Make Cavalry Great Again

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pnoff
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Make Cavalry Great Again

Post by pnoff » Fri Jul 19, 2019 9:41 am

I love the game, but I wish there were more special rules for Cavalry to make it more important outside of the pursuit phase.

With my experience in the game, unless you have access to uber cavalry units, the optimal army composition is to field only infantry (medium/heavy) and ranged skirmishers.

I'm not a game designer or historian, but here is an example of a mechanic I have in mind:

Add ''Far flank'' positions to combat: 2 on each side in open terrain, 1 each side in forest/hills, 0 to mountains. If neither side has cavalry, they remain empty. If both sides have cavalry, fill it with cavalry. If only one side has cavalry, the opposition has to fill it with usual infantry, which suffers severe penalty (say, heavy infantry is slightly better than light cavalry, lighter infantry is most likely screwed, unless you are Caesar at Pharsalus, of course). Maybe let cavalry engage twice per battle and make cav vs cav combat less bloody, so that this mechanic won't decide battle every time, but when one's side cavalry gets destroyed fast, the winner would be able to hit the flank of infantry line.

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Re: Make Cavalry Great Again

Post by IainMcNeil » Fri Jul 19, 2019 9:55 am

Yes that sounds interesting. It might be interesting to play around with some options for battlefield deployment but it would need a lot of testing. Not sure if anyone feels brave enough to try and edit the scripts and play around :)

Deployment
* Front line is filled with medium & heavy infantry. Heavy infantry should be in the middle. Skirmishers deploy behind them in support.
* Cavalry default to deploying on the wings, again with skirmisher support. Heavy cavalry inside light cavalry.
* Any excess skirmisher deploy beyond the cavalry with supporting skirmishers.

Combat
* As now except that normal unit can do a single overlap.
* Cavalry can overlap from 2 tiles away. I don't think you need to worry about the terrain type as the frontage is already restricted so the chance of cavalry being used at all in the front line is minimal in mountains.

This would put cavalry on the wings and give them a bit of a stringer flanking roll than they have now. Which is kind of historical.

Instead of always two attacks maybe give cavalry a bonus attack if they kill their opponent. Basically they get to do an overlap attack on the next unit too, or they get to attack the support unit. Could be a good way to represent effects of cavalry.

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Re: Make Cavalry Great Again

Post by shockk » Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:41 am

Big fan of this idea

Question then would be how to balance cav vs cav so it doesn't become just get the cav with the highest stats. One idea is if heavy cav flank they damage the closest front line unit. Then in the case of light cav if they flank they attack the closest support unit (with the 2nd row units not using any skirmisher bonus to reduce damage taken). Then in the case of light vs heavy cav, maybe make sure the light cav skirmisher bonus to be large enough to have decent chances of surviving vs heavy cav (not sure if med cav exist in the game, but if so have them be better stated light cav with no skirmisher bonus that can hit the 2nd line) This way different types of cav have different uses.

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Re: Make Cavalry Great Again

Post by Geffalrus » Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:53 am

shockk wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:41 am
Big fan of this idea

Question then would be how to balance cav vs cav so it doesn't become just get the cav with the highest stats. One idea is if heavy cav flank they damage the closest front line unit. Then in the case of light cav if they flank they attack the closest support unit (with the 2nd row units not using any skirmisher bonus to reduce damage taken). Then in the case of light vs heavy cav, maybe make sure the light cav skirmisher bonus to be large enough to have decent chances of surviving vs heavy cav (not sure if med cav exist in the game, but if so have them be better stated light cav with no skirmisher bonus that can hit the 2nd line) This way different types of cav have different uses.
Actually, I think this is where the existing Fatigue Margin value for skirmishers would be useful - and - historical in this case. To get the overrun attack, let's call it, the Cavalry needs to win by a certain margin equal to the Fatigue Margin already in place. So for Medium Infantry and foot Skirmishers, that value is pretty low or non-existent, making it easy to do an overrun. But Medium Cavalry have a larger one, and light horse an even larger one in turn. So to overrun vs. those units, you'd need a truly massive margin of victory. Otherwise, the defeated Cavalry unit would "absorb" the Heavy Cavalry attack and prevent the overrun. This would make less-then-heavy cavalry plenty useful as defenders against heavy cavalry overruns.

