"An Army marches on its stomach."
"Amateurs talk tactics, dilettantes talk strategy, professionals talk logistics."
— Anonymous quote on what really wins wars.
If the day-long battle and hundreds of men that fought it stupefy you, figuring out the much greater amounts of time and individuals it took to get those men there will really send your jaw to the floor
Any modern armed force in Real Life
must receive a steady supply of fuel, ammunition and other provisions in order to be able to operate. There are countless examples of armies being fatally weakened or even dissolving completely due to insufficient supplies. In some types of combat, such as air-to-air, ammo and fuel supplies can even set an absolute hard limit on how long an engagement can go on; combat airplanes, for instance, may well expend all their munitions in a single pass. Therefore securing supply lines is a vital part of any military operation. In games with a military theme, save the most serious wargames and grand strategy games, this aspect is usually dealt with in the background
without the player having to worry unduly
about it. Sometimes, however, this aspect is portrayed in an egregiously unrealistic fashion, with the forces depicted being mostly or entirely liberated from logistical constraints.
Airplanes will normally be the exception, if anything is, as chances are they'll be restrained by their fuel capacity or their ammo; once one of such is depleted, they usually have to return to a nearby landing strip. This is for both stylistic and balance reasons, it would be overpowered to have an infinite bombing run, and the aircraft carriers have to do something.
One of the most egregious
examples, when you think about it, are the repair units. These little buggers can fix a heavy tank from near disintegrated state
in a matter of seconds with any needed spare parts being pulled out of hammerspace
(otherwise the unit would be carrying a entire heavy tank in spare parts around) without making the repair crew actually get out, or even immobilizing
the repaired unit for a short time. The latter part includes repairing an attack helicopter hovering over the repair unit. These guys are hardcore. Shoot them first
In its milder form a kind of acceptable break from reality
, but often abused to make fantastic scenarios take place in ostensibly realistic settings. However, at least some of listed aversions prove that "deficit management" game is not only inherent in any logistics model worthy of being named so, but also can make interesting challenges in itself.
One aspect of this trope is partially true for the US military. There is only one fuel. Almost everything the US fields, from camp stoves to Humvees to helicopters, runs on JP-8 fuel, which is compatible with diesel engines; even tanks powered by jet turbines
use special turbines that are designed to run on JP-8. By the same token, the US tries to field as many weapons as possible that rely on the same types of ammunition, and use as many of the same pieces of equipment between the services as possible, to move real-world logistics closer to the abstraction.
This is also one reason the US military is considered among the most powerful. It has by far the largest mid-air refueling fleet. It can draw on the US civilian transport fleet for air cargo. They have highly computerized inventory and shipping processes. To make up for the biggest lack, the lack of naval shipping, the US pays various commercial ships for the right to use them in a military emergency.
Usually seen along with Easy Communication
and Command And Conquer Economy
. Contrast Wizard Needs Food Badly
and Resources Management Gameplay
Examples of aversions and particularly egregious cases, since this is usually an Omnipresent Trope in war games:
open/close all folders
- Board game Campaign For North Africa is a massive aversion. A full game takes 10 players some 1200 hours to play, and the majority of it is record-keeping. The entire North African theatre, for three years, with individual pilots, unit ammunition counts and water supplies, and the like being tracked to minute detail. It's so detailed that Italian units use more water than any other nation, because they cook pasta.
- Averted in the Classic BattleTech board game. Ballistic weapons and missile launchers require literally tons of ammunition, and supplies play a major part in any game that extends beyond individual battles.
- A factor which was actually invoked by all sides during the Clan invasion. The Clans resorted to Energy Weapon use because their logistics train (designed only for the Clans Duel to the Death style combat) couldn't cope with the Inner Sphere's grueling wars of attrition, and the Inner Sphere used Energy Weapons for operation behind enemy lines, specifically to hunt down Clan supplies.
- Also averted by Comstar, whose logistics were already good enough to supply HPV Defender units all across the Inner Sphere, and managed the logistical nightmare of supplying dozens of army groups in the Battle for Tukayyid.
- When the opposing generals discuss the battle after the fact it is pointed out that the Preceptor Martial of Comstar won the battle almost entirely because he understood logistics in a way the Clans did not. The very few clan forces that brought enough supplies tended to win their individual contests.
- Averted in An Entry With A Bang!. GDI forces ran low on supplies after the battle to take Port Krin. Also, one of the key meta-arguments in having GDI go for a standardised equipment loadout is to ease supply lines.
- Travels Through Azeroth And Outland spends some time describing just how all these far-flung settlements (often in very inhospitable environments) get the supplies that they need.
- Averted in Order In Chaos: supplying the fleets with fuel, spare parts, new fighters and ships and even personnel is a primary concern for both sides, and one of the main Centauri advantages against their enemies is that their fleets not only need less supplies (as the Orieni make use of waves of ramming drones, devastating but a logistical nightmare) have enough factories and ships to constantly resupply the fleets fighting on the Orieni front and still support a force strong enough to crush the Drazi on the other side of the Republic, with Orieni strategy being centered around the need to change this situation.
- Averted in The Swarm of War. There are a lot of issues with feeding an army a million strong, and the Ork invasion runs into significant problems once they find out their spores donít grow in Creep.
- Averted in Harry Turtledove's Fox series; for instance, in Fox and Empire, when the Northland forces lose supplies, they have to "forage" (rob peasants) or hunt, which slows their travel speed to a crawl. Fortunately there's a lightly guarded Imperial supply train being sent north...
- Used as a major plot point in The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge, where interstellar conquest has long been seen as impossible because of logistics issues. It turns out that the conquerors were actually setting up revolutionary groups on each planet beforehand then marching in as they launched their revolutions.
- This is a huge point in international politics in the Warbreaker series. The magically created undead known as Lifeless are no stronger or more skilled or more capable of absorbing damage than regular living humans, but they don't have to eat, which made the discovery of an efficient way of summoning them a Game Breaker that started a massive multinational war.
- Also a roundabout key to the villain's plan which involves sending the Lifeless to attack a neighboring kingdom and then killing everyone who knows how to change their orders, banking on the fact that even unsupported, the Lifeless will deal enough damage to start a second world war.
- In The Stormlight Archive, the magical artifacts known as Soulcasters can virtually eliminate an army's need for supplies, as they literally create food, wood, buildings, and other such things out of thin air. This makes them every bit as strategically important as Shardblades, and the king's tax on the use of his Soulcasters is Elokhar's main income source.
- Averted repeatedly in the Belisarius Series. Logistics play a major part in the Malwa invasion of Mesopotamia (defeated when Belisarius destroys their logistics center), the Roman invasion of India (getting gunpowder to his troops at the front is a major concern), and one of the final battles (won by preventing an army on the march from getting food). Sometimes it seems like Belisarius wins more fights through logistic superiority than through direct combat.
- Averted in the Babylon 5 novel To Dream in the City of Sorrows. After Sinclair opens recruitment in the Rangers to humans, one of the first things he does is address the need to establish supply lines to bring in food and medicines for them to use. He also discusses the need to establish more training centers and bases of operation, and acquire more weapons and ships.
- The non-fiction book The Lieutenant Don't Know: One Marine's Story of Warfare and Combat Logistics in Afghanistan is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. In Real Life, logistics is definitely not easy.
- Averted in Babylon 5, as the station is shown to be highly dependent on shipping traveling through the area for both supplies and money to purchase equipment and pay workers to run the place. This becomes even more urgent after they declare independence from Earth and are put under an embargo by the Earth Alliance.
- Indeed, even coffee is considered prohibitively expensive to ship to the station, and more than one officer stationed board B5 has violated regulations to smuggle coffee plants aboard and have them planted in the hydroponics gardens that are normally reserved for producing foodstuffs and oxygen.
- On Stargate SG-1 the humans spend a lot of time making fun of how hopeless the Jaffa are as solders, and how ineffective their equipment is compared to a good old P-90. What is never explored is the massive logistical advantage that the System Lords seem to have. Staff Weapons appear to have a power source that lasts for years compared to the few hundred rounds a human could reasonably carry for his weapon. On the medicinal front, human medicine seems to be more effective against massive trauma, but the Jaffa's Symbiotes render them immune to infection, minor wounds, and disease. Human special ops teams with quick gate access are way ahead of their Jaffa opponents in a quick fight, but the System Lords seem to have an immense logistical advantage, having eliminated the need to supply their troops with ammunition or medical supplies.
- Any video game or film that has the United States get invaded is a big offender. The United States has oceans on both sides separating it from the rest of the world's major powers, and going either through the Atlantic and Pacific provides its own host of problems. With the Pacific, an invasion force would have to not only bring enough ships to traverse their massive Air Force (which will know the invaders are coming days in advance and likely sink all their vessels), but also somehow capture all the naval and Air Force bases on the Pacific Islands and Japan. If going through the Atlantic, an invasion force would have to deal with all of America's allies in Europe, which alone should be more than enough to stop modern Russia's, China's, or North Korea's militaries, which are the most common countries that do this in a story. After getting through all of that, an invasion force would still have to ferry supplies to its forces across incredible distances with a bunch of resistance in between its supply lines. Most works have assorted hand waves for this, like being set Twenty Minutes In The Future.
