© Oliver Keppelmüller 2017-2018
13th February 2018 by Ilja Varha
THERE MUST BE ORDER
Maneuvering huge armies in the battlefield in an orderly fashion requires military
organization and hierarchy. Grand Tactician armies are not just a collection of units, but
they are built into organization structure, forming an order of battle. If you are familiar
with Oliver’s previous game The Seven Years War (1756-1763), you know the drill, but
there are a number of improvements.
The order of battle is built so, that it can be used in any conflict of the period, covering
command levels from company/battery up to an army. These levels can then be utilized as
needed, or later locked from use or added to be opened via a technology in the campaign
layer. Unlike in 7YW, the organization is not set in stone and number of units in each
command level is not restricted.
In the GUI we’ve been working on, we’ve added tools to visualize, browse and quickly
navigate the order of battle.
This hierarchy is used when giving orders. So if a player selects the army commander, the
order given applies to all (attached) units under him. The order must first flow through the
command structure, from commander to commander, with the appropriate order delay. For
quicker movement, player can use historical formations where each unit has its pre-defined
position, so amount of needed orders remains minimal.
Image: Here my tiny French army is selected. With command/control -information shown,
you can see the HQs with NATO symbols, and the blue lines connecting my HQ to the 2
division HQs and the artillery battalion on the left. Here I am about to order the army,
currently in single line formation, to refuse a flank. This will automatically curve the flank
to prevent it from being easily turned.
NOTE: all images in this blog are pre-alpha containing placeholder art, such as the
sprites. Peter is soon ready with the proper ones.
During a battle player can manipulate the order of battle by detaching, attaching and
coordinating. Detached units work independently from their parent organization. So a
detached brigade will not move, when the parent division is ordered forward. Detaching
can be useful at times, but the organizations function better when held together, thanks to
morale system and order delays. For example if a commander orders division of 5 brigades
forward, the order will be followed faster, than if the division commander gives 5 separate
orders to each brigade to move out: it takes time to write the orders, or play the signals. If
a unit is outside the commander’s reach (command radius), it is automatically considered
detached - and in this case couriers will need some time to find the unit to deliver
messages, meaning yet more delay.
Attaching orders a unit or a command level to be put under command of different officer
than organically. This flexibility comes with a price, as the commanders in question will not
be completely familiar with each other. The attached unit will receive its orders from the
Unlike attaching, coordination does not change the command structure. Coordination can
be used to tell commanders to place their command according to position of another unit.
For example player can order a division to follow another division, or move on its right -
after that the commander in question will move accordingly without extra orders.
Coordinating big units is challenging though, and can end up in loss of cohesion, like was
the case many times in reality.
Image: an example of coordination. I order 1st Brigade to detach skirmishers. By default,
the skirmish line will coordinate with the parent brigade, shown with the “link” line. If the
brigade moves, the skirmishers will maintain their position in front without any commands
from the player. With the skirmishers selected, moving cursor over 1st Brigade gives option
to break this “link” quickly by right-click.
NOTE: all images in this blog are pre-alpha containing placeholder art, and as
such are subject to change.
The organization system we have implemented is aimed to make things realistic, in
combination with the order delays. Larger the unit, the longer it takes for orders to travel
to all units within. Smaller organizations are more dynamic, but of course lack the punch of
larger ones. And then the player will face the problem with commanders: maybe there are
not enough experienced commanders available, who could run these organizations
effectively? We will discuss commanders in more detail in a future devblog!
Military organization structure and hierarchy play as big a role in Grand Tactician as it
does in real battles. We are building the user interface and available orders so, that the
player can utilize some of the same tools that were available for historical grand tacticians.
NOTE: all images in this blog are pre-alpha
containing placeholder art, and as such are
subject to change.
In the bottom orders panel you can open the order of
battle (OOB) window, and here you see the whole
organization available for the battle. The units and
command levels are shown using NATO symbols.
For this blog, I mustered a tiny French (why French?
No reason…) army for myself, consisting of 2
divisions with their own units, and one artillery
battalion directly under my command.
In game, if I want to order the artillery battalion, the
orders come from the army HQ. The artillery battery
on the other hand gets its orders from the
commander of 2nd division.