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a year ago Jul 25,2023, 14:04:41 PM

Naval Combat Preview

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For the second day of Endless Summer 2023, we’re looking at Humankind and taking it to the high seas as we dive into what the naval update will bring to the game. 


While the focus of this update is on maritime gameplay, many of the changes to make control of the oceans more rewarding will also impact the land-locked parts of your empire. We are expanding the resource system to make access to resources more granular and are rebalancing luxury resources in the process. We’re also reworking the trade system to make it clearer, with fewer but more valuable and more vulnerable international trade routes, opening lucrative opportunities to disrupt your enemies’ trade through ransacking or other means.

But we will discuss those changes in the coming weeks. Today, we want to talk to you about naval combat. 


Something's off here...


Naval Unit Rebalance: Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

Many of you let us know that you found naval units too slow and weak compared to land units, especially once gunpowder entered the picture. 

In the next update, we’re rebalancing the abilities and costs of naval units pretty much across the board. Most naval combat units (as well as air units for proper carrier support) will see increases to their movement speed, attack range, or combat strength. Late game capital ships in particular will deliver devastating blows to land units if they get a chance to fire on them. 

 

Larger Battlefields: From Boarding to Bombardment 

With faster speeds and longer ranges, the combat areas were starting to feel a bit cramped. We increased the size of naval battles to let you take full advantage of the new-found mobility and firepower of your navies, and stretched the deployment zones to the edges of the battlefield to begin every battle in the most favorable position. Finally, these battles will not feature a flag to capture, as a supply camp made little sense on the open seas. That does not mean all battles end in complete destruction, though, as in the second turn of a battle you may be able to call a retreat and fall back to the edges of the battlefield if you have taken heavy losses. 

 

Ranged Retaliation: Early Modern Warfare 

Faster movement, longer ranges, greater firepower... Won’t this just amplify the first move advantage in combat many of you have pointed out? You might think so, but your enemy will be shooting back now! The attacker may still have the advantage of being the first to concentrate their firepower, but they’ll take a chunk of damage in return. 

 

New Classes and Abilities: Top of the Line 

While all the changes mentioned above will help to set naval battles apart from land battles, they are merely the bones of the naval combat changes. The meat and flavor are in the changes and additions to the mid and late game naval units. 

Starting in the Early Modern age, you will have access to two classes of ships, Capital Ships and Escorts. Not only are capital ships armed heavily enough to support your sieges by destroying walls, their sheer bulk means they take less damage from attacks! Most of them also have the Ship of the Line ability that gives them even higher combat strength when they’re next to two other allied units, encouraging you to form a battleline and meet your enemies with a withering hail of cannon fire. 

Capital ships are, however, quite expensive. This is where the escorts come in: Cheap and fast, they are an excellent option for patrolling your trade routes so you can bring the might of your capital ships to bear where it is most needed, and to further support these behemoths in battle. With the advent of torpedo warfare, they will also help to screen your capital ships against attacks, while serving as a spotter for their massive guns on the side.


David versus Goliath


A Note on Land Battles 

We know that some of these changes to naval battles would also be interesting improvements for land battles, and that a good part of our players would welcome them, so we want to be upfront with you: We may not be able to add ranged retaliation or retreat to land battles, as both features face additional technical and design challenges in land battles. However, the expanded deployment zones are shared between sea and land battles, and air squadrons stationed within the battlefield can be used during the battle for both. 

 


That’s all for today but join us next week for a closer look at some of the economic changes. 


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a year ago
Jul 25, 2023, 5:28:42 PM

That's great (but I hope to see in the future a way to retreat my land units too)

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a year ago
Jul 25, 2023, 5:43:13 PM

Curious to see how the improved resources system works.


Also, does an increased deployment zone increase the area size from which reinforcements are pulled? The area is already huge and quickly becomes problematic even with roads, let alone railroads, where several armies can all suddenly appear in a battle far away, making determining AI strength nearly impossible while making it far too easy on the player.

