Developer Diary 6 – Fight Fight Fight Fight!!!

Completely unrelated to this post, I'm pleased to inform you that production has finally started on the shiny pics side of things. I can't show any of that right now, but here's the planning sketch of the "Unity of Command Test Range".

Completely unrelated to the rest of this post, I’m pleased to inform you that production has finally started on the “shiny pics” side of things. I can’t show you those just yet, but here’s a planning sketch for the “UoC Test Range” instead. Cheers!

Mehr sein als scheinen.

— Moltke the Elder, referring to combat system tweaks in Unity of Command

Unity of Command is a game that emphasizes maneuver, supply, and logistics over brutal grinding, but even the most daring dash and encirclement will still involve a fair amount of fighting. In the new game, we are not changing the combat system in a big way, more like ironing a few wrinkles, plus some changes to bring it into line with the rest of the new systems.

From a designer’s point of view, combat in the game actually unfolds on two distinct levels. The first level, which is the main topic of this post, is the immediate combat between two units on the map. We try to make this “single combat” as realistic as possible, but there are limits. The most obvious ones are the one-unit-per-hex representation (no stacking) and the IGOUGO system (each player gets to move all his units during a turn).

The other level happens over a full turn for both players, or even 2-3 turns. When all the individual battles are put together and the scenario flows together nicely, we try to achieve a higher level of realism. Single, division level combats come together to form larger offensives – and the maneuvers come back around and make individual battles easier to win. Executed correctly, a good plan is a virtuous cycle.

The Changes

In our very first developer diary, we explained how combat will be less bloody, with fewer steps destroyed outright. Overmatched units will be more likely to retreat than stand and die to the last man (though there is an option to issue a “no retreat” order through the HQ – see below).

Importantly, a unit taking losses in multiple combats within the same turn will receive additional retreat shifts, making it more inclined to “advance to the rear.” Basically, if one division is being used as a punching bag by multiple enemy units, it will become likelier and likelier to give ground during that turn. Retreating units will also leave behind stragglers, but this is a new feature that will be covered in a future dev diary, once it’s more locked down.

When attacking by a superior force – think unleashing your panzers against hapless Soviet ’41 divisions in Black Turn – what happens to the attacker now changes a little bit. In the new game, strong units are more likely to suffer at least some losses on the attack, no matter the superiority. Elite armored units will continue to be important and powerful, but we wanted to make combat between them and infantry less of a one-sided massacre.

We’ve also beefed up the penalties for armored units attacking into rough terrain and, especially, cities. While this wasn’t a good way to use your armor in the original Unity of Command already, it probably wasn’t penalized enough, which is why a lot of times we saw players using armor to bulldoze their way through cities. This unrealistic and foolish strategy will simply not work anymore (-4 shift!).

Some of the infantry units now get defensive armor (marked with *), which was previously only available to AT specialists. This represents things like anti-tank guns, bazookas, and the organic armor and assault guns that some well-equipped divisions had. Additionally, these units (well, any units with armor on the defense) will get a 50% boost to their armor values when entrenched. This way, these infantry units will be able to negate some of the attacking armor in defense, while still having no armor shift when attacking.

Special Orders

The final big change is we’re giving players even more control over how their units fight. We already talked about how HQs can expend command points on each turn to give a few of their subordinate units special orders, like executing a set piece attack against entrenchments, or a no retreat order, to hold at all costs. We are adding a few more of those, this time specifically tied to certain factions or unit types.

As an example, some armored units will be able to retreat when attacked and then immediately counterattack during enemy turn (making full use of its armor). Another one we’re thinking about is elastic defense, where a unit is allowed to retreat on purpose, taking a slightly lower loss and keeping its zone of control intact.

It’s important to keep in mind that the player can only give a handful of these special orders on each turn. This way, we let you take more control of the combat results into your own hands, and away from the RNG. At the same time, most fights will still play out in the standard way – the flow of the game should remain quite similar to the original.


