Devlog #12 - Ground Strategies & Tactics

Hello everyone and welcome to the twelfth Devlog. Today we will be discussing a feature more eagle-eyed followers may have noticed in prior Devlogs in far more detail: Ground Strategies & Tactics.

Military Strategy has been an art form since tribes of primitive men battled each other for the first time. Throughout history, many brilliant minds have dedicated themselves primarily to this field (Sun Tzu, Alexander, Napoleon, von Clausewitz, and many others). Perhaps with a thorough mastery of the subject, you yourself could become one of them- at least, in the Fields of History.

At the close of the 19th century, most strategic thought was concentrated on offense. Military leaders with over-idealistic nationalist tendencies well understood the power of the Machine Gun, having already seen the weapon in action in the Anglo-Zulu war, Russo-Japanese War, and Second Boer War, among other conflicts. They all had convinced themselves that, despite the power of these weapons, it was their troops that were the secret to breaking through. The superior morale, spirit, and training of their men-the best in the world- could overcome anything, of course! The horrors of the slaughter that ensued when these ideas were put to practice in 1914 quickly ended this notion. It quickly became evident that a prepared defense could resist almost any offense, and the idea of the men "being home by Christmas" in a short, decisive conflict was no more.

The Great War quickly became a war of Attrition, where the goal was to simply bleed the enemy dry by killing their troops, overtaxing and outlasting enemy industries. Offenses became scarce among the defined lines of the Western Front. Attacks on enemy lines were held off until the offensive forces could achieve a massive numerical superiority- typically around ten to one odds plus massed Artillery fire support- in an attempt to break through fortified enemy defenses. Even then, defenders could easily force the lucky few who made it into their trenches out by using counterattacks and defensive "trench sweepers". Therefore, these assaults were rarely successful and usually ended up costing thousands of lives for the attackers.

Technological developments during the Great War, such as aerial reconnaissance, radiotelegraphy, or combat gas, among countless others, had a strong impact on the Strategies employed. A new crop of experienced Generals developed new Strategies by continuously adapting to these advances, such as using the "Doctrine of Autonomy" with SMG and Flamethrower-equipped Stoßtruppen and, at the end of the war, smashing through the enemy lines with the slow but almost unstoppable Tanks.

In order to reflect the constant evolution of warfare while allowing players to approach the battlefield in different ways, we have established ten major families of Strategies in which you can invest according to the way you play.

As you can see in the screenshot above, each Strategy consists of several levels. Each of these levels will allow you to unlock bonuses and Tactics. You will need Military Experience to obtain more Strategies.

Military Experience is mainly obtained during the fighting, but your Generals and your Ministers in the Ministerial Cabinet will also be able to contribute to it.

More advanced Strategic developments require more Military Experience. Realistically, you probably won't be able to unlock every single Strategy over the course of the game- it is far more efficient and practical to focus on a smaller set of strong points.

  • Massive Assault: Massive Assault allows you to perform larger attacks with far more cohesion to attempt to swarm the enemy
  • Trench Warfare: Trench Warfare both makes your Trenches more effective and efficient as well as gives your troops better training to fight in your enemy's
  • Night Operations: Night Operations will help you fight better in the dark, with your troops using the cover of dusk or night to their advantage
  • Guerrilla Warfare: Guerrilla Warfare trains your troops in the art of fighting underhanded, with stealthy maneuvers and morale-crushing harassment
  • Force Concentration: Force Concentration makes your attacks more effective by spreading your forces less, focusing on weak points in the enemy line
  • Flexible Offense: Flexible Offense gives your military leaders training in the all-important art of changing course mid-combat, ensuring they don't commit to a mistake
  • Siege Battle Plans: Siege Battle Plans give your Artillery enhanced training for Siege scenarios, improving their cohesion and target priority
  • Defensive Preparations: Defensive Preparations will enhance your troops' ability to create lasting, solid defenses
  • High Ground Planning: High Ground Planning will give you an advantage in both attacking and defending areas where terrain elevation is a major factor
  • Special Operations: Special Operations allow both troops and leaders to more effectively use newer and better technologies such as Gas and Tanks

As shown above, Tactics also have three levels (unlocked with a better understanding of Strategy), representing the ability of your military leaders to actually understand and execute them. The Basic (Bronze) level allows your General to use the Tactic at an appropriately basic level, executing it without a refined understanding of it. The Enhanced (Silver) level represents your General using a Tactic that he at least fully understands the purpose of, yet is still not an expert on its actual execution. A General using a Tactic with a Superior (Gold) level execution represents a complete understanding of both the ins and outs of why to use a Tactic and how to execute it to the highest degree, taking any advantage he can of it while avoiding most of the common pitfalls and downsides a less experienced or understanding General would encounter- in other words, making the downsides more marginal.

Indeed, your Tactics are not simply broad, advantageous, unstoppable maneuvers. Your Tactics will almost always have certain weaknesses that clever and experienced opponents will be able to exploit. For instance, Creeping Barrage is a very effective offensive Tactic, but is very inflexible, meaning an effective counter to the Tactic is a far more pressing concern than some of the other Tactics would have to address. Consistently changing your Tactics for the situation to minimize your weaknesses is, therefore, paramount. 

In addition, simply having a broad, global understanding of Tactics isn't enough to actually use them- your Generals do need their Orders and basic Battle Plans, after all. Assigning Tactics to your Generals allows them to execute them in Battle to the highest degree they're capable of. While even the most unskilled General can execute an order at the Basic level, while a leader with at least moderate ability can use an Enhanced-level Tactic. It takes a truly special General to use a Superior Tactic- only the best are able to use them!

Hopefully, with the end of this Devlog and these ideas now in mind, you'll be able to outsmart your enemies at any turn, and find the Fields of History to be even more enjoyably immersive in action. Despite the cold of the winter, development of FoH is still going full-steam ahead, in order to create a World War I Grand Strategy Game that we ourselves would enjoy as players.

Though speaking of both the Strategies and the winter, hopefully you've now passed the planning phase for your Holiday season and are now fully wrapped up in the Execution phase. We hope you'll have a Superior-level holiday out there in Tommy Town, Doughboy Lane, Berliner Street, or any other trench you might be celebrating in, and thanks to your eager support, we will be happy to see you again in 2020.

Happy Holidays from Wolferos Team!

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