The 'Missing Units'
One problem with Crimson Fields is the 'missing' units = and I don't just mean all the trucks, tractors and other 'soft skinned' vehicles needed to haul all the guns, ammunition, fuel, spare parts and other supplies for any mechanised force !
I would argue that, no matter how 'alien' the race, they must have encountered the same sort of 'combat challenges' that have faced human armies throughout our history. Whilst they may not develop the same solution, some solution will be found = and that typically means some specific type of combat Unit will be designed (or at least assigned) to address each challenge. Further, some things just naturally 'follow on' from others = for example, if you have tanks (or aircraft), the enemy will develop anti-tank guns (and anti-aircraft guns). Whilst development might be a little 'slow' - or 'politics' might demand that tanks be 'countered' by other tanks (rather than much cheaper anti-tank guns), we know the CF 'aliens' are capable of logical thinking because CF does indeed have AA Tanks and AA Guns - and even 'Interceptor' aircraft that have been specifically designed to combat the other aircraft types !.
So, now we come to the "elephant in the room". Assuming any sort of 'normal development' and 'logical reasoning' on the part of our CF 'aliens', we have to ask, where are the missiles ?
As soon as some sort of primitive explosive is invented, 'firework rockets' become possible. Indeed, on Earth, the ancient Chinese employed 'war rockets' over 2,000 years ago, well before the use of any sort of firearm.
I thus find it inconceivable that any 'alien' race, no matter how 'weird', would fail to develop rockets before self-propelled artillery, rail guns and jet aircraft !!
If they have tanks and aircraft, then they have the technology to build rockets, torpedoes and missiles - and if aircraft can 'fly', so can missiles. Even in the worst possible atmospheric conditions of hurricane force winds and lightening storms (generating massive EMI = electro-magnetic interference), the simple (unguided) rockets / RPG's will continue to "work" (even if their accuracy is degraded), as will 'wire' (i.e. fibre-optic) guided torpedoes and missiles (at least up to a 'line of sight' target)
However, automatic guidance systems are just too useful to be abandoned. So hurricane force winds and crippling levels of EMI will just be a 'challenge' that will be addressed, and without doubt some solutions will be found (even if some sort of 'organic' based guidance system has to be developed = see, for example, Pigeon Guided Missiles and Bat Bombs)
The other (obvious) challenges
Finding the enemy
No matter how good your 'sensors' are, the enemy will work hard to camouflage or disguise his forces, and ultimately the only way to distinguish between 'armed insurgents' and 'goat herders' is to move forward and challenge them.
So some sort of fast moving 'scout' unit is required to 'go in and get shot at' (so it will be armoured, but not too heavily if it's to move fast - and armed, but again not too heavily since it's primary 'defense' is to run away) In CF, the 'Scouts' Unit almost does the job == but their decent 'attack' and range of 1-2 makes them much too valuable to 'throw away' scouting the enemy ! Since the old Scouts have become SPG's, a new Armoured Car (or Light Tank or even an Armed Jeep / Motorcycle) Unit is needed for scouting
Attacking and defending
Once you have located the enemy, most sane commanders would like to kill them without getting their own forces killed first :-)
So we start by using the long range stuff = Strategic Bombers, Cruise Missiles, Long Range Artillery, Rocket launchers .. and to defend against the other sides long-range units, we will use our own long-range units, as well as developing specialist 'counter force' units, such as Interceptors, Anti-aircraft missiles/guns, Anti-tank guns etc. Then, when the enemy gets a bit closer (or we get closer to them), it's time for the SPG (Self-Propelled Guns), short range artillery, mortars, unguided rockets and ground-attack aircraft When closer still it's time for the Tanks, self-propelled anti-tank guns and fixed anti-tank guns. Finally, when the enemy is right on top of us, it's the turn of the tank-traps, mines, barbed wire, anti-tank ditches and trenches (and our own RPG armed Infantry) to come into play.
Reaching the enemy
To reach the enemy we need to develop a means of landing troops from sea or air, fording rivers, repairing bridges etc. etc.
This means we need Landing Craft, Pontoon Bridges, Engineers and so on
Protecting your capital units
Any 'high value' (difficult to make / replace) units will always be 'protected' using lower value units.