As usual, I hope the post was worth your time reading it. You can let me know what you think in the comments below. Feel free to ask if you have any questions.



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11 Responses to Developer Diary 6 – Fight Fight Fight Fight!!!

  1. f4phantomkmk says:

    I think it is better to use stacking system(not one unit per one hex)…

  2. Holy.Death says:

    I see the HQ orders like orders in “Game of Thrones – the Boardgame”, which is kind of cool idea.

  3. Warren Fox says:

    I think that you may better develop a new scenario, such as Pattons push through Europe and develop a new game. The UOC we have now is simply brilliant as it stands. I think that tweaking it is good ut at some stage maybe it should stop. Thank you for a lovely game, I think it is challenging and my favourite. The balance and challenge of play is superb and I just would like you to publish a new scenario soon.

  4. tom says:

    @Warren: the tweaks described here are not for current UoC, but for the new game we are working on. The original UoC remains as is. The new game will be broadly based on UoC, and may indeed include Patton ;-), but it will be enhanced with the new features described in these dev diaries.

    @Holy: thanks for the Game of Thrones reference. I looked at the video, and it looks to me the “HQ orders” mechanic is rather central to that game. In UoC, HQ orders will be secondary – almost all of combat, supply, etc. will happen according to regular rules. Only say, 2 combats per HQ, will be under special orders.

  5. Grudge says:

    I really enjoy reading these updates! Thank you for taking the time to put them together and give ’em out to the community. I really cannot wait to play more UoC.

  6. J_arcaba says:

    These updates are always a pleasure and one question when I play UoC sometimes I can finish the scenarios 2-3 turns earlier than its supposed to for example the Kiev encirclement scenario. in the new game will completing missions in a shorter or longer amount of time affect the campaign later on? For example Soviets not having as much units in an area because of how fast you were able to capture your objectives.

  7. ComradeCommissar says:

    Since armored attacks on cities are getting a heavy nerf, will infantry be buffed attacking cities? Oftentimes in the original UoC attacking cities with armor was the only non-expensive way to take them. For example, Berlin and Cottbus in the final mission (Berlin Offensive) could only be taken by attacking with your strongest armor first and suppressing or killing 1 or 2 steps, then letting the rest of the blow destroy the weakened enemy. Even infantry with artillery could not dig them out of there. Will this be tweaked? And will armor receive the same or similar penalties defending?

  8. tom says:

    @J: basically yes. There are several ways in which results from one scenario affect the following ones. The campaign game is boosted compared to UoC1, and I will get into that, but I will need a few more of these diaries to cover everything.

    @Comrade: there is no infantry buff, but there is the new “set piece attack” mechanic which should provide a more natural way to smoke out stubborn defenders. Also related to this, losses now matter (in the campaign game) and the AI will generally look to preserve its best units.

    Regarding armor in defense (outside of cities), I feel their position is precarious enough. These are typically the most valuable units and the opposition will often try to kill them by rotating several units to attack them. We are in fact taking steps to “nerf the entire tactic” of destruction through rotation, and the counterattack mechanic described above is a part of that.


  9. ComradeCommissar says:

    Interesting. Is there a plan for some sort of fortification mechanic (since you could be modelling the Western Front, this would include the Maginot Line, things like Cherbourg, etc, Festungs on the eastern front)? It would be useful to model defensive lines that would otherwise be easily penetrated. Perhaps a mechanic for something to be placed in a hex which can give a -1/-2/whatever shift to the attacker.

  10. tom says:

    @Comrade: there exist some plans for entrenchment/fortifications, but the changes are not that big. I’m not yet ready to discuss them though, they still need a bit of work.


  11. kvnrthr says:

    Will there be a possibility of simultaneous multi division assaults on one hex? War in the East and DC: Barbarossa include this option. Do you think it will fit well with the combat system in UOC?

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