Total War

Supply Lines, Baggage Trains, & Attrition – ideas for future Total Wars

Content of the article: "Supply Lines, Baggage Trains, & Attrition – ideas for future Total Wars"

This is something I've been thinking about for quite a while as I've played Total War and Paradox games. Neither developer has really done these things. At least not well. And I think it would add a lot to the warfare aspect of the game.

In Troy armies have food. Food for armies is good. But I think the concept needs to be expanded upon. When an Army leaves your territory an actual supply line or lines should be created to it which follow it wherever it goes. It could even have little wagons traveling on it. I guess it could be an option, do you want one large supply line feeding your army everything it needs or multiple smaller ones? It would be a strategic choice. Smaller lines would be less efficient but more resilient to enemy attack. The enemy could intercept your supply lines. Supply lines would come from your Capitol or other cities. And maybe also special supply camps/depots your Army built as it marched. The camps would increase supply line efficiency. These supply camps would be needed as your Army goes deeper into enemy territory and has no friendly cities nearby.

The Army could also carry a certain amount of supplies with it in a 'baggage train'. Which would allow it to survive if cut off for a certain period of time. The enemy could potentially capture this baggage train if they attack from behind or the Army is completely overrun. The baggage train would have a default size, but you could tell the Army to make it bigger and bigger. Or it could be an actual special unit and you could add more and more to the Army. This would provide you with peace of mind knowing the Army had a lot of supplies on them, but it would make the Army slower and slower.

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Baggage trains could also be used as a temporary defensive fortification if you were really desperate. In the ancient world and I think in the 1400's/1500's barbarians and Europeans used wagons as temporary fortifications by creating a wall of them or a circle. This would make your supplies very vulnerable but it might give you the slight edge you need in a desperate defensive battle.

The Army could also scavenge a certain amount of supplies from the surrounding countryside. Depending on the region they are in. A desert wouldn't have much in the way of supplies for example but a fertile farmland would. Eventually you would exhaust the local supplies though. And it would make the population there hate you. It could even be an option. Barter for local supplies or take by force.

Attrition would start taking place if you ran out of food obviously. There could also be a few other kinds of attrition. Disease attrition which is by far the main way soldiers died until like the 20th century. Attrition from deserters which would happen if morale was low or your soldiers weren't loyal. And environmental attrition from extreme environments/climates which would be worsened if you didn't have supplies and were trying to march around in Winter for example. Generally there is a season for campaigning and you try to avoid fighting in Winter or when people are on their farms planting food for the nation. An Army generally would either disperse or make a Winter Quarters to live out the Winter.

If your Army ran out of food you could 'cut rations' which would save lives, but make the men weak and lower morale. These things are something I've thought a lot about for Total War and Paradox games. And nether has done them yet. So seize the opportunity CA!

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Also, if you intentionally choose to retreat on the campaign map or in a battle. Then your Army should not run to a random place. If it's a conscious decision then you should be able to choose where you retreat to. If your troops are overrun in a battle then the Army would run to a random place. This has annoyed me for so long in Total War.


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