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GEM: Land Armies

Thalassicus

Bytes and Nibblers
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This thread will focus on making land warfare interesting. My goals are:
  • Combat roles
    Each unit has primary and secondary roles. The primary role is something the unit is better at than any other unit. Secondary roles are other things the unit is decent at. Primary roles should be very obvious and powerful, since units without a strong primary role are seldom built (like vanilla Lancers).
  • Reward combined arms
    Mixing units with different roles is more challenging and fun than winning with 1 type of unit.
  • Common and Strong units
    Common units are the majority of our troops. They are less expensive than Strong units, which are the rare and powerful core of the army. Strong units usually require strategic resources.
I plan on using these steps to adapt the Armies section to G&K:
  1. Land/Air: discuss primary roles
  2. Land/Air: add basic design to GEM
  3. Land/Air: release a playable version of land+air changes
  4. Sea: discuss primary roles
  5. Sea: add basic design to GEM
  6. Sea: release a playable version of sea+land+air changes
  7. Balance specific units based on playtesting.




Early Game

These goals were successfully accomplished in the early game in VEM. The only major change to G&K armies in the early game is the addition of Composite Bowmen, so it should be easy to transfer the early game from VEM to GEM, with some minor tweaks.



Check out the Combat Roles thread for a details about combat roles and the Vanguard unit class. This unit class has better sight and speed than other unit classes, letting it fill the Detection role very well. We can specialize vanguards into many powerful and useful secondary roles:
  • Scouts (improve detection)
  • Medics (defense)
  • Holding ground (defense)
  • Common footsolder
Vanguards are important in the early game as the "common footsoldier" counterpart to strong iron units. Vanguards will phase out when aircraft and machine guns arrive in Gem (unlike in Vem). Aircraft take over the vanguard primary detection role. G&K expanded the Classical era so I added a "Sentinel" to fill the gap between Scouts and Levies.

Vanguards
  1. Start - Scout
  2. Ancient - Sentinel
  3. Medieval - Levy
  4. Renaissance - Skirmisher
  5. Industrial - Irregular
  6. Modern - Airborne (Paratrooper)

I posted my first-draft thoughts for early game units below. I attempted to start in a middle ground between Vem and G&K. I plan to keep similar unit movement speeds and promotions in Gem as Vem.

Average strength is the strength units have in average circumstances on battlefield. The percentages on left and right compare this to VEM and G&K. I conservatively estimated each unit has 1 fewer promotion than I usually see, since I play conquest, and most people are peaceful.



Note: the vs-vem/gem relationship comparisons include global modifiers. For example, units in Gem have 25% higher strength & cost than in Vem, so I multiplied Vem values by 1.25 before comparing them to Gem. It's easier to compare individual units with these global modifiers factored out.



Late Game

Things become more complicated in the late game, since G&K added many new units to later eras. Based on the feedback below I changed the plan for how to deal with unit roles in the late game. Machine guns will be a slow and strong unit good for holding ground. The current plan is:





Spoiler Old Plan :
Old Plan

I'm thinking instead of the light/heavy infantry split of VEM we could have infantry/machine guns (and their WW1 equivalents). Each army builds a lot of cheap infantry, and a few stronger but more expensive machine guns. The machine guns are limited by the fact they cannot take cities. Tanks could also counter machine guns (as they did in the real world) to ensure we don't focus too heavily on machine guns.

Tanks
  • Roles: elite unit, counters machine guns
  • Uses oil
  • Expensive
  • Powerful
  • Fast
  • Bonus vs machine guns
  • Weak vs cities
Machine Guns
  • Roles: weaken units, counters infantry
  • Expensive
  • Powerful
  • Slow
  • Weak vs tanks
  • Cannot capture cities
Infantry
  • Roles: kill cities, main bulk of army
  • Cheap
  • Medium speed
  • Bonus vs cities
  • Weak vs machine guns
 

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Good so far. Though I'm not sure the weak vs cities element matters much with tanks so much as improving their power relative to infantry. This sounds like it will do that.

As a "details" note:
This includes changing the upkeep costs per unit to vary with relative power?
This also includes changing unit costs to be somewhat more balanced instead of all the same per era? Eg, Destroyers cost the same as Battleships (worst GK default is infantry costs the same as mechanised, not same era)
 
Also: are we discussing promotions in here too or just the units?

Obviously moving the medic promotion to the vanguard line is one such change.
 
I think I would leave gatling/machine guns as they are; utility ranged attack upgrades from crossbows.

I'm not sure that a tank bonus vs machineguns is necessary? Tanks should be high enough strength that they're already going to be awesome against MGs; Mgs won't have a fortification bonus (if they do they aren't shooting) and can't get terrain promotion bonuses on defense.

