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 Post subject: Re: Historical Gameplay
PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 8:06 pm 
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KWhitehead wrote:
In Napoleonic tactics the column formation was used extensively to get the troops into position as close as possible to the enemy. Here, artillery was the main factor in how long they could stay in column before deploying to line. As one writer said on Napoleon's main attack at Waterloo. The artillery bombardment was made to suppress the British artillery so the troops could advance in column. The rifle did make this tactic less effective. At 300 yards it was hard to hit a line that stood only six feet high. But a target extending back some 50 yards was a lot easier.

Thanks for pointing out the hight, had overlooked that and the possibility that even when shooting too high a round could still struck further back if the unit is in a deeper formation.


KWhitehead wrote:
Skirmishers were heavily used in the Civil War and probably fired most of the small arms ammo used in the battle. The problem in games is they are really hard to simulate. On defense they might extend out over 300 yards in front of the line. Sometimes they were companies deployed from each regiment. Other times entire regiments were deployed as skirmish lines. There were rather complex procedures used to both deploy and maintain the skirmish lines. Cavalry based skirmisher even extended out further. Buford's vedette lines extended along Marsh Creek and Knoxlyn Ridge from Fairfield Road out to Mummasburg Road then back across Gettysburg to the north then turned south to Hanover Road. They were in sufficient strength to cause Heth's lead brigade to deploy to line.

But in game term these would have to be represented by thousands of counters. So they just aren't there. HPS gives a token representation with the deploy skirmishers but it only implement a small part of what the skirmishers did. Mostly games try to represent them as invisible forces that cause troops to move more slowly. The Napoleonic games tried to use actual counters for them but I think it did more damage to the games than improvements. Some of the simulations made them so powerful that based on those simulations you would wonder why any army would deploy formed units.

From this description it sounds like using counters for skirmishers is almost mandatory, sure the Napoleonic series doesn't seem to get it right but I think it may simply need some more "extra rules" like Cavalry(with its Charging) has to work properly.
For comparison here some info about skirmishing in the Napoleonic time:
http://napoleonistyka.atspace.com/infan ... kirmishers


KWhitehead wrote:
The basic problem besides quantity in representing skirmishers is command control. They were primarily used in static situation because until the invention of the radio there was no way to control them. If a regiment deployed skirmishers any further out than directly in front of the unit it had no way to quickly recall them if the regiment was needed elsewhere.

Well at last this seems to be simulated in the CW series, it cost points to deploy, recall and move with skirmishers.
Still I wonder why they are not counted for offensive and defensive fire, I simply don't see a reason for it.
You may can see it this way, IF they are able to slow down the enemy so he doesn't get in direct contact this turn but is already in weapon range, it gives the chance for fire in this turn and the next turn.
On the other hand the attacker gets the chance too and he surely has no skirmishers deployed that count as 100 men less for firepower calculation.

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 Post subject: Re: Historical Gameplay
PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 8:18 am 
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Skirmisher problem:

Quote:
Well at last this seems to be simulated in the CW series, it cost points to deploy, recall and move with skirmishers.
Still I wonder why they are not counted for offensive and defensive fire, I simply don't see a reason for it.
You may can see it this way, IF they are able to slow down the enemy so he doesn't get in direct contact this turn but is already in weapon range, it gives the chance for fire in this turn and the next turn.
On the other hand the attacker gets the chance too and he surely has no skirmishers deployed that count as 100 men less for firepower calculation.

Current simulations like HPS really only simulate close in use of skirmishers where they were only deployed a few hundred feet in front of the main line. They cost in the game only a few movement points at most to deploy or recall. In real terms we are talking about skirmishers so close they could be recalled by a bugle call. For example, Cumming's brigade at Champion Hill was ordered to move north to save Lee's brigade where two Union divisions were baring down on. Cumming's had skirmishers deployed four of five hundred yards in front of his brigade covering the Middle Road. He had to just leave them behind as he moved to Lee's right. In the new position Lee had a skirmish line deployed probably a hundred yards out. Cumming had no skirmishers. The Union had deployed skirmishers across their whole front over lapping Cumming's right flank.

And there ends the account of the skirmishers. And, why it is so hard to simulate them. There is very little information on how effective they were. Casualties they caused. Whether they slowed the advance any. Did Cumming's left behind skirmishers ever find their way back to the army? In most books on battles they are barely mentioned in passing. Only the lines of infantry are described in detail. But we know they have an effect. Buford's cavalry skirmishers somehow caused Heth to take almost all morning going a couple of miles.

