Author Topic: Dynamic war vs. static war ultimately needs sensible balance  (Read 3679 times)

stueblahblah

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Dynamic war vs. static war ultimately needs sensible balance
« on: January 28, 2016, 01:51:26 PM »
So that's the subject I am going back to in regular intervals for quite loong time now, and it is elaborated in many other thread. Here I would try to remind on that, to summarize and be as concise as possible.

1. Troops who attack and run through vast distances of enemy territory should be penalized much more. The most direct application I see to it is to increase starvation in comparison to peasants starvation much. Large cities for rl years-long construction of building collapse completely for attacking troops merely sitting around cities. That does not make any realistic sense. Building losing their function after being 1% damaged make no sense at all. The adverse consequences are:
- any strategy related to geography and settlements is meaningless as the only thing which is worth its price is strong moving troop
- for that reasons the only meaningful war is reduced to on group of moving troop chasing another, where background is completely ignored for the above mentioned reasons. That is tasteless war, imho.
- further on, skills and subtle achievements do not come from planning, interaction, dedication to depth of the game, but only to very shallow chasing the clock the whole day, running around watchtower, ambushing, waiting for every single movement tick. only to player's activity.
- economy is meaningless as well. there is only one linear path, to train as many of the strongest possible troops, everything else is unimportant. and the only advantage come through the length of playing which  gives more time to develop strength that cannot be competed in any way. Land-grab from slumbered lords is the only alternative to this monotonous trip, and it's not surprise that most of the game events hovers around that currently. what is purpose of economics if you cannot play economic game, like adopting one economic concept and competing with players who adopt different concept' the answer is: there is no meaning, economics is currently only pain in the ass that slows down our reach to strongest troops.
- for the mentioned reasons wars are very unpredictable, because of the fact that there are only few players able to play around the clock all the time. all the others know that they can lose almost everything for just not being active in some limited period - and they logically tend to avoid any risk. this means guaranteed lack of interesting events.
- preparation times, regroups and similar help little or not at all. players who cannot chase the clock will have no much help of them, players who are very active are just annoyed for waiting.

2. Limiting abilities of moving attacking troops could:
- focus warfare on strategic issues of taking and holding settlements. to plan campaign, players would plan on how to take settlements, not how to run around the watchtowers in specific hour of day. more chess-like game, less mouse and cat game
- provide incentive for many limited wars that would be run around neighboring lands while at the same time encouraging more leaders to go into wars that carry less risks
- make emperors do what emperors ordinary do: run high politics, decide on which among many limited wars to focus, playing strategy instead of merely ordering the whole realm to summon troop at rally point A.

I see only good things in this concept. :)

De-Legro

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Re: Dynamic war vs. static war ultimately needs sensible balance
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2016, 02:33:06 PM »
So that's the subject I am going back to in regular intervals for quite loong time now, and it is elaborated in many other thread. Here I would try to remind on that, to summarize and be as concise as possible.

1. Troops who attack and run through vast distances of enemy territory should be penalized much more. The most direct application I see to it is to increase starvation in comparison to peasants starvation much. Large cities for rl years-long construction of building collapse completely for attacking troops merely sitting around cities. That does not make any realistic sense. Building losing their function after being 1% damaged make no sense at all. The adverse consequences are:
- any strategy related to geography and settlements is meaningless as the only thing which is worth its price is strong moving troop
- for that reasons the only meaningful war is reduced to on group of moving troop chasing another, where background is completely ignored for the above mentioned reasons. That is tasteless war, imho.
- further on, skills and subtle achievements do not come from planning, interaction, dedication to depth of the game, but only to very shallow chasing the clock the whole day, running around watchtower, ambushing, waiting for every single movement tick. only to player's activity.
- economy is meaningless as well. there is only one linear path, to train as many of the strongest possible troops, everything else is unimportant. and the only advantage come through the length of playing which  gives more time to develop strength that cannot be competed in any way. Land-grab from slumbered lords is the only alternative to this monotonous trip, and it's not surprise that most of the game events hovers around that currently. what is purpose of economics if you cannot play economic game, like adopting one economic concept and competing with players who adopt different concept' the answer is: there is no meaning, economics is currently only pain in the ass that slows down our reach to strongest troops.
- for the mentioned reasons wars are very unpredictable, because of the fact that there are only few players able to play around the clock all the time. all the others know that they can lose almost everything for just not being active in some limited period - and they logically tend to avoid any risk. this means guaranteed lack of interesting events.
- preparation times, regroups and similar help little or not at all. players who cannot chase the clock will have no much help of them, players who are very active are just annoyed for waiting.