This would be well in line with their historical use - and - their use in FoG2. And give them some great utility for factions in the game without access to super cavalry.

Maybe alter the Flanker trait (or add a new one) so that it makes it easier for cavalry to flank? Decrease the threshold for overrun perhaps?

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Re: Make Cavalry Great Again

Post by devoncop » Fri Jul 19, 2019 2:23 pm

Excellent suggestions.

Fingers crossed this gets seriously looked at.

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Re: Make Cavalry Great Again

Post by olin0111 » Sun Jul 21, 2019 9:11 am

Great uggestion so far. I'll just add my two cents.

The algorithm of picking up cavalry units to fight in the battle line should be more nuanced.The worst situation I had was with cataphracts. They have Att 6 Def 4 but were placed in the center behind regular infantry (Att 3 Def 3). In the open field battle in which I was the attacker.... They have a Ranged Att 5 so at least they could do some damage in the skirmish phase but were relegated to the supporting role for some reason, which they could not perform as they do not have "support" trait. So my mediocre infantry was getting crushed in the first line while the cataphracts were chilling at the back after firing a few volleys. All my units were at full health BTW so it was not a question of deploying fresh units in order to replace the damaged ones. If the only thing governing which unit gets picked to the first line is "distance to center" variable (provided all the units are healthy) then the process is a bit simplistic and will create situations like these. Looking at the "AEP_UNITS_v3L.csv" file in Data\Database\Empires_DB the distance to center is set to 30 for cataphracts and heavy cavalry while for medium infantry it is set to 10. So my understanding is medium infantry will keep getting picked to the first line until there are no more infantry units left. You will often not see any cavalry fighting unless the battle ends in a draw several times and infantry gets damaged/eliminated. This is especially true in the late game when you see some big armies marching with over 30 infantry units. This needs to change and cavalry should have some spot reserved for it in the first round of battle.
pnoff wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 9:41 am
Add ''Far flank'' positions to combat: 2 on each side in open terrain, 1 each side in forest/hills, 0 to mountains. If neither side has cavalry, they remain empty. If both sides have cavalry, fill it with cavalry. If only one side has cavalry, the opposition has to fill it with usual infantry, which suffers severe penalty (say, heavy infantry is slightly better than light cavalry, lighter infantry is most likely screwed, unless you are Caesar at Pharsalus, of course). Maybe let cavalry engage twice per battle and make cav vs cav combat less bloody, so that this mechanic won't decide battle every time, but when one's side cavalry gets destroyed fast, the winner would be able to hit the flank of infantry line.
shockk wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:41 am
Question then would be how to balance cav vs cav so it doesn't become just get the cav with the highest stats. One idea is if heavy cav flank they damage the closest front line unit. Then in the case of light cav if they flank they attack the closest support unit (with the 2nd row units not using any skirmisher bonus to reduce damage taken). Then in the case of light vs heavy cav, maybe make sure the light cav skirmisher bonus to be large enough to have decent chances of surviving vs heavy cav (not sure if med cav exist in the game, but if so have them be better stated light cav with no skirmisher bonus that can hit the 2nd line) This way different types of cav have different uses.
I really hope these changes get coded in some form in future releases. I really like the idea of separate far flank positions and different types of cavalry hitting different units if they managed to destroy their opposition on the flank.

I belive this would require a lot of work and balancing so maybe as a short term solution it would be good to designate the two furthest fields on each flank to cavalry in plain, steppe or desert battles. The cavalry would be picked for these fields first (the heavier the better). Any infantry occupying these fields would be treated as outflanked and get a -2 or -3 modifier. This change would ensure that you would want to have at least 4 cavalry units in your army when fighting in this terrain and could also create more historically accurate battles. For example, as Rome at the beginning you would not have access to a good cavalry so your army would be set up in a way to not lose on your flanks and break through in the centre with your superior legions. This would also further differentiate battles nicely between those fought in rugged terrain and those fought in open field.