Thus (for example) you have to be REALLY STUPID (like the British with 'Force-Z' during WW2) to send in your 'capital' ships without proper support and protection from enemy air (or submarines) attack. CF has 'Aircraft Carriers' protected by 'Gun Boats' !!!! If Aircraft Carriers exist, then so must the rest of the fleet (Destroyers, Cruisers, Battleships)
Recovery and Repair
When your own units are damaged, the faster you can recover and repair them, the faster you can get them back into the front line and the fewer replacements you need.
Recovery and Repair plainly favours the side that ends up in control of the battlefield, so the Germans in WW2 had plenty of practice (and got so good that less than 30% of 'knocked out' tanks were lost) whilst the Allies never seemed to get the hang of it (of course, out-producing the enemy at 11:1 means you can afford to loose at 10:1 and will still end up winning)
The side that decides to send all damaged unit 'back to base' for repair will be the side that looses (when it runs out of combat units first).
My new Units
It's easy enough to define new units (and use them on the existing maps) so long as the 'order' of the units is not changed. So I added new units to the end of the definitions file and CoMET was then used to add the new units to existing maps. The only 'problem' is that (in CoMET) the units are shown in definition order (so you will have to scroll down to find them)
My goal is to at least define enough new units to allow some specific WW2 'scenarios' to be fought - for example, Dieppe Raid, Battle of the Atlantic, Dam Busters, El Alamain, Market Garden, Kursk, Battle of the Bulge etc etc
I modified the source code unit definitions to add a new unit 'type = missile' (see the "Next >>" page). All units of this type not in a 'transporter' auto-destruct at the end of the turn. This lets me define them as type=aircraft (so they ignore terrain 'costs') without the need for the 'target' to have any 'power' against air units. Since a missile only 'lasts' for one turn, you have to 'fly' them in a straight line from 'launcher' (transporter) to target. Their 'speed=' sets the range.
I added artwork for Cruise missile, SAM (long range ground-to-air / air-to-air), AA missile (short range ground-to-air, air-to-air), Rocket and Torpedo. Bombs and Depth-charges are also a type of missile (but type=mine so have to be 'dropped' and can't be moved = see below).
Mines, bombs, demolition charges
The existing 'concrete block' Mine has no attack capability and is too 'universal' (i.e. same for ground and sea). I added an 'attack' value against ships only and used the existing artwork for 'Sea Mine' only with new artwork for a Land Mine. Both mines have speed=0**
Mines have a (very) high 'power=' but armour=1 so Enemmy units that 'move up to' and attack mines will revieve high damage in the 'counter attack' before the mine 'dies'. The 'terrain types allowed' is used to prevent sea mines being used on land (or land-mines being used at sea). **Note that speed=0 means that the unit must be defined as type=mine (otherwise it can't be 'unloaded' from it's transport (see below re: Transport issues))
Rather than give a Mine Sweeper 'sweeper' capability (which lets them pick up and 'steal' enemy mines), a ship with heavy armour (to survive the mines attack) and low attack power (to destroy the mine) could be used
The 'problem' is that such a ship with high armour becomes 'invulnerable' to attack by the enemy, which allows it to be used as a 'bock ship'. However there is a 'trick' you can pull when you realise that the terrain restrictions are independent of the unit type ... Sea Mines have power=ship, so can't attack ground units - however other sea units (ships) DO have an attack value against ground types. So you make the Mine Sweeper a ground type with terrain allowed =water ... and give it normal attack powet against sea/ground and normal armour. This lets it fight other sea unist 'as normnal' but be immune to Sea Mines (which have no power ground). It also makes them invulnerable to torpedoes that are limited to power ship (you could give torpedoes power ground but that means torpedoes can br used to attack ground units on the shore line .. )
I then created a number 'bombs' ('Depth Charge', 'Demolition charge', 'Bomb' and 'Blockbuster') as type 'missile' (so die after first use) all with appropriate attack power values.
Like other missiles, each bomb type has different cost and 'weight'. The 'carrying capacity' of a unit (along with the min and max 'weight' allowed) is used (together with different mine 'weights') to limit what transport unit can carry what type of mine/bomb NB. The standard 'Bomb' is intended for Dive-bombers to use (i.e. against both land and sea tragets), whilst the 'Blockbuster' is for Heavy Bombers to use against land (only) targets. See my WW2 scenarios, later)
Players should note that they must explicitly 'detonate' their bombs and missiles i.e. use them to 'attack' their targets, otherwise they will 'self destruct' without damaging anyone !
