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Battle Gameplay Questions: Formations, Missile Weapons

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Level 8 Human CEO
Alignment: Lawful good
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Posted on November 17, 2010 at 2:06 pm

I found the manual, read it and have been browsing the forum (can't seem to find a search feature). Sorry if this is available elsewhere.

1. Formations:
It appears that the only mechanic that has tangible effect is surface area of contact. Meaning that if more troops are in touch with an enemy brigade, it seems to be more effective. I have not seen benefit from wedge, etc.

Please clarify if there are tangible benefits to managing formations, instead of simply adjusting area.

2. Stacked Formations:
If a grouped rank of brigades engage, is the entire brigade able to engage in combat or effect the outcome, or is it strictly a woodchipper effect? First rank dies, second rank steps in? I understand the context of ranks of pike/spear but does not appear to be effecting combat.

Second tiers of groups. Are these increasing any effect in combat? Is there any benefit to morale or negative penalty to the enemy from presenting multiple ranks of brigades?

3. Missile weapons and units:
Missile weapons and units seem to have little if any impact on units on their own. I can determine some benefit to morale loss when a melee unit is attacking another melee unit while being supported by a missile troop. No way to qualify this. It would be very helpful to have some form of verbose message about combat effects or mechanics.

That's all for now. I have a ton of other clarifying questions, but I'll wait until I see how this is handled.

I'm a huge fan and terribly grateful for the complexity and gameplay that currently exists in this game. I purchased from Steam two weeks ago; does this mean I have the "Gold" version? I'm a tad bit confused.

Yours,

Erik

Level 8 Human gamer
Alignment: Chaotic evil
Posted on November 17, 2010 at 2:49 pm

You can have the gold for free, its still beta. Its more difficult though!! One small mistake in battle, can cost you a lot!! Go to the main page to download gold!

Level 8 Human gamer
Alignment: Chaotic good
Location: In my own little world.
Posted on November 17, 2010 at 3:57 pm

2. Stacked Formations:
If a grouped rank of brigades engage, is the entire brigade able to engage in combat or effect the outcome, or is it strictly a woodchipper effect? First rank dies, second rank steps in? I understand the context of ranks of pike/spear but does not appear to be effecting combat.

As I was playing a campaign I noticed the hoplite ranks will step forward to engage the enemy all at once. Phalangites won't do this and I don't use spearmen enough to notice, but I would guess and say not. Actually I think for phalangites a few ranks of spears poke through the first rank and can hurt the enemy.

For #3 the missile weapons make it just that much easier to kill an enemy. For example, I've had hoplite alone v. hoplite with peltast support and mine lost men so much faster. I think what you would need is 3 or 4 units of peltasts to make a huge difference in battles. I personally only use 2 maximum.

Level 16 Extraplanar gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on November 18, 2010 at 4:52 pm

I'm a huge fan and terribly grateful for the complexity and gameplay that currently exists in this game. I purchased from Steam two weeks ago; does this mean I have the "Gold" version? I'm a tad bit confused.

Gold is currently in beta and we're offering free serial keys to Philip customers to help with testing. This will be a limited time offer as gold will be launched at a higher price than Philip is currently available for.

Actually I think for phalangites a few ranks of spears poke through the first rank and can hurt the enemy.

Yes, Phalangites have a longer attack range and the second and possibly third rank will also be doing damage to the enemy. With most units, guys in the back row won't directly effect combat but will dilute the morale loss when front row guys are killed allow the overall unit to fight longer.

Missile weapons do relatively small amounts of damage to the enemy softening them for melee attacks. In the latest version of gold, missile units will concentrate their fire a little more in order to have a more obvious affect on the enemy.

Level 8 Human CEO
Alignment: Lawful good
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Posted on November 21, 2010 at 3:08 pm

I have switched to gold and do agree, a good iteration of improvement.

However, I am disappointed that more details haven't been provided on my original question regarding formation.

One of the better improvements in unit management is the single vs. double-clicking to identify a unit. What would also be a further improvement is the ability to quick-key save group formations and dimensions in rank and file. I find the utilization of the stock formation to be agonizing and yield absolutely no benefit, the logic for groups and formations such as encircle end up with three brigades spanning more width than the entire valley floor the units are moving through. Instead of forming one cohesive horn, the units each form horns. For a "Gold" new iteration I would strongly urge improvement to this functionality.

