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 Post subject: Complete & scientific results of Overland analysis.
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 3:17 am 
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The Reb "A" quality Regiments are "supermen". Good reasons for balancing has led to, in my opinion, an unfortunate situation that is markedly noticeable in some situations.

Think previously on other releases ...Bull Run, Shiloh etc...
The "A" quality guys represented the elite ...the specials ...the "best"?
Now, pretty much all the rank and file are regarded as being elite?
I can destroy them, sure, through weight of superior numbers.

It is depressing to turn a flank or hit troops in column with a surprise attack and find that they are judged as being elite for reasons of playability. No Army in the history of warfare has ever fielded a rank-and-file of that nature. I say again: I CANNOT beat an opponent through superior Generalship.
In fact, the Union doesn't need a good General ...just a competent butcher.

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2nd Brigade, Cavalry Division, XX Corps.
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 Post subject: Re: Complete & scientific results of Overland analysis.
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 10:35 am 
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Don't agree with the assessment of how great an "A" is but don't have time to do a math study of it. In the game it gives "A/B" units a 10% bonus in most situations. They are tougher to dissrupt(except if meleed which is automatic disrupt) and route. But once routed or disrupted they are subject to the same recovery rules as an "E".

In the game they don't really represent "super" units. By 1864 they represent veteran units versus the Union's new replacements for their 3 year levies. In 1861-63 they tended to represent elite units like the Iron Brigade and the Stonewall Brigades. By 64 these units were decimated but most who hadn't disappeared were veteran units.

I haven't played enough of the Overland to say how the balance is but in my Wilderness battle it looks like having 50% more men is more important than having 10% better men. The game parameter changes plus terrain and entrenchments have made frontal assaults a poor choice. In that type of situation having lots of filler regiments so you can extend your flanks around the enemy is more important than fire and melee power.

How much the rating was increased for balance purposes I don't know. But so far not enough to allow Lee's troops to come close to what they achieved in the Wilderness. This partly because no Union commander would make the mistakes Grant and Meade made in deploying their forces. Always a problem in historic games.

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


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 Post subject: Re: Complete & scientific results of Overland analysis.
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 1:41 pm 
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based on what happen in the latter part of the Civil War, I still cannot understand why this particular Campaign was featured as a new title.

I did buy it........but I continue to ask myself WHY!!

I think once the dust settles, players will refrain from playing this title.

If the Rebs are outnumbered in every scenario........who the hell is going to want to be a punching bag for two hundred turns..........lol

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Lt. Gen. C. N. Matthews
Pickett's Infantry Division, I Corps,
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 Post subject: Re: Complete & scientific results of Overland analysis.
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 2:14 pm 
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"The north doesn't need a good general, just a competent butcher."
Yup, his name was US Grant.
Having been presented with the challenge of turning the Overland Campaign into a playable wargame, there was little choice but to match quantity with quality. I have read all the comments, and have not yet seen anyone offer a viable alternative to what we came up with. We created it as a separate wargame title only because it was the most important campaign of the Civil War. No lexicon of 1861-1865 would be complete without these battles, which changed the future course of warfare. The rebs are outnumbered in every scenario because they were outnumbered in every battle, and nothing can change that fact.
The one thing that would have made it possible for players to replicate what really happened is something I asked for repeatedly and did not get: That was to have a variable scale of casualties as one of the optional rules in the game. In other words, to have a choice of casualties reduced to 1/4, 1/3, or 1/2 in the game, for both sides. Fatigue costs would have stayed the same or could have even been increased. That way, somebody can emulate Lee's tactics in the Wilderness, the only open-field battle, and not run out of men.
As for the oobs, they are all subtly different. Spotsylvania 1 is probably the most tweaked in terms of the rebs' supposed invincibility. Within the oobs, not all are Yankee "D"s and Rebel "A"s. In keeping with the leadership of Hancock's Second Corps and the experience of his troops, there are plenty of high efficiency units there. At the same time, AP Hill's Third Corps is not all supermen, and the discrepancy is most seen when Hancock attacks Hill on the Plank Road at the Wilderness. If you want to fight a more "balanced" scenario, try Drewry's Bluff or Piedmont.
I appreciate all comments, positive or negative, and will put the information to good use in my next title. (But thanks, especially, for the positive comments ; - )
JDF
Overland Designer
2lt 2/20th Corps


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 Post subject: Re: Complete & scientific results of Overland analysis.
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 3:32 pm 
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I am not sure I agree with your opinion that it was "the most important campaign of the Civil War".

Certainly in gaming circles it was not..........the war was essentally over with the defeat of the Army of Northern Virginia in Pa. in 1863. Just a matter of time and body count.
where's the fun in that.

Where was the demand for a wargame depicting the destruction of the outmanned and out gunned southern forces in 1864.

I think most gamers would prefer to play scenarios where each force had a chance to win.

I do not have enough experience to make that determination with this game and I am not really sure I want to spend the time finding out.

like i said in my other post..........being on the receiving end of a beating does not sound like much fun.

