Attacker/Defender Determination Makes No Sense

Field of Glory: Empires is a grand strategy game in which you will have to move in an intricate and living tapestry of nations and tribes, each one with their distinctive culture.
Set in Europe and in the Mediterranean Area during the Classical Age, experience what truly means to manage an Empire.

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Geffalrus
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Attacker/Defender Determination Makes No Sense

Post by Geffalrus » Wed Aug 26, 2020 3:48 pm

Situation:

I attack out of Melitene in Comagene with an Antigonid army of 200 power with a 2-2 general. The Seleucids are in Mygdonia, Osroene with an army of 160 power led by a 2-1 general. By attacking, I am hoping that I will have my general's 2 ability vs. the enemy's 1 ability and take full advantage of the attack strength 7 of my phalanx and elephants vs. the lower defense values of the Seleucid phalanx and elephants. Since I am starting in a hill terrain region, I'm not too worried if I end up defending because of my general's 2 ability on defense, and the +1 to defense for my units for being in hill terrain.

However, I have no idea which one of those will take precedence. The manual is - extremely - unclear in this regard. Yes, if the Seleucids don't move, they'll be defending, but what if they do move? The manual doesn't answer this question.

So what ends up happening is neither. Both armies march.......and MY army ends up on the defensive - in - Mygdonia, Osroene. How???? Makes absolutely no sense. Even if their army somehow marched out and then marched back in, the fact that I'm besieging the walled city of Mygdonia should still make me the Attacker for the field battle. Refusing to put up with such nonsense, I export the battle and clobber the Seleucids in FoG2.

But that doesn't resolve the fact that the Attacker/Defender determination in a game where both armies resolve their moves simultaneously is an absolute mess. Overly complicated, unclear on the surface, and inherently contributing to a lot of frustration because - a lot - rides on whether you're attacking or defending. Elephants rely on being the attacker as that's a 4 point combat power swing during melee resolution. Phalanx units see a 2 point swing. Having just a 2 attack general vs. a 1 defense general is an extra dice roll or a +25 morale POA advantage in FoG2 export. It's a big deal. And giving the player such little control over it - and - so little information on why the determination came out the way it did is not good. Yes, I'm sure some very experienced players have figured out how to game it perfectly. And yes, having a massive economy powering a massive army trumps attack/defense considerations. But that's covering up the design issue, not solving it.

If you're going to stick with a design where armies move simultaneously, then you need a system that works with that mechanic. Attack and Defense bonuses work in Total War or Civilization games because movement is not simultaneous.

Solution:

Instead of Attack/Defense for generals and units, give each general an Initiative score, give all generals leadership scores for each terrain type, and give all units terrain combat values. Completely remove the artificial AttackDefense designation for units. Initiative determines who has higher movement priority when two armies try to move into each other's regions. Which is important when you're considering the terrain that will determine how effective your units are in battle. That way you just remove the whole attack/defense layer that complicates things. General Initiative resolves movement conflicts, and terrain values for generals and units determines how effective they are in different regions. Bam - much, much simpler. Nothing changes for export, because you still have General ability (based on terrain) and experience and all the other things determining relative unit morale. And you're more likely to have interesting generals who might have - some - usefulness in some types of terrain, as opposed to the glut of 0-0 boring generals you currently find in the game. Everything gets better.

Geffalrus
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Re: Attacker/Defender Determination Makes No Sense

Post by Geffalrus » Wed Aug 26, 2020 4:39 pm

As far as naval warfare is concerned:

General Initiative determines the sea region combat takes place in. The general with higher Initiative will be the Attacker, and the other the Defender. In addition to the other terrain types, all generals will have values for Sea Attack and Sea Defend. Similarly, all naval units will keep their Sea Attack and Sea Defend designation. Because naval warfare currently involves far fewer terrain variables than land combat, Attack/Defense still works pretty well. The only change is the addition of Initiative to help resolve - who - is the attacker, because it is that confusion that causes frustration for the player.

Gray Fox
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Re: Attacker/Defender Determination Makes No Sense

Post by Gray Fox » Wed Aug 26, 2020 6:52 pm

From the manual, section 10.7. Combat and battles,

"In Field of Glory: Empires there are two ways to resolve battles. One is
to resolve the combat using the routine embedded in this game. The
alternative is to export the battle to Field of Glory2 and resolve it that
way (11.2).
The discussion in this section only applies to battles being resolved
using Field of Glory: Empires.
Combat happens automatically when 2 or more enemy factions are
in the same region, except if the enemy units are inside the city. In this
case a battle will only happen if the besiegers order an assault (10.9.1).
Only one battle can occur per region in a given impulse. If there are
more than 2 enemy factions (and their allies), only 2 sides will fight in
this impulse with these picked at random. The largest faction tends to
be picked first, but this is subject to a random roll.
Each faction can be assisted by one ally, so it is a possible that
4 factions will take part in a 2 vs 2 battle. The ally will be the most
numerous in the region (in case there is more than one).
Battles are treated as a form of movement and thus are resolved in
the inter-turn phase when all movement orders are carried out. Each
field battle has to end with the destruction or retreat of one side but
may be spread over multiple rounds to achieve this."


