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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2015 9:42 am 
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ken jones wrote:
But when playing a campaign game, the Rebels don't really have to wreck their army... the Rebels can simply fight the first day and then put in a termination bid; accept a defeat and move on to Spotsylvania. :cry:


A Union player wouldn't accept such a bid. The point of Union play is to destroy the Rebel army to the last man. The Rebel solution to this is to withdraw during the first day, usually to the area where Longstreet come in, in fortify a short line. The Rebel can win doing this if he doesn't take any serious relative losses during the day.

Likewise the battle that follows, Spotsylvania, can be sorta "won" by the Rebel by not defending the historic battlefield but instead retreating across the creek and fortifying its crossings.

In both cases once entrenchments with breastworks are thrown up the Union forces cannot break a line anchored on the flanks with impassable terrain. If the try they will suffer a Major Defeat. But what you have is a pointless series of scenarios where one side retreats to a map corner and waits for the clock to run out.

If the Rebel tries to fight historically then the Union army will surround an destroy the ANV to the last man in the Wilderness. They will repeat this at Spotsylvania unless the Rebels withdraw first. Some of this I can't verify since I have found no one willing to fight the Rebel side without retreating. That is why I gave the challenge to see if anyone really thinks the Rebels can give the Union army a stand up fight that would be required if Saunder's Field and Parker's Store hex values were increased to 1000 VP each.

If the Rebel side can't even attempt to hold the key terrain that was held throughout the historic battle, then you have an unplayable Campaign game.

If you agree with the above statement then do you want a fix and is it worth my time to make it available?

If you think the Rebel doesn't have a problem holding these two hexes then take the challenge, you have a guaranteed Major Victory if you can hold the two hexes with each set at 1000 VP.

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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2015 9:10 am 
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That is why I gave the challenge to see if anyone really thinks the Rebels can give the Union army a stand up fight that would be required if Saunder's Field and Parker's Store hex values were increased to 1000 VP each.


Of course they can't stand toe-to-toe with the Union. This is 1864. You could design a scenario to achieve what you're looking for but then you won't have the historical battle of the Wilderness. "What if" -- just bring Longstreet's Corps in a day early.

Ken

By the way General, I would be happy to take up your challenge with the Campaign scenario as designed.

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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 9:51 am 
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ken jones wrote:
Quote:
That is why I gave the challenge to see if anyone really thinks the Rebels can give the Union army a stand up fight that would be required if Saunder's Field and Parker's Store hex values were increased to 1000 VP each.


Of course they can't stand toe-to-toe with the Union. This is 1864. You could design a scenario to achieve what you're looking for but then you won't have the historical battle of the Wilderness. "What if" -- just bring Longstreet's Corps in a day early.

Ken

By the way General, I would be happy to take up your challenge with the Campaign scenario as designed.

The confederate army did stand toe to toe against the Union. Not only toe to toe but drove them back almost to the cross roads on the first day without Longstreet. On the second day with Longstreet they almost did it again.

In the game as it stands Longstreet will make no difference other than adding to the number of men trapped if the Rebel player tries to hold the area around the store.

In every battle of the Overland campaign the much smaller ANV stood their ground and at times drove back the Union army. This is something they can't do in the Linear Campaign.

If the only viable tactic for the Rebel player is to retreat then the game can't even recreate a shadow of what the Overland Campaign was.

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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 10:02 am 
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By the way General, I would be happy to take up your challenge with the Campaign scenario as designed


If you don't plan to hold the two roads which is what the VP hex value changes forces, then there is no point to playing. I know the Rebel can win by retreating. I've won every game I have played of it by doing that with a Major Victory. But it was a bad joke of a battle with the Union army chasing mine all over the map as I let the clock run out. One battle I ended with the whole army north of the Plank road. The other method is even less risky. You attack during the morning to run up some VP then withdraw to the entry hex or hexes and entrench. There is nothing the Union can do about it since they don't have enough force to stop you until afternoon.