2. Limiting abilities of moving attacking troops could:
- focus warfare on strategic issues of taking and holding settlements. to plan campaign, players would plan on how to take settlements, not how to run around the watchtowers in specific hour of day. more chess-like game, less mouse and cat game
- provide incentive for many limited wars that would be run around neighboring lands while at the same time encouraging more leaders to go into wars that carry less risks
- make emperors do what emperors ordinary do: run high politics, decide on which among many limited wars to focus, playing strategy instead of merely ordering the whole realm to summon troop at rally point A.

I see only good things in this concept. :)


There is no concept here. Just vague notions with no thought to practicality, not even a seed of an actual mechanic. I suggest you talk to Weaver about how he uses he strongholds to keep fighting against a foe that outnumbers him considerably before you write off static defences. If your opponent manages to bring down your walls through starvation, that generally means your settlement was only just able to build that fortification in the first place. Otherwise the attacking force tends to starve long before you have to worry about it.
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stueblahblah

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Re: Dynamic war vs. static war ultimately needs sensible balance
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2016, 08:45:05 PM »
What I deem as a concept is clearly described in first sentence of the second paragraph, everything else tries to justify and explain that, and in sense of mechanics it is as simple as it can be.

The way you want to sharply sack my efforts to make elaboration on it show that you dislike the concept, but you provide no counterargument, but just trying to sack the whole discussion in roots.

Your "advise" to consult Weaver I feel as grotesque. I have nothing against this guy other than he seem to be unable to treat other players as friends; he might be skilled and competent in what he is doing, but he seems to be a person who hang around the game 24 hours a day a treat it like real-time simulation. You possibly like such approach as well, while I feel it is disastrous and repelling for most of "ordinary" players.

I am trying to make proposal that could, I feel, make game deeper, more interesting, more strategic, take it away from travel-tick hanging-around and you point me to the guy who base the whole his play around attempts to plan every movement with minute-precision.  :P

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Re: Dynamic war vs. static war ultimately needs sensible balance
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2016, 09:44:55 PM »
While I believe your intentions are good, I feel there are already enough barriers to distant warfare: the travel times, for one, and the high chances of starvation unless well prepared.


I believe we should be more connected, not less. It gets much more interesting when your diplomatic portfolio extends far away, and when the possibilities of the political landscape may shift considerably, rather than we it all remains stagnant for RL months to no end.

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Re: Dynamic war vs. static war ultimately needs sensible balance
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2016, 10:25:02 PM »
The only barrier i see to distant travel is long sea travel starvation, there is no any other barrier at all. i traveled with some troops like 150 soldiers over two thirds of the map with no any consequences.

currently being involved in several war campaigns, starvation is seen only after really large army starves all nearby regions, which happens after game weeks of hovering in middle of enemy territory. that is actually good direction imho, some more push would force attackers just to plan more reasonable and realistic targets.

i don't feel anything like stagnation is possible. who wants to wage war would take lands in some pattern, with some strategic plan, advancing though the enemy territory. how can it be stagnation? both sides would just have little more time to plan and prepare. where is the fun if the first battle targets your capital already?

