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Official CommentsSurface Combat, Continued — Under the Hood

Combat Round Sequence

The sequence of a Surface Combat "Round" is listed below. Note that there can be (and usually is) more than one Combat Round per Game Turn on a given planet.

  1. Special Operations take place [You guys will love this part, but I'm not ready to go into that right now. Sorry.]
  2. Determine Actual Initiative Value (AIV) for all units
  3. All units take action in (AIV) sequence

1. Unit Initiative

Every Unit adds the result of its own individual die roll to its Initiative Value to determine its Actual Initiative Value (AIV) for that Round (only). Units fire sequentially in AIV order for that Round of Surface Combat.

2. Taking Action

When a unit's turn to act comes it will either be "Active" or "Disrupted." If it's Active, it fires at an enemy target. If it's Disrupted, it makes a Morale Check.

2A. Morale Check

As a result of that Morale Check, if it recovers to Active status, that unit fires at an enemy target that round. If it stays Disrupted, there is no additional effect. If it Routs, it is removed from combat for the remainder of the turn; it can no longer fire or be fired upon and will have to check for Rally/Disintegration at the conclusion of the battle.

Routed units no longer participate in combat that turn, neither firing nor as targets. Their fate is determined after the battle to see whether they Rally or Disintegrate.

A note about numbers: You'll see a lot of numbers here. Because all of this needs to be playtested, these numbers are relative, not absolute. They have been provided to illustrate the relationship between aspect values. They're not "written in stone" as the final values!

2B. Selecting a Target

The target shot at is determined randomly. Each enemy unit has a certain chance to be the target of an enemy Grunt's attack based on a Lottery System. Thus, each enemy unit has a number of ping-pong balls' chance (i.e., its "Target Priority Value") to be selected as the target unit for a particular shot.

For example: Most Grunts have a Target Priority Value of 2. Rebels, Partisans, and most Special Forces have a Target Priority Value of 1.

A Grunt's Target Priority Value is increased by one (+1) if it is a Space Marine or Mobile Infantry Grunt (or has Powered Armor), +2 for Armor, and +4 for Battleoids.

Thus a Space Marine Grunt with Powered Armor would have a Target Priority Value of 4 (2 for being a Grunt +1 for being a Space Marine, and +1 for having Powered Armor).

The number of ping-pong balls a particular enemy unit has in the Target Selection Lottery is increased by:

  • 1x its Target Priority Value if it has fired during the current Battle Round (i.e., "stuck its head out")
  • 1x its Target Priority Value if it is a Mobile unit conducting a Maneuver Battle Plan
  • 2x its Target Priority Value if it has "dropped" on an enemy target during a Vertical Envelopment

So, if a Battleoid equipped Grunt dropped into battle during this, the first Round of combat that turn, it would have 18 ping-pong balls in the Target Selection Lottery (2 for being a Grunt +4 for being a Battleoid, x3 for dropping from a transport into battle).

Designers Note: This formula simulates the proper amount of "exposure" to troops that are "risked" either by their very size, the nature of their role(s) on the battlefield, and the additional risk that certain maneuvers expose them to.

2C. Firing at the Selected Target

After the Target Unit is determined, we determine if and how many times the Target Unit is hit comparing the Firing Unit's Accuracy Value to the Defending Unit's Evade Value.

2D. Dodging the Bullet

Each "hit" is then checked to see if it is "shaken off" or "deflected" (i.e., negated) by the Target Unit. (Yes, this can be thought of as the target unit's "saving throw.") The Attacker's Attack Strength is compared to the Defender's Armor Value to resolve this calculation.

2E. Taking the Bullet

For each "hit" that gets through (i.e., that is not shaken off or deflected), one point of damage is inflicted upon the Target unit and it becomes disrupted. If the unit is already disrupted, there is no additional effect. When a unit takes its last point of damage, it is destroyed.