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Re: Make Cavalry Great Again

Post by vakarr » Sun Jul 21, 2019 10:05 am

It's easy to Make Cavalry Great Again - just get rid of all your foreign cavalry and only use the cavalry from your home province, then build lots of walls around that province and use the decision to make the workers work harder and give tax cuts to the rich :D :lol: :lol:

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Re: Make Cavalry Great Again

Post by Geffalrus » Sun Jul 21, 2019 11:21 am

Yes, I do like the sound of having the flank positions on Open terrain (Plains, Stepped, Desert) reserved specifically for cavalry, and any infantry unit occupying these spots should get a substantial penalty to their combat value. I'd find that an acceptable replacement for my suggestion for an overrun mechanic for cavalry units, though I do think Medium Cavalry would still need some looking at in terms of utility.

Also, glad to see I'm not the only one frustrated by Regular Infantry taking priority over more useful and powerful heavy cavalry. Please fix that devs. :D

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Re: Make Cavalry Great Again

Post by olin0111 » Sun Jul 21, 2019 11:51 am

I was also toying with the idea of changing distance to center value for heavy cavalry to be the same as medium infantry. So whoever is stronger hopefully gets picked first. This might be a bandaid solution to the cataphract situation I described. It could also lead to some silly situations where you would see heavy cav being regularly matched against hoplites or phalanx or you would see them fighting in the first line in the mountains. This would also mean that you would burn through cav quickly in battles instead of medium infantry. OTOH cavalry usually did die or run away first in ancient battles so that might be fitting in some way. And if if we think about campaining in the rugged terrain they still consisted the advanced or rear guard and died first I guess. I don't know, as I mentioned this is really a temporary solution that I just thought about until something else comes up. I really like the idea of designated spots for cavalry the best. But that is probably not something that we could tweak on our own. Feel free to prove me wrong :D

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Re: Make Cavalry Great Again

Post by Geffalrus » Sun Jul 21, 2019 12:47 pm

olin0111 wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 11:51 am
I was also toying with the idea of changing distance to center value for heavy cavalry to be the same as medium infantry. So whoever is stronger hopefully gets picked first. This might be a bandaid solution to the cataphract situation I described. It could also lead to some silly situations where you would see heavy cav being regularly matched against hoplites or phalanx or you would see them fighting in the first line in the mountains. This would also mean that you would burn through cav quickly in battles instead of medium infantry. OTOH cavalry usually did die or run away first in ancient battles so that might be fitting in some way. And if if we think about campaining in the rugged terrain they still consisted the advanced or rear guard and died first I guess. I don't know, as I mentioned this is really a temporary solution that I just thought about until something else comes up. I really like the idea of designated spots for cavalry the best. But that is probably not something that we could tweak on our own. Feel free to prove me wrong :D
You're absolutely right that in many, many battles, the cavalry were the first to fight. Even in cases where rough terrain was present, the cavalry was often fighting early on in whatever patch of flat land existed in the area. I'll be very interested to see how the center value change pans out in testing.

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Re: Make Cavalry Great Again

Post by PDiFolco » Sun Jul 21, 2019 2:04 pm

Yep this gave me an idea: add a first"cavalry phase" where both cav fight and inflict damage!
This would give cavalry a "double skirmisher" ability that would suit well.

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Re: Make Cavalry Great Again

Post by kvnrthr » Sun Jul 21, 2019 10:05 pm

I also wonder if there shouldn't be a better role for cavalry on the strategic map. Right now they are just another unit in the battle line rather than something providing a unique flavor. We don't really see the use of cavalry units in raiding, screening, reconaissance, hurting enemy foragers etc.