diplomacy would be richer, not poorer. what is the point of diplomacy if your enemy overthrow you in matter of days? if he advances regions by region you just have more opportunity to conduct useful diplomacy, not less.

 i see nothing in wars that could be poorer, absolutely nothing. right now we have wars which are mostly limited to just few clashes of major rival armies, everything else is quite pointless running around.

and the worst thing is that after one rival is defeated say in two major battles, even the very large realms can ultimately collapse afterwards with no any tiny chance to fight back again. because simply, all that matters is moving army, and if you are unlucky to quickly lose major army, there is nothing left to do.

slowing down and limiting attacking army will in no way limit speed of game events, i believe, but it will make game deeper and actually create much more events to play about.

there are even more possibilities to that. for instance, if this what is mentioned would be applied, maybe all soldier training times could be lowered a bit?!

imagine: you lose soldiers more easily, but you train them faster... that would give more weight to good training centers, wouldn't it? currently you need say 50 game days to train some good soldiers, while the whole war can be possibly resolved in that time, so once war starts, your recruitment centers are not of much importance, as well as most of other infrastructure.

maybe i am not able to express all thoughts in best manner, but i feel this is real opportunity to make more game depth with simple mechanical means.

Ratharing

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Re: Dynamic war vs. static war ultimately needs sensible balance
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2016, 10:54:13 PM »
You were moving 150 soldiers. Not sure through were, as I moved a similar amount and had to stop and loot to avoid starvation. But regardless, try moving 1000. Because that is the bare minimum you need to annoy most large realms (lets not take the young west into account for now, as that will change over time). Then you will see it's not as easy to travel far away. And the more you move, the more difficult it becomes.

Your model is already implemented in BattleMaster. And BM is stagnant as hell. Its realms last real-life years, and there are much less chances of changes such as those happening in M&F.

Without dynamic change you get static alliance blocks and a paralyzed game.

But I suppose we see things differently. I do not think any of us will convince the other.

stueblahblah

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Re: Dynamic war vs. static war ultimately needs sensible balance
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2016, 11:16:42 PM »
i tried with 300 soldiers, the only thing is to get enougt camp followers, and that's all.

frankly, i see no dynamics in chasing travel ticks, that so narrow and trivial. dynamics in terms for playability should come from planning how to use your both soldiers and infrastructure, where to focus your attack, where to focus defense, and all that is possible only if attacking mechanics is slowed down and more limited by distances and geography.

currently "dynamics" causes situations where even wars between largest realms are senselessly reduced to just few major battles between major moving armies, and after one side make one decisive victory, the other side is completely lost, moving army can go through the whole realm like butter, destroy and take everything. there is no much depth in that at all. currently the only way to avoid such scenario is to make ooc agreement about war limitations. that is game lock in its most direct meaning! game mechanics should self-balance playing, creating self-sustainable game war where each sides has more than one chance or way to survive, not create linear destructive scenario which always put one side out of business completely. and all that could be achieved by "cushioning" too easy attacks!

De-Legro

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Re: Dynamic war vs. static war ultimately needs sensible balance
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2016, 11:19:16 PM »
What I deem as a concept is clearly described in first sentence of the second paragraph, everything else tries to justify and explain that, and in sense of mechanics it is as simple as it can be.

The way you want to sharply sack my efforts to make elaboration on it show that you dislike the concept, but you provide no counterargument, but just trying to sack the whole discussion in roots.

Your "advise" to consult Weaver I feel as grotesque. I have nothing against this guy other than he seem to be unable to treat other players as friends; he might be skilled and competent in what he is doing, but he seems to be a person who hang around the game 24 hours a day a treat it like real-time simulation. You possibly like such approach as well, while I feel it is disastrous and repelling for most of "ordinary" players.