"Only one battle can occur per region in a given impulse."

Your army had two target choices, the enemy's city or the army. With your army left-clicked, you can left-click the enemy stack and your force moves where it is and attacks it. Instead of this, you chose to lay siege, perhaps unaware of the choice you elected. Since you did not immediately assault, you were not the attacker. The enemy army "moved" and attacked you, as the defender.

"One cannot maintain a siege with the enemy behind"
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Surt
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Re: Attacker/Defender Determination Makes No Sense

Post by Surt » Wed Aug 26, 2020 8:03 pm

Further in a previous answer Pocus said that it will take some implulses after an army arrives before it becomes the defender.

Pocus
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Re: Attacker/Defender Determination Makes No Sense

Post by Pocus » Thu Aug 27, 2020 9:45 am

Yes, 4 impulses, to be considered settled in as defender.
AGEOD Team - Makers of Empires, ACW2, WON, EAW, PON, AJE, RUS, ROP, WIA.

Geffalrus
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Re: Attacker/Defender Determination Makes No Sense

Post by Geffalrus » Thu Aug 27, 2020 3:47 pm

What? That still makes no sense. How can I move into an enemy territory and be considered the defender while the army that started it's turn there is considered the attacker?

This is why having a system of behind the scenes "impulses" and random rolls is not intuitive for players and makes things more confusing than they need to be. And it's also why a system predicated on the attacker/defender distinction runs into trouble when you use a simultaneous movement system. Total War games work because it's easy to understand who is the attacker and who is the defender. Civilization games work because it is obvious who is attacking and who is defending. There's no confusion.

Understanding who will be attacker vs. defender by reading the equivalent of a tax document to find which hidden variable takes precedence is........not the best. A straightforward initiative system where generals have known scores and thus some level of predictability would be advantageous in terms of player usability.

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Re: Attacker/Defender Determination Makes No Sense

Post by Gray Fox » Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:50 pm

If you move an army into a region with a walled city, then you lay siege to the city. This is what you described.

If an enemy army moves into the region, then you are the defender and the enemy is attempting to lift the siege. Can we agree on that?

The enemy army was already there. You ignored it by not ordering your force to attack it directly.

So the enemy army attempted to lift the siege by attacking you.

I showed that this is RW strategy.
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Geffalrus
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Re: Attacker/Defender Determination Makes No Sense

Post by Geffalrus » Fri Aug 28, 2020 10:04 pm

Gray Fox wrote:
Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:50 pm
If you move an army into a region with a walled city, then you lay siege to the city. This is what you described.

If an enemy army moves into the region, then you are the defender and the enemy is attempting to lift the siege. Can we agree on that?

The enemy army was already there. You ignored it by not ordering your force to attack it directly.

So the enemy army attempted to lift the siege by attacking you.

I showed that this is RW strategy.
I don't care if it makes sense to you. It makes no sense to me and I think there are better ways to handle the dynamic. You're creating an imaginary series of events that are not explained by the game when it happens, are based around answers hidden deep within the manual, and require a lot of cross references of various rules for the average player to even begin grasping why the obvious attacker/defender dichotomy is not happening as intended. That's not good design. The developer can either agree or disagree, and change it or keep it. I'll play the game regardless. The developer has listened to my suggestions before, so I spoke up. That's it.

Gray Fox
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Re: Attacker/Defender Determination Makes No Sense

Post by Gray Fox » Sat Aug 29, 2020 1:44 pm

The reason I posted is that I had this happen to me months ago. The program isn't random chance. I figured out what happened and learned from it. I was trying to help you understand.

Have a great life!
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Pocus
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Re: Attacker/Defender Determination Makes No Sense

Post by Pocus » Fri Sep 04, 2020 9:26 am

Geffalrus wrote:
Thu Aug 27, 2020 3:47 pm
What? That still makes no sense. How can I move into an enemy territory and be considered the defender while the army that started it's turn there is considered the attacker?

This is why having a system of behind the scenes "impulses" and random rolls is not intuitive for players and makes things more confusing than they need to be. And it's also why a system predicated on the attacker/defender distinction runs into trouble when you use a simultaneous movement system. Total War games work because it's easy to understand who is the attacker and who is the defender. Civilization games work because it is obvious who is attacking and who is defending. There's no confusion.

