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 Post subject: HPS Customer Base
PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2007 5:26 am 
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Who is the HPS ACW customer base? Is it the serious, historically correct gamer who doesn't care how complicated the game gets; or is it primarily the historically interested player looking to have some fun and doesn't mind getting into something a little more complicated than usual in order to do it. The voices on this board definitely fit the serious, historically correct version but is that who is primarily laying out their hard earned dollars that HPS depends upon.

How about it? Has HPS done any research/analysis in this regard or is HPS happy catering to the serious, historically correct gamer regardless of how it effects sales (positively or negatively). I'm obviously in the second group of historically interested players looking to have fun and very disappointed to see the club evolve from a roleplaying fun place a few years ago to just a serious discussion board about the intricacies of the game. Now don't get me wrong, I don't mind those discussions one little bit - it's just that everything else but those kind of discussions disappeared. However, if I'm a decadent, ugly, demented, over-the-hill gamer then ... then ... my wife was correct (ouch, that hurt!).

By the way, has anyone noticed a shrinking membership or noticed that some people are starting to have a harder time finding an opponent? Its been going on for a pretty good while. I wonder why? My answer rests in one word - "Fun". This club used to provide a roleplaying mechanism for fun through the games that has disappeared. Can we find it again?


Lt Gen Ned Simms
VI/AoS/USA
Blood 'n Guts hisself, a land lovin' pirate. Show me some arty tubes and we'll charge 'em.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2007 6:06 am 
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I would have to say that the HPS customer base is more the historically devoted gamer, not the casual guy wanting a fun game. I regret not mentioning several of these gaming sites in my notes. I will mention this club and the SZO for my next title.

Perhaps those of you that visit various ACW blogs, etc.. could mention this club and others could add to the blog to offer supporting comments. Also, anyone who makes a post, should post the site here, so we could make those supporting posts on those other websites.

Just an idea.

<blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by nsimms</i>
<br />Who is the HPS ACW customer base? Is it the serious, historically correct gamer who doesn't care how complicated the game gets; or is it primarily the historically interested player looking to have some fun and doesn't mind getting into something a little more complicated than usual in order to do it. The voices on this board definitely fit the serious, historically correct version but is that who is primarily laying out their hard earned dollars that HPS depends upon.

How about it? Has HPS done any research/analysis in this regard or is HPS happy catering to the serious, historically correct gamer regardless of how it effects sales (positively or negatively). I'm obviously in the second group of historically interested players looking to have fun and very disappointed to see the club evolve from a roleplaying fun place a few years ago to just a serious discussion board about the intricacies of the game. Now don't get me wrong, I don't mind those discussions one little bit - it's just that everything else but those kind of discussions disappeared. However, if I'm a decadent, ugly, demented, over-the-hill gamer then ... then ... my wife was correct (ouch, that hurt!).

By the way, has anyone noticed a shrinking membership or noticed that some people are starting to have a harder time finding an opponent? Its been going on for a pretty good while. I wonder why? My answer rests in one word - "Fun". This club used to provide a roleplaying mechanism for fun through the games that has disappeared. Can we find it again?


Lt Gen Ned Simms
VI/AoS/USA
Blood 'n Guts hisself, a land lovin' pirate. Show me some arty tubes and we'll charge 'em.
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

Major Richard Walker
I Corps
Army of the Mississippi
2nd Brigade, 3rd Division
"Defenders of Tennessee"


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2007 7:08 am 
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How many guys out there belong to reenactment groups, etc.??? Tons more than we have here in this Club. We need to step up to the challenge of creating an environment that caters to a broader spectrum of folks that are interested in the historical periods. The history is important, I'm a history buff first, gamer a close second (don't ask where Father and Husband fit on the list, I don't want to get whacked in the head with the frying pan anymore...[:D]).

Since I'm supposed to be a "leader" around here, I'd love to hear how anyone thinks we could engage folks more or better. It's been an oft posted topic over the past couple of years. We have great new titles from HPS, the games span more and more of the battles fought and the personalities within.

Personally, I think the tourneys are good ways to get juices flowing. I would here propose creation of a senior level position be created within both the Union and Reb army structur to be tournament coordinators - complete with an OBD stipend as reward for the work. Over at the CCC, Bob Breen has a bang up tourney going with 1812 scenarios, it's been a blast. We've got great history with tourneys here as well, we just have lost that recently.

I think the FTW folks did a great think for the Club, and had a good example of how to engage an audience and creat a fun environment. I look forward to it's improvement and return.

We at the Union are consolidating a bit to group folks closer together, flatten out the organization a bit, so that hopefully we can derive better synergy from the people around us - that's the key ingredient, the people around us.