I would also urge that formations tie into AI behavior and if this isn't possible that the formation itself provide a published and visible bonus.

Particularly formations that are defensive or offensive in nature. Even a small percentage increase or decrease would add another tactical game play "lever".

Still enjoying myself immensely although I continue to struggle with the new mechanic for population. In the way I've played the game so far, I've not received enough population boosting migrants to make much difference. I'm still not seeing any correlation to food supply, security and resources increasing population regeneration. In some cases it appears my major cities are requiring two or more years to accumulate 50 men. Even when those men previously drawn into brigades or units aren't engaging in combat.

Perhaps I continue to miss important game play elements.

Level 21 Extraplanar gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Location: Toronto
Posted on November 21, 2010 at 5:33 pm

During development, formations were enabled, but when we released "Philip" in May (under our own internal financial pressure), we hadn't really given special bonuses to formations, other than the contact effect that you have observed.

We're currently working out what to do with formations to make them meaningful.
-Perhaps a formation specific offensive or defensive bonus?
-Perhaps enabling more advanced formations (with better bonuses) for higher level units?

The population system in Gold gives a better representation of manpower limits and the need to concentrate recruits.
-Personally, I tend to concentrate my Macedonian unit building in Pella and boost the recruit pool by building workers there, but setting their home cities to one of the smaller cities. In that way, I pull recruits to Pella and when I need them to build a phalangite, I disband the worker to add their men to the Pella recruit pool.

Among other things, I'm hoping that we'll will have time to finalize a meaningful "player AI" to make it possible to set reaction orders for your own units. Rob can comment more on AI issues.

Questions, comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated, as we're still ironing out some of the bugs and gameplay issues before the release of "Gold"...

Level 8 Human Truffle Farmer
Alignment: Good
Location: Australia
Posted on November 22, 2010 at 7:43 am

-Personally, I tend to concentrate my Macedonian unit building in Pella and boost the recruit pool by building workers there, but setting their home cities to one of the smaller cities. In that way, I pull recruits to Pella and when I need them to build a phalangite, I disband the worker to add their men to the Pella recruit pool.


Oh, my god. You have stated the most obvious thing ever...but I never thought of it. I am kicking myself for that. So obvious, i was just thinking how annoying it is not being able to move recruits around, all the while visualising something like Europa Universalis where they have countrywide recruitment. Thanks for making my gameplay experience 100% better.

Level 8 Human CEO
Alignment: Lawful good
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Posted on November 23, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Jim,

I hate to be just another idiot with an opinion, but since you asked, I hope to be useful.

I really enjoyed the simplified beauty of the population and gold mechanics in Philip. I do not like where the new system of population stands because it creates what I consider to be the worst sin of a strategy game; busy micro-management.

Having to create workers (which I have been doing) and move them about seems to miss the litmus test of = 'fun'. Now what I do is simply move my units into cities where there are population, recharge and move out. That defeats what I see as the concept of empire-management-lite, as does moving workers from one city to another. I hate it when functionality is confused with gameplay and I would like to see further improvements here before launch. I would sooner go back to the old system without an increase in controls and function.

I see another gotcha with the population recharge rate; it seems to be global at the same rate. As I keep restarting the game at about the Tyrants of Pherae, I can say at this point I've received 5 population points. This in itself isn't a bad thing, but there is a mechanic missing that would truly make a difference.

Large cities need faster recharge rates on the population. Smaller cities have fewer services, fewer quality of life features to bring in a middle and upper class. Smaller cities cannot afford to have standing armies. Larger cities with major population centers can. You would be better to allow migration and to continue to spawn or randomly spawn migration events. Reward of migrants is interesting, but when laid against the backdrop of recruitment I think there are several features and accessories that need to be considered.

I would instead urge you to consider adding a "recruitment drive" feature. For -100 gold the city recruitment rate can be doubled for one season or something like that. I would rather see a button on the unit card that says, "toggle off reinforcement", or some other priority method. I'm tired of my weak units getting reinforcement before my primary battle line units.