Its like how knights don't need a bonus vs crossbows.

I don't like the idea of trying to balance infantry vs machine gun by cost. I think the non-strategic resource (ie elite) units of each tier should all have around the same cost; exceptions for cannon and artillery. MGs shouldn't have superior stats; their advantage is that they don't take damage when attacking. That is enough of an advantage.

As has been noted in past, the AI doesn't use hard-counters very well; behavioral counters are also more interesting. Tanks are good vs MGs and knights are good vs crossbows because they can get into range rapidly without being shot at first.

I think militia works better than "outrider" for classical vanguard; outrider implies mounted unit implies uses horses.
 
The basics of GEM will be similar to VEM, which you can read about in the website archive by clicking here. One example of "basics" is unit types have an individualized maintenance cost. The actual costs will be different from vem, but we can deal with those specifics after we get all the basics decided on.

Goal 1 is every unit should have a primary role, something they are better at than any other unit. Roles are things like "weaken units" or "counters tanks." The primary role of crossbows is to weaken units. They're really good at this because they can fire on a unit 2 tiles away, then another unit advances in front of the crossbow, and kills the target. Machine guns attack units 1 tile away so there's less space for another unit to come in and finish the job. Artillery and aircraft have a long range, and fill the role better than machine guns. This means machine guns have no primary role.

A clearly defined primary role can be "counters infantry." It would be a soft counter, something that's decent against a unit but not overwhelming. Riflemen soft-counter skirmishers in VEM, since they have higher strength and can beat a skirmisher in a one-on-one fight. There would be a similar relationship between machine guns and infantry, especially since machine guns can attack without taking damage.
 
Well,returning to the discussion about improving Lancers,if you haven't chosen yet a bonus to improve them,then I suggest giving them the "retreat-after-meele" promotion .
 
The basics of GEM will be similar to VEM, which you can read about in the website archive by clicking here. One example of "basics" is unit types have an individualized maintenance cost. The actual costs will be different from vem, but we can deal with those specifics after we get all the basics decided on.

Didn't say we needed to work out how the maintenance costs were done specifically. :) Just checking that it was in play. It needs to be in there for a gold sink and to encourage unit mix of elite strategics, mobile forces, etc. Presumably unit costs would affect it too.

I think of the primary role of MGs to hold positions, usually cities and maybe forts/citadels, but also during an advance to blast away at anything coming nearby and basically working like short-range artillery for killing units and helping to weaken any fortified positions (like cities).
 
"retreat-after-meele" promotion
I disagree; I think lancers should be hit and run units. They should be strong on attack, but vulnerable on defense. They should *not* be good at screening; cavalry should be superior for that purpose. So I would prefer {5 moves, charge promotion, weak on defense promotion} or {5 moves, bonus on attack promotion} and then set base strength appropriately.

Retreat after melee is a defensive bonus; I don't think it fits well on the lancer. Its "get out of the way" is represented by the high movement; if you don't want your lancer counterattacked, you should move it away yourself.

I think of the primary role of MGs to hold positions, usually cities and maybe forts/citadels, but also during an advance to blast away at anything coming nearby and basically working like short-range artillery for killing units and helping to weaken any fortified positions (like cities).
Right; the MG has an ability to get in attacks of opportunity without suffering damage itself or pulling itself out of line, but it isn't an amazing defender if flanked or focused on. I don't really see a problem with the vanilla design. except that maybe their stats are a bit high compared to equal tier infantry. I could see either the ranged attack or the base strength dropping by a couple of points.

When we have ranged attackers, vanguards as defenders, and strategic resource unit elites, we have to be careful that we still leave a roll for basic rifles/infantry.
 
@GenjiKhan
I want to get our broad design goals for army composition decided first, since without guiding principles, it's easy to get lost in in the details of moving numbers around. We can discuss ways to balance specific units later. :)

I could see either the ranged attack or the base strength [of MGs] dropping by a couple of points.

I'm thinking of something similar.

I think of the primary role of MGs to hold positions

Yes, I think that would work! That's much better than my rock-paper-scissors idea, since "defense" is a more clear primary role than "counters infantry." MGs could fill that role in the late game. I've revised the original post. How does it look?
 
This plan doesn't include Vanguard units. I'm worrying that "defend" overlaps too much with vanguards a bit?

Otherwise this seems reasonable.
 
I think the only vanguard unit in the modern era on is paratroopers based on the earlier post.
 
I think the only vanguard unit in the modern era on is paratroopers based on the earlier post.
Right, but what about before the modern era? Is the paradrop ability sufficient utility to distinguish the vanguard? Pillaging and disruption?
 
