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PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2022 8:18 pm 
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The use of trenches in Overland and Petersburg, and even part of Forgotten, make perfect sense. But for older titles, such as Shiloh, Antietam, or Gettysburg, it is a potentially game-changing, scenario-destroying, issue. Imagine trying to attack Cemetery Hill with Federals using trenches. How about attacking Lee inside his trenches at Antietam or Second Manassas? And at First Bull Run as well.

This feature should NEVER have been added to the older titles. The gametesters and designers never took them into consideration when creating them and they are ahistorical in almost every case.

Some people might disagree and we could get bogged down in what really constitutes a "trench" and whether they should be present here or there.

What is not arguable is that every title before Overland was designed to be played WITHOUT the ability to build trenches. The dynamics radically change with them included now.

My suggested "fix" is a simple House Rule, and maybe even a Club Rule (based on feedback), that all titles released before Overland should be played without trenches as intended. Their existence in scenarios where they do not belong can ruin a well-designed scenario and change the entire playbook of any scenario moving forward. Just picture Grant's Army at Shiloh, spending all those "fixed" turns at the beginning of the game digging trenches. The scenario becomes practically unplayable.

All future tourneys, except those using the later titles, will be played without trenches being an option.

I posted this in the general issues with 4.0 thread as well for reference.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2022 5:16 am 
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I agree. If players agree to play historically, the house rule makes complete sense.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2022 9:15 am 
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I'm not deep in that topic but isn't there a probability that trenches are build set in the PDT?
If so did the old titles get their PDTs updated to allow trenches at all?

Titles not using trenches should have zero build probability and only allow them in special scenarios that maybe depict sieges or so.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2022 9:18 am 
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C. Hecht wrote:
I'm not deep in that topic but isn't there a probability that trenches are build set in the PDT?
If so did the old titles get their PDTs updated to allow trenches at all?

Titles not using trenches should have zero build probability and only allow them in special scenarios that maybe depict sieges or so.


Yes. When the PDT files were updated they included the code to allow for the building of trenches. From a developer standpoint this is a nice thing to add as it allows customized games to include them if the game creator/designer wants them to be there. But for the already built scenarios which come with the title, and are the ones we play 99.9% of the time, the addition of trenches makes the scenario play radically different than it was created to be.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2022 10:24 am 
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In that case they should really set the PDTs to appropriate values for the time, until the suggested housrule needs to be used.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2022 12:21 pm 
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If I might add a friendly dissenting opinion. Part of the reason why I play historical wargaming is not necessarily to repeat history but to take what I've learned from it and apply it to different situations. In essence, just because an event unfolded in a certain way does not mean I have to repeat it. I think the ability to entrench on any map--regardless of the campaign--gives players the ability to mold their gamestyle to the situation.

Given the example of Lee building trenches at Antietam. Anyone who does even the most basic level of research knows that the Union army has a significant numerical advantage over the CSA (as in the majority of ACW battles). Furthermore, they know that the only reason that Lee's army was not destroyed was because of ill-coordinated attacks and McClellan's refusal to use his reserves. Lee's ability to parry each of McClellan's assaults was only successful because Lee understood McClellan's fighting style. In wargaming against an opponent, it is likely my opponent is as knowledgeable about the Battle of Antietam as myself. If we were forced to play without the ability to build trenches, then my opponent knows my options for beating him are severely limited. Disallowing the use of entrenchments forces me to play on my enemy's terms instead of my own.

Educationally speaking, allowing the construction of trenches lets the player experiment with different playstyles: defense in depth, the use of strongpoints, or a static trenchline for example. While trenches do favor the defenders immensely, on no map does the player have the ability to have an infinite trench system--it will have to end at some point. Going back to the Antietam example, just because I build a solid trench network in the West Woods, does not mean the enemy has to attack me there. They could leave a holding force to check me there and then attack me on a separate part of the line or outmaneuver me altogether. Trenches are not the end all be all on the battlefield, and I think part of the reason why they are problematic for some players is because they rush into them too quickly without getting a proper assessment of the battlefield and finding an opportunity to maneuver around them. As Patton said, "Fixed fortifications are monuments to the stupidity of man." Going back to the example of trenches on Cemetery Hill, if that were the case for me then I wouldn't attack that position and try to maneuver around the enemy.

