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Terrain Values


ev
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During the First and Second World War, charging across clear terrain was the deadliest thing an infantryman could face. Since the invention of the canon and musket, defenders have always looked for open field of fires to maximize their weaponry. The repeating rifle and the machine gun made open fields of fire the more deadly.

At first glance, all this seems common sensical... In broken terrain, attacking infantry could use terrain obstacles as cover as they approached the defender. But in clear terrain, infantry men were an easy target for the defender. Mechanized Armor (tanks) were invented because infantry charges across clear terrain were deadly ineffective. Guderian's book Achtung Panzer makes this point very clear. Infantry attacks across open terrain were almost suicidal in WWI.

In fact, clear terrain is not only a problem for attacking infantry. It was also a problem for defending infantry. UN-ENTRECHED infantry defending open terrain was deadly exposed. That's why WWI infantry dug this never ending trenches.

What does this mean for SC2?

I would give clear tiles and SDB of -1. Hubert's combat formulas halve the attacking value of a unit attacking from a negative bonus terrain. Hence, an infantry unit attacking from a clear terrain would be at a great disadvantage - which is historically accurate. Also, unentrenched infantry defending open terrain would be at a disadvantage - which is also historically accurate.

Meanwhile, I would make all infantry units stronger. My basic infantry unit (corps in WaW's Fall Weis) would have the following values 2,2,2,2 (SA,TA,SD,TD). But the terrain value for infantry in clear terrain would be -1 (SDB). Attacking values for infantry attacking from clear terrain would be halved, thus become 1,1 (modified SA, TA; 2/1=1). Defending values for infantry corps defending clear terrain would be reduced by one, thus becoming 1,1 (modified SD,TD; 2-2=1). So , infantry corps on clear terrain would behave just the way infantry now behaves in SC2, but infantry corps would become more effective in other types of terrain.

I would also give desert tiles an SDB=-1.

As for the infantry army, engineers, and (WaW Fall Weis again), I would increase SD and TD, but I would not alter their SA and TA. For paratroops I would make some chages. These would be my new values:

Infantry Corps: 2,2,2,2

Infantry Army: 3,2,2,2

Paratroop: 3,2,2,2

Special Forces: 4,4,2,2

Engineers: 2,2,3,3

If understand Hubert's formulas correctly, the net effect of my proposals (viz a viz current WaW's Fall Weis) would be:

(1) make infantry corps more effective when attacking from broken terrain (mountains, hills, forests, cities and the like);

(2) make engineers, armies, and, special forces less effective when attacking out of clear terrain;

(3) Make paratroops a bit more effective when attacking out of broken terrain but a bit less effective when attacking from clear terrain.

Any comments?

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I like the idea of making terrain more important. At the moment it is even easier for tanks to destroy enemies in forests then it is for infantry. In games like panzer general, infantry is almost entirely useless in the open, whereas they are the only useful unit for city combat. This is in my opinion more fun, as it really forces you to use other units then tanks to capture cities. So improvement here would certainly be nice.

The change you suggest is a valiant and interesting attempt, but creates a number of problems. One of the main problems is that when an infantry unit attacks a city from clear terrain it would reduce his attack values to 1 attack or so in most realistic situations.

That is: (3 - 1 * 0.7) * 0.7 * 0.5

In words: (attack - defense bonus * readiness modifier enemy) * readiness modifier * negative cover penalty

In the above calculation I assume that both units have a readiness of 70%. Even if you would remove the defense bonus for infantry in cities it would end up being only 1.05.

Since nearly all cities are bordered by clear terrain it would make infantry attacks on cities very ineffective. In my opinion, the point of a change here would have to be that tanks become less effective at taking rough terrain and infantry more effective. The suggested change would make tanks pretty much the only unit capable of taking this kind of land, because it is often bordered by clear terrain. So you would reach the opposite of what you are trying to accomplish.

It has to be said that from the realism side you'd have to note that armies are not just infantry, they are a combination of arms varying from artillery and tanks to infantry. An army attack therefore is not just an infantry charge, but contains weapons that do possess sufficient striking power for offense as well. Realism is not that important in SC though and I prefer to see changes that increase gameplay, such as forcing the player to use armies for rough terrain and tanks for clear terrain. So I would hardly consider the realism argument legitimate against making armies slightly weaker on clear ground and slightly stronger on rough terrain.

As alternative I would like to suggest something much simpler, just increase the tank defense bonus of all types of broken terrain (including cities and fortifications) by 1. This change would by itself already make infantry more valuable for rough terrain. For cities and forests this is most important, whether the other types of terrain also need such a change is debatable.

Feel free to criticize however.

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Sorry, but i totaly disagree.

"Clear" Terrain in SC / SC2 has nothing to do with an open field.