- Nearly any work featuring horses used for distance riding, and especially noticeable for those with cavalries and dragoons. In most depictions, riders will only have a single horse each and are often described as traveling ludicrous distances with no remounts or noticeable exhaustion of the horses. In real life even a single rider would have to bring along several remounts, alternating their use so as not to tire out any one horse literally to death. This is an even greater problem for large mounted forces. Then you also have the need for said horses to feed, drink, and rest along the trail.
- The Webcomic Erfworld features a Lampshaded/Justified example. Because the titular universe explicitly runs on the rules of a Turn-Based Strategy game, as long as you have enough Schmuckers food, weapons, armor, and anything else you require simply appear out of thin air.
- Averted in Traveller. A high degree of attention is paid to this. For instance, during the Interstellar Wars, an entire Vilani fleet was stranded in port because the Terrans had paralysed the traffic round. Voyages have to be planned based on whether a given star system can supply jump fuel (if a ship is equipped properly, skimming it from a gas giant will do), thus corralling traffic into predictable patterns.
Video Games 4 X
- In Civilization IV, all units have infinite amounts of whatever, but the player is required to pay money to support the units after a certain point; when invading other civilizations, the units also incur a supply line cost. However, units are still supported even if a certain resource is gone - such as vehicles working indefinitely if the player loses control of all their oil resources. Planes are mainly based in cities, forts, and carriers; they go out and do their missions and immediately return to their base.
- Civilization II handled it a bit more realistically. Units were paid for in shields (the production stat, it's hammers in Civ IV) representing the material needs of the unit, paid for by the city that produced the unit. The city supporting said unit could be changed and certain government types allowed for a certain number of free units per city (despotism allowed 1, monarchy allowed 3, and fundamentalism allowed a whopping 10 and troops that cost 0 shields).
- More specifically, Civilization games tend to deny you full use of roads unless you control the territory, and your units can't "heal" on hostile ground, which makes capturing cities necessary for a sustained offensive. That is, as opposed to simply going around then and forging into enemy territory. Furthermore, it is possible to deny supplies to a city by either destroying all roads or enacting a Naval Blockade, which can both starve the population and kill production. And as hostile units prevent people from working the square they occupy, that can be used to deny city-important land altogether.
- Civilization III uses the Civilization IV model of unit support, while SMAC uses the Civilization II model.
- However, Civilization V averts this by having two different kinds of logistics penalties. If you have more units than a supply number based on your population, all of your production slows down. If you have 3 units of Iron, and 5 units that use Iron, all of the Iron units take a combat penalty until you have more Iron or less Iron based units.
- Ships can regain health only when they are in friendly territory, unless they have been in battle enough to get a promotion that allows them to heal anywhere.
- Semi-averted in Master of Magic. Resources are generalized, but normal troops need two: Gold and Food. Upkeeping enchantments and summoned units eats Mana which you also need for spellcasting and research. Juggling all 3, city production and armies all at once while dealing with opponents can be hard. But how the food gets to the armies that are outside cities and nowhere near any type of (nonexistent) supply lines is never addressed. E.g. a dragon turtle can sit in the middle of the ocean for the entire game as long as you are producing sufficient food and gold to pay for its upkeep.
- A Wizard Did It, obviously.
- Units with ranged attacks are given a limited number of shots, but warships has 99 even though normal catapults and airships has only 10.
- In Galactic Civilizations II, there are technologies called "Logistics", and researching them essentially increases your civilization's ability to handle this sort of offscreen logistical problem. Having a high Logistics lets you field bigger fleets (which allows a number of ships to move and fight in a group) and allows you to have more Starbases without having to pay extra.
- Note that Logistics doesn't limit how many ships you can have, only how many you can have (and of what class) in each fleet.
- Sins of a Solar Empire partially averts this by requiring you to purchase levels of "fleet logistics" upgrades to train more capital ship crews and raise your fleet capacity. However, the number of available crews is not reduced when a capital ship is lost, and the material and income penalty you pay in upkeep for a huge fleet is not reduced when your fleet is annihilated.
- At first, this was the case for the Space Empires series. You have construction points for building things, and resupply stations for your ships. As the series progressed, the resources were split, and so were the ship supplies. In the fifth game, there are three kinds of resources, along with general ship supplies and ordnance for the weapons.
- Three construction resources started in IV actually. Plus, the trope still applies, every world gets access to the whole of the imperial resource pool, unless the system doesn't have a starport in it, regardless of the fact that it takes more than a turn to cross each system.
- In the Master of Orion series, ships carried a limited number of missiles while energy (and projectile) weapons had infinite ammo. They could remain indefinitely in deep space or orbiting uninhabited planets. Since fuel cells limited how far you could go from a world you occupy, you can assume a fleet of tenders or something like that. Transporting food to all your colonies may be problematic depending on population, techs chosen, and the quality of the planets.
- In an aversion, a fleet operating far from the players home base will often have to stop and rendeavous with reinforcements. This isn't written into the rules but is simply part of the game mechanic; the effect is a simple and elegant way to show logistics problems while not drowning the player in paperwork.
- Averted in Aurora. All ships have fuel and any ship classified as military needs maintenance. Missiles need to be designed, built and possibly shipped to the vessels/ In version 5.70 when it comes out one will also have to deal with regular leave of shores for the crew of their ships. And that's just considering the ship part. Logistics is hard in all parts of the game. The only exception is that all officers, administrators and scientists seem to have a teleportation device that allows them to be deployed wherever the player wants instantly.
- Played with in Star Ruler. Your ships will spawn with a full load of ammo and fuel, but they will deplete them as they fight and fly around - though how fast depends on how many guns it has, subsystem modifiers, the size of the ammo/fuel caches, ship mass, engine size, etc. Ships (by default) will automatically fly to planets and designated "tenders" / "tankers" to reload their ammo and refuel, though not always in a way that makes sense. However, the player will need to keep a constant stream of tender ships moving in and out to supply a fleet that lacks sufficient ammo/fuel storage capacity. In the Galactic Armory Game Mod, fuel and ammunition are resources that must be built in planetary factories or via ship subsystems, which are then exported into the Galactic Bank (your empire-wide resource pool). Good luck invading that enemy system if your ships are sputtering out of fuel and can't load their guns!
Video Games First Person Shooter
- Played straight and subverted in Modern Warfare 2, where the Russian Army lands a sizable invasion force in Virginia and Washington DC, totally avoiding the entirety of Europe and hitting America within a day of what sets them off, with very little apparent problem supplying them. When you actually engage them in combat, you very quickly see that the Russians are no longer using Russian weaponry but instead they mostly use stolen American gear like Javelin launchers, and many of the rifles they're carrying are chambered for NATO 5.56x45mm. It still doesn't explain why they mostly use such weapons when you strike back at facilities and such that would have long been under their control. Then averted later on, when an EMP disables all electronics in Washington; the Russians receive no replacements for their vehicles and ultimately lose because of it. Of course it never bothers to mention how they got the food or fuel to last as long as they did.
- Also done on a gameplay level, where the player can find these ammo crates scattered about. The crates contain an infinite supply of ammunition for whatever weapons the player happens to be carrying.
- Played straight in Modern Warfare 3, in which after the chemical attacks across Europe, the Russian Army overruns most of Western Europe in the matter of a day. Handwaved by saving that the chemical attacks took down defenses well enough to allow this. Yes, you read that right: all of Europe, at once, in the course of a day, without any help. Try not to think about it if you want to remain sane.
- In the first Call of Duty game (and perhaps several others) when you simply receive a resupply of ammunition for your weapons from the last mission, it makes one wonder how the Allies can resupply a soldier carrying a Gewehr 43 and a Sturmgewehr 44. Aside from the question why said soldier would be using German weaponry.
- You are utterly surrounded by dead Nazi soldiers, the floor is slick with their blood, and you're wondering where you get your ammo?
Video Games MMORPGs
- Logistics in EVE Online is a major part of managing a successful corporation or alliance, especially in outlaw space. Raw materials need to be extracted and refined, starbases consume fuel and supplies, taxes and rents need to be paid, ammo is expended, capital ships need fuel for their jump drives and spare ships and other equipment need to be manually hauled to replace losses. While this keeps industrialists busy, it also provides ample targets for enemies looking for something expensive to shoot, and disruption of supply lines is a viable tactic to undermine combat readiness.
- To be specific its the players that mine, haul and produce everything, its to the point where if you buy something from just another space station you have to go fetch it yourself. Its a bit odd considering the number of Mega Corps in the fluff. However, one of the most successful and renowned player corporations in EVE is ... a freight line.
