Elemental Promises to have battles scaling from 1 chanaller and his 5 plucky sidekicks all the way to 10,000+ unit armies with heroes, tacticians, landscape altering spells, and who knows what else. . . . But I haven't seen very much discussion on how the game will play this huge scale difference. . . . so I thought I would post some thoughts.
Overall Suggestion (in a nut shell).
Each size army (5 defined) has its own function, and strengths and weaknesses; For the most part units are trained and build to be included in an army / task force of a given size. A unit for a party of size 10 has completely different skills and bonuses that you want to train them in then a Platoon which will be one of many in an army of 900.
My suggestion is formatted to keep all army sizes useful until even late game. Thus even in late game you might still create a lone unit with skills trained for one on one combat, (or as your Chanaller’s Elite Guard)
I hope you'll like it.
We're talking chanaller, maybe a hero or two, and a few (wo)men with big sticks(or bows).
Primary use: Early game
Secondary use: Cave crawling/hero leveling.
Primary elements: Every unit matters, every unit independently controlled, semi- X-com style. Death of one member gives temporary rage/anger boost to others seeking revenge, until killer is defeated.
Limitations: Formations effects non-existent, Group unit abilities non-existent, moral effects limited, and leadership abilities non-existent.
This is your standard D&D sized team (bit big), abilities should be focused on each individual, and any abilities that are outside this scope are useless. Result: Even in late game you'll want to have a fair number of small teams strike forces of elite units trained in individual combat to clean out caves, capture lone towers, and defeat wandering monsters. Sending 1,000 troops to clean out a goblin cave . . . . Unless it's a goblin fort for a fully fledged goblin society . . . is ridiculous, the result should be large and unnecessary losses just because big armies are not trained to fight that way.
Note: Except in rare situations, or VERY VERY early game this size simply can't attack towns, you just can't command the fear and respect needed to replace a governance of a town, even a small one (small towns being more loyal because everybody knows everybody and the 'mayor' is more by general agreement sort of thing, not somebody you can actually replace and hope to govern and control the populous)
Note, If any thing like weapon damage types were to be included in the game, they would ONLY and exclusively be used in battles between groups of this size. Beyond this very personal level it contributes NOTHING but unnecessary / un-fun complication.
Note: It may be possible to have a battle of this size occur anytime in the late game an army unit tries to attack your chanaller (command stack). Say a 500 unit army tries to take your command tent; then your 10 hero's and chanaller go into a sub battle against 10 - 20 opponents. If you defeat all opponents you survive that battle round, and can move troops to intercept before next round where you face another 20 -30 ( 30 -40, 40 -50). This continues until you get one of your remaining troops to defeat the attacking stack (not if you have no more remaining troops on the field you probably just loose under the assumption that you lost.) [IE this is meant to buy you time to de-checkmate yourself if you can, defeating the whole stack is not Impossible, but not the point, and should be weighted such that surviving more then 2 rounds is unlikely/ nearly impossible.]
10- 75 people:
This is the last level at which hero's are viable units for individual control. Having one hero single handedly defeat more then 10 units over a battle in hand to hand combat . . . is beginning to push reasonable limits. Regular (non hero) units start to get grouped by function and skills in groups of 10 - 15.
Primary Use: early - early-mid game
Secondary use: Strike teams, raiding teams,
This size would be used continuously in the game for an empire that liked to use guerrilla tactics, trainable to perform hit and runs, supply raids, set up ambushes and lead tactical retreats to larger pre-setup ambushes.
'Force' divided into units of 10 - 15, or 'Hero' class. 10-15 unit groups can experience the above mentioned outrage at the death of one of its members, but this has a reduced effect. Very early group skills can be used, (a wall of pikes, isn't really much of a wall with only 10 pike men.... but it's not a joke like a one man wall of pikes[what's that? same as a lap when your standing up is what that is].). Having One unit in a group of 10-15 with a special skill gives the Unit that skill (Archery + Medic, the rest have Archery only). Hero's of the 'Fight and kill' type excel in this roll, Leadership abilities would be de-emphasized. Moral would also be de-emphasized, but unlike previous would not be nearly ignored. Groups of this size can be broken up into individual units still, or formed from individual units with similar abilities.