Changes or increases in functionality and mechanics in one area can quickly distort what makes Philip a simple, but deeply engrossing experience. You don't have functionality or complexity to support Empire management - be careful how you step into this space as some functionality in this area will only highlight that it is almost entirely absent - yet what does exist is beautifully abstracted in Philip.

Yours,

Erik

Level 8 Human Truffle Farmer
Alignment: Good
Location: Australia
Posted on November 24, 2010 at 6:48 am

Erik,
Larger cities do increase recruits faster, its just not all that noticable except over a longer period of time. Deplete two cities with different pop levels and measure how faster they come back to 20 or 30.

Also, you get many more pop migrants if you go east to Chacidice area. At least enough to fill up Edessa and Pella and then some more.

I do like your idea of boosting recruitment with a gold payment (or somehting) though. And even a way to simplyfy the more tedious aspects of worker relocation such as an automated way to send recruits from a smaller city to a larger one or somehting.

Level 21 Extraplanar gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Location: Toronto
Posted on November 24, 2010 at 10:04 am

We're trying to make the game mechanic meaningful, while simple enough to be fun and intuitive... and it's a tough challenge, especially as we're trying to be as historically accurate as we can.

We found that the original population system made larger cities less relevant and killing enemy units less significant, as they would quickly regenerate and come back at you.

The larger cities should generate recruits at a faster rate, but it's not very noticeable (good point), so we should make the difference far greater, to make the larger cities more important...which they were.

I'll check with Rob (our lead programmer) about how easy it would be to have a recruit priorities button and I wonder about having a setting to allow recruits to be abstractly moved (pooled) to larger centers.

The feedback and suggestions are terrific! One advantage of us being a small team of 5 developers is that comments and suggestions will always be heard and can influence what we do...

Jim

Level 8 Human CEO
Alignment: Lawful good
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Posted on November 24, 2010 at 11:26 am

Jim,

I worked in the computer entertainment field from 1988 to 1995; I hear you and greatly admire what you folks have achieved.

I would recommend evaluating the meaninging of total population; that count on the HUD was very, very useful and the old system while simple was fluid and worked in the overall sense of the campaign. The problem I find now is that it is altogether too easy to have a shattered unit that will without some kind of busy work, never recover. This to me breaks the focus from campaigning to logistics and supply which requires a great deal more in terms of functional levers to satisfy the ="fun" test for both casual and serious wargamers.

If population 1-2 equals village, a wall and large population do not exist. Limited trade routes exist. Slow or normal rate of recharge.

If a population 3-6 equals small city, etc. Slow or normal rate of recharge.

If a population equals 6-8, a medium sized city.

If a population equals 8-10, large city, including modest capitals and major economic centers and trade hubs.

10+ would represent a very large city that is well established. A max population city would be brimming with soldiers.

Alternately a point of population could be a base modifier, depending on the method used to calculate and modify it. +5% or +10% per population point. However it is achieved the number should feel a rapidly increasing curve, further making the larger cities more valuable and worth protecting and carefully building.

Recruits seem to accumulate about 14 a year with no units to reinforce across all city types.

Population in this era drives everything, even if you wanted to, you couldn't walk into a village and raise a brigade. You might be able to draw recruits from outlying regions and farms, but there wouldn't exist the infrastructure you would need, the sources of available food, etc.

Migrating resources by roads to central hubs makes more sense. It also simplifies the hunting and pecking for a few recruits; or the usage of a "worker" unit to move 20 (1000) recruits from place to place. Voluntary migration, or background migration would also make a lot of sense. Stable lands, clear laws and economic growth would have attracted immigrants from outside and within the borders of Macedon. Having the ability to influence immigration over several years is very attactive as a feature and would fit with the RTS scheme. A sacked city would lose many of its residents, death, starvation, slavery, migration to name a few. Populations can be fluid in this way and life was fragile.

I have played about 10 years now, mostly the same strategies, simply learning the mechanics and where my gameplay falls flat is population and protection. My units are precisely organized, my trade routes optimized (and plenty of room to expand there as well and provide simple, but rich improvements), and I ultimately get into two simultaneous fights and haven't the nation-wide manpower to campaign again for several years. I could blitz, I suppose, but in Philip that led to a really boring experience. Philip of Macedon probably would have shoved me on a stick for being so slow.

