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FAQ/Optional Rules/EMail Addresses/Board FAQ
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Author:  Ernie Sands [ Thu Oct 28, 2010 8:55 am ]
Post subject:  FAQ/Optional Rules/EMail Addresses/Board FAQ

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Author:  W. Hart [ Thu Mar 14, 2013 8:37 am ]
Post subject:  Optional Rules definitions?

Can anyone tell me if there is a section within the HPS games or a website that explains what all of the optional rules mean and their effects in HPS's Civil War games. I found a few explanations within the Campaign scenarios Designer Notes. I didn't find anything on the HPS Sims website.
Any help would be appreciated.

Lt. Billy Hart

Author:  KWhitehead [ Thu Mar 14, 2013 9:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Optional Rules definitions?

Here is an old list I made up see how well the cut and paste works:

HPS Optional Rules

Here's a list of them based on Gettysburg Version 1.04:

1.Manual Defense Fire - Selects whether play will be Phased or Turn based.
2.Optional Fire Results - Averages two random die rolls to determine casualties.
3.Optional Melee Results - Averages two random die rolls to determine casualties.
4.Quality Fire Modifiers - Unit quality used to modify Fire values.
5.Higher Fatigue Recovery Rates - Increases Fatigue recovery by 5x, 3x, and 1x default levels.
6.Victory points for Leader Casualties -VPs for killing/wounding/capture of leaders based on ratings.
7.Rout Limiting - reduces routing odds for units by their distance from initial routing unit
8.Density Fire Modifier - Increases fire value against large stacks.
9.Night Movement Fatigue - Units moving at night acquire additional fatigue.
10.Mounted Cavalry Skirmishers - Mounted cavalry exerts a skirmisher ZOC.
11.Higher Disrupted Movement - Changes disrupted unit movement from 1/2 to 3/4.
12.Optional Melee Resolution - Melee resolved in separate phase in Turn based play.
13.Alternate Fixed Unit Release - Fixed units released when enemy comes within 5 hexes.
14.Quality Melee Modifiers - Unit quality is used to modify melee values.
15.Isolation Rules - Reduces melee strength of isolated defenders by 1/4.
16.Weak Zone-of-Control - Units may move or retreat through one hex of enemy zoc.
17.Partial Retreats - Allow some units to retreat from hex when total is over stacking limits.
18.Automated Defensive Fire - AI conducts defensive fire in Phased play game.
19.Flank Morale Modifier - Morale increased by one for units with friendly units on flanks.
20.Full Melee Defensive Fire - AI Defensive fire at full strength against meleeing enemy units (Turn play).
21.Bridge Limit and Repair - Allows bridge repair with limited movement across until fully repaired
22.Artillery Capture - Allows capture of guns and using them against the enemy.
23.Artillery Retire by Prolonge - Allows unlimbered gun to move back one hex.
24.Artillery Ammo by Cannon - Uses ammo at rate of one ammo factor per gun.
25.Proportional Opportunity Fire – Manpower factors of stack figured in triggering of opportunity fire.

I am going to discuss the optional rules in groups because most rules need to be paired with others to work properly. These groupings help to balance out the game because some rules favor the defender and some the attacker.

Some optional rules were added to fix very real problems and should be default or standard programming.