I am trying to make proposal that could, I feel, make game deeper, more interesting, more strategic, take it away from travel-tick hanging-around and you point me to the guy who base the whole his play around attempts to plan every movement with minute-precision.  :P


Like I said, there is no proposal. There is the raising of an issue, some very vague and broad - "it should" statements. But take it from someone that spends 16 hours a day turning concepts into code to control multi million dollar utilities, there is nothing here that could be turned into a mechanic as it stands, because there is nothing concrete.


- provide incentive for many limited wars that would be run around neighboring lands while at the same time encouraging more leaders to go into wars that carry less risks


What incentives, how will the game determine "limited"? How will the game determine what is a reasonable neighbor? What will we put in place to prevent "limited" wars from escalating?



1. Troops who attack and run through vast distances of enemy territory should be penalized much more. The most direct application I see to it is to increase starvation in comparison to peasants starvation much. L


Have you tried since Tom fiddled with starvation a few weeks ago? Ask Grand Fate how quick troops can starve and die now, especially once they have already been "hungry" recently. Hawks largely won our last was because the entire Mercia force of almost 2k men started starving and they left the conflict. Hawks itself lost close to 1.5k troops to starvation before we were able to split our forces up and move to other food sources. Camp Followers are making people thing they can travel for 12 or more IG days without issue. Problem is when you arrive your camp followers are out of food and your troops go hungry quick when you don't control a settlement nearby.
The only barrier i see to distant travel is long sea travel starvation, there is no any other barrier at all. i traveled with some troops like 150 soldiers over two thirds of the map with no any consequences.
Getting ship wrecked is a pain, though I seem to have a talent for that. Getting ship wreck on one of the islands is even more of a pain.

- further on, skills and subtle achievements do not come from planning, interaction, dedication to depth of the game, but only to very shallow chasing the clock the whole day, running around watchtower, ambushing, waiting for every single movement tick. only to player's activity.



You diminish the efforts of those players. Watching the clock won't let your 20 men beat 400. Watching the clock won't help when your force is 12 days away from where it needs to be. The top players, those like Stoned in the north combine the two aspects, so not only are you facing someone that is very active, but he has a good grasp of military planning, positions his troops and has good strategies for placing you under pressure and forcing mistakes.



- economy is meaningless as well. there is only one linear path, to train as many of the strongest possible troops, everything else is unimportant. and the only advantage come through the length of playing which  gives more time to develop strength that cannot be competed in any way. Land-grab from slumbered lords is the only alternative to this monotonous trip, and it's not surprise that most of the game events hovers around that currently. what is purpose of economics if you cannot play economic game, like adopting one economic concept and competing with players who adopt different concept' the answer is: there is no meaning, economics is currently only pain in the ass that slows down our reach to strongest troops.


Hawks thought that once, until we got involved in a series of wars that lasted so long that we simply couldn't produce "top" tier troops fast enough to maintain battlefield forces. That is when we had to learn which troops that are fast to produce are the most effective, learn to counter HI with significantly cheaper troops. It will be even further improved when the militia changes that Tom sent live and then removed are once again active and you can no longer simply stockpile militia.


Put another way Hawks had far more troops, especially Heavy Infantry then Ascalon in our last war, yet we never attacked significant settlements. Why? Because Roran long ago realised that he could not compete in the production of heavy infantry, so he focused archers, good archers, well trained archers, in massive numbers that can be trained in almost every settlement. Those archers upon even wooden walls decimate heavy infantry. Rheged reigns supreme in the Elysium realms contests at the moment, despite having a force composed almost entirely of medium infantry with a small core of heavy cav. They beat the Heavy Infantry and Archer forces of Nril and Redgorge for one simple reason, massed javelin. There reliance on the one use Javelin has meant they have to gear the entire economy of their realm to javelin production, to the movement of supplies to the front line, otherwise their force loses significant effectiveness.


