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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:49 pm 
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I'm really enjoying this read, Kennon, and learning a lot in the process. At this point would you categorize the game as simply an update of the first version, or a whole new edition.

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General Jos. C. Meyer,
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Commander, Army of the Shenandoah
(2011-2014 UA CoA/GinC)


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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 6:02 pm 
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Joe Meyer wrote:
I'm really enjoying this read, Kennon, and learning a lot in the process. At this point would you categorize the game as simply an update of the first version, or a whole new edition.

I would say that it is a new edition. While the map is the same there are fundamental changes in the philosophy of how the game works. I got 9 turns into the game and I am having to restart because I missed or miss used so many changes. The individual changes are small but together to change the whole pace of the game. Here are some of the things I missed which caused me to have to restart:

The old game you could have an automatic Kentucky enter the war or you could have it player controlled. The new game has this scripted to happen in August with the Rebs taking the blame.

Armies couldn't be formed except for the Beauregard's army which was pseudo. The new game allows you to form armies as soon as Joe is released. The apparent only requirement is that you have a three star general with initiative. It is now on the command menu instead of being a HQ you build. They have a new unit called HQ Support which you can build but is expensive. They have a lot of Army level support units you can build to enhance the Army. The old game had only about 3 or 4. I suspect there is a limit to how many Armies can be on the map and it probably changes over time but I don't yet know what that limit is.

Division in the old game became available on an event in early 1862. Now the game starts with it available to any leader who has initiative. Initially you don't have any or at least the South doesn't until May. In my new game I was able to make Joe's Shenandoah force an Army on Turn 5 and convert Jackson to a division commander under him.

The production/build system has undergone a massive overhaul. Before you just needed conscripts, money and war supplies and you could build whatever you wanted whenever you wanted. That ranged from militia to iron clads as well as Rail Roads and River Shipping. Now these are all more tightly controlled. Some require events to open investing in them. Availability is controlled so you can't get to far off from reality of the war.

There is the new Combat system even though it only applies to AI games. But for solitaire play it doesn't add something to the game.

And something I haven't covered because I haven't figured out how and when to use it is the "Decision Mode". This opens a screen that allows you to do things that look like events. The list changes as the game progresses. Some may respond to enemy choices. The list contains things like "Develop Territories", "Martial Law" in a selected area, "Counter Intel", "Draft" in a specific region, "Open Trail" improvements, etc. Some of these cost considerable amount in money and resources so it is hard to tell if you are getting what you are paying for. I suspect the cash rich Union will use these more.

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


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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 2:51 pm 
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The War Reboot

I have restarted and completed the first five turns so I could fix a number of mistakes and oversights. So far it looks like the games AI has improved considerably. It was getting ready to give me a through whipping by the time I ended.

Summary of Turns 1-5

Most part the same as before but I started forming divisions and armies sooner. This considerably enhanced Joe's Shenandoah force which became the Army of the Shenandoah with Jackson as a division commander.

The militia unit at Harpers Ferry was captured when a large enemy force moved there. Which points out an important game effect. If you had wiped out that militia in open combat it would have been considered a victory but would not give you a Morale Point (MP from now on). But because it was inside a city and surrendered with the cities capture it generated a +1 MP for the Union. Remember this in the game when both attacking and defending. Don't do like Pemberton and hold up in Vicksburg. When it is captured you will see a major moral hit for it.

This time my little fleet at Richmond's attempt to get out failed and Ft. Monroe sent them to the bottom. This also showed a flaw that was in the old game. Naval battles aren't displayed. You briefly may see the icon indicate something happening in a water area but the only message you get is something like "Ft. Monroe had 40 hits against fleet, fleet had 0 hits". No indication as to what happened to the fleet other than you can no longer find them. on the map.

A few new discoveries about the game:

To create a Army or Division the leader must be active (have a white envelope). For division leaders within a stack this may be hard to determine.

