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DevBlog: The Art of War II

With the first part of our The Art of War blog, we talked in detail about the military features in previous Anno titles. Today, it is time to give you insights into the military system in the upcoming Anno 1800. Creative Director Dirk Riegert will now give you a preview on what is to come for all the Anno commanders and strategists out there. Enjoy!

The 19th century gave Anno 1800 its name, and over the course of the game players will progress through the important milestones of this time; from the first and second industrial revolution up to the late 19th century, the golden age of Imperialism. The age of imperialism and industrialization provides many options for interesting gameplay possibilities as it was a time of progress, expansion and diplomacy. There is one overarching philosophy we follow for our upcoming Anno game: “You alone will decide, how the world shall remember you”.

You will be able to shape your own 19th century empire according to your own ideas and vision. In previous Anno titles, you could either cooperate with the AI or other players or destroy them with military force. With Anno 1404: Venice, we added the possibility to overtake opponent islands through economic domination, a possibility that fits perfectly into our 19th century setting- but with Anno 1800, we want to go even a step further!

Domination or destruction!
Until now, settlements on islands, which were either destroyed by military attacks or overtaken through economic power, were automatically cleansed of all structures and credited to the player. That will be still possible with Anno 1800, should you decide to assimilate all islands and totally annihilate every enemy presence on the map.


The shadow of war. Concept art for a heavy harbor fortification in Anno 1800.

However, the era of Imperialism has seen way more than just destructive warfare and we will provide you with an alternate way of solving conflicts. This solution is interesting for players, who want to dominate the game world but do not like the idea of being alone after they swept all AI from the borders of their empire. Instead of just destroying every trace of an enemy settlement, you will be able to annex conquered islands, which makes your former opponent a part of your empire. In this case, the island will pay tributes in form of tax and goods to the empire, while the island will remain under the control of the defeated party.

The following chart demonstrates the new ways of dealing with opposing parties. One example would be military domination to ensure higher income through tribute payments while the neutrality of the defeated islands remains intact. A great option for everyone who likes to bring enemy AI to its knees but does not want to be alone, surrounded by empty islands. That allows new strategic variants and interesting options for the late game of your expanded empire.

Variety of playstyles, whether it is domination or annihilation, military action or economic pressure: you decide!

Focus on naval warfare
With Anno 1800, we want to expand on the naval formula presented in Anno 2070 and add more complexity to sea battles. The 19th century marked the transition from the sail ship era and introduced steam powered vessels and battle ships, which allows us to put new cards on the table to expand strategies for naval encounters and navigation.

While the technical advancements of the industrial revolution lead the charge for many following technical inventions and wonders, it would be a bit too early to introduce air units. We know that back then, they experimented and partially used air balloons for reconnaissance missions and even bombardments, but it was more towards the beginning of the 20 century when humankind strived for more and began to rule the skies.

Naval battles between steam- and sailing ships are the core of our military feature, seen here in an early concept art.

So what about ground units? We had lengthy discussions in our team about the pros and cons of land-based combat, and as a result decided to skip ground units like infantry entirely. We are aware that the land combat system has its fans out there, who love to fight on foreign soil and who would like to see the return of infantry battalions and regiments. As Anno as a series is foremost about city building and management, skirmishes or full scale battles on the actual building zones always came with its drawbacks, such as units getting lost between buildings, as we explained in last week’s blog. A separation between the islands as building areas and the sea for warfare will ensure that both system can shine to their fullest potential.

You might remember the chart from our first military blog:

Land is for building; the sea is for trade and combat. Harbors are the intersection between both.

The idea is that players can plan their industrial areas and develop their cities to real metropolises without distraction, as military conflicts will be fought with naval forces clashing on the ocean. Harbors will play an important role here, as they connect the islands to each other and across the high seas to expand your empire. In order to take over an opposing island, you now have to gain control over the main harbor of the city. To defend these cities, harbor installations can be heavily fortified to defend against enemy attacks. The harbor system itself is worth talking about in more depth in a future DevBlog.

