Rank/Promotion structure

I’ve always thought it was kind of silly to have a mission with six colonels. That would never happen in real life. The military sets a certain amount of promotions each cycle based on total forces.

Random thoughts.

  1. Only 1% of the entire force can hold the highest rank. So for every 100 soldiers, only one will hold the highest rank. For this post, I’ll call the highest rank General.

  2. You can’t promote anyone to the rank of General until you have either 100 soldiers or 10 soldiers of the next lowest rank… I’ll call that rank Colonel.

  3. Promotions are not automatically granted upon so many kills, missions, heals, headshots, etc. At the end of a set time (month, semiannual, annually) a screen shows eligible soldiers who have reached the requirement and then you select based on availability.
    i.e. You have one promotion slot available for a Master Sergeant. You have 4 soldiers who meet requirement. You can pick only one, so you look over their class, their skills, etc. and pick the one you think is best.

  4. Squad makeup is limited to certain ranks. One officer rank, two senior NCO ranks, and 2 grunts. The one officer (or highest rank if you don’t yet have an officer) will be the leader and offer certain perks or bonuses to the team. Successful missions grant the leader certain leadership points that go to promotion to higher ranks.

  5. A squad of all grunts will suffer a lack of leadership penalty and a squad of all high ranks will suffer a “too many chefs in the kitchen” penalty.

  6. If a soldier doesn’t get promoted they will still accumulate points and skill levels so it’s possible you can have a super badass grunt, but he’s just not promotion material.
    i.e. Health, reaction, stamina, etc. are not capped so those basic skills continue to increase per mission. But new skills based on rank will not be available to grunts.


Which is to say, “promotion” increases “general” personal skills (and not specialization, which is tech/etc. based training) while “level up” increases weapon skills/efficiency?

Each soldier has a base set of attributes.

  • Health, Stamina, Strength, Will, Aim, etc.
    After each mission these attributes go up based on kills, hits, heals, movement, etc.
  • Kill something and Aim goes up, move so much distance and Strength goes up…

Each rank opens up new abilities based on class.

  • Like current XCom 2.

The major change I’m suggesting is that promotions are not automatic and not everyone will eventually become a General (highest rank). If the squad makeup is limited to certain ranks (1 of the highest, 2 of the middle, and 2 of the lowest) then you may not want to continually promote your soldiers when spots become available, but keep a couple of veterans with super high Health/Aim/Strength to fill those lower squad slots. And by selecting who gets promoted into those limited higher ranks, you can select different classes. Instead of having all your Generals as Assault Class or Tank Class, you can maybe have one of each.

Phoenix Point will use the concept of soldier classes, but they are not rigid classes, rather they are skill disciplines with certain types of specialisation.

There will be three ‘base’ classes in which all soldiers start:

  • Marksman - tends to have good perception
  • Assault - tends to have good mobility
  • Heavy - tends to have good endurance

Then there will be five specialist classes. These represent more refined, interelated skill groups, although there may be some crossover with other classes. Any base class soldier may acquire a specialist class if the right training and technology is available. A specialist class will also offer at least one unique skill depending on the base class origin.


If this concept is still not changed a lot, “class development” is not based (only?) on promotion/rank, but training/technology too, and I’m not sure I want to have a hard-limit on how many specialization can be fully levelled (due to promotion restriction), so I would not restrict specialization/class skills on promotion.

Other, promotion-based skills could be cool, something which affects the battlefield, some kind of support-oriented skill (based on base class for example), helping your soldiers in a way only the commander can.

That’s why I asked if you mean all skills or some kind of “general”, non-specialization based skills, for me this makes a big difference between loving or hating hard-limit on ranks.

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This whole idea could be option in play settings. There are people who love having an entire roster of 50 Generals. There are people who love the idea of having only 1 General per 50 soldiers or maybe even only 1 General total.

Settings could be like this -

Rank Restriction -
ON - Limit 1 General in Roster or Limit 1 General per 50 soldiers
OFF - No limit of Generals

Auto Promotion -
ON - Computer automatically promotes soldiers after reaching requirements
OFF - Player selects soldiers for promotion

Everyone has a different play style and giving more options will help please more people.