I found where to organize the game files. When starting a new scenario the game defaults to the scenario name. Unfortunately the only thing different between it and any other of the same scenario is the turn date displayed. However, if you go back to the "Load" screen after having saved the game under the default name there is a small icon in the upper right that looks more like a IC chip to me. Select your game file with the default name then click on this icon and it will display three new icons for Renaming, Restoring a previous turn, and Deleting the game. Now you can clean up things and give better names to your games. The Restore I believe allows you to go back up to four turns and start over there.

Another Tactical hint. Stacks with leaders are dependent on the Leader having initiative to attack. Leaderless stacks always have initiative but their strength is halved.

And, Militia can be built vary cheap and only takes two weeks (or a single turn). Early in the game they make for quick deployments to protect the vast undefended land.

Turn 6 - Late June

I am going to send Joe and his AoS to destroy Keys' small force at Winchester and retake it. Joe has initiative so I convert him into an Army. So far all it takes is he being a three star general. Then I split up Jackson's command (a brigade) so that I can select the leader (Jackson) and make him a division commander. Then I add his old brigade plus a number of others to make up a powerful force with all his bonuses.

Out in West Va there are a number of opportunities. Floyd is made a division leader and his force sent against Morgantown. A leaderless force called Wise's Legions is sent to capture Marshal, WVa. The objective of all this is to destroy as much of the RR from Harpers Ferry to the Ohio River as I can before large Union forces show up.

Way out West, Price is made a division leader and some newly minted militia assigned. He is still weak and Lyon plus others have been moving steadily south.

Beauregard didn't have initiative but has serious command problems at Manassas I wanted to fix. When you select a force by its tab (if more than one in region) an informational display opens to the right of the groups unit displays. It has a line that shows how "in command" the force is. The numbers are the number of Command Points needed, in parentheses the Leader's Command Points, and finally the penalty for not having enough in percent force reduction.
Beauregard with default army: 27(18) 33%
Longstreet formed as division: 22(18) 18%
Holmes added as another Division: 16(18) 0%

Notice how the CP needed decreased when a division was formed and those brigades combined into the Division. This is how you build larger Armies. When Corps are introduced the CP required will take a dramatic drop.

Turn execution:

Day 4 Battle of Winchester Joe stomps on Keyes but a small force retreats into Winchester holding it. This happened because I gave Joe an attack order but not an assault order which is the only type that will attempt to storm the city.
Day 9 Battle of Morgantown Floyd wins his battle against almost equal force. The Union force though had no leader so fought at half strength.
Day 14 Battle of Marshall, WVa. CSA victory but again they still held the region.

Turn Events:

This time I got the Congress authorizes Volunteers to be paid and I know what it means. Now I can make a Call for Volunteers.
I also get a lot of events allowing me to expand infrastructure. Unfortunately, they require large amounts of War Supplies which I don't have because of lack of infrastructure. Hard choices to be made.

And the war goes on.

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


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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 4:56 pm 
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I am afraaaaiid of this game......
If I bought it, it would suck me in and I would never return to the real world again!
I am also fascinated by your descriptions, and the vagaries of starting and stopping but staying with it.
Maybe for Christmas....
John
LTC 2/20th Corps


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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2013 5:59 pm 
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It is the benchmark for all other games attempting to cover the Civil War on the Strategic level. All others leave something this one does to make them more playable.

Turn 7 - Early July

This time I know to pick the "Premium for Volunteers" action in order to get a call for volunteers. It opens a pop up screen which allows you to select whether you will offer a bounty of 0-3 dollars per conscript. First thing you will realize it the labeling is all wrong on the four option boxes they give you to select these levels. The next thing you will find out is passing the cursor over the option box pops up another message that is also wrong. Here is the secret decoder ring for selection. There are four boxes, two on the left and two on the right. First box upper left is the "No bounty" one, The second box on the left under that one is the "One dollar" bounty. The upper right box is the "Two Dollar" bounty. And the lower right under it the "Three dollar" bounty. In the event messages it will say instead that you choose no, small, medium or large bounty.

