Tinkering wth the PDT's/OOB's

TheGrayMouser

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Hello, thought I’d post some findings in playing around with the oob’s and pdt entries in this game to illustrate how flexible this engine is and things one can do.

My intent was to make the AI more competitive but as I played around some interesting things were discovered that could have some value to other tinkerers as there are a significant amount of entries in the Ren OOB files that one can play around with.

IMHO, the most important issues the AI has in providing a good game is its use of pike units and its tendency to disorder its own troops via movement and stacking.
Pikes:
Pikes are coded with the “binary value” of 3 in the OOB’s, which means they can form block and column but cannot initiate melee in column (btw this is NOT hardcoded to Pikes, any unit can be coded any way you want, you want longbowmen to act the same, code them 3)
There are several issues with this. One, the blocks cannot attack gates or onto bridges, yet when in column they cant attack at all which means a Swiss battle can be held up at a bridge or gate by 10 skirmishers. (this effects the human as well)

Two. This is the big one. The AI has no idea how to use pikes. I believe the AI, as the Ren game is a modified Nap engine, wasn’t programmed that blocks are an offensive formation, and not only a defensive formation vs cavalry. Thus, it will advance in column, get stuck in front of a players units and, well, do nothing. The AI only forms block when directly threatened by cavalry. The second a cavalry unit isn’t in a position to charge a pike , the AI always switches back to column. As units coded as “3” in the OOB cannot initiate melee when in column, the AI never really brings its most powerfull melee units to bear vs a players infantry.

Solution: code pikes (and Tercios) as “1”, so they can melee in column. The only drawback is they can also form line… The workaround for this is, as a player, just DON’T DO It 
For me, its really not too much of a big deal if the AI occasionally forms lines with its pike or tercios as there is no inherent advantage/disadvantage to being in line when defending in melee. (of course tercio’s would fire a little better in line…) I personally prefer an AI that can actually attack me with pikes and have the oddity of the occasional “thin red line of pikes”. The natural tendancy of the AI , when programmed to attack, extreme attack is to form column and attempt to achieve high stacking within a hex.
This change might very well give pikes too much ability to close rapidly and engage so possible adjustement to their movement rates might need to be considered.

The second thing I wanted to do is reduce the amount DISORDER the AI creates for itself, while piling up its troops, cavalry/infantry in various formations all in the same hex.
It appears the movement algorithm is for a unit to get to point B from A in the most efficient manner. Since there is no additional movement cost to enter a stack of units, the AI will often plow cavalry units thru its own infantry stacks in order to get to the front.
I found by limiting the counters allowed per hex, juggling the cavalry modifiers etc the AI is handling it formations better .
In an experimental 50 Yard hex scale PDT I reduced the stacking to 1200 men total, and reduced the counter limit to 3 units per hex. Cavalry stacking is reduced to 1/6 or 200 men.
Overall, I found the AI handled its formations much better, there was little to no cavalry entering stacks of infantry. With only three counters (exclusive of leaders) allowed per hex, there were much fewer opportunities for the AI to attempt to move a line unit into the same hex as units in column etc.

Ideally I want to make it so cavalry could never enter a hex of infantry. It is possible to do this (by increasing how many counters one counter of cavalry equals) but the unfortunate effect is then cavalry can only stack one unit per hex and thus cant break into squadrons. As the adjustments I had already made seems to limit the # of times the AI puts its own cavalry into an infantry stack, I didn’t really follow this line any further but I kind like the idea of cavalry never being allowed to stack with infantry(a mechanic found in many other tactical games)
Since Ren is so flexible in making adjustment to a unit on a UNIT by UNIT basis, cavalry formations can easily be tweaked to make up for the much less #’s allowed. IE armor, melee values and even the charge multiplier if needed.


Another “problem area I see in Ren is the block formation itself. Unfortunaltely, The game engine nullifies the Block ability to negate a cavalry charge if ANY unit, other than skirmishers is in the same hex as a block. So you cant stack a pike block with a “sleeve of arquebusiers” as it makes the whole stack vulnerable to cavalry charges.
Ideally JT will change this in newer versions of the game. Even better would be if it was a moddable entry in the PDT to allow a ratio, per stack, of x # of men in block provide the anti cavalry bonus to y # of men in a stack not in block.

