Napoleonic Battles 4.07, first round

Greetings fellow wargamers! Today we bring you the first introduction to the next round of updates for the Napoleonic Battles series. As has been our habit, we are releasing the 4.07 update for both Campaign Waterloo and the demo, The Final Struggle. The balance of the series will receive their updates in roughly a months time. So pick up your favorite beverage and sit back to read about what we have to offer in this new round.

Note: We suggest that you finish ongoing games before applying these updates.

As we have shown with previous updates we bring a mix of new features, adjustments to existing functionality and resolved problems to the table with each round. A large portion of these changes come from comments from the customer base, but also Dev Team "wish list" items - as we play the games too! And as the code is dug into further and further we sometimes uncover problems that have lingered for years - so we squash those while we are at it. 4.07 is no exception, so without further delay lets explore what is included.

(All images can be clicked for full-sized viewing.) 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

We continue to make refinements to how the AI operates. This is a long term - on going project that we continue to chip away it. With this revision we have made the following changes:

  • Adjustments to AI behavior regarding facing, formation changes, melee decisions and Charge conduct.
  • Adjusted so that the AI will collect units in a hex and fire with them together if suitable.
    This should speed up AI and ADF turns, especially when many skirmishers or squadrons are firing.
  • Adjusted AI Targeting logics so that the unit with the highest fire value is selected within the target hex.
  • Adjustment so that Leaders will seek out a formed unit to stack with when under AI control.
  • Adjustment so that AI targeting priority assigns a lower value to Supply Wagons than combat units.
  • Added Med ADF option for infantry. Medium range is max range / 2 + 1 for both types.
  • Adjusted Minimum range calculation for ADF and trip fire. Min range is fixed at 1 (infantry) and 4 (artillery).

So, if you are a solo player you should see the computer opponent making better decisions and putting up a bit of a better challenge. This has been true in my test games… however we are not saying it is “stellar” either. Just getting better, bit by bit.

Leaders

We received feedback that players felt the points awarded for Leader Loss were too high, so we made some adjustment on multiple levels for this:

  • Adjusted so that Victory points awarded for replacement leaders or second in command leaders are halved.
  • Adjusted so Replacement leaders will not receive multipliers for being killed or captured.
  • Reduced the victory point multiplier for killed leaders to * 1.25 and for captured leaders to * 1.5.

User Interface (UI) adjustments and Information Tools

Personally, one of my favorite changes this round is the “fixing” of the Terrain Info Box in a single place. Now it wont bounce around dependent on the number of units in the hex - regardless if you use the HIA on the side or bottom, like I do in the following screen shots.

Also:

  • Double-clicking on a hex that has all units selected will now de-select all of them.
  • Added Hex Info Display for number of ranks for units in Line formation.
  • Adjustment to Highlight Routed command will now also highlight Disordered units in the alternate color.
  • Adjustment to Highlight Fired command will now also highlight No Ammo/Uncrewed in the alternate color.
  • Adjustment to Highlight Moved command will now highlight Fixed units in the alternate color.
  • Adjustment to Highlight Command range. If multiple leaders are selected this highest ranked leader will be used, not necessarily the first in the list. Also, if no Leaders are selected in a hex but this command is active then the highest rank leaders’ range is displayed.
  • Adjustment to increase the size of the Show Organization dialog box.
  • Added Weapon medium and maximum ranges are now displayed in parameter dialog.

Game Play Adjustments

We continue to also refine the balance between “Game” and realism. Part of that is Line of Sight. What a player can see and when…

  • Adjustment so that LOS will be updated for retreating melee defenders.
  • Adjusted so that routed units enemy detection regarding their move restriction is now LOS based.
  • Fix for Routed units detecting enemy forces while moving, should reveal ‘?’ at 3 hex distances.
  • Fix so that units firing will not be revealed if only spotted by Routed or Supply units.
  • Fix for distance check for enemy units from Routed units, only within a 6 hex radius.

Along these lines we have also gone back and reevaluated changes made in 4.06, refined them and in some cases replaced them. Specifically what I am referring to is how Stacking and Firing is handled by the engine. The root issue is two fold. Large Battalions would have an unfair advantage against smaller battalions, and the original system would allow for gamey tactics of cycling stacks of units in Line formation to the Top in order that each could fire within a turn. Not only would that be impossible to be done and maintain good order, it also put a negative modifier on each unit that moved then fired. It was also only applicable to “Turn” mode and not “Phases”.