- While players don't have to worry about it, in World of Warcraft Wrath of the Lich King, Varok Saurfang is trying to give a lesson in logistics to Garrosh Hellscream. They are in Warsong Hold on the west coast of Northrend, and need supplies from Orgrimmar, but the only port the Horde has is Vengeance Landing, on the other side of the continent. Getting supplies means using Goblin zeppelins that have less cargo capacity than a ship, or sending things to Vengeance Landing and then over the length of Northrend. Garrosh finds the lecture boring.
- He then suggests taking over the Alliance port nearby, completely forgetting the Alliance are his allies and it wouldn't be that hard to go ahead and ask them "Can we drop our supplies off from this port?".
- Played straight with infantry weapons and averted with vehicle weapons in Planetside 2. Infantry weapons can be restocked by a engineer throwing down an supply box roughly the size of a man's open hand or at any infantry based terminal. Vehicles on the other hand require either a landing pad (for aircraft) or a ammo tower (for land vehicles). Also a purchasable perk for a Sunderer allows you to restock/repair nearby vehicles, which plays this trope straight. This is given a justification with the ACE system, basically nano machines which are capable of constructing anything from tanks to bullets.
- Also, the spawning of aircraft, vehicles and people plays this straight. Exceptions are main battle tanks,note and the Galaxy.note Also, some terminals are only for spawning transports, meaning they can only spawn The Sunderer or The Flash.
Video Games Real Time Strategy
- One of the mildest and most common forms of this is how units in RTS games usually have unlimited ammo, fuel and food and are exempt from fatigue. This is an entirely justifiable simplification to reduce micromanagement that usually is not commented upon, but is sometimes handwaved, like in the Command & Conquer games, by claiming that Applied Phlebotinum or magic or somesuch eliminates the need for resupply on the battlefield.
- Slightly dealt with inside Dawn of War 2 - more units do hurt your resource income. Though you still gain resources for capturing points, for whatever probably-not-realistic reason, making it likely that this was put in to help players who were currently behind their opponent(s).
- The game actually sidesteps that issue, too. The universal resource is Requisition, not something that goes into actual production. The more points you take, the better you're doing, and the more material your higher-ups would be willing to commit to the cause. The more stuff you have, the less willing they are to waste more on your battlefield.
- World in Conflict is a strong example of this.
- On strategic level in the single-player campaign, the player has to contend with a Soviet invasion fleet that snuck past US and Canadian naval and air assets along the Pacific coast and landed an overwhelming ground force in Seattle. Said force must later be defeated with ground forces retaking the city against poor odds, seeing as air and naval forces are NOT capable of severing their supply lines. Another part of the campaign entails defeating a Soviet force that has sailed past all of Greece and Italy to land in Southeast France without being anywhere close to linking up with their other forces. How they did it without the invasion fleet either being sunk or the supply lines severed by air and naval forces in the Western Mediterranean is not explained. And finally, there is an attack against the Soviet Northwest, where heavy armour liberally supported by strike aircraft are airdropped in behind enemy lines to rescue some pilots and then mount an assault upon a naval base.
- To be fair, some of it can be justified by the fact that the United States is shorthanded on the home front since the majority of its armed forces are committed to operations in Europe, where the bulk of the fighting takes place before the Soviet invasion.
- Also idle unit chatter from the Americans do say that something terrible happened to the naval forces in the Mediterranean.
- On the tactical, i.e. in-game level, all ground units are delivered onto the battlefield by helicopter or para-dropped from heavy transport aircraft. Evidently, these transport never have to contend with air defenses and are always loitering in the air near the battlefield, packed with ready-to-deploy vehicles (including main battle tanks too heavy to be air-dropped in real life), ready to bring in anything you have ordered from the reinforcement menu.
- This is despite the fact that when those transports deliver your units they can be seen to be firing off countermeasure flares as if they were targetable by anti-air units. It becomes more jarring when all of the attack helicopters in an area are blown out of the sky by missiles but the lone, unarmed transport helo dropping off a jeep never even gets shot at.
- Whoever wrote the part in the intro about repair units clearly had World in Conflict in mind. The repair vehicles in this game can rapidly repair any ground or air vehicle in close proximity, or use their special ability to instantly restore a chunk of hitpoints to the target, as if they were paladins running around the battlefield wielding repair magic.
- Blitzkrieg mostly averts this. All vehicles, guns, and infantrymen carry a finite amount of shells and bullets (although they often carry a large amount of the latter). Resupplying them requires the use of trucks, transports, and haulers, and destroying all of an enemy's resupply vehicles can cripple their offensive power because if they run out of ammunition they can't attack. Damage to any vehicles also requires the use of special mechanics trucks to repair them. If a tank has its treads knocked out with a grenade, it will sit there completely stationary until a repair truck sends out some mechanics to fix it. (Vehicles never run out of fuel, though.)
- In the original Command & Conquer, NOD receives vehicles flown in by transport from off the map. These transports never have to contend with GDI anti-air fire.
- That's because NOD buys their vehicles from merchants. GDI wouldn't shoot down neutral merchants.
- Indeed at the time Nod was considered to be a multi-national corporation and quasi-terrorist organisation, not a world power and were still technically civilians, so even firing upon their non-militarized installations could have had repercussions, let alone shooting down merchant aircraft that didn't even belong to Nod. This is all gone by Tiberian Sun, however, where the Tiberium contamination prettymuch re-drew national borders, allowing Nod to actually become a world power.
- Up until Tiberian Sun, the only way to repair a vehicle was to put it on a repair facility, which avoided the hammerspace issue by being larger than the units it was repairing (it also drained money, and, naturally, immobilized the unit being repaired). Repairing buildings with an engineer, however, played that part straight.
- However, in any game that featured Paratroopers, it is possible to shoot down the plane carrying them, destroying the reinforcements you would have gotten. Granted, the Paratroopers are free and they are just basic rifleman, so it's no big loss.
- Command & Conquer: Generals averts this one to some degree: your units never get tired or run out of fuel, and their ammo is infinite, but the ones that fire missiles do have to wait before they can reload their projectiles. By extension, this also means fighter planes and bombers must return to a nearby airport after hitting their target.
- However, the USA's alternate supply source suffers from a disadvantage as it calls in cargo planes to aidrop supplies. It is very possible to shoot down said planes before they can reach the supply drop.
- As well, any and all attack/abilities/reinforcements that require an airplane to deliver it anywhere on the field can be shot down before dropping their payload, though impractical in a serious game.
- Aircraft in all the Command & Conquer games tend to play it both ways:
- Those that are permanently airborne, like the Kirov Airship in the Red Alert series and most of the games' helicopters, are treated as having unlimited fuel and munitions; at best, there is a short cooldown timer between attack runs. How they are repaired is also questionable.
- Fixed wing aircraft are handle a little more unusually. They must return to an Airbase structure once they have exhausted their munitions, or for repairs. However, damage has little effect on their airworthiness (until they reach Critical Existence Failure) and they can loiter in the air indefinitely - unless their Airbase is destroyed, at which point they apparently begin to consume fuel (which damages the plane, somehow) and will crash when it runs out.
- Averted in Earth 2150. Units using bullet, cannon or rocket weapons have a limited supply of ammunition that must be replenished by helicopters going back and forth between the units and ammo depots. This particular example serves very well to explain why the logistics problem is usually handwaved. There are long stretches of time where you're twiddling your thumbs waiting for the helicopters to reach your force that's on the other side of the map, they often miss some units and thus necessitate painstaking micromanagement to replenish your entire force, and they'll get shot down by enemy defenses. They are, in other words, a big pain, and the game would have been far better off without them.
- You do get laser and other energy weapons later on which don't require ammo, but using them alone isn't enough to win the game.
- Regarding winning the game using only energy weapons, this is possible in the The Moon Project skirmish: UCS AA plasmaguns + normal plasmaguns + shadowed units + radar, in small groups of units (guerilla-style) = massive destruction.
- The supply problems weren't so bad, unless you were sloppy enough to not look at the locations where your supply units go though. If you can't manage your supplies right (and it's easy!), you deserve to lose.
- In regards to realism however, commonsense would dictate that a player would build forward depots and firebases to allow for territory control, like what real militaries do when they want to avoid supply line issues. In the sequel, The Moon Project, supply choppers will usually focus on the more valuable units or the ones which ran out first, they avoid and circumvent air defences of a certain size or larger, but a cunning player will just build a staggered grid of rocket towers widely spaced out thus ignoring this rule.
- On top of this, units react differently depending on the terrain, weather conditions, and ambient temperature. Especially the last is important in the game, as units get more susceptible to damage as the temperature rises.
- Also averted in its sequel, Earth 2160. Only without the helicopters: ammo is either delivered via long-range projectile or delivered via nearby flying metal generator.