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a year ago
Jul 25, 2023, 6:04:19 PM

I'm also really concerned about the increased deployment zones. It already often feels devastating when because of some unite a city far enough from a battle gets unavailable for any production because of the battle - so now, because of these battles, we can expect even more cities to be "blocked"?

Updated a year ago.
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a year ago
Jul 25, 2023, 6:18:16 PM
The-Cat-o-Nine-Tales wrote:
air squadrons stationed within the battlefield can be used during the battle

Finally.

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a year ago
Jul 25, 2023, 6:59:22 PM

I'm just a little afraid about battle size. Maybe it will make battles more fun, but we already have in game problem with huge battles that could just freeze production in few cities.
Specially in the endgame, where cities are everywhere and battles could just last for years and sprawl across continents. This could be an big issue, as we will probably don't see a fix in next patch for these cities sprawl problem.

Ship classes now seam to be made for making a small ships to control area, and big for secure this control, and this sound really great, but what about battles? Classes, as I see it now, will be only an improvement on strategic level. On tactic level it seems as we will get only two lines of ships shooting on plain see with only advantage would be to have a bigger and more guns, maybe with a little twist in the endgame. I would probably don't see a problem with that (even opposite, as too much complication could be just annoying), my concern that comes mostly from....


It's a part about sea battles and nothing about sea terrain, sea fortification, and it influences on battle? Terrain was always a big and great part of battles in Humankind. Creating cities we think not only about production, ascetics, but also about good defense. Planing where to attack or defense in land had also a lot of meaning. In sea battles it was mostly blank, I was greatly hoping for it to change. More sea buildings, terrains and so on ( Maybe additional sea levels, for example shallow water that could be a obstacle for biggest late game ships. "Big/Wide river" that could be crosed by smaller ships or be a semi coastal tile with additional bonuses for land around. Canals, bridges, under sea pipes, under sea tunnels, sea forts/defenses/mines. Some weather that could impact battle, expended sea terrain that would make battle Terran more unique)

Now we got:
- Icebergs – boring, I'm not even sure in this moment if they vanish in more polluted world.
- Fog – seems interesting but after 250+ hours in that game I remember them more from map editor than from any big impact in game itself. On player made maps sometimes they are putted in appealing way to cover some strategic passages or continents, possibly when ships will move around that would have more meaning at least in strategic layer.
- Turbulent Waters – same as above, in big sea terrain where most units shoots, scare modification like this changes mostly nothing.
- Reefs – there are only interesting things on sea that I saw that could have an impact on both battles and strategic level. As they could spawn in costal water choke points and block a way, specially for early game units, but also sometimes delay late game fleet.
- Ports – spawn point for ships and give stuff for cities, can be plundered. No meaning in battles.
- Resources extractors – they could be plundered. No meaning in battles.

Stilllll got a hope that you only wait for a next topic to show us that it will be something around that (and for sea events!)
In sea battles, land in humankind was always more meaningful than sea, and map generator often even in that topic don't give us many interesting things.


" We may not be able to add ranged retaliation or retreat to land battles, " Retaliation don't bother me, but no retreat hurts :(

Still, I'm very happy that the game is still improved, and presented changes would be happily welcomed by me, at least i hope for it, as we need to try them first. 

Updated a year ago.
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a year ago
Jul 25, 2023, 8:10:03 PM

This sounds great! What's the timetable for release? The post mentioned that stuff is coming in the "weeks" ahead, so I assume it's not imminent.

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a year ago
Jul 26, 2023, 8:01:55 AM

Thanks, that looks like a prett neat update. I look forward to seeing what changes are coming to resources and the economy.


