J. R. R. Tolkien fought during WWI as a second lieutenant from 1915-1916 when he was sent home due to an illness he got in the trenches. As for this point, I am sorry but you are incredibly wrong.
This isn't to knock the guy, it's just fact. Signal officers in a trench for four months aren't learning war. WW1 was a titanic fuck up of incompetence from start to finish, most of the generals didn't know anything about it either. They didn't even do close air support. Trench warfare was instantly antiquated with the advent of the bomber. Buzz down trench at a couple hundred yards and drop bombs straight into it, no more trench warfare.
If you want to learn about war, you look at campaigns that were actually successful, and the people that made them so. Patton fueled his advance using enemy supplies. All that fuel his tanks burned crossing Europe didn't come from his supply lines, he typically outran them even when he was given sufficient supplies to do the job. Serving in a war only makes you knowledgeable about war if you actually learn something about it besides how horrible it is to die in a trench. That, he learned in spades.
In reality, standing armies are actually quite common, since the mid 16th century, and Adam Smith is quote as saying that a standing army is a signal of moderization. However, if we actually wanted to look at the early Renaissance period which is the closest real time frame to a fantasy world, we find that Standing Armies were being developed by France, Britain and The Ottoman's, not to mention the use of trained Army reserves which exists during the entire medieval era. As for today's military, A US marine out of basic has a fairly high degree of skill as a marksman, though the real distinction is in how they handle the stress of battle compared to a veteran marine.
Since the mid 16th century... You have ten thousand years of fairly descriptive human history and you latch onto 500 years of it. By the Renaissance, we already had gunpowder weaponry. Even the Dark Ages came after Rome had come and gone as a power.
The feudal system, which dominated Europe and much of Asia for centuries, was based around feudal lords that were well equipped and well armed. They then had peasants under them that were drafted into service, and only a few arms men. It was the norm for the manor guard to be the only regular forces. Not until the advent of the English longbow did Europe have highly trained regulars after the fall of the Roman empire, and they did it by making archery the only legal sport, not by having a standing army. Much of the time, Rome itself only had a standing army because they were in a constant state of expansionist war. It wasn't so much a standing army as it was a perpetual state of conflict. If you go further back, they become even more a rarity. The Romans kicked so much as a result of others not having one themselves. The typical empire was a coterie of guards and civil watch to keep down crime and protect the leadership, armies were comprised of largely conscripts.
As for your comment concerning fresh troops v. veterans, I would love to see a level 1 unit win against a comparable level 6 unit. This is already well abstracted in the mechanics of Elemental.
Then stop arguing with me? You're the one complaining that being able to loot equipment and roll out untrained troops is a problem.
Again, I think that the correct period of time to compare Elemental with is the early Renaissance and not the Dark Ages. In the Dark Ages, these "ragtag collections" were so ill trained that wars during the period were nothing more than minor disputes between rival lords. If you look at the lore as well as the intended game play, the idea here seems to be the re-emergence of empires which does not hold true to your argument of a few lordly knight riding around having their peasants collect weapons from the fallen. On top of this, I am not sure how much fun it would be to create this kind of system where by you create peasants, then either send them out to fight and collect weapons, and eventually you will get a veteran troop with full gear.
This isn't even applicable. We can't make mismatched units to begin with. We can't equip previously made units with new weaponry either, how this would detract from fun I don't know, but you have such strange ideas I'm sure there's something you'll complain about, completely forgetting context by the next post.
You were arguing that looting the battle field for weapons was something people didn't do in war. You weren't arguing that untrained peasants shouldn't slowly gather new equipment over time and turn into armored knights.
Psychoak, my statement was not specifically addressed to you, but at the entire debate concerning resource/improvement chaining. My point is simply that one can take these ideas to their extreme and create incredibly complex chains while departing from something that is inherently fun. Now, I will admit that Settlers and Elemental are vastly different titles, but I would not call Settlers an Economy Sim as its resource model is only one part of a larger game. Yet, there are several posts in this thread that have expressed chains to this effect, and while you are talking about building cleaners for a forge, you might as well be since the abstraction you are talking about could just as easily be cleaning productions instead of iron ingots. I mean do you really want a chain like:
Iron -> Refined Iron -> Steel -> Sword Blade -> Sword
Would this really add anything to overall fun of the game?
Yeah, I do, it does. It's really simple. No, really, simple is the whole key point here.
Right now, we mine "metal" and everything has to be cost descriptive simply in metal. A better sword has to cost more metal, it can't take more time to create because there is no creation time. It can't take more manpower to create because there is no manpower. It's not created, it just appears magically in abstracted shit. So, we have "metal" and the world goes round.
When you add a new sword to the game, you have to look at all the other equipment and compare costs, factoring in what percentage of those costs is penalty for abstracted manpower, and what percentage is based on actual material usage. You're not just training a unit, you're training the unit and creating all the components that go with it, your components have to factor that in to their properties. This explains the unholy shitfest that is current balance as well, the mechanics behind production are too simple.
It's much like ranged units in the typical game having some magic number where they're just right, but in larger and smaller armies they're either too powerful or overpowered. It's not that ranged weaponry is inherently unbalanced, it's that the mechanics are an abstraction. The physical reality of melee weapons is preserved in that you can only hit units that are next to you(this would be why our grouping sucks dick in Elemental, they don't) while the physical reality of ranged weaponry is not. You can't aim at something you can't see, and you can't shoot something that is obstructed by another object. Add in friendly fire, line of sight, and volley mechanics and you have a functional ranged combat system.
Iron -> Refined Iron -> Steel -> Sword Blade -> Sword
It's not the chain, it's the process. You start off with simple iron ore. Refined iron products are simply refined iron that has been shaped into a tool. Your iron sword is made at the same forge that your iron hammer is. They're all produced in terms of refined iron, simply so that iron is a discrete value. Your forge is then simply producing iron products in terms of a usage rate of that single input.
Refined iron then has further usage, steel is invented. You're still using iron, you now have a better use, one that requires more resources. Now, instead of all of your iron going to forges for iron weapons, some of it is going to other smelters that make steel by puddling it with other materials in the mix. Your inputs are all simple, easily balanced. Steel weapons don't need to be more expensive for arbitrary reasons, steel is. Working iron is easy, high carbon steel compared to iron is like iron compared to lead. You can practically work lead cold. Forging steel requires more manpower, you need a hotter forge, and you have to work it longer. This is why even after the invention of steel, a vastly superior metal for weapons of war, wrought iron was still use in large quantities where it was greatly inferior. They couldn't afford to make everything out of steel. Only when they discovered easier ways of making it did it completely take over the roles it was superior for. Your weaponry boils down to complexity of the work done to the inputs in return for the output. Want to make a new sword? Adjust a couple numbers and you'll be close even if you're way off. Much of the work has already been done, so that portion of the weapon is already balanced for you.
Enchantments become infinitely easier. An enchanted sword isn't a new sword, it's just a sword. You can have a thousand different enchantments to choose from, and you only need one sword. You balance the base inputs in terms of manpower, you balance the refinements in terms of manpower, you balance everything in terms of manpower. The only thing you have to balance for an enchanted sword is the cost of enchanting it. You've already balanced the sword itself. It's simple input and output. In a well automated system with a good interface, you could be researching enchantments that had a broad application, auto generating their necessary files on the fly. Want a sword that throws bursts of flame on impact? Piece of cake, it appends the enchantment to the selected sword and generates the item for the production list. Want a hammer instead, or a knife? Simple input and output thanks to "complicated" design.
Whether your workers have soap or not is something to leave to the imagination.