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 Post subject: Preliminary Intelligence - Right or Wrong?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2007 7:59 pm 
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I suppose that most (some?) players in this club may take the time to call up a manual, shadow version of the game upon which they are to embark in order to conduct what would be called, <i>preliminary intelligence</i>. By doing so they can comfortably make themselves aware of the starting positions of the enemy forces, their types and strengths, the predicted arrival times and positions of re-inforcements, and perhaps conduct a turn or two of anticipated movements.

Not that such intelligence gathering would heavily influence the outcome of <i>most</i> games, but perhaps it provides an unbalanced, initial advantage over the unwary opponent or those who prefer not to indulge. Do you consider conducting <i>preliminary intelligence</i> a legitimate tool in your own competition. If so, do you really think that it can be justified in the ACWGC game world by finding a real world, Civil War-era analogy for it? On the other hand, do you think that most Civil War encounters began without <i>any</i> foreknowledge of the pending conditions whatsoever?

I'd like to hear your thoughts on this! (It'd be great, I think, to conduct a poll on this, but the forum postings do not allow for an easy voting count.)

Maj. Jos. C. Meyer,
4th Brg'd, Cav. Div., 14th Corps, Army of the Cumberland


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2007 1:53 am 
I think that there are cases for and against this type of intelligence gathering.

Ideally both sides should have no prior knowledge, this makes for a more naturally occuring battle. It is only by your own troop maneuvers and through spotting of enemy units that the battle takes its form.

However, once a member has played a battle (or has studied the historical battle) he of course has more information than someone who knows nothing about it.

So then, for the complete novice to the battle history and to the particular battle version (historical or otherwise) going up against a veteran of many campaigns (which must include several playings of the battle in question to be relevent), then it must be understood that the veteran has more intelligence on the battle than the novice.

For a novice in this situation to look at the shadow version to see how arrivals are expected to come and the initial layout of his opponent. I think that this is really only an attempt on the novices behalf to as least give him some idea of the battles development....and level the playing field on the amount of intelligence that each side has prior to the battle beginning.

I myself have played several blind scenarios...and I have to say that they are amongst the most enjoyable games I have ever played. Many thanks to Dave Litton for those.

<center>Brigadier General Edward Stewart
[url="http://bonemash.webng.com/EdStewart.html"]Image[/url]

2nd Brig, 3rd Div,
III Corps, ANV
III Corps Adjutant
ANV Chief of Staff
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2007 2:49 am 
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I find it a bit boreing if I know most of the scenario. I think it teaches you how to do better recon and how to search out and make contact with the opponent. When you get into tighter jams because of lack of intelligence you will try harder to get more next time. Also when you get into those tight jams it helps you become a better leader by thinking on the run like true combat. You can't form a battle plan till you get enough intel. I would understand if a novice player would start out useing this as a balance, but after a few games and he gets the feel of battle VS a human opponent I think it would take the fun and challenge out of the game.[;)]

Lt. Charles Babb
6th Brigade,3rd Division
XXIII Corps
Army of the Ohio


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2007 2:57 am 
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I do not think it is a common practice. But, once you have played a scenario, you already know what is going to happen. I do not think there is any major advantage to looking or to the knowledge gleaned from repeated playing of a scenario.

Currently, I am playing the historical battle of Gettysburg, the TS Battleground version. I have played this scenario quite a few times. I still delay the Rebs at McPhersons and Seminary Ridge and keep my cavalry viewing the Rebels along the Chambersburg Pike. I absolutely know they are coming down that Pike, but I still place some cavalry to watch the road. Why? Because my opponent MIGHT do something different!!

Blind scenarios are great and a big THANK YOU to Dave Litton for them. I just started a new blind scenario game from Dave, a week ago.

Mirror games negate the practice of viewing a scenario before playing, but they are only practical in the smaller scenarios and are sometimes done for tourneys.

Is viewing them "gamey"? Probably, but they also probably do not gain the viewer any real advantage.



<b><font color="gold">Ernie Sands
General, Commanding, Army of Ohio
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ACWGC Cabinet Member
ACWGC Records Site Administrator
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2007 3:22 am 
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A blind scenario is a lot of fun. I have played a few Litton ones but mostly through FtW games. Some of the Campaign branches can reproduce this but for the most part I know the battles well enough that I know what to expect and where to look. Gettysburg, if you added in the downloadable scenarios, was the only campaign that really randomized the scenario to any extent. Most of the others after you play them a few times you know what to expect.

