#PGF - AI Module Behavior

Panzer / Allied General Remake: Strategies, Tactics, Efiles, Custom Campaigns, Customizations, Documentation.

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HexCode
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#PGF - AI Module Behavior

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-06 17:50, Sunday

CONTENT LINKS
==============

Introduction
Ed Dille
Alan Emrich
Focus
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p477

Objectives: Overview
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p480

Objectives: Urban Centers
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p517

Objectives: Airfields
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p549

Objectives: Choke Points & Maneuver -- Preliminaries
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p574

Objectives: Choke Points & Maneuver -- Road Junctions & Passes
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p594

Objectives: Choke Points & Maneuver -- Bridges
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p610

Objectives: Targets of Opportunity
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p636

Offensive: Preliminaries
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p651


===================================================================

INTRODUCTION
==============

ED DILLE
========

Mr. Ed Dille is one of two authors standing behind Prima's PG1 Official Strategy Guide. Here's a short bio excerpt:
Ed Dille graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis with a degree in Military History. He has authored numerous Strategy Guides
ALAN EMRICH
============

Mr. Alan Emrich is the other author standing behind Prima's PG1 Official Strategy Guide. Here's a short bio excerpt:
Alan Emrich is a 20 year veteran in the game industry. He has done everything from founding game conventions, to designing and developing games, to writing numerous books and articles about them
Most importantly, this gentleman was intimately familiar with the "hot" wargame design scene of the 1970s dominated by numerous Simulations Publications Inc. (SPI) and Avalon Hill (AH) tabletop / boardgame titles. This scene was all about hex-based, turn-based play systems, very much like PGF. To this effect, Prima's Guide can be quite useful.

FOCUS
======

Prima's Official Strategy Guide contains a chapter entitled "The Philosophy of Command". The authors cover a number of time-honored "principles" of warfare and attempt to connect them with "PG" play realities and practicalities. Here's the short list:

Defense
Economy of Force
Maneuver
Mass
Objective(s)
Offensive
Security
Simplicity
Surprise
Unity of Command
Velocity

In the sequel, I will attempt to employ one or more of the above "principles" in commenting on PGF AI Module's various behaviors.
Last edited by HexCode on 2019-10-14 16:16, Monday, edited 11 times in total.

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OBJECTIVES: OVERVIEW

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-06 18:06, Sunday

OBJECTIVES: OVERVIEW
=====================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
Every military operation must be directed toward a decisive, obtainable goal. That goal is the Objective. In Panzer General, these goals are determined on a per scenario basis. For the player on the strategic Offensive (the one who has the primary burden of seizing the other player's territory), the primary Objective in every scenario is to capture the specified objective hexes on the map. Capturing most (if not all) objective hexes is the player's foremost goal. Two things always stand in the way of these goals: the enemy and time. You have no control over the former, but you must learn to manage the latter to ensure success.

For the player on the strategic Offensive, time is of the essence. Although capturing all the objective hexes required to achieve the scenario's victory conditions is usually possible within the time parameters of the game, if they are captured quickly enough, a minor victory can become a major victory.

Conversely, the player on the strategic Defensive must hang on. That player's Objective is to make sure that the game is played out until the last turn by denying the player on the strategic Offensive all the objective hexes he needs. Furthermore, the more objective hexes you hold when time expires, the greater your level of victory on the strategic Defensive.

Your efforts must be aimed at having the requisite number of objective hexes at the end of the game, and, when you have the burden of attacking, you must keep one eye on the turn record if you want to garner a decisive victory for early conquest.

Although fulfilling the victory conditions of a scenario is the final destination, you should set many other intermediate goals along the way. These secondary Objectives are your stepping stones along the hazardous path to victory. Obtaining your intermediate goals ultimately makes your final goal obtainable. These stepping stones concern holding key terrain features and maintaining avenues of approach to your primary Objectives.

