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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 9:16 am 
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I disagree that the HPS game's scenarios can't be made to allow the kind of fighting that took place in the Wilderness. Two of the changes I proposed make this possible. The first was increasing the value of the victory hexes so both players had to take some that the other side controlled if it wanted to get anything but a draw. The Union can't just dig in and hold it's original positions. The Rebel like wise can't retreat to the edge of the board without taking a Major Defeat.

The second change is dropping the quality level of the Union army another full point. This changes the quality adjustment to combat from 10% to 20%. Combined with the tendency to route and disrupt more this lowers the overall combat effectiveness of the Union forces to equality with the Rebel. A Rebel regiment can now stand up to the Union stack that is double its strength. The Union player will now be risking his forces if he stretches his line to thin in order to surround the Rebel forces. The quality change isn't about whether the Union forces really fought that much poorer but because since the quality adjustment is an optional rule it apparently has no parameter I can change in the PDT file. Or, at least I haven't found the factor there.

As I said earlier I have made a scenario with the changes that I think will make the Wilderness work. If any one wants to try it just send me an email and I will send you the files. The problem with such drastic changes is they need a lot of play and feedback to adjust the balance so the Campaign games are a real contest and not a Union cake walk. The changes need a lot of testing by both sides before they can be considered balanced.

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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 4:17 pm 
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I think the second change may be unnecessary if switching to phased gameplay, neither could the Union move up unit by unit and see what units stay combat worthy(undisrupted) to attack with them nor can it trust that the defensive fire comes in at just 50% and will make much less disruption and routing on the units.
You could also leave the Rout Limiting off what should have a bigger effect from time to time and also would force the more mauled Union regiments to be kept out of harms way so that they wouldn't interfere with a brigades assault.


Besides that, a quick look at what happened on the 5th makes me wonder whether certain Union formations may be kept locked or should be moved.
-Should the first units of Burnsides 9th corps be already activated by 10am? Did any of Burnsides unit get into any action on that day?

-What about 5th Corps/2nd Division, Robinson was placed as reserve the whole day, you could fix him around Wilderness Tavern.

-And what about Getty's Divison that move from 6th Corps down to the Brock Crossing, it's unlikely that the player will mirror that move, maybe shifting him to 2nd Corps would make the player want to unite Getty with the rest of the 2nd Corps.

-Is the position of the 2nd Corps correct? I see it from the main road north of Aldrich down to Piney Branch Chapel, so some distance to the South-East compared to where the units now are, a repositioning of 2nd Corps would also make an initial move of Getty down to Brock Crossing more likely.

-Similar the position of 5th Corps with the tip as far as Chewing, I doubt that a bit as the Northern Union line formed from the north side of the Parkers Store Road almost to the Rapidan River what means some of the leading units would have to turn back where I have more the impression they turned in from the Wilderness Tavern to form that line. So a bit further back so that Rice is maybe to the East of Higgerson would fit better.

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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 5:05 pm 
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Ken Jones and I are in conversation about changes that should be made to balance the Wilderness scenario(s) of the Overland game., as well as all other scenarios and campaigns. You may be sure that we take constructive criticism very seriously. Also you should realize that, after putting four or five years of our lives into designing Overland, and being human, disparaging remarks about the resulting product will discourage, rather than encourage, consideration of input from those who make such remarks. Constructive suggestions about what might improve the game should be directed to the designers. Modding scenarios is one of the joys of playing with these games, but for permanent fixes, that is the job of "Muddy" Jones and yours truly.
A comment about upgrades:
The only Overland patch to come out is 1.01, on July 22, 2013. The DAY after the patch came out I began compiling material for the next patch. It has been 18 months, and a lot of input has come from the field, and the file has grown. We (Ken and I) have no control over when the next patch will hit the street. "Soon" we are told.
So if it seems we are aloof to your comments, we are certainly not. Positive comments make us feel good; negative comments make us feel bad. We do what we can, one-on-one, to fix war-stopping situations, such as a missing bridge at Germanna Ford, and we are pleased to work with the wargaming community. That is why I joined the club. But only a patch from John Tiller will suffice. And as soon as it hits, we will be working on the next one.
John Ferry
Overland co-designer


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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 9:13 am 
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The second change I made, dropping the quality of the Union army, is critical to making the game playable. It turns the ANV back into an offensive threat. When the Union player doesn't even need to consider the Rebel Army other than where it is and how long it will take to surround it, there is no playable game. I did also fix Torbert's cavalry division for the entire game. This allows the Rebels a little better chance in the cavalry fighting. Also historically this division didn't do much of anything.