Just some ideas:

1. Allow armies that exceed enemy movement by some amount to retreat without battle (make a special option to "screen" on the army interface).

2. Armies with far superior concentration of cavalry to the enemy should be able to "see" farther on the map and/or hide the strength of the army they accompany (to represent a dominant cavalry arm winning the recon battle).

3. Armies with far superior concentration of cavalry adjacent to an enemy army could inflict very slight effectiveness hits and provide a very small siege resist, to represent raiding and attacks on supplies/siege equipment.

4. Cavalry (of any faction) adjacent to enemy provinces could raid them. That still leaves peacetime raids as a unique thing for certain factions.

Granted 2 and 3 should only kick in very rarely, at high force ratio of cavalry. But it would let them provide a valuable service even if they are not on the battle line.

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Re: Make Cavalry Great Again

Post by Geffalrus » Mon Jul 22, 2019 12:33 am

kvnrthr wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 10:05 pm
I also wonder if there shouldn't be a better role for cavalry on the strategic map. Right now they are just another unit in the battle line rather than something providing a unique flavor. We don't really see the use of cavalry units in raiding, screening, reconaissance, hurting enemy foragers etc.

Just some ideas:

1. Allow armies that exceed enemy movement by some amount to retreat without battle (make a special option to "screen" on the army interface).

2. Armies with far superior concentration of cavalry to the enemy should be able to "see" farther on the map and/or hide the strength of the army they accompany (to represent a dominant cavalry arm winning the recon battle).

3. Armies with far superior concentration of cavalry adjacent to an enemy army could inflict very slight effectiveness hits and provide a very small siege resist, to represent raiding and attacks on supplies/siege equipment.

4. Cavalry (of any faction) adjacent to enemy provinces could raid them. That still leaves peacetime raids as a unique thing for certain factions.

Granted 2 and 3 should only kick in very rarely, at high force ratio of cavalry. But it would let them provide a valuable service even if they are not on the battle line.
Personally, I've found their - only - advantages to really be on the strategic map. Their high movement rate allows them to easily reach the borders of a large empire from a more central location. I've found that you can utilize this to act as reconnaissance forces along your borders. Normally, you can't see into enemy regions unless you have - a - military unit in a neighboring region. For large empires, cavalry can zip around border regions and keep an eye on enemies for a cheaper cost than putting a skirmisher in each border region. However, I do see there being room for more scouting type bonuses.

And again, for large empires, a force of cavalry and light horse can overwhelm small garrison forces (3+ urban militia) in un-walled regions and be quite the nuisance. Until they get caught, of course.

I think foraging is one thing that cavalry should be excellent at. Maybe each cavalry unit could generate positive supplies while in enemy regions? This alone could make a cavalry component useful to - any - faction.

The siege question is an interesting one. I like how mediums and skirmishers have the besieger/resister dynamic. I think your idea bout cavalry inflicting effectiveness hits - whether under siege or besieging - could be a good idea.

I don't know if certain units are better at raiding for raider factions, but skirmishers, light horse, and cavalry should add the most to one's raiding or raiding protection score. If having cavalry in a region protected from barbarian raids, that would be another great reason for me to recruit cavalry.

All in all, I think cavalry can be great if we give them more unique mechanics within the existing game engine.

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Re: Make Cavalry Great Again

Post by SirGarnet » Mon Jul 22, 2019 4:52 am

Glad to hear ideas for uses of troops on the strategic scale. Adding systems to the abstract battle engine seems complicating to compared with the more direct battle simulation of the tactical module in FOG2 that looks like a battle and seems to me more readily understandable and offering more opportunities to both sides, especially if uneven forces. That said, if both sides could set up their battle positions and play from here, that would combine generalship from both sides.

