Mulitplayer Unrealistic Tactics/New Victory Points (Full Version)

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Mandella -> Mulitplayer Unrealistic Tactics/New Victory Points (11/3/2011 11:02:04 PM)

First off, in my journeys through playing Battle Academy PBEM I've run across, on numerous occasions, the use of units in a way which would never happen in real life. Mainly that opponents have used what are supposed to be suppressed units to draw fire by advancing on an enemy unit, then once that enemy unit uses its opportunity fire up, the opponent would race in another unsuppressed unit and destroy the enemy unit.

Happens a lot and it's very unrealistic, especially when the suppressed unit is infantry. It negates the suppression effects doesn't it? A suppressed unit shouldn't be able to be used as an offensive (diversionary) weapon, drawing off fire when they should be pinned down and not able to advance. This has caused the battles to degrade into something that defies good sound tactics.

This leads to my second point. The new Victory Points per turn on some PBEM scenarios causes, again, the use of tactics that are, at times, borderline ridiculous. Racing around deep in enemy territory with a vehicle trying to capture VP's just to get more points. For me it takes something away from trying to use units properly and as a team. Sorry, but there must have been too many people who watched Rat Patrol who think it's normal combat, even in an urban environment.

The game is called "Battle Academy" and usually I'd look forward to playing multi player PBEM games because it should give you a sense of what tactics are necessary to win, but, too often, it degenerates into something that is less than entertaining when you find somebody behind your front line scooping up your VP's with a truck or half track. It simply wouldn't happen in real life and yes I know it's just a game but it kills much of what the "Academy" part of its name should stand for.

PipFromSlitherine -> RE: Mulitplayer Unrealistic Tactics/New Victory Points (11/3/2011 11:55:14 PM)

I think these are definitely valid points. That being true, I'm not sure there are elegant solutions to them. The newer VP points maps are to some extent inherently "gamey" - as the scoring and victory mechanic is somewhat invented.

There is an ongoing discussion on the Slitherine forum about the issue of using trucks/infantry in unintended ways. We went around and around discussing and trying to solve these issues before launch, but none of the solutions were without exceptions. If we prevent suppressed infantry from advancing toward the enemy, then it could show up where hidden units are, if we prevent units from reacting to suppressed infantry, then they can be used to scout, etc.

I guess one solution might be to allow shots on suppressed units to be free, although I am not sure what other issues that might throw up! [:)]

This kind of feedback is definitely very useful. The crucible of the 100s or 1000s of multiplayer games that are ongoing at any point will tend to show up loopholes or exploits that would never come out in normal testing, and getting details on them, especially if they affect the experience, is great.



Mandella -> RE: Mulitplayer Unrealistic Tactics/New Victory Points (11/4/2011 6:40:06 PM)

I read suppressed as being pinned down, unable to maneuver except possibly to find better cover. There's countless accounts written during WW2 about infantry units being pinned down and unable to advance, especially green/poorly trained units. This is aptly shown in the lower morale rating of certain units (Volksgrenadier/Italian for example).

Not only should the inability to function while suppressed be stressed, it must be in effect for all units, whether soft targets like infantry/AT Guns/trucks or hard targets like tanks and armored personnel carriers. They shouldn't be able to advance on the enemy at all and only move to their own lines looking for better cover.

I've seen tanks be used on PBEM games that are highly suppressed (a minus morale rating) yet be able to advance and draw fire away from friendly units, causing the effects I've been talking about in my previous post. A tanker has the same feeling of stress in their iron box that an infantryman would when under heavy fire. The quality of the troops would determine how hearty they are at standing up under fire, which is aptly shown with a higher morale level unit. They can simply take more mentally.

I'm not sure how accurate the designers of Battle Academy wanted the game to be? There are facets of this game that are very good. You really do have to adjust the tactics depending on what side you are playing. A Sherman crew is going to have to be a lot choosier of their tactics than the guy riding in the the turret of a Panther. Each unit brings out, in fine fashion, its strengths and weaknesses.