- focus warfare on strategic issues of taking and holding settlements. to plan campaign, players would plan on how to take settlements, not how to run around the watchtowers in specific hour of day. more chess-like game, less mouse and cat game


How. And how will you prevent the loss of richness that would arise from a realm that follows more of a nomadic warfare style? Why switch "one" correct way to fight for another? If your enemy isn't trying to take settlements and deny you the use of their resources, just ignore him. Fortify your significant settlements and let him run between towers unable to do anything. Use the trade system to ensure that if he masses somewhere, the settlement will not fall apart. There was a great example of this sort of play in the North/Rathgar recently.
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Re: Dynamic war vs. static war ultimately needs sensible balance
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2016, 11:25:24 PM »
You have a point. I am purposefully pushing the limits right now in-game and I feel like I can push them further than I should be able to. I thought the last round of changes to food supply would stop that, but it doesn't. I'm thinking what to do about it, so any help is appreciated.

Yes, logistics should be more important, but it should not be a major hassle. That is a thin line to walk. I can enforce resupply lines, but it would turn the whole game into a nightmare.

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Re: Dynamic war vs. static war ultimately needs sensible balance
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2016, 11:36:27 PM »
You have a point. I am purposefully pushing the limits right now in-game and I feel like I can push them further than I should be able to. I thought the last round of changes to food supply would stop that, but it doesn't. I'm thinking what to do about it, so any help is appreciated.

Yes, logistics should be more important, but it should not be a major hassle. That is a thin line to walk. I can enforce resupply lines, but it would turn the whole game into a nightmare.


The thing with food is, everything is fine until its not. Once hunger starts to happen, or starvation it is a REAL scrabble to salvage anything, particular if you have large units. When we were assaulting large settlements the war ground to a standstill. After every engagement my forces needed RL days to recover their food supplies and have a safety margin of no longer being "hungry". Else when the army next moved and had to fight a large battle we would fall hungry again very quickly.
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stueblahblah

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Re: Dynamic war vs. static war ultimately needs sensible balance
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2016, 11:52:31 PM »


You diminish the efforts of those players. Watching the clock won't let your 20 men beat 400. Watching the clock won't help when your force is 12 days away from where it needs to be. The top players, those like Stoned in the north combine the two aspects, so not only are you facing someone that is very active, but he has a good grasp of military planning, positions his troops and has good strategies for placing you under pressure and forcing mistakes.


if i did, i didn't want to, so sorry if you feel that way. :) i only tried to point out that there are too few players who can enjoy in having major advantage by mere activity. yes, you cannot beat 400 with 20, but the fact is that both sides have 400, and the one who is not active enough stand no tiny chance.

most of planning you mentioned right now is tactical planning that revolves around travel ticks and battle timers. i am impressed by skills of some guys in that, but if that gives you enormous advantages, guys like me will have to leave even while being generally interested in all potential this game might have. is it only me? i don't know, but i see so many players who will never keep up even close to such playing, and i noticed many who left in silence.

such kind of planning is truly exhausting for anyone who does not have really ample free time. in many realms i play lower ranked nobles and i literally beg to receive some simple orders that i can follow and still feel useful, but it's very hard as everything revolves about subtleties of battle timers and travel ticks.


How. And how will you prevent the loss of richness that would arise from a realm that follows more of a nomadic warfare style? Why switch "one" correct way to fight for another? If your enemy isn't trying to take settlements and deny you the use of their resources, just ignore him. Fortify your significant settlements and let him run between towers unable to do anything. Use the trade system to ensure that if he masses somewhere, the settlement will not fall apart. There was a great example of this sort of play in the North/Rathgar recently.


after all what i stated, i would never advocate loss of richness :) as I myself prefer to play on many places at cost of not being too powerful anywhere, i would like to try nomad game as well. actually i play it right now in one place, but with little success.

so, let's say, even nomads should have some base somewhere. if they plunder enough, have troops strong enough, why wouldn't they ravage lowly defended settlements and live of that? the whole point of fortresses is just to not be easy pray for attackers, so nomads could attack all other regions, but not centers, and that looks logical to me. how long someone could ignore them while constantly losing food sources? in slowed down game, few weeks maybe, but not forever.