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Lt. Gen. C. N. Matthews
Pickett's Infantry Division, I Corps,
Army of Northern Virginia, CSA


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 Post subject: Re: Complete & scientific results of Overland analysis.
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 6:17 pm 
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Since the Overland Campaign eventually lead to the destruction of the South's principle army it probably is one of the most important campaigns. But importance doesn't mean balance or fun to play. Historically I rate the Atlanta Campaign as the most important because it lead to results that helped Lincoln get reelected so he could finish the war. But old Joe never had a chance of winning.

But it is always the curse of games based on historical situations that they aren't balanced. The designer has two choice. Make it ahistoric and give the losing side a chance by changing critical parameters like quality, leadership, and situation. Or keeping historic and just base victory on how much better or worse you do than the historic results were. Both approaches have their pros and cons. For example, with players with equal ability Gettysburg can not be won by the South. Quality just won't offset 20% force advantage and plenty of time to use it. Makes a good game between unequal players with the Union the lesser.

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Chatham Grays
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 Post subject: Re: Complete & scientific results of Overland analysis.
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:01 pm 
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I think the attraction for a Reb to play this game is to see how much more damage he can inflict on the Yanks than he suffers himself. General Whitehead made a good point that the Yanks usually have sufficient force to fix the rebs in position and force them to extend their line to the breaking point. But defensive works in this game are pretty powerful and easier to create, so that fewer men are needed to defend a hex. Units occupying defenses in woods hexes are impervious to fire, at least in some scenarios; and if breastworks are also difficult to melee.

I have started a Mine Run campaign scenario of 174 turns and will see how it plays out. Right now, I am not anticipating taking much offensive action if any, but who knows?

The neat thing about these games is that you can use the scenario editor to create different scenarios. You can also modify PDTs. So if you want to square off Hancock's Corps against A P Hill's, you can create that scenario fairly easily.

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MG Mike Mihalik
Forrest's Cavalry Corps
AoWest/CSA


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 Post subject: Re: Complete & scientific results of Overland analysis.
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:47 pm 
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I think the concerns expressed about this title are premature. Yes, in most of the longer scenarios, the CSA player is likely to succumb to numbers unless they play defensively and use the tools that this game engine provides them -- trenching ability.

John Ferry didn't just arbitrarily raise the ratings of CSA units for playability. He actually did it fairly scientifically based on combat experience -- I leave it to him to explain in more detail. The testing team had much debate on this topic and the game contains the best of the brainstorming on this issue.

As for balance, the game designers (myself included) included many of the smaller battles of the campaign -- half day actions, skirmishes, full day battles, etc. and set victory conditions such that it is just as easy for a CSA player to achieve a victory as it is for the Union player. But the CSA player will face a different set of challenges than their northern counterpart. In most situations, they will have to play defensively. Its just the nature of the fighting during the campaign. There are plenty of battles though where the CSA had offensive opportunities and we were sure to include all of these in the game -- Gordon's Flank Attack, Longstreet's Flank Attack, Action on the Po, Harris Farm, Strike Them a Blow, Meadow Bridge, Haw's Shop, Cavalry at Cold Harbor, Trevillian Station-Day 1. I could go on.

I suggest that players give the game a fair airing out before rendering scientific assessments.

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 Post subject: Re: Complete & scientific results of Overland analysis.
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 8:16 pm 
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Well, for what it's worth I'm in a great slugging match with a very good Reb. Officer. I pound away, he almost collapses but manages to hold, I retire and move left. I pound away, he almost collapses but manages to hold, I retire and move left. Great fun (for me at least) because believe me, you have to intelligently maneuver. And I'm not all that intelligent. :o

All in all great fun and I'm glad I bought it.

I respectfully suggest playing 208 for a test game. It really is a blast.

Regards and Respects

Deano

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Army of the Potomac
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 Post subject: Re: Complete & scientific results of Overland analysis.
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 8:42 pm 
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The rationale for many aspects of Overland including OOBs are in designer's notes. "Enlightened War."


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 Post subject: Re: Complete & scientific results of Overland analysis.
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:51 am 
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Is there a conflict between tactical & operational rules of warfare with this latest game (the distinction between the two has become blurred as the gamess have grown much bigger in scope).

This IS a tactical game engine? it was designed as such? Most of the responses I read suggest that the Union make use of operational or even strategic advantages to overcome the Rebs in a tactical battle.
It is very depressing for a player to gain advantage over an opponent using sensible military tactics and find they offer no benefit whatsoever because high rating makes them immune to things like surprise.

Utilising depth of force and a constant stream of "filler" units to manage a Reb attack must be a nonsense in a tactical sense. It doesn't sound very realistic for 1864?
Maybe a difference in Leader command ranges or reducing Union supply wagon MP's would be a better way to en-force tactical differences.
I'm not saying that the Union cannot win the scenarios, just that he may do so but is almost bound to lose the tactical fight on the way there.

I'm repeatedly seeing Reb adversaries expending their strength conducting offensive actions and only my numerical strength is dealing with that. The effective response is becoming so formulaic that it's like playing Chess or something.
It may well sound like "sour-grapes" ...but I asssure you it isn't. Well, maybe it is. I'm just not confortable playing out a situation that doesn't seem related to earlier games in this series.

