Dev Game AAR with some Update 5 sneak peaks

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Balthagor
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Dev Game AAR with some Update 5 sneak peaks

#1 Post by Balthagor » Jun 08 2006

Since everyone is being so patient waiting for update 5 (European sites seem to be saying June 23rd now so should be just after that Re: George’s post) I figured the least I could do is give an AAR with some sneak peaks at what can be expected for update 5.

Wednesday evening we had our weekly Dev test game. We’ve been working hard to eliminate a number of older bugs as well as address some issues we’ve been concerned with. The weekly test games are a chance for us to relax a little and find out if George broke anything while he was fixing bugs and adding features. For the test game we chose to play the new European Wars scenario that is being included as a special bonus with the European release. It is the same map as the existing Europe scenario but the background story and region relations are entirely different. It puts an Eastern coalition lead by the Ukraine, Belarus and Poland against a West lead by France, the UK and Germany. Most of the countries follow the usual East/West affiliations (Greece is West leaning, Bulgaria East etc.) but there are some minor exceptions. Our game was set to “Very Hard” and victory condition was set as “capture” for a capture the leader game.

There were five of us for the game and we started out by choosing our regions. One of our graphic contractors joined us for the game and he chose France since he was born there and has not played the game much. Dax (Legend) chose the UK so that he could spend time helping him with the French forces. George chose Germany and David took Italy. Looking at the remaining regions I felt the Ukraine would be my best bet, but this meant I was the only human player in an Eastern friendly country. I was concerned this would see me get trashed, but the game got much more interesting than that.

Once we get into the game, we usually spend about 5mins setting up our countries before we roll time. Since we all play as often as we do, we know some specific things we want to do before time rolls. I myself start by loading in my profile. It has all the departments set the way I like including the following;
- missile autobuild off (I like to pick my missiles)
- research locked (never sure if I’ll be doing research)
- Initiative off (I like controlling my tanks 8) )
Beyond that I usually turn of autobuild at any of my ports. Boats cost a lot and require a lot of military goods. Until I know that I need navy, I tend to hold off.

I also started sending around a lot of diplomatic offers. We recently made some changes to how the AI values treaties and it’s ability to understand long-term money trades. I was able to get Alliances with Belarus, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary and Croatia with only a few trades. Usually I started with Embassy and worked up from there. The initial diplomatic stances made this reasonably easy but with the new model I was even able to get embassy treaties with Spain, Switzerland, Denmark and Benelux, all of which are “West leaning” in their relations. None of them however could be convinced to do more than secondary treaties due to poor relations. (These changes will be part of update 5!!!)

Some slight background will help with the next in game event. For the Dev test games, we tend to simply stay at work and use the kitchen to cook dinner and all sit and eat together. This can often lead to some boasting of what one player intends to inflict on others after the meal. While ribbing David that he is always too passive, I said that I would be amazed and impressed to see him declare war on anyone in the first game day. The moment we were all ready and started rolling time I instantly got an e-mail and audible warning that Italy had declared war on our region. Clearly, I was asking for it.:D I was not too worried however since we had at least one country between us from any given direction, most of them my allies. Using my alliances with Hungary and Croatia I was even able to strike first. Using the Tu-22 bombers from Ukraine’s inventory I flew to a Croatian airstrip and fired some missiles at Italian forces in the South. By the end of the second day it was 4 kills to nothing for me. I didn’t pursue this however, the Italian airforce is fairly strong with its Eurofighters so I chose to work my region and diplomacy instead.

As the Ukraine I started with some advantages. I began with an Airport, some good missile designs and a very large land force. I was however limited in the number of airborne missile platforms and had no designs for aircraft other than large transport planes. I could not get Finland to sell me their F-18 design, but my Embassy with Switzerland seemed to make them more willing. They charged me a lot for it, but at least I could start building aircraft. I also made other trades. With the changes in diplomacy the AI understands long term trades better as well, so I could request a 4B valued tech and offer to pay them 4.5B over 30 days keeping my treasury more stable. This can even be used to do interest loans but the AI is far from interested in taking loans unless you have extremely high relations, at which point it is a form of “helping my friend” more than it’s desire for up front cash. For giving loans it is usually looking for high interest but this can be an interesting option (These changes will be part of update 5!!!)

