Fog of war and possible enemy presence

One of the big changes in Shadow Empire compared to all my previous titles is that I dropped the system where players actually own the hexes on the map. In Shadow Empire players only own their locations and units.

This might seem like a bit of a trivial change, but the reverse is true. With hex control the player is always aware of any enemy maneuvers entering his territory. He might not know what enemy units are involved, but he is aware of the movements. Without hex control he only sees what his units and locations see.

A wealth of tactical possibilities is opened up with this increased fog of war. For example it is now possible to wage true guerrilla warfare, infiltrate enemy lines and disrupt the enemy supply system. This is basically your chance to be like the Desert Fox and outwit the enemy, take his rear supply bases and win almost bloodless victories. This possibility is a real reason to keep some reserves behind the lines and actually keep your lines tight to avoid such infiltration.

I like to add game rules that give at least in theory a smart player with less forces the possibility to outwit and defeat a much larger enemy.

Furthermore on a more strategic note it makes it possible to escape out of a dire situation and for example find a wild unclaimed part of the map and rebuild without the enemy knowing where you are. (might have seen The Empire Strikes Back one time to often)

What is important to realize is what the player sees as his supply system is always just a prognosis. Since it is possible that enemy units might be unseen and make the ideal logistical plan impossible at execution time (at start of the next turn).

fow1

Here we see a typical supply network with two supply units and a number of regular units. The dark shade indicates the fog of war. The arrows the flow of supply. In this example the supply will flow as normal.

But if an enemy unit would have infiltrated the lines it could block this supply network and cause all the units in the south to become cut of from supplies:

fow2

In play it turned out to be sometimes confusing to see units out of supply that should have been in supply and for this reason I created what I call Possible-Enemy-Presence (PEP) markers. In the screenshot above the PEP-markers are shown as the red blocked area. As you see the enemy unit blocking the supply chain between the 2 supply units is thus partly exposed. But note that the 2nd infiltrator a bit to the right of the exposed unit is not.

These PEP markers help a lot in the gameplay experience since they tell you more or less where there must be some enemy presence causing your supply network to dysfunction. They are basically just a tool and remove the burdensome task from the player of deducing where the enemy must be. The idea behind them is that they should betray (more-or-less) no more information than some sturdy think work by the player could have deduced. The PEP markers are most of the time not exact and with a complete break of the supply chain whole regions might be indicated.

These PEP markers are only shown when the optimal supply system is actually disrupted or broken. So if an enemy infiltrator would for example keep to the forests and not occupy (of all things!) a crossroad then no detection would take place.

Other rules related to fog of war are shroud of darkness rules and ambush rules. But my time is up and I’ll have to talk about those in a future post. Hope you enjoyed the read and feel free to comment.

Kind regards,
Vic

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