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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 4:03 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 23, 2001 2:56 pm
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Location: USA, New Jersey, Ocean County
A trip to Boston provided the opportunity to listen to Shelby Foote's, "Stars in Their Courses" book on Gettysburg.

When I listen to one of these Military Novels, I think about how what I am hearing might influence the design of a game, and the recent experience suggested two ideas for HPS. I'll record them here. Others can comment if they like.

First suggestion deals with Artillery Fire. This has been a much discussed topic. I think the main complaint is that in the games it does not seem to be as "effective" as one would expect, in particular auto defensive fire. In the book, there is a fair amount of discussion about the impact of specific fires during Pickett's Charge. In terms of actual number of casualties, I think the HPS results are consistent. What is not taken into account is the impact the fire actually had on the continued advancement of the units that were hit. So idea #1 is to incoporate into the auto defensive fire algorithm the possiblity that a unit fired upon losses all (or some part) of its remaining movement. I don't know what the percentages should be, but I think that would go a long ways toward improving the functionality of auto defensive fire.

Second suggestion deals with leader ratings in campaign games. I don't know exactly how the process works about leaders who are killed, captured or wounded returning or being replaced in subsequent scenarios in Campaign Games. However, I think there ought to be some reduction on the command/leadership ratings of any officer who is being replaced (or resurrected) after being lost in an earlier scenario. Foote's narrative makes a pretty strong case for how such events impacted the function of both armies at Gettysburg, in particular the Confederates. I don't know what the CSA leader ratings are in the HPS title, but I'm pretty sure the Talonsoft title has the Reb leaders over rated.

As for Foote's novel, I enjoy it more then Shaara's "The Killer Angels", although both are worth a read (or in my case a listen).




Lt Gen Bob Breen
Commanding 4th Bde, 2nd Div, VI Corps, AoS
"Where we lead, the Army follows" - VI Corps


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 5:53 pm 
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Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2001 5:01 am
Posts: 564
Location: USA
Bob,

As to your first idea. It is there already. It is DISRUPTION. The reason it doesn't work correctly is not the engine's fault, but we gamers' and designers' faults. We think every unit should be an A or B rated unit. Here is where the system's limitations come into conflict with our expectations.

The Morale/Qualtiy issue is set to a D6 system where 1 is low and 6 is high. How that is expressed to gamers is 1 is F and 6 is A. A unit must get a Morale/Quality check of over their rating to fail. If the failure happens from DEFENSIVE FIRE then the unit DISRUPTS. If the failure happens from OFFENSIVE FIRE or MELEE then the unit ROUTS.

Now there is a multitude of bonuses (negative and positive) that can be added to that Morale/Quality check. If a unit starts out with an A(6) or B(5) rating, or even a C(4) rating, odds are it will pass its Morale/Quality check. Its kind of tough getting a unit rated A(6) to fail if no modifiers are considered.

There are two solutions to this problem. The best one is for John to go into the program, and set his Morale/Quality to 1-9, and code the game so units cannot be rated above a 6 in the OOB file. This would allow good units with stout leadership to fail once in awhile, and almost insure bad units with no leadership to nearly always fail. I doubt this will ever happen. This then leaves us with the second solution.

That solution is to lower the rating levels of units across the board to where you only see an A rated unit if it is in the Iron Brigade or in Stonewall's Brigade, maybe not even then. Maybe they should be B. The rest of the army should start with D, possibly C. Since there are penalties for E and F care should be taken using those ratings. So you end up with two armies that have 90% of their units rated D. Suddenly, Bde Commanders, and Div Commanders have to lead attacks to make sure they hit home, and Corps/Army Ldrs are running about rallying people ... General Lee at Gettysburg, "It is all my fault," type of encouters.

I doubt that will ever happen either, because we would all whine that the 2nd Tennesse or 13th Rhode Island should be an A rated unit because on Christmas Day in 1862, they held their ground when acosted by a Troop of Brownies who were trying to take their rum rations from them. [:p]

Now the best solution would be for us lazy, b*** designers to not use one OOB file per campaign, but use one per scenario, and use the ORG file mechanism to link losses from one battle to another. Then you could see the following occur....

First battle of a campaign everybody is rated high 'cause their full of p*** and vinegar that they're gonna kick Johny Reb's or Billie Yank's b***. Depending upon the outcome of such battle, Billy Yank might find his units' Morale/Quality ratings lower in the second battle 'cause he did get his b*** kicked, or maybe Johnny Reb's Morale/Quality is lower 'cause, even though he won the First battle, his army is worn out since it was only a Minor Victory, and now his units have to fight again, and they haven't seen a hot meal since before the first battle. I think you see my point.

Why doesn't this happen? You've been patiently waiting for me to finish 'le Tour' up, over in the CCC, haven't ya'? It takes time to do what I spoke of above, and most of us don't have the time, or make the time, or haven't spent enough time YET to learn how to completely exploit the Campaign Feature. It is the most powerful tool John could have given us to model the reality of war, along with the ability to create scenarios and modify OOB files there is only one factor left that keeps us from doing better at utilizing the game engine to its maximum capability, and that is time. Time to learn, and create.

