Moving Units On Routes

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There are two basic ways to get a unit to go someplace in Steel Beasts Professional: manually drive the lead vehicle of the unit, or place the unit on a route. The only way to get computer controlled units to move where desired is to use routes, because these units cannot be manned by a human user. By modifying the properties of routes and waypoints, and adding conditions for embarking or retreating, complex unit movement can be accomplished, enabling computer controlled units to respond to the situation around it.

Creating a Route

Extensive routes, waypoints and BPs applied to an AI controlled side (spawned units on the sides)


To create a route in the map screen, follow these steps:

  1. Right click on the map symbol for a unit or waypoint and highlight "New route" from the context sensitive menu.
  2. Choose one of the standard route types (Assault, Engage, March, Retreat, Scout or Breach) to start the route.
  3. Define the movement path by left clicking on the map to add vertices. Hold the SHIFT key while left clicking to snap the vertex to a nearby road.
  4. To end the route, right click anywhere on the map, and the last route vertex will change into a waypoint. If the last vertex was near an existing waypoint, the route snaps to the existing waypoint, otherwise a new waypoint will be created.

If the route was created from a unit during the Action Phase, the unit will immediately embark on a route as soon as the end is defined, abandoning the route it was previously following.

To edit a route's path, first click on the route in the map screen to select it, then left click and drag on the vertex or line segment to alter it.

  • When creating a route that follows a road, it is not necessary to trace every small curve of a road: unless the change in direction to the next vertex is greater than 30°, a unit in column formation will follow the road. Also, be sure that the vertices fall on the road (use the snap-to-road feature) to prevent zigzag movement that can result from vertices that are near, but not on, the road.

During the action phase, a simple one point route can be created in the 3D view screen as follows:

  1. Left click on the unit symbol at the bottom of any 3D view screen.
  2. Select "Advance to" or "Retreat to" from the menu that pops up.
  3. Aim the mouse cursor at the desired destination on the terrain and left click.

Routes created this way will end with a waypoint that has a battle position line, so the unit will try to assume a hull down position upon reaching the waypoint.

  • A typical beginner's mistake is to create relatively long routes. It is better to break up long movements into small segments of less than a kilometer, unless doctrinal rules or tactical considerations dictate longer movements. Shorter routes allow for adaptability in the spacing and formation of units and allows them to be used more intelligently. Shorter routes also allow variations in speed of movements. Make refinements to a mission by adding more alternate routes to make the reaction of computer controlled units more flexible.

Route Properties

Routes contain properties for tactics, formation, spacing, speed, fire control, flight height (for helicopter and UAV units), vehicle recovery, and the mounting and dismounting of troops. When a route is first created, it is given a default set of properties, based on the type of route created. These properties can be changed by right clicking on the route in the map screen and selecting the appropriate item in the context sensitive menu. The default setting for fire control, “flight height”, and “troops” is "no change" from the previous state. The default values for the other properties of a new route are listed in the following table:

Default route properties
Tactics Formation Spacing Speed
Engage route Engage Wedge Normal Fast
Assault Route Assault Line Normal Top
March route March Column Normal Fast
Retreat route Retreat Line Normal Reverse, then top
Scout route Scout Line Normal Slow
Breach route Breach Column Normal Slow


When a unit embarks on a route, the unit assumes the properties from the route. The "formation" and "spacing" determine the locations of the unit's members relative to each other.

Speed

The "speed" property determines how fast (generally) the unit will travel while on the route. For all tactics except March, the speeds for the settings of Slow, Fast and Top are based on a percentage (20% for Slow, 50% for Fast and 90% for Top) of the vehicle's maximum speed, which will vary from vehicle type to vehicle type. Units with Reverse settings will travel at the maximum reverse speed for that vehicle type. For March tactics, the speeds for the different settings are set to fixed values regardless of the vehicle types (20 kph for Slow, 35 kph for Fast, and 55 kph for Top), so that units of different vehicle types can all travel at the same speed. Keep in mind, though, that individual vehicles in formation will speed up or slow down in order to maintain their formation. Because of this, singleton units will tend to have a higher average speed than multi-vehicle units.

  • To help a convoy of units on a road march move in and orderly fashion, make sure that units are spaced far enough apart so that vehicles from different units do not get intermixed. Vehicles will try to maintain spacing with respect to other vehicles in their own unit, so if a vehicle from a different unit gets in between them on the road march, this will cause problems. In addition, be sure to give all units in a convoy march tactics, and set the speed settings to be the same.

Note that the speed properties of infantry units differ from those for vehicles outlined above. For a comprehensive overview of the differences, refer to the Infantry Units page.