Turn versus Phased Play
First are the options concerning "Turn based” play versus "Phased" play. "Phased" play is pretty straight forward since it is the type used in Battleground series games and hasn't changed much.
In "Phased" play you have part of the turn separated into distinct phases consisting of movement, defensive fire, offensive fire and melee. "Turn" based play was introduced with the HPS games and consists of a single player phase in which all movement, fire and melees are conducted by the active player while the game’s AI conducts the defensive player's response fire as a type of opportunity fire. The first optional rule, the poorly named "Manual Defensive Fire", selects this when checked.
Manual Defensive Fire(1)- If checked, the game is played in phases. If unchecked, the game is Turn based.
When you play "Phased" with option 1 on there is one of rule that works in conjunction with it.
Automated Defensive Fire(18), will let the AI handle the opponent's defensive fire. It only works in "Phased" play because in "Turn" based play, this is how all Defensive Fire is handled regardless of the setting. The main reason for using it is that in PBEM it cuts out a whole set of emails halving the time it takes to play a game. In other words it is a necessary evil when playing by mail, so use it.
In "Turn" based play the connected optional rules (12, 20, and 25) were added to correct very serious problems with this game system. I highly recommend you use all three.
First an explanation of the problem with "Turn" play. Because of the combined combat and movement in "Turn" play regiments became virtual tanks able to make breakthroughs, surrounds, overruns, and highly coordinated attacks that for all practical purposes looked like WWII blitzkrieg tactics rather than Civil War combat. This was all compounded by the very thing it was suppose to add, Opportunity Fire, which was hoped to limit units moving in front of enemy lines without any restrictions. The problem was the Opportunity Fire was halved in value to compensate for it being possible to fire more than once, was randomly fired by a very dim witted AI, and fired at ranges that mostly wasted ammo with getting hits.
Optional Melee Resolution (12), tries to fix the panzer blitz by separating the Melee resolution out of the combined movement/combat making it a separate phase. This means you can move and shoot to your heart's content but you have to end your movement/combat phase before going to the phase to resolve melees. No longer can you try to melee a couple of critical enemy units in the enemy line hoping they will retreat and open a whole for you to push a division through to surround the units on either side. One problem with this rule, it creates an extra step when playing Multiplayer Games. For MP games I recommend that you turn on this option but instead make a "House" rule saying the players should enforce it on their part of the move. In other words, each player will move and fire the units they control once they start executing the melees they will not move or fire any more of the units they control.
Full Defensive Fire (20) , was added to correct the problem with the AI tending to fail to make this critical fire when units moved adjacent or would even trigger if they were already adjacent. This was compounded by the Turn based halving of defensive fire. This optional rule guaranteed that the defender would get at least one full strength shot at the enemy meleeing units before they meleed.
Proportional Opportunity Fire (25), was added to correct another problem in Turn play. You couldn't fire small stacks or units because it might trigger massive retaliation by all nearby enemy units. This rule reduces the probability of this happening.

The next group, rules 2 and 3, which are the optional fire and melee results rules, just take some of the randomness out of combat by using the average of two die rolls to come up with the casualties instead of one. This one is a personal choice. If you are one of those players who swears that he rolls snake eyes every time when things are critical, you might want this one on. My preference is using it because during the time period of this game’s fire resolution, 20 minutes, you wouldn't see as much variation as occurs on single rolls.

The next group (4, 6, and 14) I recommend using together because they give leaders a more critical role in the game. 4 and 14 allow the quality of leaders to influence combat and 6 award VP for their loss. These need to be used together because the side with the better leaders will benefit from 4 and 14 while risking giving the other side VP for killing them, rule 6.

Higher Fatigue Recovery Rates (5), is a much more controversial option. I highly recommend it, and here is why. It forces players to plan and manage their unit fatigue. The player that does a better job of pulling regiments out of the line of battle before they hit high fatigue and providing for their resting will beat a player that just fights them until they can't fight any more. This rule generally only affects longer games, more than one day, because night rates are high enough for units to completely recover from fatigue if they haven't been over fought. Without it the rule, there is very little chance of a medium fatigued unit recovering sufficiently to even try, so we tend to fight every man to his last breath rather than rest troops.

The next group isn't strictly related but I put them together but there is a certain synergy from using them together. These are rules 7, 8, 15, 16, 17, and 19 and have to do with the forming of lines and surrounding of units. The reason I put them together is they all address two gamey but effective tactics used in these games; 1. the alternating defensive line where huge stacks are placed in every other hex making an indestructible wall. And,
2. the raider who can't be killed. Using them together helps moderate some of the new gamey tactics they introduce. So I recommend the use of them together.

Weak ZOC (16), is the critical one that triggers the need for the others. The "strong" ZOC that is normal makes the alternating stacks with an empty hex between the best method of defending a line. The enemy can't slip between the stacks and the stacks are so large you can't melee them to drive them back. Turning on rule 16 limits the usefulness of the alternating hex strategy. It can only be used now if the defender is willing to retreat each turn to keep adjacent units from slipping around them. Now the defender has a reason to make continuous lines that look a lot more like what you would see on a Civil War battlefield.
Now though, you have created new problems.
One of the things the alternating defense line fixed was the tendency of continuous lines to rout in mass because of the rout check rules for adjacent units. So to compensate for this you need rule 7 to allow the defender to form lines without risking having his whole army rout off the field due to one rout check starting a domino effect.
A related one is that the defender can no longer create huge stacks which cannot be taken by melee, but the attacker has no such limitation. So we need to throw in rule 8.
Density Fire Modifier (8), to punish the attacker for highly concentrating attack forces.
Partial Retreats (17), also comes in here to help compensate for the advantages gained by the attacker allowing units losing the melee to not get killed by over stacking problems.
Flank Modifier(19), also helps reward the use of continuous lines by giving a morale boost to included units.
Isolation Rules (15). And finally you have the really nasty one. Once you have weak ZOCs, you need a method to kill units that have become separated from the rest and are acting like tanks with radios. Hard ZOCs made surrounded units easy to kill, but with weak ZOCs, it takes a whole brigade to surround and kill units, even if it's only 25 men. If left to run wild, they can destroy your rear areas so you need a rule that allows them to be surrounded and removed quickly. That is what the isolation rule does. Units that get separated from their main forces can be forced to surrender so that players learn that they should keep their army together. The rule has a lot of problems but it is a necessary evil.

