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Official CommentsSurface Combat

Overarching Rule of Surface Combat

Designer's Note: This is one of the few "hard rules" for Surface Combat that keep the game manageable from both a multi-player and coding standpoint. I figured you'd want "the bad news" (i.e., the design "compromises") first.

There will only be two civilizations vying for the control of a planet's surface at one time. Other civilizations with troops amassed in space overhead must wait until the forces below them resolve their war before landing. Ground combat is always waged between two civilizations at a time only.

The Sequence of Events in Surface Combat

1. Adding Reinforcements

New units might appear on the planet to join in the fighting there. These include "regular" troop reinforcements that just arrived by transport ships and survived any space battles (infantry, space marines, mobile infantry, armor, and Battleoids) and "irregular" forces that are generated, as appropriate, by the computer (militia, partisan, and rebel forces).

Which Two Sides are Fighting Each Other?

After Space Combat Effects and Reinforcements have been incorporated, a lottery determines which two sides in a three-sided (owner vs. rebel vs. invader) planetary struggle fight each other that turn.

2. Pre-Battle Planning

With both side's latest troop additions now in place, players are presented with Surface Combat Pre-Battle Planning screen. On it is a listing of friendly and estimated enemy forces, and the player's current Political Weapons Authorization (conventional, nuclear, biological, or chemical). Both sides will separately select:

  1. A Battle Intensity (high or low)
  2. A Battle Plan (Assault, Hold, Probe, etc. Note that the choices available for this selection are dependent upon the selected Battle Intensity, troop types available and, in some cases, the Leadership Rating of the General commanding)
  3. Weapons Authorization for the coming campaign (conventional, nuclear, biological, or chemical)
  4. Next, each side must set a Collateral Damage Setting/Target Type Priority that determines, when he has the Strategic Initiative, how much Collateral Damage he wants to inflict (Low, Average, or High) and where he's trying to focus Collateral Damage (Military Installations, Economic Targets, Civilian Population, or Environmental).

Designer's Note: From a "player's standpoint," the above Pre-Battle Planning is pretty much the extend of what players "do" to perform Surface Combat. So, the physical act of doing Surface Combat is really very simple. The hard part, of course, is making "right" decisions. That's where the "depth" of Surface Combat comes in.

First, there is the depth of the decisions you make from the above list before every battle. Next, there are the decisions you've made about force levels and types of troops committed to that battle, and what support they have (both on the surface and in space). On top of that, there are the political, social, ecological, and economic consequences of victory, defeat, or even a protracted Surface Campaign. All of those elements matter, and they all that nuance adds to the player eXperience (that Fifth 'X' that we're after) in MOO3.

Determining the Attacker and Defender

Battle Plans come in two sets of options: one for the "Defender" (the civilization that controls that planet is always the Defender) and one for the "Attacker" (the civilization trying to wrest control of the planet is always the Attacker). Rebels are the Attacker vs. the civilization that owns that planet and Defender vs. the civilization that invades it.

Key Concept: Battle Plans

The Defender will be able to select from among the follow Battle Plans:

Standard Defender Options

  • Surrender (Request the Honors of War)
  • Withdraw (only available if there is space left on the planet to retreat to)
  • Fighting Withdrawal (only available if there is space left on the planet to retreat to)
  • Hold
  • Hold at All Costs (No Retreat)
  • Defensive Probe

Counterattack* [choose the specific type of counterattack from the following list:]

  • Test of Strength
  • (Counter-Maneuver)
  • (Ruse)
  • (Trap)

Seize the Initiative* [choose specific type of offensive maneuver from the following list:]

  • Offensive Probe
  • Echelon
  • Assault
  • (Maneuver)
  • (Vertical Envelopment)
    *Can only be selected if High Intensity was chosen.

The Attacker will be able to select from among the following Battle Plans:

Standard Attacker Options

  • (Vertical Envelopment)
  • (Maneuver)
  • Assault
  • Echelon
  • Offensive Probe

Surrender the Initiative* [choose specific type of defensive maneuver from the following list:]

  • Surrender (Request the Honors of War)
  • Withdraw (only available if there is space left on the planet to retreat to)
  • Fighting Withdrawal (only available if there is space left on the planet to retreat to)
  • Hold
  • Hold at All Costs (No Retreat)
  • Defensive Probe

Counterattack [choose the specific type of counterattack from the following list:]

  • Test of Strength
  • (Maneuver)
  • (Ruse)
  • (Trap)
    * Can only be selected if Low Intensity was chosen.

Additional Rules for Battle Plans

Battle Plans in parenthesis may only be selected if that side's General commanding enough ability or a special skill that allows him to select that option. In addition, Maneuver, Ruse, and Trap options can only be selected if that side has "Mobile" formations (i.e., includes Mobile infantry, armor or Battleoids, has Powered Armor, or have extra mobility skills such as atmospheric flight or subterranean).

Vertical Envelopment can only be selected if that side has "Vertical" forces (i.e., Battleoids, Powered Armor, just-dropped Space Marines, or the flying or subterranean mobility skills).

Success & Failure of Certain Maneuvers

Certain maneuvers (those in parentheses) might either "succeed" or "fail" when they are executed by the side that selected them. Specifically, Vertical Envelopment, Offensive Maneuver, Counter-Maneuver, Ruse and Trap.

The Battle Plan Matrix

The two side's Battle Plans and Intensities are used to determine the number of "Rounds" of Battle will be fought that Game Turn, plus who got any initiative, combat, or morale bonuses or penalties, whether any special procedures for resolving the battle occur, and so forth.

Designer's Note: This matrix is, understandably, huge, so I can't really post it here. Actually, it's three huge matrices (one for Troops, one for Battle Plans, and another for Racial and Other Modifiers), but that's another story. What you really need to know is that we're trying to do these sorts of things in the Excel file format so that, after you get the game, you can open these files up and tweak numbers to your heart's content. Our philosophy is to make such after-purchase "first level hacking" easy for you. We love you guys who make "game editors," and plan to make MOO3 a very friendly title for you.

Strategic Initiative

After both sides have selected their Battle Plans, one of them will be determined to have seized the Strategic Initiative.

Effects of Seizing the Strategic Initiative that Turn

The side that gains the Strategic Initiative will be conducting this turn's Combat Rounds "in enemy territory." [Sensitive information deleted describing the nature of this system.]

Having the Strategic Initiative in Ground Combat also influences the "advance" and "retreat" of ground forces after all of that turn's Rounds of Battle are conducted.

3. Ground Combat Resolution & Aftermath

Once both sides have made their selections and clicked Done, the surface combat on that planet is resolved. The results are shown first by "maneuver" animation overlays (representing each side's Battle Plan selection) on top of that part of the planet involved in that Turn's campaigning with the thickness of the lines used indicating that side's Battle Intensity.

These maneuver animation overlays are soon followed by ground combat animations and the CRS (Cool Radio Show) to graphically illustrate the length, intensity, and outcome of the campaign. Combat force statistics (known friendly and estimated enemy) showing troop types and numbers of each that are combat-ready, broken, and killed are also displayed.

Designer's Note: The above is pretty much the "players perspective" on Surface Combat. That's about the level of information you'd find in a standard game manual. What follows is a more in-depth look "under the hood" of Surface Combat.

From here to the end, it's Game Geeks only, please!

NEXT IN SURFACE COMBAT OFFICIAL COMMENTS: "Under the Hood"


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