Trade routes will be also of significance, as you will need to ensure their protection during times of war when other empires try to bleed your economy dry by attacking convoys between your islands and sessions.

Always with the breeze
Our focus on naval battles will bring exciting skirmishes on the high seas for new players, while also introducing new options and additional complexity for veterans of the series, who like to engage in deep combat mechanics.

To give you a few examples, we are currently playing around with a new system that will cover the transition from wind to steam powered ships, provide you with special weapon types and allow you to bulk up your vessels with armor plating. We aim for a system that is easy to learn for beginners but hard to master for veterans who like to optimize and test out new tactics in warfare.
In this context, let us have a closer look on the wind feature. We created a short clip for you, where our dummy ships demonstrate the impact wind will have on a sailing ship versus a steam-powered vessel.

Your ship’s speed in Anno 1800 will depend on the direction of the wind

The new wind feature in the game will have an impact on navigation by sometimes changing wind direction. Thanks to the technological advancements of the time, steam ships will not be as affected by wind as their sail-powered counterparts are. However, you should not think that this means the inevitable end for traditional sailing ships, with their capability to use the wind to their advantage to quickly gain momentum and maneuverability. Your steam ships might even end up being outsmarted by an unexpected maneuver, or a change in wind direction.

That means that players who do not want to get too much into details will always have a noticeable benefit from constructing steamships. For veterans on the other hand, it is definitely worth it to have a closer look and to play around with different fleet constellations. It is possible that fast sailing ships, if they use strong winds to their advantage, can make an escape or achieve a tactical surprise turn to attack enemy battle ships with a barrage of light attacks.

Beside the new possibilities for actual naval battles, other military topics and strategies will have an important role in Anno 1800. As you will be able to threaten other parties in the game in order to bring them to heel, why not try threatening your neighbors with a largely non-existent army and a lot of hot air? What if AI sees through your bluff or even tries the same with you in order to appear stronger than they actually are?

There many important aspects of the military system in Anno 1800, where combat, diplomacy and trading are strongly connected and we are still playing around with some more ideas and possibilities.

One thing is set in stone: you will be able to decide between war and peace and give you the agency you want by choosing the AI difficulty, inviting other players or to alter the various difficulty settings when generating your world. It is your choice if you want to avoid warfare entirely as a peaceful city builder or if you are thirsty to wage wars across the isles. It is this player agency, which was always a staple of the series and which creates that special Anno feeling.

So what is next and what do you want to know more about?
The military system alone contains many more aspects, which we could explain in detail in future blogs in 2018. Is there something specific you want to know more about, such as how taking over enemy isles work? Shall we give the sea warfare another spotlight, where we dive deeper into weapons and other special features of naval battles? Let us know in the comments below, we are looking forward to your feedback.

See you next time,

Dirk “Cart-Pusher” Riegert

38 Comments

  1. CoryDeRealest CoryDeRealest

    At least make 1 line infantry unit, 1 calvary unit for flanking the infantry, and one canon unit for indirect fire! That is all… Even be lazy and include the old mechanics with base-to-base combat (Like dawn of discovery), maybe make them directional (line men face forward and shoot forwards) The fact that this won’t even be attempted to be implimented shows undesire for a game company, this shows lack of detail, what do you think most strategy gamers love? Attention to detail!! It is about the 8th game and you still do not have animations for carts going into buildings yet? It’s pathetic! And now no land combat either?? They are cheaping out on us and being lazy.

    I completely understand the idea for peaceful uninterupted city building (I completely love that, seriously) But they have yet finished this game, there are so many details missed, and there is some type of void for the land combat, there needs to be something, anything. There needs to be that risk of land units embarking and raiding your land or making a force to go to another island, there needs to be, and not only to be a annoying but to make it eventful and risky, it urges you to build defences, and have forces of your own to protect your masterpiece of hard work.