Artillery has always been a step child in the HPS system handled by a lot of rules that were better made for infantry and cavalry than artillery. This led to three new options (22,23,24) that tried to improve things with mixed results. I recommend them with some reservations.
Artillery Capture(22) - This one is nice but has problems in many situations. It addressed a universal complaint that you should be able to do as in the CW, capture a gun and turn it on the enemy. So they added this rule that allows it. The problem resulted that it removed the Victory Points gained for the capture. If you destroyed a gun by fire you got VPs for it and never had to worry again. But if you captured it you had to garrison the gun forever if you wanted those VPs. You could spike the guns so the other side could get them back but if you wanted full VPs, you had to leave a unit in the hex to keep them. If you had enough ammo, you could roll up a battery behind it and shoot it but this favors the side with the most ammo (Union). Some scenarios have an ebb and flow of battle that can be a problem to balance.
Artillery Retire by Prolonge(23) - was added because this was a tactic commonly used during the CW. It adds a realistic touch, but I haven't used it enough to know whether it has adverse effects. A problem that rose is forgetting that an unlimbered battery can move and having it accidentally retreat, when I used the Alt key to send some other guns by it.
Artillery Ammo By Cannon(24) - this one I consider a must have rule. It fixes probably the worse flaw in the game system and for sure in the artillery handling. It allows the player to use his one gun batteries as effective units rather than ammo wasters. No game should be played without this one on unless you know there is a reason the default doubling of total ammo won't work.

Now for a bunch of rules that just fixed flaws in the game system. I recommend all of these be used but keep in mind some may cause game balance problems for some scenarios.
Night Movement Fatigue(9) - this one was created to address the unrealistic problem of our troops making all night marches after fighting all day with no apparent effect. This option adds additional fatigue factors, usually 50 per turn, to discourage night activities.
Mounted Cavalry Skirmishers(10) - was created so that cavalry wouldn't run into enemy units blindly and not be able to disengage. It allows cavalry to recon better and delay enemy pursuit.
Higher Disrupted Movement(11) - was added to help defenders retreat. HPS games heavily favored the attacker and it was almost impossible for even a relatively large force to make a fighting withdrawal. Disrupted units were reduced to half movement to keep their line intact. This was added to correct the problem.
Alternate Fixed Unit Release(13) - Players could check the scenario and find where fixed units were so they could avoid them until they were surrounded. The five hex release rule was added to make it more difficult for players to “game” the fixed units, even though they were in plain sight at times. .
Bridge Limit and Repairing(21) –allows the repair of destroyed bridges. It also limits the type of units that can cross until the bridge is fully repaired. This is one of those added realism rules that can cause problems in scenarios that were designed to prevent crossing creeks and rivers once a bridge was destroyed.

LG. Kennon Whitehead

Author:  John Ferry [ Thu Mar 14, 2013 9:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Optional Rules definitions? NEW

A new option that came out with Overland is "Mixed Organization Penalty" in which stacks cobbled together from various brigades are not as effective as stacks that observbe unit integrity. I have not yet seen that it impacts play or results, but it was intended to encourage players to operate their forces as organized military units rather than a mob.
Excellent summary of all the options, Kennon!
J Ferry
2lt 2/20th Corps

Author:  W. Hart [ Thu Mar 14, 2013 10:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Optional Rules definitions?

Thank you so much LG Whitehead. For some bizarre reason, I don't have a "print" option using Mozilla Firefox. It won't let me cut and paste/copy either :( Any suggestions?

Author:  W. Hart [ Thu Mar 14, 2013 10:52 am ]
Post subject:  I'm such an idiot

Never mind, I found the "print" option after much searching. It is cleverly hidden when using Firefox*sighs*. I'm only one step above "computer illiterate.