I know personly dozens of tiles from the SC2 map which are far away from "clear terrain", even though it appears so in / on the SC map.

For you suggestions we would need at least a dozen more terrain types than we already have, probably even more.

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WUSHUKI, you bring many good points. In particular, your point about infantry attacking a city is very important. I tried to address this issue by increasing the attack strength of infantry corps. My infantry corps now has attack values from 1,1 to 2,2 (SA, TA). I did not feel comfortable about increasing the Army's SA and TA.

I am a bit unsure about increasing the armies attack values. As I understand, an SC army is something like 2 infantry corps crammed into a single tile. If I this is correct, then the combat strength of an SC Army should be less than twice the combat strength of an infantry corps, due to inefficiencies resulting from packing more men into a limited area.

I agree, up to a point, with your argument that an Army included multiple weapons. It certainly included artillery, antiair and antitank guns, some organic transport and recon vehicles. But tanks were a very precious commodity during WWII. Besides tanks needed train mechanics and specialized bridging and servicing equipment. My guess is that infantry divisions of WWII had no heavy armor permanently attached to them.

...armies of course are a bit more complicated because generals shifted divisions from one army to another quite often. But, as far as SC2 is concerned, I think of Infantry Corps and Armies as being 99.9% soft targets.

Having said all this, I agree infantry units should posses better striking power - in broken (not clear) terrain. The whole purpose behind my proposal is to make the infantry corpse stronger in broken terrain, while leaving it essentially unchanged in clear terrain.

Maybe, the way to go about this is to increase the Terrain Values of broken terrain... Could you give me some examples of the changes you propose?

XWORMWOOD: Your point is well taken. However, we might not need 12 different tiles. One more terrain tile may do the trick:

The idea would be to break down clear terrain into two types of tiles: broken and flatland. The broken tile would cover a wide range of terrain which is not perfectly flat: Bocage, light forrest, rolling low hills, etc. In this type of terrain, SDB for infantry would be 0, just like SC2's clear terrain.

Flatland would represent, the Russian steppes, together with certain parts of central Europe which are very flat. Flatland would have an SDB = -1.

By the way, the broken terrain tile could also apply to areas around a city with some population density where infantry could find buildings to take cover. (This in turn would address one of WUSHUKI's concerns.)

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It's fairly straightforward actually.

Right now a tank attacking an unit without entrenchment in a forest does (4 - 1*readiness infantry) * readiness tank damage. An infantry unit attacking does (3 - 1*readiness infantry) * readiness infantry damage. So besides that infantry has a lower attack value there is no difference between attacking a unit in a forest with infantry or tanks. From both the perspective of realism as well as the perspective of gameplay this seems wrong as you should be using infantry and not tanks to fight in forests.

If the defense bonus against tanks in forests is increased to two, the damage the tank would do would be further reduced by the readiness of the defender. In most realistic situations that would be a reduction of between 0.5 and 1 damage. This makes it a little bit more attractive to save your tanks for clear terrain battles and use your infantry to fight in forests.

With cities there is already a difference as cities have a tank defense bonus of 3 and a soft defense bonus of 1. But if you consider that especially in cities units will rarely have a readiness of 100% when you start attacking them with ground forces this difference is not as big as it sounds. So tanks are in most games often used to great effect to capture towns. Increasing the tank defense bonus to 4 will increase the difference and make the option of attacking a city with tanks a bit less attractive.

The effectiveness of infantry on clear terrain is not changed here. I consider forests and cities the most important terrain types for this change, but it might work well for other terrain types, like swamps and mountains as well.

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Your post makes me wonder if I am reading the Defense Bonus Table wrong.

The defense bonus table details a Soft Defense Bonus and a Hard Defense Bonus. There are two ways to read this:

(Option #1) A Soft Defense Bonus is the bonus applicable to a Soft unit defending the tile regardless of weather the attacker is Soft or Hard.

(Option #2) A Soft Defense Bonus is the bonus applicable to any unit defending from a Soft Attack.

I was reading the Soft Defense Bonus Table as per #1. You seem to be reading as per #2. I am not sure what is the right answer, but it makes a huge difference.

If my reading of the Soft Defense Bonus Table is right, increasing the Soft Defense Bonus of a tile will favor a soft (infantry) defending that tile equally against all attackers (infantry, tank, air, naval).

What you are proposing is to selectively increase the defense bonus of infantry defending from armor in a city (or forest, or mountain tile). This makes perfect sense. But, this may not be possible with the current game engine... if my reading of the Soft Defense Table is right...

Could anyone clarify what is the correct way to read the SDB table?

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I can easily confirm it with the following screenshot:

defensebonus.jpg

All units have 100% readiness. According to your calculation the tank would now reduce damage by 3 points, the tank only reduces it by 1 point as you can see at the predicted casualties. This is only consistent with the 2nd way of reading the table.

