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 Post subject: Antietam - Broken?
PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 5:21 am 
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Ok, not really. But there are some serious issues here. It was the "Antietam Woes" topic that got me interested in trying the Antietam scenario on the new HPS Antietam Disk.

I loved the old Talonsoft Title even though there was not enough Confederate Artillery ammunition available, and after awhile the Union could almost get a lock on victory.

But in this scenario, of which Kennon and I are currently playing, he is showing me quite clearly that the long range counter-battery fire is waaaaaaaay toooooooo effective. Holy Cow! It's mid morning game time and I already have 20 rebel guns blown away. I believe this is more guns lost due to counter battery than Lee's whole army lost in the war.

Gentleman, I sincerely believe that Union artillery is superior to Confederate artillery, but not to this degree. There is something seriously wrong here and is spoiling what used to be one of my favourite battles.

I could get into details but the best way is to try the scenario yourself. Don't attack as Union until you get several corps released but DO fire your artillery at all confederate batteries, you will have no trouble clearing them away.

Can we get this fixed in a future update?




Bg. General Gilbert Collins
Army of Alabama
III/I/2nd Brigade


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PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 5:30 am 
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No![:D]

More dominant Union Artillery![:D]

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General Jeff Laub
Union Chief of the Army
ACWGC Cabinet Member
http://www.geocities.com/laubster22/UnionHQ/


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PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 12:23 pm 
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I always play multi-phase. Until single turn play is fixed up I can't see any point in playing it.

But getting back to Antietam, I can pretty well be assured that I am going to lose a gun every turn. In one turn, 4 guns were blown away.
Hiding the Rebel artillery isn't really an option at Antietam with its terrific fields of fire and besides that would be a-historical anyway.

I'm not saying the Rebels should be able to successfully counter-battery - they should not - but something has to be done to tone down long range Union counter battery fire. It was just not THAT effective in the war. I can't see how a Union player would get much enjoyment in playing and winning a game that way. If all you have to do is blow away rebel guns to win - who needs infantry?

Even in HPS Colonial games counter battery is way too effective.


Bg. General Gilbert Collins
Army of Alabama
III/I/2nd Brigade


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PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 3:16 pm 
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I recently played Jon Thayer, and during the early phase of the battle, my counter-battery fire as the rebels, exceeded Union success. In short, tactics will play heavily on whether or not the South can overcome several disadvantages. And this should be considered a very historical outcome. The battle was not an easy one for Lee to stand firm.

For those, that feel the need to tone down the Union artillery, I would suggest that you adjust the pdt file to fit you desire.

For the record, my next title has already toned down the overall weapon FVs and will use artillery in three different ways.

1) Historically (as seen in Antietam)
2) Sectional (also available in Antietam)
3) Consolidated rebel batteries (i.e. Talonsoft style)



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


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PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 2:27 am 
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What I have seen to two resounding defeats is that when you fire guns in a stack combined you can get a hit more often than not. In both of my games stack firing, especially with infantry was a major factor, perhaps so much not in my defeats as I was out played, but in the lack of enjoyment. Over and over I watched 20 to 30 of my men shot down and one of my units would return fire and hit 3 or 4. I'm not sure if there is a solution but having all the defenders in a target hex automatically fire as a stack if fired upon might be a start.

You are correct that the Union should wait until several Corps are released before attacking. I didn't wait against Rich and he was able to attack Hooker and Mansfield and crush them...to the man. I think as the Rebs you have to play this game as a game. Exploit the knowledge that most of the Union army is fixed.

Lt General Jon Thayer
III Corps
Army of Northern Virginia

jonathanthayer@bellsouth.net


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PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 5:13 am 
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<blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by Rich Walker</i>
<br />I recently played Jon Thayer, and during the early phase of the battle, my counter-battery fire as the rebels, exceeded Union success. In short, tactics will play heavily on whether or not the South can overcome several disadvantages. And this should be considered a very historical outcome. The battle was not an easy one for Lee to stand firm.

For those, that feel the need to tone down the Union artillery, I would suggest that you adjust the pdt file to fit you desire.

For the record, my next title has already toned down the overall weapon FVs and will use artillery in three different ways.

1) Historically (as seen in Antietam)
2) Sectional (also available in Antietam)
3) Consolidated rebel batteries (i.e. Talonsoft style)



Lt. Col. Richard Walker
I Corps
Army of the Mississippi
2nd Brigade, 3rd Division
"Defenders of Tennessee"
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

I suspect he spread his batteries out rather than stacked them and fired them as a combined stack. Properly used the Union will have over a 3:1 kill ratio in counterbattery fire. There are three reasons for that:

1st Their guns can fire as 20 gun stacks in the offensive fire. This almost garantees a hit. Once I even took out three guns in one shot using these stacks.

2nd Since Union guns are in 4-6 gun units compared to 1-2 gun units the Union defensive fire can actually kill guns while Rebel defensive fire has never hit a gun. It has manage to activate a whole lot of Union regiments and guns across the creek though.

3rd Of course the Union guns are better. Almost all are rifled or Napoleons which means they are not only firing more guns but ones that can hit at long ranges.

While these three are historical in that the Union did have better guns, more guns and consistent calibers in thier formations, the Antietam setup with Rebel guns in small sections and the Union guns in batteries does cripple the Reb. I don't think the Rebels having multiple types of guns made them not able to fire them at a single target as a battery or not be able to fit but 8 guns into the same area that the Union can place 20. Before you say they do have 2 gun sections so can stack 16 that is the first thing the Union guns take care of. They reduce all sections to one gun before aim for ellimination.