    It is the peak of this franchise and you’re telling me it isn’t going to be included? Are you mad? To avoid that annoyance on your own island you can have HUGE defences, but for the OFFENCE, that is why we love this, to build up and conquer. How great is it to have that risk and build up a great land force to see all your effort and have a big land force on your island (to not only PROTECT but to expand), and then you can embark them and go on small missions with your navy, or all together on a huge mission to land on other islands, to explore and maybe fight out others? It is incredible.

    To not have that with the line men and horsemen of the 1800’s is absurd. Completely lazy, and don’t get me started with the lack of details on a peak game of it’s frnachise that is just lazy, I am loosing hope with this franchise that I was starting to love.

  2. MikeMcnanner MikeMcnanner

    “We are aware that the land combat system has its fans out there”

    I think the Anno developers are understating the majority of people who strongly desire at least some form of land combat. I glance through forms here on the Anno union and the Anno subreddit and can easily tell at least a solid 80% of Anno fans are disappointed there will be no land combat. I think just one simple ground infantry and one ground artillery unit would be enough to satisfy that 80%.

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  3. CreatureotS CreatureotS

    I welcome what looks like a more complex naval warfare. On the other hand there has to be a way to invade islands with troops. Personally I liked the 2070 approach the best but as there are no planes or helicopters you should return to either the encampments or the movable squads. The best option in my opinion would be to be able to build barracks on the islands where you would train cannons or squads comprised of 20 men or so which would defend the island if it was attacked by enemy soldiers and could be transported by moving these squads through the harbour in to ships to be brought to enemy islands. You could then direct your troops to attack the most important warehouses etc. but you woulden’t be in direct control. The troops from the barracks / forts and the invading tropps would fight it out and the victorious party would slowly capture more of the island.

  4. ruuti0 ruuti0

    I loved war in all versions of Anno (expect 2205).

    Your nice ideas sounds like that it is going to be even more fun upcoming game!

    I hope it will be even bigger part of game in 1800 than ever before!

    “this case, the island will pay tributes in form of tax and goods to the empire, while the island will remain under the control of the defeated party.”, I just wonder is it possible them to rebel here or are they forced to continue paying “taxes” when this happen?

  5. banan1996.1996 banan1996.1996

    I am glad to see that you focus on naval battles as they were always the most important part of wars in Anno. I would like to see ground troops but I won’t miss them if naval warfare gets more complex and strategic. I like the idea of wind but I am not sure if that’s enough. Usually war was won by the player with more ships which also means better economy. I hope it will be at least slightly changed so that even with less number of ships you can still win by outsmarting your enemy.

    I LOVE the idea of dominating an opponent but not destroying them completely. Now I realised it’s a thing that was missing in previous games. I will definately use this option.

    I am curious about how this fooling the enemy about your fleet size will work. I guess different AIs might react and use it in different ways.

    The most important question is how taking control over harbor is going to work, what precisely do we have to do to achieve this?
    And what’s the difference between the economic domination and extinction? Does it mean buying enemy’s island – you can just decide if you want to buy it out completely or just partially so that your enemy has to pay you to stay alive and keep his island?

  6. xAquiliferx xAquiliferx

    It’s sad that there no ground combat. But yet i’m quite fascinated about all the stuff added to game. Is espionage in game? It would be good to see a dev blog about diplomacy and all related to subject. And “customization for ships” requires a bit more details, to make an opinion about it.
    You can add ground combat via “marines” ships, it would make sea battles more complex by the way. About mechanic: player have to move this ship to main harbor and then “marines” would attack the “cityhall”, without direct control, add some onetime use “cards” witch can be used(by both sides) in combat to gain advantage, they can be provided via quests and development in some military structure. It’s quite simple but could be deep.

  7. chgolover1 chgolover1

    I do know how to spell. That is sea battles.

  8. chgolover1 chgolover1

    I think there should be land combat. There was more land based battles with troops than see battles in the 1800s, no? I will be disappointed without troops fighting ground battles.

  9. Nox_29 Nox_29

    It seems like diplomacy is also getting an overhaul? I want some in-depth information about that! (maybe a seperate devblog?) I always felt that real players had a disadvantage over AI players in terms of dioplomcay in previous Anno games since we couldn’t threat players, ask for help and things like that.

