Author Topic: Ground combat - morale, organization and training level  (Read 889 times)

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Offline Garfunkel (OP)

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Ground combat - morale, organization and training level
« on: November 21, 2022, 11:43:15 PM »
With the new features to ground forces organization and construction coming in 2.2, I've thought about additional combat mechanics to make ground battles little less deterministic. Currently it's all about tech and tonnage, with only breakthroughs and fortifications providing surprises. It's also very difficult, if not impossible, to model some aspects of actual wars. However, we probably don't want to make ground combat too complicated and I to something that takes more effort than space battles.

Recent events made me think about the importance of the three things from the topic and how they can, and have, surprised military planners in the past if said planners have been unduly fixated on hardware and numbers. Military history is full of examples where the underdog has defeated a technologically or numerically superior forces. So here's what I've been thinking:

1. Each unit / element should have a morale and training value. These could be hidden and only shown at formation level as an average. The exact numbers are not that important but a scale from 0 to 100 probably works well enough. After construction, unit / element starts with 100 morale and 0 training. Additional training points will be gained over time as the unit is 'idle' - though if it isn't too difficult, then assigning formations to train where they consume supplies would be a great addition. Training value then impacts how 'accurate' the unit / element is in battle. Purpose is that poorly trained units perform badly in combat whereas highly trained ones perform well. Actual damage would still be decided by weapon tech and modules.

Morale could also be tied to race militancy rating and higher training value could increase it up to 100. This would be a nice way to differentiate races more.

2. In any case, combat losses should decrease morale but high training slows this. As morale gets low enough, there is a chance that the formation 'breaks' perhaps tied to percentage of total number of units lost so that small formations aren't unduly punished. Once a formation 'breaks' it cannot achieve breakthroughs or even fire and it loses terrain and fortification bonuses, making it an easy target for destruction.

So a poorly trained formation would struggle to 'hit' enemy formations while at the same time it would be at risk of 'breaking' if it suffers significant damage. Building lot of formations would still help as the incoming damage would be spread around but this would give smaller but highly trained formations a chance.

3. Organization would be a value tied to all headquarters and act as sort of an organisation wide bonus/malus to every formation in it. There's probably a better name for it, maybe 'control' since 'command' is already used by HQ modules. What it represents is the overall C4ISR ability of a large military force. This would require a new technology line but it could introduce sort of ECM/ECCM feature to ground combat. Alternatively, or additionally, HQs could have two manually adjustable values, one for 'command' size and another for 'C4ISR' capability but tech could improve the bang for your buck that you get. That way your garrison forces could still have cheap headquarters since they don't need more but your NPR home world invasion army deserves the expensive toys.

This value would then be 'consumed' in battle as the organization loses HQ units. High value would increase the chance for breakthroughs while a low value would decrease it. Low enough and your formations would be unable to perform them at all. High enough and your agile, well led troops achieve them all the time, making it a force multiplier like it is in real life.

This value could also be modified by additional ground and space assets. A ECM module for light vehicles would degrade enemy C4ISR rating, same as a ship in orbit with the same module. Ground support fighters could have a new ECCM mission where they go specifically after enemy ECM units. STO formations could prioritise ships in orbit that carry ECM modules. This would probably need to be separate from the current, space battle ECM module.

These additions would both mirror real world experiences and bring in a new layer to ground combat that shouldn't be too complex as it would mostly require preplanning which is the bread and butter of Aurora already.

Thoughts?
« Last Edit: November 22, 2022, 07:30:27 AM by Garfunkel »
 
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Offline misanthropope

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Re: Ground combat - morale, organization and training level
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2022, 03:40:36 PM »
seems to me the sheer scale of a planetary invasion is likely to turn any of this into just kind of background noise anyhow.  from a user-facing perspective it's all deterministic either way.  you hit "go" and the war proceeds largely without further interaction. 

a super crude combat resolver that simply had "live" and "dead" states for each unit but had even a few interesting operational decisions would represent an advance as far as i am concerned.
 

Online nuclearslurpee

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Re: Ground combat - morale, organization and training level
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2022, 11:34:44 PM »
seems to me the sheer scale of a planetary invasion is likely to turn any of this into just kind of background noise anyhow.  from a user-facing perspective it's all deterministic either way.  you hit "go" and the war proceeds largely without further interaction. 

I broadly agree here. I don't really see where this training/morale mechanics adds anything in the realm of "interesting decisions" to the ground combat system. The HQ extension I think has more promise since it is an actual decision that can be tied to a direct battlefield impact and pro/con balance.