You can play around with optional rules to make the game come out a draw like not using isolation. But it still leaves the game one that for the Rebel to win or even survive they have to use tactics that should be impossible. In the Civil War armies couldn't form circles and survive very long or find battlefields where they could entrench with their flanks anchored on the edge of the world.

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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 1:38 am 
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@John Ferry
I don't think anyone here wants to discourage any scenario designer, surely not.
But it should be understandable that a campaign start like this can make the players a bit upset, neither the confederate nor the Union player can wish a course of battle like General Whiteheads example above described, it is just too far from anything plausible.

@KWhitehead
The usual Union regiment is already at C what seems OK when considering the many Veterans in it were about to end their 3 year terms, you could maybe check if any new formed regiment full of the usual conscripts could be rated lower but besides that the Union troops do not seem overrated.

And from a design perspective, wouldn't this OOB with the modified moral values be carried over into later battles?
If so I can see trouble in future battles when the Union ratings are lowered all over the board, should I go with a bunch of D and E units against a position like the Mule Shoe?


More ideas:
Another idea is raising fatigue for some Union troops.
This is just from Osprey:
"Warren’s corps started toward Todd’s Tavern but the hot day and entangling brush sapped the strength from his men until many passed out from exertion."
It could be taken a look at the march schedule on the days before and see if some units got less rest and may have started the 5th May not really recovered from that. Here is to specifically mention Burnsides corps that was marching since 6pm on the 4th if you really want to bring him into the battle on the 5th at all.

And maybe map adjustments are something to think about, a lot mentioning is found about the dense terrain, removing some trails or just making them less usable by removing some hexes from the trail could be an approach to simulate the terrible terrain stronger and will make it harder for the Union to concentrate in numbers at any spot.

Again I point out that making the Union command ranges smaller could be a way to make the Union advance more carefully as the Brigades of Warrens Corps seemed to were less willing to advance at all as they were seeing Rebels behind any tree.



Overall the Union should have it hard to bring its numerical superiority to an effect, at least on the 5th.
-Again I mention Burnside that was somehow never in action on the 5th at all.

-And Hancocks II corps is mentioned to have been already down the Catharpin Road going west, Osprey mentions that he received orders at 9am by that time he was already 2 miles beyond Todds Tavern and he waited for confirmation 2 more hours. So placing him there would mean a lot longer march to the North, not only that but the Union player would also have to turn around and sort out the supply units unless he wants them leading the corps.

-And maybe the fixed Union formations could be released piecemeal? By that there is a chance that the Union player might also send them piecemeal into battle and will not be able to form a real line of battle and will get the same mess that happened to a lot of Warrens units and the piecemeal assault of Getty that should have been supported by II Corps.

-Lower stacking limits should also help as the numbers meant less in this terrain.

BTW can we fix units again? Might be a way to slow the Unions left(Getty+Hancock) in fear of the coming Longsreet.

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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:27 am 
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Thanks for your input, Chris.
The main thing I wanted to say was that until we get an update, it is what it is, and the only way players can resolve some issues is to mod the scenario themselves, as Ken has done.
I think I explained this in my published game notes, which see, but I will mention again that the OOBs that are used in the campaigns are labeled First to Fifth Epoch. In those OOBs the strengths never change. It is hoped that the campaign mechanics will reduce unit strengths as they are involved in combat. Morale, however, can be changed in the First Epoch OOB or whatever, and will not effect the future OOBs.
I am also reluctant to reduce the unit ratings, because as the Union commander (and a mediocre player) I have been severely trounced in the Wilderness more than once by more skillful players. Lowering them would just make the trouncing worse, if that is even possible. :oops:
(I must say that using Osprey for historical reference is a bit like making a book report on a bugs bunny comic book. When Warren started toward Todd's Tavern, on 7 May, after the Wilderness, it was night, not a hot day, and lack of sleep and the exertions of the last two days were what sapped the strength from his men.) And they marched down a road, not through the bushes. They were well past Todd's when they got into the fight, and the day started getting hot, really quickly.
The units of both armies entered combat in the Wilderness well-rested and ready to fight, except for Ferrero's Division, which was excused from that duty, and Johnston's Brigade of Rodes' division.
Through fixes and late arrival times, the Ninth Corps is not supposed to be able to be in the battle on the 5th. Why? Grant and Meade were not like us, who have to absolutely push every available unit to the limit of electronic endurance and not leave a man out of the battle. Burnside's mission on the 5th was to guard a long right flank back to Germanna Ford. I tried to simulate that, and if it is not working, somebody can let me know.