We have a 100 meter frontage on a hex, but also a 100 meter depth. So the Stacking Limit for a hex does not equate to how many men should be able to fire out of a hex in a single turn – but rather how many can fit there. The actual number that would be able to bring their weapons to bare and discharge them without hitting some of their own soldiers is much smaller. Hence, our new change:

  • New Firing calculation process to handle firing from a hex with multiple units stacked in it. With all units selected and told to fire the engine will handle the calculations and conduct fire of units automatically within the 2 or 3 rank limit base determined by the PDT file. If a unit is individually selected towards the bottom of the stack and it is blocked an error stating it can not fire will occur. Skirmishers < 1/8 total stacking do not count against the frontage limit. See section 5.3.9 of the updated User Manual for more details.

Not only does this impact what units can fire out of a hex, but also which units can be targeted. So if a unit is Masked (prevented from firing) it can not be fired upon either, unless targeted from the flank or rear.

And further changes that are related to this:

  • If the only unit types are squares and artillery or skirmisher in a hex the artillery and skirmishers are assumed to be deployed in front of the square. The artillery and skirmishers can't fire with adjacent enemy cavalry. Their combat strength is also 0 in a melee versus cavalry. It is assumed the crew and skirmishers would be taking refuge in the square.
  • Added “Front: XX%” display value to the right-click unit info view which indicates the percentage of the 100 meter hex frontage the unit occupies. If a unit shares no part of the frontage it will state “Masked” on the right-click view.
  • Adjusted Pass Through Fire effects. Now casualties are halved for each unit not the original target.
  • Adjusted so that Limbered artillery will not mask units behind them.

Our testing has shown that this new system is a much better solution compared to what was presented in 4.06, but also what was originally in place for years. It moves us towards a more realistic representation of Napoleonic Warfare while also not allowing game induced distortions based on unit sizes.

A further PDT change that has been made to several games in the series, Waterloo being one, is the reduction of the values for what constitutes a unit being “Shortened”. This is based on the number of ranks the unit operates in and the total number of men. So if a unit displays “Shortened” you know it is not able to bring its full fire into effect when deployed in Line without looking any further. But, it also means that it has the ability to go into Extended Line formation – which means it just deploys into an additional hex on one of it's flanks. We have made several alterations pertaining to this formation as well:

  • Adjustment so that units changed into Extended Line must remain within 3 hexes of each other at all times. If combat or rout drives them apart, they can only move closer together.
  • Adjustment so that a unit may not form Extended Line if both existing and destination hexes are in a hard enemy ZOC.
  • Adjustment so that both portions of a unit in Extended Line can form square if they have sufficient strength. Will display Square (E).
  • Fix for Fixed units being able to change to Extended Line.
  • Fix for Extended Line routines in the legacy code.

And then some movement and combat changes:

  • Adjusted so that Crossing frozen streams no longer disorders a unit. Frozen water will have move cost of fields instead of clear.
  • Adjustment so that fatigue accumulation is 2-3 times the loss of men, which result in less variation in assignment. Previous values were 1-3 times.
  • Adjusted so that Routed units fight at 1/3 strength. With their previous 1/2 strength they fought better than a disrupted attacker.
  • Adjustment for melee results defenders are counted as disordered same as attackers if they defend in a hex which would disorder their move.
  • Adjustment so that Movement Threat Disorder check is not triggered if unit is increasing distance to nearest enemy.
  • Adjustment so that Repairing units will not be triggered for opportunity fire.
  • Adjustment so that a unit must contain at least 10 men in order to initiate a melee.
  • Adjustment so that the combined Terrain Fire Modifier is capped at -90%.

That last because in some cases, depending on how a map was built, it was possible to have over a combined -100% modifier – so no hits would ever take place. We felt there should always been at least some chance of casualties happening from ranged fire.

Skirmishers

Several changes have been made regarding Skirmishers:

  • Light, Guard & Pioneer battalions are now able to break down entirely into skirmish companies & recombine later. In the event the “parent” company is eliminated the next closest company receives that designation. Also applies to Cavalry units.
  • Added the “Deploy All” command which will completely break down Light/Guard/Pioneer/Cavalry. Hot key Ctrl+M.
  • The Parent company will have both a "P" designation as well as a facing arrow. This facing only applies to the direction the unit will face once re-combining takes place. Otherwise the unit performs like a regular skirmisher.