- Averted to some degree in Rise of Nations: any unit that stands within enemy turf receives attrition damage, but you can prevent that by keeping a supply convoy nearby.
- Best of all, light raiding cavalry get a bonus to destroying convoy units, Russians get a bonus bonus, and their Cossacks get a bonus bonus bonus. There's nothing like targeting your opponent's supply wagon and watching his army suffer and just....disappear.
- Though aircraft operate from airfields, the helicopters display this trope by hovering indefinitely. Once created, they never land.
- Averted to a minor degree in Supreme Commander. Ground and naval units have unlimited ammunition and fuel, how they receive these supplies never being explained, but while aircraft still have infinite ammunition their primary fuel is finite. An aircraft which exhausts its fuel can still fly, but receives a massive speed penalty, being reduced to around 10% of their maximum speed. Their fuel regenerates extremely slowly when landed, though resupply structures will repair aircraft and refuel them at greater speed. These resupply structures can be built anywhere, however, and need no connection to the main base or a firebase in order to function at maximum efficiency.
- Its predecessor Total Annihilation required the (raygun-based) weapons of all units to consume energy from your main resource pool in order to fire, how said energy GOT to your forces is another question.
- Considering that both games take place in a future where technology can easily convert mass into energy and back again into mass, this can be attributed to the magic of technology. Naval units could easily carry small energy reactors that can take care of every function it needs, same to ground units, while Airships would probably be too heavy if they carried such.
- In TA, pretty much every single unit produces some quantity of energy, usually very small. At least some of them use energy when they MOVE, though frequently only as much as they produce. the Aircraft Carriers(a floating pair of aircraft repair pads with no weapons) are actually stated to have an onboard nuclear reactor and produce a fairly large amount of energy. So much so that you could in theory use them in lieu of power plants. They're somewhat harder to defend though, unless you take advantage of an interesting little trick with Air Repair Pads. Normally the all-VTOL aircraft have to lift straight up to altitude, extend their folded wings, and build up forward speed. When using an air repair pad however, they land with their wings extended and stay that way, and can take off forward instantly; accelerating very rapidly to near maximum velocity. It does, however, require an absurd amount of micromanagement to get even a small number of planes to all land on the pads.
- Averted in S.W.I.N.E., where fuel, ammunition and armor repairs are all expendable and finite supplies which are critical to the long-term operation of your army. Apart from the stores of each of your units, you can haul fairly large amounts of these supplies in trailers towed by your trucks, which you use to replenish your units, but even these can be depleted in intense or long battles, not to mention destroyed or captured by enemy forces.
- Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War: Dark Crusade averts this to an extent on the "Risk"-Style Map, where you can only attack an area your army are next to, unless you've captured the Pavonis Spaceport on the "Risk"-Style Map. Owning it gives you access to Applied Phlebotinum capable of plotting air insert missions avoiding the hostile fleets in orbit. Basically, you can attack anywhere except the six enemy strongholds (because they have heavy anti-air defenses). The main RTS sections plays this straight.
- Someone on Something Awful noticed that the entire lore more or less doesn't mention the logistics very much, and thus a spoof interview Blue Stripe 40,000 was created.
- Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Traitor General does deal somewhat with the issues of logistics in Warhammer 40,000, showing a Chaos-occupied world which is being systematically stripped of its resources, to the point where the Chaos forces are using a dameonic warp-portal entity to literally drink up the entire world's oceans and transport them to other worlds needing the water.
- Earlier, in the Gaunt's Ghosts novel The Guns of Tanith, the Ghosts were hit with a severe lack of power cells, owning to the wrong size being sent; later, in Only In Death, the need for water and ammunition drives much of the plot.
- Also averted somewhat in Soulstorm, where if a province is surrounded on all sides by the enemy, its supply lines are cut & it cannot be reinforced untill one of the ajoining provinces is captured.
- It also prevents the player from receiving the planetary requisition granted by that province every turn.
- Totally averted in Hearts of Iron 2. Every unit consumes some amount of supplies, while armor, mechanized/motorized/very advanced infantry, aircraft, and ships all consume fuel as well. If units are cut off from supply depots, they will weaken and become much easier to defeat.
- This leads to a known exploit: because all of your supplies and fuel are shipped from the capital, by surrounding the capital you effectively (and bang-your-head-against-the-wall unrealistically) cut off the entire nation from supplies. This is oft discussed in the forum and expected to be changed.
- Hearts of Iron 3 thoroughly averts this. Supplies take time to pass through each province based on weather and infrastructure, and targeting supply lines is a very effective way to cut off an army, by either raiding their convoys or attacking their logistics train with aircraft. Also, though all units are supplied from the country's capital, any province with industry in it manufactures supplies and can supply units, so if the capital is cut off supply lines are rerouted from areas with industry to the front.
- The human element is modeled with a whole another form of Hit Points: units have Manpower and Organization. The latter represents chains of command, communication lines, supply delivery - basically everything other than men and materiel. Warfare software. An unit with 0 organization is technically there, but it's not going to do any good. Among the implications, pretty much everything has to be Cast from Hit Points, units regenerate when left alone, and researching such things as land combat doctrines or limited NCO initiative gives bonus health. We could go on to compare regional infrastructure to Geo Effects, but this has gotten silly.
- This trope is also averted in other Paradox Interactive games. In all of them, maintaining military forces costs money, and in Victoria military units also consume certain types of world resource (for example, an infantry division might require not only pay but also ammunition and weapons). Furthermore, while the system is understandably (and justifiably) less complex than the one in Hearts of Iron, units still need to be in your territory or adjacent to it to reinforce, and will suffer attrition (modified by terrain factors such as winter conditions or how fertile the province is) if they cannot form a continuous supply line. This leads to many interesting approaches to deal with larger invading armies, as it is possible to create some of those terrain factors yourself.
- Mostly averted in Joint Task Force, where bullets are unlimited but cannon shells and supplies for repairs are not. 'Special' equipment like anti-tank rockets and mines also has a set number of uses before it is Lost Forever.
- Avoided in Conquest Frontier Wars, a space RTS: ships that went into enemy territory or just away from supply bases would quickly use up there supplies in battle ending up helpless and unable to fire. Supply ships could accompany fleets to help somewhat, but even these could be drained by prolonged battle and the only way to be truly safe from supply problems was to be camping under the radius of a supply base built in controlled territory. Key word controlled as one was also required to build chains of jump gates or HQs in order to be allowed to build in a system. Surprisingly not as annoying as it sounds, and added interesting depth to an otherwise somewhat flat combat system.
- Averted in Harpoon- you have to wait for guns to reload and firing rates are realistic. Like every three minutes for an "Echo II" SSGN's "Shaddock" missiles.
- Not quite averted. Aircraft have unlimited ammo. So whilst a real life base or carrier might only have a few dozen of the high tech weapons, you can constantly launch, attack and relaunch plane squadrons using these high tech weapons.
- Averted in the broad gameplay in the Codename Panzers series of games. Armies are what you bring with you, purchased through "requisition points" earned during missions. There are realistic limits on how much ammo each unit can carry - save for infantry (unlimited bullets but limited special weapons such as grenades) and, surprisingly, supply and repair vehicles, both of which have unlimited amounts of supply on Easy mode. Compensated for by that fact that supply vehicles are EXTREMELY vulnerable (being depicted in-game as picket-style flatbed trucks). Playing the game as either British or American forces makes you wonder how the Allies won the war - as there's never enough requisition to allow the Americans to utilize swarm tactics as they did in WWII - and the less said about the British "land fortress" concept, the better.
- Heavily disputable regarding the Western Allies: in reality they never really did use swarm tactics save as an absolute last resort, and it is fairly easy to win when you know what you are doing: simply put, shell shell shell, flank flank flank, repair and reload every chance you get, and do what you can to avoid going head to head with German (or Soviet, for that matter) heavy armor. It's difficult and it leaves you scrounging a LOT of arty and supplies from every battle, but once you get a your units up in XP, they'll pay their way more or less by themselves.
- Played straight in the Age of Empires series. The only thing resembling an aversion of this trope are trade routes running through the map in II and III, where you could set up trade posts. However, in III, you could cut off (non-essential) shipments from your enemies' home cities.
- Warzone 2100 partially averts this. Ground based unit has infinite ammo, but VTOL units do have limited ammo, and need to be refilled.
- Averted partially in the realistic Sudden Strike. While you don't have to worry about food or fatigue, your units will run out of bullets and fuel. Even the supply trucks that resupply your units run out of supplies, but they gradually gain them over time. Also, the repair-supply truck needs to be a realistic size to hold what is needed to repair a tank or other vehicle, not pulling supplies out of thin air, and it builds a crane first and takes a realistic long time to repair a building or a bridge.