As usual with Aurora, I think a lot of the thought about ground combat tends to lose track of the part where the design scenario for these mechanics is multi-million ton armies going at each other for planetary domination. On a micro scale, the idea of a smaller corps of highly-trained formations going up against a larger army of poorly-trained is an interesting RP scenario, but on the full scale of things what will happen in practice is that most units will have full training, if they were built some time ago, and the most recent units would still be working up. The militancy connection is I admit more flavorful, but mechanically it is creating a strict optimum which is not mechanically interesting. Additionally, at least personally I don't like the implicaton of added micro that a training mechanic implies, already we have enough complaints about the naval admin version of this mechanic  and that is just shuffling ships around every six months.

The ideas about organization, C4ISR, and EW are I think extremely flavorful and would reflect modern advances in ground combat that the current system doesn't capture. I would like to see C4ISR/EW capabilities filter down from higher HQs, which would give HQs some more interesting elements besides artillery and construction and promote more complex hierarchies.

As far as making GC less deterministic, I don't think adding more random or hidden mechanics is the way to go. Personally I would sooner see some increased emphasis on logistics, frontage system with local targeting, or partisan networks to address this - but I don't want to veer too far off-topic here so I'll leave those there.

Quote
a super crude combat resolver that simply had "live" and "dead" states for each unit but had even a few interesting operational decisions would represent an advance as far as i am concerned.

I'd certainly like more operational decisions (that don't involve adding micro), but removing the granularity of the current system also removes a lot of the RP interest in designing formations and units which I think is critical to preserve. Maybe something halfway between VB6 and the current mechanics would be good, where formations are still designed at the unit level, but once constructed are treated only as a formation and the player never has to interact with individual elements or units unless they want to manually reconfigure - reinforcement, resupply, rebuilding, etc. handled by aggregate mechanics. I thought unit series would be the step in this direction but so far it has been slow progress in an unclear direction for me.
 

Offline misanthropope

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Re: Ground combat - morale, organization and training level
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2022, 11:35:54 AM »
just to clarify:  i wasn't advocating for a cruder combat resolver as an improvement in and of itself, i was illustrating a price i would happily pay for more interaction.
 
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Offline Marski

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Re: Ground combat - morale, organization and training level
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2022, 06:03:22 AM »
There's reason to overhaul the current ground force system in general, it works right now but is kept barebones to permit players to handwave "why" and "how" of many aspects of ground force performance. Plenty of discussion previously about how it could be overhauled. I would think it'd be best to include types of conscription; professional army or mandatory military service, and how long the service time is. The latter could dictate the maximum amount of training formations could have, and how costly it's going to be, which would go a long way to deter players from keeping around a gigantic military.
 

Online Andrew

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Re: Ground combat - morale, organization and training level
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2022, 06:41:03 AM »
which would go a long way to deter players from keeping around a gigantic military.
Of course you NEED a gigantic military if you are going to invade a homeworld. If your ground forces are a frivolus decoration for minor battles on outposts and paraded you don't need a large military I admit but then you could argue in that case you don't need an army.
I thought about what would be needed to put in various levels of conscription and long service units but it gets complicated if you are going for the effective Prussian or Isreali models of conscription you also need a mechanism to allow creating extra equipment for the reserve units activated in emergencies and then for the problems that creates you need to model the effect on the civilian economy of calling up the reservists all of which starts to get very complicated and hard to determine the precise effects which would model it. It would want a linjage between military and commercial manpower which currently does not exist and that is a another level of complication and management stress never mind the developer stresss. And if you really want it you could SM in reserve formations and SM out civilian manpower when you do
If you want to model the current Russian conscription and corruption model you can jst randomly delete most of your military any time there is a battle. I don't think many players would want a corruption system modelled which crippled their ability to do things, we like being competent dictators
 

Online nuclearslurpee

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Re: Ground combat - morale, organization and training level
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2022, 09:38:44 AM »
Yeah I don't really think we need mechanics to dissuade construction of large ground forces, it is already actually quite difficult to manage this in practice particularly since we have no mechanism for upgrading formations - once you start needing to upgrade existing units to remain relevant, expansion becomes even harder. And we already need 10+ million tons to reliably carry out homeworld invasions, which frankly I think is still less than "realistic" measured against IRL militaries which would be even larger.

If anything we need to delete all the ranks below Colonel from the rank tables in the DB so players are not misled into thinking that 1,000-ton companies should be the basic formation size, but that wold be a tedious job so I understand why Steve is unlikely to do this.
 

Offline Jorgen_CAB

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Re: Ground combat - morale, organization and training level
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2022, 05:47:43 PM »
While I love this game I'm generally not thrilled over the new combat mechanics as it on some levels are too detailed for the overall impact it has. The decisions should basically be about strategic movement and deplaoyment of troops.