Since I was looking at a strategy of large land force movements supported by missiles, I also began upgrading three of my rear airstrips to airports. My only starting airport allowed me to produce 6 missiles at a time, but I knew I would use those up very fast. I also started building a few land bases and air defense sites. I trusted that the low GDP for the Ukraine would allow me a larger military force since maintenance and other associated military costs are based on the economy. I also started mobilizing my forces toward the Polish border. George had declared war on Belarus (my ally) after they had declared war on one of his allies. This gave me 100% Causus Belli towards him and I knew Poland would have the same. In our previous tests of this scenario, the initial Polish dislike for Germany usually prompts them to attack so I knew this would soon push them over the edge.

Sure enough, they soon declared war. I moved a portion of my forces to Warsaw and then on towards Gdansk. I’ve seen this play out enough that I know the German airforce would make short work of the Polish forces unless their air defense sites were saved. I had hoped that the cities West of the river near Gdansk would make a reasonable defense. I’ve used that tactic as Poland before so knew it was somewhat possible. However, even my with my forces it was not enough to save that area. I declared war on Germany but my Russian made tanks were no match for modern Leopards. I had to pull all my forces back to Warsaw and try for a stand there. My intention was to keep the Polish command unit alive as long as possible to drag on the war for George. I hoped that at some point the Czechs and Slovaks would get into the action also.

I was at least able to fortify Warsaw. It was also a good place to defend since a SAM site kept the German air force from at a reasonable distance. I had moved up a lot of artillery and brought my air force into Poland for the missiles they carried. He moved in the South as well but I had brought a force for that as well. I tried to hold George at Wroclaw, but had to settle for the group of cities half way from there to Krakow. This worked reasonably well as it was a good supply source. Soon we had a static line and each started to look for advantages.

George did manage to find the weakness in the defense; northern Poland. The river that leads from Gdansk to Warsaw provided him a barrier to bring in artillery and start to try and out number me with indirect fire. My only access up to stop him was a single bridge. While it was easy to defend the bridge itself, he had lots of maneuvering room. Poland did help in their own defense trying to hold that area but they also fell to the Leopard tank guns. They did however help to shift George’s forces around. I was able to catch a point where he had little anti air in the north and all of his armor had moved a few hexes east of his artillery. It was an expensive move but I sent my entire Warsaw force (minus artillery) in a charge against his artillery. I also sent in my airforce loaded with missiles and 8 battalions of Hinds I’d been saving for a good opportunity. The tactic payed off and when my forces pulled back South of the river there were at least 25 dead artillery battalions. As my mobile force fell back for supplies I repositioned my artillery to start hitting his armor. I was then able to make a second strike with my forces supported by indirect fire. I think only one German tank battalion managed to return home to report on the events.

All this had been possible because at some point during our war in Poland the Czechs had declared war on Germany. However, by the time I took out his northern force, he had almost finished them off. Soon a new larger force began to move towards Warsaw from the West. At this point it was clear there was no saving Poland. I returned my forces to the Ukraine and managed to sign a peace treaty with George. It had cost me two of my three bombers and half a dozen MIG squadrons, not to mention a lot of land forces, but I had out killed him and his equipment is much more expensive.

Now in all of this I had not forgotten about David. I was still at war with him, but his unprovoked attack on me had damaged his relations and by this point he was under attack by the Swiss, Croatians and Austrians. The Alps helped him hold the line on all fronts but worked as a defense for each of those regions as well. Since he was now my only target the former Polish Corp headed into Hungary to reach the Croatian/Italian border.

Meanwhile on the other side of the map, France and the UK had been busy. France had gotten themselves into a war with the Swiss but found there territory so densely packed with artillery, anti air and armor that it was not going anywhere fast. During my defense of Poland, the UK had landed forces in BeNeLux thanks to a transit treaty. After lining up his forces on the German border he was able to blackmail George for more than 10Billion dollars to not attack. Dax then moved South (he was allied with France) and positioned on the Italian border. He again leveraged his agenda through threats and got Italy to focus more troops against the Swiss. The UK also declared war on the Swiss who now started to fall from a three-way attack.