We can do more, we need to do more. No idea is a bad idea.

And Ned, keep posting - I enjoy hearing about somebody else getting thumped around by their better half...[:D]

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General Jeff Laub
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2007 7:09 am 
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OBTW - We should also ask, who is OUR customer base???

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General Jeff Laub
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ACWGC Cabinet Member
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2007 8:04 am 
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Hi,

I am into historically correct, and the roleplaying aspect of the club does nothing for me. For those who enjoy that type of thing, though, that's cool. The beauty of the forum and the club is that nobody is forced to be one or the other.

I have noticed that my gameplaying has tailed off in recent years, and that sometimes I have to force myself to sit down and do a turn in a large scenario. I don't think the games are more complicated to play than the original Talonsoft versions. At first I was afraid I was growing up, but my enjoyment of the movie "300" put that silly notion to rest.

I think what happened was that as I became more aware of the nuances of the game, I became more of a micromanager, angling for flank shots, obsessed with command ranges, etc to the point where the games are more work. This is not a function of historical accuracy but more a function of control. I don't think historical accuracy and fun need be mutually exclusive. It is one of the reasons I push for simultaneous preplotted movement and fire. You can have all the accuracy in the world at the supply, fire, terrain and melee levels, but if all you are responsible for is plotting movement, it can greatly simplify game play. I haven't gotten "Punic Wars" so I don't know how it worked out. Anyway, I have gotten a lot of fun in the past from simpler games like Panzer Generals and Axis and Allies: Iron Blitz, so historical accuracy isn't a prerequisite for me to enjoy a game. Somehow, though, I don't see HPS creating a game that is as simple as those.

MG Mike Mihalik
1/III/AoMiss/CSA


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2007 3:11 pm 
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Rich, nobody that is a casual player plays HPS games. HPS games are complicated enough to require some love for it in order to make it past the first look. But exactly how much love does HPS require or to phrase it another way, how many sales is HPS missing by making the games so that one has to get a Masters Degree in order to play with any success (did I spell Masters correctly)?

D.W., now there was a thought, the club could offer degrees. Just go ahead and give Kelly Ross a PhD and the rest of us could start in kindergarten.

Jeff, FTW was definitely an event with a lot of promise but it always appeared to be a 'private' affair that was 'allowed' to function with the club members on the club forums. I couldn't tell that the club ever 'sanctioned' it, supported it, or paid their utility bill. We probably missed the boat on that one. As for tournaments, I think that the club enthusiasm is so low that it would be very difficult to get enough people to participate in a decent tournament. I see a couple of things that led to this. First, each squabble that occurred within the club ran off a bunch of people and caused everyone to be quiet. The club changed. Even before that, the value of website building became too high. People were put into leadership positions because they could build a website without any regard for their leadership abilities. Website building is important but leadership qualities are more important for command positions. There are and have been some good ones in the club but the club has seldom held commanders responsible for morale. Now we probably have trouble finding either.

As for the club's customer base, first they have to buy TS or HPS ACW games. After they do that and find this club on the internet, I'm more concerned about what we're doing to keep them interested. What I see so far is making the games harder and harder to play which by itself doesn't strike me as being the answer.

Mike, I can add to but I can't disagree with a thing that you wrote. My question for what you said is that for us old timers who have gotten ourselves bogged down in micromanaging everything in our quests to win (which I agree with), where are all of the new guys who would fill our old shoes because they aren't micromanaging yet? Your concept of knowing enough to micromanage is what I'm calling complicated. Micromanaging has become a necessity in order to win these games. By the way, I've already bought Punic Wars and joined the club with high hopes. I can already tell, its easy to get started playing but its complicated if you want to win, but hopefully not as complicated as the ACW games.

Notso, you are now depended upon so much that the club should purchase a life insurance policy on you. We've already arranged escorts for you on your drive in to work but you're so sleepy from doing club stuff the night before that you haven't noticed. By the way, you owe Ed some hair pieces and you oughta hurry up and get them to him with the summer sun right around the corner. The color nor length makes any difference (he would look good in purple).

Now what I would really like for someone to tell me is that the club membership is not decreasing, that there is not any bigger problem finding people for command positions than there was 5 years ago, that HPS is having so much success with their ACW series that they're considering closing down all of the other series, that only us old farts liked role playing and the new generation is turned on by the micromanagement of electrons within the games, that there is a good reason that 5 TS games plus 7 HPS games can't keep as many people interested in the club as 5 TS games could, and please, someone tell me that my wife looks like Sophia Lo... no, she's a little older now ... like Bridgette Bar... no, I don't think that she's that young either ... well, its been a few years since I had eyes for anyone else.


