Dev Journal: Tactical Combat Bonanza

This week we’re going to have an in-depth look into the Age of Wonders III tactical combat mechanics. Tactical combat is one of the most important parts of the game, and we’ve worked very hard to refine the rules to make it more exciting and tactical. Our main goal was to make combat faster, and more lethal, while maintaining and improving the depth and tactical options that people expect from the series.

Action Points

Each unit has 3 action points that determine how many times it can attack in a round.

01 - Action Points

You can see here that our Goblin Wolf Rider currently has all 3 left over.

As a unit moves, it loses action points. When a unit is selected, the colored markers on the ground indicate how many action points the unit will have left when it stands in a hex.

Green indicates the unit will have full action points, so it will attack 3 times:

02 - 3 Action Points

Yellow indicates 2 action points:

03 - 2 Action Points

Orange indicates 1. Notice that no matter how far a unit moves, it will always keep it’s last action point:

04 - 1 Action Points

Retaliation, Flanking and Guarding

When one unit attacks another with a melee attack, the defending unit will retaliate and strike back. Each time the defender does this, they use up an action point, so once they’ve retaliated 3 times, they won’t be able to retaliate any more. Even worse for the defender, a unit gets it’s action points refilled at the end of its turn. So, after retaliating 3 times, the defender won’t be able to use the unit themselves next turn!

To demonstrate, lets watch what happens when this filthy human cavalry viciously attacks our poor, innocent goblin wolf rider:

05 - Human Attacks

He’ll be attacking from a yellow hex, so he’ll hit twice. Our heroic goblin has full action points still, so he retaliates twice as well.

Afterwards, it’s the goblin’s turn, and he still only has 1 action point left. The human just ended his turn, so his action points have already been refilled:

06 - Goblin Retaliates

The human has a problem though, he’s alone, and exposed. If you can attack a unit from one of the hexes behind it, that attack is a Flanking Attack. Flanking attacks are special for two reasons:

1) The attack gets +2 damage on every type (so +2 physical damage, if a unit also does fire damage it would also get +2 fire damage)
2) A flanked defender cannot retaliate against something behind him, so he loses one chance to retaliate as he turns around.

The goblin marauders are in position to flank now:

07 - Flanking

Since the attack is flanking, the cavalry will only be able to retaliate once instead of twice. After the flanking attack, the cavalry is facing the marauder, so the next attack does normal damage, and the cavalry can retaliate. The cavalry is now facing the marauder, meaning he can now be flanked again:

08 - Ranged Flanking

As you can see, ranged attacks can flank as well. Even though the target cannot retaliate against them, he will still turn to face the unit shooting him in the back, so only the first shot will receive the flanking bonus. Through clever use of flanking, groups of weak units can take out powerful foes while taking minimal damage themselves.

There is one defense against this, however: A unit can sacrifice its actions for a turn and enter Guard Mode. A unit in Guard Mode cannot be flanked, and gets a 20% bonus to defense and resistance. Guarding units are better at locking down ranged units and performing attacks of opportunity as well, but we’ll get to that later.

09 - GuardFlank

The clever goblin is in guard mode, so the cavalry cannot flank him, even though he’s striking from behind.

Engagement and Attacks Of Opportunity

If a unit is next to an enemy, and facing them, then that enemy is Engaged. Most ranged units cannot use their abilities if they’ve been engaged by an enemy.

10 - RangedEngaged

To make matters worse, if a unit tries to move out of a hex where he’s engaged by an enemy, that enemy will hit them with an attack of opportunity.

11 - OpportunityAttacks

The red triangles tell the human player that moving the archers along the white path would get him hit by two opportunity attacks from goblin skewers.

12 - OpportunityEscape

If the human player flanks the goblins, they will turn away, and the archers could escape in safety. This would not work if the Goblins were guarding however, units on guard can engage in every direction at once, not just in front of them!

Ranged Attacks

Like melee attacks, most ranged attacks get one shot per action point the attacker has. Some slower weapons, such as crossbows, can only fire once per turn. These weapons tend to do more damage, however, and allow a unit to be move more freely without reducing damage output.

