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PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 9:03 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2005 9:49 am
Posts: 417
Location: USA
Historically, things weren't balanced. John Tiller and his boys have chosen to release historically oriented disks.

In real life, armies in the eastern theatre weren't balanced numerically. What balanced things were the commanders each side brought to a battlefield: Lee vs McClellan; Lee vs Pope; Lee vs Burnside; Lee vs Hooker, etc.

Therefore . . . good Union commanders are as hard to beat in these games, just as Lee would have historically found a good commander hard to beat. See Lee vs Grant.

Sincerely,
Brig Gen Dwight McBride
V Corps/AOP/USA


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 1:40 pm 
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Joined: Tue May 22, 2001 8:05 pm
Posts: 884
Location: Panhandle of Texas
Well Bill I guess I must be a poor player still after all these years as I'm pretty sure that I lost at Corinth at one point and I'm pretty sure I was beaten at Gettysburg also. I'm also sure you can find your share of Yanks who think the game favors the Rebels. However I do think playing with the rout limiting off is the best way to play them, just remember to turn the flank morale modifier on at the same time.

General Mark Nelms
6/3/IX/AoO
"Blackhawk Brigade"
Union Military Academy Instructor
Union Cabinet Secretary


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 2:06 pm 
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It's possible for the Rebs to win Campaigns since other factors may shift the balance in their favor but I don't think any of the major "Historical" scenarios balanced because the situations weren't balanced. Historic Gettysburg and 2nd Bull Run are good examples. The Union out numbers the CSA by 20,000 men. No game that can correctly simulate ground fighting in the Civil War will let the Rebel win against and equal opponent.

What the HPS games don't do well is simulate the leader advantage that the South had in the early battles. Nor does it simulate how important leaders were to a force winning or losing regardless of odds. That's why mathematically the CSA should have only won Chickamauga and lost all the rest. Of course no change will help Gettysburg since the Union had both the numbers and the South had a complete command failure from division level on up.

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


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 2:32 pm 
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Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2001 5:01 am
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Many people have beaten me in HPS ACW titles. I think the designers have done a terrific job of achieving play-balance in the historical situations.

Afterall, no historical commander worth his salt would offer battle if the situation was perfectly balanced. Thier first objective was presenting thier opponent with such an unfavorable situation that the opponent would surrender or retreat and not give battle. Probably because thier troops were flesh and blood, and not electrons. [;)]

MajGen Al 'Ambushed' Amos

The Union Forever! Huzzah!


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 4:29 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 9:52 am
Posts: 865
Location: USA
Just curious, what does the record show?

Doesn't the club keep win/loss records of individual battles?

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


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2008 7:31 am 
<blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by Al Amos</i>
<br />I think the designers have done a terrific job of achieving play-balance in the historical situations.

MajGen Al 'Ambushed' Amos

The Union Forever! Huzzah!

<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">Well, I can understand this, given the Yankee sympathist in our midst [8D], but <i>terrific</i> may be just slightly too sweeping a generality to lay to rest our play balance concerns (which in part explains a key difference of opinion as observed at the head of this thread.)

The fact is, there are just so many - perhaps too many - scenarios, "historical" this and 'historical' variant that, coupled to the always ambitious if now more than ever mixed-bag of inscrutable campaign scenario variations that for any one individual, let alone small circle of ardent insider-playtesters to actually conduct equally critical and fair examinations of each and every one of these hundreds upon hundreds of scenarios for "play-balance" really stretches one's imagination.

Issue #1: The emphasis on quantity (scenarios) over quality.

(Tiller's small team of amateur "designers" (because no one here is going to be confused with a Joe Balkowski, Richard Berg, James Dunnigan, etc., etc. - who proved themselves both equal parts skilled, professional "designer" and analog "programmer" - all at the same time, mind you), while demonstrating energy, passion, and almost heroic determination to provide Tiller's program with a host of new scenarios around a single campaign motif, are and always have been wholly confined to <i>design</i> ONLY what Tiller's program allows.)