Anyways there is no true solution to this except a combination of changes which includes allowing units other than pike to block, as well as reducing the # of men and counters in a hex.

I made an experimental Spanish Colunella formation consisting of 2 300 men pike units, 2 300 men arquebusiers and a 300 man rodelero unit, plus a brigade leader.
Using my alt. 50 yard scale PDT with max men 1200 and 3 counter limit I coded the pikes “1” ( so they can melee in column, I coded the arqebusiers 1 as well, and I made the Rodeleros skirmishers (S class, they cannot break down further)
I set these formation up two stack of pike and shot each, rodeleros and leader behind , coded the ai to “attack” and then fought against them
The AI had no problems keeping the formation I set in the editor. Whenever threatened by cavalry the AI blocked the pike and shot together. Generally, the AI kept the pike and shot units together. The rodeleros often popped out on the flanks and or stacked in one of the pike and shot occupied hexes. Since coded as skirmishers they didn’t nullify the block ability. I think it worked out quite well.
Now obviously there are some issue with this. Cleary we don’t want arquebusiers going off on their own and forming block. As a player you could prevent this by simply NOT doing it (house rule time). The Ai, well, eventually a pike unit will likely rout and or the ai will move it away from the arqebusiers and theres nothing you can do about it…. So its just an embryonic idea.
BTW I don’t suggest that ALL pike and shot formation need be set like his. The Swiss and Landsnect formations would be untouched. These setting might make more sense for the smaller(and later period) pike and shot formations where they should be more tactically integrated.
Another issue is coding units as S class We don’t want large infantry formations coded as S to be “overrun” by cavalry units charging so you’d need to carefully consider your cavlary stacking limits and adjust unit sizes accordingly. In my experimental alt PDT, most cavalry units are 150 men with a stacking limit of 200 cavalry. A 300 S class sword and buckler infantry unit cannot be overrun (unless multiple cavalry stacks charging comes into play. As the unit exceeds the 1/8 skirmisher stacking rule for melee combat , they act like formed infantry anyways in melee, in terms of casualties they take and inflict


Other lines of experiments to improve the AI behavior led to some mneet discoveries.
To try to get a workaround vs the ai charging anything and everything with cavalry units not suitable for melee, I wanted to see if there was SOME way to prevent the AI to melee at all with certain unit types . This lead me to experiment with NEGATIVE melee modifiers in the OOB’s.
I was hoping a negative melee modifier would make it impossible for a unit to initiate melee but instead, its just applied as a negative modifier (this lead to another concept I’ll go into further on)

My solution: I coded some cavalry units with the binary value of 3 nromally used for pike units
It actually worked, the game keeping some the attributes of the unit as cavalry and coded as a pike
As Units coded 3 can form block or column but cannot INITIATE combat when in column, and as cavalry units can only form column the effect was exactly what I wanted.

Now the unit card says they “can block” but when you try, you get the message” only infantry can form block”, when you try to initiate melee yo get the message cannot attack in colum. These units defend normally when attacked though.
Even better , they CAN charge and over run skirmishers(if they are >= in # of men) leaders and wagons ( didn’t test vs artillery but assume would be the same) It is clear the game doesnt consider an overrun to be the same as melee
So what utility would this have? I was thinking it could be used to have an exclusive class of skirmishing cavalry that can still drive off infantry skirmishers and harass formed troops with missle fire , but under the AI control cannot charges pike blocks or any other bodies of formed troops and be doomed to immediate destruction…
I created a scenario testing this and the AI appeared to handle these units the same as any other cavalry, it swarmed right up to my infantry units and basically pummeled them with missle fire
There is one oddity I noted. I gave my experimental skirmish only cavalry the Bow weapon class which has quite powerful stats. I was surprised when these unit caused incredibly low casualties. I believe (not fully tested) that , coded as “three” as a hybred unit, the engine is applying the infantry column reduction fire (fires only at 25% effectiveness for most nations)
Couple work arounds: A, you could use a weapon PDT slot to make a “skirmisher only” bow or whatever and assign HIGHER values to compensate, or you could up the column modifier to 100% effectiveness. Since that would change the fire value for ALL unit in that army in column, you could code your cavalry skirmishers a using a different army slot for that specific battle. Somewhat cumbersome but it would work.