There is some indication that man for man they were extremely effective in delivering fire. They were the most likely soldiers to actually fire all 40 rounds of their ammo and have to get resupplied. They were closer to the enemy so more likely to be in range. They took more deliberate aim so they were more likely to hit. But without detail information of how they were used in battle and how effective they were the game designer is stuck with just making things up because they seem logical.

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 Post subject: Re: Historical Gameplay
PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2014 6:15 pm 
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Indeed if the base of information about them and the impact they had is so slim it is hard to give them a bigger part in these games without landing in the area of guesswork, something that seems most often not the case in John Tillers games.

BTW I think it would be good to make this sticky, can any moderator do this?

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 Post subject: Re: Historical Gameplay
PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2015 11:50 am 
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I was thinking about melee and what happened when the units attempted to get on each others throat.
I got he impression that there could be a range of outcomes from a premature withdraw with few casualties up to real hand-to-hand combat with high casualties, that is why I'm thinking about the "Optional Melee Results" rule to be turned off to achieve a broader range of results.

Am I right with my impression that assaults if getting through the defenders fire did not alway end in hand-to-hand combat?
Wasn't real hand-to-hand combat actually rather seldom?

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 Post subject: Re: Historical Gameplay
PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2015 8:44 am 
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C. Hecht wrote:
I was thinking about melee and what happened when the units attempted to get on each others throat.
I got he impression that there could be a range of outcomes from a premature withdraw with few casualties up to real hand-to-hand combat with high casualties, that is why I'm thinking about the "Optional Melee Results" rule to be turned off to achieve a broader range of results.

Am I right with my impression that assaults if getting through the defenders fire did not alway end in hand-to-hand combat?
Wasn't real hand-to-hand combat actually rather seldom?

Hand to hand fighting, even where participants claimed there was hand to hand fighting, were very rare. When the Union side commissioned reports on types of wounds to get an idea of how effective weapons were, deaths due to bayonet wounds could be counted on one hand. Overall, they claim that they caused less than 1% of the casualties.

However, they had tremendous psychological impact. The games really don't simulate the "melee" very well at all and give a very unrealistic idea of how a Civil War attack was executed. In HPS games all we have to doe is move a regiment in one easy jump if in Phased play, little more difficult in Turn, across a half mile field where they exchange fire at point blank range then unhesitatingly charge into the enemy position. The reality was only the best trained or so green they didn't know better troops could march across that open ground and not lose their courage. Most stopped long before closing with the enemy and began returning fire. Which usually meant the attack had failed. That is what most of the regiments in Pickett's charge did. And it doesn't take long standing in the open under rifle and artillery fire to decide its better to stand further away.

But for a few they go the distance and once they reach the enemy line it is obvious they must either break them or be broken. This is more a morale issue. One side or the other decides they have lost or won before they close and retreats or continues. So the result is seldom men fighting it out but rather the one who loses his nerve first being shot in the back as the run away. Once a solder starts running no one is going to out run him. It is the moral shock that the bayonet does so well. A line of men with fixed bayonets will unnerve a defender if the defender does feel they are strong enough to stop them. It is what Jackson meant by give them the cold steel. He wanted that shock effect. He had no illusions about which weapon was actually the better killer, a pointy piece of metal or a one ounce piece of lead fired every 20 seconds.

Every once in a while both sides would decide they could win or they just would not run and you had a real melee. The mule shoe being one example. And, those few men who crossed the fence in Pickett's charge and tried to take the guns. Lee wanted a lot of men to cross that fence. He was counting on the shock effect of the melee to cause the Union army to break and run as they had so many times before. But there were to few and the defenders knew it.

Right now I think the Brother Against Brother has the better simulation of melee than the older HPS games. In theirs melee is rarer. It damages both sides but it can break a line. And it can fail hurting the attacker badly in the process.

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 Post subject: Re: Historical Gameplay
PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2015 11:46 pm 
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Regarding the statistics, some have the viewpoint that bayonet wounds very seldom recorded because you usually died from a bayonet wound.
No one would try to hit you in the arm, leg or head they would rather aim for the stomach and if hit it would be over.
And I think the reason for a casualty was never distinguished in any casualty statistic about the Civil War, or?

