Devlog #11 - Land Warfare

Three years ago, on 11 November 2016, almost a hundred years after the end of the First World War, everyone could test for the first time our WW1 Mod for Hearts of Iron IV through the Steam Workshop.

Two years later, on 11 November 2018, for the Centenary of the Armistice of Compiègne, we announced at 11:11 a.m. with a trailer on YouTube, Fields of History: The Great War, our own Grand Strategy game.

Since then, we have been working tirelessly on the development of the game. Moving from amateur modders to professional developers was not an easy task and we would like to thank you for your support, encouragement and messages, whether on Patreon, Twitter, Facebook or elsewhere.

Without further ado, let's move on to today's Devlog in which we will address a major point of FoH, Land Warfare.

As you probably know, land battles accounted for most of the military engagements during the First World War, ranging from simple skirmishes lasting a few hours to major offensives lasting several days, such as in Tannenberg or in Verdun.

It sometimes happened that, because of narrow-minded Generals or accustomed to pre-war doctrines and unable to adapt to new strategies, many men found themselves sacrificed in repeated and hopeless attacks resulting in bloody and murderous days. These proud and overly confident Generals believed that superior morale and determination were enough to triumph over modern weapons. British public opinion at the time often repeated that their soldiers were lions led by donkeys...

In order for the game to reflect this particular context, we have ensured that generals, regardless of their hierarchical levels, play a key role during combat.

To represent them at best, we have designed the Battle Interface, which we will detail step by step.

We introduced you to the Military Organization in a previous Devlog, in which we explained the importance of your choices in the management of your Corps, Armies and Generals. The choices you make will affect, whether directly or indirectly, each of your future engagement. As long as you have properly assigned your Generals, your soldiers will be able to fight in the best possible conditions. On the other hand, soldiers without Generals, left to themselves, will suffer cruelly from a lack of efficiency, organization and fighting spirit. They will also be more likely to retreat, so it's preferable to have a complete chain of command, even with inexperienced generals, rather than a disparate one. 

On the screenshot above, let's take the case of the Attack. At the head of this offensive, we find General Remus von Woyrsch with details about him. We can see his Experience Level and the Strategy he is currently applying. A General can adapt his Strategy according to the situation on the ground but also by taking into account your instructions. You can assign to each General up to three Strategies so they can adapt their tactics to the situation.

Finally, the latest information you have about a General are the Medals he has earned over the course of his career. They are awarded to Generals following certain actions, for example to obtain the Mountain Medal, a General must have proven himself in the Mountains. Representing the experience and mastery of certain fields, they could have an impact on the troops depending on the conditions (combativity, adaptation, survivability, night combat, etc.). 

During a battle, whatever the side (attacking or defending), the most experienced Army General to whom the troops are attached will be in charge of field operations and will give instructions to the other units. If you fight alongside allies, an Allied General may take command.

You will also have access to a summary representing the dead and wounded on your side as well as an estimation of enemy casualties throughout the battle.

Over time, your Wounded will be treated in your Field Hospitals and will gradually return to replenish your ranks. The time needed for your wounded to recover will depend in part on the equipment you provide to your troops, but especially on your medical technologies. It should be noted that in our game, a General can be injured in a fight. The probability of this happening decrease according to the hierarchical position he occupies (a Corps General having more risk of being injured than an Army General who is further away from the front line).

Just below, you will find all the other characteristics and specificities that will influence the battles. It will be necessary to take into account the climatic conditions, the day/night cycle and the topography of the different types of Terrain on which you will have to fight. With these indicators, you can quickly get an idea of the conditions that impact your troops. 

For example, attacking Russia in mid-winter in the mud, during a snowstorm in the middle of the night and under heavy enemy bombardment, greatly compromises your offensive. Therefore, you may need to redeploy your men or postpone your attacks if you don't want to know a Berezina.

To know the progress of a battle over time, you will have at your disposal a Battle Indicator between 0 and 100. It indicates the progression of the attacker. If its less than 50, it's because the defense dominates the battle and conversely if it exceeds 50. This representation is useful to have a global overview of the situation. On the other hand, it is not very precise. That's why, in addition to the Battle Indicator, in order to allow each player to easily understand the battle situation, we have created the Dynamic Battleplan, which gives a live visual feedback of the situation on the ground.

More precise and more direct, the Dynamic Battleplan will display a variety of information. First of all, the defenders. They are positioned around the centre of the Dynamic Battleplan to represent the location where the fighting takes place.

On the sides, we find the attackers placed according to their positions. If you are surrounded or performing encircling operations, you will see it directly on the Battleplan. As the battle progresses you will see the situation evolve. This gives a better idea of the situation than a Battle Indicator, but unlike the latter, it's not available outside the Battle Interface.

Below the Dynamic Battleplan, there is the list of the units directly engaged in combat. You will have an overview of the global condition of your troops with for each one:

  • The name and the Nato icon their the Template
  • The Experience Level
  • A flag representing the origin
  • A green bar indicating the percentage of men able to fight within the unit
  • A blue bar representing Cohesion (which corresponds to your men's willingness to fight)
  • A yellow bar symbolizing Equipment and Fuel.
  • Damage (Light Armaments | Heavy Armaments)
  • Protection (Defense | Armor)
  • Special Damage (Critical Strikes and Special Weapons)
  • The necessary space for the unit to deploy in the Deployment Zone

The Deployment Zone represents the place you have to deploy your units. Indeed, depending on the terrain on which the battle takes place, you can only deploy a limited number of men. 

Depending on the composition of your units, they will take up more or less space on the battlefield. To increase the Deployment Zone, you will have to attack from several Provinces at once. Troops joining the battle as well as those in Reserve may then participate in the battle if space permits.

Units accumulate Experience as they fight. At the end of these, the Experience acquired is distributed between the units and their Generals. It is thanks to the Experience gained that your troops and Generals will gain levels.

Finally, at the bottom of the interface there is the list of units in Reserve. The Reserve consists of units not yet taking part in combat. Either because they have just arrived on the engagement zone, or because they didn't have enough space to deploy. 

If a unit engaged in combat is forced to withdraw or retreat, a Reserve Unit will have then the opportunity to climb to the front and take its place. This rotation is done under conditions and according to the orders of the Generals.

As long as a unit is in Reserve, it cannot participate in combat. The role of the reserve does not end there. Indeed, they have another utility. During an attack, if an enemy decides to counterattack the province from which you are attacking, instead of interrupting the fight or having your troops fight on two fronts, the Reserve Units will counter that attack. If you have enough troops in Reserve, this will allow you to continue your attacks. If not, it may be better to order a tactical retreat.

This eleventh Devlog is coming to an end. We would have liked to announce a date today for the first Test Builds but unfortunately the game is not yet advanced enough to allow it. We thank you for your patience and of course we will keep you informed as soon as we have a date.

We wish you all, a good Armistice Day, a good week and we'll see you for a next Devlog.

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