I had to repeat the turn a couple of times to figure this out which lead to some other observations. The old game always did things in lump sum. If you raised taxes you immediately got taxes for the year and could spend them as fast as you liked given other limits. Like wise if you called for Volunteers you got them all on the next turn. If you could afford to turn them immediately into units you could. And for the Union you usually did. This game doesn't always do it this way. It spreads some of it out throughout the year but I haven't determined yet which ones are handled that way.

Another is resources are much tighter in this game. In the old game I started expanding rail roads immediately. I also had no real problem with War Supplies which is why I never invested in the infrastructure in that game. This one CSA War Supplies are vary limited. I can't accumulate enough to even try to expand rail roads since they require 50 War Supplies. I can't afford to expand infrastructure so I will have more War Supplies because I don't have enough to buy the even.

Planning for Turn:

In the old game they gave the Union a task to take Manassas or face a heavy Morale Point penalty. Apparently this game doesn't since the previous attempt they by passed Manassas and headed straight to the Peninsula (why there I don't know). This time I will be a little more prepared. I make Gen. Bonham a division commander and sent him and his one brigade to Richmond by rail. This weakens Beauregard's army but I think it's defenses are built up enough to handle it.

In W. Va. I have Floyd burn everything (depot and railroad) and head to Clarksburg. I want to make getting that railroad back in operation a long task. With winter coming this will limit what the Union can do.

Joe is given an assault order for taking Winchester.

Execution:

The games handling of the assault on Winchester may be showing some bugs. Joe has about 10,000 men and Keyes has about 450. This should have been an automatic but the game logic decided that Keyes could select withdrawal from battle even though he was inside a city. That delayed the fight for two turns as he somehow hid in back alleys of Winchester. Finally had a fight and it returned a "Stalemate" result even though Keyes' force was killed to the last man with no loses to Joe.
Something is probably wrong with its handling of this situation.

Events:
I got a blockade runner. My other one had been sunk so I hope this one gives me some trade options.

And the Union main army marches South. Have to think about how I am going to react to this.

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


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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:00 pm 
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I thought in the first version it was just a move towards Richmond not an attack on Manassas that kept the even from triggering though ol' what's her name I'm married to will attest to my poor memory.

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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 10:34 am 
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nelmsm wrote:
I thought in the first version it was just a move towards Richmond not an attack on Manassas that kept the even from triggering though ol' what's her name I'm married to will attest to my poor memory.

Haven't verified, just memory, but I believe the Union player got an event saying they had to take Manassas to get (or maybe not lose) some MP. The "On To Richmond" one required them to occupy a Richmond or an adjacent region for so many turns to suffer a loss of MP.

Since I haven't played his one from the Union side yet I don't know if they have similar events or not. Something must be going on to cause the AI to send an army so far south but I haven't played far enough to see what its real objective is other than it doesn't seem to be Richmond.

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Chatham Grays
AoT II/1/3 (CSA)


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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 11:01 am 
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Turn 8 - Late July

Situation in the East

The AoP has again moved to Hanover similar to previous game with a Power rating of 1491 which is pretty much the whole original army.
A new army was formed, AoNEVa, under Paterson with a Power of 564.

In the West I have done little but I need to start considering a strategy there. Especially since when Kentucky loses its neutrality things are going to get busy out there and I have few Generals to command forces.

Planning

I split Joe's Army sending Jackson on a raid into Maryland to throw off the AI. The rest of Joe's AoS goes by rail to Richmond to form the core of a new army to shadow the Union AoP. Not sure I want to engage unless I can get them cut off from supply.
This will allow me to use Beauregard's main army to threaten Washington by first taking Alexandria.
Way out West I sent McCullock's AoW to support Price using River transports.

I used the Decision screen to try to sneak a blockade Runner out of Wilmington at the cost of 1 NM. Don't know whether that is worth while.