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Re: Make Cavalry Great Again

Post by MoLAoS » Mon Jul 22, 2019 5:42 am

SirGarnet wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 4:52 am
Glad to hear ideas for uses of troops on the strategic scale. Adding systems to the abstract battle engine seems complicating to compared with the more direct battle simulation of the tactical module in FOG2 that looks like a battle and seems to me more readily understandable and offering more opportunities to both sides, especially if uneven forces. That said, if both sides could set up their battle positions and play from here, that would combine generalship from both sides.
A major issue is FoG2 trivializes battles. Its just too easy to win, even at higher settings. Its also supports a massively cheaper unit comp compared to the FoGE abstract which requires way more heavy and medium infantry which is very expensive. The AI armies appear to be optimized for the FoGE resolution which makes them trash in FoG2.

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Re: Make Cavalry Great Again

Post by kvnrthr » Mon Jul 22, 2019 8:38 am

I find FOG2 resolution really tips the scales in your favor for close battles. The AI is expecting to fight a frontal battle, and doesn't react well to a heavily weighted deployment. One trick I like to use is just make a big column in one flank, march past their lines, and clean them up from there. The AI is too slow to redeploy their troops.

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Re: Make Cavalry Great Again

Post by MoLAoS » Mon Jul 22, 2019 8:58 am

kvnrthr wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 8:38 am
I find FOG2 resolution really tips the scales in your favor for close battles. The AI is expecting to fight a frontal battle, and doesn't react well to a heavily weighted deployment. One trick I like to use is just make a big column in one flank, march past their lines, and clean them up from there. The AI is too slow to redeploy their troops.
The AI can't handle skirmishes at all. Load your guys on one side, and don't move your main line. AI won't move their troops cause they want to sit on their defensive position. Just walk up and melt literally 40% of their army with no retaliation with skirmish troops. No casualty battles using armies that would have lost the battle in FoGE mode. Why have 6 expensive legions in armies when you can have 3 armies with 2 legions and skirmish support? That's how Rome can conquer Italia Superior, Italia Inferior, Cisalpina, Corsica Et Sardinia, and Sicily Et Malta in 20 turns on the first 2-3 difficulties if they have a decent ruler. In comparison with FoGE battle resolution you need to field armies with expensive heavy infantry, and even your Alae and later Italian Foot have scaling costs, so there's no shortcut. I'll typically conquer only Italia Superior, Italia Inferior, and Cisalpina even if I roll a +3mil/+3adm leader with another random positive trait like frugal, charismatic, or architect and 2 generals with +2 attack, and even so you'll lose a Legion or Alae or two somewhere. Meanwhile with FoG2 resolution I never lose a single unit, not even Velites or skirmish cavalry, much less scaling cost line troops and often inflict 10 to 1 casualties. And I'm not even a FoG2 player. I got it the same day as FoGE. Of course like using elite troops in an army its a trade off, real life time vs more efficient game turn time. I think I could straight up win the game by turn 50, if not earlier, using top tier randomly generated ruler and FoG2 battle resolution. In my first campaign past turn 10 I accidentally won on turn 70. I had been unaware of the early win condition. The game is super petty about it. Every turn thereafter it reminded me that: "I had already won but of course I could keep playing if I wanted to".

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Re: Make Cavalry Great Again

Post by vakarr » Mon Jul 22, 2019 9:10 am

It's only easy to win FOG 2 battles if the odds are not too badly against you. For instance, if you have no general and the AI does have a general then you can end up with a army of raw and below average troops versus an army of superior and above average troops. You really need a positional or terrain advantage to win in such a situation - took me three tries to win one game where this happened. You have to take full advantage of the AI's tendency to do nothing for five turns if you don't come close enough. The FOGE battle points system is pretty accurate in terms of predicting a winner. You have to be a good FOG 2 player to be able to make the claims made above. I recently won a battle using FOG2 that FOGE said I would lose - but it ran to 24 turns and I only won because I was the defender (I had a small all cavalry army vs a lot more spearmen and a few cavalry). I have found that if I play a battle the FOG way it causes more casualties to the enemy, but it also causes more casualties to me and I end up getting exactly the same experience.
These are the two example battles where I compared FOG resolution with FOGE resolution
Part 1 https://youtu.be/eG_jApy2z5A
Part 2 https://youtu.be/wwrShBdODkc
One aspect I didn't cover in those videos was the number of units you get. The manual says
"The Empires:FOG2 unit conversion ratio depends on the unit type, because it is points based. This is because the difference in effectiveness between various FOGE units is often significantly greater than the difference between the effectiveness of their FOG2 equivalents, so the more expensive (and more effective) FOGE units will translate to more FOG2 units than the cheaper ones."