Things I discovered when playing with the files:
Melee and armor modifiers
Armor: One can assign max armor of 10
However, 10 means the unit cannot take casualties, EVER and thus can never accrue fatigue.
(BTW the game cannot handle decimals when playing with the values)
Negative armour. Yep, the game supports negative armor. I tried a unit with -9 armor, and it appeared to take casualties at a higher rate but never would retreat from combat. Not sure what utility this could have but there might be a use for it in some way I haven’t thought of.

Melee values: the game supports at least 3 digits of melee modifier ie I tried 900 and it worked
More interestingly, the game supports negative melee modifiers*******
What use is a negative melee modifier? Hmm it depends what you want to do but here are some ideas
Currently there is a gap in melee effectiveness. A unit with a weapon with no “bayonets” set in the PDT melees at 33% effectiveness
If it has bayonets it jumps up to 100% effectiveness which then can be increased in 10% increments (to really obscene #’s)
As one can see there is a 70% “gap”
With negative melee #s assigned to appropriate units, and dropping the “no bayonets” tag function from all weapons in a PDT, one could
A) fine tune the granularity of melee effectiveness
B) potentially free up more weapons slots in the PDT
C) As the engine bases melee effectiveness solely based on # of men, it is not considering really deep formations tended to be wasteful of manpower, one could assign negative melee modifiers to exceptionally large units to take this into account
You could also use negative modifiers to adjust combined arms units that had just enough Pike to nullify a cavalry charge, but not enough to justify 100% effectiveness in melee.

Anyhow, that’s it for now, theres an amazing amount of things you can tweak in this game. Just to be clear, I really enjoy the game and am just glad it was released, even if nothing is officially changed down the road. If JT ever does consider changing some things though, I would love it to be how pikes are handled in game. Simply allowing a hard coded tweak for pikes to be able to melee in column would avoid many of the changes I have highlight above, just to allow the AI to get its pikes into the fray.
Ideally, assigning a “block protection modifier for units stacked in a hex with a block could be considered. The way I see, there is already code in the game that really isn’t used by the Ren engine, and that is 2, 3 and 4 rank infantry
What if 4 rank infantry, when coded as pikes, provide a 2-1 ratio of protection to NON blocked infantry in the same hex? Ie a 600 man unit of pikes in block would “protect” (meaning nullify a cavalry charge bonus) 1200 infantry. 3 rank maybe 1-1 so 600 pikes would protect 600 infantry and finally 2 rank would have 1-2 or 1-3 ? Would allow a lot of flexibility for armies in the second half of the period where varying levels of pike to shot were being used.

Cheers!
 

trauth116

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Some very interesting observations, including some that I had not thought about - the negative values being one. That might come in handy. I wrote some notes out earlier this week (I am one of those types that cannot properly digest a long post on the screen, so I had to print it off and peruse it during my lunch period).

I don't actually have these handy just this minute, but I did not want you thinking that no one saw your post - which you obviously put a lot of effort into.
 

trauth116

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Cavalry - applying the 'can block' parameter- I can confirm that this does work exactly as GrayMouser describes - and it is true that when using this portion of the PDT -it then also prevents any unit in column (which it then counts mounted cavalry as being) from melee-ing.

The question then becomes- is this really desirable? It seems to have its pros and cons. It does (conversely) end up making opposing skirmishers a bit more powerful in that they are not subject to overrun (or any melee combat).

Now, then, if you are using these cavalry units armed with pistols as firing and basically acting in a caracole type of fashion - it would seem to place a lot of emphasis on making sure that one adjusts the potency of pistol fire accordingly. It sort of then makes for a scalable effect when it comes to rating weaponry.

I am not exactly certain of the exact definition of 'granularity' - however just in the context it seems to be the polar opposite of scalability in that it would seem to have more impact in the most detailed simulations -although at 100 metres per hex (the generic scale of REN), it seems more like the scale is a bit too large to be overly concerned with the finest details -but rather be considering the impact of abstraction as dictated by the game engine.

Interesting points, though to be sure.
 

TheGrayMouser

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Thanks for taking a peek at the findings, (always good to have a second set of eyes on these types of changes)

I agree, the "utility" of some of these things is subjective and or useless, really depends on what one is doing w the engine I suppose.