While my force made their way to the new front, I watch Poland attempt to withstand the full force of the Germany army. It was a lost cause and soon George had the Polish command unit trapped on one of their bases. As soon as it was killed the remaining territory was divided up, instantly giving Germany and Belarus a notable shared border. George began to assess what he had gained but the Byelorussians instantly saw an opportunity to attack. They began the game with a force close in size to my own and it now began to move. The shear number of units coming out of Belarus overwhelmed the Germans who had not really established a supply level yet. Before long, Belarus had take Warsaw and pushed most of the way towards Gdansk.

By this time my artillery had reached Trieste on the Italian border. The Croatians controlled a two hex corridor into Italy of territory that had previously been lost by Slovenia to Italy. I packed in all the artillery I could with some heavy armor at the front. I also had my remaining air force flying sorties from a Croatian airstrip to fire missiles at any Italian force that came to try and break our foothold. The AI missile targeting and range at which they use missiles has been updated and this has made missiles much more effective. Anytime David managed to match me piece for piece on artillery, a few missile strikes would tip the odds in my favor. A few Scud missiles was sometimes enough to disrupt the lines. (These changes will be part of update 5!!!)

Even the additional troops Italy mobilized after the fall of Switzerland didn’t seem enough to hold the combined Ukrainian/Croatian forces back. It wasn’t until the Germans declared war on Austria and Slovenia to punch through and mix their forces in with the Italians that the tide turned. Since I was neutral with Germany my artillery would not fire on a hex of mixed forces. My artillery soon stopped firing and declaring war on Germany would have seen me surrounded since they took out Slovenia with little effort. I again found myself returning home from a mildly successful campaign. David had been bloodied but not stopped. As I returned my forces home he started to push into the Balkans. I did however keep one more trick up my sleeve. Knowing that Hungary, also at war with Italy, had amassed a large force by this time I watched David move through Italy. As he got near to defeating them I moved my forces into Hungary. As soon as Croatia fell the Italian and Hungarian borders touched. As I had anticipated, Hungary pounced, and I followed right behind. We managed to slaughter a large portion of David’s Balkans invasion force before George finally declared war on Hungary and moved in. Again looking to avoid a confrontation with Germany I pulled back.

At this point we had been playing for almost five hours and we had started talking about setting the game aside. Hearing this I decided to offer George an alliance and see what I might do with him on my side. However as we all got talking I wasn’t sure that we would actually stop that soon and David was continuing his Balkans invasion (now that he’d brought in new troops. After a few game days with no response, I decided to go the other way and declared war on George instead. I attacked into what had been Poland hoping to get help from Belarus. Slovakia was still neutral so it created a corridor. I pushed my largest force yet into the gap from the bottom of the river near Tarnobrzeg and began to push towards Krakow. George countered my line and we soon had a few hundred units facing off. Since I had gotten there first my artillery began firing immediately. George had more units but I was outkilling him. It was a slow fight (though it probably only took 3-4 game days) in which we probably each lost more than a hundred units but his shear numbers started to push me back. I kept tightening my line to keep the artillery concentrated but he had pushed me back into my original territory and I thought I was done for. I pulled every last infantry unit I had from my territory and sent them to the front. I hadn’t striped my territory, concerned David might try naval/air landings or Romania would get ideas, but I was getting desperate. Since it was a LAN game I was able to complain out load that I wished Slovakia would get in on the action when, to my delight, they did and so did Denmark! I started pushing my forces forward again, damn the losses, and finally made some headway. Belarus was even able to break past Warsaw again (George had managed to push them back that far) and even Lithuania attacked him and was able to take Gdansk.

From here it didn’t take long for Germany to break. The pressure was just too great. Once I finally broke his force holding me in (with Slovakia and Belarus’ help) I made it all the way to Berlin where I found his command unit. Germany fell with the death of its commander and thus ended a 6 hour Dev test game.

But I did forget to mention that a few times while taking German territory I lost a few hexes and got an e-mail “Guerillas capture territory” or “Partisans ambush unit”. One last goody to wet your appetite for update 5 ;)
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Uriens
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#2 Post by Uriens » Jun 09 2006

Well, that was interesting read. :-)

Some of those improvement glimps look nice.
I just wonder if you still take such diplomatic penalties on very hard level. Currently if you play on that level in SP you eventually end up at war with everyone eventually with WM kicking you out as well.