- Company of Heroes uses a territory control resource model like Dawn of War, from the same studio. In its case, if a territory section doesn't have a continuous chain of captured sections linking it back to headquarters, it doesn't add any resources to the pool until the lines are connected. The supply of ammo and fuel to individual units on the field is rolled into the resource model: fuel and munitions are generic, and using special powers like hand grenades or buying advanced units use them up. Units must be next to a headquarters in order to replace their missing squad members, but those squad members aren't visible coming to the HQ. In the case of paratroops, they are allowed to reinforce anywhere, with the replacements dropped one at a time from wave after wave of underloaded cargo planes.
- One notable area where the game averts this trope is with the first aid stations, which depict medics running out onto the battlefield to retrieve individual downed soldiers.
- As stated in the main article above, this is rather egregious with repair-capable units like the Engineers/Pioneers/Sappers. While it's probably a little more realistic that the Bergetiger has storage for spare parts to repair a Kettenkrad, it's not really so that it can restore a heavy tank wreck an infinite amount of times on the spot(considering the "Berge"-type vehicles were AR Vs designed to tow the wrecks back to a safe place to be repaired with help outside of the ARV). Gets totally ridiculous when the inverse happens: a Tank Destroyer doctrine-enabled Kettenkrad restoring an almost destroyed Bergetiger, or any super heavy vehicle for that matter.
- Sort of justified in Star Wars: Empire at War. Blaster pistol and rifle ammo capacity, though not infinite, is canonically large, and since the only time units are active is during actual battle, resupply is justifiably handled offscreen (during Galactic Mode). The only problem is with bombers firing proton torpedoes (Y-Wings and TIE Bombers only have 6 torpedoes, and fire 2 at a time) never run out of ammo, and fire WAY more than they canonically hold when used in bombing runs. Then there's the concussion missile satellites that are nothing but twin 100-something barrel boxes, with no visible ammo storage.
- Repairs are an interesting matter. In vanilla Empire at War a unit will usually be removed from play if reduced to a pitifully small amount of health during battle (ex. a TIE Mauler battalion reduced to a single, smoking tank out of five). In Forces of Corruption the unit must actually be killed during battle before being removed from the Galactic Map. Further, if the unit survives, it returns to full health, even if it takes part in another battle immediately after surviving the previous engagement.
- Averted in the original Homeworld RTS. Sure, you had your main base being apparently self-sufficient in space, but since the thing's roughly the size of the Death Star and mobile, whatever. Fighters, on the other time, had limited fuel. Micromanaging this proved enough of a nuisance to enough players that the sequel went back to standard RTS Logistics.
- Averted in The Settlers games, where functional logistics is usually at least half the battle, and often far more so.
- The resources have to be physically carried by peasants walking along roads to get them to the buildings that process them; how good your road network is determines how fast you can equip soldiers, fire siege weapons, build ships, and so forth.
- Averted in Knights and Merchants and its sequel The Peasant Rebellion. Your army (and workers too) need to be supplied to prevent them from starving, making waging war a tricky business especially when the enemy's base is far away. It's even more troublesome when you notice that there aren't any special supply units in the game, and that you need (slow moving and vulnerable) civilians to carry the food to the front lines. During a battle, logistics might actually be one of the most difficult aspects of this game. However, your archers never run out of arrows.
- Handwaved in StarCraft. Terrans need to build supply depots to support more units and Protoss warp everything in from their cities. Zerg use an organic mat called the creep to circulate nutrients to their structures.
- Similarly, in Warcraft games food is used as the population cap. Humans and orcs build farms and burrows/pig farms respectively. Undead don't need to eat, but they can use corpses for healing and reinforcements. Night elves apparently eat moonlight, as their supply structure is a well that fills with healing water at night.
- Also, players with (relatively) large armies in Warcraft 3 will incur heavy income penalties, implying that the rest goes to pay your soldiers and to maintain your war machines.
- Partial aversion with regards to unit creation for the human factions in the RTS game Seven Kingdoms 2: The Frythan Wars. To train soldiers you need available civilians to conscript. But, you also need to keep lots of civilians on hand to keep your economy going. If a war goes bad you can find yourself in the position of either hurting your economy to replace losses or trying to get by with a weak army. Played straight with everything else.
- In Enemy Nations, this is played straight for fighting units (which never run out of ammo or fuel), but averted for the game's Command And Conquer Economy. Individual trucks have to actually carry resources from mines to refineries, from refineries to factories, and even to construction sites for new buildings, in order for anything to get done. These trucks run automatically (and have mostly-decent AI), but can also be controlled directly by the player. If a truck gets destroyed en route, you lose everything it was carrying, and your refineries and factories will sit idle until supply is re-established. A good network of roads, and the protection of all elements in the supply chain, are important to victory.
- Averted in the real-time strategy Tribal Stage in Spore, where you have to keep your villagers well-fed or risk dying of starvation. This generally means that you'll be sending them out on short missions and then returning them to the village to refuel, rather than setting them to guard far-away areas, not that there's anything important out there that needs guarding (although it is possible to keep them alive on long journeys by ordering them to hunt or forage for food locally). The more occupation-based Civilization Stage plays this trope straight, which is good, because you'll want to set up long-term guards to protect your Spice mines.
- Played with in the Mech Commander series of the Battletech, at least in the second game. While mechs can go on for miles without losing juice (since they're powered by contained, but volatile nuclear fusion reactors), their weapons are subject to ammo depletion and overheating. Replenishment of ammo and health requires the deployment of a Repair Truck. Suffice to say, the Repair Truck defies the repair unit stereotype hard. To repair and reload a mech, the mech in question must be immobilized and shut down first. And unlike Bottomless Spare Parts repairers, each Repair Truck only carries a limited truckload of spare parts and ammo (called repair resources), meaning that once the Repair Truck runs out of resources left to spend, you're not getting that Truck back. But what makes it Easy Logistics: the Repair Truck seemingly has only one kind of repair resource — whether it's a damaged limb that needs to be fixed or a gun that needs to be reloaded, it's all taken cared of by the same resource pool.
- Also worth pointing out that in both games ammunition availability is Hand Waved in The Manual. In the first, it is mentioned that plenty of ammo has been landed on the planet as part of the invasion force, and that running out over the course of the campaign is not something to worry about, though making sure the mechs in the field have access to enough of it between returns to base is still an issue. In the second, it is mentioned that the contract the player's group of mercenaries has negotiated include ammunition expenses, so the more they shoot the more they can afford to restock.
- Averted to an extent in Jeff Wayne's War Of The Worlds, as a sector's proximity to resources increases efficiency, while cut-off ones suffer large penalties.
- Act of War is notable for allowing you to capture enemy infantry for money. When you "kill" an enemy infantry unit, there is a chance that they are simply injured rather than dying, after which you can send one of your troops to capture it. Once captured though, what happens to him? He disappears from the map and is magically teleported to your field prison building.
- Very slightly averted in Cossacks: European Wars, cannons do use trifling amounts of coal and iron, and units either eat food or require paying (gold).
- Averted in the Hegemony Series. You'll need to keep track of where your food's going, and if your army has none, don't expect it to last too long in combat.
- Averted in Knights of Honor deployed troops consume food supplies, which need to be restocked, either by pillaging farms, or by entering a castle and restocking there. This can be problematic when laying siege to a castle, because often the castle's supply of food is larger than that of the enemy army.
Video Games Shoot Em Up
- Semi-averted in Mega Drive game Desert Strike. Your Helicopter can run out of fuel, and will crash if fuel isn't kept topped up, and can only carry a limited amount of ammo, picking up more than maximum makes it go to waste. However, you can only get repairs at a landing zone, if you've got passengers on board, and the repairmen will only fix one sixth of your helicopters hit points per person. So if you land with five hundred of damage, but only two people, you have to continue onwards with half your health still missing. It's as if the rest of the air force wants you to fail.
- If I recall correctly this got a handwave somewhere- your missions are assumed to be time critical, so they'll do what repairs they can while you're on the ground anyway, but once your passengers are unloaded you need to take off again straight away. Which still doesn't make much sense if you're about to explode, but at least they tried.
Video Games Simulation Game
- The X-Universe series averts this. Your ships will run out of ammunition for their cannons, they will run out of energy for their jump drives, and they will run out of Mosquito anti-missile munitions. Fighters docked to carriers will sustain losses, and you will need to buy more or order damaged fighters to repair a shipyard — manually (unless you download a script to do it all for you).
- This isn't even played fully straight with energy weapons. Each ship has only so much energy available for weapons to fire at full force, and the ship can only replenish that energy so quickly, though a ship can continue to fire at a fraction of the speed when the energy runs out. And as each cannon and cannon type have separate power draws, on some of the smaller ships this turns into a game of how much firepower a pilot can load onto a ship without sapping the energy dry in one burst.
- Played straight with shipboard consumables (e.g. sublight fuel, crew food and water), which never need to be restocked, though the Flavor Text on some ships note spacious cargo holds for provisions on long flights.