I had three brief clarifications and a few suggestions. On the former:

  1. When you wrote "the expanded deployment zones are shared between sea and land battles", did you mean that land battles will benefit from increased deployment zones, independent of sea battles? The way it was formulated could be interpreted to mean that it's only relevant for battles initiated or involving sea elements.
  2. Same topic, and on the back of what several other forum members have asked, what exactly increases for land battles? Only the deployment zones, or also the size of the battlefield itself?
  3. How will fog of war in sea battles work if they are much larger and movement ranges are bigger? Aren't we then just stabbing in the dark trying to find the enemy? Maybe that's exactly the point, in trying to create a different dynamic and simulating this cat and mouse feel of sea battles sometimes. But could be useful to get more context on how that might work in practice.


Now, on to suggestions. It's a shame that ranged retaliation and retreat likely won't be an option. Someone (maybe on the steam forums?) said that mods already do it. Maybe that's one to look into but I note that the issues cited weren't solely technical but also conceptual. Would be interesting to understand more of the potential unintended consequences the devs are anticipating and maybe collectively we can find a solution.


In the meantime, maybe a few stop gaps:

  1. If ranged retaliation isn't possible, maybe all/some of the defender's units could get a special status on the first turn that increases their combat strength in defense. Could be similar to the "dug in" unit status and you could make a thematic case that the defenders had time to find a suitable defensible position and fortify it. That could lead to an interesting dynamic in that the attacked gets first shots, the opportunity to focus fire and pick off some units. But the defender gets a bonus and can make every encounter hit a bit harder. The wider deployment zones should also help to find more favourable positions to shelter, i.e. use that high ground, those forests etc.
  2. Regarding retreats, maybe the number of strategic turns for battles could be reduced a bit across the board? The VIP mod increased the number of units necessary to make battles last 2, 3, 4 turns. That's maybe a simply-ish avenue. An incomplete battle only happened to me once or twice - so I might get this wrong - but that was effectively an opportunity to retreat. I think what I got was a prompt similar to the initial battle whether I want to engage or retreat. There might need to be different rules for special battles like sieges where there are other implications of it being a new battle, e.g. new city militia spawning. But it seems like manageable problems.
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a year ago
Jul 26, 2023, 12:52:49 PM

I really like the sound of this. A few steps in the right direction.


But as I've mentioned before - ships don't make sense without bases (ports). You can't just have a classical era ship sail around the world by sticking to the coast - in the game you can, but not real life. Those ships weren't sturdy enough.

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a year ago
Jul 26, 2023, 1:05:21 PM
Truth wrote:

Curious to see how the improved resources system works.


Also, does an increased deployment zone increase the area size from which reinforcements are pulled? The area is already huge and quickly becomes problematic even with roads, let alone railroads, where several armies can all suddenly appear in a battle far away, making determining AI strength nearly impossible while making it far too easy on the player.


Okay, let me break it down in individual points, and hopefully it will be clearer
  • For all battles, deployment zones will be larger than in the current version, covering almost your entire half of the battlefield rather than just the six to ten hexes near the center. This'll give you more flexibility to take advantage of terrain, and both sides will bring most of their reinforcements into battle during deployment (the previous system, in my opinion, gave an advantage to the attacker as they could position their reinforcement army to be instantly deployable, and even if not they had the first turn to pull them in.)
  • Naval battles will have a larger battlefield, but land battles should stay at the same or similar size as before
  • Naval battlefields will not extend onto land tiles even if transport ships have been researched, so purely naval battles should never freeze your city production
  • However, land battles can extend into water tiles once transport ships are available, and thus pull naval units into the battle



Fallus_Grimus wrote:
Ship classes now seam to be made for making a small ships to control area, and big for secure this control, and this sound really great, but what about battles? Classes, as I see it now, will be only an improvement on strategic level. On tactic level it seems as we will get only two lines of ships shooting on plain see with only advantage would be to have a bigger and more guns, maybe with a little twist in the endgame. I would probably don't see a problem with that (even opposite, as too much complication could be just annoying), my concern that comes mostly from....

Capital ships have very high CS, damage reduction, and most of them have the Ship of the Line ability shown in the screenshot that gives bonuses when next to exactly 2 allied units. But they don't have the speed of escort vessels, nor do they have good vision range, and later on their guns will outrange their vision.

