TEC!

For those that don’t know, TEC stands for Terrain Effects Chart. Practically every military board game has one of these charts. These TEC charts are used by the players to work out what effects the map board terrain will have on their units.

Last week I discussed in detail what it was I was trying to do with regard to Ancient Armies’ terrain effects. This week, I put my money where my mouth is and actually show you some of the early results of my work in the form of a video demonstration which can be seen at the end of this blog post.

In many respects this is a bit of a milestone as this is the first time that the units in Ancient Armies have become aware of their surroundings. Prior to this they just wondered around the map without fully appreciating what was on it – but not anymore! 🙂

For those that can’t play videos, here are some screenshots to illustrate some of the things that Ancient Armies is now modelling.

First up is impassible terrain:

Here I have ordered a cavalry unit to charge toward the city walls and then execute a turn, followed by moving off in another direction. I have deliberately set its orders so that the turn will cause a collision with the wall. Lets see what happens when we run the simulation....

Here I have ordered a cavalry unit to charge toward the city walls and then execute a turn, followed by moving off in another direction. I have deliberately set its orders so that the turn will cause a collision with the wall. Lets see what happens when we run the simulation….

This image shows what happens after the cavalry unit is put through it's paces. The unit gets to the wall and realises that its way is blocked. Once the unit acknowledges this, it then cancels the current order and all subsequent orders.

The unit gets to the wall and then realises that its way is blocked. Once the unit acknowledges this, it cancels its current order and all subsequent orders.

As can be seen from the above two screenshots, the system deals with impassible terrain by stopping the unit and then cancelling its orders.

It also does one more very subtle thing…

It ‘bounces’ the unit off of the impassible terrain so that it is no longer on it. This bounce off is tiny, but is required to ensure that a unit does not become ‘stuck’ on impassible terrain.

Next up, are stream crossings:

Here I have ordered two Roman Hastatii units to ford the Dart River. Pop down to the next picture to see how they got on....

Here I have ordered two Roman Hastatii units to ford the River Dart. Pop down to the next picture to see how they got on….

After the units have been set in motion the Southern unit has cancelled its orders because the water there is too deep at 6 mtrs depth. However, the Northern unit is using a shallower fording point called Sandy Ford. The water is only a metre deep here, so that unit can proceed across, albeit at a reduced speed. Note, that not all fords will be marked on the map.... ;)

After the units have been set in motion the Southern unit has cancelled its orders because the water there is too deep at 6 mtrs depth. However, the Northern unit is using a shallower fording point called Sandy Ford. The water is only a metre deep here, so that unit can proceed across, albeit at a reduced speed. Note, that not all fords will be marked on the map…. 😉

In the above set of images we can see that water obstacles can have varying depths which can affect a unit’s ability to negotiate them. Different unit types will be able to cross different depths of water – for example cavalry units can cross deeper streams than infantry units.

The speed impact of the water on the unit is based on the depth, the unit type, its cohesion and its density. So as one can see even for a simple stream crossing we are modelling a lot of variables.

Now for some hills:

Hills are fully modelled too. This hill gets steeper as one proceeds up it. As a result this particular unit will get slower as it reaches the top. The system calculates the slope angle of the hill and then applies the relevant terrain effects based on a large number of factors.

Hills are fully modelled too. This hill gets steeper as one proceeds up it. As a result this particular unit will get slower as it reaches the top. The system calculates the slope angle of the hill and then applies the relevant terrain effects based on a large number of factors.

Ancient Armies works out the hill slope at every point. The steeper the slope, the harder the going.

For units proceeding downhill, there is a speed bonus, but this is based on the steepness of the hill and the unit’s cohesion. Low cohesion units such as skirmishers can take full advantage of the run downhill, whereas tightly packed highly cohesive formations like a Greek Phalanx, would only get a modest boost as they will be striving to maintain order in their formations.

Finally I’ll cover a complex woods example:

This sequence of four images will show what happens to these three units when they are ordered to move into the woods. This particular wood is unique in that it gets much more dense toward the interior....

This sequence of four images will show what happens to these three units when they are ordered to move into the woods. This particular wood is unique in that it gets much more dense toward the interior….

Up until the wood line the two infantry units are neck and neck. The cavalry unit, as expected has surged ahead, but has now had its speed drastically reduced by the trees that it has now found itself in.

Up until the wood line the two infantry units are neck and neck. The cavalry unit, as expected has surged on ahead. However, it has now had its speed drastically reduced by the trees that it has now found itself in.

In the less dense part of the woods, the red Roman Infantry unit is pulling away from the blue Macedonian Infantry unit. This is because the spacing between each legionary is nearly 2 mtrs, whereas the spacing between the phalangites in the Macedonian formation is a little under a metre. This makes the Roman formation far more suited to negotiating the light woods as its more open formation is a lot more accomodating.

In the less dense part of the woods, the red Roman Infantry unit is pulling away from the blue Macedonian Infantry unit. This is because the spacing between each legionary is nearly 2 mtrs apart, whereas the spacing between the phalangites in the Macedonian formation is a little under a metre. This makes the Roman formation far more suited to negotiating the light woods as its more open formation is a lot more accomodating.

Once we get to the really dense part of the wood, the Roman infantry unit has slowed to a crawl, but the other two units have cancelled their orders as they cannot find a way through due to their physical size as in the case of the cavalry unit and their unit density as in the case of the Macedonian unit.

Once we get to the really dense part of the wood, the Roman infantry unit has slowed to a crawl, but the other two units have cancelled their orders as they cannot find a way through due to their physical size as in the case of the cavalry unit or their unit density as in the case of the Macedonian unit.

So as one can see Ancient Armies models many factors with regard to terrain interactions. With one of the biggest contributors being the formation characteristics of the unit itself. This is only made possible because of Ancient Armies highly detailed formation modelling – something that other Ancient Wargames simply lack.

As good as these pictures are, I urge you to watch the You-Tube video below so that you can see things happening for real. Plus as an added bonus, I tend to go into a lot of the mechanics in greater detail.

So what’s left to do?

Well, I still need to model the affects of equipment weight and I need to enable the impact of traversing terrain on a unit’s fatigue and cohesion. In addition, I will also be modelling the effects of a unit’s training too! Highly trained units are more likely to carry out their drills without their formations falling apart 🙂

That’s it for this rather busy week.

Laters

RobP

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4 thoughts on “TEC!

  1. Hi Rob – I first saw your project a few years ago(?) – and I must say, as old wargamer, I’m very excited. You have some very novel ideas and I love the vector graphics. Looking forward to a playable version 🙂 cheers Martin

  2. Hey Rob, thought you should know we are still here and eagerly awaiting the next installment. When does play testing begin? 😉

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