    You also mention some sort of upgrade or customization system for ships. How deep does that go? In previous games we could place items in our ship to alter its abilities in some way. But will we be able to do a lot more in 1800?
    I had a great idea about designing custom ship blueprints that are made up of several ship parts (maybe researched like in 2070?). Hulls, rudders, sails, steamengines, cannons, etc. With these parts players could design blueprints of ships that are made for a specific role.
    But I’m not sure if it will fit in well in an Anno game.

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  10. Arkenophas Arkenophas

    Nice blog 🙂 Some questions, how could we know the wind direction ? Will there be an indication on the map ? (and pay attention to your sailing ship, he is not a submarine, he doesn’t go under water :p ). And will the AI we “conquered” can make a revolution ? How could we be sure they are clean with taxes ? Will there be smuggling ? (it could be a quest, for exemple, you have some ships sailing on the map, and you must find the smuggler). Sad for the ground unit :'(

  11. PavelKoppen PavelKoppen

    I think that the lack of ground troops is not the best idea. The franchise has a very huge number of people who love land battles. And the lack of this element in the game can affect the opinion of the fans about the game. German fans have already spoken out about this and I agree with them. Anno 1800 should be the best game from the entire franchise, the game must have all the advantages of past games. And battles on land are an important element of the entire franchise. It is not necessary to repeat the mistakes of Anno 2205. It seems to me that the best military theme was in Anno 1701. You can take some functions from there, or from Anno 1404. Land battles can have their drawbacks, this is normal. It will be even worse if there are no land battles.

    Hello from Russia!

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  12. CaCl2_ CaCl2_

    I hope you made the right choise in not having ground troops.

    Are the AI NPCs in this game going to build mostly like the player, like in 1404, or are they going to play completely by their own rules, 2070-style?

    Sea based blockades don’t sound nearly as fun if they just increment some hidden “surrender” counter down, instead of having visible effects as the enemy city suddenly looses its access to spices and collapses into massive riots.

  13. Basterius Basterius

    I am super happy to read that warfare is optional. To be honest I do not understand why people find warfare so important. There are trillions of games with warfare: take your pick.

    But please always make it possible to play (any) Anno game without warfare…

  14. BlueBreath BlueBreath

    I would propose that if a production building is hit by a bombardment, it should stop working for a time one or 2 minutes.

  15. MinneIceCube MinneIceCube

    I understand that issues would arise if infantry action was considered. that said, since you guys have started the union to tell us what you are up to, and to get feedback, might I suggest something?

    Take a page from Endless Space 2. give each island a “Manpower” score. When you invade the harbor, all the ships in the fleet would have a “Manpower” score. In ES2, you chose from 3 different plans, one killing more of the enemy forces while increasing building and population damage/death, one conserving your own forces while they deal less damage, and one sending in more troops with more casualty’s on your side.

    I do realize the ES2 is a turn based game, and it might be hard to do something like this. but it never hurts the toss ideas out there, right?

    I am saying this because I would like to see an optional form of land combat in 1800. combat in 2070 and 2205 felt a bit stale. send guys here, shoot the other guys, move on. Diversity however, enhances replayability.

    I am rambling. sorry for the long comment.

  16. Boldzmann Boldzmann

    I really liked the new features. My question is: can an AI player dominate me with the same capabilities?

    Like many others, I was disappointed by the lack of ground troops. Without them, the art of war will not be complete.