What you must develop on your own, however, is a skilled general's eye for knowing how to prioritize these Objectives. This skill comes to fruition only with time and experience in the crucible of combat. In the interim, however, we aid that learning process by expanding the foundation on which your experience can build.
Commentary

To be somewhat humorous about it, had the "poor" PGF AI module a voice to... speak, it would've said, in all probability, "hey, I didn't understand a word here" !! Specifically, the Module would likely point to the following short list of KEY "incomprehensible" terms / concepts:

Prioritization
Strategic
Time

The good news here's that it's highly unlikely that the AI Module will ever be afflicted by some "Napoleonic Complex" (psychological condition) or another...
Last edited by HexCode on 2019-10-10 00:23, Thursday, edited 2 times in total.

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OBJECTIVES: URBAN CENTERS

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-08 15:57, Tuesday

OBJECTIVES: URBAN CENTERS
==========================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
Urban hexes, particularly those between your forces and the victory condition objectives you are trying to control by the end of the scenario, are usually the most important secondary Objectives. Their control is so important that the game even thoughtfully provides ownership flags right on the tactical map.

When urban hexes change hands, a significant prestige bonus is awarded to the winner. In addition, urban hexes, and those adjoining them, are the only places where newly constructed LAND units can be placed on the map. Also, when it comes time to upgrade LAND units during a scenario, this function must be performed in an urban hex as well.

Cities and Ports are prime defensive terrain, particularly when held by well-entrenched infantry or anti-tank units. This is because defending these hexes resets both sides' effective combat initiatives, making troop experience and entrenchment levels the vital factor in an urban fight.

Regardless of the historical precedent, coastal urban hexes enable LAND unit embarkation. Also, naval units can resupply as well as be gradually repaired, when in Ports. Finally, LAND units in Cities and Ports have a much easier time being resupplied during adverse conditions such as being adjacent to enemy units or caught in bad weather.

From a pure momentum standpoint, therefore, these urban hexes are vital secondary Objectives. If you are pressed for time during a scenario in which you bear the burden of attack, it might not always be wise to go out of your way to conquer every town on the map; but controlling urban areas both measures progress and keeps front-line units more easily supported with new units, equipment upgrades, supplies and replacements.
Commentary

PGF's AI Module doesn't really "understand" the implications inherent in a scenario's victory conditions in the sense that its actions aren't purposively dictated by such conditions. This is particularly obvious in instances where the victory conditions are more nuanced than the "winner must take all objective hexes" type...

Also, given the oodles of prestige the AI Module normally enjoys, it doesn't "care" about such trifles as gaining prestige via the taking of enemy urban centers or losing prestige due to enemy level bombing of its own urban areas. All this is, well, ... small potatoes.

In addition, the AI Module never upgrades its units during the course of a scenario. Moreover, the AI Module doesn't "understand" the potential combat downside of placing anti-tank class units in urban hexes.

Finally, the AI module never repairs its naval units by taking advantage of Ports. To boot, it never embarks its units.
Last edited by HexCode on 2019-10-10 00:31, Thursday, edited 3 times in total.

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OBJECTIVES: AIRFIELDS

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-10 00:16, Thursday

OBJECTIVES: AIRFIELDS
=====================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
Like urban hexes, airfields are also so important that their control is denoted by ownership flags on the tactical map. They also provide a significant gain in prestige when they change hands.

Newly purchased air units appear on or adjacent to airfields. This is also where planes go to refuel. When it comes time to take replacements or upgrade air units during a scenario, they must begin their turn on an airfield (or aircraft carrier's) hex.

Although airfields aren't good defensive terrain, land units in airfield hexes have a much easier time being resupplied during adverse conditions such as being adjacent to enemy units or caught in bad weather. Airfields are also where air transports originate and where non-paratroop units moving via air transport must land.