Creating "skirmisher class" cavalry that cant melee was an Idea I had, as the AI has a tendency to charge ANY type of cavalry into infantry blocks as soon as it gets a chance. Ideally Id' love if the engine could be tweeked to allow skirmisher type cavalry to "retreat" prior to contact, perhaps becoming disordered in the process but I doudt that that will be possible so...

The granularity I referred to ( likely not to clearly) , maybe better said that I was playing around in an attempt to get more of a "rock papers scizzors" feel for varying types of infantry units. As it stands now, the single most important "modifier" for any unit, is the # of men in that unit. I really wanted to distinguish that perhaps a smaller unit of say halbidiers or sword and buckler men might be able to defeat a larger pike block. Giving said units higher melee values simply increases their effectiveness across the board. One thing I was thinking ( to help illustrate my concept) was to give larger Pike units a 0 value fire value in the PDT and code them as "no bayonets". Possibly (depending on quality) giving a melee bonus of 2-3 Thus , in block they would still be excellent at repelling cavalry but , to some degree a sword an buckler unit might be able to deal some hurt, especially if the pike unit is disrupted prior to melee. (after all, a pike unit of 1200 men, with such adjustments would still be as effective as 600 men and likely still would clobber the average sword and buckler unit of 250-400 men, as per most of the game OOB's) Obviously a lot of other adjustments would need to be made, including stacking values, cavalry sizes, charge modifiers to make it viable. For a while their I was really into playing around at the 50 yard scale, where such differences might make more sense, and as you pointed out 99% of the official scenarios ( and maps) are 100 yard scale.

Ive recently gotten sucked back into the AW's series so havent fiddled around with Ren in a while but its a great engine ( possibly my favourite tiller title)

BTW , no worries about lack of comments,, Ive come to the conclusion long ago that fans of JT/HPS games are a silent brooding type, spending their time playing these games instead of jabbering on forums like I have a tendency to do sometimes, ha ha
Currenlty I'm eagerly awaiting Hoplite63's massive face lift of the unit/leader portraits, I think he up to 800-900!! new portraits at this point ?
Cheers!
 

Lord_Valentai

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Some very interesting and eye opening discoveries here!

I feel like the Ren engine is very close to giving us what we want...but lacks in a couple of areas. Your revelation about the melee values going very high is fascinating, as is your block cavalry idea. With that, skirmishing cavalry could be a reality at last.
 

trauth116

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GM - one thing- a 'native' pike unit, itself, has no fire combat ability (you might have been referring to some of the combined pike/shot units Rich came out with in post-publication updates maybe?).

I think, though in looking at things- you have to be talking about a 'Tercio' weapon type (when you get a chance -double check that) - which I think is the only type Rich was using to show combined pike/shot capabilities (and mind you rating those are a probably a balancing act themselves - those types of units did not exist prior to publication so they probably were not playtested as much (if at all) -I was in the playtest of Ren.

I do want to work with rating combined pike/shot units ... and the key aspect seems to be pike and shot ratio - sometimes in several combinations present at the same time.
 

TheGrayMouser

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GM - one thing- a 'native' pike unit, itself, has no fire combat ability (you might have been referring to some of the combined pike/shot units Rich came out with in post-publication updates maybe?).

I think, though in looking at things- you have to be talking about a 'Tercio' weapon type (when you get a chance -double check that) - which I think is the only type Rich was using to show combined pike/shot capabilities (and mind you rating those are a probably a balancing act themselves - those types of units did not exist prior to publication so they probably were not playtested as much (if at all) -I was in the playtest of Ren.

I do want to work with rating combined pike/shot units ... and the key aspect seems to be pike and shot ratio - sometimes in several combinations present at the same time.
Hello, yes I was talking about the "native Pike unit", which of course you are correct that it has no current entry in the PDT as it doesn't fire, however, one can assign ANY melee only weapon class into the PDT and simply give it 0 fire factors ( it should work in theory and in practice it works in the NAP engine and I believe there is actually an official PDT from one of the NAP or early American gamef where a melee only weapon IS in the PDT with 0 fire ability.
The utility of this would simply be able to open up more weapons slots as needed or assign values the PDT allows that otherwise couldn't be assigned if the weapon wasn't in the PDT in the ist place.!
 

trauth116

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There is the catch, though, - as in M&P unlike NB each weapon slot uses the equivalent of 2 slots in NB - one for unarmored targets, and one for armored-so it is easy to run out of weapons' slots -or rather you have to practice a version of triage.