Execution

Day 3 - Battle of Alexandria - Victory - Joe easily took the fortifications.
Day 5 - Patterson arrives with his army in Alexandria. And things got strange.
I actually played this turn twice just to test different attack formation choices because results I was seeing didn't seem to correspond to expected out comes. Unfortunately random changes out weighted other things so my tests were inconclusive. The final result was a flaky as the first where Paterson some how won.
Background:
Patterson is a 1-0-0 leader and the attacker against Beauregard who is a 4-2-5 leader. The first number is the initiative (chance of getting a white letter saying he can attack), the second number is the attack bonuses he gives his command, and the third number is the defense bonus he gives his command. Patterson should have been totally out classed.
The next odd thing is how the game evaluated the forces. It gave Beauregard's force a Power rating of 596 compared to Paterson's 624. When Beau started the move he had a rating of over 1000. The details display still showed him outnumbering Patterson by 2:1.
Considering Patterson had to cross the Potomac (river crossing normally give a serious negative) and attack Beau already in the region (gets small defensive bonus) and with far superior leaders and troops, this is an odd rating.
Result - Stalemate on second round - also a little flaky.
Mostly because Beau and Patterson both apparently retreated from the region but CSA occupiers were left in Alexandria fortifications (they stayed captured).

Day 9 - Jackson beats Butler in Maryland.
Day 10 - Battle of Parkerburg results in CSA victory.
Day 12 - Wise's leaderless group apparently didn't move to Parkerburg and go defeated by a Union leaderless group.

Hopefully I will get a chance to study these battle results more carefully to see why things happened. The old game had a utility you could run against the log file (hidden in the game folders) that contain the round by round activity the game went through to resolve a battle. Some battles took 30-40 rounds to resolve. They were quite complex because they took into account how each unit arrive in the battle, whether the region allowed more than a few units to fight at same time, terrain effects, leader effects which varied, and various other factors. Some one wrote a program that would extra these out into a readable form. It was to unwieldy to do often but it was worth while a few times just to get a feel for how the game resolved a battle. It wasn't just a dice roll and you win/lose.

Addendum:

I had gone back to find out more details about the fight with Patterson but for some reason can't find it. For a while I thought his army had disappeared but finally found him covered up by a CSA icon. Something to watch for. Sometimes they do stack icons right on top of each other.

Also there were some unusual events in this turn that really helped the South.
Got a Army HQ added to the pool - have to see what this means.
I got a +1 Morale point for the taking of Alexandria.
The Union enacted the Confiscation Act which gave me a +10 NM bonus.
Kentucky seceded giving me lots of money, recruits, war supplies.

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


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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2013 2:27 pm 
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Turn 9 - Early August

Here is the situation around Washington:

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Again Beauregard looks strong with a power of 891 to what is now Mansfield's 505 but as I have found out last turn that doesn't seem to tell you much. But the plan is for Beau to attack Mansfield and secure Alexandria thus threatening Washington. Jackson up at Fredericktown is somewhat depleted so he will sit this one out. I need to find out their color coding system for Forces.

Joe's army now in Richmond is going to try to intercept the AoP which is in Surry probably moving on Norfolk. He will go by train but it will take a long time. To slow the AoP down I sent Huger's small force to Suffolk by rail.

Out in the West I send what few units I have to help occupy parts of Kentucky. Even though Kentucky succeeded I only got Bowling Green under my control and a few militia units.

I don't say much about the West and Far West but their is constant shifting of forces out there but they are usually very small. While I want to contest forces like Lyon's I don't have the troops and if I did they might not survive the coming winter.

I also Raised Taxes and issued War Bonds to try to get my funds up. But War Supplies is my big bottle neck to construction.