Like urban areas, the control of airfields symbolizes the momentum on the battlefield. Controlling airfields can keep your air units over the battlefield longer (because they need less fuel to get back and forth from the nearest airfield), and, when more of them are owned, they make it easier to expeditiously replace air unit strength points lost in battle.
Commentary

Once again, PGF's AI Module doesn't really "understand" the implications inherent in a scenario's victory conditions in the sense that its actions aren't purposively dictated by such conditions. This is particularly obvious in instances where the victory conditions are more nuanced than the "winner must take all objective hexes" type...

Given the oodles of prestige the AI Module normally enjoys, it doesn't "care" about such trifles as gaining prestige via the taking of enemy airfields or losing prestige via enemy level bombing of its own airfields.

Also, the AI Module never upgrades its air units during the course of a scenario.

In addition, the AI module never embarks its units onto air transports... Moreover, it's just terrible when it comes to air unit fuel management. As for effective aircraft carrier utilization, well, forget it !

However, where possible, the AI Module does protect its airfields by occupying such hexes with friendly units upon "realizing" that an enemy air-transported unit is hovering directly above a friendly airfield hex...

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OBJECTIVES: CHOKE POINTS & MANEUVER -- PRELIMINARIES

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-11 01:24, Friday

OBJECTIVES: CHOKE POINTS & MANEUVER -- PRELIMINARIES
=====================================================

Here's some of what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
A good general must learn to read a map and see all the potentially rewarding objectives. In addition to those marked with a control flag, certain geographic features are important when you're conducting a military operation. When you're conducting a defensive operation, of course, good defensive terrain, such as cities, forests, bocage, and fortification hexes, are what you should look for.

More vital to a player conducting offensive operations, however, are avenues of maneuver. Often, between an offensive player's forces and his Objectives are certain choke points on the map that must either be traversed or maneuvered around. A clever defender is prepared to meet the enemy at these points. It is here that defenders can gain a localized military advantage and inflict disproportionate losses on enemy forces that must traverse these choke points.
Commentary

PGF's AI Module isn't exactly the epitome of competent generalship. The AI Module's behavior is particularly problematic when conducting offensive operations. Nevertheless, sometimes, when conducting defensive operations, the AI Module's behavior can be surprisingly competent (tactically speaking).
Last edited by HexCode on 2019-10-12 18:08, Saturday, edited 1 time in total.

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OBJECTIVES: CHOKE POINTS & MANEUVER -- ROAD JUNCTIONS & PASSES

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-11 23:09, Friday

OBJECTIVES: CHOKE POINTS & MANEUVER -- ROAD JUNCTIONS & PASSES
================================================================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
Where the terrain is dense, such as in the ARDENNES scenario or through the bocage during COBRA, roads cut a swath of hexes through difficult terrain. These swaths create ideal places for defenders to take a stand, thus easily delaying attackers coming down these crucial roads. Like rivers, narrow road passes do not create an insurmountable obstacle to outflank; it's just that it takes an attacker time to redeploy his forces to bypass a well-defended road. Often, all a defender has to do to win is buy time, so a player whose attacks must be funneled down these important roads must either strike with overwhelming force or be prepared to Maneuver around these types of obstacles (always being mindful of the time it takes to do either!).

Road Junctions, in such circumstances, are by their nature vital. This is the reason that the town of Bastogne played such a crucial role in the Ardennes campaign. These are the real traffic Choke Points when campaigning in difficult terrain and should be considered prime secondary Objectives.

Certain scenarios, most notably the desert warfare in North Africa, feature terrain that is difficult, if not impossible, for most land units to traverse. Nevertheless, you will find that rapid movement can be achieved after key Passes in the terrain are controlled. The trouble with Passes is that they are usually well-defended by enemy troops (often dug in and with artillery support). Like other Choke Points, Passes must either be bludgeoned through or Maneuvered around. Unlike a river obstacle, however, there are seldom good alternatives to crossing a particular path.
Commentary

As usual, the PGF AI Module's behavior on offense is anything but competent.