- Enforced with spaceship fuel. There is no need for refueling in the series, presumably to make it easier for players to get into the series. What kind of fuel vessels run on is yet to be revealed by the developers and left for the player's imagination. "Space fuel" cargo is a misnomer, as it is actually a contraband alcoholic drink often found from the destroyed remains of pirate vessels, and a newcomer to the series won't realize the cargo they're carrying and will get chased by the specific sector's Space Police.
- Steel Battalion mostly averted this - the mech had limited fuel and limited ammunition for almost all of the weapons (including machine guns) - it could be replenished by calling in a supply helicopter (which could get shot down if you weren't careful). Mind you, if I recall correctly, it seemed to have infinite chaff and windscreen wash supplies.
- Averted and used in Ace Combat series: Averted with missiles and special weapons, sometimes one or the other with gun ammunition (depending on the game and difficulty level), but always used with fuel, so your plane can fly for as long as you want no matter how much fuel you would be consuming from all the crazy maneuvers and afterburners that will inevitably be used. The PS1 games had a fuel meter, but it was merely a disguised timer as the performance you demand of your plane didn't affect the rate at which it drained. 04, Zero, and 6 allow the player to Return To Base (RTB) during certain missions to repair (unless on a high enough difficulty level), rearm and swap out special weapons. Then again, the weapon capacities are more than physically possible (as seen by missiles or special weapons ''magically'' reappearing on their hardpoints)...
- On a larger scale, there's an element of Gameplay and Story Segregation, as your missions frequently target enemy supply dumps and infrastructure, showing that plotwise logistics are indeed important.
- The Hyperspace Arsenal is actually addressed in a single multiplayer level of Ace Combat Zero, where two players have to face each other with under "realistic conditions". There is still no fuel limit, but the planes are armed with just one special weapon payload, about 10 missiles, and limited machine gun ammo, bringing the game closer to what an actual fighter's firepower in Real Life is.
- Air Force Delta Series plays this straight as is par for arcade-styled flight sim shooters.
- Averted entirely in Falcon 4.0 except in Dogfight mode.
- The Freespace series averts this somewhat by the need to call a support ship to reload secondary weapons. The support ship can bring subsystems (such as communications and sensors) back to life but cannot repair your ship's hull. Depending on the weapons you have on board, they can take a bit of time to reload - bigger missiles and bombs, for example, take forever to load on your ship, leaving you highly vulnerable to enemy fire. Only one support ship can be present in the area at a given time, which means that if your wingmen run out of ammo the support ship will momentarily be unavailable for you to reload and repair. However, the ship itself can reload any number of missiles of any type on ship any number of times, despite the training instructor in both games telling you that the support ship can only carry a limited amount of ordinance. Then again, your support ship will probably blow up (with a big bang, with all those bombs on board!) after one or two reloads (or even in transit before it reloads anybody's ship), in which you'd need to call a another one in anyway.
- And in a more general subversion, there are several missions where you are defending supply ships or cutting enemy supply lines, providing at least a nod in the direction of logistics.
- Aerobiz: You never have to worry about ensuring adequate ground support equipment is available for your airliners at their destinations, nor do you have to worry about flight scheduling, maintenance issues, etc...
- Averted in MechWarrior 3. You play as a commando with a few support vehicles behind the enemy lines, so every ammo round and armor plate is counted. The vehicles carrying them are slow and unarmed.
- In MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries, you play as (shock) a commander of a brand-new mercenary company. While things like repairs and ammo reloads are handled by your accountants, bulking up your force is not — you can either pay the exorbitant prices on the Free Market, or salvage destroyed enemy vehicles off the battlefield. You although have to pay upkeep based on your mechs and pilots, and quite a lot at that; even making an interstellar transit and not doing anything for a couple weeks is a significant expense. You're even charged for fuel used dropping your force into combat.
- Averted in the Caesar games with buildings that require raw materials or labour. Raw materials are distributed by handcarts that must be pushed through your streets and each building only generates one cart. This means that importing more than one type of raw material (olives, timber, iron ore, etc.) can lead to production buildings standing idle most of the time. Also, the random paths taken by service providers can easily deprive a house of things it needs to maintain its status for no apparent reason.
- Played with by the Wing Commander series. In Wing Commander II, one of the escort missions is for a transport hauling missiles to resupply the Concordia, and if you fail the mission you're supposed to not have any more missiles. However, failure doesn't seem to actually affect whether or not your fighter goes out with missiles in later missions.
Video Games Space Management
- Sort-of averted by Theme Park, which on higher complexity levels requires the player to buy stock for their shops.
- And of course, completely averted in Dwarf Fortress: every single piece of equipment (weapons, ammo, armor, or even the clothes beneath), as well as food, water, ammo for the siege engines, maintenance of the traps, etc... has to be created / performed / hauled by a dwarf, as part of his or her daily routine. So creating a working army from scratch is a arduous process that can take years of ingame time, because you have to assign immigrants dwarves to the military, then mine the metal needed for the weapon, smelt it (which necessitate additional coal or charcoal), manufacture it into a weapon, and repeat the process for every single weapon, element of armor or ammo that each dwarf need to carry. Then you have to cook food and create waterskins for them, and create a place to store ammo and spare weapons. And finally, you have to train the dwarves, giving them spaces to train, plotting training rotation schedules, and by crafting or buying training weapons.
Video Games Third Person Shooter
- Warhammer 40000 Spacemarine takes care to avert this as well as possible in both story and game mechanics. There are several points where jury-rigged Ork systems have to be destroyed, since about 99% of their gear is either straight looted or cobbled-together scrap, rather than carrying it all with them; similarly, more than one mission involves reactivating power and freeing up other supplies for the defending Imperial Guard, the first third of the game being the destruction of anti-air weaponry to allow said supplies and reinforcements to reach the surface. The trope is played straight for the player, one of the titular Space Marines, and his squad, but it's also justified in the fact that a Space Marine has enough food/water kept in the backpack of his Power Armor to last for days on end, and all the new ammo/weapons you picked up have either been sent via freefalling Drop Pod or are scattered about because the battle takes place on a Forge World dedicated to producing weapons and Titans for the Imperium.
- Mass Effect 3: The Reapers do not have any known fuel needs, and are never mentioned to be resupplying during their invasion of the galaxy. The game Lampshades that this makes it almost impossible to fight them: no supply lines to disrupt, no resources to steal, no strategic bases to attack. They are a highly mobile, entirely self-sufficient army. No one in the game has any idea how in the hell the Reapers manage this; it's assumed to be some form of higher technology no one understands.
Video Games Turn Based Strategy
- Averted in the Total War series of games, when bringing the game to the real-time portion (ie. starting a battle). Your troops can get easily tired if moving any faster than marching speed (and if you march too much, too), including cavalry. All projectile weapons have ammunition limits (Archers have limited arrows and backup knives, certain infantry units can throw javelins before closing in with swords, etc.)
- Also averted in the strategic part of the game, where all units have an upkeep cost to be paid each turn, symbolizing the need to pay, equip and feed the men. No actual supply lines to manage, though.
- The lack of supply lines however, means you can pretty much move your army anywhere at anytime and suffer no penalties. Middle of the desert? No worries. Middle of winter? Keep marching! Take a city in the middle of enemy territory? It's only an issue if another army is physically there to besiege it, being in the middle of someone elses territory in no way hinders its ability to function as a city.
- Things like deserts, hills and the dead of winter are represented in the game. During the winter, income is generally lower and armies are unable to march as far. Marching through difficult terrain cuts their movement even more severely. Note that hostile armies inside enemy territory do reduce that territory's income, as the enemy army is considered to be pillaging from the land (this is shown by having the ground around the unit slowly be burned down). Also, the further a territory is from your capital city, the lower it's maximum happiness is. Though this penalty is not affected by being isolated from the nations other territories by enemy provinces, there is a separate penalty to a town's max happiness if that province is surrounded by enemies... Although, your troops can pillage from farmland, frozen tundra or desert, with equal ease.
- A recently captured city may very well rebel and chuck you and your troops out, on it's own, If it isn't kept happy enough (sometimes rejoining it's previous owner, sometimes becoming an isolated rebel settlement).
- Many games have the problem of being able to recruit or retrain faction-specific units anywhere with basic facilities where it wouldn't make sense, (excepting the Romans who did (eventually) recruit most of their troops abroad, and the Shogun games that take place in a Civil War). The Medieval II Expansion Pack Kingdoms fixes this two separate ways: In it's Teutonic, Americas and Crusades campaigns, many units require converting the conquered territory to your religion a certain amount, before you can recruit or retrain more than basic levies from it. In the Britannia campaign, after conquering a province of a different culture, you can only recruit units of the nation you conquered it from, until a governor converts the Provence to your culture enough to recruit or retrain your own. This realism has been integrated into various mods as well (requiring that you own Kingdoms to install them).