Its one of the gotchas of Historical Games. It can't be Historical and still recreate the fog of war. Most of the truly blind scenarios in Gettysburg are the non-historical branches.

For someone playing me they probably should do the "preliminary intelligence" just to be on an equal footing with me. Or find someway to deviate from the historical. I am a little rusty on my Western battles but no Eastern one is going to take me by surprise.

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


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2007 3:50 am 
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I will usually look over a scenario in manual mode before I ever play it to see if I think it is a fairly even match, and I expect my opponent to do the same. Years ago I liked to play the South Mountain scenario in BG Antietam. Never had problems finding Yank opponents as the scenario was viewed by many as favoring them. And some did whip me, but after awhile I won more than I lost, simply because I knew what to expect. One of the nice things about playing an HPS campaign, though, is that a lot of times you don't know what scenario will pop up because it depends on a matrix determined by your opponent's choice as well as your own. I think in HPS Gettysburg Doug Strickland put together thousands of scenarios, many I suppose with only minor variations, to preserve more of a fog of war. Other tools have been used to introduce uncertainty into scenarios such as variable release and reinforcement. Rich Walker has introduced variable weather, and has developed a number of meeting engagement scenarios where the lines aren't set, so there is a lot of uncertainty. We discussed the possibility of random entry hexes for reinforcements at Tillercon last May. More uncertainty is certainly desirable in scenarios, but before I play one, I'm going to check it out first.

MG Mike Mihalik
1/III/AoMiss/CSA


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2007 4:35 am 
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Litton scenarios are neato. You can also just agree with your opponent before hand not to peek especially if neither of you has fought the battle before.

Colonel Tony Best
Army of Georgia


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2007 5:12 am 
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I always look over the TS ACW scenarios and HPS ACW standalone battles in manual mode before I play. I tend not to do so in HPS ACW campaign games for two reasons:

1 - I kinda like the blindness of them with the big maps to play with but if my opponent can figure out what scenario that we're actually playing, then he will have an advantage on me and its an advantage that I willing give at this point.

2 - It has cost me before due to not being able to pinpoint the correct scenario that we were playing. My subsequent strategy looked more like the Charge of the Light Brigade than the anvil movement that I had envisioned.

Blind games are great, but they are blind only once. The second time that you play them, you have a significant advantage over your opponent who hasn't played it. The same applies to nonblind/standard scenario games if your opponent has played it previously and you haven't.

There are different levels of skill in this club (as well as different levels of fun which doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the level of skill) and there are some members that I couldn't beat if you told me what they were going to do and let me watch their every move. For those that are embarrassingly closer to my skill level, I think that looking over the scenario beforehand gives me an advantage, and if they don't do the same then I'll gladly accept the advantage (just as I willingly give up that advantage with HPS campaign games).


Lt Gen Ned Simms
1/1/VIII/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 Dec 22, 2007 5:48 am 
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I have made it a habit to check over the stock scenarios ever since I got caught in a Gettysburg variant when my opponents reinforcements came on unexpectedly and routed a large part of my cavalry resulting in the loss of almost a whole division costing me the game. I at least want to know where he's coming from and about when they will get there to keep this from happening again.

In campaign games I can figure out which scenario I'm playing and do so by comparing the .cpf file with the .scn files with a text editor. Since I know which option I picked this usally means comparing 1-3 files with the cpf file till I figure out which one it is for filing the game report but I don't open and look over the scenario. In a campaign I play a bit more historical tactics locating the enemy before committing myself to a particular course of action.

These are personal preferences and if I end up losing a game here and there because my opponent has studied the scenario or played it previously I can live with that. I have played blind scenarios and some moderated MP games with limited intel and enjoy doing both.

Gen. Ken Miller

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Army of the Shenandoah


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2007 10:54 am 
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Gentlemen,

I generally do not look at a scenario before I play it and it is one of the reasons I Like the campaigns as they are not canned where you know every detail. I do however, play the same campaign over and over and due to this experience I know how to approach the situation and apply this knowlegde to the new scenarios I do not know any thing about. I find this adds an element of enjoyment and rewards me for my experience. My rank clearily tells my opponent I have been around awhile and you can view my combat record any time to learn of my success and experience. As a new player I use to check my opponent's combat record to learn as much as I could about them. I believe this is true to life as in the civil war the comamnders on opposite sides knew each other well. A good commader will know his opponets and study the maps of the field.