Issue #2: That being, whether - consciously or unconsciously - is play balance leaning more and more, with each passing game in the series, towards boosting Union tactics and Union strategies (grand-tactics). Like injecting little daily shots of human-growth hormone, perhaps, no one will notice? Are such daily injections really necessary to address "play balance" concerns - while being absolutely faithful to what Tiller's program can and cannot do? [?]

Examples,

<u>Tactical Play Balance Issues</u>

-- USA batteries vs CSA sections / pieces. [?]

-- USA Command Range <i>now</i> equals CSA Command Ranges. [?]

<ul>Did the USA player really need this to 'make his ends meet'? </ul>

-- USA division-level command vs CSA Brigade-level 'control' ("Historical" 1st Manassas scenarios) [?]

<ul>Play balance with a twist?</ul>

-- "Fixing" Cocke's brigade while "releasing" Tyler's division. ("historical" 1st Manassas variant 103 and other) [?]

<ul>A Play Balance 'assist' that doubly twists in the wind?</ul>


<u>Strategic Play Balance Issues</u>

-- Increased USA VP 'incentives' and 'opportunities' - Bill's 1st Manassas, Antietam, Gettysburg examples, etc.. [?]

-- Yankee 'Banzai' 1st Manassas "Meeting" Engagement 'setups'. [?]

(USA troops quietly (secretly) enter from the North, North-east, North-west portions of the map, while CSA troops enter from due West and South of the map, having no clue . We began this scenario with tremendous anticipation - thinking the idea of a geneuine, Fog-shrouded Meeting Engagement (ala the kind that really typified Gettysburg's opening day - e.g., without knowing precisely where the enemy was) sounded great - until the CSA perceived he had been given "Sudley Springs-on-Steroids" all over again, reprising the Union flank attack that McDowell envisioned, except, this time without a creek for Beauregard to lean on.

No one, as far as I know, has concluded that "Design" and "Play Balance" issues are consciously being tilted or skewered to favor the Union player, acknowledging the enthusiastic Yankee sympathists even in our presence here - and despite their playing key roles in both scenario creation (design) and playtesting. But there appears to be a growing <i>battery</i> of evidence to suggest that the unconscious may be playing more of a role than might prove desirable to all interests.

I trust a full congressional Sub-Committee of sympathizers and round table insiders will soon convene to have a good and proper hearing, eventually getting to the root of the problem, if only to conclude that a few extra yankee chit-pulls never hurt no one.

Fld. Lt. D. Shoeless, CSA
Secretary of the Cabinet (Ret)
1st Tenn Provisional Army

<center><i>From a certain point onward there is no turning back. That is the point that must be reached.</i> --F. Kafka</center>


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2008 12:03 pm 
<blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by Bill Peters</i>
<br />Its impossible to compare our Designers with a boardgame designer. Different format altogether.
Col. Bill Peters, The Boise Rifles, II Corps Artillery, AoA
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">Sure we can. Analog vs digital. Analog taught 'digital' what to 'look' for while thinking to create the illusion of a circle - only analog can do this (and in, perhaps, only this context does the conceptual notion "perfect" merit any interest - all else is pure rhetoric, Bill). And, of course, while the The White House or non-music world sleeps, the comparison continues unabated in the arena of LP's and CD's. The natural world we actually live in was and remains analog, despite these ingenious digital interfaces at our disposal. Analog still has more to teach any brave new digital world than vice versa. Any emerging technology of an analog / digital hybrid may be the most foreseeable if logical future course for a surviving humanity to steer by. And, so, in the most course of comparisons, I believe that's precisely what led us to our ACW House Rule Essentialsâ„¢ - a compromise merging of analog and digital interests.

Anyway, you mentioned the possibility of trying to go back to the glory days of Kibler's maps, and I trust you will still find what you're looking for there, too. Good luck!

