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Author Topic: Aggression Level  (Read 521 times)

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Offline choppinlt

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Aggression Level
« on: December 02, 2016, 06:40:24 PM »
My recent game aspect discussions have been leading up to the introduction of this topic. I have long been thinking that something was missing in my attempts to model unit behaviors. All of my current characteristics were fairly acute in their effect and recovery. It bothered me that I didn't have a way to show long term effects of a unit being committed to battle, and the wear and tear it had on the human psyche. The material effects in terms of casualties and equipment losses are easy to show and accounted for. Fatigue from lack of sleep, long marches, engaging the enemy, etc. is fairly easy to show and model...but what about long term fatigue? Units were rotated out for months at a time to "rest" them. This wasn't just to recover from a long road march, but it was to re-gain fighting spirit, enthusiasm...aggression. So I created a new characteristic to capture this long term effect and called it Aggression Level. For short I will just call it "aggro", unless someone else comes up with a snappier name for it, so feel free to offer suggestions.  :)

Specifically a unit's fatigue, losses, replacements, morale, training, and leadership is used to determine it's aggro. Aggro recovery is facilitated by getting replacements, fatigue recovery, morale recovery and finally rest. The old saying "time heals everything" holds true here, so while a unit may obtain few or no replacements it can be expected to recover its full aggro given enough time.

My plan is to have it simply shown as a % in the Unit Information panel of each unit. I am debating whether or not to display it somehow on the unit counters, but we shall see.

What is the effect of a unit's Aggression Level? All of the charateristics used to determine aggro impact a unit's combat power, so the only thing that aggro does is reduce a unit's enthusiasm to execute its mission. Specifically it lowers the casualty threshold before a unit is willing to withdraw from a given engagement. It can lower a unit's casualty threshold by up to 50% on the attack, and by up to 20% when defending...hey it takes less aggression to defend!  ;D

Can't I just choose a higher unit persistence level to make up for lost aggro? Yes you can, but higher persistence levels brings potential higher cohesion loss, and in some cases it can lead to higher casualties. In short you can see how it can become a vicious circle if a commander doesn't keep a unit's aggro under consideration.

I will continue to tweak these items especially when we are able to do a lot of playtesting, but you can see how this is currently being applied and the thought behind it all. Please comment or ask questions!

Offline Christian Knudsen

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Re: Aggression Level
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2016, 03:14:09 PM »
I see what you are getting at here, but I wonder how dynamic this would be, and how affected by things like morale and experience. 

So as I read it, you are planning to apply a modifier to the persistence level based on a unit's level of being "burnt out", so to speak.  I imagine you plan to make this a fairly static value - ie a unit starts a campaign with a set level of aggro based on the units history, etc., leading up to the campaign, and while the value might fluctuate a bit, there won't be major changes really.  The sort of rest and refit needed to rebuild aggro won't be modeled in the game (I imagine), and the sort of casualties and fatigue etc needed to cause a real drop in aggro are already modeled by fatigue, cohesion, etc.

Basically, this allows the scenario designer to handicap formations.  So as a player, I see a formation that has a low aggro (and likely lousy fatigue and morale), and I will not want to use it around any critical point, because I know that it lacks staying power.  This is fine, but there are several issues that arise, in no particular order.

1.  It perhaps gives the player too much info.  Good commanders with honest subordinates had a good idea of the level of their troops - the Germans combat efficiency ratings for their divisions, for example.  But these were not always necessarily 100% accurate.  So the fact that the player knows what the limits of their divisions are is perhaps a little unrealistic.  However, you can argue this for all the other parameters as well, and for engagement resolution reasons we don't want to get into having the systems intentionally misreport values to increase FOW.

2.  It adds another variable to engagement resolution.  It is already tricky translating total to bayonet casualty percentages.  To potentially have to compute another modifier to that level will be seen as unnecessary, unless the system is willing to spit out a bayonet casualty limit pre-battle, with all variables accounted for. 

3.  Campaign design and playtesting become trickier.  Will units with low aggro become essentially useless?  Will the key to campaign victory become a game of hunting the opposition's low aggro units?  All will need to be balanced.

Anyways, just my 0.02!

Offline choppinlt

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Re: Aggression Level
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2016, 05:21:28 AM »
Correct it is a measure of "burn out"!  Aggro will be dynamic, it just won't fluctuate greatly at any one time...unless a unit absorbs tons of casualties while being highly fatigued and losing a fair amount of morale all at the same time.  ;) Since it has so many factors associated with it, aggro will not fluctuate as wildly as say...fatigue. I intend to have small scenarios that may last less than a day, and then I intend to have scenarios that could last for several weeks. Being aware of unit aggro is important regardless of scenario size, but managing unit aggro becomes a real consideration for longer scenarios. So there could be real benefit by resting a unit a week (or more depending on the situation). Note that low aggro for units on the defense isn't a huge deal, it will affect units attempting to attack to a much higher degree.

Don't jump to conclusions about low aggro regarding bad morale and fatigue.  ;D A unit with low aggro doesn't necessarily mean that it currently has low morale or is fatigued. Recovering fatigue and morale, getting replacements, etc can facilitate faster aggro recovery, but the point is that there are gradual lasting effects that can only be recovered with time. Bottom line, a unit that is continually in combat will start to slowly lose its aggro.

These examples should help illustrate the concept:
A) a unit is in combat for a week and loses 20% casualties. Let's say the unit gets enough replacements to get back to 100% manning by the end of the week. Even though the unit is back to full strength, it's aggro is not back to 100% due to the grind of being in combat. Given a few days rest, the unit will be at full aggro.

B) a unit suffers 40% casualties after being in combat for a few weeks while receiving no replacements. Despite receiving no replacements this unit can recover its full aggro given a few weeks of total rest.

To your points:
1. Agreed, but in a game where a single player has to manage lots of different units it can get cumbersome for players. Showing a % can show players where a unit is at and give some context on what to do with the unit. I will add that a unit's aggro is shown as a %, but its impact on unit performance is going to be somewhat vague (intentionally).

2. There is nothing new to worry about regarding setting up tactical battles since it only adjusts the casualty threshold. This is all part of the pre-battle calcs spit out by ToO and given to players.

3. As stated earlier, low aggro does not mean useless. It simply means that it may withdraw sooner from an engagement. Commanding units with low aggro on the defensive may not be noticeable, but on the attack it will be more noticeable.

I don't think this will have great game balance implications...at least no more impact than any other variable. Remember that it doesn't impact a unit's combat power at all, it primarily reflects the level of enthusiasm a unit has to attack the enemy. Does this help explain?