The simulation of a melee(or better melee attempt) in HPS games has to be adjusted with rules(startimg with phased gameplay to maximize defensive fire), and has to be seen under the viewpoint that many actions & terms in the game must have to be viewed in a broader term.
It's not like Pickett's charge couldn't be played out in this series.
In phased gameplay a brigade attack would close in on the enemy, be harassed by artillery and when in range by infantry fire, the attacker may already lose a unit or more when closing in(they get disrupted) that he has to leave behind or he hampers his advance, if close enough for a melee attempt the last defensive fire would show if the attackers units proceed(are not disrupted) or fail(are disrupted). And the melee itself could end with low or high losses & fatigue what itself can depict a variety of situations depending in the losses/fatigue and success or failure of the melee attempt.

But yes it would be great if the moral factor could play a role before actual melee combat takes place. The Napoleon series as the "Threat Value" but that is only used on formation changes, if that could work like a pre-melee check to see if the defender stands his ground at all it would be interesting.

Brother Against Brother has for sure more detail and will depict results that seem fit better in the specific situation but HPS isn't so far off, of course always a matter of the rules that are used.

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 Post subject: Re: Historical Gameplay
PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2015 12:25 pm 
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The studies I referred to where commissioned by the Union Surgeon General with the specific task of identifying type wound on those killed on the battlefield. If I remember they tried to identify whether they were inflicted by small arms, artillery or weapons like the bayonet and sword. Small Arms made up over 90% of the casualties. In some of the battles almost 99%.

The main conclusion that came from these statistics was that hand to hand fighting rarely occurred. Usually one side or the other decided well before contact that the other had won and made themselves scarce. Artillery was also not a major killer but its morale effect was probably underestimated.

Main problem with HPS handling of melee is that it can occur almost every time that units are adjacent. The only thing restricting it is whether the player feels he can win or not. This allow melee to become the primary type of fighting rather than the occasional.

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 Post subject: Re: Historical Gameplay
PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2015 6:22 pm 
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Interesting, if you got a source were I can read up on it I would appreciate it.

For the game they seem to already tried to shift away from melee, I guess thats why unlike the Napi series here you have to have an undisrupted unit to conduct a melee at all and the defender isn't lowered in his defending strength even if disrupted.
So as attacker even when coming up in a condition to conduct melee, the defender will likely be in strong position regarding terrain and whether he is or is not disrupted has no impact on his defending strength.
Combine this with the fatigue you get in a lost melee and any attacker should think more than twice before doing a melee, not only in the light of winning or loosing but also considering the state the unit would be after it.
But yes some form of pre-check to see if the attacker really attempts a melee at all or if that attempt simply falters would have been nice.

If for sure will turn off the "Optional Melee Results" rule to make melee less predictable and so maybe lower the number of melees in the game.

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 Post subject: Re: Historical Gameplay
PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2015 7:23 pm 
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As I understand it, the reason for the optional melee results--i.e., all melees as a separate phase at the end of the turn--is because of the blitz possibilities if the melees can be interspersed throughout the turn. Some skilled players can set up melees to follow in sequence--a melee, move up another unit, melee the enemy's 2nd line, and sometimes on for three or more melees in sequence, opening up a corridor straight through the enemy lines. In an MP we are playing, without the optional melee setting, we had a situation where we could have followed up with a second melee, but opted not to do it, because optional melees are often turned off in MP games for other reasons. So it was a little bit chivalry, but also to avoid them doing it to us if they have a chance.
So think carefully before not using it. ; - )
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 Post subject: Re: Historical Gameplay
PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2015 9:39 pm 
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You mix it up with "Optional Melee Resolution".
"Optional Melee Results" will make to calculations and so results will be more in the average range what makes melee more predictable, that is what I will turn off.

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 Post subject: Re: Historical Gameplay
PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2015 8:59 am 
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The optional Melee and Fire Results selections are more there for people who like or don't like unpredictable results but it really doesn't alter the result to much. Just uses the average of two die roll results instead of one.

In Turn play the Optional Melee Resolution which separates Melee into a separate phase is critical to game play. In MP games because of needing to speed play it usually has to be implemented as a "Player Rule". But before we had it, Panzer Blitz was the way to play. Melee, even in single mode, is still the most powerful means of attack in the HPS system. To defend against it requires the defender to do very un-historic fighting. In the Civil War a two rank line was more than sufficient to prevent melee assaults. Only when it became disrupted or badly weakened did an enemy line approach close enough to melee. That was because in the area covered by a HPS hex only about 300 men could form a two rank line. More men than that meant forming a second line behind the first where they could only act as a reserve. Usually if the front line broke it took the second line with it. So tactically if there was a second line, which there often were, it was considerably further back, 50 to 300 yards, so that the failure of one line wouldn't blow back into the reserve line.

