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 Post subject: Stack Firing
PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 2:18 pm 
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Location: USA
I want to address an issue that is really driving me nuts with our civil war games. That being the firing of all the units in a stack together at one target. What I am finding with this that i dislike is that it makes the game favor the offense way too much in my opinion. All the units fire at full strength and then one defender fires back. The difference in losses is large. This makes is really hard to defend any position. I am currently in a couple of games where my Rebs are on the defensive for the most part and it is just impossible to pull back. For example two stacks are adjacent face each other. The attacker moves adjacent and might get shot at at reduced strength by one defending unit. All the attackers fire and then the defender get off one shot again at reduced strength. Now if I must back up a hex or two the same process is repeated. The only way I can effectively counter the enemy is to stand and fire at full strength next turn. If I stand this all works out relatively even but as stated before if I move back i will continuously suffer more losses. In this same game I was attacking on another flank and it was to my advantage on that front so this is not just sour grapes because of a single situation. I like playing turn based games so my questions would be does anyone else agree that this is an issue? I think if the attackers had to fire each units individually at least it might trigger a more even defensive response.

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Lt General Jon Thayer
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Army of Northern Virginia

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 Post subject: Re: Stack Firing
PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:17 pm 
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Joined: Tue May 22, 2001 8:05 pm
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Location: Panhandle of Texas
Remember though, that if the unit moves it fires at half strength also.

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General Mark Nelms
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 Post subject: Re: Stack Firing
PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:28 pm 
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I don't know how to fix it but I agree with you. Defense should have the advantage. The firing difference is currently massive and unrealistic in favor of the offense. HPS has had a problem finding a decent balance in these firing lines. I still think that one of their problems has been so many options available with this engine. Fix it for one and mess up something else.

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Gen Ned Simms
1/1/XIV Corps/AotC
Blood 'n Guts hisself, a land lovin' pirate. Show me some arty tubes and we'll charge 'em.
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 Post subject: Re: Stack Firing
PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:50 pm 
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Mark, you are right about moving units firing at half strength. I think this would be a better way for me to describe the issue. You have two stacks of 1000 men in 3 units. the attacker moves adjacent and draws 50% fire from 333 defenders (fire factor 166). the offensive stack then fires 1000 men at half strength (fire factor 500) This then draws defensive fire of 50% from 333 defenders again. Now if the current defending stack cannot stay in the hex and initiate fire combat the next turn this sequence will be continually repeated until the defender reaches a point where it can stand fast and initiate fire in a turn.

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Lt General Jon Thayer
2/3/III
Army of Northern Virginia

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 Post subject: Re: Stack Firing
PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 2011 2:27 am 
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I've thought about including this as part of negotiations, but never have. I'm sure it would alter the contest quite a bit, however. On the other hand, I'm sure most everyone employs this.

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General Neal Hebert
Edward C. Walthall Division (2nd aka "Gator Alley")
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 Post subject: Re: Stack Firing
PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 2011 6:26 am 
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Avoid Turn based games at all costs and return to the "purists" camp of Phased play. A junior Reb officer tempted me out into a Turn system game before Xmas and I regretted my lapse the moment contact was made.
I'm surprised that you, being a Reb, remarked in such a negative opinion on turn based? I've found that movement normally has a greater likelihood of triggering multiple defensive opportunity fire when the the defending stack comprises 'A' & 'B' quality Regiments and likewise offensive stack fire also often prompts more than one unit in the defending stack to return fire.

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 Post subject: Re: Stack Firing
PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 2011 8:28 am 
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That is the other side of the coin, defensive firing units have the chance of firing multiple times, though they rarely do so when I need them to. I know that many times when I'm advancing on Rebel positions it seems like WWI with the first machine guns firing because I'm getting hit so many times, especially when they have high quality ratings.

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General Mark Nelms
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 Post subject: Re: Stack Firing
PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 2011 12:28 pm 
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The logic used in triggering Turn based defensive fire is too poor to properly balance the Attacker's ability to choose where to move, when to fire, and whether to Melee. The AI is usually firing at to great a distance resulting in wasted ammo while failing to fire at adjacent units. Particularly damning is the inability of the AI to fire on adjacent units that don't move or fire. A player can easily manipulate the AI during his movement phase to minimize the amount of damage the AI can do while causing it to waste the maximum amount of ammunition in the process.

I always recommend playing phased system as a result. The only exception being for multiplayer games where the Turn based system elliminates a lot of emails. There you just have to suffer watching the AI throw the game and hope you aren't the side who has to mostly defend. The gain of opportunity fire isn't worth the poor handling of fire under the AI control.

My personal recommendation for fixing the problem is to change the AI fire in Turn based to a modified Opportunity Fire with full defensive fire. That is while the attacker is moving the AI would trigger Opportunity fire as it currently does but the Opportunity Fire would not use any ammo. You might have to quarter it rather than halve to keep the game balanced. This would discourage to much running around in front of lines of battle and make the attacker pay for using column movement near the enemy. But when the moving player end his movement (similar what he does when he uses the new embedded Melee rule) then the defender's unit fire according the phased defensive fire rules at full strength at any target that meets that criteria. Unfortunately, this would be like phased play with Opportunity Fire added.