But it is one of those, I have done it. I can win by ridiculous means. I will never play the game again since there is no point to it.

If you want to play a game to prove that the Rebel can at least defend Saunders Field (actually I don't even require that, the VP hex I upgrade is west of the Field) and Parker's Store, I will be glad to try it. I would like someone to prove the scenario is playable. I may be overlooking something but I don't think so.

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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 12:08 pm 
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But you don't have to employ those tactics....there are alternatives to the Linear Campaign. Try the 1864 Overland Campaign where the units have fixed release times -- mimicking the delay in the Union Army's reaction to Lee's aggressive advance. This gives the ANV time to dig in at those objective locations and then the game should progress more or less historically.

Of course, numbers will tell in the end. If Grant pushes his numerical superiority to flank the Rebels on day 2, then the ANV would be wise to react and reposition. That is only natural but I don't think they need to retreat to Mine Run to defend themselves. Forcing the ANV to fight for Saunders filed or Parker's Store to win the game isn't realistic either. Are you willing to try the version with delayed release times? This is why the designers build alternative scenarios... and you're free to build your own.

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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2015 9:16 am 
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ken jones wrote:
But you don't have to employ those tactics....there are alternatives to the Linear Campaign. Try the 1864 Overland Campaign where the units have fixed release times -- mimicking the delay in the Union Army's reaction to Lee's aggressive advance. This gives the ANV time to dig in at those objective locations and then the game should progress more or less historically.

Of course, numbers will tell in the end. If Grant pushes his numerical superiority to flank the Rebels on day 2, then the ANV would be wise to react and reposition. That is only natural but I don't think they need to retreat to Mine Run to defend themselves. Forcing the ANV to fight for Saunders filed or Parker's Store to win the game isn't realistic either. Are you willing to try the version with delayed release times? This is why the designers build alternative scenarios... and you're free to build your own.

If the players choose an historic path, choose to have a battle in the Wilderness, the start scenario is "Wild_A1" in all cases. And, the releases are the same. Only if they take a non-historic path and choose to fight elsewhere will a different scenario be used. I haven't tested these but I doubt they solve the problem any better.

And, unless the Union player is very poor at the game system they will use their numbers on day 2 to surround the Rebel army. The whole point of what I am proposing is to try to keep the game from being one of early Rebel attack to run up some VP. Followed by withdrawal to some easily defended position which can be entrenched. The Rebel player can get a marginal victory using this tactic as long as the Union player doesn't realize what is happening soon enough to avoid the initial losses.

From what I can tell so far from comments everyone more or less knows the Wilderness scenario can't be played even close to historic path but no one wants any changes either so the issue is probably dead and I will add the Overland Campaign to my stack of HPS games that are only good for playing the AI. Maybe some of the standalone scenarios are playable.

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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2015 11:02 pm 
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Not so fast, there maybe just a lack of knowledge and game experience that keeps members from taking up a position in this discussion.
But that doesn't mean they want no changes and neither does it mean there are no changes needed.
If the campaign really starts off so bad there is adjustment needed, because really no one what to get through such a historical setup only be doing it in a "gamey" way.

For the points you listed:
1. This keeps the battle in the Wilderness

2. This may reflect that a lot of the Union troops soon would come out of there 3 year draft and may not have put up such a good fight at least in the Wilderness.

3. Will assure that the Confederates watch their casualties

4. As you said reflects the poor use of cavalry by the Union.

5. Good way to keep to "gamey" possibilities out of the scenario.

6. Prevents camping and makes movement at night more costly.

They all sound reasonable and I hope they work out that way.

Did you consider lowering the command ranges to keep the Union forces together to prohibit an outflanking maneuver and maybe also to reflect the terrain?

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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:24 am 
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I haven't tried modifying the command ranges since it is difficult to predict how much that would effect the game. The scenarios do use a rather liberal command range but I don't think it would have a measurable impact on balance changing them since they apply to both sides.