Lt Gen Ned Simms
VI/AoS/USA
Blood 'n Guts hisself, a land lovin' pirate. Show me some arty tubes and we'll charge 'em.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 2:34 am 
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I'm certainly not one who can tell another what to enjoy, or not to enjoy, but I must say that I do find it odd that you worry about the HPS games being "too big" and "too complicated".

I say that because you have options in the HPS games that you never had with the TS games, in particular Corinth and Ozark. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, my favorite of the HPS games is Ozark, and whatever else you may want to say about it, "too big" isn't really an issue.

That said, there is indeed a difference in play styles, and so if you prefer the TS, more power to you. I feel the TS ACW games hold up the better to the HPS in game play than the Nappies, and am still happy to get an occasional Bull Run game going.

However, there may be a reality check here that is needed. You wish for the ACWGC to tell HPS that the inability to create custom maps is "not acceptable"? I don't have access to the sales numbers of the various games (and if I did, I wouldn't share them anyway), but I'd be flat out shocked if the ACWGC bought 10% of the total sales of HPS ACW games, so the club is not in a position to dictate to HPS what is, or is not "acceptable."

This is a good place for people like Rich W or Rich H to come in and talk, since we are probably the most knowledgable single place about the games, but we don't call the shots to HPS.

I joined this club at about the time that Corinth first came out, and I think that in a paradoxical way, HPS *has* hurt the club, but in a way that I don't think that anyone can truly complain about. It used to be that with a very limited number of games, there was a great deal of common ground for discussion and play. Now though, there are 5 TS and 7 HPS games (if my count is right, including Atlanta), which has tended to diffuse the players of the club into smaller groups. For instance, if someone wants to play Gettysburg or Peninsula, I'm less likely to notice, but if they want to play Ozark or Corinth, I'm more likely to perk up and throw my hat in the ring.

Major General Gary McClellan
1st Division, XXIII Corps
AoO,USA


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 2:47 am 
As a new comer to this club I'd like to throw in my 2 cents worth on this topic. I joined the club in late January for several reasons. First, I have long appreciated military history (being a veteran myself) from many eras. Secondly I have a passion for the American Civil War as a part of our national history and last but certainly not least, I enjoy a good game though I usually don't have very good luck with them. Upon joining, I was pleasantly surprised to find the flavor of role play corresponding to the era and to the military establishment as well. As for the games, I owe but a few of the HPS titles at this time with the understanding that the TS games are to be reissued by Matrix. I feel that the games are well based but surely they can be complicated but I think that is based upon the desires of the individual and their approach to not only the games themselves but to the club as a whole. Personally I enjoy the comradery and the atmosphere and seek to have some fun with it all and need not delve into every jot and tittle of technical detail (I do enough of that at work). If club membership is dwindling there must be a reason not the least of which may be the teaching of American history or perhaps it is just a generational phenomena. "GIGO" In closing, I for one wanted to get more involved in the club, to give something back and help out as I may. In this regard, I have been welcomed and well supported by several fine dedicated officers of the CSA to which I can only give my greatest thanks and appreciation.

General Moose Suh! I do hope you have taken some medication to resolve that fur ball problem you've been experiencing.


Maj. G.L.Caverly
2nd Corps,2nd Div.,4th Brg.
AotM


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 4:12 am 
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After thinking about it for awhile this morning I think HPS has some blame for the rate of expansion in the club and the lack of roleplaying but I don't think it is because the games are too complicated. It is more a matter of diffusion. When I joined the club there was this one and the Nappy club and that was about it. Once HPS started producing Panzer/Modern Campaigns, Early American War, Squad Battles, Naval Campaign, and now Ancient Campaigns, peoples time and interest got split up. The ACW will always be my favorite but I also divide my time between several of the others also, plus TOAW, Combat Mission, and Uncommon Valor. Used to be that I didn't have much to do between ACW and Nappy turns but come in here and start a thread about how Lee was overrated and Jackson was just lucky that he didn't run into Cump Sherman or he'd been spanked and had his lunch money taken away. Now I finish my ACW turns and then it's off to plan a bombing raid on Rabaul, launch an assault on Anzio, fend off the Russians outside of Hamburg, skirmish with voltiguers at Waterloo, debate the merits of a bayonet charge at Germantown. Just doesn't seem to be the time anymore. I'll admit I should make time I guess as I still love the place but I find it hard to deny my other historical/gaming interests also. I also feel the younger generations, having grown up with Nintendo and X-Box rather then board games and plastic soldiers as we did, tend to find a lot more enjoyment in real time games rather then the operational/strategic types that most of us enjoy.