  17. Olinater Olinater

    This was, again, a really nice devblog! Especially the part in which we can turn AI players into subjects really appealed to me. It’s nice because it also adds another layer to the diplomacy part of the game. It is however, not very specifically mentions how you force AI players into your submission. I would like to see a devblog in the future about how the different options of hostile takeover will look like.
    You explained that in the military way of doing it, you must take the harbour. But how do you take the harbour? Do you send a ship with a boarding crew? And how long does it take to claim the island? What if my fleet is on the other side of the map (or in another session) and the AI decides to backstab me. Will my ships be in time to do anything about it? Or should I always keep backup at crucial island?
    And how does the economic way of taking over an island works? Is it simply buying up some version of island shares (or seats in the council) and hope the AI isn’t able to buy them back? Or does it involve sabotaging the public opinion (via espionage for example) and sending money to parties who want the AI ruler gone and replace him with you.
    And what if you have taken over an AI player? Will he simply do everything you tell him, or (in a higher difficulty setting) will he try to break free once his fleet size starts being equal to yours. Can you tell him to settle a specific island, or will he stop expanding as soon as he/she turns into your subject?

    I’m disappointed to see that ground warfare won’t be a part of the game. While it may not be a central part of any Anno game, I hoped it would have gained a more prominent role in this anno because the 19th century is also known for the many (land)wars that were fought. However, I do understand that naval warfare is a far more urgent priority. I’m confident that you guys didn’t skip ground warfare lightly and that you gave it a lot of thought before deciding that not adding it (now) would be the better choice.

    Besides, creating a more complex naval combat system is really nice and if done well it will make up for the lack of a ground combat system for the most part (to me at least). I would really love to find out more about it. Some questions that I have if such a devblog will come:
    – How many types of ships (including trade ships) will the game contain?
    – Will the average (war)fleet size be bigger than in previous Anno’s?
    – Will more conditional/environmental factors like the wind be added?
    – Can you install different type of weapons/canons on the ship? And does this mean that you can configurate this for every new ship you build in some kind of menu you get when clicking on the ship building dock?

    Thanks for the blog! It was really good!
    Have a nice weekend everyone!

  18. thunderboll thunderboll

    Really sad to hear that land combat was scrapped. Planning huge invasions with naval support and managing logistics was one of the things i loved most in earlier annos. Fortifying your cities to prepare for invasions was awesome, making you islands to strongholds. The complete lack of land units is what ruined combat in 2070 in my opinion because it made it so difficult to capture islands and it just fellt silly not being able to deploy tanks of ifvs to easier capture those depots.

    Why not let us recruit regiments like line infantry regiments which all modern militarys used at the time? I get that clipping and unit pathing might be a problem but i rather have somewhat flawed landbased combat than none at all.

    Another option would be a system similiar to anno 1404. It was not perfect and wouldnt fit the timeline very well but again anything is better than nothing

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  19. SardaHD SardaHD

    Shouldn’t nearly all the brand new steam ships have rigging as well to take advantage of the wind? Historically they had mixed steam+wind rigging for a crazy long time before they went fuel power only.

  20. Soulridder Soulridder

    Really sad that we don’t get any infantry units which directly leads to one question: How are we able to do damage to specific parts of the infrastructure itself of the AI? I’m not talking about attacking trade routes here, but about attacking the buildings directly to damage or destroy them.

    It also nice to see that the wind direction will finally make a difference. 🙂

    “In order to take over an opposing island, you now have to gain control over the main harbor of the city.”
    Hm… I’m wondering about the defense options and attack options for such an operation. Like what ships are there to attack an harbour and what defenses are there for the habour itself.
    Also, when an harbour is under attack, what happens to the trade route? Will the ships from the trade route still drive directly into the attack?
    Would be nice to have an upgrade for steam powered ships to avoid this:
    1. Build a radio station at the harbour
    2. Buy some radio upgrade for the ship
    3. When the habour is under attack the radio station sends a transmission to all ships nearby which then take leave and wait out in the next harbour or the other harbour of there trade routes. When the attack is over they will automatically restart the trade route. ( https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funktechnik )

    Threatening other AIs or players with non-existence armies sounds nice. I’m just wondering how they will look as I wouldn’t like it when there is no distinction between a real army and a fake army, but I also don’t like it when a player can recognize the army as a fake army immediatly or by taking a closer look. What about adding some kind of technology to the game which would allow a little distinction between those armies. Not a huge distinction as you should still not be able to recognize the difference immediatly, but a smaller one in order for you to recognize the fake army of your enemy when taking a closer look.
    This would hinder more experienced players from directly seeing that there is a fake army, thus making it useless against experienced players while also making sure that a difference can be seen without making it useless again when a player has this upgrade.
    I’m also wondering how those fake armies look exactly compared to normal armies as I don’t want to be able to directly distinguish between both of them (would make it a useless feature when playing against players).