Full results:

Predicted casualties table:

Infantry attacking a tank: 1

Infantry attacking infantry: 1

Tank attacking infantry: 1

Tank attacking tank: 2

Notice the last 2 lines of the table. Whether infantry or tanks are being attacked, the casualty count is always reduced by 3 points.

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Sorry guys, the SC representation of terrain in the area encompassed by an SC global tile is adequate as is. Obviously the terrain icon only shows the predominant terrain of the tile and not the little nuances of different topography that every tile possesses, for real.

You have to believe that the subordinate commanders in the vicinity would use the local terrain to the best of the attacking or defending force's benefit, you're just directing the overall strategy as the Supreme Commander. Don't forget that you have the option to use HQs with varying values to conduct your operations, perhaps the lower valued commanders don't use the terrain as efficiently as the higher valued ones?;)

This suggestion has merit for smaller scale games, but not this global one, although for the operational campaigns ev is right on and perhaps Hubert would consider it an option in the editor.

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I can easily confirm it with the following screenshot:

defensebonus.jpg

All units have 100% readiness. According to your calculation the tank would now reduce damage by 3 points, the tank only reduces it by 1 point as you can see at the predicted casualties. This is only consistent with the 2nd way of reading the table.

Full results:

Predicted casualties table:

Infantry attacking a tank: 1

Infantry attacking infantry: 1

Tank attacking infantry: 1

Tank attacking tank: 2

Notice the last 2 lines of the table. Whether infantry or tanks are being attacked, the casualty count is always reduced by 3 points.

Got it. In that case, we can make tanks weaker by simply increasing the TDB of almost every tile in the map.

The next question is: how can we make infantry stronger in "rough terrain" without making it stronger in clear terrain? Infantry Corps have values of 1,1,1,1 (SA,TA,SD,TD) in WaW. These seem fine for clear terrain. But seem too low for Forest, City, etc. I would like my infantry corps to remain relatively weak in clear terrain, but to perform better in rough terrain of different sorts (both offensively and defensively).

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Making infantry selectively stronger in rough terrain is, as far as I know, only possible in 2 ways:

1) Decreasing the defense bonus in rough terrain for infantry. This only profits the attacking infantry though and would also reduce the defense bonus to 0 for most terrain types for infantry. Both of these downsides are undesirable.

2) Program a new rule, such as an increase of 10% in readiness for infantry when defending rough terrain and a 25% readiness increase when attacking rough terrain. The difference in readiness bonus comes from the fact that a high readiness bonus for units that are standing in defensive terrain will completely negate the 25% offensive bonus for infantry. But if you don't add a defensive bonus at all, tanks would be just as capable of defending rough terrain as infantry. Hence, a small bonus for defense and a large bonus for offense is useful. There are of course many variations of this solution possible, so there might be other options to explore here.

The second solution sounds reasonable and would indeed make sure that infantry begin to rule the rough terrain, while tanks rule the open terrain. Which is precisely what we are trying to reach. The downside is of course a slight increase in game complexity. The complexity should always be kept as low as possible and needlessly complicating games is in my opinion one of the main flaws in many games. However, there is a concrete gameplay advantage here and the small icons that they used in PT can easily help new players identify that there is a special bonus when infantry attacks or defends rough terrain. So I do not consider that a significantly large downside. Extensive play testing would be required of course to tweak the defensive and offensive bonus and to see whether it improves gameplay at all.

As for a larger increase, I acknowledge that Infantry Corps are not very powerful, especially not with the change coming in Global, where they will hardly ever reach a higher combat value then 1. What is important though is that infantry corps seem gameplay wise not really meant for combat purposes. Realistic or not, their main purpose is to hold ground and delay the enemy. Remember, for those 100 resources you do not just get 1 attack and defense, you also get 10 hit points and these are every bit as strong as any other unit. So larger bonuses would be undesirable.

Feel free to criticize.

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Upon closer examination, my suggestion in the post above doesn't seem so good.

The problem is that adding a bonus to readiness for attacking infantry in rough terrain is almost the exact same thing as reducing the terrain defense bonus. As stated before, reducing soft defense bonus of terrain would make terrain less relevant for infantry vs infantry combat then it is now, which is undesirable.

It is still possible to add a small readiness bonus for infantry defending in rough terrain to make them better then tanks at this task, but it may be better to stick with just increasing the TDB of certain terrain types and forget about adding an extra rule. The lack of reactions on this thread seems to suggest that the majority of the community doesn't really consider the high effectiveness of tanks in jungles/forests and cities a very serious problem. If I am correct about that, it doesn't seem worth the effort to make a programming time intensive change.

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