Understanding who will be attacker vs. defender by reading the equivalent of a tax document to find which hidden variable takes precedence is........not the best. A straightforward initiative system where generals have known scores and thus some level of predictability would be advantageous in terms of player usability.
If the enemy started his turn in the region, then chances are big that he will be the defender. Provided he did not arrive at the last impulse of the previous turn and you don't manage to arrive before impulse 4 of the next turn. Otherwise we are within the limits of 'nobody is settled in the region' and the most numerous is the defender.

You have to consider that the 12 impulses of a turn are continuous with the 12 impulses of the next turn. So somebody arriving at impulse 11th of turn N-1 will be settled in, as the defender starting at impulse 3 of turn N+1. I don't get why this is so weird to imagine, regions can be 100 km or more wide. Why would you, the instant you arrive, be considered in control of it, with patrols everywhere and a camp set up properly?
AGEOD Team - Makers of Empires, ACW2, WON, EAW, PON, AJE, RUS, ROP, WIA.

Geffalrus
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Re: Attacker/Defender Determination Makes No Sense

Post by Geffalrus » Sun Sep 13, 2020 9:07 pm

Pocus wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 9:26 am

If the enemy started his turn in the region, then chances are big that he will be the defender. Provided he did not arrive at the last impulse of the previous turn and you don't manage to arrive before impulse 4 of the next turn. Otherwise we are within the limits of 'nobody is settled in the region' and the most numerous is the defender.

You have to consider that the 12 impulses of a turn are continuous with the 12 impulses of the next turn. So somebody arriving at impulse 11th of turn N-1 will be settled in, as the defender starting at impulse 3 of turn N+1. I don't get why this is so weird to imagine, regions can be 100 km or more wide. Why would you, the instant you arrive, be considered in control of it, with patrols everywhere and a camp set up properly?
Still just does not make a bit of sense. I have an army in the Indus region of Indus Superior province. General dies between turns, I give them a new one. He is a 2-0, so I absolutely need to be on the attack. The Mauryans in the province to the south of me have a bigger army (24 to my 21 units) with a slightly better general: 2-1 with a 1/1 bonus in plains. Both armies have move speed 4, and it costs 2 to move into either region. I click move into region, turn processes, my army doesn't move a single inch, and the Mauryans waltz into my region and attack my army. I reload, select attack move on the enemy army, turn processes, my army doesn't move a single inch, and the Mauryans waltz into my region and I'm again on the defensive.

Why do they get to move and I don't? Other than the obvious "it benefits the AI in this case due to how the generals are arranged." Every single time something unexpected happens in this game in terms of Attack-Defense determination, it's always to the benefit of the AI. And there isn't anything I can do to affect the outcome of who gets attack vs. defense. Click this, click that - doesn't matter. It's a confusing and unpredictable system hiding behind what should be a very straightforward interface. The game gives you - no - in game indication of who will get attacker or defender. You have to make a guess based on arcane rules. There has to be a better system. With battles so, so dependent on who is attacker vs. defender, you really need to have it more understandable. If generals have a listed Initiative Value, then that's information you can work with. If generals lose the attacker/defender mechanic and instead focus on bonuses in terrain types, then that decreases the extent to which you absolutely need to move first. Some, yes, but much less. You could plan better.

As is, it's just frustrating.

DSP3000
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Re: Attacker/Defender Determination Makes No Sense

Post by DSP3000 » Sun Sep 13, 2020 9:54 pm

I’m a pretty new player but one thing I learned early is that army speed is very important and you don’t need to win every battle. I usually keep 5-6 full armies in the field but only 2-3 have infantry and only on my main attacking armies. Everything else are are cavalry or small auxiliary units to keep the frontlines intact and react to immediate threats.

Yes I often have an enemy army punch through and win a couple of impossible battles but it doesn’t matter if they penetrate because that army will be starving in 1-2 years and easy picking for a cavalry charge. The AI does this constantly and its easy to exploit.

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Re: Attacker/Defender Determination Makes No Sense

Post by TimDee58 » Mon Sep 14, 2020 2:49 am

There's a possible solution to your problem here (well, if you exporting battles it should help) viewtopic.php?f=492&t=96777

Pocus
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Re: Attacker/Defender Determination Makes No Sense

Post by Pocus » Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:17 am

You are mistaking two things Geffalrus, what you are experimenting has nothing to do with attacker-defender determination, but is a rule about who is pushing the other, when 2 armies are on collision course. Because the code (and me) does not want armies to move past each other. Usually the bigger will block the movement of the less numerous army and advance in the region of the smaller army. And so you are the defender, working as designed.

It would be very easy, even for a player without modding experience to either remove this rule, if you want armies to swap places or introduce a chance they do. Right now, systematically, two armies moving in each other region will trigger this rule.
AGEOD Team - Makers of Empires, ACW2, WON, EAW, PON, AJE, RUS, ROP, WIA.

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