===

and i sincerely hope tom will not bring back militia limitations. that would leave all realms that have relatively few estates without ability to play game like "many soldiers, stagnant economy". what is actually wrong with stockpiling militia? i like that concept because it is self-limiting - you have natural limits for militia in any region. too much militia everywhere suffocates your economy. isn't it exactly where more active players can make advantage?! they spend more time in monitoring movements of others, and therefore can afford to have less militia, which gives them some economy and growth advantages. is it not self-balancing to some extent?
« Last Edit: January 29, 2016, 12:03:03 AM by stueblahblah »

stueblahblah

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Re: Dynamic war vs. static war ultimately needs sensible balance
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2016, 12:00:48 AM »

The thing with food is, everything is fine until its not. Once hunger starts to happen, or starvation it is a REAL scrabble to salvage anything, particular if you have large units. When we were assaulting large settlements the war ground to a standstill. After every engagement my forces needed RL days to recover their food supplies and have a safety margin of no longer being "hungry". Else when the army next moved and had to fight a large battle we would fall hungry again very quickly.

i believe that will not happen if you attack closest settlements, take them, establish defenses, continue with campaign etc. instead of  making first attack in the middle of enemy territory. no matter how strong and skilled you are, why would it be natural to attack enemy inlands easily?

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Re: Dynamic war vs. static war ultimately needs sensible balance
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2016, 12:15:30 AM »
i believe that will not happen if you attack closest settlements, take them, establish defenses, continue with campaign etc. instead of  making first attack in the middle of enemy territory. no matter how strong and skilled you are, why would it be natural to attack enemy inlands easily?


You believe? I'm telling you what I KNOW, from actually trying. Attacking Grand Fate Settlements required more then 1k of troops to have a chance to breach the walls. Sure you can win, then pour food into the settlement. But see Hunger is an annoying thing, it lingers after the warning has gone away. You keep trying to do that, without significant pause and you will run into issues. There were RL weeks were Hawks did nothing but recover from hunger related issues, just to ensure when we marched against the next stronghold we didn't starve mid battle. Merica, despite being in the lands of their allies had to run around like crazy to avoid starvation, and I believe mostly failed.


Why rely on speculation when there are people right here who actively test this stuff.
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Re: Dynamic war vs. static war ultimately needs sensible balance
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2016, 04:00:45 AM »
You have a point. I am purposefully pushing the limits right now in-game and I feel like I can push them further than I should be able to. I thought the last round of changes to food supply would stop that, but it doesn't. I'm thinking what to do about it, so any help is appreciated.

Yes, logistics should be more important, but it should not be a major hassle. That is a thin line to walk. I can enforce resupply lines, but it would turn the whole game into a nightmare.

What De-Legro says here is correct:


The thing with food is, everything is fine until its not. Once hunger starts to happen, or starvation it is a REAL scrabble to salvage anything, particular if you have large units. When we were assaulting large settlements the war ground to a standstill. After every engagement my forces needed RL days to recover their food supplies and have a safety margin of no longer being "hungry". Else when the army next moved and had to fight a large battle we would fall hungry again very quickly.

The most recent round of food changes came in during the Grand Fate/Hawks/Magvel war and we had perfect timing to get a sense of the impact of the changes during a major war. With the changes, if everything is working smoothly and you have very organized supply lines, you can prevent starvation from becoming a problem. However, that requires a hell of a lot of rota planning - have one set of food carrying camp followers with the moving troops; have a second batch of other characters following on some way behind just with food carrying camp followers and no troops so you can swap them out for the first set once they run out of food; and then have a third set of food carrying camp followers slowly gathering up food in settlements to be swapped out with that second set once they've passed their own followers off.

If Hawks - probably the best military realm in the game - couldn't successfully manage that sort of supply chain, then what hope does everyone else have?