If there is someone who wants to try the modified scenario just send me a message with your email and I can send you the files needed. However, to really test the changes requires a number of players from both the Union and Rebel sides willing to play the new scenario and give feed back on how well it works.

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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2015 7:28 pm 
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I am still willing to play the scenario as designed in the 1864 Overland Campaign -- not the linear campaign -- as the Rebels to illustrate that the scenario is fairly balanced -- it uses fixed units and releases them during day 1.

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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:03 am 
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ken jones wrote:
I am still willing to play the scenario as designed in the 1864 Overland Campaign -- not the linear campaign -- as the Rebels to illustrate that the scenario is fairly balanced -- it uses fixed units and releases them during day 1.


Okay, go ahead and start the game and email it to me at k_whitehead@live.com
My intention is to test the Wilderness battle so if you use the Campaign to select we both need to take historic selections. I haven't evaluated non-historic.
Or you can copy the actual scenario from the Campaign folder. The one I am testing is "Wild_A1.scn" which is also the first game in all the Overland Campaign's that start in the Wilderness. There are three variations of it (A1, A2, and A3). I haven't evaluated the alternates to see how much they change the situation. If you use the Campaign engine it will select one randomly I think.

The only player rule other than the club standard ones I like to use is not allowing Infantry to melee from column unless it is the only way the unit can enter the hex (bridges and such). But it is up to you if you want to use this.

However if you use Turn play I do want the Optional Embedded Melee rule on.

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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2015 6:31 pm 
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Wilderness Test Battle

Ken Jones and I played out the first day of the Wilderness to see if I could demonstrate how out gunned the Rebels were. He played the Rebs and attempted to hold the two key roads, Orange Turnpike at Saunder's Field and Orange Plank Road at Parker's Store.

My premise was that the Rebels are so out numbered that even with their quality advantage they cannot attempt to fight the historic battle. Their only real chance of even surviving the scenario is to withdraw a board edge and entrench so they have no flanks. I proposed in my alternate scenario some changes that I think would allow the Rebels to fight along the two roads.

The reason I say they can't fight in the open and even try to contest the map is purely based on numbers. While the Rebels have a
quality advantage in practice this gives them only a 10% bonus in combat. There is an additional bonus in being able to stay well
formed and not route but it is harder to quantify. Careful play by the Union player can minimize this even if the Route Limiting option isn't used. On the other hand the Union has a two to one advantage in manpower and that does translate into a 100% bonus in combat. But it to has an additional bonus in that it gives the Union player enough men to hold a line while extending the flanks enveloping the smaller Rebel army. This effect is readily demonstrated in the fight for Saunder's Field that occurs mostly on the first day.

By mid morning of the first day the Rebel army has two concentrations of almost equal strength, about 14,000 men each. Ewell with almost his whole Corps (less two brigades and a couple of regiments that come in at night) easily takes Saunder's Field and the trail system around it. And, further south Hill with only two of his divisions, Heth and Wilcox, hold the critical road junction at Parker's Store. There is a small cavalry force further south which is more or less checked by the small Union force under Wilson.

Both infantry concentrations suffer the same problem but Ewell is the one to first suffer it's fate because it is so near the Union
releases. But the math of the situation is what really determines the out come. Both forces have about the same numbers, 14,000 men plus artillery. For 14,000 men to attack and drive the enemy they need to form a continuous line at near maximum stacking in order to concentrate their fire power. This turns out to be less than 20 hex front. Likewise, when they want to go on defensive and entrench they will have problems holding a line of more than 20 hex. Once the line is fully entrenched with breastworks it will be strong enough to use smaller stacks in but during the first day if they want to have enough men in the hexes to build breastworks and fully entrench during the night they need maximum stacking.