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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:39 am 
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The main reason for using the quality of the Union to make the correction is that its the only thing that will make the massive correction needed to make the scenario playable. If I had access to the Optional Quality rules to change the 10% I would have done it through them. However, I do think the Union units do have to high a quality rating. Not so much because I don't think they were veteran units but that they weren't willing to give that extra sacrifice needed this late in the war while the Rebels were. The fighting and how successful the Rebel forces were along the Plank road bears this out.

There are other adjustments that can be made but none will really change how the scenario plays out unless the quality difference is increased. We don't have any AA or AAA ratings like the Napoleonic games so the only choice is lowering the Union's.

I haven't looked in detail at later scenarios but almost anything can be modified as the campaign progresses. I know the Spotsylvania scenario has similar problems as the Wilderness. The Rebel force is so small on the first day that the Union can quickly surround it, block the creek crossing so reinforcements can't arrive and wipe it out. The Cold Harbor one with the Rebel army for sure would be unwinnable by the Union but I think it is unwinnable now. A better way to handle it is if the Union has been successful they don't have to fight it. But it could be fixed by extending the map as well so they don't have to make a head on attack.

You can try to bandaid the Wilderness with more and longer fixed divisions but I don't see the point to trying to give the Rebel side a way to survive by just not allowing the Union to have anything to fight them with. Except for the cavalry I think the current release schedule is historically accurate. I fixed the first cavalry division because they more or less didn't do anything during the battle even though they were sorely needed around Todd's Tavern.

Barring making the battle comical by allowing Corps to form entrenched circles around the VP objectives by turning off Isolation rules the game is out of balance. Anyone who doesn't think so I will gladly play as the Union the Wild scenario and demonstrate. I have played the Rebel side and won but never by holding anything close to the ground that Lee fought over. The Rebels can win the scenario by running up some victory point early on the first day then retreating to a more defensible position (no flanks). But that resembles the battle for Ft. Donnelson more than the Wilderness. If the Union player helps the Rebel out by making head on attacks against entrenched positions then yes the Rebel can win. But eventually even the worse Union players will notices there are no Rebel units protecting the flanks because they just don't have enough regiments to do that.

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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:57 am 
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Ken
A simple question:
When playing did you happen to notice, when Wilcox, Potter and Stevenson appeared on the map, were they fixed or not? BTW, one of the very first critiques of the oob, seven or so years ago, was that the Yanks were rated too low.
J


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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 1:48 pm 
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John Ferry wrote:
Ken
A simple question:
When playing did you happen to notice, when Wilcox, Potter and Stevenson appeared on the map, were they fixed or not? BTW, one of the very first critiques of the oob, seven or so years ago, was that the Yanks were rated too low.
J

They come on the map fixed. Stevenson is the only one that release on the first day at 7:20 PM so isn't involved in any way on the first days combat.

I have no idea why they would think they were rated too low. Historically the Union troops performed poorly considering their numbers. Ewell with 2 1/2 divisions fought four divisions. Heth fought two divisions for most of the afternoon and nearly drove them from their positions along Brock Road. They were performing considerably below the quality they showed at Gettysburg.

But from a game point of view. The Union quantity trumps Rebel quality. Assuming Isolation rules are being used and the Rebel player actually brings all his troops onto the map (doesn't withhold reinforcements) and tries to fight for the areas around Saunders Field and Parker's Store I can wipe out the ANV to the last man every time. It doesn't take brilliant play, or even good play, just recognizing that as long as the Union does spend the day head on attacking the Rebels in entrenchments they can win. Just find the Rebel line and start moving around its flanks. The quality difference isn't enough to allow them to spread out enough to stop this and they aren't strong enough to attack where the Union has thinned its line.

