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Supply Lines

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  • Supply Lines

    Supply lines for units have not featured in any previous edition of Civilization, even the great Civilization IV, but I would welcome it if they made it into Civilization V or at least some subsequent expansion or version of Civilization. It would be necessary to keep supply lines relatively simple, as too much complexity would make the game inaccessible to new players and that's obviously something Firaxis would want to avoid, as much as some of us more avid fans tend to welcome new and relatively complex features. I will dream and speculate here on how a supply system could be designed and I invite you to join me and offer your own thoughts, ideas, comments or preferred systems of supply.

    I think the most palatable way to deal with the issue would be to provide bonuses to units that are supplied, rather than penalizing those that are not supplied. Although using bonuses or penalties can ultimately amount to the same thing (e.g. Unit A having Movement 2, but being penalized down to 1 when not supplied is the same as if Unit A had a movement of 1, but this was increased to 2 by a supply bonus, but psychologically it may feel different for the player), it is psychologically more acceptable for many to have bonuses.

    The bonuses could be to movement and/or unit strength and/or perhaps even to unit health. So for example, all units that are supplied could get say +1 bonus to movement per turn and a +1 bonus to strength (non-military units like workers would not get the strength bonus), whereas units that are not being supplied would have their normal statistics. Hence a warrior from Civilization 4 would have normal statistics of 2 strength and 1 movement, but the supply bonus would raise them to 3 strength and 2 movement and so on.

    (Note: I am assuming for the purposes of the example that units in Civilization 5 will have a strength rating like in Civilization 4, rather than some other combat variables, such as split attack and defense rating as existed say in Civilization 2, but it would not be difficult to adjust this to different combat variables.)

    Once we resolve what supply or lack thereof should do (such as supply providing bonuses as I suggest above), we need to consider how it would be determined which units are being supplied and which are not. It needs to avoid unnecessary complexity, but it should also enable supply lines to be cut and thus hamper the unsupplied force. Indeed, I believe the ability to cut supply lines and have the action have meaningful effects is one of the core reasons (though not the only reason) why many of us want them to be in the game in the first place.

    Given the above, I would argue that supply should be automatic within one's borders. It should also be automatic on roads and railroads connected to domestic territory (and perhaps also on one square on each side of the road/railroad), unless there are hostile units blocking the roads/railroads or unless the road/railroad passes through hostile territory that cannot be bypassed. For the purposes of supply, hostile territory is territory within the borders of any civilization with whom one's civilization is at war or with whom it does not have an open borders agreement (though we could have a special agreement relating to letting military supplies through to add an additional layer of diplomacy if we wanted).

    In the real world, airports and ports act as connecting hubs. In Civilization, for the sake of simplicity, cities would already provide that function without the need for a port or airport, but I would say that analogous tile improvements, airbases and seabases, could also extend supply to nearby units and roads in otherwise unconnected areas.

    In essence, the supply network would be similar in form to how a trade/resource network works now, though it would be less strict (no need for harbors/ports and airports in cities to connect them to each other - all of them, plus all territory within one's borders, would automatically be part of the supply network for units). Thinking about this further, it could be visually interesting to use color lines to represent both the supply network and the trade network outside one's borders, so as to make it easier to see where they are running through and how to cut either/both of them.

    There could also be units that could act to extend supply. For example, an older military supply unit might be a supply wagon, that would automatically extend supply (and hence the supply bonus) to all friendly units adjacent to it (or maybe the radius of supply could be bigger). In later eras, this might be replaced by a supply truck that would function in the same way, but it would be faster and perhaps have a greater radius where it would provide supply. If using the supply-bonus system I outlined above, it would still, of course, be possible to attack without any supply units, but a wise general would bring some along, so as to be able to operate even far from roads at peak efficiency. It would, of course, be a valid tactic for the opponent to try to destroy these units leading to an interesting dynamic where one tries to keep them behind the front lines to keep them safe, but at the same time risking them to be close enough to provide supply to front-line units.

    Ships could either automatically provide supply to nearby units on the coast (again, the radius would need to be determined) or there could be a dedicated supply ship (perhaps called the transport ) or it could be both, with the supply ship being more efficient.

    Anyway, that is the basic outline of my thoughts on this matter. Are there any thoughts, comments, ideas, your own systems?
    Rome rules

  • #2
    For most of human history Armies simply lived off of the land.
    Try for discussion and debate.


    • #3
      Good point. Maybe that's the counter to the desire for supply lines... *either* you have supply lines *or* you pillage. If you have neither then your army begins suffering attrition (auto collateral damage every turn).


      • #4
        The pillaging idea is a rather nice one.
        Try for discussion and debate.


        • #5
          I'm not entirely against a system where stretched out supply lines would generate expense in some way, thus effectively hinder aggressive expansion. Just keep it as simple as possible.
          Civlegacy - Civilization V web site | Forums


          • #6

            Supply lines, pillaging, and/or camp followers (a moving goods market following the army supplying it, as often happened) would be a nice addition.

            If you have no supplies or cannot pillage from a region (desert, tundra, or you already pillaged it), you get attrition. You also get attrition in cold places (tundra, ice caps), and inhospitable places (jungles, swamps) from things like disease, malaria, etc.

            This would allow an attrition strategy like Russia often adopted of scorching the land ahead of an advancing army. Also, you could attack supply lines to choke off an army.

            Also, would be nice if ships cargo had to balance between supplies and cargo space. Not enough supplies leads to attrition. Not enough of the right supplies leads to attrition from scurvy. Too much time at sea requires stopping for repairs. Also, it would be nice if ships had a real trade function rather than just a purely military role (Sid: "Civ is not a war game", but yet nearly all units have only a military purpose).