13 - RangedAttack

If a target is too far away, then a ranged penalty is applied, halving the attacks damage.

14 - RangedAttackCloser

Sometimes it will be in an attackers best interest to move closer to do more damage, even though it will fire fewer shots. This can leave the unit vulnerable to attack however. Most ranged units are fragile and need to be protected carefully from melee attackers.

15 - LineOfSightBlock

Obstacles and other units on the battlefield will block line of sight, and this can reduce damage even further.

16 - NextToAlly

However, a unit can shoot through friendly units and many low obstacles as long as they’re right next to them.

Some ranged attackers negate these penalties entirely. Elven longbow men suffer no ranged penalties, regardless of how far they fire, while Goblin Swarm Darters shoot living darts made of poisonous mosquitoes. The mosquitoes home in on their targets, ignoring all ranged penalties and line of sight checks.

Special Unit Abilities

There are many special abilities that units can have which affect the flow of combat, there are far too many to list, but I’ve included a brief description of some of the most important ones.

17 - Flier

Flying units can fly over obstacles and units, and only need to worry about attacks of opportunity when they take off. This allows them to penetrate enemy lines to strike at vulnerable units at the back.

This screen shot also demonstrates the Swarm Darter’s Inflict Noxious Vulnerability ability. Every attack from the unit has a chance of putting a minor status effect on the target which reduces its resistance, making it more vulnerable to non-physical damage.

18 - First Strike

Defending units with first strike will attack their attackers before their attackers manage to hit them. In this case, this allows the defenders strike their attackers more times than the attackers strike them. Attackers can bypass first strike by flanking the defender, or by having first strike themselves.

Here we can also see that the Halberdiers have the polearm ability (+4 damage versus cavalry) while the cavalry have the Overwhelm ability (+3 damage versus units with shields and polearms).

19 - Static Shield

Wisps have the Static Shield ability, which has a chance to stun any unit that attacks them in melee. Stunned units cannot move, guard or engage other units, and every attack on a stunned unit is automatically flanking.

20 - Stunning Touch

This is one of the many touch attacks in the game, if the goblins resist the stun effect then they lose a few move points instead, so the player’s turn isn’t completely wasted.

That’s it! Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more updates!

 

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Home Forums Dev Journal: Tactical Combat Bonanza

This topic contains 57 replies, has 38 voices, and was last updated by  Tombles 6 years, 5 months ago.

Viewing 28 posts - 31 through 58 (of 58 total)
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  • #35919

    meeber
    Member

    What was that? I couldn’t hear you over the sound of how awesome Goblins are :3

    Please! Orcs are the best race second to none.

    #35923

    liclic
    Member

    I believe that a unit like a hero using a spell is considered as a full round action. But is the hero able to do so even if he or she has only one attack left during his or her turn or should he or she have all his or her actions left to perform a spell attack?

    #35924

    One action point is enough to cast a spell so a hero can run full distance and then cast.

    #36057

    CEZ
    Member

    This all sounds great, but is there any chance we’ll see a ‘guard’ animation, in order to make the guarding units a little more apparent (and add some aesthetic authenticity)?
    For example if every unit model turned to face outwards, their backs to the centre in a porcupine-esque formation, like so:

    Porcupine Formation

    #36099

    Skuggfaxe
    Member

    Looks great and i really like the new combat mechanics, gj there. The only thing i can think of that i do not like is the proportion of leader mounts in tac combat, leader horse is atleast twice as big than the other unit horses and so it takes away some of the battle immersion for me atleast.

    #36106

    ForeVision
    Member

    No tactical combat is complete without knowledge of unit special abilities. Mr.Tombles, is it possible for you to enlighten us on this?

    #36107

    phillon
    Member

    Awesome in depth update. Love everything about the combat system. You guys play it safe by sticking with what made AoW-SM work whilst adding new cool additions (flanking for example) to make it even more in depth; I approve. Very happy to see my beloved AoW franchise seems to be getting a very worthy sequel. Thanks guys and keep up the great work.