Edited: I have re-read your post with regards to the pikes -I guess it is worth trying to see if it works, although it won't necessarily follow that it opens up a slot in the weapons' file -because in order to be assigned a weapon label the weapon has to already have been defined in the weapon.dat file.

I think it is fair to say that in my particular arena I don't think that I am going to need that functionality. What I am interested in (and I don't know at the moment how it can happen), is melee combat - but more to the point the scalable effects. An example of this would be when the pike blocks drive off cavalry without causing the cavalry a loss -it does move them, however. If you were in a shot component of an infantry unit -would you stand and take a pike push? I suppose that is more rhetorical than anything else.
 
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Lord_Valentai

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Depends on the unit. Since most infantry in this era either had pikes or missile weapons, the pikemen would stand and the light troops wouldn’t.

I personally think that skirmishers should be pushed back by cavalry but not damaged since they’re far too quick to be caught by a phalanx.
 

trauth116

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What I am saying here is that, the shot component of, for example, an infantry regiment (or brigade if you will), would -when faced another infantry regiment -specifically, the pike portion -would not try to stand against that sort of melee force.

Skirmishers get it worse than just simply damaged -in most cases, they end up getting overrun. I guess the counterpoint is that, if you put your cavalry out of position by overrunning skirmishers, then you stand to get your cavalry cut off (and possibly wiped out for the trouble). A lot of this, again, would have to do with what amount of vp's that you are talking about. Vp's being able to be assigned in the OOB files ... well, it becomes a mix and match type of system.

I guess the bottom line with all of that, is partly a time scale factor, and partly the responsibility of the player to get them out of the way. In M&P basically this means to get behind somethings' interlocking ZoC (or join a pike block unit's stack), while in NB is would be to retreat into a square or get behind its ZoC.

Take a second to consider the different depths of lines that appear in some of this era, too. Currently the M&P engine allows for up to 4 rank lines ... naturally these lines were a lot deeper than than (usually double or more - although it did vary by army and period during in sort of an evolutionary sense).

Wouldn't the phalanx, in your example, have been represented by a pike block? Anyway -aside from that, I have read some (granted anecdotal references talking about moral impetus, things like that -where the threat alone was what could drive an opponent from the field, or make them rout (I am not talking about game mechanics, but something I read in a book not too long ago). That the threat of a pike push was more damaging to an opposing army than the actual contact -which was supposedly fairly rare.

At the same time, if one has a look at some of the loss numbers that have been claimed at some of these larger battles, and considers the size of the respective armies ... the losses were pretty staggering.

_______

Getting back to talking about OOB/PDT's - and specifically talking about the NB series (actually any of them for that matter) - the assigned scenario designer has a lot of latitude, I think, within the context of a project -what I am saying about NB is that most of the titles were done by Bill Peters, however a couple of the titles were done by other lead scenario designers... all of the recent material in that series that has been published since 2009 was Bill's work - but the point being is that is how he interprets the engine. As I don't work within the NB engine, I don't necessarily know all of the nuances between M&P and NB.

For example, there are more detailed command ranges in NB than there are in M&P (in other words you can -I think, assign command ranges to armies, wings, corps', in addition to divisions and brigades)...

OK I am rambling a bit...
 

TheGrayMouser

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What I am saying here is that, the shot component of, for example, an infantry regiment (or brigade if you will), would -when faced another infantry regiment -specifically, the pike portion -would not try to stand against that sort of melee force.

I guess the bottom line with all of that, is partly a time scale factor, and partly the responsibility of the player to get them out of the way. In M&P basically this means to get behind somethings' interlocking ZoC (or join a pike block unit's stack), while in NB is would be to retreat into a square or get behind its ZoC.