Escorts are a bit lower CS (though still far stronger than equivalent land units), and later provide screening against torpedo vessels as well as Anti-Air power, as well as having the long vision range to keep an eye on the enemy.

Torpedo vessels are the weakest and cheapest of the classes, but they will receive a massive CS bonus when fighting Capital Ships. They might not be able to fight them one-on-one, but thanks to the much lower cost and faster speed, outnumbering your lumbering opponents should be viable if they are not support.

And of course, without escort ships, your capital ships might be vulenrable to air strikes. Planes across the board have been rebalanced to still be useful against the now stronger navies, and more deadly against ground units.



Fallus_Grimus wrote:
It's a part about sea battles and nothing about sea terrain

The existing terrain you mention does have some bonuses and penalties during sea battles (e.g. fog giving a defensive bonus), but as far as I recall those are not new.



Grotius wrote:

This sounds great! What's the timetable for release? The post mentioned that stuff is coming in the "weeks" ahead, so I assume it's not imminent.

As excited as we are about these improvements (and so seem some of you), I'm afraid this update won't be ready to release for the anniversary, but as you rightly guessed, it is not that far off.



Shadowhal wrote:
  • When you wrote "the expanded deployment zones are shared between sea and land battles", did you mean that land battles will benefit from increased deployment zones, independent of sea battles? The way it was formulated could be interpreted to mean that it's only relevant for battles initiated or involving sea elements.
  • Same topic, and on the back of what several other forum members have asked, what exactly increases for land battles? Only the deployment zones, or also the size of the battlefield itself?
  • How will fog of war in sea battles work if they are much larger and movement ranges are bigger? Aren't we then just stabbing in the dark trying to find the enemy? Maybe that's exactly the point, in trying to create a different dynamic and simulating this cat and mouse feel of sea battles sometimes. But could be useful to get more context on how that might work in practice.

Yes, all land battles now have the larger deplyoment zones, regardless of the involvement of naval units. Their overall size remains unchanged, though.

As for the fog of war, this is one area where the escort ships come in: While capital ships still only have a short vision range (shorter than either their firing or movement range, if I recall correctly), escort ships have a much higher vision range now. Up to 8 tiles in the contemporary era, I think.



Shadowhal wrote:
If ranged retaliation isn't possible, maybe all/some of the defender's units could get a special status on the first turn that increases their combat strength in defense. Could be similar to the "dug in" unit status and you could make a thematic case that the defenders had time to find a suitable defensible position and fortify it.

As far as I recall, once you unlock the Dig In ability on the tech tree, your gunner units are supposed to start the battle witht e dug in status. If they don't, we may need to look into that.

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a year ago
Jul 26, 2023, 2:18:37 PM

These are fantastic changes!


i see you mentioned that air units received a rebalance too for use with carriers. I haven’t got to play in awhile due to life changes in my house, but did it ever get changed to where attacking air units wouldn’t face the entire defending enemy air force in the vicinity by itself for airstrikes and such? I seem to remember this being the case for awhile if the defending player had lots of aerial units in the same area, so the attacking air units would never get through since it would always be an air combat of 1 vs All.

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a year ago
Jul 26, 2023, 2:33:04 PM

That will not be changed for this update, I'm afraid. I had a discussion about this with a game designer recently, sharing our player feedback about it with him, but I don't think the scope of the required changes (and thus the feasibility) has been assessed yet.

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a year ago
Jul 26, 2023, 2:50:16 PM

A Note on Land Battles 

We know that some of these changes to naval battles would also be interesting improvements for land battles, and that a good part of our players would welcome them, so we want to be upfront with you: We may not be able to add ranged retaliation or retreat to land battles, as both features face additional technical and design challenges in land battles. However, the expanded deployment zones are shared between sea and land battles, and air squadrons stationed within the battlefield can be used during the battle for both.

