Hi Exsonic01, when you talk different damage models you are talking about counter-battery fire? I am yet undecided if there should be permanent damage to targeted artillery units, although I am in favor only if it is rendered optional for those players who don't mind it.
My current idea for artillery is to have an optional tab in purchase menu where player buys artillery formations. The basic fire unit is a battery (although for some factions, like USSR, it might be mandatory to purchase a battalion consisting of few batteries). Each artillery unit will have its own properties (name, caliber, type, towed/self-propelled, possibly even rate of fire). Rocket artillery will be a separate formation, with special rules I explained few posts above.
While buying an artillery formation, player will also have the possibility to choose between above mentioned direct support and general support. I found this separation an excellent way to simulate doctrinal differences between factions (Exsonic01 might recall the long discussion on Soviet response times and flexibility). Direct support will function pretty much identically as it does now, with an addition of "attitude": angle of the fire mission.
General support, on the other hand, will use the same simple fire procedure, but player will generate a fire-support request rather than fire mission. It can be randomly delayed (it will be placed into a priority queue to be fired at the earliest available opportunity, which may or may not be prompt), or denied outright, because general support depends on higher command or other officers deciding according to availability and the priorities. According to faction and historical period, direct support and general support formations might be allowed or not to perform counter-battery fire (for example, traditionally it was the role of heavy artillery). General support will be overall much cheaper, to offset lack of firepower reliability. I think it will have a positive effect on gameplay since in many scenarios with lesser amount of points (or in campaigns) artillery is prohibitively expensive or outright unavailable.
Now, the counter-battery. It will be optional, according to player preference when setting the battle.
As mentioned above, battery will be the basic fire unit. Which means that while the player will keep his freedom to assign individual tubes for fire missions as he wish, but he will be forced to assign a whole battery to counter-fire role. Equally, the risk factor (which we currently graphically envisage as a coloured bar) with be shared with the battery from which the tube(s) are firing. As mentioned earlier, a primary component of our CB model is the “risk”, which increases over time when player stays in the same position and performs fire missions. The risk represents enemy’s effective firing rate, which is the rate that enemy fires rounds multiplied by the probability a round hits the player. These two quantities (especially the hit probability) will increase in time as player stays at the same location. Frequent moving generates low risk, but it consumes much time and effort and imposes a cost of lost firepower. Equally, player can dedicate his batteries to counter-fire, sacrificing his firepower in order to reduce the enemy fire.
The risk will be influenced by several factors, like artillery type (which influences the range, elevation, target type and number of projectiles being simultaneously tracked) as well electronic warfare, opposing side training, presence of UAVs etc.
Abstraction is handy because it allows us to simulate a wide aspect of realistic factors, without having to model them physically and allowing us to preserve the simplicity of current model.
However, as rightfully noted, abstraction can cause frustration. We have categorically agreed against on-map artillery units as they often have ranges well in excess of 15km, and some recent systems even surpassing the size of our master maps. Idem for battle positions, as we want to keep things simple and with as with less micromanaging as possible. The simple icons outside the battle-area were discussed too, but there are some issues with geographical orientation (for example, what if scenario is representing the unit breaking though the encirclement or trying to reach friendly lines in opposing direction) or if battle is conducted at the edge of the master map (black screen). This haven't been yet definitely shelved, thought.
But, our artist has come out with an idea to have some form of animations or other visual clues illustrating the player what is happening. But we still have to produce a draft for that, and similarly we still have a lot to discuss about precision guided weapons and how they will be implement. Which is closely intertwined with another hot topic: the forward observers (or battery command posts, FIST teams etc.).
My current ideas is to have them bought as an addition for front-line formations or HQ, depending on factions. In US case, the platoon forward observers are assigned to the FIST supporting each infantry company or cavalry troop in the BCT and to the battlefield surveillance brigade. The BCT cannon field artillery battalion coordinates with fire cells at BCT and battalion level; and FISTs and forward observers at company level. I would really appreciate if Artillerist or someone else knowledgeable on the topic would leave a remark on this, particularly with description of filed operations, as manuals are pretty dry on that practical aspect (at least to me).
I know everybody would like to see them as physical units, but I am certain we will have very serious issues teaching the AI how to use them properly (primarily how not to get them killed, yet make them use advantageous terrain features).
All-in-all, artillery (together with some aspects of modern air operations) is proving the most demanding to re-work and I have spent weeks reading and rethinking about this. So feedback and suggestions are highly welcome!
Armored Brigade Database Specialist