Tides of Conquest Punic Wars campaign, singleplayer

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Nijis
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Tides of Conquest Punic Wars campaign, singleplayer

Post by Nijis » Sat May 12, 2018 9:01 pm

So, I hope to put out 0.2 of my campaign tool, Tides of Conquest, along with an instruction manual. Although it's primarily intended for multiplayer, I've also put some work into a singleplayer campaign. I thought I would put up the first few years of a Second Punic War AAR as an example of play. I'm going to play as Carthage in a scenario starting in 220 BC.

If you want to just skip to the AAR, go down to the next post, but here's are a few thoughts on the design. I prefer singleplayer games where the AI is treated just like another player, with no special rules. However these are quite difficult to do in games that have both a strategic and a tactical dimension, as the player can usually beat an AI quite easily and its difficult for the strategic game to throw up enough challenges without "cheating." I quite liked the Pike and Shot: Campaigns system, as it resolve these issues in a realistic way by allowing auto-retreats. Armies usually could retreat from foes they didn't think they could beat. Commanders like Hannibal thus faced a natural video-game difficulty progression: an easy victory or two, and then no battle until their enemies could muster a real Boss Fight of a host.

In the future I might try to work on an SP campaign that takes these issues into account, but in order to keep the singleplayer like the multiplayer I've given special rules for the player army.

In the singleplayer challenge scenarios, you represent the greatest military commander of your generation. Your army is treated differently than others in two separate ways.

STANDARDS: You have assembled a collection of subordinate commanders who understand your intent and doctrine and can implement sophisticated strategies on the battlefield. (Hence your advantage over the AI). However, your strict insistence on competent officers and your preference for merit over birth or faction means that you don't always receive the full political support of your ruling class. Your army also never demobilizes unless it is thoroughly defeated, but it also does not instantly recover. This means that, if you push your troops, you may find yourself fighting against very difficult odds.

REPUTATION: Your enemies fear you. They are reluctant to give battle unless they have superior numbers. The bright side is that they don't campaign aggressively, and are reluctant to pursue unless - so your army never demobilizes unless thoroughly defeated.

Because you're playing as a singe, mortal commander, you have a fixed number of turns to achieve as much as you can for your realm. The game suggests a difficulty level for each battle based on how many losses you have sustained in your last battle and how well your army has recovered. This means that if you play cautiously and take time between battles, you can fight easier battles. However, you may not accomplish as much in your career as you might otherwise do.

Anyway, I'll put up my campaign map and my first battle.

Nijis
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Re: Tides of Conquest Punic Wars campaign, singleplayer

Post by Nijis » Sat May 12, 2018 9:08 pm

So, here's the starting situation for Carthage....
Punic Wars Turn 1 orders.png
Punic Wars Turn 1 orders.png (1.04 MiB) Viewed 2952 times
My task is to take Rome. There are a number of ways to get control of a province, but to simply march in with a big army and conquer it, you need to have a lot of resources accumulated (representing the cost of a long siege) and also have a foothold, at the very least a client state, in an adjacent province. (There are exception when the enemy is suffering a political crisis, but that's not likely to happen in the scope of the game.)

So, looking at the map, the solid red squares are Rome's own provinces. The hollow red squares are Rome's tributaries, allies and client states. Sometimes one power can have influence/allies inside another empire's client states, and that is a much cheaper and easier way to contest control of an area with another player. But, you gain influence in provinces as a result of random events, and that only happens semi-randomly. You need to seize advantage of political developments in your favor.

I could stage a raid into Sicily or Magna Graecia. The presence of my army in an enemy area slightly increases the chances of gaining influence there. But, that would be a risky and expensive strategy. A much safer choice for now would be to intervene in the disputed areas in Spain. If I can drive Rome's allies out of Hispania and Taracon, then I will increase Carthage's income, increase my own progression toward the next random event, and possibly open up a route through Massilia and Cisalpina.

So, I left-click on Africa and choose the army there as my personal army for this campaign. I left-click again to give it an order, and right-click on Hispania. Then I hit "DO AI ORDERS AND PROCESS" to move on to this turn's battles.