Take a second to consider the different depths of lines that appear in some of this era, too. Currently the M&P engine allows for up to 4 rank lines ... naturally these lines were a lot deeper than than (usually double or more - although it did vary by army and period during in sort of an evolutionary sense).
Hey Steve, couple comments on three areas I quoted you on:

A: I tend to disagree on this, by the later 1/2 of the period, infantry units generally were pike/shot and acted together. When one unit closed vs another , I think the tendency was the pike of one side would generally line up with the pike on the other, not purposefully, just the way it would tend to happen (with some natural overlaps of course. ) The shot wings on each side would mix it up with eachother, whether by point blank fire or clubbed musket. Now, a unit of shot all by itself charged by Swiss in the open, yup I think they would be running.

B Hmm, its really impossible in the game engine to "get your shot out of the way" Example, you have a "unit" of pike with shot (ie 2 units) If you place that shot behind the pike with a range of only two hexes, then fire power wont come into play until melee is likely. Also consider the very large unit movement capability. An average infantry unit can move 5-6 hexes in open. a charging cavalry unit 8-10! ZOC's could help to some degree but only if your Pikes were staggered every other hex. Of course the AI will never form up that way....
Joining a pike block: I think your forgetting that the current engine negates the block capability if anything other than a skirmisher is stacked w it. The oddity of shot stacked in a hex of PIke in block and getting the xtra value of the pikes full melee power vs an attack by infantry , but ironically, if attacked by cavalry their existence negating the pikes defense, is the primary issue the current the game has.

C ranks: it is true that the M&P has 2 3 and 4 rank values but these only effect whether or not (based on the PDT entries) if the unit can go into extended line. In M&P 2 rank infantry due get fire modifiers but other don't. ( unlike the recent version of the NAp engine where 3 rank lines get a penalty if not in extended line formation...)
The ranks do not effect melee but wouldn't it be awesome if JT programed the game so deeper formation had additional anti cavalry properties? :)

I honestly think the game engine works quite well for the ist 1/2 of the period. I really don't believe that shot(whether firearms or x-bows) and pike really had that kind of close integration , not even the Spanish Corennallas
I have less an issue if missle troops get mixed up w a pike unit and negate the anti cavalry bonus in the early period as I abstractly envision it that the shot got caught and are now panically attempting to push into the pike ranks, messing up their ability to effectively defend
This mental picture doesn't work at all post 1540 or so when they would have been integrated together.
 

trauth116

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What complicates things is that we are talking about different centuries. I know musket would use their weapons as clubs -but would they against pike? And after that, then it becomes about how best to represent a combined pike/shot unit. At a later stage there would be differing compositions as to what this would involve.

Another big complication is also, that if you go that route -is going to be handling the pike block units. Ok- then the question becomes, do pike/shot units have to block or would adjusting their melee value (and working out a formula to account for differing pike and shot in a combined unit -plus in addition, how deep their formation is (lots of math involved there ... which isn't necessarily a problem but would require testing and probably a lot of trial and error to get right) would work better?

Clearly this would have to be set to work with the AI - as having them march around in column if not threatened by cavalry sort of defeats the purpose of their existence ... which I think you also mentioned on the other thread -was usually pared up against the other sides' infantry 'wing' (and generally in the center of a line).

I have had some cases in testing where a disrupted pike block can be successfully charged (and I imagine if it is a small enough unit -which can happen - that you can still charge it successfully. However, well charging itself is entirely new aspect -in that there are different types of horse with different purposes.

My example was not about how the engine handles the situation, but trying to translate what happened on the field into game terms (whether it worked or not was not as relevant apart from outlining a problem to be addressed if possible).

Fire combat, 2 hexes, sure- but all of that is modifiable in the pdt table.

Deeper formations are also bigger fire targets (and also force more compact formations)- for me counter density is a big deal. I am not so sure that sometimes that adding skirmishers and squadrons based upon the scale that is being used is entirely appropriate given the relatively loose command/control restrictions- or in other words (and co-opting a term used in the Europa board games ...different war, I know - but the term works...:) ) - 'an army of ants. It does all become a balancing act.
 

Lord_Valentai

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What are your thoughts on increasing the cavalry charge multiplier? On the one hand formed infantry in pike would still be practically invulnerable to cavalry, but anyone else caught in the open would be pretty badly mauled.