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2nd Brigade, Cavalry Division, XX Corps.
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 Post subject: Re: Complete & scientific results of Overland analysis.
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:00 am 
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From the point of view of Grant's Overland Campaign the Strategic plan was the defeat of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. The Operational plan was crossing through the Wilderness to get to the open areas beyond and forcing the ANV to engage them in open battle to protect Richmond. The Campaign portion of the game touches on this but since most of the decisions are already made for us we only have limited control of the Operational plan. The scenarios represent the Tactical portion of the battles. Tactics is defined as the direction and control of movement of the forces engaged. In this since the HPS game is a tactical game. The next level is Small Unit Tactics which consist of how squal (company) level forces actually fight. This part is all wrapped up in a die roll and its modifiers.

The weakness of the HPS simulation isn't in that the units hold up to well to surprise attacks, etc. It is the 700 foot General problem which is very difficult to prevent. We as players don't represent General Lee or Grant but every level of command from regiment to army level. This means that as soon as the first contact of some surprise attack is made every regiment in the entire army instantly knows about it and reaction is instantaneous.

This leads to tactics that just wouldn't work in a real battle. We seldom keep reserves much less reserves on the level CW Generals did (whole divisions, sometimes Corps) because we can shift our little men so rapidly there is no reason too. Since out flanking the enemy is the most effective tactic we usually just feed our units into the line and try to out extend the other guy. In scenarios like the Wilderness we don't do head on attacks because we know there are a boat load of Yankees/Rebs right down that road. We don't send our cavalry off to places unknown. We have them sitting on every road and path the enemy can use so we have plenty of warning that Longstreet is trying to out flank us.

So you can't duplicate Jackson's flank attack at Chancellorsville unless you play the scenario where the whole Union army starts fixed.

Some games have tried to implement some type of command control to simulate the delay in response but their methods have mixed results. I haven't seen one that both duplicates the commander (division or brigade) at the point of say a surprise attacks ability to react while limiting the Corps and Army level leaders ability to react.

If you actually made a game that simulated command at the army level it would probably look more like a card game than a board game. The army commander had little knowledge of what was going on. Grant whittled most of the battle. Lee almost took over at the Colonel level. You play your attack car. The opponent plays his refuse flank card. See who wins.

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Chatham Grays
AoT II/1/3 (CSA)


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 Post subject: Re: Complete & scientific results of Overland analysis.
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:00 pm 
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General Whitehead wrote, "Some games have tried to implement some type of command control to simulate the delay in response but their methods have mixed results. I haven't seen one that both duplicates the commander (division or brigade) at the point of say a surprise attacks ability to react while limiting the Corps and Army level leaders ability to react."

Another method that could be explored is that a massive modification of troop quality could be imposed by a surprise attack out of woods or by flank. Make an rated A troop a C, B troop a D and C troop an E.

Not sure how much coding would be needed, and definitions of "surprise" would have to be formed, but I would think it would be doable.

MG Elkin
XVIth Corp Commander
AotT

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 Post subject: Re: Complete & scientific results of Overland analysis.
PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 6:37 pm 
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Almost any system you use to solve one problem usually introduces a dozen more. I have seen systems that were suppose to delay your reponse result in whole divisions and Corps standing fixed while the enemy moved in plain sight to surround them. It only takes this happening a couple of time before the game gets deleted and never played again.

I have seen a few multiplayer games come close to reproducing the command chain problems. One of the interesting approaches is to use very limited LOS (maybe set it as low as 6 hexes) and a game master for each side through which all orders to subordinates must pass. The game master determines what time the orders are received and if they are as accurate as orignially sent. The game master also make sure no player acts outside of their orders limiting their ability to respond to forces sighted by units not belonging to them when they haven't received orders to respond.

But this is pretty involved and takes a lot of emailing to get through a turn.

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


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 Post subject: Re: Complete & scientific results of Overland analysis.
PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2013 3:46 am 
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I played an MP game on Antietam at First Bull Run and at my direction it had a strict "no communication between players" rule.
It was a 3 Union versus 2 Reb game and teams could not talk to each other about play development once things had started! We could talk about the weather, sport or our noisy neighbours but you couldn't liase to the Nth degree with your team about what was happening and how best to respond.
I enjoyed it immensely (not sure about the other players opinions). On the one hand you have the fantastic 70 hex visibilty then on the other the enforced silence emphasised the fog-of-war and made my teams actions just as unknown as my opponents.
Our Union team lost that game and I know that the special house rule had a big impact on the way we played.

Objectives can be discussed in great detail beforehand and you could do so again after dusk on multi-day games.
I still remember my alarm at one teamates actions and having no way of doing anything about it and a traffic jam on a single road that two of us were trying to use at once. Great bits of "friction" that just wouldn't happen in a normal MP game. And really no extra workload added to file exchange at all.

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Brigadier-General Jim Wilkes.
2nd Brigade, Cavalry Division, XX Corps.
AoC. U.S.A.


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