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 Post subject: Column vs Line
PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 6:26 pm 
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I've seen that there are several house rules stated concerning the use of columns in combat. This never came up while we were designing Overland, so I feel a need to get up to speed on the collective opinion regarding this subject.
From what I see, the "column" serves two purposes in the game. First, there is the obvious--efficient movement of troops on roads and trails. In a 300-man regiment this would be a column, four men abreast and 75 ranks deep.
I remember when I'd just started playtesting I had an opportunity to attack a regiment which was in column and marching away from me. Piece of cake, I thought, and I hit the melee button. That stupid regiment in column won! Tore me up! Could not believe it.
This leads to the second purpose--an assault column. An assault column, to use the same regiment, would be something like twelve files wide and 25 ranks deep. Regiments in the assault went in with muskets uncapped--hence the inability to fire. I remember the anecdote from the Gaines Mill battle where a Yankee was about to shoot John B Hood when he was taken out by a Texan who had disobeyed orders.
So. I am not disagreeing with what seems to be an established rule to not use columns in combat except in some unique situations, such as attacking across bridges, but I just wonder if I could stir up some commentary on the house rules and the history behind them.
J. Ferry
2lt 2/20th Corps


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 Post subject: Re: Column vs Line
PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 6:47 pm 
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The club has no rules for or against the use of column formations other than any restrictions imposed by the game engine. There is a club rule regarding House Rules:

"5.4 House Rules. Many officers prefer specific ‘house rules’ when they play. All house rules are optional and must be agreed to ahead of time by both players. The Club does not require that any optional rules (either house rules or those provided within the games) be used."

There are many in the club who do prefer to play with certain restrictions regarding attacking in column, or combat/movement at night, etc and I will leave it up to them to explain their reasons (there has been many discussions regarding this subject). What I run into are opponents occasionally who think that these house rules are club rules and apply to every game even without both opponents agreeing to them beforehand.

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 Post subject: Re: Column vs Line
PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 7:02 pm 
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I have already adopted a "house rule" for Overland: The use of assault columns against breastworks and entrenchments is permissible after May 10th--the date of Upton's introduction of the tactic against the west side of the Mule Shoe. Grant ordered the same tactic in the May 12th assault againt the northern tip of the Mule Shoe. I believe that after those assaults, the tactic was now in the AoP's repertoire. So, the "house rule" would allow column attacks after May 10th -- but only against an entrenched enemy.

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 Post subject: Re: Column vs Line
PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 7:47 pm 
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Ken
The May 10 transition makes a lot of sense.
Here's a problem I have. Suppose a unit is marching in column down the road, rounds a curve, and runs smack into an enemy unit, eithe rin column or line. Under the house rule, the dummy who got his unit into this situation has no choice but to sit there and get blasted next turn. He can't deploy because his movement points just went to zero. That unit can't melee? That is a tough pill to swallow.
Night combat was mentioned. That was a very rare event. One of the notable exceptions would be Wauhatchie, but on that night the moonlight made it almost as bright as day. Bright enough to be able to read by it.
I try to get on the same page as my opponent if we are playing an overnight.
J


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 Post subject: Re: Column vs Line
PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2013 11:37 am 
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I have always used some type of retriction on Infantry Column melees. Mostly because in the HPS game what they simulate is Road Column not Column of Companies or Division. It is not a combat formation and does not in any way behave as one except that the game allows you to melee with it which should be impossible. Road Column has a four rank front. In the Napoleonic series it is simulated as both types although poorly but not the CW.

While the Union did use Column assault in a few attacks against entrenchments they are quite well simulated by a stack of line units and there is no purpose to using a Column in such a situation other than to take advantage of its road movement abilities which an Assualt Column should have.

Civil War troops in Column formation did not actually move any faster than line. The formation was used because they were easier to control and keep together. This mean they didn't have to stop and dress their lines as often which is where their faster movement in woods or clear terrain came from.

The ideal solution would be for the game to support a third formation that did correctly simulate Assault Column. It would have higher movement rates in most terrain but no Road bonus at all. It might have a 10% advantage in melee. It would be able to fire at reduced effectiveness like in the Napoleon games. It would have some serious negative adjustments if it got fired at especially by artillery that would tear it to pieces. It worked for Upton only because the artillery was in transition. A few guns firing cannister into such packed formations would have taken down whole companies.

Except for a few attempts against entrenchments Column of Companies was exclusively used to move troops around the battlefield out of range of enemy fire. The packed assault against entrenchments tactic was rather quickly dropped as the defender came up with better entrenchments. The most effective method was what eventually became called "storm troopers". These were lose formation that tried to infiltrate the entrenched line first then made an openning. The best example being the Confederate assault on Fort Stedman.

