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Guide to how scaling works in rebalance mod?


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Hello all

returning after a couple of years off to what has to be one of the greatest strategy games ever made, and still scratching my head at how scaling works. I'm not complaining about the fact scaling is there, just that even after several hundred hours of play and several campaigns, I'm still completely in the dark as to how it works, and how to manage it successfully.

So I am playing rebalance mod (why wouldn't you? Thanks to the designers, fantastic mod that really raises the game to another level) and I am playing Major General as CSA.

My first run through I go for a relatively small and experienced force. Win every battle until Malvern Hill, where I realise I just don't have the mass - the number of troops/brigades - to win. So I restart.

Second run through I go for larger, less experienced force. Win every battle until Malvern Hill, where despite fielding 35k inf, 182 guns across 60 brigades, I find myself up against 48k  largely elite inf and 252 elite guns. (largely 2*/3* compared to my 1*s). Every which way I try the battle, it seems impossible.

Thing is I have essentially no idea what factors are affecting the scaling?

Are there golden rules about how large to grow your units to? My inf are typically around 1.2k, my guns 12 guns, my skirmishers 350.  

Are there golden rules about how many brigades to field? How many corps to have? How much training to invest in?

Can anyone unpack the mysteries of scaling in this otherwise great game?!

Thanks all

PS why on earth has there not been a proper sequel to this incredible game?! (Age of Sail was a valiant effort but doesn't count!)

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Scaling is complicated, but the goal is that you shouldn't need to think about it too much. Progress at this goal remains mixed, we're trying though :)

Rather than try to give a detailed explanation, that would take me all day, I'll try to give some general guidelines. Also there are configs to override most of this if you have different goals or disagree with how this has been implemented.

Since the mod allows for a wider variety of unit sizes, scaling has been adjusted to try to detect what size range the player is using and keep the AI in that range. I think of this like the unit size selections in the total war games, do you want to play on small? Or on huge? The idea here is that if the player is running around with 6k units, the AI should also have similarly sized units, but if the player is only using 1ks, they should never encounter anything larger than 3-4k. The specifics will vary by difficulty selection and by battle(this is where things gets complicated) but that's the goal at least.

Multiple sizes of player units is fine, as long as they are in a reasonable range. This range has been defined as roughly +/- 2k. So 1ks and 3ks units you're fine. 1ks and 6ks and the scaling is going to get a big boost to try to keep up with the 6k.

Scaling takes into account average unit size of each type, as well as total manpower. It also accounts for all units in your army, not just the ones deployed. So if you build a full corps of small units, but go into a side battle with very few of a specific unit type(this happens most often early on in this campaign) you can see a larger jump. Similarly if you build fewer larger units early on this tends to spike scaling as well, though we've added a variety of measures to try to offset that somewhat to allow for players who like playing big to have a more reasonable shot early game on high difficulties.

My general recommendation is pick a size you want to use and roughly stick with it throughout the campaign. Starting a little under that size and gradually increasing to it or past it as the campaign progresses usually works well. You also usually want to prioritize getting or retaining perks over unit size. Though if your veteran brigades get too small, you may need to merge them. 1200 is a little smaller than I prefer these days, but can still work. Just requires a lot of precision since you don't have much ability to absorb losses. Other sizes should be fine.

You usually always want to field the required number of corps and as many brigades as allowed early on. Once you get into battles that allow 3+ corps it becomes a little harder to say for sure, as you often don't get units in those extra corps until late in the battle, and it's not worth diluting the units in your initial corps too much to be able to field the extra units.

Not sure what difficulty you are on, but for comparison here is what I faced on legendary for Malvern. I brought 41 brigades, 3rd corps is only there for the extra wagon. Hill https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/737699144478621706/881777943305662504/unknown.png

My standard setup is to have my rifled guns and some guarding infantry setup in the north. They will start picking off enemy artillery units that I can hit without taking return fire and any AI units that come out to attack me. The rest of my army will flank around to the SE corner of the map and attack across the bridge/fords. I'll then slowly compress the AI position from the south and eventually the north to take the point.

What were your numbers on your first attempt? My first instinct is that your army needs a very good set of artillery to be able to get through this battle as 1200 man infantry brigades will have a hard time trying to press through without significant support. But overall your numbers look decent.

That was a bit all over the place, but hope it helps and if you have more questions just ask.

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Hey Panda - you taking the time to address this in detail is amazing, thanks a million.

What you say all makes sense. For context, I've finished both vanilla campaigns on Major General, and am playing the mod on Major General.

So my numbers are similar to yours for this battle, by the look of things. What really kills me on the field though is the quality of the opposition as much as quantity. I have a couple of 2*, many 1* and many 0* units. The enemy is almost all 2*/3*, artillery included. And it's artillery that's as much the problem as anything else.