In order to help you with suggestions here on how to improve things, we need a better sense of what was the aim of the round of food changes. Was it to reduce the number of mobile troops an individual character could have with them by increasing the number of food followers they need? Was it to discourage large-scale war over significant distances in favour of small-scale local wars with shorter supply chains? Was it to increase the importance of supply lines simply to introduce more realism?

Mercia, despite being in the lands of their allies had to run around like crazy to avoid starvation, and I believe mostly failed.

Mercia was hit by a double whammy of code changes. The code change that introduced food depletion while at sea came in during the sea passage from the islands to the mainland. When we reached the mainland, the food carrying camp followers we'd brought with us (whose supplies would have lasted for the land phase pre-code change) had already run out of their food because it was used up during the voyage. Then the further changes requiring more camp followers in general to support troops hit us again once we were on the mainland with already exhausted food supplies. Because no-one expected the round of food changes, we didn't have supply lines set up to deal with it, so the army then largely starved because they were trapped in an impossible situation - no food to stay on the land and no food to make the return journey. Even splitting everyone up into smaller groups to increase their chances of feeding off the land didn't stop us from losing about 60% to 80% of the army. Also, once the starvation had set in it didn't really seem to stop even when the number of troops individual characters commanded had been reduced by starvation. So, someone who (e.g.) started off with 80 troops found they didn't stop starving even when they were reduced to 20 or even 15 once starvation had set in. A major buzz kill for everyone involved. As you say, De-Legro, once starvation sets in it's a real scramble to salvage anything.

On a related subject, the looting for food supply action is really awful as a method of resupplying in the field. It seems like it should get better returns than it does. I seem to remember looting a medium-sized village for food and just getting about 4 food from it.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2016, 04:02:46 AM by Foxglove »
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Re: Dynamic war vs. static war ultimately needs sensible balance
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2016, 04:52:59 PM »
I agree that it is too easy for someone to go to war anywhere, then march right from the beach into their city capitol.  BUT starvation and troop limitations are not the answer.
What you are seeing is piss poor planning at a realm level.  You want to prevent people marching right in, then you need to plan.  You need to use the land to your advantage to slow them down.

You need to put watch towers in strategic locations and not just everywhere.
Use bluffs/cliffs/mountains/forests to your advantage.
Put regional strong holds in place instead of building wood walls everywhere.
Don't both with strong militia in every settlement but make strong armies in strategic locations.
Maybe an option that instead of just block travel you can choose to ambush or choose to warn.

What I am getting as is it is up to the player to defend themselves, not the game to defend you.  Find a way, pick a strategy and set it up.  I have not seen much of this anywhere.  Little bits here or there but EVERYONE seems to plan out their troops/armies and ignore their defense.  Even myself.

Recently I have realized how bad an idea it is to have an Inn at most every settlement.  All someone with gold need to is get to one with mercenaries and they have increased their attack army with little travel prep/cost.

These are things that most people have ignored.

Where the game can help us would be with the construction of walls and barriers outside of the settlement.  Earthworks or...something to add more strategy to our defense.

Another option would be for more detailed geography.  For example a message that pops up saying "your scouts spot a road near that would increase your speed x amount" or "the forests are thick and slow your march by X amount"

If we are fed more information on where and why something is happening, it will entice us to march through more open ground, making it easier for block travel to have an effect.

If you have enough scouts they could also report if a noble is setting up a blockade somewhere.  Also we could receive the option to deal with captured scouts, sending them back with a message or executing them.

These fine details are what is missing.  They make it more fun to fight a detailed slower war rather than bum rush where ever we want.

For example lets say I want to attack a settlement, If I have nobles going through the woods they may not make it in time, if I go through the plains I could be blocked by someone.  There is a road through one forest but it is a great ambush site. 

All the sudden I have to think really carefully at a individual character/army level.  That promotes smaller wars at local levels.