In other word you don't need to do the items 1-3 you listed just treat both sides the same. Change the Union OOB so all their guns are in two gun sections. Organizationally this is the way a battery was handled. It doesn't solve the Rebel problem since they still have many one gun batteries but it does put them on a more equal footing during defensive fire and stacking wise.

The second major problem with all the HPS games (Antietam just emphasises it) guns are to easy to kill by counter battery fire. In my game with my brother I have now lost 66 guns (turn 25). None occurred at a range of less than 6 hexes. Few guns after the first couple of turns were in unimproved positions (behind fence, embackment, in woods, or on hill). They are also to easy to kill crews but so far I have only lost one crew because the infantry hasn't been able to close. But batteries on the other side of the creek firing at more than a mile distance are having no trouble taking out guns on a regular bases.

This is 1862. They did not have sights on these guns. They had about as much chance of hitting a gun at one mile aiming as the would if the crew was made up of blind people. It was a random result. This is why Gen. Hunt officially order the artillery to never use counter battery fire except for suppression just before an infantry attack. For that matter firing at a two rank line of infantry from over 1000 yard was a waste of ammo.

The easiest solution that the players can do is change the artillery stacking factor from 25 to 50 in the pdt file. This will cut down on the hits. The more difficult is to change the fire tables to tone down the long range factors for artillery. The guns were use more for harassment at long range with a slow rate of fire than for all out fire of 3 shots a minute that would be used in close range support. The reason just wasn't that it was a waste of ammo but that they didn't have enough solid shot to sustain that fire rate for more than 30 minutes.

In terms of correctly simulating artillery it would require a rewrite of the ammo rules so that it properly reflected the intensity of fire (round per minute), ammo type (amounts for each type) and realistic ammo availability (400 rounds per gun or about two hours of maximum fire rate).

LG. Kennon Whitehead
Chatham Grays
1/1/III AoM (CSA)


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PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 5:46 am 
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And now for a post on what the artillery as simulate does to the Antietam scenario. I have two games going. One with my brother with him as the Yank. One with Collins with me as the Yank.

The artillery problem can be approached two ways. One is the Rebel can withdraw the guns to covered postions well behind the lines so they can't be targeted. This prevents them from being hit but also prevents them from providing any usefull support. This is the initial approach Gen. Collins used and is reflected by his losing only one gun per turn during the first 14 turns.

The second solution is my approach. I placed the short range guns in supporting positions 4-8 hexes behind the infantry put still with fields of fire. I gathered my long range guns into massed batteries on key positions like the hill in front of the Dunker Church and behind the sunken road. To help them out I massed troop stack there during the dawn turns and entrenched most of the positions. This resulted in much better support for the infantry but also cost me 66 guns by turn 25 (over 2 per turn). However, I was able to kill 18 union guns in the process.

Now for the problems each created.

For Collins approach, the lack of guns meant I could inch my army forward from one good covering position to the next and bring my guns up to even better firing positions. This resulted in his infantry being force to abandon one defensive position after another until I controlled all of the West wood and the Pike to Sharpsburg. He finally tried to hold the Sunken road and committed his artillery to fire support at about 10 AM. Up to this time he had lost about 14 guns and only a little over a thousand troops. Union loses were only 500 men and one gun. He lost six guns on the next turn. The Union infantry attacked. I moved what now was over 100 guns into close support on hills overlooking. Two hours later his infantry loses are 6500 and now 27 gun kills by battery fire.

Conclusion for this one. You need close support of the artillery to counter the Union numbers. Infantry by itself can't do it.

Now for my approach. I worked the guns hard. Tried to keep them out of line of fire if they didn't have the numbers to defend themselves. My brother did not make mass attacks. He concentrated his artillery and started wearing my guns down. He moved II Corps to take the pike to Sharpsburg so he could cross IX and VI Corps the easy way. This lead to our only major infantry engagment as I moved three divisions to block this. He moved IX up to continue the attack but I and XII Corps were not used. The result by 1 PM is 10,700 dead Yankees and 8,600 Rebs plus 66 of my guns to his 18. I have founght him to a standstill holding my original line. I actually have troops turning Hooker's flank. I have troops across the Antietam advancing on his left. The II Corps doesn't exist. Burnside isn't much better. And, I have probably lost the game. The 66 guns represent 2000 VP's. There is no way I can make the difference up. Best I can do is a draw.

Conclusions. While I hopefully will hold the field, assuming Hill can counter VI Corps, I can't win this way. Using the artillery allowed me to protect my infantry and keep the Union artillery back as well as their infantry but at great cost. One problem with the artillery was that I had to leave the AI set to Medium Range so the Union couldn't just ignore me while they shifted positions. The problem was even the 21 range guns kept firing across the creek at fixed units at very long ranges. The net result my artillery probably released as many guns and troops as it killed.

Antietam like Gettysburg historical can be won by the Reb but not against equal players. And the artillery handling is really screwed up.

LG. Kennon Whitehead
Chatham Grays
1/1/III AoM (CSA)


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PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 6:32 am 
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To be sure, the greater challange is to the South. As it should be. However, the Victory conditions are much stiffer for the Union. A Union Major Victory will require 2,445 additional points. A rebel Major Victory will only require 1,055 additional points. Ideally, the game should end in a draw. That's the proof that a game is balanced. IMHO



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


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