Also, did you get my reply PM?
 

trauth116

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Changing around any of the modifiers -including cavalry charge would have to make sense based upon the context of what you are trying to show -I don't necessarily think that it is a one size fits all sort of thing.
What that means is that how big battles were fought would be different than the majority of events I guess you might call them. I read an interesting breakdown of this several months ago - but cannot remember it verbatim off the top of my head. But I guess what I mean is something like a distinction between field battles, raids and other minor actions (by comparison), and actions as part of a siege.

I did get your pm and replied to the email address you had listed. :)

Put low armour and no melee modifier on a pike unit along with an F morale you can win against a pike block even a non disordered one (I think. ... will have to check that).
 

Lord_Valentai

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Sent you a PM, never got the email, please resend with the address I PM'ed you.

And cool, it's worth a try I guess.

Do you know any way to make siege assaults more...dynamic? Since we have no way to make high walls passable any attempt at a siege assault mainly involves fruitless meleeing against skirmishers in gates! :p

Thanks!
 

sedomlsr

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This is a very interesting thread, and I wanted to register for the forum and say that I wholeheartedly agree with all of the Gray Mouser's suggestions, both here and in the wishlist thread; the suggestion for adjusting the formula for pike protecting other troops seems like an ideal solution to me, and one that reflects that increasing confusion and dispersion of the pike block
as additional troops tried to take shelter inside.

Regarding coding pike blocks as a 1 rather than 3 in the OOB (and thus allowing them to attack as columns), I think it's important to ask what sort of real-life formations the game is representing. The way pikemen are coded now, it seems like the 'column' formation represents a dedicated road column, with the 'block' representing the square formations that early pike formations maneuvered tactically and fought in.

This is somewhat arbitrary; for all of the other infantry units, columns represent a deep assault formation rather than a column of march. Allowing pike units to fight effectively as lines or columns is perfectly historical, if one thinks of lines as representing linear formations relative to the set of formations used by pikemen. A block of 1000 pikemen in line will represent a deeper formation than a line of longbowmen, for example. But there are several examples of pikemen fighting in relatively linear formations: At the first Seminara, the Swiss pikemen extended their frontage to cover a stream crossing, and at Dreux the ~6000 Swiss fought in a formation that might perhaps be best modeled by an extended line (you can see this in the engravings of the battle, and indeed they proved more vulnerable to cavalry than usual for Swiss pikes)

Pike blocks were also known to form "hedgehog" formations (again, seen in the engravings of Dreux), with pikes planted and facing out in all directions. It might make more sense to conceptualize the block formation as representing these "hedgehogs" (they're slow, they can't actively attack cavalry, they provide protection to others), and use the column for the standard formation of the pike square.

As an alternative, allowing "light" units to break down entirely into skirmisher formations might be a reasonable solution that doesn't require as much of an overhaul of the engine.

Start by thinking of how to represent the standard Spanish esquadron formation, with a central pike block and some number of mangas (shot detachments), which would often skirmish ahead, or remain as a garrison around the pikes, with fatigued shot detachments often switching places with the more static garrison.

A pike block stacked with 4-6 skirmisher units of arquebusiers isn't the worst way of representing this; it gives you the option of deploying the shot ahead, allows them to benefit from the protection of the pike block, and forces the player to weigh the threat to his shot and how close they should be kept to the pike.

The engine as is can almost handle this already, except that one ends up with a number of small "parent" shot units, identical to the skirmishers but unable to assume a skirmisher formation. Which means you either have to leave them behind to guard the baggage, send them out ahead where they're vulnerable, or obviate the defensive advantage of the pike block for the pikemen and skirmishers alike.

The problem with this is that mangas and other arquebusiers often did employ fairly linear formations with coordinated fire tactics; it raises the question of what exactly arquebusiers in line vs. skirmishing are supposed to represent. The more linear Dutch battalions circa 1600 seem like they would be best represented as a unit of 250 arquebusiers in line, stacked with 250 pikemen in block, providing some protection. Even these small units did deploy bodies of skirmishers to take advantage of terrain (Francis Vere's account of Nieuwpoort describes this in detail).

One could model the whole unit at a pike block with some stacked skirmishers, but one loses any distinction between the skirmishers and the main body of the infantry unit. Or put another way, if the Dutch battalion is not a "linear" unit in this engine, then what is? What does the line formation represent in this engine?
 

Lord_Valentai

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Welcome to the forum!