Execution:
Day 1 - Battle of Falmouth - small cavalry battle that the Rebs lose.
Day 4 - Battle of Alexandria - CSA defeat even though CSA lost 1000 men to Union's 2500. Very odd.
Day 6 - Battle of Alexandria again but this time Stalemate. Again the Rebs wins the casualty ratio but not the battle. But this time its the Union that withdraws leaving Beauregard in full control of Alexandria.
Day 7 - Battle of Suffolk - AoP easily bests Huger.
Day 8 - Battle of Parkersburg - CSA defeat - have a small force out their ripping up railroad.
Day 10 - Battle of Ft. Pleasant - McCullock's AoW which is little more than a division was sent out that way and apparently Gen. Lyon decided to go too. Battle was a Stalemate.
Day 12 - Lyon's and McCullock try it again but this time CSA Victory.
Day 14 - Battle of Norfolk - The AoP made it before the turn ended but apparently without enough time for a good fight. Stalemate.

So the Rebs ended up holding Alexandria but Norfolk is under siege. However, Joe's army is near by. They may make it before the Union can take it. If they do I will lose the CSS Virginia but I might be able to besiege the AoP in Norfolk.

Updates
AGEOD has released Update 1.01 RC2 which I installed. One thing AGEOD has been good about is getting updates and RC's out on a regular bases. The game is complex so their are many fixes to be made.

The interesting result of this fix is the rules for Division formation changed and I now know when Corps will be available. One of the new events that got messaged was:
"No Corps before March of 1862." And divisions couldn't form until Oct 1861. Since I have been making divisions for a few turns this won't affect this game.

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


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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2013 6:53 pm 
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Turn 10 - Late August

Finally have enough money and War Supplies to upgrade infrastructure.
Took Build Armories in Va & SC which will place them in Richmond and Charleston. You have to be careful that these expensive upgrades go to cities you can hold.

Plans:
Jackson will move back to Harpers Ferry and engage enemy there.
Huger will return to Richmond by rail to rest and defend.
Joe will move to Norfolk but it will take 14 days so he will be to late.
AoW will attack Ft. Gibson.

Execution:
Day 5 - The AoP easily takes Norfolk.
Day 8 - minor cavalry fight at Culpeper.
Day 14 - Joe attacks AoP but is out numbered 2:1. Gets Stalemate though.

Events:
Got five new full Generals including Lee but he comes in locked. Haven't found Albert yet.
Entrenchment level increased to 4 - This is the max level a unit can entrench to and increases steadily throughout the war. Unfortunately for South you need artillery to get to those levels.

I had Beauregard destroy the depots and railroads around Alexandria. Now have to decide whether to send some of his troops to Joe or not. Joe only has about 17,000 men at Norfolk trying to hold back 34,000. Not good odds.

Observation: The Rebel side is much more difficult to play this first year. There are many more resource problems than in the older game. Union under AI seems to be able to stay much more active than before. In old game by now the Union would have had to make a poor attack against Manassas and lost. They would be hard pressed to threaten Norfolk in any way this early. And would have had insufficient initiative to commit large number of troops to anything. Some of this could be the error in allowing divisions to early but it is hard to tell what the Union side has been doing. In the West it was very difficult in the old game to move larger forces even to Springfield. The Union in this game has been able to penetrate much further.

Don't be surprised if AGEOD doesn't add some balance modifications in their next update.

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Chatham Grays
AoT II/1/3 (CSA)


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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2013 11:48 am 
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Turn 11 - Early Sept

First a link to a series of video tutorials on the game:
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL0elpXyl8LDXJxQTNGdvk_zwB_ZYGv-0A
Not the best speaker but does show how different parts of the game work.

Plan:
Longstreet to Falmonth to drive off a small force there.
Jackson will try again to attack McClellan at HF.
Beauregard's remaining army will attack the force at Leesburg.
Floyd will try to take Parkersburg for about the third time.

Execution:
Day 1 - Jackson whips McClellan.
Day 6 - Longstreet defeats Morell at Falmouth.
Day 10 - Whiting defeats Morell at Culpeper (Morell gets around a lot)
Day 12 - Beau defeats Butler in Montgomery, Md (interesting result, I assume Beau followed Butler from Leesburg to do it; however, he returned to Leesburg after the battle). Got a +1 MP for this one.
Day 15 - Longstreet vs Morell again, he never learns to leave. CSA Victory.