MGs show up in the modern age. Industrial age we've got "irregulars" and Gatling Guns. That would be the only point where there's a conflict in these roles. Prior to that there's a reasonable role for them I think for recon and defence and healing.

Possibly giving pillaging advantages to irregulars/paratroopers as a default promotion? I think they're best used as advance guard and disruption (think like special ops types), and then for healing and reorganising forces on defence.
 
The industrial era with both vanguards and MGs is a the transition stage. The vanguards are losing importance, while machine guns transition old ranged units into a strong defensive role. (I use the name "machine gun" to refer to any units like it, and the same with tanks.)

Airborne (paratroopers) are vanguard class so they have access to promotions like:
  • Medic
  • Scouting
  • Pillaging

Airborne medics are basically MASH units. I expect we will have 1-2 of these per army when old vanguard units lose importance in the Modern era. Some of the old vanguards might get left in cities for garrison bonuses, while others might get thrown into the front lines as merciless cannon fodder.
 
In my experience, it's hard to escape the conclusion that Human vs AI combat is a huge balance issue: Civ V's combat system/mechanics are terrific and interesting, but the combat AI is, unfortunately, simply atrocious. To that end:

(1) I assume they're is coming back already, but AI city attack handicaps need to come back. The AI has tremendous difficulty taking Cities due to its ineptitude, so it should get a bonus to give it a chance.

(2) Attach a -50% strength attack penalty to the Range promotion... or just get rid of it altogether. Being able to attack from 3 or 4 tiles away means the AI has simply no chance of defending its Cities.

(3) Similarly, attach a negative attack penalty to Logistics (double attack for ranged units). Blitz (the melee equivalent) I'm more okay with, though I wouldn't mind seeing a smaller attack penalty there too.

(4) The naval combat AI is just awful. Melee naval units are all right because at least the human can't take free shots without incurring any damage, but ranged naval units should simply nerfed across the board, so as to make the human-vs-AI advantage less impactful. The combat AI is simply singularly incompetent in this arena.
 
The logistics penalty in vem was inspired. I agree I would like to see it returned. The ai doesn't seem to use multiple attacks well.

Range becomes an obsolete problem with artillery and airplanes. I don't think the promotion should go but perhaps some manner of fighting back is needed. Possibly giving a bonus against siege or archers?

Naval balance is next in line. I wouldn't mind having naval units with higher strength but much lower ranged strength (and then city attack bonuses on capital ships).
 
(2) Attach a -50% strength attack penalty to the Range promotion... or just get rid of it altogether. Being able to attack from 3 or 4 tiles away means the AI has simply no chance of defending its Cities.

(3) Similarly, attach a negative attack penalty to Logistics (double attack for ranged units). Blitz (the melee equivalent) I'm more okay with, though I wouldn't mind seeing a smaller attack penalty there too.

A 50% penalty with the range promotion would render it useless against equal-era defending units, and only marginally useful with multiple promotions and a GG. Are you also suggesting to get rid of (rocket) artillery and aircraft too because the AI can't handle them? Arbitrary penalties because the AI is poor aren't *fun* and I just don't think this buys us enough to warrant the significant loss of fun-factor from getting a bunch of promotions and finally being able to take range.

A 10-15% penalty for range could work out and help balance things though. Then you'd need to have concern to keep a general around to counteract the penalty. I'd be fine with that.

VEM already have a 25% penalty for double-shot so I'm sure that will be coming back.
 
Range nobbling:
and I just don't think this buys us enough to warrant the significant loss of fun-factor

I'd like to try it. Heck, I'd like to try reducing the range of all non-siege units to 1, or 2 in the case of units that already have 3.

IME "sniping" is a huge problem for the AI, and it uses it's own higher-ranged units very poorly. I think fixing that could lead to a big improvement in the AI. Which still won't make it a Deep Blue, but any significant improvement to the AI strikes me as more fun than playing with the higher-ranged units.

In other words: Arbitrarily giving units a range higher than the AI can handle isn't fun.

(For MGs, btw, I'd probably make them range 0, but have a powerful defense bonus. Shoot for some of that bloody grid-lock that made the early 20th century so much fun.)
 
A penalty for double-shot is fine, so is the thing we have where doubleshot for mounted archers and naval units used up all the movement after the second attack.
If there is a penalty for range, it should be small; I don't find range to be a big balance problem.
 
I don't think a range-0 attack would be good idea for machine and gatlin guns. I think they work quite well as they are. In a general sense, there now seem to be quite a few "infantry-like units". Especially with the vanguard unit line added.

On a bit off-topic note, I'd like the Barbarian galleys to be returned to a ranged attack (or both), so that they threaten the land again. It can be quite common that there are no naval units in the early game so they are no real threat.
 
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