My main issues is that combat which generally should be measured in months and years in general is concluded in days or weeks... this make troop deployment nearly pointless in most respect outside role-play... unfortunately.

We need a more simple ground simulation so it is not so computationally heavy or that it create such a massive log for larger conflicts that can slow the game down in a way I think it should not.

I do like the construction and detal of units in theory but less in practice becasue it have rather little impact in the end due to the randomness of unit engagements. It also can become very player intensive to interact with the mechanic for rather little overall impact in real terms as a result.

We need ground conflicts to last longer for it to have a much more important strategic impact, those are the decisions we should be concerned with. Where and how large forces to deploy where and how to conduct counter offensives in a strategic or operationally sense.
 

Online nuclearslurpee

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Re: Ground combat - morale, organization and training level
« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2022, 10:45:52 PM »
My main issues is that combat which generally should be measured in months and years in general is concluded in days or weeks... this make troop deployment nearly pointless in most respect outside role-play... unfortunately.

I personally feel like returning to the 5-day ground combat increment would be an improvement, although you do run into some issues with balancing against ship-based fire this way. More robust would be to link it to the construction cycle with 20% base fire accuracy at 5-day increments and proportional scaling with the actual increment.

Do this, and combine that with a rework that makes Unit Series the basis of the formation rather than unit classes, which allows trivially easy upgrading and reinforcement without a lot of micro, and I think you have a very robust system which is detailed for initial setup and flavor, and low-maintenance after that.
 
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Offline Gyrfalcon

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Re: Ground combat - morale, organization and training level
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2022, 07:43:58 AM »
Those would be great improvements, as well as being able to return formations to the GFCC queue for upgrade/replacements. The formation has a template, it just needs to compare what's currently in the formation vs the template, calculate the missing BP and once those are spent, the formation is back up to speed.

One of my biggest slowdowns post invasion is that I have to manually do those checks - what is every formation missing, which I need to total so I can create a temporary reinforcements formation that half the time I then need to manually parcel out to the individual units because the reinforcements check doesn't work correctly.
 
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Re: Ground combat - morale, organization and training level
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2022, 11:11:04 AM »
I would prefer the formations to be more like ships. You have a formation (ship) with elements (components). GFCC would work more as shipyards, but with free retooling to different formations. ïf you want to replenish or refit the formation, just move it to planet with GFCC and choose task to replenish or refit.

We would most likely need some equivalent of MSPs to replenish ground formations in situations where there is no GFCC present. It could also work as prebuild ship components to make training of new formations quicker. We could for example take inspiration from WITPAE - manpower and armament is used to make ground formations.

Replenishment in the field could have cost in morale or training level of the formation and replenishment in GFCC would not have effect on these stats.
 

Offline Marski

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Re: Ground combat - morale, organization and training level
« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2022, 06:53:22 AM »
which would go a long way to deter players from keeping around a gigantic military.
Of course you NEED a gigantic military if you are going to invade a homeworld.
I was thinking along the line of carrying out a mobilization and demobilizing as needed like you said. This would of course mean reworking the economy back to older model to permit player building a stockpile of currency.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2022, 06:56:23 AM by Marski »
 

Online Andrew

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Re: Ground combat - morale, organization and training level
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2022, 10:43:52 AM »
Not just currency.
One of the major problems of mobilising reserve forces or wartime conscription and exapnsion of  is balancing the need for military manpower against the people needed to build the weapons and run the economy in general.
This has was the main limiting factor for the UK and USA in WW2, The Russians gutted large parts of their economy to maintain larger forces and the Germans had massive problem as well. The French had to return some personel from active units in early 1940 becasue they were critical to wrar industries.  In 1967 a major factor in the Isreali decision for a pre-emptive strike was that they needed a fully mobilised military to face their opponents standing armies and every time there was a crisis and they mobilised their economy crashed so they had to fight and win or risk letting their opponents attack when they were not mobilised.
Every major industrial war has faced conflict between the manpower to fight the war and the manpower to build the war machine. None of this is even slightly represented in Aurora and would be a massive amount of effort to implement and then a massive amount of hassle for players to manage and would not really add much to the playing experience. 
 

Offline Jorgen_CAB

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Re: Ground combat - morale, organization and training level
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2022, 05:48:31 PM »
I think that conscription could be made into a relatively simple mechanic like basic training level for crew.

A level for each colony... it would cost some population and wealth that is not available for other work. In turn you would automatically spawn some troops if combat happens based on the population count. While troops are drafted then wealth cost should increase as a result.

The mobilization and demobilization could also be a player choice.

It would be simple and have an impact on player decision making.