But in our HPS games this is a poor tactic. The better is to pile up the men in the front hex line trying for at least 50% of stacking value but better yet full stacking. That is because of how the Melee calculation works. At 2:1 manpower ratio the success is 1:1. But at 3:1 it jumps considerably with a very high chance of success. If the defenders can't created stacks along their entire line of more than 300 men per hex, Melees can blow right through them. That is because the attacker can select from his adjacent stack which hex to melee so he can easily put together 3:1 plus attacks against every weak hex he identifies. Since melee creates much larger casualty results besides disruption and possible route, the attack shouldn't even fire.

In the older system with no separate melee phase for Turn play this was further enhanced by Panzer Blitz tactics. The attacker would move units the furthest back up to make the initial Melee. Since the game allowed movement, melee/fire, more movement, melee/fire, etc., you could blow a hole in the line with the initial melees then move the next layer of rear troops up to further widen the hole. Then you let lose the front line troops that have the furthers reach to further expand the hole and take the enemy line in the rear. And, if you really planned well you then push the cavalry through. You never use lines. All attacks are made by column troops to maximize movement. Catch a few roads and I have seen entire enemy divisions and occasionally Corps surrounded in a single attack.

The thing that make the HPS version of melee somewhat un-representative of Civil War combat is that it is to easy to put a coordinated attack together. You have very precise control over how many men are committed to the attack and seldom have to worry about half of them not attacking leaving the other half to take a beating.

However, HPS melee does represent more than just hand to hand combat. It represent all the things that might be taking place within the twenty minutes represented by a turn. So one could say it has little to do with real hand to hand combat but more represents the close quarters firing at less than 50 yards that might be taking place and the resulting casualties when a line breaks before contact. So probably my bigger problem with it isn't the melee itself but the size of the stacks that can be used and the absolute control of their commitment. It just shouldn't be so easy to execute a coordinated attack of the size we can in the game. It is probably this that makes me like how BaB did it better. Very little control over whether an attack creates a melee.

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 Post subject: Re: Historical Gameplay
PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2015 1:04 am 
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Well I have the hope that by making melee more unpredictable the player will shift to less melee because he can't even be sure under favorable odds to succeed unless the odds are well beyond any doubt.

And I, except in MP games, don't see a problem doing Phase play so the "Optional Melee Resolution" rule is no topic, with "Automated Defensive Fire" the Phase play is not more time consuming than Turn play.

Based on my calculations it is essential to do Phase play to give the defender a good chance to disrupt the attacker, the attacker will than have no way to melee, besides that a lot of the described problems simply can't happen in Phased play.
Of course you can max every hex in your defensive line but I doubt it works out on a greater plan as that defensive line will be dense but not long and so the attacker who may already have an advantage in numbers will simply outflank you.
The key is just like historical to stop any assault of reaching the defensive line by dishing out enough fire to stop the attacker and make him fall back or even rout, that can be best done by picking weak units within a bigger brigade/divisional attack formations, alone the command range makes sure that such units must be relative close together to make sure they are not detached, concentrate on a leading unit and fire enough to make the triggering of a moral check likely, such moral checks if leading to a rout can have so much impact that a whole brigade could route and if only disrupted the attack formation may have to be reorganized what buys you more time to fire.
Of course a bit knowledge about the various modifiers and some essential numbers are mandatory to effectively play or else you just sit there and wonder why certain things work or don't work.
I had played "Siege of Lexington" from the Ozark game in Phased play and with favorable ground & hexsides and good judgment on what to target I held a Rebel force at bay many times larger than my mainly because the attacker refused to make wave attacks but rather stacked his units like hell, already this gave me a bonus for my fire, and so by picking out the weak units in his line and concentrating fire on them I made them rout what triggered moral checks on all his units in the same and adjacent hexes.

Yes coordination is a problem but if the attacker lines up his units opposite of you you can do the same by concentrating fire of 3 of your units on a single attacker, by that you will likely make some disrupt what leaves the attacker with fewer if not too few units to even consider melee an option, especially if you are in hex with good terrain and some kind of hexside feature like a fence or breastworks.

I had already read that the melee in the Napi series is supposed to cover a wide range of actions up to incorporating close range fire(that is why there is a much bigger bonus when saving fire for the melee in the Napi series), so a "melee" in that game series is not exclusively hand-to-hand combat but everything from the simply attempt to assault up to really doing hand-to-hand combat and anything you can imaging between these two extremes, so yes I think you can very well see it this way in the Civil War series too.