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 Post subject: Re: Column vs Line
PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2013 11:51 am 
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Kennon--
I have to disagree, but I will limit my disagreement with your post only as you mention the column in HPS's Civil War games. It IS a dual purpose formation, and often melees shockingly well. Pardon the pun
J Ferry
2LT 2/20th Corps


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 Post subject: Re: Column vs Line
PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2013 3:05 pm 
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J. Ferry wrote:
Kennon--
I have to disagree, but I will limit my disagreement with your post only as you mention the column in HPS's Civil War games. It IS a dual purpose formation, and often melees shockingly well. Pardon the pun
J Ferry
2LT 2/20th Corps


The game allows dual use but it isn't appropriately simulated for dual use. One of my favorite tactics in Turn play before the Embedded Melee was column melee. I was actually involved in one MP game that had two CSA armies deployed where one of those armies fought the entire battle without leaving column formation. The enemy army was surrounded and elliminated almost to the last man. Because you can do it doesn't mean it is correct historically or good for the game in general. It is badly flawed.

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


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 Post subject: Re: Column vs Line
PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2013 3:15 pm 
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I agree it is badly flawed. It is one of those things, though--if it is stupid but it works, it ain't stupid.


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 Post subject: Re: Column vs Line
PostPosted: Thu Mar 14, 2013 9:24 am 
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Trouble is the Column handling is stupid and doesn't work. But it can be fun to use it to surround and isolate a division or Corps. That is, as long as you are doing it to someone else and it isn't being done to you. :cry:

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


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 Post subject: Re: Column vs Line
PostPosted: Thu Mar 14, 2013 6:40 pm 
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Good day Gents.

I like to play with certain house rules, but try to be flexible with the opponents.
And yes, the two regarding column melee and night battles are standards that I propose.

I just think that these rules to help make the battle a bit more "ole timey like".

If the game would allow a "combat" column patch I would love it.

If the game had a "Moonlight" patch, (variable as in weather!), I would be a fan also.

If my opponent wants to do it different I am fine also.
As long as both sides have the same advantage it should not matter.

But I try to keep the battle somewhat realistic.
(Kudos on the mixed brigade penalty for Overland!).

Respectfully

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 Post subject: Re: Column vs Line
PostPosted: Thu Mar 14, 2013 11:12 pm 
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I play with no restrictions on attacks with columns. I believe it is enough penalty that a column cannot engage in any fire combat whatsoever and suffers increased casualties from fire. The alternative if a unit in column enters a zone of control of a line unit is to suffer through three fire phases before getting to reply to fire. Two of these phases will be with the column modifier. I think it makes much less historical sense for a unit to do that than to be able to melee in column, even with road movement.

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MG Mike Mihalik
Forrest's Cavalry Corps
AoWest/CSA


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 Post subject: Re: Column vs Line
PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 9:14 am 
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mihalik wrote:
I play with no restrictions on attacks with columns. I believe it is enough penalty that a column cannot engage in any fire combat whatsoever and suffers increased casualties from fire. The alternative if a unit in column enters a zone of control of a line unit is to suffer through three fire phases before getting to reply to fire. Two of these phases will be with the column modifier. I think it makes much less historical sense for a unit to do that than to be able to melee in column, even with road movement.


I am not sure you are proposing three fire phases as alternative but within the current game system it would be impossible without an engine rewrite.

The problem with column is that fire is relatively ineffective against it compared to the benefits it gives a unit in movement. In Turn play defensive fire is so broken as to be almost of no consequence unless you are playing with the Embedded Melee rule. In Phase play there will be defensive fire but since it will only fire against one unit it is easy to circumvent by moving multiple column units adjacent. The penalty isn't severe enough to counter the advantages of movement. There is actually an advantage to column for melee. It keeps you from firing which gives you a 10% bonus in the melee.

In Phased play column formation isn't quite as effective so you can play the game without any pseudo restrictions. It is still an unrealistic formation but it is easier to just say if the game allows it you can do it.

In Turn play column is a powerful formation with high movement rates and little negative effects. It can be combined with melee or formation change to make deep strikes into an enemy. Unless the enemy Units are high quality (A's or B's) they are unlikely to fire at the column as it moves and even then at 50% strength. The advantage of making breakthroughs that might give a column access to a road and the resulting 12 hex movement range more than compensates for any casualties along the way.

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


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 Post subject: Re: Column vs Line
PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 5:48 pm 
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KWhitehead wrote:
In Phased play column formation isn't quite as effective so you can play the game without any pseudo restrictions. It is still an unrealistic formation but it is easier to just say if the game allows it you can do it.


Thanks for the clarification, General. My problem is I never play Turn if I can help it, so I always tend to think in terms of Phase play.

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MG Mike Mihalik
Forrest's Cavalry Corps
AoWest/CSA


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