Fire Control

Fire control refers to the unit behavior applied to a stationary unit, a route, or a waypoint by right clicking on these in the map screen and making a selection in the fire control menu.

The fire control property determines the maximum range at which a unit will open fire at the enemy. Hold fire and fire at will are special cases that correspond to maximum ranges of about 500 meters (200 for troops) and infinity, respectively. A unit will return fire if fired upon, (unless the enemy is beyond the effective range of the vehicles' weapons), ceasing only when new hold fire orders are issued.

Flight Height

Flight height only applies to aerial vehicles such as helicopters and UAVs. For such units, the user may specify four flight altitudes for both routes and waypoints: ground, nap of the earth (NOE), tree top, and normal.

  • Ground – Aircraft given this flight height along a route will fly at ground level (~14'/4.26m) while units stationary at a waypoint will be landed.
  • Nap of the Earth – Aircraft at NOE will fly at a nominal 99'/30m altitude.
  • Treetop – Aircraft at treetop height will fly at a nominal 263'/80m altitude.
  • Normal – Aircraft at normal height will fly at a nominal 985'/300m altitude.

Mounting and Dismounting Troops

Beginning with revision 3.002 routes and waypoints have general mount/dismount properties. Like other properties for routes and waypoints, the mount/dismount properties get passed on to a unit when it arrives at a waypoint or embarks on a route. Using the right-click context menu troops may be set to mount, dismount, or have “no change” from the previous state. Optionally, infantry may mount/dismount based on conditions set during scenario creation (Mount if.../Dismount if...).

Infantry dismounting at a waypoint will act as if they also just arrived at the waypoint, thus allowing them to embark on routes that originate from that waypoint, including those separate from their carrying vehicle. Conversely, infantry dismounting along a route will simply stay where they are (at the start of the route or between waypoints, depending on when the dismount condition becomes true). This is the (only) way to leave troops behind until a Mount command is given again. If dismounted troops and the mounting vehicle are traveling along the same route at slow speed, the vehicle will coordinate its movement with the troops, allowing them advance before proceeding, but at faster speeds the vehicle will ignore the troops.

  • Note, a human player can order a unit he owns to mount/dismount during a session or set the mount/dismount property for a route or waypoint as well, in which case his orders will override any scripted orders.

ARV Options

Armored recovery vehicles (such as the M88A1, or Wisent) can be used to recover vehicles which are bogged down, disabled, or have been destroyed. Using the “ARV options>Hitch nearby vehicles if...” and “ARV options>Unhitch vehicles if...” commands from a waypoint or route's right-click context menu, ARV vehicles can be scripted to automatically recover disabled/damaged vehicles at a given waypoint or along a route and deliver them to another location.

Route Tactics

The "tactics" property determines some aspects of the unit's behavior, such as how a unit responds to enemy contact. When a route is first created, it is given a default set of properties, based on the type of route created. These properties can be changed by right clicking on the route in the map screen (the first leg of a route can only be changed by right clicking on the unit icon itself), and selecting the appropriate item in the context-sensitive menu.

  • The following movement behavior apply only when the computer is acting as the commander in the lead element of that unit. Once a human player takes over the role of unit leader, all decisions about when to stop and move are his own. If the user is the unit leader and the unit is on a route, it will continue to follow that route until the user issues an order to do something else, such as assuming a hull-down position facing the enemy or a particular direction.

Note that although similar, route tactics for infantry units differ from those for vehicles outlined below. For a comprehensive overview of infantry route tactics, refer to the Infantry Units page.

Engage

  • If enemy is within range, stop to find a hull-down position facing the enemy.
  • The maximum range is determined by the value of the fire control property and ammo range.
  • If in a column formation, try to stay on roads.
  • If given orders to dismount infantry at a waypoint and the subsequent route is set to slow speed, the infantry will move forward of and along with the PCs on the route.

Assault

  • Stay on route, unless enemy is very close and flanking (in which case, stop to find a hull-down position facing the enemy).
  • If in column formation, try to stay on roads.
  • PCs will NOT dismount infantry (unless the owning user is present in the platoon in any position, in which case the unit will dismount infantry if the owning user specifically tells the unit to do so with the "U" key or the waypoint's properties are set to "Troops>Dismount").

March

  • Stay on route unless under direct fire or enemy is near and flanking (in which case stop to find a hull-down position facing the enemy).
  • If in column formation, try to stay on roads.
  • All vehicle types travel at the same speed if given the same speed setting.
  • PCs will NOT dismount infantry (unless the owning user is present in the platoon in any position, in which case the unit will dismount infantry if the owning user specifically tells the unit to do so with the "U" key or the waypoint's properties are set to "Troops>Dismount").