Sadly though, if I recall correctly Campaign Gettysburg is locked as to its OOB files. Is that right? I understand John did that so we could make all the Eastern Campaigns, since the maps and graphics are available, but I sure wish he would reconsider. *sigh*

(As an aside, I would love to have John tell me, "make such a campaign Al, and send it to me. If, I approve I will add said campaign, and its associated files to the game engine code.) HINT! HINT! HINT! [:D]

Well for those who are intrigued by the above ideas, join the CCC. I am all over making campaigns that would show an army's ups and downs during a campaign. Hope to see you there soon!

As to your second idea, it can be handled in a similar manner.

MajGen Al 'Ambushed' Amos
3rd "Amos' Ambushers" Bde, Cavalry Division, XX Corps, AoC
The Union Forever! Huzzah!


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2005 1:32 am 
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Judging from Al's comment he is referring to the Turn based "Opportunity Fire" as a way to simulate this using lower morale troops. However, there is an additional factor that still makes this not work. In Turn based defensive fire the AI only fires a unit at most twice, usually at to long of range, and it doesn't cause a morale check so that even a "F" unit would be slowed down.

The HPS engine does a casualty roll to determine if a hit causes a morale check using the formula x/(x+25) to determine the odds. In Turn based combat the fire power is halved and the fire is usually not at optimum distance so the "x" is usually a single digit number. So you end up watching even those "F" unit marching across an open field, taking a lot of 2-5 men hits without having the least affect (only 5-15% chance of), and then to add insult to injury they move adjacent to your line and nobody shoots at all.

BG. Kennon Whitehead
Chatham Grays
III Corps, AoM (CSA)


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2005 1:36 am 
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No Kennon, I was referring to the Quality Rating of Units.

MajGen Al 'Ambushed' Amos
3rd "Amos' Ambushers" Bde, Cavalry Division, XX Corps, AoC
The Union Forever! Huzzah!


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2005 2:32 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 28, 2001 2:39 am
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[:D]Excellent points Bob. Certainly it would add more realism.

I often wish HPS could hire guys like Al Amos to do some campaign designing or tweaking. Al, your ideas certainly seem "doable" although they require a depth of knowledge that not many of us have (yourself excluded). As you say the time and being required to do such mundane things as feeding our families puts a crimp on game development.

Anyway thanks to Bob and Al for all the time and hard work they have devoted to this club and of course our sister clubs. If you are not playing in the CCC tourny Bob and Al are running you are really missing out on a fantastic gaming experience.

Ed[8D]

Lt. Gen. Ed Blackburn
VIth Corp/AoS
"Where We Lead the Army Follows"


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2005 3:48 am 
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Joined: Wed May 23, 2001 2:56 pm
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When it comes to game design I am a mere novice, but the opportunity to work with Al Amos on the Tourney in the Colonial Club has given me enough insight to follow Al's ideas.

In my own games I have been paying a lot more attention to "managing" the disruption of my units (actually I try to manage the keeping them undisrutpted) and also focusing on the quality ratings of units and leaders to commit to various tasks. As Al has pointed out there are some opportunities for HPS to tweak this process in the game engine. How hard it would be I don't know but it appears to be an aspect of the design that can improve the experience.

Having also recently "read" (via CD) the Gingrich book on Gettysburg, I've become intrigued by the alternate history opportuntity these games can provide. Al outlines some ideas for doing this with custom OOBs, which I think, if permitted, is a workable design. The Foote narrative has a number of examples of leaders whose "abilities" changed during Gettsyburg -- Howard, Hill, Rodes - being three cases I recall. So having modified OOBs by day, might even make a game of the 3 Day battle more historical.





Lt Gen Bob Breen
Commanding 4th Bde, 2nd Div, VI Corps, AoS
"Where we lead, the Army follows" - VI Corps


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2005 4:11 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 9:52 am
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I think Al Amos makes some valid points. About twenty years ago a
company called SSI made excellent 19th century turn-based wargames.
Their morale scale was 1-99, and a unit's number was lowered gradually
by casualties and fatigue. Units received a number of operational
points based on command, control and a variable I think. You could get
extra operational points at a cost in fatigue (like forced marching). A
unit's morale number also represented its efficiency in combat. Anyway,
I thought they were able to incorporate some great concepts considering
they were operating with 1985 technological limitations. I see that a
lot of their games can now be downloaded for free. I wouldn't recommend
downloading these classics because their graphics were pretty basic by
today's standards, but they had a few features I really liked, the
Napoleonic cavalry system in particular. I had hoped it would be the
precursor to pre-plotted simultaneous movement, but alas, it was not
to be.

MG Mike Mihalik
1/III/AoMiss/CSA


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2005 5:54 am 
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Joined: Thu May 24, 2001 11:25 am
Posts: 872
Location: USA
General Blackburn,

Re: "...such mundane things as feeding our families..."

Al <b>KNEW </b>he was forgetting <i>SOMETHING </i>important [:D] !


Your humble servant,
LGen 'Dee Dubya' Mallory

David W. Mallory
ACW - Lieutenant General, Chief of the Armies, Confederate States of America
CCC - Corporal, Georgia Volunteers, Southern Regional Deaprtment, Colonial American Army


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