Unit Tactics: A Turn-Based Military Strategy/Simulation Game for the GameBoy Advance

Basic Design Document

By: Doug Geiger <runexe@users.sourceforge.net>


Unit Tactics is a turn-based military (primarily Army) strategy simulation for the GameBoy Advance platform (with the possibility porting to other hand-held platforms). The main objective of the game is to act as the commanding officer of army units - e.g. squad and platoon-sized units, possibly up to battalions and brigades. It will offer basic AI in the individual soldiers - with each unit having a commanding officer capable of giving instructions to individual soldiers, even taking the initiative to respond to threats moving within their field of vision. Units can be instructed to utilize cover, moving at several speeds (e.g. slow, normal, double), and even to respond to opposing forces in different ways (e.g cautious, aggressive, etc.). The interface will provide an easy overview of the battlefield - providing the most important information to the player instantly, and providing easy access to most used commands.


Unit Tactics is a military simulation that will enable the player to take control of large numbers of troops, and deploy them against opposing forces quickly and easily, enabling the player to maximize the use of strategic manuevers and lightening movements to capture goals and subdue enemy forces, with a minimum of hassle and keypresses. It is a turn-based strategy game based primarily on the use of land forces, with use of sea and air as supporting forces. Unit Tactics is intended for the Gameboy Advance hand-held platform.


Turn-based military simulations have a long history - usually utilizing a tile-based framework, they allow the player to concentrate primarily on position and manuever to achieve the objective(s) of the game. Examples include historical military simulations such as the Civil War General series, Gary Grisby's Pacific War, as well as non-historical simulations, such as the many Risk-based games. An example of a turn-based strategy game for the Gameboy Advance is Advance Wars.


Unit Tactics is a top-down, turn-based, tile-based military strategy game focused primarily on land forces. The main game play mode will present the user with a partial view of the level, along with a mini-map representation of the entire level (not obscured by the fog of war), and the available actions (unit commands, intelligence, settings, exit, etc.). Units will be able to independently move in formation, scan for enemy forces, use cover while moving, and engage the enemy. The player acts as the unit (squad, platoon, etc.) commander, and issues orders on where, how and when to move, along with formation type, movement speeds, route (shortest, cover, avoid enemy, etc.), and aggressiveness (cautious, normal, high, etc.). The units can be given precise waypoints, as well as objective points (capture bunker/hill/etc., destroy enemy unit(s), etc.). Units will be able to negotiate terrain automatically, modifying the formation to fit the available space (bridges, narrow passes, etc.), and will have simulated fields of vision based on formation position, and terrain. The command structure will allow the player to take over lower level positions to take personal command of squads, etc. - or to act only as the battlefield commander - relying on the subordinate (AI) commanders to carry out the details.



Turn-based military strategy simulation


Gameboy Advance
Possible future: Other Hand-held Platforms

Concept artwork


Game Mechanics

Main Menu

Upon boot-up, a brief intro screen is presented to the user, followed by the main menu, which has the following options and their resulting screens:

Instant Action Selector

This menu presents the player with a selection of small scenario-based levels to play. It is presented as a way to practice, as well as offering alternative game play besides the campaigns. Once a level is chosen, the player is brought into Game play mode, and the selected level is loaded

Campaign Selector

This menu presents the player with a selection of campaigns Ė either new campaigns to start, as well as any existing campaigns that can be resumed. Once the campaign is chosen, the player is brought to Campaign mode, and the selected campaign is loaded.

Campaign Mode

This mode presents the player with all of the levels in the loaded campaign. Players will be able to replay levels already completed, but can only progress through the campaign as each preceding level is beaten (i.e. the player canít skip through the campaign). Any stats on completed levels will be displayed (e.g. score, # of turns, # of enemy units destroyed, etc.). Once the level is selected, the player is brought into Game play mode, and the selected level is loaded.

Game play mode

The main game play mode is a top-down view of the level, or a portion of the level, along with a mini-map of the entire level, and (hideable) available actions (unit commands, intelligence, exit, etc.).

User Settings

This menu presents the player with all of the player-settables (e.g. sound on/off, etc.).

Game Play Mode

User Actions





Each Unit will have a waypoint, target, and objective queue. The unit will move through the waypoint (some of which may have associated objectives), and any enemy soldiers found along the way will be added to the target queue. Targets will be passed up and down the chain of command - so any targets added to the parent unit queue will be passed down to all child units (i.e. when a squad locates enemy targets - and pass them up to the platoon, and then up to the company - all the platoons and squads will be informed of the new targets).

Unit can be detached from parent units (platoon, company, etc.). These will typically be scouting parties. This detachment will be automatic when the unit is selected by the player and given new waypoints. Detached units will not inherit waypoint or objectives from their parent unit.


Order of Combat

  1. Determine direction to waypoint/objective
  2. Determine position in formation / direction to commander
  3. Determine optimal path to objective (cover/shortest/etc.)
  4. Scan field of vision for enemy units
  5. Alter course if necessary (based on observations)
  6. Move
  7. Scan for enemy units
  8. Give fire if enemy detected, and possible (in range, ammo, etc.)
  9. Orient according to formation position
  10. End of turn
The basic order of combat for each unit will progress as follows: * Units moving cautiously and/or scouting (ROE=Recon) will stop immediately when enemy soldiers are detected - shifting to crouching or crawling position - seek cover, and attempt to evade detection while continuing on to waypoint/objective.
Fog of War (Range of Vision)
Tbd Terrain affect ROV
Cover affects ROV
Close-in vision vs. Far-away vision


Tbd - terrain types

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