Development Diary 5 – The Supply Network

AMMO-5I don’t know what the hell this ‘logistics’ is that Marshall is always talking about, but I want some of it.

— Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King

One of our goals in the design of the original Unity of Command was to make supply and logistics as important and easy to grasp as front lines and battle tactics. We want to keep supply front and center in the next game, but there’s some room to improve the system to make it better reflect historical realities.

In UoC1, we traced supply by using supply movement. Supply sources had a number of MPs (movement points) that determined how far supply can reach, similar to how a unit moves. In bad weather, the costs for this movemement got bigger and so hexes that are far away from supply sources became unsupplied. Another way of looking at it is, that the supplied area on the map shrinks during bad weather.

This was how supply disruption due to weather was intended to work. However, in practice, scenario designers simply compensated for bad weather by giving a bigger supply range. There is some logic to that, as the game becomes potentially unplayable otherwise, but the result is there is no meaningful supply disruption in scenarios where there definitely should be, for example in Taifun.

Supply Hubs

Before I explain how we intend to improve on this, let me introduce Supply Hubs. They’re new.

In the new game, like before, supply emanates from Supply Sources, which are typically rail hexes just outside the map’s edge. Supply travels along rail, but does not expand from rail lines automatically like before. Instead, you need to place Supply Hubs in suitable locations. A Supply Hub then spreads supply from its own location, i.e. from where you placed it on the rail line.

The outstanding difference here is that, there is no “infinite travel along rail” for supplies any more. You get more of a hand in shaping your supply network: for example, in deciding where to place your supply hubs to counter the danger of enemy cutting your units off. You can also increase the range of some of the hubs by commiting logistics assets, however these assets will now cost prestige to acquire.

Note: we’re trying real hard not to drown the game with too much new stuff. Therefore, in the UI, a Supply Hub presents essentially as a supply-focused HQ. It can be moved, but then it loses the ability to supply or has it diminished. It may also get attacked and destroyed just like a normal HQ.

Supply Disruption

A Supply Hub always attempts to supply units within a fixed area. This is important: your supply services will attempt to supply units in this area no matter what. The area itself never shrinks due to bad weather.

When supply is disrupted by bad weather, a percentage of units will be rendered out of supply. This happens at the start of a turn, and is determined at random, but not entirely random. Units closer to the hub and those already out-of-supply are more likely to be supplied. Likewise, elite units get preferential treatment. Units that are farther away from the hub, and those that must trace supply across mud/snow are more likely to come up empty handed.

Generally, this should make a supply disruption look realistic, with unsupplied units appearing about where you’d expect them, but still randomly. When you get bad weather, you always get supply disruption, although the effect is not strong over one turn. Over a number of turns though, it’s decidedly not funny.

Regardless of the disruption, an HQ can still use its Emergency Supply ability to push supplies to a key division or two. This costs the HQ command points, as it should, as it’s not the best use of their time or assets. However, we don’t want some crucial plan or attack to fall through due to RNG alone.

Overall, we feel this less system will give commander’s supply difficulty more of an authentic feeling than the completely binary supply mechanics of the original.

More Disruption

Scenario designers may also set up some off map circumstances that give rise to supply disruption.

For example, the designer of a Kasserine Pass scenario can say that, after turn 2, Axis supply will be reduced to 80% because of Allied bombings of Axis convoys. Bonus objectives in one scenario can affect the next in a campaign, too – if the Allies capture vital Channel Ports shortly after Overlord, in the next scenario they will suffer from less supply disruption.

The incorporation of supply disruption will allow for more organic and compelling rewards for achieving bonus objectives than just additional prestige. It should make for an interesting addition to our dynamic campaign designs, and not just a sweet gameplay mechanic.

 

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9 Responses to Development Diary 5 – The Supply Network

  1. nikdav says:

    Very good evolution, i like it………….i hope the new game in not focused only on the western front, the new supply and HQ are perfect for the Russian front !

  2. Scrotumgod says:

    I think most people will agree the supply system was what really made UoC stand out. I’m sure you will get it right again this time.

  3. Petter Moxnes says:

    Do you think it will be released this year(2016)?

  4. tom says:

    @Peter: we’ll release when it’s ready (duh!). However I can say for sure that we will be properly announcing the game within the next few months (with graphics, features, historical scope). I’m looking at dates and events right now.

  5. Peter Cartwright says:

    Lovely, teasing update as always, Tomislav.

    I appreciated the mention of the importance of certain ports after Overlord. However, do you appreciate the importance of the Mulberry Harbours, artificial ports which were more or less floated across pre-built. The Normandy harbours were incredibly well-fortified. I believe Cherbourg (which we *really* wanted) held out until May ’45.

    If you don’t know about the Mulberries (or just want to know more), there are museums in Normandy that will blow your mind. If you want a guide to somewhere as far from Croatia like that, just get in touch with me (I speak good Serbo-Croat). I’m in England, and the Normans love it when we play reverse-Billy-the-conqueror, y’know?

    Anyway, your Western Front project is amazing, and will still be so on release whatever level of abstraction you decide to stick with. Good luck, and don’t mention the war. 😉

  6. Peter Cartwright says:

    Can’t edit myself so I will just file this correction.

    Cherbourg *was* taken — it took a month of hard fighting in June by the goddamn Yanks.

    However, in the process of the siege (and deliberate German sabotage), the port was left unusable (not sure if it was functional again before the war was over).

    Anyway, I hope Overlord itself gets *major* attention from you. It was by no means the biggest campaign of the war (I don’t need to tell you of all people that the Eastern Front dwarfed almost everything that ever happened in warfare!), but only the two strongest naval powers in the world could possibly have pulled it off, and it still could have gone disastrously wrong (many will point at certain beaches and the losses sustained and argue that it *did*).

    If you have time, check out the Longest Day — at least one person put it on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eHN-561GFY

    Many of the extras and much of the cast may have been in WWII, and even Overlord itself. It is not ‘cinema verite’, but it may not be far off!

  7. tom says:

    @Peter: many thanks for the comment and the invitation. You never know we might actually take you up on the offer some day 🙂

    re:harbors, I am guiding myself by the fact that Allies suffered from supply issues all the way until clearing the Scheldt estuary. I don’t have precise data to decide exactly how much disruption to build into the game – we didn’t do any in-depth research at this point. I’m mainly trying to come up with some game mechanics that will work well in many different situations.

    Cheers!

  8. I’m really looking forward to the new version. I’ve played the original so many times now that it’s time for something new!

  9. Holy.Death says:

    It looks like you are ironing out the old system to make it even better. Are there plans to make different units act differently in different terrain conditions?

    I always felt like in Unity of Command (1) mechanized and armored units were too strong in certain conditions. Especially in scenarios where there was an attack on a fortified city or across the river.

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