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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:52 am 
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I often surprised, even after all these years, at how different players come to these games with differing attitudes to tactics and habits and what constitutes the "best" way of playing.

I'm involved in a big Gettysburg scenario and I've once again allowed my opponent to select the game system and optional rules. It's funny often I pay little attention to this important matter until it's too late to do anything about. In this case we're playing Turn based play with NO separate melee pahse. Me as Union.

A very uneventful Day 1 has seen both sides arrive on the field with the Union, as is often the case, waiting for the Day 2 reinforcements to come up before attempting any general engagement.

Late in the afternoon I decide to relieve the boredom by sending the Cavalry Divisions of Generals Gregg and Kilpatrick on a recce in force into the broken country west of McSherrytown with the intention of provoking a limited skirmish with the Reb Cavalry. This risks an unequal fight with the Reb Cavalry who are all on the map but I am confident of avoiding anything I can't handle.

Upon closing to contact I am shocked when my opponent rips into me with the ferocity and reckless abandon common to Turn based games with no Melee phase. "Blitz" tactics as we know them. I'm able to escape disaster, losing 600 troopers and 4 guns, whilst in turn inflicting 1800 casualties on Jeb Stuart (I've been around the block enough to know my business whatever shape it takes!).
However, I further manage to lose all 4 of my Brigade commanders and it's the facts surrounding this event that promppts me to raise the point that is troubling me:

My opponent sent two 100 man detachments to "blitz" my screen out of the way and use the 24 mp's to get behind my line to grab the lone commanders. Sacrificing those 200 Cavalry to destruction on my subsequent enraged turn.
It's this practice that bothers me. I never send units on suicide missions, no matter how great the reward in points of doing so.

So I'm posing the question: how many of you play for points to win the game ...and how many command their army to win the battle?

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Brigadier-General Jim Wilkes.
2nd Brigade, Cavalry Division, XX Corps.
AoC. U.S.A.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 10:51 am 
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Hi,

Given what we have in HPS games, which is considerable but far from perfect, my policy is to structure the game using options to give the most realistic game, but then pretty much playing the game.

To me, this means phase-based with no isolation but pretty much all other options. Although I am coming to believe that the original fatigue removal is probably more realistic, I do play using that option.

An incident occurred where my opponent's men routed behind my lines, and my opponent asked if he could use them to capture leaders. I told him go ahead, as it is permitted. It is also conceivable that there might be some level-headed fellows among the routed who would have the presence of mind to do this, although as soon as the routed units were captured the leader would usually be freed, as happened at least once (Shelby at Prairie Grove).

To me, the fault is in a game engine that allows troops to rout behind enemy lines.

Anyway, my advice is to pay more attention to the structure of your games, stipulate any options or house rules in advance that you can foresee, and live with what you accepted for now.

PS: In individual scenarios, I play to win the game; in campaigns, I do what I can to win the campaign. Points in and of themselves don't really matter.

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MG Mike Mihalik
Forrest's Cavalry Corps
AoWest/CSA


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 11:23 am 
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Jim, I'm a "fight the battle," "command the army" type of guy. I let the points take care of themselves.

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General Jos. C. Meyer, ACWGC
Union Army Chief of Staff
Commander, Army of the Shenandoah
Commander, Army of the Tennessee
(2011-2014 UA CoA/GinC)


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 1:04 pm 
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Grabbing vulnerable leaders is one thing and it's no problem in my book. But deliberately sending lone units on a suicide mission to grab available points is another thing entirely to my mind. The units involved are reduced to the function of simple game counters?
In practice any leaders captured by the subsequently eliminated unit would probably be re-captured ...but there is no facility for things like that in these games.

I believe the practice itself is simply wrong and the mindset of the player seems equally strange to me.

Likewise I will rarely send lone units to grab an available objective hex. All objectives that are taken should be along the route of general advance or be part of a deliberate effort to hold once taken.

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Brigadier-General Jim Wilkes.
2nd Brigade, Cavalry Division, XX Corps.
AoC. U.S.A.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 2:44 pm 
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Hmm, I think in fairness a number of the things you describe are historical realities that are not supported by the game system. All those things were true in real warfare of this period but the game engine simply makes no effort to model them. What we are left with is an ACW commanders dream situation of a more or less perfect command & control environment.