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I totally like the idea of limited (or # soldier based) rank slots
What about if “leveling” a soldier involved increasing one or more of the attributes mencioned (perception, mobility, endurance), so like increasing the mobility of a soldier could reduce the time-points consumption of movement or the time the soldier needs to use ladder or rope, endurance incresing HP or damage reduction, maybe even reducing will penalties from teammates diying?, while perception could increase shot precision (or, creating a little cross-post, allowing detection of enemy body damage as discussed in Enemy HP visibility tied to tech ).
That and when a soldier “level” is high enough it becomes elegible to be promoted. And rank promotion could give the soldier class/specialization-related abilities OR maybe squad boosting abilities, like increased aim or will points.


Or maybe, if the concept of “trainings” gets introduced in the game, maybe promotion elegibility could be based on how many trainings does the soldier have.

Rank limitation are mostly relevant if you keep up military ranks and what they imply.

Call your ranks “redshirt”, “canon fodder”, “may yet survive”, “rookie”, “knows which way to point a gun”, “grunt”, “experienced muthafucka”, “vet”, “top badass” and you’re fine.

Joke aside, it all depends on what you want to show with your ranks. If they’re related to leadership, grant a leadership bonus and associated skills, then yes, mimicking a chain of command makes sense, since human history has demonstrated the benefits.

If ranks show the soldier’s proficiency at killing stuff, then there is no reason to maintain ratios.

Long War 1 did a decent job with this, every soldier would level up normally, but you could only nominate a few officers based on the sum of your soldier’s ranks, for a total of “10x Lieutenant, 7x Captain, 5x Major, 3x Colonel, 1x Field Commander.”

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What if rank only gave different bonuses to others and own skills were unrelated (wouldnt be an issue since most will be related to weapons/armor anyway). It would then motivate you to have somewhat more plausible squad compositions, provided increase in rank wouldnt be straight upgrade of previous bonus.

If my memory serves me right,in one of Julians AMA presentations he said that there wont be ranks like in military style. If i recall well

Found this…

Question -How powerful will the abilities of your soldiers be compared to Firaxis’ XCOM 2, and roughly how many will you have at max level? Also, will they be set in stone for each class, or will there be some randomness?

Answer -There are all really good questions. There will be powerful abilities, but I would have to add that the abilities of soldiers are somewhat more dependent on the technology and equipment they are carrying than any sort of innate powers. You will not have a team of Colonels. It would be very difficult to do that. You can develop your characters progressively like an expanding tree system, rather than the narrow funnel approach of XCOM 2. Each character’s progression tree is partly randomised.

Yeah, They haven’t revealed the details but you won’t have colonels deployed to the front lines. They might use something more akin to a civilian rank structure from government organizations, where you have a pay grade, but that doesn’t correspond to a title. That is, A “Special Agent” could be a G5 or a G11 and the difference between those is vast in terms of qualifications, but not in terms of title.

I like the idea of promotions being restricted, it’s something different to what you usually experience. I think there would be some great decisions to make at certain points over which soldier to promote to the next level when you have the choice of 2 or more.

I don’t however thing that skills and specialities should necessarily be linked to ranks other than maybe those that affect morale/abilities of the squad as a whole - Dead State did this in a very minimalist way but it was quite good, it made your leader into someone different than the rest of the squad. http://deadstate.wikia.com/wiki/Leadership

I’d rather see attribute development in general be linked to how often a solider makes use of those skills.

And I’d rather see other skills being linked to specialities that can be gained regardless of rank. i.e. Explosives do more damage if a soldier is specialised towards being a demolitions expert, this is something that could happen regardless of rank.


I’d much rather see a soldier’s capabilities be tied to how much experience they’ve had (completed missions, kills, whatever) than have it tied to rank. I hate seeing my supposedly grizzled corporal being a useless makeweight next to my superstar colonel, just because he missed out on the promotion lottery.

About the only things I might want actually tied to a soldier’s rank is the ability to specialize (ie- you have to attain a corporal rank before you can become an infiltrator, for example) and the ability to use command skills, whatever form those skills take, if that sort of thing is implemented.

