From: Colorado Springs
Also why do the tracks zig zag so much rather than taking a straight ahead path?
I can't answer for all cases, but maybe in the hopes that the formation will cover some territory as opposed to heading in a straight line. The best way to try and get the PO to conquer all territory is to assign objectives to each hex. You could have objective 1 at hex 0.22, and objective 2 at hex 39.22. This will leave the PO on it's own to determine the best route to take from 1 to 2. Or you could place one objective in each of the 39 hexes, hoping that Elmer will take your advice (not always true).
When an Obj. is obtained, will the formation then attempt to move on tho the next Obj?
Maybe ! Trial and error playtesting is the best way to be sure. There is more to it than the objective placement. Formation Orders, Formation Bias and Formation Loss Settings also have an influence. Elmer also monitors the overall situation on the map.
This is off the top of my head, so the details may be a bit off, but it shoudl be roughly correct.
The short answer is that fewer objects is normally better. You also want to try things and see what works.
The original TOAW had a problem where the PO was expected to exactly take a specific objective before moving on to the next. There was code which looked towards having a relative power. According to the comments, Norm knew about it, but didn't want to change it and unbalance all the scenarios. When I took over, I used some of the good will and re-enabled that code. It's part of why Elmer is stronger now.
That's why you'll see some scenarios with track marks all over in COW versions and earlier. The designer had to do that in order to get the results he wanted. The downside of the earlier approach is that if you can flank him, you can make him 'ping pong' back to an earlier objective.
Toaw 3 doesn't have that issue. Depending on the stance and other factors, he's will look at the percent of your units vs his units within a variable radius (average about 6, I believe) when deciding if an objective is enemy owned.
To further complicate things, let me talk about how a square grid would work, If you had an objective at 1,1 and your formation center were at 5,1 then it created a perpindicular line through 3,1 and looks at everything to the right when considering whether the objective is 'owned', once you get close enough to the objective, it looks in a circle with a radius of about 3 for that.
It also only does this when the objectives are more than 3 hexes apart. I did this because people 'shotgunned' the objectives, and I didn't want to make the fact that the line between objectives sometimes went 'backwards' cause problems for Elmer.
Toaw 3 as of 3.4 has some other wrinkles, just for fun ;)
The big one is that I just added the following logic... If an objective hex is directly on a hex with a victory point value, then Elmer will try to actually take that hex, and not go around it. If it's simply an empty hex, then he'll feel free to not take it, even if someone is standing on it laughing at you;) That gives the designer a bit more flexibility.
TOAW IV Programmer
My comments are my own, and do not represent the views of any other person or entity. Nothing that I say should be construed in any way as a promise of anything.