Retreat

  • Always stay on route.
  • At the start of route, back up and pop smoke if enemy are present.
  • If in column formation, try to stay on roads.
  • Always start the route in reverse. After a default distance or if no enemies are present, switch to speed designated by the route. The default reverse distance depends on the type of unit: Western tanks can move in reverse much faster than Russian tanks, and so will travel in reverse much longer than Russian tanks.
  • PCs will NOT dismount infantry (unless the owning user is present in the platoon in any position, in which case the unit will dismount infantry if the owning user specifically tells the unit to do so with the "U" key or the waypoint's properties are set to "Troops>Dismount").

Breach

  • Units with obstacle reduction capability will attempt to create a lane through an obstacle on such a route.
  • Will not try to stay on roads.
  • PCs will NOT dismount infantry (unless the owning user is present in the platoon in any position, in which case the unit will dismount infantry if the owning user specifically tells the unit to do so with the "U" key or the waypoint's properties are set to "Troops>Dismount").

Scout

  • Always stop to seek a turret-down position facing the enemy (when contact is made).
  • If under fire, retreat back along route (thus taking on retreat tactics).
  • Will not try to stay on roads.
  • Look for and expose enemy mine fields. They will only have a reasonable chance to succeed without being destroyed or immobilized if traveling at slow speed (the default speed for a Scout route). A unit is not guaranteed to find enemy mine fields when looking for them, but they will usually uncover the mines before sustaining any damage.
  • If given orders to dismount infantry at a waypoint and the subsequent route is set to slow speed, the infantry will move forward of and along with the PCs on the route.

Waypoint Properties (Tactics)

LOS bubble visible between BP scan sector

Every route ends in a waypoint. When a unit on a route reaches the waypoint at the end of the route, it adopts the tactics, formation, spacing, speed and fire control properties of that waypoint (unless it immediately embarks on another route that originates from that waypoint). The following tactics can also be applied directly to a stationary unit (by right clicking on its icon).

WARNING: When you create a non-stay tactic, you need to position the line of sight (LOS) bubble which appears in the center of the scanning arc in an area where it turns clear, if you do not want the unit to move from that position. By placing the bubble somewhere where it is black, you are authorizing the unit to move forward (at a limited distance of about 200m) to get a LOS to this point. Also, if you do not give a unit a tactic when it arrives at its last waypoint, then you are authorizing the AI to move the unit from that spot to try to get a LOS on nearby enemy units and map contacts.

Hold

  • While no enemies are seen, assume a turret-down position facing the specified direction concentrating on the are of interest (the dot in the BP line of fire arc).
  • Temporarily move from position to avoid ICM artillery attack.
  • Do NOT move from position to engage enemies that cannot be seen, or to avoid HE artillery attacks.
  • If unit is infantry, move into the nearest building or fighting position near the waypoint.
  • PCs will NOT dismount infantry (unless the owning user is present in the platoon in any position, in which case the unit will dismount infantry if the owning user specifically tells the unit to do so with the "U" key or the waypoint's properties are set to "Troops>Dismount").

Defend

  • While no enemies are detected, assume a turret down position facing a specified direction.
  • Temporarily move from position to avoid ICM artillery attack, or to avoid HE artillery attack if not engaging an enemy.
  • Can move a few hundred meters from position to engage enemies on front flanks that cannot currently be seen.
  • Embark on the first attached, non-conditioned route if moderate losses are sustained.
  • If unit is infantry, move into the nearest building or fighting position near the waypoint.
  • PCs will NOT dismount infantry (unless the owning user is present in the platoon in any position, in which case the unit will dismount infantry if the owning user specifically tells the unit to do so with the "U" key or the waypoint's properties are set to "Troops>Dismount").

Guard

  • While no enemies are detected, assume a turret down position facing a specified direction.
  • Temporarily move from position to avoid ICM artillery attack, or to avoid HE artillery attack if not engaging an enemy.
  • Can move a few hundred meters from position to engage enemies on front flanks that cannot currently be seen.
  • Embark on the first attached, non-conditioned route if under fire.
  • If unit is infantry, do not enter nearby buildings but will take cover.
  • PCs will NOT dismount infantry (unless the owning user is present in the platoon in any position, in which case the unit will dismount infantry if the owning user specifically tells the unit to do so with the "U" key or the waypoint's properties are set to "Troops>Dismount").