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 Post subject: Re: Historical Gameplay
PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2015 8:24 am 
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One of the best ways to limit meleeing is to lower the stacking limit. The main reason the defender can't stop melees is that the attacker and pile in with thousand man stacks. Two adjacent stacks give the attacker 2000 men to draw from to create a 1000 man attack stack for the melee. No amount of defensive fire can prevent it. The defender rarely can afford to form the 900+ stacks required to make melee a losing proposition. The 300 man defensive lines is more typical and easy prey for large stack melee attacks. The attacker having the advantage because he doesn't need to attack every defensive hex just maybe every other one. The skipped ones will probably route due to the adjacent melee victories.

But when you drop stacking to say 800 things start changing in the math. Now a 700+ stack can't get the 3:1 odds it needs for a sure fire win against a 300 man defender. Main problem with the stacking change is that all regiments in the scenario must be smaller than the stacking limit or the scenario OOB must be changed to make them that way. At a stacking limit of 500 melee is reduced to situations where the enemy line has first been weakened by fire. Probably the more realistic number since a two rank line would be limited to about 350 men in a 120 yard hex equivalent if reality. But in many scenarios especially 1861 battles you would have to edit the OOB to break large regiments up into battalions.

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 Post subject: Re: Historical Gameplay
PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2015 1:30 am 
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Wait, I just checked the manual and it says:
"The total number and strength of the attacking units may not exceed the stacking limitations of the defending hex."
So if the attacker has piled up 1000 men stacks on the defensive line he should not be able to attack from more than one hex at the same time, only problem would be that units can be meleed more than one time and see he could attack 3 times of he wants to use all the adjacent units to a defending hex.

I haven't looked deeper into Civil War formations but I found one interesting graphic here:
http://thomaslegion.net/americancivilwa ... diers.html
When you scroll down you see Infantry Regiment in line.
That does look wide but I suppose it's a full strength regiment. Thinking of the later average size of a regiment they should usually fit into a single hex. Early battles are indeed a problem, with some Union regiments as large as 900 men at 1st Bull Run.

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 Post subject: Re: Historical Gameplay
PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2015 9:33 am 
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Only 1000 or less can actually execute the melee assuming a stacking limit of 1000. The extra regiments adjacent just gives the attacker the ability to always mount his almost 1000 man attack regardless of bad luck with disrupts. The defender's problem is he can't answer the attack with adjacent forces so he has to put as many men into every hex as he can which rarely is 1000. The defender will always have some hexes he can't pile on men in and the attacker can selectively choose these. Which gives the attacker great flexibility in putting together his assault while the defender has none. Which probably is just the opposite of the real situation in battle where the defender having some cover and the advantage of not having to move could easily shift his formations while the attacker once committed to advancing has little choice.

When playing phased play or Turn with optional melee phase you can only melee a hex one time so at least the defender doesn't have to stand up to multiple melees.

The diagram you referenced isn't typical of a regiment advancing for the attack. They would not hold a reserve or deploy skirmishers. The typical attack advance was all ten companies in two rank line. The example given in "The Gettysburg Companion" is the 19th Virginia in two rank line. It's 328 men had a frontage of 95 yards. And, this number is really misleading because we don't know how many were in the actual two rank line and how many were file closers or officers.

Probably a good rule of thumb for the hex size in HPS games is that about 350 could be combat effective out of the hex frontage. Many board games used such a rule to limit fire. In theory you could get a lot more men into a hex 120x120 yards. Several thousand without even having to go to close order. But all these extras mostly turned the force into an excellent target that the defender couldn't miss. They could shoot because of men in front of them. And, if the men in front broke they usually destroyed the formations behind them.

Net result is regiments rarely advanced once under fire in any formation other than two rank. Sometimes when better trained they would actually use a more modern open formation (the whole regiment advancing in skirmish order). If a reserve to exploit the attack was sent in it was usually separate regimental lines some 100 to 300 yards behind the first line. So you often see a brigade attack being made with two lines with 2-3 regiments in front and 2-3 regiments in a second line about a 100 yards behind them.

You will rarely find an example of the way we fight the HPS soldiers. With every attacking hex containing 900+ men. A couple of artillery pieces would send such a formation running for the rear with just a couple of shots. They did add a penalty for large stacks in the last releases but it isn't severe enough to stop the use of the huge stacks.

The attack at the Mule Shoe was one of the few times that mass formations were used. But they were counting on darkness and rain to let them make contact before coming under heavy fire.

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