The American Civil War was among the first modern wars and many lessons were hard learned. I think it would beneficial to allow for gamers to learn from these lessons and be allowed to apply them as they wish. While I absolutely agree that no entrenchments could be a great house rule for some, I don't think it should be the default. Sorry if this sounded like a rambling rant. But as someone who likes to take the strategic initiative and tactical defense, I would prefer to keep my trenches.

Thoughts?

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2022 12:57 pm 
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Hello Will! Absolutely, chime in. I love a fun discussion about the gaming mechanics.

I am probably one of the more "gamey" players in the Club. If the gaming mechanics will allow you to do something, like stack 16 guns in a hex or block an infantry melee using mounted cavalry, then I am all for it.

This is a rare instance where I think the "updated" gaming mechanics are out of sync with the scenarios as they were designed to be played and enjoyed. The trenches add a foreign element to the original games which the game designers and scenario testers never accounted for. Therefore, the ability to attack or defend will be radically different than was originally intended. Also, this affects Victory Points. If you design a game knowing the defenders will likely use trenches you might lower or increase the victory point conditions accordingly for the attackers. As designed the original games weren't meant to accommodate trenches so their victory point levels don't take into account the probable increase of losses for the attacking player.

The ability to use and build trenches in scenarios where they were not meant to be present would cause the trenches to supersede player talent as the determining factor for victory. Thus, decreasing the playability of some scenarios and the likelihood of a fair battles.

For a fun analogy, it is the same reason baseball players don't use aluminum bats at the pro level. The introduction of them would likely more than double the number of Home Runs hit and increase batting averages by more than 50 points. It would rewrite all the records and cause the competitive balance to be far from what it was designed and meant to be when the game was created.

Anyways, I love the post, Will, and feel free to contribute more. No right or wrong answers since it is all just an opinion. :mrgreen:

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2022 5:01 pm 
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Good idea.

I hate trenches. Unless I am in them. Then they are great.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2022 6:14 pm 
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Interesting to note that "rework and rebalance scenarios" ranked 4th out of 8 in priority in the recent WDS survey.

This can difficult when you consider that the system has two different modes of play and 27 optional rules.

I suppose technically each scenario should be playtested in each mode with no optional rules, but when I took part in the playtest of Chancellorsville we played strictly phase using some optional rules and even the no column attack house rule. My regular opponent during these playtests was Ken Miller. Also one against John Ferry, and some solitaire where I played both sides. There were other playtesters and I don't know how they handled it.

Anyway, my take is that if trenches weren't created during a given battle or campaign historically, the trench feature should be disabled, as General Hecht suggested.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2022 5:35 am 
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So essentially we have 4 options:

1) Change nothing. 2) Request another Optional Rule be created to enable or disable trenches in a scenario. 3) Create a club wide optional rule where two players decide together to allow trenches or not to. 4) Request that scenario designers remove trench building from scenarios they were not used in historically.

Looks like a poll or survey to me. At least we will have quantified data to point at then.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2022 9:30 am 
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A lot of good points have been brought up, and I agree that there definitely should be a rebalance of trenches. However, in my experiences where I generally play more open ended/meeting engagements rather than the historical scenarios, I think it makes sense to allow trenches since the victory points are generally not dependent on seizing arbitrary victory hexes. Overall, I'm leaning toward leaving it to the players to decide on a case-by-case basis rather than installing an overarching rule change. Next time WDS leaves a poll I will definitely add rebalancing to trenches for consideration.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2022 8:55 am 
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I think it should be added as an optional rule and let the players decide.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2022 10:39 am 
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I don't mind to allow players to find out how Shiloh was with trenches. but if that extends to allowing such things in a historical scenario then those aren't historical anymore.
It would be better to and a PDT that allows trenches and just set up a second set of scenarios that uses that alternative PDT.
Anyhow, for now trenches are surely a thing the players should not only take a look at, but also agree to use or not use them.
Better be save then sorry.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2022 11:01 am 
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I agree that it would be a great Optional Rule for a future version to include.

Until then, everyone be sure to be on the same page as your opponent before starting a game. If you don't want trenches to be used, make sure you state that at the start.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2022 6:05 am 
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I agree with William. 'What-If' is one of funs in wargames. It is good to have a chance to try trench in the early war. But I will ban the trench in most games. Jesus, it's hard enough to attack now. I like mobile warfare and don't want trench warfare of WWI style. In addition to the house rules, players can ban it by editing the PDT file now if necessary.

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