Fld. Lt. D. Shoeless, CSA
Secretary of the Cabinet (Ret)
1st Tenn Provisional Army

<center><i>From a certain point onward there is no turning back. That is the point that must be reached.</i> --F. Kafka</center>


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2008 3:26 pm 
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Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2001 2:29 pm
Posts: 191
Location: USA
<blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by Bill Peters</i>
<br />Frankly I am close to going back to playing the BG series if I can get it to work on my 64 bit box. I LOVE the title subjects of the HPS series but frankly the way that they have been designed is really starting to get old.<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

If you do, I run all the BG games (ACW and Nap) windowed in MS Virtual PC 2007 in Vista Business 64. Only issue (minor) is no sound effects, although music plays.

In HPS I always play with rout limiting OFF.

Lt. General Dirk Gross
XIV Corps/AoC

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2008 2:36 am 
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Ah, I remember my old analog computer fondly. Actually I still have my slide rule packed away somewhere. Took a course using analog computers in college. One thing they weren't is accurate.

As for "Historical" games being balanced, they can't be. The battle was actually won or lost in the manueuvers that led up to the battle. Gettysburg was lost when Lee stumbled into the Union army not when Pickett charged. Just like Pope lost when he stumbled into Jackson. Both are good examples since the Union army in both battle out numbered the Rebel army by 20,000 men. In Gettysburg the Union has the position and the 20,000 man advantage and can't lose. Luckily we Rebs usually convence our Yankee opponents that they have lost by day two and they surrender.[:D]

In 2nd Bull Run the Union again has a 20,000 man advantage. Pope wastes it by fruitless attacks, not getting his forces into position, and totally ignoring the Rebs on his left. This however is almost impossible to simulate in a game.

So we have a "historic" Gettysburg that the Rebel can't win because it was lost before the first shot was fired. Lee's only chance like at Chancellorsville was to unnerve his opponent and in our simulated battles this is difficult to do. But it still makes for a great game. Just don't take on anyone your equal in ability. It takes some real doing to kill 20,000 more men than you lose in these games. Variants are the only solution to such imbalances unless you add "dumb" rules like if the Union loses Cemetery Hill Meade retreats to the Pipe Creek line.

2nd Bull Run is a tougher nut than Gettysburg to fix. Lee out foxed Pope but only because Pope was totally ignorant of being out foxed. Very hard to simulate. I have beaten opponents at it but only once. After that they realize that the Union should start running backwards on turn one and not stop until their reinforcements come up. The Rebel's only chance is for the Union to go for those guns on the left so Jackson has someone to chew up before noon and another 40,000 Yankees show up.

As to the simularities between HPS, and most computer versions of the Civil War, and the old board games. Over 90% of what is in the design of these games came from the board game designs. So far in HPS games the main thing using a computer has brought to the table is Fog of War that actually works. HPS's great leap forward over the old Battleground series was replacing the old "chit" based loss system (25 man increments, six fatigue levels) with a continuous (somewhat analog) system of measurement (1-1000 men and 0-900 fatigue).

There is one other thing the computer brought, email. This is why I play HPS games. I would be still subscribing to S&T magazine and eagerly awaiting a new simulation in each issue if I had an opponent to play it with. Our loss is that we can't alter the game at will just by adding our own little rule or making a few extra counters so Jackson shows up at Gettysburg. The computer is both extremely versatile and extremely ridged. Versatile for the game designer but once designed for the player extremely ridged.

If we brought a player base to the market like WoW none of this would matter. We could go down to Best Buy and pick from hundreds of titles. Unfortunately we are a really small niche market that HPS is one of the few supporters of.

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


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2008 8:51 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2001 7:53 pm
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Location: Charlotte, NC, USA
<b>From now on I am playing all of my games with Rout Limiting OFF. The Yanks to watch their men run away... which for them was VERY historical.</b>


Yeah, Bill I was going to say. If you are <i>that </i>worried about play balance just play with Rout limiting off (I always do anyway) and convince the Yankee in question to play using the optional quality fire and melee options. The Boys in Blue run in droves. I just lost a game of Perryville in Campaign Chickamuaga to Derald Riggs from my own army. That scenario didn't strike me as unfair to the Rebels. Derald didn't really outmanuever me either. His men just lasted longer than mine did.

Major General Philip Roubaud
1/XX
Army of the Cumberland
United States of America


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