I don't see a way to have true Turn Play (no separate fire and melee phases) without a significant improvement of the AI's ability to analyze what is happening and fire appropriately. This would mean reacting to both movement and non-movement for fire and being able to counter attempts to break through a line by reaction movement.

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Chatham Grays
AoT II/1/3 (CSA)


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 Post subject: Re: Stack Firing
PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:46 pm 
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Hi,

A couple of years ago Kelly Ross and I played a Franklin scenario where we moved and fired each unit individually using single turn(turn-based). It worked well except the turns and replays took forever. So we just went to phased play.

I agree with General Whitehead that the best answer right now is some form of op fire mixed with phased play. Actually, I think the formula might be halved fire for everyone except attackers who don't move and defenders who haven't previously op fired that phase. Also a limit on the number of fires, as is done in the Panzer Campaigns series.

Another solution might be op fire by stack. Still, there is always the possibility a defender wouldn't fire when an attacker moved adjacent. A lot of strange things can happen in combat, but I would suspect it would be much rarer historically than in the game, if it ever happened at all, car commercials and Pirates of the Carribean movies notwithstanding.

Finally, you can play phased play with manual defensive fire and send the extra emails, as was done in ancient times when Talonsoft first made an
appearance. This is the only way I will play the current historical Gettysburg scenario ever again.

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MG Mike Mihalik
Forrest's Cavalry Corps
AoWest/CSA


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 Post subject: Re: Stack Firing
PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 2011 2:51 pm 
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Location: Panhandle of Texas
The only thing about phased play is that you are back to the old problem of troops moving all around in your LOS and only getting to shoot at them once. Don't think they did that too much in the ACW. I can just see the nervous troops lined up, cocked and ready to fire, and the steely eyed officer saying "Don't fire until those boys have crossed that 500 yards of open ground and stopped right here in front of us!" I think a happier medium would be to increase the chances of defensive opportunity fire or guarantee that at the end of the move every unit that hadn't fired would then do so.

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General Mark Nelms
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 Post subject: Re: Stack Firing
PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 2011 6:03 pm 
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You say . . . "Don't think they did that too much in the ACW"

No, of course not . . . This is a game, sirs . . . A game.

A full discussion on factors of these games that are non-historical would form a volume larger than my collected Tolstoy over there on the shelf. Single-turn defensive fire is and always has been ill-logical, unpredictable, and confusing----at best. Phased play may not have that particular problem, but it of course has others . . . and none of them come from being similar to historical conditions.

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 Post subject: Re: Stack Firing
PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:16 pm 
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Location: USA
nelmsm wrote:
The only thing about phased play is that you are back to the old problem of troops moving all around in your LOS and only getting to shoot at them once. Don't think they did that too much in the ACW. I can just see the nervous troops lined up, cocked and ready to fire, and the steely eyed officer saying "Don't fire until those boys have crossed that 500 yards of open ground and stopped right here in front of us!" I think a happier medium would be to increase the chances of defensive opportunity fire or guarantee that at the end of the move every unit that hadn't fired would then do so.


While having enemy troops march up and down your lines without a chance to punish them is very unrealistic, the Opportunity Fire as implemented does little to stop it and contributes a dozen new unrealistic problems. And it's hard to fix because it is so easy to game any Opportunity Fire rule. I routinely use movement to trigger Opportunity Fire at max ranges when I know the enemy lacks small arms ammo. Almost any way you attempt to implement Opp Fire leaves a brand new whole you could drive a tank through.

One thing I liked about the good old days :wink: was designers would write articles in HPS Moves and AH General explaining the reasoning behind why they chose to simulate something or not in a game. One of the chief criteria was does the addition make the game simulate better without hurting playability. A really good game design could accomplish simulating a battle using brigade units just as well as a very complex game using company size units. So the real question become does Opportunity Fire add sufficient realism to the game and actually change the outcome sufficiently to justify having to handle the increased complexity of implementing it? So far no one has come up with an Opportunity Fire system for the Civil War that works as well as the systems used in many WWII simulations.

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General Kennon Whitehead
Chatham Grays
AoT II/1/3 (CSA)


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 Post subject: Re: Stack Firing
PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 3:45 pm 
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Gentlemen <salute>

For some reason this thread popped into my head last night. I know nothing about programming, however perhaps the issue of "stack firing" could be resolved by rewriting how the program conducts fires.

It has been stated, and I agree, that firing each unit individually would be cumbersome especially in large scenarios. If I have a stack of units that I wish to fire could the program be written to conduct the fires indivdually against the target even though I selected all in the stack to fire?

For example, say I have 3 units of 300 men that I select as a group to fire on a single unit of 300 men. Instead of calculating the fire as 900 firing as one the fires would be calculated as 3 fires of 300 (or whatever the individual strength of each unit is) against a unit of 300? I don't know if this has ever been mentioned or if its within the range of possibilities.

Just a thought,

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General Neal Hebert
Edward C. Walthall Division (2nd aka "Gator Alley")
II Corps, Army of the West
CSA Cabinet Secretary


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