I agree that dedicated pike units should be coded as 1 instead of 3. That simple solution actually solves a lot of the AI's issues using the pike block formation, or their inability to use it anyway. It also makes the pike units a bit more useful as well.
I think I'll do this for each of my new OOBs.

I agree that you should be able to fully break down light or guard units into skirmishers so they can stack properly with the pike units.
 

TheGrayMouser

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Hello sedomlsr, welcome to the forum. Great point about the oddity that pike "columns" are currently treated like "march columns" in game, where as no other unit has this and are presumed to be in assault? column...

LV, Keep in mind if you change all the Pikes to 1's in the OOB's they will be able to form line which is not really desirable, but you can just not do it yourself while playing. However, the AI might , especially if it coded to defend
Its really not much of big deal as there really isn't any huge drawback or benefit to being in line for melee only troops. The problem is if you play in 3d mode the pike in line will be invisible as there are no 3d graphics for line....
(This is a really easy fix though. Just open the 2 3d graphics bmps for formed foot, you can use microsoft paint , use the function of select area and basically copy a large square of all the pike units 6 facings of Column graphics, Hit paste and carefully slide that overlaying image over to the left in the empty area where there are no graphics for line formation. Takes a little practice to select the exact area, the good news most of the pike units graphics are on the top of the BMP image and not spread all over the place.
Save and close and if the ai forms pike units into line, sure, they look like columns but they wont be invisible!)
Make sure you save backups in case you mess up! Its a lot easier and more self evident when you open the files and attempt it, than I can articulate in words....
 

Lord_Valentai

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I never play in 3D in HPS games because it's usually so ugly.

I don't see the problem of a pike unit forming line, actually. I thought I would, but it doesn't affect matters much. If anything it's good because line is less agile and more prone to disruption than column or block.
 

trauth116

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3D ... yes well, about the only observation that I will make on that is that I have no idea why anyone bothers with the hex colour - elevation change in 3D, since the entire point of 3D is that you can see where the elevation changes anyway. In my opinion, you find a good hex row or so representing clear terrain, and just go for it. Units are another story and there are some great points being brought up about the pikes, columns, etc. In my mind, a column in game can equate to a larger target - not necessarily an assault column per se, but rather a more in depth formation than a line -these were more compact, largely due to command control issues.

Personally I think Tercios, and other similar units fought in a rather more tight and compact formation than allowing for a lot of skirmishers to swarm all over the battlefield. I am also not entirely sure that in many larger units (given a default scale of 100 meters per hex and something like 15-20 minutes per turn), that allowing skirmisher units is really that desirable outside if the effects mentioned - it can make a pike/shot unit much more compact at this scale, and probably a lot closer to the ground coverage that they actually had.

I wrote this next bit earlier:

I have to have a re-read of the user manual on the Guards/Light unit type; the notes in REN I thought implied that they could be broken down entirely into skirmisher units however in practice at the moment the engine saves one unit as being in line. I don't know if that is intended or not.

You can control how many skirmisher units are formed out of a larger unit in the PDT file.

However, the thing is - if you don't need to have line units in your unit composition, simply code all of your desired shot units as skirmisher in your OOB file - no need to mess around.

Of course, the double edged sword aspect for skirmishers is that they are fairly easy to overrun without a lot of effort. Personally I think a lot of it comes down to scalability and what scale that you are working with. With this engine it can be variable, in that you can get maps with different scales (default these are 100 meters per hex), and timeframe itself can be widely variable -so it sort of boils down to what you are setting things as happening within your chosen timeframe in any given scenario.

I can't talk too much to the technical side of things with modifiers, although I did read it. There are heaps of things to consider -and modifiers upon modifiers and basically -you name it, it is probably there.

___

Ok, if you were to use skirmishers as the shot component of a pike/shot unit in the context of a larger battle - how many would you use? This question basically becomes about how many shots do you want to give a unit in a given turn.... Technically if you go the code the skirmisher unit in the OOB file as a skirmisher, you can put all of the men into a single unit ...but... then you only get one shot. Some units had all round coverage, others - not so much.

GM is spot on about the graphics and how to address them -sometimes, you have to think outside the square given the parameters of an engine.

Btw- I do know that I owe some emails -will get to that eventually. Been flat out in real life.
 
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