Author:  Tom Bridges [ Thu Mar 14, 2013 8:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Optional Rules definitions?

This should be a sticky.

Author:  John Ferry [ Thu Mar 14, 2013 9:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Optional Rules definitions?

Whole-heartedly agree!!
J. Ferry
2lt 2/20th Corps

Author:  S_Trauth [ Fri Mar 15, 2013 4:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Optional Rules definitions?

Also the official company description is located (at the time of writing this) on page 27 of the CWB.pdf file in your game folder(s). Older versions other than the one used in Overland might have this section on a different page -the section it is under is Optional RulesDialog.

I had this same question about a different series and found it by accident -then checked the other series ... and there it was (so for other series it would be NB.pdf, PzC.pdf, etc.... ).

Eventually I will get together this material and post it on the Series level pages at SDC -however, for the moment I do have current versions of the documentation hosted there for users to download at their convenience.

Author:  Captain General [ Sat Mar 16, 2013 1:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Optional Rules definitions?

Thanks for posting these excellent descriptions!

I agree this should be a "sticky".

Maj Chuck Paul
Army of the Shenandoah

Author:  bkolcun [ Wed Mar 20, 2013 7:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Optional Rules definitions?

I often have the same question...but since there are so many now...I just select them all, except for MDF, and play...but on occassion have gone back to think what the hell does this one mean?

Very helpful. Thank you!

Author:  C. Hecht [ Sun May 04, 2014 2:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: FAQ/Optional Rules/EMail Addresses/Board FAQ

Nice post of Mr. Whitehead, to bad I thought anything through myself before, would have helped me a lot.
Just some notes here.

"Optional Melee Resolution"
Isn't it sufficient to prevent blitzkrieg tactics? Of course another phase is added but compared to the Napoleonic series were you almost have to do phased gameplay to prevent blitzkrieg and end with the huge amount of back and forth mailing to get one turn done this rule seems a big improvement and I would love to have it on the Napoleonic series. There sometimes it's resorted to a similar houserule like mentioned although that makes the gameplay even more complex that it already is. The "Optional Melee Resolution" seems the best compromise here.

"Full Defensive Fire"
Well I heard the interpretation before but at least from how it is described in the program manual I think in works differently.
" have defensive fire conducted by the program against attacking units in melee at full strength instead of half-strength."
I think that it doesn't guarantee a 100% volley but it gives a 100% volley IF defensive fire is triggered.
And personally I won't use it simply because:
The usual larger range and bigger fire arc in the CW series will lead to an advancing unit triggering fire from units that would never have shot on them in manual defensive fire because they would have marched through their fire arc and out of it again. Also as the triggering of defensive fire although random as it seems can most of the time be so often that the triggered fire even when done at 50% in the sum is much more than a single 100% volley on 1 hex range could have achieved. Overall with this rule I think the attacker suffers even higher casualties than it would have ever been possible in manual defensive fire.

"Quality Fire Modifiers" & "Quality Melee Modifiers"
I think this is misunderstood, not the leaders influence that but the rating of the units them self. I tend to use both to show a bit of the Southern boys "quality" of marksman, outdoorsman, horse rider etc. that sets them above the Northern workers, farmers, city people, etc..

"Victory points for Leader Casualties"
Does not have something to do with the above but I still think it's necessary to use because it would prevent the "recycling" of leaders, as soon as the original leaders are lost the replacements seem to be thrown in again and again because even when loosing them you get a new one and the 10% bonus in melee combat gives higher casualties and so higher VPs, to counter that this rule should be used because even a replacement colonel gives some points when you take him out.

"Higher Fatigue Recovery Rates"
Here I'm not sure as I understand to process of fatigue recovery not at all, there is just a percentage for day and for night in the PDT but how the actual calculation is done and what a unit effectively losses is not clear to me.
I currently don't use it has I think the intention is really to keep units that had a hard day of fighting behind them a good reason to not only rest through the night but also be be handle carefully the next day as I doubt one good night puts them back into a "perfect" condition like before this battle start at all.
Also wit the higher recovery on low level fatigue player could resort to use the units like chainsaw, as soon as one blade has enough its put at the end of the formation and is likely to loose the fatigue it took before being again the next in line to cut into the enemy.

