Author Topic: Ground combat - morale, organization and training level  (Read 341 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.
 

Offline 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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