- In (only) two of the games, Empire: Total War and Napoleon: Total War, all artillery pieces and Naval ships have unlimited ammo. Infantry and cavalry still have limited ammo in those two games
- From Napoleon onwards, the games have an attrition mechanic, meaning that soldiers that aren't near a friendly city will suffer losses in winter as men die from rough terrain supply difficulties and weather conditions, and in Shogun 2, merely from being in enemy territory during winter.
- Advance Wars requires you to keep your units supplied with fuel and ammunition. However, resupplying can be done with a single APC that is capable of resupplying any unit, including naval vessels and aircraft. Even on the same turn. APCs also never run out of supplies themselves, except their own fuel supply.
- Same goes for repairs. Ground units regain 2 HP per turn they rest on an allied property. All of them. It's understandable that Infantry can obtain more men and from cities but one really has to wonder where these remote cities in the middle of nowhere are getting their heavy tank parts...
- Two CO's even have this as part of their CO Powers. Jess (AW 2 and AW:DS) and Greyfield (Days of Ruin) instantly resupply all units.
- However, all machine guns have infinite ammo.
- Averted in Super Robot Wars: Weapons either have their own ammunition or drain energy from the robot, and air or space movement also costs one energy per movement panel. It's possible, though somewhat difficult, to have a unit unable to move because of lack of energy, although they can still move enough to fire weapons or even whack another robot with a sword from a few tiles away. This also doesn't explain why, for example, Mazinkaiser is holding 99 missiles in its torso.
- Still runs into the same resupply issue as Advance Wars. Later games actually let you put a resupply device on any unit. Even something as small as a fighter plane is apparently capable of carrying a full set of revolver stake and heavy claymore ammo for Alteisen, and hold enough fuel to refill the energy reserves of any and all the player's units, including battleships.
- And for that matter, while units spend energy flying through the air or outer space, they can still run on the ground, swim/wade/propel itself through the water, operate the weapons that don't use energy themselves (some of which logically should and some other which should also require ammo like a Grungust's Boost Knuckle), and otherwise stay on infinitely without using any energy despite being giant robots. And most units recover a set amount of energy each turn (that can get bigger with certain equipment).
- Well, solar panels let you restore energy, so it would seem to be more of a 'battery charge' thing for most of Banpresto's home-owned mecha.
- The players are also able to buy parts for cash to repair downed units no matter what the tactical situation is. Any unit shot down is repaired at the end of the fight, but costs money you'd probably rather use for upgrades. Apparently in the future, Radio Shack carries mech parts, and has locations in enemy territory, outer space, the future, and at the bottom of the ocean.
- We like to assume that the ship just has a few sets of spare parts and that the irreplaceable stuff just doesn't break down. As for the repair issue, well, keep in mind Super Robot Wars is the game where you can literally heal any other unit with Faith.
- Alpha Gaiden has a scene where the Iron Gear is said to be repaired from damage it got in a cutscene using parts from the enemy ships they destroyed, and they mention they often use enemy parts for repairing their own units. Granted, this would make more sense if units didn't tend to explode the second they run out of hit points.
- And none of this addresses the fact that the WARSHIPS can always resupply everyone and any other unit between chapters and if you fly ANY unit into a carrier (Even the ones that shouldn't be able to fit in the carrier, like the Daitarn 3, which is most likely AS BIG AS THE CARRIER), even if the teams have been separated from any source of material for weeks on end.
- In Heroes of Might and Magic an army led by a hero who has learned the "Logistics" skill can move farther every turn—the implication being he or she has been educated in more efficient ways to bring along food and water, or in how to forage for them in the field, and so can bring along the same amount of supplies more quickly (perhaps by having big dragons carry them) or bring along less and forage for the rest. There is no mention of how you gather food or ammunition for your troops, but in one case, no such explanation is needed. On some campaign maps, you lose resources because your supply lines are raided by bandits or the enemy as a scripted event but supply lines have no effect in actual gameplay.
- Certain units in earlier games could grant you small movement bonuses if they themselves have a high speed characteristic (which is understandable, since a centaur and a dragon move MUCH faster than a dwarf lugging around his chest). Likewise slower units tend to slow your army down.
- Note that there are some structures, such as mills, mines and monasteries, whose products don't quite waft over to your central coffers offscreen. They will generate a certain amount of resources each week (which accumulate,) but a hero has to visit in person to pick it up (at which point it will instantly zip over to your reserves.) The only boon granted by ownership is the ability to station some of your mooks there as a garrison.
- Actual supply lines are introduced in the dwarf add-on to Heroes V, in the form of caravans from creature dwellings. Rather than having to hire heroes to "do the rounds" of the various creature dwellings around the map (tedious micromanaging to say the least), you can now hire them directly from a town, at which point they'll spawn a caravan that'll move toward the city each turn. You can also hire one city's creatures from the next city over, resulting in the same thing. Raiding the enemy's caravans is a good strategy : better to face one week's worth of unled creatures today than a month's worth of mooks led by your enemy's best hero tomorrow.
- Caravans do exist in Heroes IV, but they are much less realistic and much more powerful. You only need a clear path between source and destination to set the caravan on its way. After that, it doesn't appear on the map so it can't be intercepted. These caravans also work between towns, so it's possible to quickly send heroes over to defend a town just before the enemy arrives.
- There also exist Ammo Carts, which have the sole purpose to resupplying your ranged units so that they dont run out of ammo during a battle. While in earlier games most units carried enough arrows/harpoons/bullets/bile to almost never run out of ammo during a single battle, in Heroes V some units only get 2 shots, making them very important. Units regenerate their shots after battle, possibly explained by the fact that they might have looted their enemy's corpses or retrieved their equipment.
- Front Mission is a partial aversion - the wanzers (mechs) have unlimited fuel and ammo for melee and short range weapons, but NOT for the long range missile ones. You can resupply from a special unit, but you have to be standing next to that unit, and resupply takes a turn.
- Further changed in Front Mission 4, so that all ranged weapons, along with a few other special abilities added to the installment, have a limited number of ammo or charges. If a weapon runs out of ammo, someone with extra ammo must spend a turn restocking them, But it still begs the question, what powers these giant mecha.
- Two Words: fusion reactor.
- Mostly averted in the Deadlock games, where each of your conquered territories requires resources to run...whether they produce them themselves or not, and shipping resources also costs money. This makes blockades a rather effective (and annoying) tactic. Only mostly averted because certain technologies lower the cost of shipping, and one (transporters) not only makes it free, but renders one immune to blockades.
- The military units themselves, however, still conjure up ammo and fuel out of thin air.
- Averted in R-Type Command, mostly. All units have limited fuel, and units other than capitol ships cannot be moved if they run out. Units also have limited ammunition, and keeping your forces topped up is a major challenge even early in the game.
- In the Jagged Alliance series, you have to track your ammo and medical supply use for your mercenaries, but you never have to worry about feeding them. Water is in the game, but only as an energy boost instead of a necessity.
- Jagged Alliance 2 gives you two automobiles (A Humvee and an ice cream truck) as well as the ability to rent a helicopter. You have to keep the ground vehicles fueled, which is tough as the Queen rations it. The helicopter you rent, so you don't have to worry directly about fuel, though he will say he has to head back to base to refuel if he hangs around an area too long.
- Averted in the X-Com series. Ammunition must be bought, manufactured or captured in battle and then distributed to troops before battle. Vehicles cannot be repaired in the field, can run out of ammo and have limited operational range due to fuel constraints. Ammo and fuel for hybrid craft based on captured alien technology can be in fairly short supply since it is also used to manufacture advanced armour and other gadgets. And you have to balance your budget along with fighting aliens and researching desperately-needed better equipment.
- There are minor subversions when they must be made. Some craft - the Interceptor, for example - use "regular" fuel, do need to be refueled, but you never have to buy units of it nor do you run out of it. Laser-based weapons do not run out of ammo; presumably your soldiers plug 'em into the base walls after a mission. Also, you have an infinite amount of manufacturing material when it doesn't include the exotic substances that must be scavenged from the aliens — it's all represented by money spent on production.
- Fuel's probably included in the leasing agreement, which charges hundreds of thousands of dollars per month per plane. For the last line of defense against alien invasion.
- It makes sense that people would be careful about funding an organization like that. After all, the manual mentions that the Japanese previously tried funding their own alien-hunting agency, which ended up failing to intercept a single UFO.
- XCOM: Enemy Unknown plays it straighter, as ammunition and fuel are managed off-screen for you, and all conventional human weapons technologies are readily available in large quantities. However, you do need to carefully manage and share out any captured or reproduced advanced/alien technology you do obtain, as their materials are limited.
- Averted in Dominions 3. Magic gems (the 'ammunition' for powerful battlefield spells) are very limited and hard to get out to the troops in the field. Each province has a supply limit, and units will starve, develop diseases, etc if a province is overstuffed. In battle, units build up fatigue which reduces their combat effectiveness. Some spells increase this—"Curse of Stones," for instance, drastically increases the fatigue cost of moving in armor to the point that a huge, heavily-armed force with low magic resistance can be easily decimated by a small force of archers it would otherwise crush, simply because it's too tiring to march up to melee range, and the army's morale is crushed by the constant arrow fire.