That Europe scenario version looks interesting as well. I guess I'll play a lot of it when update comes out. :D

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#3 Post by tkobo » Jun 09 2006

Enjoyed the read. Really look foward to the Guerillas and Partisans addition.
Was the AI more agressive in the game ? From the AAR it sounds like they were more a threat to the players than we are used to.
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#4 Post by Balthagor » Jun 09 2006

There has been some AI changes, but a large part of it is just allowing the AIs to "reach farther" when selecting and dispatching units. It may make it weaker in some situations, that's why it was previously more limited. Looks like this is achieving a better balance. I also think the qty of units and the conquest agenda (IIRC) for Belarus made a big difference in that case.

I think the AI has gotten better, but it won't be until we start getting community feedback that we'll get a real sense of how effective the changes are.

FYI, this scenario is currently an exclusive with the European release, but I'm sure it will make its way around at some point since we don't place any limits on exchanging scenarios for the game. Not sure when it will get into the North Amrican version.
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#5 Post by tonystowe » Jun 09 2006

Under the current engine, does the AI "learn" from its own actions and make adjustments in its play? Secondly, and more important, does it "learn" from its neighboring regions actions and adjust its play?

If not, is this something you might implement or are looking to implement?


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#6 Post by Draken » Jun 09 2006

But I did forget to mention that a few times while taking German territory I lost a few hexes and got an e-mail “Guerillas capture territory” or “Partisans ambush unit”. One last goody to wet your appetite for update 5
:lol: :lol: :lol:

YES!

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#7 Post by Balthagor » Jun 09 2006

tonystowe wrote:Under the current engine, does the AI "learn" from its own actions and make adjustments in its play? Secondly, and more important, does it "learn" from its neighboring regions actions and adjust its play?

If not, is this something you might implement or are looking to implement?


Tony
I'd need to ask George if it currenlty learns, IIRC the answer is no. Not sure what he's planning for future development in the AI.
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#8 Post by bergsjaeger » Jun 09 2006

:lol: Well its about time a Dev wrote a new AAR. U know it very wrong to tease ppl. Especially when u can have some fun with new updates. Course that's the advantage of making a game. But I can wait. Have learned to wait from the last updates.
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#9 Post by BigStone » Jun 10 2006

Draken wrote:
But I did forget to mention that a few times while taking German territory I lost a few hexes and got an e-mail “Guerillas capture territory” or “Partisans ambush unit”. One last goody to wet your appetite for update 5
:lol: :lol: :lol:

YES!
Me YES too.... 8)

But how is it implemented.... :-?
Are those capped hexes done by real (physical) troops ?
Or is it just a email.... PING..."blablabla"...
Do you have to fight to get those hexes back...

???
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#10 Post by Victarus » Jun 10 2006

BigStone wrote:But how is it implemented.... :-?
Are those capped hexes done by real (physical) troops ?
Or is it just a email.... PING..."blablabla"...
Do you have to fight to get those hexes back...

???
I assume it's just a fancy way to say you lost the territory due to a lack of supply, in which case I think "Irregulars capture territory" or something like that would be better (for national territory lost to an aggressor).

That said, !!! <---- Those make me happy. :D

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#11 Post by Balthagor » Jun 10 2006

BigStone wrote:...Are those capped hexes done by real (physical) troops ?
Yes. Partisans or Guerillas may spawn based on units in the area, law enforcement ratings, and the opinion of you by the region the hex is loyal to (region must be alive)
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#12 Post by Victarus » Jun 10 2006

:o
Ok, I'm really happy now. :D

How does the AI handle this though? I imagine that suddenly having an army pop up behind the front lines could cause havok if you aren't ready for it, so I hope the AI knows to be prepared.

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#13 Post by Balthagor » Jun 11 2006

It would treat it just like any other incurssion and respond with some units. It's usually only one battalion that appears. The effect is more a disruption than a threat.
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#14 Post by Baloogan » Jun 11 2006

Could we get a "what is done/implemented so far" list?

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#15 Post by Balthagor » Jun 11 2006

Sorry, no. "What we're going to do" lists caused me no end of troubles in the "but you said!" category, I'm not doing that again. We don't usually give anything out a head of the update, consider this AAR as a bonus. And we've already mentione the WWIII scenario plus more units, so we've given a bunch of previews for this update.

Don't worry, you've only got a couple weeks left till it's out.
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