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Now that the first beta version of 1.09 is out I decided to take a look at the game again after mostly ignoring it for a couple of months. Although the game becomes ever more feature rich I believe that some aspects of it are still very shallow and one of the most shallow features imo is task force creation, their purpose and management. IMO the biggest question that would be great for the designers to answer: what is the objective/purpose of task forces in UAD? Currently, task forces are nothing more than a group/assembly of ships that have (in most cases) departed from a single naval base and sent to a sea region on the map. There, these "task forces" sit around and generate missions within that sea region. These auto-generated missions can be somewhat scewed by the way the task force is comprised and the abilities/features of the ships within the task force. For example, a task force with fast ships that support a long range have a benefit of triggering more favourable missions. Furthermore, with the introduction of the recon system, having high value recon ships (e.g. fast, small/stealthy ships) also impacts the ability of a task force to trigger more favourable engagements. Also, task forces can be given a mission, which is currently (1.09) limited to: sea control, protect and invade and according to the in-game help feature a control zone which prevents hostile ships from passing through unchallenged. The task forces will be supplied from your naval bases with ammo and fuel in an abstracted manner by the game so that it removes micromanagement. To me this approach that UAD feels very conflicted/confusing. I can fully understand their design choice from simplifying game design, but task forces are (as of now) a mix of the IRL patrol groups, fleets and task forces. I feel that the current UAD task forces should allow for much more detail in its organisation and objective. To my knowledge the devs are moving towards a more point based system in which the number and type of ships comprising the task force, will be impacted by your techology/research. More advanced tech will give you more points, hence allow you to create more complex/larger task forces. I would not be suprised if admirals (as in game characters) were to lead these formations at some point when implemented. It would be helpful if we were able to also choose a formation for the task force (even a list of preset ones would already be great) so that this helps us and the AI in organising the ships during battle. I hope that my rambling makes sense, please feel free to discuss.
First off, I want to say to Nick and his team what an amazing job they have done and how magnificent this game is. When I was young I played Robert E. Lee: Civil War General and Civil War Generals 2 and found in many ways this game is a spiritual successor, but superior in almost every meaningful way. Now that the game has been released, I wanted to make some suggestions for what I think would be improvements - some quality of life, some additional features, and some to set the groundwork for more replayability. When beginning your game, after making the choices to define your starting stats, have a final choice after which side where you choose your portrait from a selection. I really don't like being forced into the same portrait each side, each time. Please allow us to change it. Provide some mechanism for division commanders to be visible on the battlefield. I am not talking about another headquarters unit, because that will lead to more micromanagement in later battles, but perhaps something akin to what CWG and CWG2 did with a gold star on the brigade that had the division commander attached. Putting another star on the brigades in UG:CW is not the answer because it will confuse with veterancy stars, but a flag or a banner would work, and clicking on that unit would give the division commander in addition to the brigade commander. It would also be good for that brigade to almost act like a mini-HQ unit and give a small bonus to nearby brigades that are only of the same division. This suggestion also relates with item 6 below. Greater flexibility in custom missions. Allow custom placement of troops before the battle to increase the "what if" factor, allow custom generals to be added (custom names, etc). This is a hard one, I think: the maps you have are beautiful and due to being hand drawn were no doubt labor intensive. However, creating and releasing some maps for alternate areas which were only the site of small battles, or where a battle might have happened but didn't, etc to allow for use a more custom missions. Special traits that apply to historical generals. Don't get me wrong, I like having the ability to use the prestige purchasing to have generals like Reynolds, Hancock, Sedgewick, etc in my army but apart from the historical value they are no different than a general you can buy from the barracks and to be honest, by mid game I am using my prestige for resources and even then only sparingly, to keep it up for the morale bonus. There should be a benefit to employing historical generals - especially the good ones - such as custom traits that make their use very desirable. The ability to rename divisions. While the Union relied on numbered divisions at least in part, the Confederacy named their divisions the same way brigades tend to be, by naming them after the commander. So, I think on the battlefield map it would be a nice touch to have a show the division name under the brigade name. So, under "Armistead" it might say "Pickett's Division". Thank you!
I would like to suggest a feature called critical damage or a revamp to the current damage system. Similar to how a rudder, or pump would go out, or a permanent leak from losing the bow armor occurs, I would like to see permanent leaks caused by critical damage sustained by multiple hits in the same area of the hull. Another option perhaps is to condense these features into a single classification known as critical damage, a standalone threshold similar to hull armor now, but only repairable by moving crew to survival mode. Realistically speaking, if balls were to hit the same area of a ship repeatedly, the integrity of the hull in that particular area would become weaker and weaker compared to other portions of the hull. It would also require captains to focus their fire, and wait for opportune moments to fire more often than they do now. As it stands, firing an entire broadside when the opportunity arises is always preferable than firing single shots, which in my opinion is not exactly a skill based mechanic other than aim as low as possible, whenever possible, for maximum effect. Various things would be factored in to make this a reality, which are already in place, such as weight of the ball that impacts the hull which causes trauma to it (even bounces), as well as the range, and penetrating force. Leaks are a form of critical damage but the time it takes to repair leaks, rarely impacts overall outcome of a battle, same with fires, or module damage, and they really do not compound with each other because they simply never happen at the same time, and if they do, a simple emergency repair fixes most of these critical damage systems in place now, except fires and leaks. These forms of damage need more importance, and ships should take awhile longer than they do now to repair those types of things, along with more of a bonus for impacting the same portion of hull over and over again, would go along way in utilizing hull strength and armor bonuses, as well as make some of the larger ships, more vunerable to their currently obsolete counterparts (namely, Connie v Aggie). Happy Holidays!