    “always came with its drawbacks, such as units getting lost between buildings”
    I’m still suggesting my idea from last weeks post which would allow players to form larger groups or units. This would avoid the problem of too much micromanagement for new players and would avoid the problem of units getting lost between buildings while also avoiding the problem with Anno 1404 where infantry units had to build a camp for an attack move on an island full of buildings.

    “attacking convoys between your islands and sessions.”
    How will the defence from convoys which are between sessions work?

    Maybe we get an answer to a few of my other questions from last weeks DevBlog in a future post. 😉 (like the HDR question or the auto-tree-regrow question)

    Soulridder

  21. Swimming-Paul Swimming-Paul

    I´m DELIGHTED after reading all the info included in this post. I love the spirit behind the military concept for the new Anno because it´s extremely respectful with the nature of the franchise but at the same time it´s developing it further. Personally I´m not into military gameplay in Anno at all, and just like to city-build and manage resources and trade routes, so I´m very happy that land units are not going to be featured. I think the build-fight-pass chart is perfect, because it perfectly shows the core value of Anno games. OMG I´m so excited! Congratulations, keep up the good work guys!

  22. CorsairUplay CorsairUplay

    Yes! The wind system is brilliant!

  23. AmpeImann AmpeImann

    The biggest downside to not having ground troops is the inability to target specific pieces of enemy infrastructure (smelter, city centers, etc). Will we be able to bombard into the islands with steam battleships? Or will structures near the center of an island be impossible to attack?

    If we can’t attack anything but the harbor, will there be any forms of espionage to allow us to disable key structures?

    I am very excited to see the wind mechanic being brought into this game! Can’t wait to see what kinds of advanced tactics we can try.

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  24. xvraptor xvraptor

    Sailing with or against the wind is brilliant idea!

  25. BitteWenden BitteWenden

    Das Militärsystem wirkt dann für mich nur so halbfertig, Seekämpfe sind zwar auch spannend aber der Einfluss den man damit ausübt fühlt sich immer nur zweitrangig an. Dieses Übernehmen der Häfen fände ich bei gleichzeitigen Bodeneinheiten super, aber alleinstehend, um dann ganze Inseln zu übernehmen glaube ich nicht, dass da viel Spannung aufkommt. Der Hafen mag zwar gut bewacht sein, aber dennoch ist es nur ein einziger strategischer Punkt, eine einzige Angriffsfläche um die man sich kümmern muss.

    Eine (optionale) Alternative wäre vielleicht eine zweite Phase neben der Übernahme des Hafens, in der man dann Militäreinheiten über die Schiffe und den übernommenen Hafen auf die Insel transportiert, welche dann an strategisch wichtige Punkte (Kontore/Markplatz) gesetzt werden können (dh. man kann sie nicht frei bewegen). (Das gleiche kann der Gegner dann auch machen). Dadurch kann die Insel dann Kontor für Kontor/Markplatz übernommen werden, oder der Gegner schafft es den Hafen zurück zu bekommen.
    Das würde sich dann ein kleines Bisschen wie mit den Flugeinheiten aus 2070 verhalten.

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  26. BlueBreath BlueBreath

    Yes please more details, about the taking over of the islands.
    As I understand right now you can only attack harbor buildings. If it is in my range, I would want to attack a smelter by example to hinder their industry if I choose to blockade an island.

  27. Sting_McRay Sting_McRay

    “Your ship’s speed in Anno 1800 will depend on the direction of the wind”

    Very nice and realistic 🙂 Keep up the nice work 🙂

    Regards

  28. iruet iruet

    Will there be a community vote related to the PvE/PvP system? 😀

    I like these ideas, but maybe there are more ideas which the community can vote for?

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