I feel that an effective fix for these inconsistencies would be to have more restrictions on what suppressed units can do. They shouldn't be able to advance, especially towards a known enemy unit or the enemy "front lines". Following in trace of front line friendly units would be ok as that would happen but being used offensively has to be cut out. That would greatly eliminate the inaccurate use of a unit that should be unusable and force a more proper use of tactics. Units getting suppressed tends to stall an advance, a very real and well know occurrence.

I wouldn't worry so much about hidden units. They tend to be found out sooner or later. It isn't that hard to figure out where that AT Gun is that just knocked out your lead tank, just use your head! I would definitely put the effects of hidden units below that of the effects of suppression. If a suppressed unit that is retreating gives away where a hidden unit is, then that's a lot more plausible to happen than letting a suppressed unit do things that are completely against known fact.

Hidden units are in woods/buildings/rough terrain and tanks can't go there, so that's irrelevant. Infantry that are suppressed shouldn't be able to move much at all, maybe one square cause, well, they're pinned down and really shouldn't be able to move much anyway. That should help eliminate the problem of an infantry unit retreating through a hidden unit.

I hope there can be found the proper solution to this problem. I don't mean to nit pick the game apart. I just would like to see it become a little more of what I think it's capable of being. It's already very good and the Slitherine staff has made admirable steps to fix problems (the reverse capability of vehicles was an excellent fix).

Oh, and as far as the improper use of transport vehicles goes, simply make it so a truck can't go further forward than the furthest front line friendly unit, unless, of course, it is carrying a friendly infantry/artillery unit. That would eliminate a truck being used to capture enemy VP's deep behind enemy lines and relegate it to it's intended role.

I've used half tracks to advantage as recon vehicles, particularly in scenarios where there's a lot of open terrain. This would be an accurate use of these vehicles as they were well known for this. If someone wanted to use an armored personnel carrier to raid deep behind enemy lines, that might throw up some discontent but it's probably impossible, given the capabilities of this game, to stop. At least they were used as an assault vehicle and it would be easier to take than somebody's Opel Truck cruising behind your lines eating up your VP's.

I'll address another problem I've seen at a later time.

IainMcNeil -> RE: Mulitplayer Unrealistic Tactics/New Victory Points (11/4/2011 7:10:01 PM)

Thanks for the ideas. Some of the problems are that things like advance, front lines, etc are easy for a player to determine but when you try and work out the exact logic they get very complex. E.g. you cannot advance if suppressed. What if the best cover is nearer the enemy and only open tiles are behind you? What if there are enemies ahead and behind. Which way can you move? What if the enemy are trucks? What if the enemy are suppressed? The logic becomes more and more involved and it will still not cover all edge cases and so you'll get strange & unpredicable behaviour from time to time.

I think the best way to solve the truck issues is with an enhanced scoring system. E.g. award points for kills and VP and balance it up. Then a truck becomes something to protect or you lsoe points. Or we could do a force morale - lose X% of your units and your force retreats.

Mandella -> RE: Mulitplayer Unrealistic Tactics/New Victory Points (11/4/2011 7:39:28 PM)

Actually, and I don't know why I didn't think of it before, to solve the whole "truck" issue would to be simply make it impossible for them to capture anything. Drive a truck over to a VP location and nothing happens. Problem solved. Make a truck a complete logistic vehicle only and not capable of achieving anything a combat unit could do. I know from playing the Close Combat games that they don't allow a sniper to capture a VP objective. The designers must have figured it isn't likely one man should be allowed to do that.

Maybe a suppressed unit should be just that, suppressed. Incapable of moving because it's pinned down. That would be realistic within the time frame of this game. Give them one retreat (possibly, that would be debatable depending on terrain) when they are initially suppressed then nothing. They're stuck, just like real units when pinned down.

