Monday, January 12, 2009

Empire V Enemy AI - Part 1

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A work in progess
Over the next number of months I plan to document the thoughts, testing and results of my attempt to create a AI for enemy forces to use with Empire V both tactically on the tabletop and strategically on a campaign map using Empire's Campaign Rules. The reason I intend to include all the detail in getting to the resulting set of rules is that others can use the same process for whatever rules they want to use. As usual feel free to add any comments or suggestions for I hope you will help me in this project.

Creating an AI is a lot easier than it sounds but it does take a lot of testing and a lot of time. The easy part is that it is just sitting down and thinking about all the options, data and decisions that are made as a commander. I will start off by setting up a small game and working tactically 1st. Once the tactical side of the AI is sorted, then I will move out to the strategic side.

As the overall rules develop, the section below will be updated and added to.

EMPIRE TACTICAL ENEMY AI RULES (summarising conclusions of below)
(so far - last updated 11/1/09)
These rules come into affect after the location and forces making contact are confirmed.
1. Identify at least 5 Battlefield Key Points (BKPs) on the battlefield.
2. Prioritise the top 5 BKPs.
3. Identify all MEs involved in the contact.
4. Note the Corps Orders given to the forces in contact.

In early January 2009 I set up a 4 x 4 table with a number of roads meeting in the centre and a small village in the centre along the road heading east to west. A small hill sat right next to the right edge of the village with more hills further to the right. The only woods located were on the extreme left centre.

Lets start with the Defenders
2 Brigades from the Prussian V Corps was ordered to Defend the village and crossroads as the extreme right flank of a Prussian line that faced a French enemy to their south. Their orders mentioned defending the village and the road from the village to the west. This force consisted of 2 full Infantry Brigades (Divisions) and 1 attached Cavalry Regiment with associated guns as well as 1 attached 12pdr corps artillery battery. How this force got this order and location is a whole other study on the strategic AI.

Where to deploy
I put together a system where I identify at least 5 Defensive Key Points on each battlefield to concentrate orders on. There may be points mentioned and hinted to in the strategic orders as well as terrain points and key terrain features such as hills, bridges and built up areas which can easily add to a successful set of tactical orders.

With this map I found the following key points:
* The Village mentioned in the orders (The Village).
* The Crossroads mentioned in the orders (The Crossroads).
* The Small Hill to the west of The Village would make a good central and elevated position for artillery.
* The Western Hills to the south along the western edge of the map.
* The Gap that exists between The Village and the edge of The Woods on the eastern edge of the map.
* The Western Road as it leaves the map as this is the main line of communications back to the rest of the Prussian Army.

So now I need to select 5 of these as Battlefield Key Points and prioritise them with a number:
1. The Village
2. The Crossroads
3. The Small Hill
4. The Western Hills
5. The Gap

Before we allocate BKPs to combat units, we need to list the MEs that will be taking part in the contact. For the Prussians we have:
1. 11th Infantry Brigade from V Corps with attached 12pdr Corps Artillery Battery
2. 12th Infantry Brigade from V Corps
3. 4th Dragoons Regiment from V Corps Cavalry

Roll percentile die and apply any modifiers below to see which ME will be assigned to which BKP:
+60 ME is Cavalry
+80 ME is Heavy Cavalry

01-30 Point 1 The Village
31-60 Point 2 The Crossroads
61-70 Point 3 The Small Hill
71-80 Point 4 The Western Hills
81-90 Point 5 The Gap
91-00 Reserve

Any Reserve will always be started on the edge of the map in the exact centre of the line.If a BKP is rolled more than once before all BKPs have had forces assigned to them, allocated the next unused BKP above.

I rolled 31, 35 and 59, resulting in:
11th Infantry rolled 31 and is assigned to Point 1 being The Village
12th Infantry rolled 35 and is assigned to Point 1 which is already occupied so is assigned Point 2 being The Crossroads
4th Dragoons rolled 59 + 60 and is assigned to Reserve

Where do these MEs actually deploy with regards to these BKPs? Most likely these MEs would deploy on or in their respective BKPs. Multiple MEs assigned to a BKP would then stack up behind the 1st ME at a distance of Engagement Range. Any Reserve would deploy in movement formations along the rear edge right in the centre.

So now I have the main Battlefield Key Points that need to be controlled in order to control the map. Some of these BKPs will have an affect on which orders are issued. Eg The Village is more likely to have a Garrison order given while The Western Hills will more likely be given a Defend order. Where these BKP are on the map will also affect these orders. The Village is more likely to get this Garrison order if it lays in the blue (friendly) half of the map rather than the red (enemy) half. The type of combat unit would affect these orders also. A Cavalry ME would rarely be given a Garrison order for a village or farm but would more likely receive a Support/Intercept order on an open flank. Any Corps orders issued to the force will also affect what orders the individual units receive. A Corps order of Defend will increase the likelihood of it’s units receiving the same order.

(to be continued)

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1 comment:

Peter H said...

I had similar problems doing Prussian, Bavarian and Hesse Darmstadt armies im H&R 6mm figs.
Ikept with the 3 figs depth as I wanted the look of bigger units.
My battalions were 36 figs each and the cavalry varied a little though they were based on the Prussian model.