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Radio Contact!

In any RPG or turn strategy game you'll find special roles for special characters. There's the tank, whose job is to absorb damage, and the DPS whose role is to do a lot of damage per second. You might find other roles like glass-cannon, but the one you can't do without is a healer.

Of course a healer isn't only supposed to heal, they also have the ability to put buffs or de-buffs on other characters. At this point you can split in to a further specialized role, the support character. They might not be able to heal at all, but they can buff or de-buff and perhaps summon allies.

Once I made the decision to switch Vinland: 1936 over to a turn based strategy game, I had to think about how roles were going to work out. Tanks are obvious, and DPS is more complex. But today I want to talk support.

In the above picture you can see that a lot of the selected unit's abilities and actions are grayed out. It can't currently use them because they are restricted. The usual way to restrict access to abilities in games like this is through unit upgrades or experience. Of course some of that's going to be in Vinland, through the vehicle builder, but there's another element at work here.

This unit has an active effect "H.R.C" which stands for Has Radio Contact.
Only units with radio contact can use their best special abilities.

So how to get radio contact?
Well, it also has the active effect "H.C.R" which stands for Has Command Radio. This is a heavy piece of equipment which allows contact with the main elements of the army. Using this, the specialized command unit can maintain radio contact with other friendly units, as long as they have a smaller, tactical radio of their own or are currently adjacent to a unit which does.

The infantry and anti-tank gun here don't have a tactical radio, but they are adjacent to a light tank which does have one. Using the "Radio Contact" action on the tank spreads radio contact to his neighbors. Now you can see they all have the "H.R.C" tag and can access their special abilities.

These include the ability to take "Steady Aim" put the engine in to "Overdrive" or shoot the machine-guns on "Rapid Fire".

I've quickly added some buffs to these units and now they are more effective in combat, for a little while. Radio contact decays after a couple of turns and has to be renewed.

Command vehicles have the ability to add other, more direct buffs or de-buffs too, such as "Quick March" which gives the unit extra movement points for a single turn, or "Mark Target" which makes enemy units easier to hit. But they only get 3 actions per turn, so the player will have to think carefully about which friendly units need this special support.

I hope this will give the game more tactical dimensions, so that it's not just about tanks and DPS. It also gives a good reason to have (and protect) command type units in the game. In real life, these units were essential to the smooth operations of all the WWII era armies. They helped co-ordinate attacks, maintain high morale in tough situations and concentrate resources where they were needed the most.

I'm still testing these ideas, and whether they make it in to the final game will depend on how well they work and how much fun they are to use in the game. Right now I think there are too many actions and abilities, but many of these are linked to the availability of certain tank components in the vehicle builder. So it won't be so complicated once they've all been set up correctly.

Early vehicles will be able to move and shoot, and that's about it. Radio contact won't be such a big deal in the early game. Later, as more abilities come on line, it will be very advantageous to be able to access more advanced commands.


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