Nijis
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Re: Tides of Conquest Punic Wars campaign, singleplayer

Post by Nijis » Sat May 12, 2018 9:25 pm

Here are the battles.
Punic Wars Turn 1 battles.png
Punic Wars Turn 1 battles.png (842.63 KiB) Viewed 2951 times
Rome chose to use its resources to build a second army and attack Epirus. So I have no Roman army to fight in Spain. I still need to fight Rome's Spanish allies, however. Elsewhere in the map, the Ptolemies are raiding Seleucid Syria and the Graeco-Bactrian kingdom has re sent an army to intervene in a factional dispute in the Indus valley. Things are happening in China too, but I'll wait until next turn to show it.

So, the battle will be fought at the default level for singleplayer - level 3. It would go up by 1 for each 15% understrength my army is. (In multiplayer, all battles are between evenly matched armies.) I find that I *usually* win fairly handily at Lvl 3 but occasionally I take Pyrrhic losses or even suffer a defeat. I don't know if this is luck, or if I'm just careless. Because you recover slowly, between 10 to 30 percent per turn depending on where you are, a Pyrrhic victory can throw you off your schedule by a turn or two, and a defeat by several turns. For me, this is the right mix of results for an interesting campaign. Others may prefer harder or easier difficulty levels.

Next up, the battle and the aftermath...

Nijis
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Re: Tides of Conquest Punic Wars campaign, singleplayer

Post by Nijis » Sat May 12, 2018 9:40 pm

Screen_00000014.jpg
Screen_00000014.jpg (979.29 KiB) Viewed 2950 times
Rome's Spanish allies have hit me with a horde of Scutarii and skirmishers. I'm quickly in trouble on my left, but I seized the heights on my center-right with my own medium infantry and his troops obliged me by attacking uphill. My own cavalry break through the end of his line, his right collapses, and the battles is won. His javelineers chew up my units but can't quite deliver the knockout blow and the final score is 11% to 46%. This is a fairly typical Level 3 score for me but sometimes it can get much, much worse.

As a result of the victory, the Roman-allied tribes submit to Carthage's benevolent hegemony, the Roman influence is removed, and Hispania becomes a full Carthaginian ally. Personal armies heal 20% per turn in an ally so I'm back up to full strength. I'd heal at 30% in a province, but if I'd tried to directly conquer Roman or Roman-allied territory, there would be rebels in the province and I'd only heal at 10%. (This also represents stripping units for garrison duty.) So, between the costs of direct conquest and my army's slow recovery, simply carving a path to Rome may not be an option. I'll need to wait for some sort of cracks in its Italian client-state alliance.

Nijis
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Re: Tides of Conquest Punic Wars campaign, singleplayer

Post by Nijis » Sat May 12, 2018 9:58 pm

I won't show the next turn's order-giving, but here are the battles.

I opted to do a second intervention in Spain. We'll get the income, Rome will lose it, and clearing up your disputed provinces also speeds up the pace of gaining new influence elsewhere. I'm scheduled for a random event next turn and because armies increase the chances of random events nearby there's a slight chance that I'll find an ally in Massilia. I could double my chances of getting a backdoor into Italy by shipping my troops to Magna Graecia and staging a raid, but that seems too risky.
Turn 2 battles west.png
Turn 2 battles west.png (1.13 MiB) Viewed 2947 times
Rome also sent an army to intervene in Spain. This means that I'll be fighting Roman troops, which I find harder to defeat than Spanish, and also requires that I suffer no more than a 35% rout level in the battle to gain the aftermath effects, removing Roman influence. I don't find that close victories happen too much in singleplayer at level 3, but it might be more common in multiplayer.

Elsewhere in Mediterranean, the Ptolemies are raiding Tripolitania and Macedon is wreaking much mischief - it's attacking Roman-allied Illyria directly, it's encouraged a migratory horde of Scythians to try to settle in Dacia, and it's Galatian allies are raiding Pontus. The Mauryans have sent an army through the Khyber pass and the Parthians are hammering at the Seleucid frontiers.
Punic Wars turn 2 battle east.png
Punic Wars turn 2 battle east.png (1.14 MiB) Viewed 2947 times

In the east, meanwhile, the cruel regime of the Qin emperor has triggered a revolt in its eastern provinces that has quickly engulfed much of the empire. Territory changes hands extremely quickly in civil wars, and at this rate I would expect the red banners of the Han to displace the black flag of the Qin in a few turns. The Yuezhi and Xiongnu "barbarians" are also harassing the Qin, while in the far north some more nomadic migratory business is going on, but the ripples of that will probably not reach too far.