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Re: Make Cavalry Great Again

Post by vakarr » Mon Jul 22, 2019 9:24 am

MoLAoS wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 8:58 am

The AI can't handle skirmishes at all... [snip]
FOG 2 is designed around Roman troops and in particular Roman heavy infantry. I would try playing with another army before making any such broad claims. I don't know what setting you have your FOG2 game on, but although the AI does not react until you are within five squares of it, give or take a few squares, it reacts very well to skirmishers and does not let them get away with anything unless you have an advantage in some way or other and you play well. A refused flank attack usually does well against any AI opponent in any game as it can't see the troops you have held back until it is too late but I think it's a long stretch to say that a FOG 2 AI opponent can't defeat skirmishers. I would try upping the difficulty level in FOG 2 if you think it's too easy. I recently did an attack on the flank of a warband army with heavy cavalry, light cavalry, and light infantry and two of the heavy cavalry were fragmented, an elite lancer light cavalry unit was destroyed (surrounded by four warbands after pursuing too far) and while the rest were Ok at the end, the AI did push them back and give them a hard time. On other occasions the enenmy infantry catches my light infantry and routs it. It must also be somewhat related to the composition of the enemy armies and the terrain. The velites are super light troops that are better than any other light infantry and they get even more over powered once they get a good general and some experience - so maybe your opponent armies lack light troops with which to fight off your skirmishers, or maybe there are not enough battles in difficult terrain.
Last edited by vakarr on Mon Jul 22, 2019 9:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Make Cavalry Great Again

Post by MoLAoS » Mon Jul 22, 2019 9:30 am

vakarr wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 9:24 am
MoLAoS wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 8:58 am

The AI can't handle skirmishes at all... [snip]
FOG 2 is designed aroun Roman troops and in particular Roman heavy infantry. I would try playing with another army before making any such broad claims. I don't know what setting you have your FOG2 game on, but although the AI does not react until you are within five squares of it, give or take a few squares, it reacts very well to skirmishers and does not let them get away with anything unless you have an advantage in some way or other and you play well. A refused flank attack usually does well against any AI opponent in any game as it can't see the troops you have held back until it is too late but I think it's a long stretch to say that a FOG 2 AI opponent can't defeat skirmishers. I would try upping the difficulty level in FOG 2 if you think it's too easy. I recently did an attack on the flank of a warband army with heavy cavalry, light cavalry, and light infantry and two of the heavy cavalry were fragmented, an elite lancer light cavalry unit was destroyed (surrounded by four warbands after pursuing too far) and while the rest were Ok at the end, the AI did push them back and give them a hard time. On other occasions the enenmy infantry catches my light infantry and routs it. It must also be somewhat related to the composition of the enemy armies and the terrain. The velites are super light troops that are better than any other light infantry and they get even more over powered once they get a good general and some experience - so maybe your opponent armies lack light troops with which to fight off your skirmishers, or maybe there are not enough battles in difficult terrain.
In the context of FoGE battle imports the AI isn't designed to deal with the army comps from FoGE because the AI builds armies with the FoGE system in mind. So you build with skirmisher superiority in mind. The AI will often end up with 0-2 skirmishers of some kind while have like 20 medium infantry units and 1-4 heavy infantry. It will then literally sit still and do nothing for 24 turns or until you win by rout by focus firing its line infantry with your skirmish troops. Its mostly a symptom of the optimized army comps in FoGE being radically different from FoG2.

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