we forget. Some cavalry was still using the spear or a lighter form of lance until pretty much the end of cavalry units. Now, this weapons is only of use to cavalry on the charge. Without the grounded stance infantry has and the ability to plant the spear in the ground, its useless as an anti-cavalry weapon. Unless the cavalry dismounts. Even then, different types of spears being used, and the cavalry now charges an infantry unit, just a very small and badly trained one (as most of their training was fighting on horseback, not on foot).

Edited by Gian-Reto

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Gian thanks for your commitment, but did you really read the thread? :) The game is VERY abstracted. The units represent large bodies of men. There is no psychology, charges, manouvering or placement modelled in any way.

 

For comparison, the original game has soldiers and dragoons (dragoons are cav that dismount when fighting). In that game dragoons are both much faster and much stronger overall (no bonuses to att/def or anything).

I could use that but i like the idea of them being less defensive. I named my mounted units "cavalry" to indicate that they are not dragoons (which is basically a more mobile form of infantry)

I want cavalry for another reason as well (using one of the resources/goods, which is "horses")

 

My idea for the high-level function of units is still:

inf: def/general purpose

cav: strong attack

arty: strong anti-fort (siege) but must be supported

 

How to achieve this is debatable. But i cannot add too much details when it comes to combat (it's just a secondary game system in this game)

Edited by suliman

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from the years 1500-1800.

 

 

A turn is one year,

 

 

turn-based and singleplayer,

 

 

 

The units represent large bodies of men

 

 

you have no unit stacking?

 

 

 

Yes I do

 

How big is a hex?

what's the stacking limit?

how big is a unit?

obviously small enough to consist of all cannon or horses?

you're early napoleonic era tactics, pretty much.

infantry in divisions, but cav and arty only in regiment sizes as attached units.   

armies at that time (circa 1650) will also be more ad-hoc - not likely to find an org chart for an english inf division from 1650 if you know what i mean. <g>.

 

by going with a traditional wargame type system, you get atk, def , rng, and move.  

rng for all units will be 1 hex or country most likely, given the scale you describe. IE adjacent.

atk and def can be the same. so your cavalry engagement in the field is a roll of the die.

move is just movement rate. obviously horses are fast and cannons are heavy.

then you get terrain bonuses for atk / def (mostly def).   bonus for defend in town, bonus for defend in fort.  bonus for defend in woods, etc.

cav is just weak inf that moves fast. its used to mop up once the inf breaks and runs. kill them the first time, you don;t have to fight them a second time.

the other use is to atk inf in the flank or rear of inf already engaged by other inf, etc. 

or to atk undefended arty units.

arty units are big atk, but even weaker than cav atk on defense.

by choosing appropriate values for atk, def, move, and terrain bonuses, you'll have a simple yet quite effective system.

 

then you simply resolve combat like in a wargame. add up atk of all attacking units, add up defense of all defending units, calc odds, roll die, consult table, get results. you can injure or destroy individual units, or disburse them (ineffective for a while, very vulnerable if attacked again) or you can force them to retreat, destroy the whole stack, etc. given the time scale of 1 turn = 1 year, damage, destroy, or retreat might be the only options that make sense.

Edited by Norman Barrows

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The area of the Florida peninsula is maybe 10-13 tiles big. There is no stacking limit. All have 1 range (can only attack adjacent tiles).

No of individuals in a unit: Maybe 50-200. Very hard to say, but medium-sized colonies can "train" many of these units so they cannot be too large. It's more like a boardgame-feeling that a realistic simulation feeling to the game.

 

The problem is there's no room to correctly model real armies with real composition of different troop types. So while your suggestions are appriciated it's hard to squeze into this game. Maybe in next game:)

 

But another question:

To diverse the use of the "horse" resource, i plan to make artillery units cost wood, metal AND horses. The logic with horses is they were used to pull the cannons. Seems strange? Altough some arty will just be stationed in forts and not move around at all, while players can also drag them across the Andes to conquer Inca cities.

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Gian thanks for your commitment, but did you really read the thread? :) The game is VERY abstracted. The units represent large bodies of men. There is no psychology, charges, manouvering or placement modelled in any way.

 

no worries... very abstracted doesn't mean that you don't have room for defense/attacker differenciation (which might already be enough to represent all the advantages of cavalry in battle, by giving them a high attack value, but pretty low defense, while infantry is more balanced). or that you units have no orientation (meaning the artillery has to turn to face a new target).

 

I didn't mean my post as something you can 1 to 1 transfer to your rules, more general ramblings that could inform and influence your more abstracted rules.

High psychological impact of an cavalry charge or getting your camerades in your unit shredded by cannon balls can just be used to justify an even higher attack rating for those units. Even if a cannon ball maybe only kills 3-4 mean out of 20, the damage done is more than that.

Even if a infantry unit is attacked from the front and has set up a good defensive position, some soldiers might still loose their cool and the unit might suffer more damage because of that.