General Mark Nelms
6/3/IX/AoO
"Blackhawk Brigade"


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 5:52 am 
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The younger generation needs our guidance.

<blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by nelmsm</i>
<br />After thinking about it for awhile this morning I think HPS has some blame for the rate of expansion in the club and the lack of roleplaying but I don't think it is because the games are too complicated. It is more a matter of diffusion. When I joined the club there was this one and the Nappy club and that was about it. Once HPS started producing Panzer/Modern Campaigns, Early American War, Squad Battles, Naval Campaign, and now Ancient Campaigns, peoples time and interest got split up. The ACW will always be my favorite but I also divide my time between several of the others also, plus TOAW, Combat Mission, and Uncommon Valor. Used to be that I didn't have much to do between ACW and Nappy turns but come in here and start a thread about how Lee was overrated and Jackson was just lucky that he didn't run into Cump Sherman or he'd been spanked and had his lunch money taken away. Now I finish my ACW turns and then it's off to plan a bombing raid on Rabaul, launch an assault on Anzio, fend off the Russians outside of Hamburg, skirmish with voltiguers at Waterloo, debate the merits of a bayonet charge at Germantown. Just doesn't seem to be the time anymore. I'll admit I should make time I guess as I still love the place but I find it hard to deny my other historical/gaming interests also. I also feel the younger generations, having grown up with Nintendo and X-Box rather then board games and plastic soldiers as we did, tend to find a lot more enjoyment in real time games rather then the operational/strategic types that most of us enjoy.

General Mark Nelms
6/3/IX/AoO
"Blackhawk Brigade"

<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

Major Richard Walker
I Corps
Army of the Mississippi
2nd Brigade, 3rd Division
"Defenders of Tennessee"


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 8:16 am 
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Hi, Col Quick,

The story of your son Nestle and the boys invites comparison with my own childhood. At fourteen, the most challenging game I knew of was chess, and I was good at it. After that, it was Parker Brothers Battle Cry. I was still having fun setting up my Marx Civil War soldiers and staging mock battles with #2 pencil erasers for ammunition (those prone Yanks were hard to kill, but hit them just right and they would flip over on their backs like wounded cockroaches). At the time, I entertained visions of being a chess master, but it didn't take long to figure out that, even if I had the ability, it was more work than I was willing to put in. I didn't know about Avalon Hill until I went to college in 1968, and then bought Blitzkrieg. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

Now, compare the complexity of the games I was playing in 1964 with HPS games. There is a world of difference. I can understand why a teenager might find an HPS game not worth the work. I think the historical wargame designers like John have done a wonderful job of programming in a lot of realistic details that appeal to a lot of us grownups who were raised on simpler fare. I think to attract younger members you need a simpler, faster-moving game maybe of the complexity of House Divided or Axis and Allies, where you don't have to think so much. Like Ned indicated in his initial post, fun is of paramount importance. Especially in games. Especially for kids. Hopefully, once the hook is set, they will one day take our places playing the more serious stuff when they reach geezerhood. Or before.


MG Mike Mihalik
1/III/AoMiss/CSA


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 10:30 am 
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I don't want to get into heavy discussion because I really had a tough day and it's almost nap time. However, two words I picked up on was "Customer Base" My response is that I never saw a survey that asked me (the customer) as to what Campaign Game I wanted next. (Perhaps there was and I missed it) I was a little disappointed with the release of Vicksburg and now Altanta. I know alot of hard work go's into the design of these games, and I am thankful. But as I'm very partial to Lee, I doubt if I will purchase either of the mentioned. That's my two cent from this customer....and for God's sake, keep the rules simple.....

Colonel R.E.Daley
1st Corps of the ANV
3rd Calvary Divsion,
3rd Brigade
"We are the Midnight Riders"


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 10:57 am 
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One thing to remember is that there's not just one, but three teams (or there have been three teams to this point) releasing games. Some of them work faster, some of them work slower. My understanding is that Gettysburg was one of the first games "started" but didn't come along until later because that team was a bit "slower" (but, on the other hand, the sheer amount of work put into that design is obvious).

So, I would suspect a very good chance that there's someone working a Lee oriented battle this very moment. I don't know who, and I have no clue when it will be released, but I'm pretty confident there is something brewing.

Anyway, we Sherman fans get to have our games as well [:D]

<blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by RE Daley</i>
<br />I don't want to get into heavy discussion because I really had a tough day and it's almost nap time. However, two words I picked up on was "Customer Base" My response is that I never saw a survey that asked me (the customer) as to what Campaign Game I wanted next. (Perhaps there was and I missed it) I was a little disappointed with the release of Vicksburg and now Altanta. I know alot of hard work go's into the design of these games, and I am thankful. But as I'm very partial to Lee, I doubt if I will purchase either of the mentioned. That's my two cent from this customer....and for God's sake, keep the rules simple.....