75 - 500 people;
We're now talking about a modest army, Moral effects become important, formations effects being to come into account, individual rolls lost, basic unit a group of 50+ troops with nearly identical training/equipment.
Primary use: Mid=early late game
secondary use: Land, territory, and resource claim, city concurring (outliers, poorly defended.)
This is as I see it the basic army. This is the size Most of your armies are going to be for most of the game. Capable of setting up outposts, defending and claiming territory even setting up shop and creating temporary towns. (Everything that your HOMM armies do and a bit more.) Even in late game settings this is still the fundamental unit of army-ness in my mind. bigger armies then that might be available to take big towns or impress upon an enemy that you're not to be trifled with... but this is your standard give them a task, they get it done groups size.
In this army heroes don't play a direct role (spell casters and dragons or other super beasts aside) hero’s are a leadership stat and perhaps a few additional bonuses. Most heroes and chanallers, spell casters are no longer physically displayed, or are given a metaphorical position (command hut, for capture the flag like end battle possibilities). Not that I don't want hero's in the late game, but I don't want HOMM4 style gods-O-war, where one lone unit stands in the square next to an archery stack of 400 and swings his/her sword and 82 units die ... really? At this level training becomes of utmost importance. Groups are now big enough that turtleing, (for example) is meaningful, and 'Rain of arrows' actually is a rain of arrows (rather then 10....). Troops that are being made to join one of these armies are trained together in platoons (word) they gain experience as one, they fight as one, they are for the most part indivisible [perhaps merger of two damaged platoons in dire straits]. Most group abilities are now activatible. Some mechanic would be needed for the replacing of troops and experience, but that is outside the scope of this post. Individual skills are no longer tracked nor relevant; death of individual units is statistical, no more rage bonuses. However Formation effects become prevalent, getting behind a group of archers is a more significant feet then getting behind one dude who can just turn around.
Note: Groups of this size are trained to attack groups of this size, They perform less well when fighting forces significantly smaller then themselves especially in highly varied terrain (mountains, forests) this makes the strike forces and guerrilla warfare all the more useful because a small force can attack, damage and disengage with few losses because other troops of the army just can't get to the battle fast enough to contribute, or there is only so much area around the attackers.
Note 2: This is the size an army needs to be to take over and control a small town, in mid and late games, Armies smaller then this wouldn't be able to properly control unwilling civilians *Note Liberating a town is a different matter, the size below can do that*
500 - 5000 people
Town Siege, fortification destruction/creation. Were talking really significant forces now.
Primary use: Punching through defenses, Concurring lands, defeating empires.
Secondary use: Very late game replacing the 75-500 unit team as basic unit of army-ness
Moral, Leadership, Training, Rutting, Formation, Landscape Training, Training, Training, and Training. These are the fundamentals of controlling these sized armies. Again like the previous troops are trained and equipped in groups as single controllable units by the 100's (200 - 300 people / controllable unit). Moral and rutting is become crucially important (more troops die when units break ranks and run for their lives then in most medieval battles before rutting) How well your troops are trained to work as a unit, how skilled your Leaders/hero's are maintaining moral and maintaining discipline are of utmost importance. Leadership all gathered in one symbolic location, capture the flag esk.
Note: maintaining armies of this size requires additional maintenance costs to ship food, supplies, maintain. These are highly inefficient armies designed to Conquer and Crush, Heavy hand, High maintenance costs.
Note: Supply lines for forces of this size must be defined and are juicy targets for guerrilla forces.
5000+ people armies.
Game End armies: Everything about the 500- 5000 sized army, Squared. The effect of training, formation, maintenance, moral, leadership: Everything over the top. A single army of this size will eat a towns food production each turn, specially set up supply lines are not just necessary they are crucial lost of those, even if temporary can cripple an army of this size's will to fight and moral. TPK, your game ending army just turned into a game ending mob of people who hate you.
/wall of text
I Would appreciate thoughts, the system is not perfect and balancing will be required without doubt. But I hope the general idea of army function as a function of size makes it into the final game, and I think my suggestion is capable of this.
Oh and karma is welcome :- P
Take care all