- Averted with most units in Valkyria Chronicles. Special weapons like lances and sniper rifles have limited ammo, and can only fire that amount on Offense. On defense, scouts, engineers, and shocktroopers, and tank machine guns can fire at anyone, no matter how many come by, as long as they stay in range. Also, while those weapons and theoretically fire indefinitely, they must still take time to reload their weapons once the magazines are used up. The only way for soldiers to refill ammo is to stay near a base or have an engineer resupply them, though some soldiers have special abilities that let them magically get ammo out of nowhere.
- The game features an early operation devoted to seizing a supply base to aid the forces on the front lines.
- Played straight as an arrow with Engineers and their ability to repair tanks from the brink of destruction, however.
- Mostly averted in Advanced Strategic Command. You can do just about anything, but still Can't Get Away with Nuthin' — almost everything requires expended resources and a proper Worker Unit; lots of these are needed to keep the war machine running. Planes need buildable but expensive runways. Helicopters don't, but cannot be refueled in flight. Units lose XP for major repair and are mostly repaired inside of something. Field repair vehicles can service only units standing on the ground, not just anything one hex away; field repair is less cost-efficient and sometimes limited (an unit with minFieldRepairDamage=20 can't be restored above 80% health/strength).
- Averted in the Steel Panthers series. Every single weapon has limited ammunition and if you want to resupply anything larger than grenade launchers. Be prepared to take trucks or huge ammo dumps into battle. Air strikes are also very limited, more than a few is unlikely to be purchased in a normal size battle. Fuel is the only thing that you don't have to use carefully, because the battles can't be longer than around 2 hours ingame.
- Somewhat averted in Gadget Trial. While all units have unlimited ammo, they have limited fuel and (since the game doesn't have a resupply unit) must return to friendly bases every few turns. True to the trope, air units have the smallest "fuel tanks" (having to return to base every 10 turns).
- Averted in M.A.X., where all units have limited ammunition, and repair units — though they still get the job done peculiarly quickly, and don't carry any spare parts — need to carry resources to do their work, and will run out if not re-supplied. Ammunition supply trucks are an essential part of any force that strays far from their base, and units will often have cause to return to a depot for repair, resupply, or upgrading. Most buildings must also be connected directly to storage or production sites for the power and resources they need in order to function, and these links can become a weak spot for a poorly-planned base.
- In Age of Wonders each unit costs a small amount of gold (or mana for summoned creatures) each turn. If you cannot pay their morale will suffer and they may desert you (summons will disappear immediately). However, it only matters that you have the resources at all. Supply lines are not addressed.
- Averted in No Greater Glory, which is set during The American Civil War. Every area generates a certain amount of supplies, and each unit requires supplies. During the strategic movement phase, you must bring those supplies, generally from the rear areas, to the troops, who tend to be concentrated at the front. You have a limited supply of rail and sea-lift capacity with which to move supplies, although it is possible to build more each turn, and every unit thereof which you use to move supplies is not available to move troops, and vice versa. Riverine transport is infinite, but can only move along friendly-controlled sections of the Mississippi River and its major tributaries. The same is true for rail and sea-lift: the former can only move along existing railroads and the latter can only move from one friendly port to another. If a unit is under-supplied, it will requisition supplies from the area in which it is located. If the deficit is not too great, that may just involve paying a premium; otherwise, you will damage the economy and alienate the population of the area. Also, under-supplied units take greater losses to disease and desertion. There is some abstraction in that supplies are simply a single generic quantity: you do not have to worry about providing an army with a reasonably balanced diet, multiple kinds of ammunition, different sorts of medicines, etc., just "supplies." Even with that, however, managing logistics is the most important aspect of the game, and consumes by far the most time and energy from the player.
- Averted in Wargame: European Escalation. All vehicles have limited ammunition and fuel, and can only be repaired and resupplied when in range of a logistics vehicle or Forward Operating Base. However, even the logistics vehicles and FO Bs have (very) limited supplies, making it impossible to keep your units well-stocked for too long. FO Bs are a bit less limited in their supplies, but they can't be deployed after the pregame. Reinforcements also come from outside the map through predetermined paths that are only available when you control the entry territory, allowing ambushes and blockades.
- Looked at another way though, you could say that this game is a good example of this trope, as a single ubiquitous "supply" resource can refuel and rearm all units from not only different countries of an alliance, but from the opposing faction as well. For example, Warsaw Pact troops can capture NATO supplies and use them to restock their ammunition stores.
- Averted in some respects in 7.62mm High Caliber. Vehicles have unlimited fuel and basically act as a way to transport more loot and get across the map faster (and possibly act as cover during an ambush) and mercs don't need food or water (it's assumed that they eat and drink during visits to towns, possibly). However, all weapons not only require ammo, but also the specific magazines that fit the gun. A merc can quickly become useless because they spawned with a rare or high-tech gun and plenty of boxes of ammo but not magazines because the vendors don't sell any more than the two or three that he comes with; this can encourage some players to sell off guns that don't have much ammo or magazines (especially very rare weapons like the Gyrojet) and use that money to buy more practical equipment. Mercs also need to be healed through using first aid kits or bandages that must be bought and stored in their inventory, weapons must be cleaned to keep them from jamming or missing their targets, and equipment like mines and grenades individually bought and prepared before use. The Blue Sun mod adds a feature where mercs can be paid at the end of their contract rather than at the beginning, and with the inclusion of the new economy and tax system can create a situation where the player has to manage their money to keep their brand new PMC (or possibly army) operating. And when you take into account how every merc needs to have their equipment individually purchased by the player....
- Averted in Unity Of Command. The maintenance of a stable supply line is the only way that attacking troops can continue their offensive deep into enemy territory. Once units are at the end of their supply tethers, they'll be more vulnerable to the enemy on subsequent turns.
- Averted, unsurprisingly, in the promotional game Red Cross: Emergency Response Unit. Supplies are limited, and while more are airdropped during the course of each level, if you're found to be wasting them (using up base supplies instead of the ones you already have in the field) then you lose points. There's also a Reality Check button you can hit, which explains in detail how the actual situations have been simplified to make the game remotely playable.
- Averted and played straight in Cybernations. Averted in that everything military-related (combat forces, improvements, and national wonders) has a daily upkeep cost, and not paying this cost can all but paralyze your army. Played straight in that once deployed, your armies can be used to attack any of your enemies (although since there is no real "game map", this might fall under Acceptable Breaks from Reality).
- Averted to some extent in War Story. Your company has limited food, ammunition, and fuel, meaning you require good supply lines. Said supply lines route through major cities, and the shorter a supply line, the more goods your company receives. Liberating capital cities also helps ease logistical concerns.
Video Games Wide Open Sandbox
- Averted in Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction. Supplies and vehicles can be ordered and are usually airdropped. If there is heavy enemy anti-air defense in the area, the planes and helicopters carrying your supplies can be shot down, which will usually destroy your supplies.
- Also averted in Mercenaries 2. You even need to supply your own fuel for air drops and missile strikes. You do not, however, have to pay any fuel for your helicopter guy to pick up any fuel canisters, though.
- Simultaneously averted and played straight in Prototype, which puts the player in a Manhattan being fought over by the US military and an outbreak of a zombie virus. Although any military hardware that's stolen has limited ammunition, whether it's a tank or a helicopter or an assault rifle, the military never runs out of these things. Underscoring the silliness of this is that the game keeps tabs on the dollar value of any damage inflicted during an engagement with the military. It's downright simple to rack up trillions of dollars in damage, but somehow the money and materiel keeps flowing in.
- There's an interesting real life example that took place during World War II. In the Battle of Stalingrad, due to the nature of urban warfare, Soviet tanks were literally manufactured on the front lines. Once a tank was completed, it would be driven out of the factory and straight into battle.
- Operated by the workers who built it, no less. Due to the high casualty rates, it was faster to have the workers who already knew how the tank worked operate it rather than train new tank crews.
- In another example of Real Life playing it straight, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman's "March to the Sea" during The American Civil War helped to prove that an army could literally live off the land—and the properties of enemy territory—thus greatly reducing the need for supply lines. In fact, Sherman's men ate better on that march than when they were not marching.
- This was very common prior Napoleon, hence the famous quote. You would have roaming bands of soldiers raiding homesteads for food leaving the civilians meager rations; and that was in allied territory.
- The Thirty Years' War. All the participants' armies were a) mainly composed of mercenaries and paid professional troops and b) were living off the land and the spoils of war. This made for some very Easy Logistics indeed, which is the sole reason the war that bankrupted 17th century Europe was able to continue for as long as it did. Most campaigns were based around rivers as these were used to transport food to troops. The concept was called Bellum se ipsum alet - "the war will feed itself".