Ewell's force has only 30 units with a strength greater than 200. Since the Union stacks can break any line that is held by less than
400 men unless their are significant terrain bonuses to help protect it, the count for 400+ stacks is near 24. This isn't enough to even attempt to create a circle of fortifications around the three VP hexes near Saunder's Field since the two bigger ones are separated by 13 hexes. It takes 18 hexes just to form a four hex sided defensive hexagon. The problem here is that unless you are playing without the Isolation option on these fort like fortifications easily fall. But either way it turns the Wilderness scenaio into a bad joke on Civil War combat if the only viable strategy for the Rebels is to form a circle or fortify the corner of the map. This being the first scenario in the campaigns that try to follow Lee's strategy it makes them unplayable as well. Playing a string of scenarios where one side can only survive by either withdrawing from the map, if that is allowed by player rules, or fortifying a corner and waiting out the clock really isn't a game.

Now a summary of the game play:

Jones spends the first three hours pushing his line of battle up the two roads. The Union doesn't attempt to even slow this down much. Once back into the woods east of Parker's Store the two cavalry the Union has can slow the Rebel advance to a crawl while
reinforcements are marched over. I send Robinson's V/2 division to block the Plank road. The V/3 division (Penn. Res.) is available to the NE of Parker's Store but is fixed. If the Rebels push that direction they will activate this division early. However, even with them the Union is out numbered. The active ratio is some 14,000 Rebels opposed by 5300 Yankees. The Union plan is simple. Fall back if pressed, slow the advance with skirmishers, and wait for II Corps. Jones doesn't press the issue but stops once he has good artillery positions to dominate the open area east of the store and starts digging in. This pretty much all the Rebels can do on the Plank Road.

To advance further only exposes them more to being out flanked. It isn't until Noon that the Pen. Res. activate bring the Union forces up to 8,800.

The Orange Turnpike however is much more active. The Rebels push east along the pike taking all three of the objective hexes along the pike. Here the Rebel run into a dilemma. Pushing further exposes their flanks to the soon to be activated V and VI Corps divisions. Going to far may activate them early. Jones settles for creating a double fortified line. One along the east side of Saunders Field and a shorter one along the West side. This stretches his limited resources for throwing up breastworks. Initially the Union does little about this. Griffin falls back keeping skirmishers out to prevent contact. It isn't until 10 AM with Wadsworth's and Wright's division releases does the Union have enough active units to do anything. By 11 AM 14,000 Rebels are opposed by 15,000 Yankees.

However, the only fighting occurs along the pike when my skirmishers spot some sections of line without breastworks. A small fight breaks out resulting in a few hundred casualties to each side. This is mostly a distraction. The two V Corps divisions spend most of their time making their own fortified line extending in a arc from the trail to the north, through the pike and south to the open area. The main plan is initiated by Wright moving NW through the trails that the seeming endless number of detached Union regiments had already scouted and secured. They then turn west to pass behind the Rebel position.

At noon Getty's division and the Penn. Res. activate. The Penn. Res. move towards the store from the north but only to feel out the line with skirmishers. Robinson's division does the same to the east and in the process forces the Rebels to fall back on their main line near Parker's Store. On the Plank road the Union is still out numbered by 14,000 to 8800 so little action occurs down here other than some artillery duels until late afternoon.

Up north though there is a lot of activity but not much fighting. Getty's division brings the northern force up to 23,000 which handily out numbers the Rebel's 14,000 but Getty is sent westward to form the northern side of what will be a complete surrounding of the Rebel forces. Wordsworth's divsion starts extending itself westward on the southern side of the Rebel position. Here is where the lack of units in the Rebel force undoes them. They can't hold enough frontage to stop the flanking forces. Lacking that they try to fortify a horseshoe like position around the primary objective hex west of Saunders Field. But this shortens their line considerably allowing my divisions to move in and create an encircling fortified line.

By 2 PM Wright has been spotted but the Rebels have no mobile force to stop him. By 3 PM he has crossed the turnpike and is moving east to close up the encirclement. The Union now has 32,000 active men against 13,000 Rebs (some losses from skirmishing). Rickett's divsion with another 5,400 men has released and marching to assist Griffin's division. It isn't until 4 PM that I close the gaps and start the attack. Ewell's entire command goes into Isolation.