3. Another Round of Surface Combat?

Surface Combat continues for as many rounds as determined by each side's Pre-Battle Plans. Increasing Battle Intensity and selecting more daring maneuvers will tend to increase the number of Rounds of Battle fought that Game Turn.

4. Routed Units' Rally or Disintegration

After all the rounds of combat have been concluded, all Disrupted units automatically recover and become Active. Routed units are more problematic. They might either Rally (based on their Rally Value) or Disintegrate (i.e., become destroyed).

All units that don't Disintegrate recover from all their damage (i.e., are rest to 0 damage). Exception: Ground forces that are besieged recover only one Damage Point.

5. Winners & Losers

If one side has all its units either routed or eliminated, it loses the battle (big time). Otherwise, victory in that turn's combat will be judged on the basis of the ratio of the relative losses to both sides. The ratios required for a certain level of victory/defeat are determined by the Leaders' Ability ratings and their respective selections on the Combat Matrix.

5A. Retreat & Advance after Combat

After all the Rounds of Surface Combat are over, "territory" might change hands. Here we consider the following factors:

  • Each side's Battle Plan
  • Who had the Strategic Initiative
  • The Battle Casualty Ratio
  • The Surviving Strength Ratio
  • The planet's environmental aspects and the nature of the Races fighting on that planet
  • A die roll

5B. Off-World Escape of Defeated Forces

If one side has been defeated and runs out of territory to lose, its ground forces there flee and attempt to fall back to their Reserves. Irregular forces don't attempt to flee; they just disappear automatically.

Each fleeing regular unit (Grunt or Special Forces) rolls for its life individually and has a chance to survive (i.e., retreat back to their Reserves). These chances are halved if the planet is blockaded. Units that don't survive this retreat are destroyed.

6. Collateral Damage

After all the Rounds of combat, collateral damaged is assessed to the location where the main fighting took place. For every shot fired the Collateral Damage Count increases.

Each point of Collateral Damage is then assigned to one of the categories below:

  • Military Installations: planetary shields, missile and fighter bases, orbital platforms, etc.
  • Economic Targets: buildings, dominant economic activities, and infrastructure
  • Civilian Population: destroyed Population Points
  • Environmental Damage: "reverse" terraforming, added clean-up cost before progressive Environmental Sector spending can resume
  • No Effect

For each point of accumulated, unassigned Collateral Damage, a lottery is held to see where it lands. The number of chances each of these five categories has to receive each individual point of Collateral Damage is shown on the table below:

Attack Type












*Collateral Damage = Low        


*Collateral Damage = Average;
Target Type Priority
+1 or +1 or +1 or +1  
*Collateral Damage = High
Target Type Priority (as above) and
*Nuclear Attack Authorization +1   +1 +1  
*Biological Attack Authorization     +2 +1  
*Chemical Attack Authorization         -1
*Only use the setting of the player with the Strategic Initiative.

Damage done to specific sectors is applied similarly to how Planetary Bombardment works from space, but with an emphasis on the specific location where the battle took place that turn.

Grunt Ratings

Every type of Grunt has ratings for its:

  • Initiative Value
  • Target Priority
  • Number of Attacks per Round
  • Accuracy
  • Evasion
  • Attack Strength
  • Armor
  • Hits
  • Morale
  • Etc. [Information withheld]

Designer's Note: By spreading out the "factors" that constitute Ground Combat among several specific categories, we've opened up the way for a lot of possible "technological nodes" in this area. We're doing this sort of thing with every aspect of MOO3. Prescient players will be able to deduce from this approach the potential enormity of the "technology tree" in the game. It's staggering.

Furthermore, that Grunt's Troop Type (Rebel, Militia, Space Marine, Armor, Battleoid, etc.) and experience level (recruit, trained, veteran, crack, and so forth) modify these ratings.

NEXT IN SURFACE COMBAT, UNDER THE HOOD: "Surrender & the Honors of War and Ground Combat Logistics"


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