Hmm, while I appreciate the attempt to bring realism into the game I think it would be better off without limiting the player’s ability to upgrade their soldiers. It is an apocalyptic scenario after all, so I think exceptions could be made and you might well see a squad of extremely competent veterans taking on missions together, even if they had earned higher ranks that would usually put them in a position of command rather than on the front lines.

I would also disagree with your ‘too many chefs in the kitchen’ penalty, and to a lesser degree the grunt squad’s ‘lack of leadership’ penalty. The promoted units have been grunts after all. They know how to follow orders and before they head into a battle they’ll know who their squad leader is. As for grunts I could understand a willpower penalty since there’s no-one battle hardened to lead the charge but leadership wise I assume we’re the commander giving them instructions from some sort of satellite cam/radio communications setup. So they’re not really without leadership. It would also just be an unnecessary penalty to all players as they start out the game when they have no promoted units yet.

Your suggestion reminds me a bit of Xcom Enemy Within’s medal system. They did it right by giving very small bonuses to a fixed number of soldiers without it being at all necessary. it was a bit of an obsolete system but the bonuses came in handy here and there.
It also reminds me a bit of Xcom 2’s modded ‘leadership’ skills. You could train soldiers in leadership and it would give them specific commands or a willpower bonus to nearby soldiers but you could only take one leader on a mission at once. However this often prevented players from putting their best team on the field together unless they knew better since players often try to fully upgrade every squad member. So having a system where the player could decide the squad leader and maybe where soldiers have specific character traits that make them better or worse in leadership positions would be a better way to go.

This could be expanded to simply all soldiers having traits. if a soldier sees a friendly soldier get shot to death he might develop PTSD and have a much lower willpower threshold for panicking, for example.

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It has been said that rank exp will be different from standard combat/level exp.
To put limits in numbers doesn’t make much sense, it limits play-style. I want to be free to decide to have a few high rank operatives or many low rank ones, or even a mix. Death is going to be a thing in PP, so if I am number limited I will get mayor problems losing a high rank one, as I am not allowed to have backups.
Every char probably is going to have a leadership/charisma stat or command related perks to show who is going to become a great/better leader. So I want to be able to take out of the mass this individuals and develop them at my will. The limitation in high rank operatives is going to be cause of limited rank exp, that you will have to manage wisely, nothing else.
Rank exp should be earn by commanding successful missions like:
+1 mission accomplished
+1 no deaths
+1 secondary objectives
every time you deploy a squad, and you are going to deploy multiple squads from multiple bases, you have to set the commander of the unit, he will be responsible of the success or failure of the mission and only him will get the rank points.
Rank points will be on a total different tree from the char/class development tree.
Ranking up he will show to the organisation to be a leader that deserve trust and being invested on.
I am thinking about 3 branches of the rank tree:
90% of the value of a commander is seen in the planning before the mission, if the planning is good he can even die during deployment but be sure that the mission will be accomplished. This skills should be considered passive like bonus starting/max will points, better deployment positions on the map, more chances to find resources, etc… Please stop that stuff about aura or AoE leadership boosts, non one look where is the commander during a fight, if you are looking at him for inspiration it means you aren’t looking at the enemy so you die, or you are looking at your commander to shoot him instead (good old fragging). So no gamey auras, boosts are given by a good pre-mission briefing, planning, and such.
Charisma/Combat Orders
Here is the on the field skill branch. The commander of your unit can rally units so everyone will gain some will points (no aura again please! everyone has a radio in their helmet so everyone can hear his orders). He can point an enemy so everyone get a boost attacking him like a focus fire. Can call something like a charge where everyone with a line of sight will shot at the closest enemy as a bonus action.
Off grid support
In PP resources are scarce so if you have artillery, airstrike or whatever, it isn’t going to be granted to anyone. The more you rank up, the more you succeed , the more you show to the organisation to be worthy to get max support.
These are my ideas.

When everyone is a General, no one is…


I like the idea in general. However it doesn’t really fit the setting/lore based in a postapocalyptic world. The ranking system described by the OP is more fitting for NJ soldiers than for a paramilitaristic organization like the Phoenix Project.