The Rebel can get a draw and sometimes a marginal victory if they withdraw to a map edge in the afternoon and dig in. But that isn't much of a game. I also don't really consider it a victory since strategically they have lost the war and Richmond if they did that. It is only possible in the game because controlling all the objective hexes won't give the Union a Major Victory like it should.

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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 12:58 am 
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@John Ferry
Osprey isn't that bad although because they are so short(usually around 50 pages only) there isn't much detail, but they are always good to get a general overview.

The notes about Warren are more about him getting off trails and roads and into the bushes to take up position, especially Wadsworth is to mention who tried to move to the left of Griffin and that cross country and not on trails or roads.


@General Whitehead
About the 10%, if you lowered all the Union units only by one level the mass should still be at D and that doesn't give -10% neither in fire combat nor melee but of course it should have an impact with making any moral check more likely to fail.
I'm still a bit worried that the Union could not itself put up pressure especially in the South were as the day went by the situation got worse for the Confederates but that has to be seen in a test with phased gameplay.

Still I suggest to model course of the battle stronger, that Robinson is free from start and Getty not released by 12:00 looks strange, this way if the Union player moves units in that direction at all they will likely be from Robinson and he could do it right from the start and so may even march West from there to delay the Rebels much earlier.
I think Robinson could be fixed for a while and Getty released earlier as he should reach that intersection by noon.
It's not so much about getting Getty there but more about keeping him away from the northern part of the battle, his division is large compared to Robinson and if the switch places because of the current release schedule it could lead to Robinson being overrun by Heth and Getty shifting the course of battle in the Northern area.

Beside that I'm sure that Grant/Meade would never allowed the army to be split, that makes the Brock intersection a very important strategic point at least till the II Corps shows up there and at least loosely connection to the rest of the Union army.

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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:14 am 
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I didn't try to figure what the average was but if it was C then after my shift the average would be D. A rough count on Griffin's division shows about 50% of its regiments would be E and F after the change. So far with playing the modified scenario this is enough to give the ANV the fighting edge it needs to compensate for it lower numbers. The problem with change like this is they are impossible to predict how they will change out comes unless a number of different players with different experience level test the scenario so things can be fine tuned. Doesn't look like its going to happen so project is probably dead in the water.

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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 11:33 am 
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Re: The "project"
Thus far, as the designer, and redesigner if need be, of Overland. I have taken the following steps with Scn 116-640505_Wild_A1:

PDT Overland 7 instead of Overland 1

Removed:
US:
Provost Guard
Engineers
Reserve Cav Bde
9th Corps Cav bde
9th Corps Res Art'y
Ferrero's Division

To be Added
CS Cav to reinforce Rosser.
(If anyone can figure out who those troops should be, let me know.)

Changed:
20 min to 30 minute turns
Start time 0800
# Turns 66 instead of 95
Raised morale of CSA units primarily in A P Hill's Corps
Earlier entry for Rosser
Command radii shortened for US Forces
Nothing is off the table, but that is where the scenario, which is the same as Wild_A1 in the campaign, stands at this time.

John Ferry
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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 11:46 am 
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FYI
I don't think I've ever mentioned this but, based on my databases, this is the rough break down on morale ratings:
F 5%
E 15%
D 30%
C 30%
B 15%
A 5%
CSA Infantry rating then raised one or two levels.
USA adjusted down.
Further, after percentages are calculated, CSA cav rating is raised 1 level; USA cav rating is lowered 1 level
CSA arty rating is lowered 1 level; USA arty rating is raised 1 level.
Based on experience points, Hancock's Corps was the most highly rated US Corps. It is up against Hill's Corps, which based on experience points for all but Hill's old Light Division, was the most low rated CS Corps.


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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 1:28 pm 
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@John Ferry
Is that a new PDT? I don't see Overland 7 in the game folder.


@General Whitehead
Well for Griffin I see 23 infantry units on the map and 7 of them have D and so should be at E, none is at E and so none should and at F, if so you have lowered them further than 1 level.

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 Post subject: Re: Wilderness Scenario of Overland Campaign - Balance
PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 1:42 pm 
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Yes, 7 will be a new PDT. Contact me direct.
For the time being I am not lowering any ratings, but as stated I did RAISE some CSA rates.
Check low ratings in oob, especially in Hill's Corps.
John ferry
Overland co-designer


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