Yours,

Erik

Level 8 Human CEO
Alignment: Lawful good
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Posted on November 27, 2010 at 1:23 am

I have done the prudent thing and restarted several times to improve the play method with the new mechanic.

I am now moving workers around and centralizing recruiting from several key cities.

I am also changing my strategy significantly to reduce the number of Macedonian border cities that I need to defend. Instead expanding north and east very early to block my borders and gain large non-Macedonian cities early on.

A definite change in pace, but perhaps simply a change and not as annoying as first perceived. More later.

Erik

Level 8 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on November 27, 2010 at 10:30 am

I've also just started playing Gold and am struggling a little with the recruit mechanics.

To begin with I centralised and recruited primarily from Pella. This worked wonderfully well right up until I got half my army smashed (while taking the cities around Dion early in the campaign). I'd also just ordered two more Phalangites from Pella.. so suddenly Pella was rebuilding five P brigades and the Companions..

Needless to say, I realised I was doing it wrong at this point...

Next effort was to split all the brigades out.. now I have one P brigade sourced from each city, a spearmen brigade based in each city and a few catapults from various cities. This seems to be a much more effective way to keep 'hands-off' in terms of recruitment and management - recharge rates are reasonable and it 'feels' right to have cities contributing a brigade each to my campaign army.

I have to agree that shifting workers here and there then disbanding them into a recruit pool feels like a very 'gamey' tactic and doesn't sound right.

Pella can still only support two P brigades and the CCav on active campaign, even with it's population maxed at 15 - I've been pumping all my migrants into it. Even then, if I lose the cav and a brigade at the same time it takes too long to recover.. prioritising the cav would be nice - at the moment, I move the damaged P out of range of any building so they don't regen to defacto prioritise the cav, but again this feels gamey.

One suggestion - a button somewhere which will take you to your first unattached general :)
Since I have units based everywhere - and I wasn't enormously fussed about details when setting this up - generals may not be attached to the units from their own home town. So if a unit breaks I have to go find the general to reattach..

Also a lot of objectives give you a general in some random town miles away.. unless you keep a close eye on the ticker you miss them - this idea would make that less important.

As I play more I'll make more suggestions.. Cheers...

Level 8 Human CEO
Alignment: Lawful good
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Posted on November 27, 2010 at 12:12 pm

In the asset list at the top of the hud (Shortcut 'I') you can filter to Generals.

You will see four check boxes at the top of the asset list. Uncheck other boxes except General. Then you can click any of the links on the right column to see where and what the General is attached to.

Erik

Level 8 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on November 28, 2010 at 12:41 pm

what you could also do is merge recruitment pools, in stead of building workers and then sending them to pella , change home city and disband, you might also link the pools of menpower by region more so then just city by city. this would represent better (imo) the organisation of a kingdom. armies are usually assembled at key locations and not where they were born. so for instance the whole of upper makedonia has all its new recruits sent automatically to pella.

this way you might also appoint a governor for this 'region' (upper makedonia for instance) who takes it on himself to patrol the borders and maybe even rid the lesser incursions, for the larger he could then popup a request for aid.

It would disable the need for an auto-attack button to remove the -darn it forgot you were there now one peltast killed 60 phalangites- thing since the governor would relocate them to theyre garrison town/fort

It would also make youre generals more valuable in terms of theyre precence rids you of the captain-level of the game and leave you free to pursue more worthwile campaigns.

Level 8 Human CEO
Alignment: Lawful good
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Posted on November 28, 2010 at 1:03 pm

With B10 I restarted and when on a dynastic expansion with my original army and generals, leaving strong outposts and large forces of outriders available to defend my borders. I claimed the south the borders with Greece, reinforced them and will now move east, west and north in that order. Each expansion will be led by my core army with strong border protection. Nothing gets through my screens intact. It ties up a huge amount of resources, but then I can't really afford to replace to armies at the same time with the current system.

Using a global abstracted system, unfortunately is what existed under 'Philip'.

However, I now have 14 stacks of workers in Pella. Shouldn't I be able to turn them into long term population instead? 5 workers = 1 population level? If there are constantly new people coming into the populace for troops, they have to be coming from somewhere. I am minding the "move worker" mechanic much less, but do suggest a tutorial on this. It is simple functionality but not an easy concept to demonstrate without frustrating users and possibly driving them away.