 

 

Personally, I like to work bottom up, analyze real life pros and cons, and then try to distill the simplified rules from that. It makes the rules more intuitive for people that have a lot of knowledge about real life topics, and it makes even simplified battles act out more like their real life counterparts.

 

But that is IMO.

 

 


 
But another question:
To diverse the use of the "horse" resource, i plan to make artillery units cost wood, metal AND horses. The logic with horses is they were used to pull the cannons. Seems strange? Altough some arty will just be stationed in forts and not move around at all, while players can also drag them across the Andes to conquer Inca cities.

 

Makes a ton of sense to me. Without horses, getting any artillery in place would be a nightmare. In forts horses might have been replaced with cranes and stuff like that. But the cannon wasn't built in the fort. It most probably had to be delivered from a workshop farther away. Most probably by horse. So while these horsecarriages were not dedicated to the artillery piece for its lifetime, the cannon itself still consumed some "workhours" of horses.

 

In a highly abstract rule system, I don't see a problem with it.

Edited by Gian-Reto

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there's no room to correctly model real armies with real composition of different troop types

 

not necessarily - the stack is the army!    the units are just the companies and regiments that make up the army. So, my "army" has 4 inf, 1 arty, and one cav unit.

 

artillery units cost wood, metal AND horses
 

 

Arty requiring horses is fine.  Inf might need pack horses as well. Then all 3 units would require horses as a resource. Maybe do that, maybe not.

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You might want to convert  the 'native' type into something more like

 

mob/rabble -

 

and    light infantry  (troops trained for bad terrain)

 

and 'irregulars' - often fairly well equipt but with poorer 'morale' who fall apart faster when faced with casualties (and other control problems)

 

'militia' varies too much to have as a separate classification

 

'natives' can give a pretty good accounting when in the right terrain and situation

 

 

If you want sufficient complication you might also want engineers/sappers

Edited by wodinoneeye

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One of the first things you'll have to do is decide where you want the game to fall on the realism scale.  If you want high realism, you'll be limited to the types, numbers, and organizations of troops based on historical records.

 

If you don't care about realism, you can make up anything that "sounds good".

 

And then there are points in between those ends of the scale.

 

As you move from historical realism to fictional made up stuff, you lose the inherent believe-abilty of historical, but gain in the form of fewer design constraints, and perhaps an easier time balancing things, as you may not have to realistically justify any required balance adjustments.

 

One of the very first decisions I make in any new game I contemplate is where it would fall on the realism scale.

 

Once you decide on a level of realism, it makes it easier to figure out what you'll need to model in the game, what you can make up and what you can't, and what you can and can't do due to realism or lack thereof.

Edited by Norman Barrows

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Colonial militia - 1 strength, +200% vs natives (the reason is you want to use them vs natives but not vs other colonies)

Infantry - 3 strength

Rangers - 3 strength, treat all terrain like plains for movement purposes (more expensive infantry that can move on rough terrain fast)

Cavalry - 2 strength, +1 mobility, +1 sight range, chance to retreat to a neutral grid after defeat instead of being destroyed

Artillery - 1 strength, +500% when attacking, ignore fortification bonus, can not enter mountain terrain

General - 1 strength, +1 mobility, adds +25% strength bonus to all units within 5 grids radius, bonuses from multiple generals do not stack

Supply wagon - 1 strength, can not attack, provide supply like city

 

Rule: all units, except natives, further than 5 grids from the nearest city, fort or supply wagon get -50% to strength

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Rule: all units, except natives, further than 5 grids from the nearest city, fort or supply wagon get -50% to strength

 

supply is usually calculated as having a clear path of hexes to a supply hex of some sort (city, port, depot, wagon train, tanker unit, tender, etc).  its called "line of supply", not "zone of supply" for a reason.

 

i suppose on a large enough scale, zone of supply could work.  IE supply trains can only go so far in reality.   the classic problem of out-running your supply.    that's why in modern armies 3/4 of the troops are support, and only 1/4 are combat. and if you include the home front and production, its more like 10 people in support roles for every grunt on the ground.

 

if you use areas instead of line of sight, they should be large enough to reflect the maximum line of supply capabilities of a supply hex.  but this could result in large areas. an army could attack washington while being supplied by new york.   and troops in an area but surrounded would still be in supply , which is totally unrealistic.   that's probably why areas are not used and line of supply is. its all about being cut off from your supplies.  without that, there's no need to outflank, surround, or cutoff.   and what about sieges? is a fort near a city always in supply forever, even when under siege?   these are the ramifications of that design choice.  you always have to carefully think through the impact of any game rules you consider, and how they interact with everything else in the game. hopefully before you adopt a new rule, or implement it, or release it, or realize post-release there is a flaw.

 

you also might want to read up a bit on military history and try some wargames to become more familiar with the subjects.

Edited by Norman Barrows

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