Colonel R.E.Daley
1st Corps of the ANV
3rd Calvary Divsion,
3rd Brigade
"We are the Midnight Riders"
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

Major General Gary McClellan
1st Division, XXIII Corps
AoO,USA


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 6:35 pm 
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I'll try to just concentrate on the customer base part of this. Lets see if I can phrase this appropriately. I am not a casual player. I am a serious wargamer. I own all TS and HPS ACW titles and haven't owned any other ACW games from any other publisher for a long time. I do consider myself a 'gamey' player because its just like taxes, you may not agree that you can take that deduction but I'm gonna take it because there are plenty of others that I think that I should be able to take but can't.

However, having said that, I would like for the games to be as historical as possible. What I don't want is the requirement to know a bunch of detailed stuff in order to succeed with the game. For example, I consider it totally uncalled for to know that you have to be in column in order to cross a bridge yet you can't change to column until next turn. The game oughta automatically convert you to column once you arrive at the bridge and then move you across it if you have enough movement points left. I shouldn't have to know that I can eliminate a unit if I place someone in every third or 30th hex just as long as the front three are covered solid, If there is a way out, why doesn't the unit take it? Why should I have to know so many details? Isn't that what the computer is for? The computer can warn me and offer me my choices.

HPS designers get some good feedback from this club and its forums. I have no heartburn with that. What I would suggest though is that they are listening to less than 5% of the club that is willing to be vocal about it. They should be listened to but are they representative of the HPS customer base, in other words, listened to with how much grain of salt. I have no idea if they are representative of how 90% of the club members feel, or maybe only 10% and I don't think that anybody in this club knows. I know that TS was about at the outer limits of complexity that I was willing to put into a game. HPS has exceeded that and is clearly heading deeper and deeper into it. Its already frustrating enough that combat resolution tables (wherever the heck they are) apparently are different to what they were in TS, and that you use the alt button in HPS to do what the Ctrl button did in TS which is frustrating, etc. If my opponent has the ability and inside track to know that the attack that I'm about to make has about a 32% chance of succeeding, then why doesn't the computer share the knowledge and tell me that and eliminate the complexity.

If you're getting so complicated/requiring micromanagement so much that you eliminate the wargaming Ned Simms' of the world, then I can't envision that you'll have enough of a market left.

Now excuse me, as I have to go order HPS Atlanta.



Lt Gen Ned Simms
VI/AoS/USA
Blood 'n Guts hisself, a land lovin' pirate. Show me some arty tubes and we'll charge 'em.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 8:39 pm 
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General Simms,

An excellent thread, sir.

I, also, miss the tournaments (who remembers "Tennessee River 2000" - T2K?). As General McClellan has pointed out, though, one of the big obstacles to tournaments is that there are so many HPS ACW games available it's difficult to find one that enough people own to build a tournament around. That's a good problem to have.

Personally, I've always preferred blind un-historical scenarios, in which neither opponent knows what is coming at him, rather than playing actual historical battles. General Litton did an excellent job of setting some of these up back in the TS days. Now, with all the HPS ACW titles and scenarios, it's much easier to find a scenario neither player is intimately familiar with. Not exactly the same thing as a blind scenario, but a close second.

I've been thinking about the elimination of the Army of the James. A quick comparison shows the USA side of the club has had six armies and 14 corps, compared to the CSA side with only four armies and 12 corps. That means the Union has had to come up with four more commanders than the Rebels. I don't know for sure, but I rather expect there are more Rebels in the club than there are Yanks in the first place. My guess is the Union, at some point in the past, set up more armies in preparation for future expansion and the recruits just didn't come in as fast as expected. In other words, they may have just over-expanded. Eliminating an army could very well be just what is needed.

It would be interesting to know if actual recruitment numbers have dropped off, or if the rate of increase has dropped off. Other than maybe the Training Academy Commandants, I don't know if anyone in the club would even have this information, though. Ever since I've been in a position to start seeing recruitment figures, I've been (pleasantly) surprised to see new members continue to join.

Again, this is a wonderful thread. I appreciate these kinds of questions.


Your humble servant,
Gen 'Dee Dubya' Mallory

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David W. Mallory
ACW - General, 3/2/I/AotM (Club President & Cabinet Member)
CCC - Lieutenant, Georgia Volunteers, Southern Regional Department, Colonial American Army


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