I'll also try doing an AAR as Liu Bang, founder of the Han dynasty, to showcase the civil war and imperial development rules.

The battle for this turn is against a Roman army in mountainous terrain. This is a boon to me, I think, as the AI does not seem to handle rough terrain as well as it does in the open and I have an advantage in medium infantry. I'll do that next...
Last edited by Nijis on Sat May 12, 2018 10:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Ludendorf
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Re: Tides of Conquest Punic Wars campaign, singleplayer

Post by Ludendorf » Sat May 12, 2018 10:05 pm

Nijis, this looks phenomenal. How did you make this? What program did you use?

Nijis
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Re: Tides of Conquest Punic Wars campaign, singleplayer

Post by Nijis » Sat May 12, 2018 10:11 pm

Thanks! It's my own program (Tides of Conquest) but I used Visual Studio 2017 and Monogame to write it. If anyone wants to tinker with the rules I can send them the source code. I'll just run a few more tests and put the program up for download.

UPDATE: It seems ready. Here's the download link...
http://www.mediafire.com/file/izf7xklaf ... gn_0.2.rar

..and the main thread
http://www.slitherine.com/forum/viewtop ... 77&t=85060

I have written a manual but it's on a computer that's locked me out temporarily. Hopefully I can have that fairly shortly.

Zardoz02
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Re: Tides of Conquest Punic Wars campaign, singleplayer

Post by Zardoz02 » Sun May 13, 2018 2:09 am

Downloading the code to play with it. MonoGame looks really interesting; I'd not heard of that before. Sigh... so many opensource frameworks; so little time... especially if you want to actually play games too.

Thanks!

Nijis
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Re: Tides of Conquest Punic Wars campaign, singleplayer

Post by Nijis » Sun May 13, 2018 3:43 am

Hi Zardoz - what I have uploaded is the built executable. I'd need to email you the source code. Send a DM with your preferred email. I don't know if it will compile without Monogame, though.

The good thing about Monogame is that it is pretty easy to install and they seem quite serious about maintaining it.
Last edited by Nijis on Sun May 13, 2018 3:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

Nijis
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Re: Tides of Conquest Punic Wars campaign, singleplayer

Post by Nijis » Sun May 13, 2018 3:46 am

Here's the battle and the situation at the start of the next turn...
Battle of the Pyrenees.jpg
Battle of the Pyrenees.jpg (868.72 KiB) Viewed 2916 times
So the battle in the mountain passes of the eastern Pyrenees, which I'd hoped would give us some nice defensible terrain, instead offered us a couple of cramped defiles that funnel us right into the Roman maw. It ended up the kind of slugging match that I'd assumed the Romans would win, but our phalanxes survive the first crunch of impact and somehow we prevail, 19% to 47%.

Our victory impresses the Spanish tribes and they throw off any idea of allying with Rome. Again, they are a full Carthaginian ally. Nineteen percent losses means that again, in a client state, we recoup all of our strength. We earned a random event and... it's colonists in Tingitana. Not too helpful in our quest to barge into Italy.

I check what the AI would do for Carthage in this case, which is sometimes a useful way to find out if you've overlooked anything. They let me know that Baetica has built up enough resources to field its own tribal army. Generally these don't like to do much more than raise their neighbors, but sometimes you can offer them a bribe to intervene somewhere on your behalf. So I raise it.

I have to figure out if I'm going to do anything about that Ptolemaic army in Tripolitania. The Tripolitanians, because they are my ally, are bearing the costs of fighting it. But it's adjacent to my capital, which means that it's raiding every trade route that enters. I estimate that it costs me about 10-20 percent of my income.
turn 3 start.png
turn 3 start.png (1.16 MiB) Viewed 2916 times
I have a fair amount of resources saved, but if I'm going to continue to fight my way toward Rome the hard way, I'll need them. I'm going to go ahead and blow my treasury on an expensive Conquer order into Massilia.