So whichever plan I take (I've tried the way you suggest - was always my go-to on this battle, or even a flank on the SW, or straight-out frontal seige, believe me I've tried them all!) his power is just too much: his artillery kills mine much quicker if I try counter battery duels, or his artillery destroys my assaulting infantry if I try going for the jugular.

So I guess my question is: what affects the AI experience scaling, or will they always be 2*/3* units in this battle?

The wider question is: when the AI outguns you in artillery, both in numbers, quality of guns, and experience, how do you assault a position?!

Thanks again

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2-3* isn't unusual at Malvern, may be a bit on the high end for MG though. High kills and captures helps keep AI xp down(see the recon report training stat) but the reinforcement types(messages that pop up on the campaign map after battles) can have a big impact as well. My training value was 37-42 and I faced mostly 2*s a few 3s and a handful of 1s.

I brought nine 2*s and only three 0*s. 6 points in training. Though this was also on a relatively older version of 1.28 so a grain of salt on what I'd end up with if I tried again.

The key to counterbattery is not to be exchanging fire. You'll nearly always come out behind if your rifled guns are taking fire at the same time as your are trying to take out enemy guns. So you either need to stay hidden, stay out of range(you can fire at targets on the very edge of the range cone with the right angles), or have some other unit closer drawing the enemy fire.

Not a lot of good video examples available, but here is how I handled it in the base game(counterbattery fire was on in the UI mod). While there will be plenty of differences to the mod, it does show how I use my artillery against larger units. https://youtu.be/lcjex1iabXs?list=PLNFTAFys32_-N-fIfWJgRSJIhVtOZjEGe

This is the closest thing to a recent version of the mod that I know of https://youtu.be/yljtLWIig7c?list=PLF9w8nYzOAnya5tJqhlB0lYHl-LFC7m-m

Overall, the AI always is larger and stronger on legendary so you have to learn how to find weaknesses in its line and chip away at them until you can push in. I don't actually attack that front until fairly late in the battle. Take out as much artillery as possible ahead of the push and make sure to support the push with smoothbores to help break enemy infantry quickly with focus fire.

Forefall also has a union campaign where you might be able to get some tips, though he has definitely started leaning into more of a brute force infantry heavy approach for getting through fortifications.




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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks again Panda for taking the time to reply - much appreciated.

I'm wondering whether the problems I'm having with the scaling on MG are actually more the fact I can't cope with the difficulty level and I should go back to MG!

Anyway, thanks for all your work on this mod. I believe you have some involvement in the upcoming Revolutionary War UG game? If so (and hoping the Ukrainian devs are all ok), best of luck for the future.

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  • 1 month later...

Interesting thread.  Thank for sharing your insights, Squatter - and thanks to Pandakraut for the clarifications.

I, too, have found 12k INF / 12 ARTY / 350 RNGR/SKRM / 350 CAV to be my "sweet spot", with CSA at MG. This was true previously, as well as on the newest version.  Note: 

  • I tend to use Cav a lot to counter-punch AI Inf attacks (preferably from the side or rear) - and will "swarm" my Cav for knockouts. Towards this end, in Major Battles I'll often have a bunch of smaller, weaker Cav. It's especially critical to withdraw & rest them now. 
  • I don't build Ranger ('Skirmisher') units that often; they are historical anomalies, but are useful for 'building small' when you don't have that many weapons.  I notice that the lower limit on Rangers now is 250, rather than 150.  Deliberate?
  • Am very fond of Detached Skirmishers as screening forces; they delay AI advances (especially when wooded/protected) and can be devastating when they flank the enemy. Re-merging them is critical when you get into the slugfest, as they are susceptible when isolated.
  • The proliferation of AI Detached Skirmishers is a design improvement. They are annoying.  Currently the AI doesn't re-merge Detached Skirmishers - even when they are substantially weakened - which makes them easier to 'pick off' in mid-battle.  Perhaps adjust this?

The newest version is Very Good.

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On 11/7/2022 at 7:58 AM, dixiePig said:

I notice that the lower limit on Rangers now is 250, rather than 150.  Deliberate?

Yes this was changed to reduce the effectiveness of dumping vets into a new unit.

On 11/7/2022 at 7:58 AM, dixiePig said:

Currently the AI doesn't re-merge Detached Skirmishers - even when they are substantially weakened - which makes them easier to 'pick off' in mid-battle.  Perhaps adjust this?

AI pathing to return detached to unit uses a straight line regardless of where that would take the skirmishers. So it's as likely to just get them killed as anything. The AI also only detaches from a small percentage of their total units at any one time, so they will end up cycling in new detached skirmishers as the initial ones get destroyed.

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