Artillery

Some changes relating to artillery:

  • Adjusted so that Artillery can not unlimber within forests or villages unless they have a clear (non-Forest or Village) hex in any direction.
  • Adjusted so that Artillery in forests/villages will not benefit form a defensive hex bonus versus ranged attacks if the attack is directed through a clear hex side.

These changes are to reflect the reality of how artillery would be used. If deployed near trees or a village they would be done on the outskirts so that the crews could work and the caissons would be accessible. 

In the event an artillery piece is deployed in an invalid hex at the beginning of a scenario it will be able to remain there, but once limbered these new restrictions come into effect. Since all the scenarios were created prior to this addition we had to make this allotment - unless we wanted to go in and review several thousand scenarios!

Cavalry

And then several changes relating to Cavalry, or in some cases fixes for problems that existed:

  • Adjusted so that Casualties in a cavalry versus square combat are halved.
  • Adjusted so that Cavalry not capable of firing when mounted will not get the ‘can fire’ melee bonus.
  • Adjustment so that mounted firing is controlled by a hard coded value (1/2 effectiveness) rather than the previous Column Fire penalty by nation.
  • Fix so that Skirmishers can’t initiate melee against mounted Cavalry in obstructed hexes.
  • Fix for skirmishers being allowed to move adjacent to cavalry.
  • Fix for Dragoons not paying a movement point cost when dismounting or remounting.

Keep in mind while reading these changes, it is uncommon for Dragoons to be given the ability to fire while mounted, but we must make adequate provision for it in the engine for when a scenario designer has chosen to give that ability. So don't read this as "All Dragoons can now fire while mounted" - as that's definitely not the case.

Loose ends...

Then some other fixes that have not been covered in other areas:

  • Fix so that Auto Move can trigger a Melee result if circumstances are right.
  • Fix for highlighting bug when using Artillery Dialog.
  • Fix for Defender ‘can fire’ melee bonus calculation.
  • Fix so that isolation should not occur when water is frozen.
  • Fix for Reachable Hexes display calculations.
  • Fix for bug which allowed units to retreat on to a bridge ignoring stacking restrictions.
  • Fix for FOW not being lifted at the completion of a single battle.

And then changes relating to the PDT files:

  • PDT update to reduce Field height to 0. – this has been asked for numerous times over the years, so we have relented and set field height to 0 for Waterloo. While there are references to fields being high at the time of the battle, it would vary by crop type, and also would cease to be the case after units moved through the fields – either for combat, or simply marching.
  • New PDT version possible. If >= 15 then Fatigue scale can be defined by PDT entry. Details documented in the Scenario Editor help file.

And of course the documentation has been updated in the User Manual, Scenario Editor Manual and an expansion has been implemented for the Summary Info document which replaced the General Help File several releases ago.

As always we hope you enjoy these further changes. Here’s some screen shots from various battles to close us out…

This first image is an entire French Division moving at once - Select the Divisional leader, press & hold the Shift key and right-click the destination hex - and the entire command moves as one:

 

Note: Again, we suggest that you finish ongoing games before applying these updates.

You can grab your copy of the Updates from the Napoleonic Battles Support page, or you can download a new copy of the game installer with the updates included and do a fresh install from your Store Account page.

 

Looking forward, we have the updates for the CWB series on the short list for release, a new video for the WDS YouTube channel, and a new article series in the works which will focus on game play and details from the Napoleonic Battles series of games.

Until next time, enjoy!

 

 


18 comments


  • William Haltiwanger

    As one who hasn’t played Waterloo in a while, I’m overwhelmed at what you guys have just done. Happily, overwhelmed at all the excellence of your work. I had no idea anyone could code in the many improvements you have here. So many improvements moving forward to greater common sense realism. WDS is unique in their continued commitment to improving their products long after original release. This very important to this customer and I’m sure many others.


  • Tom W

    Awesome! Thanks especially for the AI changes


  • Rich S.

    As a big fan of company level Waterloo (early start), changing the field elevation to 0 has made a challenging scenario even more challenging. I play because I want to be challenged, so thank you for increasing the playability of this series and when 4.03 hits the CWB also. Well done folks.


  • Henrik Schmidt

    @Eric Iborra: The ‘Gendarmes d’élite’ looked partially different during the Hundred Days. Not all wore the bearskin shako.


  • Alan Sharif

    Fantastic work all around, especially where the AI is concerned. Thanks to all involved.


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