Nijis
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Re: Tides of Conquest Punic Wars campaign, singleplayer

Post by Nijis » Wed May 16, 2018 4:48 am

So my naked act of aggression against the Massilians did not go as smoothly as I hoped. They fielded a big, long phalanx. The battlefield was Mediterranean agricultural, a huge stretch of open ground with one flank anchored by the sea and only a patch of rough terrain to break things up, so it was going to be a slugging fest.
Battle of Massilia.jpg
Battle of Massilia.jpg (904.12 KiB) Viewed 2851 times
I put my warbands and hoplites in the open, sent my Spanish into the rough, and sent a group of cavalry and an elephant around the one open flank. The AI's tendency to get its units in each other's way left me with a few opportunities to attack isolated hoplites. But I had a few nasty double-break AI checks, and his heavy infantry held surprisingly well in the rough, so we got into trouble.
In the end, our cavalry succeed on the flank and the battle ended 37 to 60 - a pretty bloody slog for level 3. Had the Romans sent an army, our casualty level of over 35 would have meant that we would not have been able to subdue the province. But without any outside support, the Massilians caved to Carthaginian suzerainty, although the province now has rebels.
We heal only 10% of our strength in a province with rebels, so any battles I fight next turn will be with 73% strength - difficulty level 6. I don't think I can win one of those. If I stay in Massilia, there's a good chance that the Romans will send their Etrurian army to liberate it, and I want to recover, not fight.
Punic wars turn 4 battles.png
Punic wars turn 4 battles.png (1.14 MiB) Viewed 2851 times
So I send my army home to Africa. Because it's a homecoming the cost is zero. Orders are resolved in random order, but the cheapest ones go first, so probably I can slip out of there before any Romans arrive.
However, I don't especially want to lose Massilia either. The only other asset at my disposal are my tribal allies in Baetica. Tribes won't go defend your territory on their own. They're more than happy to raid, though, and there's a good chance they can get to Etruria before the Romans leave and preempt any move. The Baeticans don't have the resources to get that far on their own but I pay them some subsidies.
As the picture shows, everything works out - my army heads back to Africa from Massilia to recover, and the Spanish from Baetica manage to reach Etruria. I have yet to resolve the battles, but the outcome won't affect things all that much. The one cloud is that Rome's Gallic armies in Cisalpina have also raised an army, which can make my life difficult.

hjc
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Re: Tides of Conquest Punic Wars campaign, singleplayer

Post by hjc » Thu Jul 05, 2018 12:18 am

Nijis, somehow I completely missed this thread. You've put a lot of thought into the whole system and it seems to work well. Just a quick question though, I'm trying to get my head around the difficulty levels vs army strength...
Nijis wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 4:48 am
We heal only 10% of our strength in a province with rebels, so any battles I fight next turn will be with 73% strength - difficulty level 6. I don't think I can win one of those. If I stay in Massilia, there's a good chance that the Romans will send their Etrurian army to liberate it, and I want to recover, not fight.
Would 73% strength be at difficulty level 5 instead of 6?
ie. 100% it's difficulty level 3
down to 85% is level 4,
down to 70% is level 5

cheers

Nijis
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Re: Tides of Conquest Punic Wars campaign, singleplayer

Post by Nijis » Thu Jul 05, 2018 2:38 am

Thanks! That was how the difficulty system worked in this version, which was 0.2.

I've somewhat changed around the concept, though, in later versions of the game, the 0.3 singleplayer campaign. In 0.3 the non-player armies can pursue a Fabian strategy to improve the odds, but there's a chance that their defenses will simply collapse without a fight. They do so based on the player's reputation. So, if the player character has won a number of battles, the later battles will likely be harder and harder - but sometimes the player will succeed in taking a province without battles. That yields a more predictable scaling up effect, and I think it feels relatively historical.

hjc
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Re: Tides of Conquest Punic Wars campaign, singleplayer

Post by hjc » Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:35 am

I see, thanks for explaining that.

Good job all around, thanks for sharing your work!

GiveWarAchance
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Re: Tides of Conquest Punic Wars campaign, singleplayer

Post by GiveWarAchance » Sun Aug 26, 2018 7:04 pm

Wow that really takes campaigns to a new level.
Imagine how wonderful that map campaign would be ingame and have long koei style map domination campaigns. Glorious.

Nijis
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Re: Tides of Conquest Punic Wars campaign, singleplayer

Post by Nijis » Fri Aug 31, 2018 11:07 pm

Thanks! Working to add more color to the non-military part of the game now, but that might take a bit.

Just a reminder that there's an ongoing multiplayer campaign for the Age of Belisarius with lots of open positions...
viewtopic.php?f=494&t=85832

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