Lt Gen Joseph C. Mishurda


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Lt General Joseph C. Mishurda,
"Killer Angels"
VI Corps, AoS, USA


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2007 11:27 am 
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Depends on the degree of intelligence obtained. I will check for the initial strengths of forces and sometimes to look at the map. As far as reinforcement arrival hexes and times I consider that to be gamey. In the NWC I once had Wellington ambushed as he entered at Quatre Bras. He was the only reinforcement to enter that specific hex the whole game but yet my opponent had 2000 cavalry waiting for him.

Lt.General Dale Lastowicka
VIII Corps
Army of the Shenandoah


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2007 4:21 pm 
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I think it's kind of cheating, during the real War of Northern Aggression they usually didn't have that much info before going into battle. And looking at the replies so far it's 7 Yankees and 3 Rebs.

Respectfully,
Maj. Gen. Gery Bastiani
II Corps, 3rd Div. Tarheel Division
AotM CSA

"If there is a shell or bullet over there destined for us, it will find us" - General James Longstreet


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2007 4:56 pm 
<blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by boilertech</i>
<br />I think it's kind of cheating, during the real War of Northern Aggression they usually didn't have that much info before going into battle. And looking at the replies so far it's 7 Yankees and 3 Rebs.

Respectfully,
Maj. Gen. Gery Bastiani
II Corps, 3rd Div. Tarheel Division
AotM CSA

"If there is a shell or bullet over there destined for us, it will find us" - General James Longstreet


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

I must disagree here on the historic point - most large battles were fought with full knowledge of what you were facing on the other side: both sides knew what Corps they faced, how many divisions they faced, often how many brigades and regiments. Both sides kept very detailed orders of battle for their opponents in all armies, etc. The discrepancies came in the strength of units, but not in what units were being faced. So one side might over or underestimate how many men they'd be fighting, but they almost always knew what <i>units </i>they would be fighting with near 100% accuracy.

I think with intelligence we tend to remember Pinkerton's estimates of Rebel strengths for McClellan on the Peninsula and apply that same inaccuracy to the rest of the war, but that wasn't the case. Even Pinkerton had the units correct, they just grossly overestimated Confederate strength at times. But in reality most commanders knew within a few thousand or maybe ten thousand men what they would be facing in any given battle.

All that being said, I have no problem with advance scouting on a stand alone scenario. Before agreeing to one I often will open it up to at least get an idea if it will be remotely fair or balanced. I don't want to invest myself into a 150 turn scenario that offers zero chance of victory. If I lose a mostly even fight - great, but if I'm stuck in a scenario with exposed flanks facing an army 40,000 men stronger than mine and all of my units are armed with water pistols, I want to know that going in... [:D]

Regards,

Major Gen. Alan Lynn
CSA Chief of Staff
3rd Bgde, 3rd Cav Div, II Corps, AoA

God Bless <><


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2007 7:14 pm 
I see it as very gamey too. Historically the opposing generals didn't didn't know such and such a commander was going to be entering hez whatever with x brigades/divisions/corps at exactly x time yada yada yada. besides, for me, it spoils the fun. It would be like looking at your Christmas presents before Christmas day. Who would even want their present once they'd seen it already? Same with scouting scenarios in my view. Then again I lose almost every game I play so what do I know?

Lt. Gen. Mike Smith
Army of Georgia
Commanding
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2007 1:25 am 
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Just to get my two cents in, I also look at the scenario before beginning. I will not regurgitate everything that Alan Lynn said two posts earlier as I think he hit the nail on the head and I agree with him. War Between the States generals did have an idea of what they were facing - maybe not exactly what, but at least an idea. And for me, most of my battles are large, multiplayer, multi day (100+ turn) affairs who’s outcomes I do not believe are affected by whether each side studies the scenario beforehand. But I do want to know before committing to a scenario, that I at least have a chance of winning.

(I will add, that when playing a campaign in HPS, I do not look at any except the first battle – after the first one, I let the game engine take us where it may).


BG Gary Krenek,
3rd Division Commanding
III Corps
ANV


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