Joe, who I had left to see if he would besiege Norfolk, instead retreated to Edenton, NC. I will have to get him over to Suffolk before McDowell retakes the place.

Events:
Alliance with the Indians so I get Waite and his band.
Got Bragg :cry: and A. Johnston :)
Holmes got promoted. :(

Except for Joe losing his nerve it was a successful turn. Most of Virginia has been cleared of enemy.

For some reason the Union has been very active in the Far West (Missouri and Indian Territories) but not in Kentucky. I have almost nothing in Tennessee but will try to get more and start probing.

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


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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:10 pm 
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So what settings are there for the AI to control the level of aggression or things like that?
J


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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:50 pm 
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J. Ferry wrote:
So what settings are there for the AI to control the level of aggression or things like that?
J

It is in the Options. I am using the defaults. Some change AI's style, some give it more processing time (which will slow the game), and some give it bonuses (cheats).

Ranking: Two levels, basically Easy vs Hard.
Activation Bonus: Let's it cheat a bit on activation odds.
Detection Bonus: Let's it cheat a bit on "seeing" your units.
Aggressiveness: Not sure how implemented.
Give AI More Processing Time: Analyses longer at expense of time used.

Here is the manual's description of the AI Options:

"This is where you select the difficulty level and adjust the intelligence, aggressiveness,
activation bonus, and Detection ability of your computer opponent – the Athena
engine. Even a slight improvement to Detection has a significant impact on
your Athena’s ability to strategize. Adjusting difficulty can give Athena a bonus
or penalty – for example, “Lieutenant” ranking gives the AI better movement
speed, cohesion recovery, and reduced command penalties for undercommanded
military forces – but no direct combat advantages. You can also allow the game
more time to process between turns, improving the opposing military planning AI
(which is the most processing-intensive). The game campaigns and scenarios have
been optimized for the default settings (e.g., middle box for Activation, second box
for Redeployment and for Delayed Commitment, and Low for AI Detection)."

They refer to their AI as "Athena". Guess it sounds better than the Computer beat me.

So far in my game Athena hasn't been doing bad. Usually AI's have a lot of trouble at start of a game where they have few units to work with and many objectives.

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Chatham Grays
AoT II/1/3 (CSA)


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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 6:00 pm 
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Turn 12 - Late Sept

Beau back to Manassas for R&R.
Longstreet to Richmond just in case.
Huger to Suffolk to cover for Joe who wandered off.
Joe to get his butt back to Suffolk before McDowell gets there.
A. Johnston forms the Army of Tennessee out of a militia brigade.
K. Smith's 11th Div in Bowling Green moves NE to see how well Kentucky is defended.

Execution
Day 3 - Waite's Indians beat up the Illinois Volunteers.
Day 5 - Morell's division still bouncing around Va attacks Fredericksburg for a Stalemate. They will probably starve soon.
Day 7 - Griffin's federals drive Floyd out of Parkersburg.

Looks like my investment in War Supplies paid off with an increase of 51 to 54 in WS per turn. What makes investment decisions difficult is not knowing just how much you are going to get. It looks like the knew game gives a better return. The old one used up more resources than it ever produced.

I have noticed it is now more difficult to raid and destroy railroads. The old game a cavalry always succeeded in destroying tracks before it moved on. The new one this seem a much more random result and dependent on the size of the force. Sometimes my cavalry succeeds but mostly it fails.

Game Trick - Each force in a region will typically have its own entrenchment value. This value also is dependent on whether the Unit is inside or outside the main city in that region. New troops arriving may have no or very low entrenchment values. If you takes these and drop them into the force that has the highest entrenchment the new forces will take on that higher value. Leaving a militia unit in a region to build up a high entrenchments allows armies moving into the region later on to assume that same level just by dropping them on the militia.

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Chatham Grays
AoT II/1/3 (CSA)


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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 7:16 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 28, 2012 7:26 pm
Posts: 528
Everybody seems to be a lot busier than back in the day, and a lot of independent moves instead of in larger forces.
Thanks for the thorough explanation about A I
J


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