Missile and bomb Transport issues
All units set to type=transported have min weight, max weight and translots limits. Together with the weight of a mine/missile this limits what can carry what.
A spreadsheet is the only way to 'keep track' and ensure that, say Infantry, are ,imited to RPG's and can't carry AAmisiles ...
To 'deploy' a mine from it's transport, the Mine must be 'allowed' into the terrain (the 'move cost' is ignored as Mines have a 0 move allowance). Missiles are all set to type=aircraft so ignore terrain limitations and costs
This lets you limit sea mines to water and land mones to plains/roads etc.
Transporters with 'sweeper' capability can 'pick up' mines
To do so, they must have the ability to enter the terrain where the mine is delopyed. A unit of type=missile auto-destructs, we don't have to worry about 'minesweepers' picking them up !
Units can't 'exit' one transporter and 'enter' another on the same move. This prevents mines and missiles being 'swapped' from one transporter to another. When a unit exists a transporter, this ends the transporters move
Note, however, that the missile move is in addition to the transporter move - i.e. you can move the transpoirter (eg aircraft) first and then launch the missile
Submarines and Torpedo Boats
Submarines and Torpedo Boats become 'transporters' for the new torpedo (type=missile) unit and have their power to attack drastically reduced (subs have deck guns = power agianst ship and ground only, whilst boats have 40mm multi-purpose guns = power aginst all)
Modern Submarine torpedoes can be fired from 40-50km away, and are 'homing', however the WW2 type can be assumed to be much shorter range (and as a type of 'missile' will auto-destruct after being fired). This avoids having an actual ship-type torpedo Unit swimming around chasing the enemy :-) NOTE the torpedo is classed as type = aircraft but is restricted to terrai = water / deepwater and only has an attack power against other ship units. If the Mine Sweeper is type ground (so can destroy sea mines without fear of counter-attack) we have a problem ...
The real problem with Submarines is the Players 'God's eye view' i.e. Subs can't 'dive'. To fix this, software code changes are needed.
The 'trick' is to change the unit icon artwork between turns and in game.cpp, at about line 777, units are processed at the 'end of turn' ! To 'dive' a sub, it's artwork icon (pointer) is set to 'transparent'. To surface it's set back to normal sub. However to do this, we need to define a 'transparent' unit icon - and this must be 'fixed' in the units.bmp file (since it's position is going to be hard-coded into the source). I modified units.bmp to add 6 'transparent' icons at pos=0-7 (this will preserve facing). Since this would mean the units definitions file (units.rsc) would have to change anyway, I moved the sub artwork icon to the next 'slot', pos=8-11.
Note that, since units can't 'stack', detecting enemy Submarines is just a matter of noting which hex's you own sea units are 'not allowed to enter' during their movement phase.
Enemy Subs not within 'range' of any of your own units are thus 'undetectable'. Of course, if you do 'spot' an enemy sub. there is nothing to stop you attacking 'as normal'
Since any unit can be a transporter, it's only necessary to set weight limts so smnall tow-trucks can only 'load up' light guns
AA and AT guns
Since the existing slow moving 'AA Guns' behaves more like an AA Missile Battery, I decided to add a real AA/AT Gun - specifically one that can be 'carried' (by it's transporter) and deployed
We need both 'Light' (50mm) and 'Heavy' (88/105mm) guns (the Light gun is needed so it can be deployed with paratroops and 'towed' by jeeps) Most Light towed guns can be 'manhandled' (at least on good ground), so they will get a speed=5 (1 hex on road/track/grass only) The Heavy has no move capability and will be of type=slow (i.e. can't 'unload' from it's transport and fire on the same go). Both types have some minimal armour, appropriate power= ground/air/ship. Light range is 1-2, Heavy range 1-4. I used the existing 'AA gun' artwork is used for the 'AA Missile Battery', which is a transporter with half-a dozen short range missile units (note = you can 'reload' them by returning to a 'shop' where missiles can be found. When you exit the shop you must be carrying the new missiles)
One limitation is that artillery are all speed=0, so have to be defined as type=mine to alow them to the 'picked up' (by a 'sweeper' type transporter) and 'delpoyed' (into their limited terrain= resprictions)
The existing self-propelled Artillery is renamed Heavy SPG (Self-Propelled Guns) and a new towed Heavy Artillery unit is created.