Units regain morale over time and recover from their shock. I think this would be realistic and solve all the problems of suppression. I've seen the retreat paths that the game gives a unit and they are good. This fix would be simpler, I hope, and solve a lot of issues. If a unit takes so much fire that it gets pinned down then that should be it's immediate fate. If they can't immediately find better cover that is reasonable because units caught in the open do get slaughtered because they are, well, in the open. Better use better tactics then to stay out of the open, just like in real war.

IainMcNeil -> RE: Mulitplayer Unrealistic Tactics/New Victory Points (11/5/2011 9:31:44 AM)

If trucks capturing VP's is the issue thats easy to change. I thought it was more about them scouting etc. I rarely if ever see them capture anything as they are so fragile.

The suppression feels too black and white. Get suppressed and you cant move - means you will die. I think it needs to be more graduated.

Mandella -> RE: Mulitplayer Unrealistic Tactics/New Victory Points (11/5/2011 8:53:42 PM)

I suppose we could go on forever so possibly it's time to drop it.  I think it would be impossible to adjust the way certain units function without having to overhaul the entire system so maybe the entire idea is too much.  And yes, I've seen trucks used for all sorts of things they wouldn't have been used for in real combat.  Decoys to draw fire and to capture enemy VP's when there's very little forces left.

I'm sure my idea about suppression might take away a playability factor that may not be acceptable.  Graduated suppression would be better.  I would think that any unit that is in the "minus" morale level of suppression shouldn't be allowed to do anything but others not being so highly suppressed should be more flexible.  I think there should be a fire opportunity for a suppressed unit (talking infantry/artillery here), but at a reduced effectiveness.  At least for those not highly suppressed, (not in a minus morale state) in any event. Minus morale suppressed units would have their heads so far down in the dirt that it'd take an act of congress to get them up again.  Just cause a unit is pinned doesn't mean it won't fight, especially if there's a unit advancing to attack it in close combat.   Give them one chance to possible stop the enemy assault before it reaches them. 

But, I'm not a programmer so I'm sure a lot of what I've suggested wouldn't necessarily be easy to do.  It sounds to me like there should have been a few more veterans with ground combat training or experience in the mix to test this.  But I'm probably adding a tad too much.  I appreciate the opportunity to express my views on this.  I'm one of those veterans so sometimes I still think like one!  Cheers.

junk2drive -> RE: Mulitplayer Unrealistic Tactics/New Victory Points (11/5/2011 9:03:45 PM)

Most people play games solo. Any change or feature has to be thought out with the AI in mind. What can the AI do with this or that? In single player you have to restrain yourself from gamey tactics. In multiplayer there has to be house rules. There are limitations in turn based IGOUGO games. That's why I prefer WEGO. Some people prefer real time.

There are games where halftracks, trucks, aircraft and artillery are hotly debated. The best thing is to find opponents that are like minded and play with them.

Mandella -> RE: Mulitplayer Unrealistic Tactics/New Victory Points (11/6/2011 12:41:29 AM)

I actually play multi player Battle Academy a lot more than single player because after you've played the AI in each scenario/campaign a few times you know what to expect and some of the fun is used up. I've been concerned with the effects of these improper use of units for a while as it detracts from the game.

I'm no purist by any means as I understand it's just a game and no game is ever going to replicate everything perfectly. The only way that would happen is if the entire development and programming teams were staffed with nothing but ground combat veterans!

Pardon me if I seem like I'm flogging a dead horse. I merely am taking into account that the staff at Slitherine has been open to suggestions about the playability of this game and have fixed things when they seem to cause a problem. I've been very happy with their support of one of the funnest tactical war games to come along in a very long time. It's so simple yet replicates the capabilities of each nation so well.

junk2drive -> RE: Mulitplayer Unrealistic Tactics/New Victory Points (11/6/2011 12:51:07 AM)

You never know what idea might make it into a game. Stop by the Slitherine forum and join in the discussions.

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