At 4 PM the Infantry casualties are 1404 USA to 1869 CSA which reflect how little fighting occurred during the day. By 7 PM Ewell has ceased to exist and the casualties are 6,586 USA to 15,061 CSA. And additional 76 guns have been taken. Three Rebel divisions are no more except for two brigades that come in late belonging to Rodes.

Once they went into isolation Jones tried first a break out to the south which almost worked but since he could see how thin I had
made that line because I feared a move west he shifted the attack to the east along the pike. This was a bad choice since by then my last division of the VI Corps had come up along the pike and easily stopped it. But really there was little he could do once Wright's division reached the pike. Any move could be easily countered and my shear numbers crushing the Rebels.


On the Orange Plank Road not much combat is happening but I ran the game out to the 9 PM (Night) turn to see what the positions would be. I started pealing off unengaged regiments from the Orange Turnpike fight as early as 6 PM. My misc. units were moved along with artillery to block the Pike at Locust Grove in case the tardy Rode's brigades want to do something. The rest of the VI Corps regiments started slowly disengaging as Ewell was crushed and moving west on the Turnpike then south at Locust Grove. V Corps regiments started moving southward to join the forces north of Parker's Store.

By 9 PM Hill's force at Parker's Store was close to being Isolated. The V/1, V/4 and V/PR divisions were forming up north of the position. V/2 division NE of the position. II/3 division SE of the position. The II/2 division had moved up from the south to take position to the SW. By morning these forces would link up in the west completing the Isolation of Hill. Rickett's VI/3 division was held in reserve around Locust Grove. Getty's VI/2 division and Wright's VI/1 division formed a road block for Anderson. Barlows II/1 division does the same of Longstreet. In addition their are two cavalry divisions and the artillery reserve supporting the forces. This give some 40,000 troops surrounding Hill's 14,000. 16,000 blocking Anderson's 7,000. And, 10,000 blocking Longstreet who will have 10,000 men with him.

Hill will probably last two hours then the troops there will turn on Anderson and Longstreet. Assuming these forces don't fall back to the map edge and dig in very quickly the entire ANV will be killed to the last man. Probably at a total cost to the Union of 10,000 casualties. All the scenarios that follow will be a cake walk.

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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2015 1:42 am 
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Sounds awful.
Was it played in phase or turn gameplay?

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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2015 9:18 am 
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C. Hecht wrote:
Sounds awful.
Was it played in phase or turn gameplay?


The game was played in Turn mode with Route Limiting turned off. It won't make much difference whether Turn or Phased play is used if the Rebel player is trying to defend the two roads. Phased play does favor retreating so if the Rebel player wants to do a fighting retreat back to Longstreet's entry area then Phased play will help. But then again there is no Battle of the Wilderness.

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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2015 3:40 pm 
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Well I think it was already said here( http://wargame.ch/board/acwgc/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=19779 ) somewhere that the difference from turn the phased gameplay is a shift from favoring the attacker to favoring the defender just like it should be.
At least looking at the number's it should be so, if the Confederates can fire at 100% instead of 50% the will simply more often trigger a moral check on the Union and with their lower moral they should more often turn away. Also the phased gameplay will lead to a more realistic attack movements that can not be "gamey" like in turn gameplay.
But in the end its the question if this shift would be enough, that would have to be tested.

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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2015 8:35 pm 
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Kevin is correct in that a Confederate player cannot hope to recreate Lee's accomplishment in the Wilderness -- the HPS versions of the battle cannot simulate the "veil of uncertainty" that prevented the Union army from unleashing its full numbers or the "surprise" element of Longstreet's whereabouts that prevented the II Corps from committing to a full offensive.

As long as the Union player has the intelligence of knowing where and when the ANV is going to advance, then the game will have an unhistorical outcome.

I have gone back to the drawing board and hope to produce an alternative scenario that makes it more of a challenge for Grant and Meade.

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