The AI Module's "defensive" behavior does not exactly shine either... First and foremost, it never actively takes advantage of the defensive capabilities afforded by "difficult" terrain. Secondly, even in instances of carefully crafted scenarios, the "defending" AI module exhibits the unfortunate tendency to move its "defenders" about, their original entrenchment levels be damned...
Last edited by HexCode on 2019-10-12 18:07, Saturday, edited 2 times in total.

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OBJECTIVES: CHOKE POINTS & MANEUVER -- BRIDGES

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-12 18:06, Saturday

OBJECTIVES: CHOKE POINTS & MANEUVER -- BRIDGES
===============================================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
Look on the map where rivers are bridged. Crossing rivers without a Bridge requires a unit to stop on a river hex so that it can move off that hex (on either side of the river) during the following turn. The catch is that units defending on river hexes do so at a distinct disadvantage.

Even when an Offensive player has bridging engineers to aid in crossing a river, it is still a risky proposition because even bridging engineers are vulnerable targets when they're sitting on a river hex.

Bridges are often found near urban areas, giving the defender an ideal position from which to guard the Bridges. The key to such strongly held enemy positions is to bypass them (or, for the defender, to defend their flanks so that they cannot be easily bypassed). Bludgeoning a city across a river is a good way for the attacker to take serious casualties, so an alternative route across the river must be found.
Commentary

PGF's AI Module doesn't really "comprehend" engineer bridging capabilities. Nevertheless, the AI Module often takes advantage of the defensive opportunities afforded by Bridges.

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OBJECTIVES: TARGETS OF OPPORTUNITY

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-13 16:55, Sunday

OBJECTIVES: TARGETS OF OPPORTUNITY
======================================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
Often, while you are traversing to your primary or secondary Objectives, you encounter Targets of Opportunity that justify a slight detour. For example, enemy land units are most vulnerable when they are riding in transports. An important Command consideration is to destroy these easy targets whenever the Opportunity presents itself and your risk of exposure to enemy counterattack is not too great.

Conversely, protecting friendly land units in transports is a difficult matter. In many cases, it is hard to stop a determined enemy from getting at them after they have been discovered. Always deploy your transports in such a way that the enemy risks exposure to a strong counterattack on your next turn. Because transports are so difficult to completely protect, the best recourse is to make any enemy attacks against them costly.
Commentary

PGF's AI Module kind of "comprehends" the notion of "Target". More importantly, the AI Module's behavior is always opportunistic, period !

The AI Module does attack enemy units on organic / naval / air transports whenever the... Opportunity arises. Trouble is, very seldom does it provide some credible deterrent against an expected, immediate counterattack. Glaringly, bomber class units attacking enemy transports routinely do so unescorted. As for the AI Module protecting its own transports, well, forget it !

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OFFENSIVE: PRELIMINARIES

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-14 16:14, Monday

OFFENSIVE: PRELIMINARIES
========================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
Only Offensive action can achieve decisive results. The best that defensive action alone can achieve is stalemate, which is not decisive. To win, you must take the Offensive and move against the enemy. Even when you conduct strategic Defense, launching appropriate counterattacks at decisive points and times can keep the player on the strategic Offensive off-balance, forcing him to pull back, regroup, and reorganize before he can move his forces forward again.

Simply put, troops can be doing one of two things: either waiting for something to happen or making something happen. Generally speaking, if they are making something happen, they are on the Offensive. Conversely, if they are waiting for something to happen, they are in Defense mode.

Units on the Offensive control the tempo for an engagement; in particular, when and where battles are fought. The benefit of the Offensive is that it controls contact with the enemy.
Commentary

Had the "poor" PGF AI Module a voice to... speak, it would have said, in all probability, "hey, I didn't understand a word here" !! Specifically, the AI Module would likely point to the following short list of key "incomprehensible" terms / concepts:

Contact
Control
Decisive
Strategic
Tempo

Enough said.

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