"Rout Limiting"
I don't use it as I want to foster that the player resorts to deeper defensive and attack formations, if the rout is so easily diked you will never see bigger portions of the army run away but that can very well happen if the units left and right of the routing unit are also in a bad shape and just waited for a reason to fall back.
The attacker as well as the defender will simply have to resort to formations that allow them to prohibit other formations from being influenced by their failures, also the high amount of leaders can very well be used as "speedbumps" to stop a rout from spreading within a formation like a brigade.
Without this rule it would be too easy to stay on the enemies throat more or less with the whole army stacked to a compact unbreakable formation.
But be assured the "Flank Morale Modifier" helps to counter this rule and make defensive lines hold when units have their flanks covered also leaders are again to be used as speedbumps so even when something goes wrong it won't spread to far if you make a useful setup of your defensive line.

"Artillery Capture"
I use that one, in may look like it has VP problems but the additional damage you can deal with a captured artillery unit will allows you to likely gain more VPs than you would have gotten when simply destroying the battery, and with the battle moving on or coming back you can still spike it and get half the VPs you would have gotten for destroying it.
Without this rule artillery is much to easy to take out of the game.

"Artillery Retire by Prolonge"
No doubt it is useful and I would have liked that also in the Napoleonic series.

"Artillery Ammo By Cannon"
Well I doubt it is most flawed, using this rule will simply multiple the ammo by canon up so basically at start the situation is the same, what is beneficial is when losses occur small units don't consume as much ammo as bigger artillery units. It seems just realistic to consume ammo by canon and not by unit.

"Higher Disrupted Movement"
At first I wondered why it should be used but with the less "stiff" formations compared to the Napoleonic times it may be OK to have disordered units move with 3/4 instead 1/2, also another player mentioned "skedaddle" as example for this.

"Alternate Fixed Unit Release"
While true that player could spy before the game for fixed units I don't use this rule:
1. I think no player should spy as it simply spoils the fun for everyone.
2. The player with the fixed units can very well play the same gamey way and simply leave the fixed units unprotected or opening a while lane for the enemy to advance on them in the hope that they are triggered premature.
3. With the alternate rule on these fixed units can work as early warning units, without seeing the enemy they get unfixed and you know the enemy is nearby.

Author:  Jim Pfleck [ Thu May 08, 2014 10:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: FAQ/Optional Rules/EMail Addresses/Board FAQ


I think your interpretation of full melee defensive fire is incorrect---units can shoot more than once (when playing turn based with this rule on) and each shot is at 100%. To have some control over the AI firing, you can set the opportunity fire range for artillery and inf under the ai tab.

Author:  C. Hecht [ Thu May 08, 2014 12:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: FAQ/Optional Rules/EMail Addresses/Board FAQ

Jim Pfleck wrote:
units can shoot more than once (when playing turn based with this rule on) and each shot is at 100%.

Sorry Jim but thats not really how it works, to be sure I just tested it and I can confirm my interpretation.
The manual speaks of half-strength fire value when defensive fire is computer controlled and checking the calculated fire value(just turn on map results off and you can see the calculated fire value) I can confirm that, sure units can fire multiple times under computer control and that is why their fire is only conducted at 50%.
Now even when the "Full Melee Defensive Fire" rule is ON the units will only give a 100% volley when the attacker sets up a melee.
Again that has nothing to do with frequency, it seems like I said:
"IF defensive fire is triggered then it will be conducted at 100% when the defensive fire was triggered by the attacker setting up a melee. All other triggered defensive fire is still only 50%."

Jim Pfleck wrote:
To have some control over the AI firing, you can set the opportunity fire range for artillery and inf under the ai tab.

I just used it and like I thought in turn gameplay it doesn't seem to do anything.
Defensive fire is still conducted up to max range and sometimes often and sometimes not, likely depending on the "Proportional Opportunity Fire" rule.
In my eyes that confirms what is said in the program manual:
"The Auto DF Dialog is used to control the frequency of Automatic Defensive Fire when that Optional Rule is in effect."
But as far as I know that rule only affects phased gameplay.
Didn't test phased gameplay as I don't really see a need to split the turn into many phases with Blitzkrieg tactics already banned by the "Optional Melee Resolution" rule.

Author:  Jim Pfleck [ Thu May 08, 2014 1:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: FAQ/Optional Rules/EMail Addresses/Board FAQ

ahh, you are correct on the 100%, I had read the passage in this post incorrectly. I just ran a quick test on the artillery firing and it appears you are correct. It has been a while since I played either in turn mode or in a scenario where I was worrying about artillery, although in my last Peninsula game vs. Koch I though they were holding fire....

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