Stay

  • The unit will sit in place and will not move regardless of the tactical situation or enemy presence.
  • The unit will not move to avoid artillery.
  • PCs will NOT dismount infantry (unless the owning user is present in the platoon in any position, in which case the unit will dismount infantry if the owning user specifically tells the unit to do so with the "U" key or the waypoint's properties are set to "Troops>Dismount").

None

  • The None tactic, or rather the lack of a tactic, allows a unit to seamlessly continue onward to another route, if any, provided that any embark conditions on the next route are met.
  • When None is given to a waypoint at the end of a route, you are authorizing the AI to move around on it's own, and it may gradually move towards know enemy contacts on the map. If you do not want you units to drift around like this then you should give them another, or rather, an actual tactic.
  • PCs will NOT dismount infantry (unless the owning user is present in the platoon in any position, in which case the unit will dismount infantry if the owning user specifically tells the unit to do so with the "U" key or the waypoint's properties are set to "Troops>Dismount").

Suppress

  • Similar to Stay tactic, the unit will just sit and not move regardless of the tactical situation and enemy presence except that the unit will suppress the assigned area (either LOS dot from the map or 3D view designation).
  • Suppressing fire will be intense when first given but will gradually become less frequent to conserve ammo. To increase the intensity the order must be given again.
  • Units on the receiving end of suppression will go prone (infantry) or duck down in the vehicle (AFV) and stop firing for a while while they are pinned. This is especially useful for enemy troops located inside buildings and bunkers.
  • PCs will NOT dismount infantry (unless the owning user is present in the platoon in any position, in which case the unit will dismount infantry if the owning user specifically tells the unit to do so with the "U" key or the waypoint's properties are set to "Troops>Dismount").

Conditioned Routes

The key behind complex unit movement in Steel Beasts Professional is the use of conditioned routes. There are two types of conditions that can be placed on any route: embark if conditions and retreat-back conditions. Embark if conditions determine when a unit at the start of a route will embark on that route. Retreat-back conditions determine when a unit already on the route will retreat back to the beginning of the route. Once the unit retreats back to the waypoint where the route began, it will act as if it just arrived at that waypoint; it will NOT continue to retreat back along routes that ended at that waypoint, even if the retreat conditions for those routes are satisfied.

For routes that originate directory from a unit, there is also a jump-to-end condition. If this condition is true, the unit will instantly be transported to the end of the route. This is only used for spawned units; the jump-to-end condition is only checked at the point in which the unit spawns.

To attach these conditions to a route, right click on the route and select "Embark if...", or "Retreat back if...", or "Jump to end if...", then fill out the condition dialog window.

  • The Jump to end if... condition is only available in the mission editor.

To help the user keep track of the conditions assigned to routes, the map screen displays routes differently depending on the conditions assigned to each route.

  • Routes with no movement conditions are drawn with continuous black lines.
  • Routes with embark if conditions are drawn with dashed black lines.
  • Routes with retreat-back conditions are drawn with continuous blue-green lines.
  • Routes with embark if AND retreat-back conditions are drawn with dashed, blue-green lines.

The embark if and retreat-back conditions are explicit route conditions. There are also implicit route conditions that arise only in certain circumstances. The following table lists all the possible implicit conditions for embarking and retreating back. Note that an implicit condition applies only if there is no explicit condition overriding it.

Implicit movement conditions
Unit's situation Implicit condition on the route Conditional type
Defend tactics at WP Unit suffers moderate losses Embark
Guard tactics at WP Unit comes under fire Embark
Scout tactics at WP Unit comes under fire Retreat back


  • Implicit embark conditions can have an effect only if there is at least one unconditioned route leaving from the waypoint.

Deciding Which Route to Take

More than one route can start from a single waypoint, enabling virtual forks in the movement path. When a unit arrives at waypoint with multiple routes, it must decide which route (if any) to follow. The unit will constantly check to see if it should embark on any of the routes, as follows:

  1. First, all routes WITH explicit embark conditions are checked. If the embark condition assigned to the route is satisfied, and the retreat-back condition is NOT satisfied, the unit will embark on the route.
  2. Next, all routes WITHOUT explicit embark conditions are checked. If the retreat-back condition is NOT satisfied and either a) the waypoint does NOT have a battle position line, or b) the implicit embark condition is satisfied, then the unit will embark on the route.

Note that a unit stuck at a waypoint can be forced to take a route by ordering it to "Proceed". Also, note that a unit can never embark on any route unless the retreat-back conditions, both explicit and implicit, are NOT satisfied. Since implicit retreat-back conditions appear only in scout routes, be careful when using them. A unit will not embark on a scout route if it is under fire because its implicit retreat-back condition is satisfied.