It would really be a coup for the dev team to see retaliation added to land battles, although I do appreciate you being upfront that it may not be possible in this iteration. For what it's worth, I do not care as much for the retreat option in land battles - there's already a couple way to effectively retreat - but getting retaliation would be a game changer. 


Updated a year ago.
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a year ago
Jul 27, 2023, 3:23:12 AM
The-Cat-o-Nine-Tales wrote:

That will not be changed for this update, I'm afraid. I had a discussion about this with a game designer recently, sharing our player feedback about it with him, but I don't think the scope of the required changes (and thus the feasibility) has been assessed yet.

Understood. Thanks for the reply!

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a year ago
Jul 28, 2023, 5:29:41 PM
The-Cat-o-Nine-Tales wrote:


Shadowhal wrote:
  • When you wrote "the expanded deployment zones are shared between sea and land battles", did you mean that land battles will benefit from increased deployment zones, independent of sea battles? The way it was formulated could be interpreted to mean that it's only relevant for battles initiated or involving sea elements.
  • Same topic, and on the back of what several other forum members have asked, what exactly increases for land battles? Only the deployment zones, or also the size of the battlefield itself?
  • How will fog of war in sea battles work if they are much larger and movement ranges are bigger? Aren't we then just stabbing in the dark trying to find the enemy? Maybe that's exactly the point, in trying to create a different dynamic and simulating this cat and mouse feel of sea battles sometimes. But could be useful to get more context on how that might work in practice.

Yes, all land battles now have the larger deplyoment zones, regardless of the involvement of naval units. Their overall size remains unchanged, though.

As for the fog of war, this is one area where the escort ships come in: While capital ships still only have a short vision range (shorter than either their firing or movement range, if I recall correctly), escort ships have a much higher vision range now. Up to 8 tiles in the contemporary era, I think.

Great, thanks for those clarifications. That sounds good.


I wonder, could it make sense to give escort ships, and maybe light cavalry/scout classes on land, the ability to spend their tactical turn move points in multiple stops? That could nicely accentuate those units' roles as spotters, if it's becoming less obvious where the enemy is positioned. Potentially with a slight reduction in CS to not make them too powerful and really focus on the scouting role.



Shadowhal wrote:
If ranged retaliation isn't possible, maybe all/some of the defender's units could get a special status on the first turn that increases their combat strength in defense. Could be similar to the "dug in" unit status and you could make a thematic case that the defenders had time to find a suitable defensible position and fortify it.

As far as I recall, once you unlock the Dig In ability on the tech tree, your gunner units are supposed to start the battle witht e dug in status. If they don't, we may need to look into that.

Thanks again for clarifying.


Also, a bit my bad. It didn't click that this probably wouldn't help a whole lot with the attacker advantage. Ranged retaliation would still seem the ideal solution to this and it would be interesting to understand what makes it difficult to tacke. Though maybe one other thought on mitigation in connection with dug-in. Maybe that status could give an increase in range? Even if the attackers don't take damage in the first round, whatever defenders are left could strike back with more force and more range could a) allow them to focus fire better and b) lessen the need to move and thus lose the status. And maybe an equivalent but weaker status for earlier eras?


I suppose something like overwatch from XCOM2 and AoW:P is off the table due to implementation difficulties?

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a year ago
Jul 31, 2023, 9:17:35 PM

I hope that with the strengthening of the range and strength of aircraft will come the strengthening of cruise missiles (I wouldn't be a fan of nukes buff though). I really don't understand why cruise missiles are being outranged by aircraft (imho they should have at least the same range or even more), especially since they cannot be moved from one silo to another, unlike aircraft, which can be moved at will. I have always thought that the role of cruise missiles is to penetrate AAs and hit critical targets such as airfields or administrative centers, but due to their poor range, aircraft can be positioned to avoid them altogether. 


Please inclued cruise missile to be used during battle such as you are planning to do with aircrafts - it is a great change and it should be extended.

Updated a year ago.
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