    #36133

    Sadrecluse
    Member

    Thank you for sharing this! You’re the best. I’m believe in you all.
    Cannot wait. When the great game will be available for pre-order?

    p.s.: by the way, will it be possible to change the transparency grid of movement?

    #36308

    Vhayen
    Member

    I have a concern and a question that i hope you can clear up 🙂
    – If you make a flanking attack, the first attack won’t get retaliated, but merely cause the enemy to turn.
    – Turning costs an action point.
    – By moving you spend action points.
    – You don’t cause attack of opportunity if you’re moving in the the opponents flanking hexes.
    If these 4 points are correct, isn’t it then possible for any 3 creatures to lock down and kill any one enemy without ever allowing him to defend himself by expending all but one action point by walking back and fourth in his flanking hexes untill only one attack remain?

    And the question/fix
    If a creature lose all it’s action points to retaliation, will it go into guard mode at the end of it’s turn?

    No matter the answer i’m looking forward to the third game and i simply cannot wait to get my hands on it, the excitement is killing me here 😀

    #36317

    ForeVision
    Member

    – If you make a flanking attack, the first attack won’t get retaliated, but merely cause the enemy to turn.<br>
    – Turning costs an action point.<br>
    – By moving you spend action points.<br>
    – You don’t cause attack of opportunity if you’re moving in the the opponents flanking hexes.<br>
    If these 4 points are correct, isn’t it then possible for any 3 creatures to lock down and kill any one enemy without ever allowing him to defend himself by expending all but one action point by walking back and fourth in his flanking hexes untill only one attack remain?

    I’d just like to add that doing so would put those 3 who are flanking at serious risk to be flanked themselves, wich would balance it out.

    #36360

    NEHZ
    Member

    I have a concern and a question that i hope you can clear up :)<br>
    – If you make a flanking attack, the first attack won’t get retaliated, but merely cause the enemy to turn.<br>
    – Turning costs an action point.<br>
    – By moving you spend action points.<br>
    – You don’t cause attack of opportunity if you’re moving in the the opponents flanking hexes.<br>
    If these 4 points are correct, isn’t it then possible for any 3 creatures to lock down and kill any one enemy without ever allowing him to defend himself by expending all but one action point by walking back and fourth in his flanking hexes untill only one attack remain?

    And the question/fix<br>
    If a creature lose all it’s action points to retaliation, will it go into guard mode at the end of it’s turn?

    Turning costs the chance to retaliate to the strike that caused the unit to turn, but it doesn’t cost an action point. It’s still possible to attack a unit many times without it striking back if you make sure all your units only have 1 attack when flanking, but in that case if the unit survives it will still have action points on it’s turn.
    Units without action points don’t go on guard. Positioning really matters. I’ve also found that since flanking from multiple sides takes space, fighting in a forest as opposed to an open plain feels far more different in this game than it did in previous versions.

    #36385

    Vhayen
    Member

    Appreciate the quick replies, the fact that turning doesn’t cost an action point solves the issue, thank you for clearing that up for me 🙂

    #36425

    Fenraellis
    Member

    Thank you for sharing this! You’re the best. I’m believe in you all.<br>
    Cannot wait. When the great game will be available for pre-order?

    p.s.: by the way, will it be possible to change the transparency grid of movement?

    The grid can be toggled on and off, same with the strategic map grid(which is off by default, and I personally only turn on for short periods when I want to count out some potential domain distances)

    #36467

    NuMetal
    Member

    is there any chance we’ll see a ‘guard’ animation, in order to make the guarding units a little more apparent

    Units in guard mode have a giant shield on top of their head, so they are very apparent 😉

    (See the fourth screenshot)

    #36545

    liclic
    Member

    We can see also this shield in some of the battles of trailers…

    #36814

    Lightform
    Member

    Tombles, in regards to oportunity attacks, you have indicated in the example that one unit will attack another twice for moving through two of its forward facing hexes. Firstly I am assuming that this is correct and that a unit can indeed strike twice now rather than once as in AOWSM, and secondly, does it mean that if a unit ends their move on a hex that is forward facing of an enemy that they will incure an opportunity attack ?