The small bad habits that I brought up are simply gamey tactics that I feel should have no place in any serious wargamers arsenal of talents. They are 100% "game" and 0% "simulation"?

I think some sensible historical constraints could be simulated using house rules but the bottom line is that any player can only play as realistically as his opponent let's him. Most players tactics are dictated as a direct response to what his opponents commonly do.

I remember playing a number of immensely enjoyable scenarios against General Paul Kenney where our forces often never came anywhere near each other for much of the game as we marched and manoeuvered trying to gain the kind of tactical advantage that period commanders dreamt about. Casualties were limited because of the natural caution of both players. The art was in trying to out-think each other ...most games degenerate into a brutal farce once the actual firing starts.
I often try to limit my own casualties as my main goal rather than inflict losses on my opponent. I think many players have only an abstract regard for game losses?

I like to think that if some miraculous turn of fate took me back to the 1860's then what I have learnt through playing these games would be genuinely valuable as instruction in commanding an actual ACW formation? The counterpoint to this is where I see an opponent doing something so bizarre and recklessly unlikely that I think to myself: "Now ...you just wouldn't even be able to THINK about doing THAT in real life!".
Again it's the conflict between game versus simulation and what is possible against what should be possible.

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Brigadier-General Jim Wilkes.
2nd Brigade, Cavalry Division, XX Corps.
AoC. U.S.A.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 6:01 pm 
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I think early on I was a "do whatever it took" kind of player but with age I've come to try and play much more historically concerning what I'll do with my troops. Ideally you'll find like minded players and keep games going on for some time. It's usually my fault that I forget to post my preferences and don't learn that my opponent plays differently until he performs one of those suicide missions. Play it out and make a note to look elsewhere for opponents in your next go round.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2011 9:31 am 
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I have generally found that with the HPS games set to phased play with all options on the game does reward using good CW tactics. However, if my opponent ignores using good tactics I will exploit it to the hilt. One disclaimer on this, I am not sure of the new artillery optional rules yet. Some scenarios they work some they don't. Usually depends on the situation and design of scenario.

Some examples of what I mean by "good CW tactics":

The purpose of the high VP hexes around Cashtown in Gettysburg is to reflect the critical importance of holding Lee's supply line and lines of communication open. In the real battle losing it would have be losing the whole army. Even allowing a significant cavalry raid down the pike would have destroyed all of the ANV's ammo and supply trains. The VP is there to force the Rebel player to detach significant forces to hold it not just the regiment that is fixed most of the battle there. If the player refuses to do this then he deserves to lose the battle by losing it.

Many players put every man in the front line to maximize fire and melee power. Any look at a CW battlefield map with unit positions would show that CW commanders never did this. They had reserves, spent regiments resting, security forces, etc. all over their rear areas to protect against small unit cavalry raids. You should expect and plan for the other side detaching cavalry for raiding your rear. I play with isolation rules on because this is the surest way to allow a defender to punish sending lone units into their rear areas. However, it requires the player to secure their rear areas. Unfortunately, the HPS system doesn't allow you to duplicate CW methods which was to detach company size units to do this duty. But usually there are enough small cavalry units and regiments to cover this.

I generally avoid "gamey" tactics like putting my army in one corner of the map because the scenario design allows me to win doing that. But I don't consider the actual historical flow of the battle to make limits on me. If I think I can win Gettysburg by marching most of my army around the Union flank and then attacking I will do it. However, in some of the Campaign scenarios gamey tactics are a necessity to avoid extreme loses due to poor design or just so out numbered it stupid to fight scenarios.

But before you declare some tactic used against you as "gamey" take a look at what you didn't do that allowed it. Usually you will find that you set up your men asking for it.

The exception is "Turn" play without using the new melee optional rules. It is a gamey system and must be played that way. Any resemblance to Civil War is strictly due to the graphics. It has been significantly improved with the new melee optional rules but still needs a few house rules to keep it from looking like Afrika Corps.

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General Kennon Whitehead
Chatham Grays
AoT II/1/3 (CSA)


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2011 3:57 pm 
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Nice reply, Kennon! I am continually and pleasantly impressed with your knowledge and honest character!

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General Jos. C. Meyer, ACWGC
Union Army Chief of Staff
Commander, Army of the Shenandoah
Commander, Army of the Tennessee
(2011-2014 UA CoA/GinC)


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