The Heavy SPG represents self-propelled artillery in the 150mm region and gets a 'move and fire' capability, has it's Attack and range reduced (from 2-6 to 2-5) and it's armour increased. The new (towed) Heavy Artillery unit represents guns of 170mm and above, can't move and fire, has better Attack and range (2-7) than Heavy SP Guns but much lower armour. Unlike AA Guns, both Heavy SP Guns and towed Heavy Artillery have no Attack capability against Air units.
Scouts (SPG, Light Tanks, Armoured Cars and Jeeps)
The existing Scout unit is renamed 'Self Propelled Howitzer'. In armoured warfare, the 'scout' function is performed by Light tanks, Armoured cars or even armed jeeps - and all these unit types are 'missing'
The 'AA Tank' is a 'near equivalent' to both AC and Light tank, however I needed more 'light' units for my 'scenarios' (see later). I thus added :- Light Tank = similar to AA Tank, faster, lighter armour/lighter armed (range 1) Armoured Car = similar to Light Tank, even faster, lighter armed and armoured (should have with less cross country capability, but this can only be 'simulated' using the 'allowed terrain' settings since high speed on road=high speed on grass) Armed Jeep = transporter (1 Infantry or 1 light AT Gun), fast on road/track, slow on plains, minimal armour/attack value.
Another missing Unit is the 'Tank Destroyer'
At least 2 types are required, 'Heavy' and 'Light' (Heavy = longer range, higher armour/attack but slower moving) In the basic game, Tanks have no 'ranged attack' ability, so same applies to the Tank Destroyer (It is tempting to give Tanks a range attack capability - the problem is that this would allow them to 'fire over' other units, which we don't want).
Other uses for units of type mine
Steal the Crown !
Since any unit can be set to type 'mine' or type 'sweeper' you can create objects that have to be 'picked up' or 'stolen'. Weight limits can be used to ensure only specific objects can be 'swept' by specific transporters. By using Events, the 'possession' of these 'objects' can be set to part of the victory conditions
See my 'Dieppe Raid', specifically the 'enigma machine parts' (and 'radar technician'), both of which are type mine, and both of which can be 'pciked up' by a 'sweeper' aircraft !
NOTE THAT the AI has no idea of how to handle** units of type 'mine' at all, and will never go and 'pick up' the winning items
**Even in the 'standard' game, whilst the AI may build mines in its factories it will never load them onto Patrol Boats (or other transporters) and ship them off to the front. Even when it starts the game with Mines ready loaded into it's patrol boats etc, I've never seen it deploy them. Finally, I've often seen the AI move a Patrol Boat next to an enemy mine, but instead of 'sweeping' (stealing) the Mine it then proceeds to attack it !!!
No units (not even air unist) can move through other units. This means you can create a 'barrier' unit (of type mine) with no attack power that can be used to 'deny' or 'cover up' access. Setting it's armour to '99' means the only way to eliminate the barrier is to remove it with a 'sweeper'.
This makes 'real' tank-traps possible (and a real Engineering unit can be defined that can both create (deploy) tank-traps and destroy (sweep) them, although this only really works well on a map with no aircraft
An even more clever trick is to create a mine type unit with artwork that 'looks like' a terrain tile to 'cover up' the real terrain.
For example, a 'destroyed bridge' mine unit can be placed onto a Bridge tile and this will prevent other units crossing over (or under) An Engineer unit that repairs the bridge ('sweeps' the destroyed bridge mine unit) reveals the (intact) bridge tile underneath (which can be used 'as normal')
The same trick can be used to 'create' river crossings (pontoon bridges), with limitations
The trick is to use a mine unit with a 'shallowwater' artwork icon. You pre-deploy the pontoon bridge tiles and cover them up with shallow water units. The Pontoon Layer then 'sweeps' the shallowwater mone, revealing the bridge tile that can now be crossed. There are two obvious limitations, both due to the fact that the 'shallow water' mine units can't be 'crossed' by other units, not even aircraft. First, ships can't move 'up river' past the pontoon position, and second, a line of possible Pontooon bridges aross the middle of the battlefield will limit aircraft to such an extent that it effectivly chops the map into two halves :-) Of course, if the river is mainly water then the possible Pontoon (shallow water) positions will be 'obvious' and can be limited to one or two places without too much impact on aircraft movement
Transport units (and unit weight)
The problem is that any 'combat' damage to the 'transport unit' is also applied to the units being carried ! This is 'acceptable' for Transport aircraft and ships, but a real pain when it comes to APC's.