    #36855

    NEHZ
    Member

    does it mean that if a unit ends their move on a hex that is forward facing of an enemy that they will incure an opportunity attack ?

    No, attacks of opportunity happen when you LEAVE a hex that’s forward facing of an enemy. You can walk up to an enemy and if you don’t attack or move away, nothing will happen. Until the opponent’s turn anyway 🙂

    #37083

    Ditto, if the unit is engaged on one side, a unit on the other side can reposition itself, with no opportunity attack. Works well with cavalry, move away, come back in, maximise charge.

    #37090

    So a wise commander would strike an engaged enemy unit to force it to turn away, letting the previously engaged unit free to slip away from battle. Or take off in flight, sounds like, if the unit can fly.

    …Or give the unit a chance to strike with its own flanking attack.

    I like it.

    #37145

    @ Bleed, exactly.

    You’d essentially sacrifice one unit’s movement, or possibly life to allow the otherwise engaged one to either escape, or re use charge.

    Thus you can ‘pin’ an enemy doing this, using tanky units, and let your charging/high damage units run amok.

    If the unit doing the pinning is something tough like a Horned God, that presents some interesting dilemnas…

    #37404

    Qasar
    Member

    Can an immunity still return a direction change? (If so, it might lessen the immunity ability.) Say, a low level unit spits fire-only damage. Hero X is immune. Will the lowly unit spit fire anyway in order to change Hero X’s direction, and thus allow Hero X to be flanked?

    Is there a taunt ability still? Will it change a target’s direction? Perhaps a distract ability for just direction on the quick but weaker units?

    I am really looking forward to playing this amazing installment!

    Q

    #39424

    liclic
    Member

    There are two missing informations: you said above that crossbows can shoot only once per turn. Does it mean that, in order to able to shoot, the unit has to stay in a green hex or may this unit fire from orange and yellow hex with crossbow? 2nd: can a close combat unit attack a flying unit or does it only retaliate against this flying unit only? Example: in aowsm each battle had 25turns. If the defender had only flying units left and the attacker has no range attack or magic attack. As soon as the flying units don’t attack, the attacker may never win. That means a draw which is always in favor of the defender!

    #39455

    Edi
    Member

    Crossbows can fire from yellow and orange, so they are more mobile than archers when firing the full number of shots (since they only fire once).

    Melee units can attack flyers, so there is no stalemate in this regard. Flyers are able to ignore attacks of opportunity when moving through enemy strike zones, except when starting movement adjacent to an enemy, who then gets an attack of opportunity when the flier disengages.

    #39493

    Oh yeah, taunt is in.

    #66428

    catsnffer
    Member

    “Elven longbow men suffer no ranged penalties, regardless of how far they fire.”

    Was this changed before the launch? Sort of feel that Elven archers should’t have a ranged penalty. Any reason why it was changed?

    Great guide!

    #70546

    Sidious
    Member

    “Elven longbow men suffer no ranged penalties, regardless of how far they fire.”
    Was this changed before the launch? Sort of feel that Elven archers should’t have a ranged penalty. Any reason why it was changed?

    I have also seen that they DO have a range penalty.
    Bug or feature?
    Why has it been changed?

    #70550

    Kayle
    Member

    <div class=”d4p-bbt-quote-title”>catsnffer wrote:</div>
    “Elven longbow men suffer no ranged penalties, regardless of how far they fire.”<br>
    Was this changed before the launch? Sort of feel that Elven archers should’t have a ranged penalty. Any reason why it was changed?

    I have also seen that they DO have a range penalty.<br>
    Bug or feature?<br>
    Why has it been changed?

    I’ve never had ranged penalties on my Elven bows. Are you certain you weren’t dealing with Line of Sight penalties instead?

    #70575

    Tombles
    Keymaster

    Yeah, elven archers have no ranged penalties. Neither do elven hunters. Look at the unit panel, if you see the ability “Shoot Longbow” there should be no range penalties.

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