The whole 'reason' for using an APC is to protect the Infantry being carried. To fix this, the APC 'defense' factor in the Units file is adjusted to make it harder to damage Further the speed of the APC is adjusted (currently, it's hardly faster than that of the Infantry being carried).
Note. The 'transported damage' rule still makes it extremely risky to use any sort of transport to evacuate your 'wounded' - units inside on a strength of 1 or 2 will be wiped out if the carrier takes 1 or 2 damage !
Code changes will be needed to fix carriers (APC, transport planes/ships). The obvious change is just to remove the 'carrier damage = unit damage' approach EXCEPT when the carrier is totally destroyed. This then lets us leave the 'vulnerability' of transport aircraft and ships the same.
Of course, even if the carrier is destroyed, on favourable terrain some of the passengers should 'survive' = however things get rather complicated when it comes to transport ships, landing craft and aircraft over water
The 'weight' system is 'too course' = Heavy Tanks (and Artillery) should be many multiple times the weight of Infantry. Also some of the unit 'weights' are rather 'odd' (but easy enough to change :-) ).
I ended up spread-sheeting all units, since each transport type has both a max' and 'min' individual weight (as well as a total it can carry) and these are used to control what types unit can be carried
More 'missing' units
We have Medium and Heavy Tanks, but no Light Tanks or Tank Destroyers. Also missing is towed anti-tank guns. Transport Aircraft carry too few troops, we need a Heavy Lifter, Gliders and Paratroop planes. We have Helicopter Gunships, but no Transport Helicopters. The 'biggie' is Aircraft carriers .. but there are no escorts (Cruisers, Destroyers etc) or Battleships etc. We also need Landing craft, Pontoon Bridges, Pill Boxes and Coastal Artillery. If we are to simulate more 'modern' warfare, then we need a whole set of missiles. Starting with simple 'bombardment' rockets and then anti-tank, air-to-air, ground-to-air and finally cruise missiles etc. (at the very least we need WW2 bombardment rockets, V1 flying bombs and V2 ballistic missiles)
All of the above are easy enough to add to the end of the Units definitions files (Unit and Icon), although some things - like the Pontoon Bridge - will require the use of the Event system to 'deploy' (see later)
Repairing units in the field
The 'return to base' for 'repair' is totally 'counter intuitive'. Whilst MAJOR damage to heavy equipment (such as Tanks etc.) may require them to be 'returned to base', few armies fighting in the field would require ALL it's combat units to 'return home' for 'repair'. Indeed, it's a fact that during WW2, the German 'field repair' units were so effective that (so long as they remained in control of the battle field) up to 2/3rds of their own 'lost' Tanks would be back in action well within 2 weeks (and some were even repaired during the battle and back in action the following day !)
Fortunately, Crimson Fields provides the means to set up a 'mobile repair workshop' (see the 'Aircraft Carrier' unit = it's the 'medic' flag in the Unit Definitions) So there's nothing to stop you creating all sorts of Hospital Ships, Hospital Trains and mobile Workshop units, all of which are 'medic' + 'transport' types.
To 'repair' a unit, it first has to be 'loaded' into the Repair (transport) unit.
So by setting the Repair Unit transport 'max\min' and total 'weight' values you can limit what can be 'loaded' into any mobile Workshop and 'how many' can be repaired at the same time (unlike the current Building types which can be 'entered' by 'any' unit and can thus 'Repair' anything)
Just like in a factory, it 'costs' 5 'crystals' (and one turn) to Repair a unit, however (unlike a factory) Units can't 'generate crystals'.
Of course there's nothing to stop you from loading lots of crystals to the 'repair' Unit before the game starts, however it would be far more 'realistic' if players have to collect and deliver crystals to the workshops during the battle Unfortunately, the AI makes no attempt to move 'crystals', so the AI it's own Repair units will have to start the game with all the crystals they will ever need (which means using the 'Events' system to set up a 'handicap')
This makes it possible to define all sorts of repair workshop Units = they don't even have to be mobile (Dry Dock / Aircraft Hanger / Tank Factory) which can be destroyed by the enemy (unlike 'buildings' which can only be captured) !
Next page :- Adding missiles - (a new unit Type)