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 Post subject: Simple but elegant
PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2005 10:23 am 
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Posts: 356
Location: USA
Oh oh! A new idea!!

I have been playing HPS gettysburg Historical one and having a great time but golly it seems to favor extremem offensive action so I propose a solution: If a unit moves it cannot melee!!!

I see it like this: The attacker advances into ZOC of the defender but cannot melee. He now has to withstand defensive fire. The defender had three options in his turn

1. Withdraw. The most common tactic. He moves 0ne or more hexes and reestablishes his line, Now the attacker again has to advance into defensive fire. He may take a position but it will be gradual and at cost. This also allows undisrupted Arti;;ary to sit on the front lines.

2. Stand and defend. If the defender thinks he is strong enough he holds, The following turn the attacker may of course melee and let the stronger force prevail.

3, Counter attack, The defender difuses the attack my preemptive attacks. This is risky in that the original attacker may prevail and rally and get in some good melees.

I see a more gradual retreat by the defenders, Artillary in the front lines and more maneuvers to take positions and a whole lot LESS melees.

It may distort current victory conditions and victory hexes would need higher values in that they are more difficult to take,

Well guys there it is simple but elegant

[:D][8D] Now-Pros and cons!!

Field Lt. Tony Best


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2005 12:11 pm 
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A reasonable proposal, but I can see one fault.

This would effectivley allow snall units to really slow down larger ones. I use this tactic even now, but with the proposed rule, those units would be less likely to have to take morale checks and hence less likely to rout. So I would either need fewer or they could last longer.

I've also played my first HPS games using "phases" instead of turns. That effectively emulates the the older BG series process. We also played with ADF, so it did not add to the number of file exchanges. I thought it played well. I'm going to try a phase game without ADF.

I agree there appears to be excessive "melee" in these games and historically there were not many hand-to-hand engagements. I've made this point recently in the Nap club, but will make it again. A lot may depend on how you view things. Your could view a melee as a hand to hand engagment, but remmember the hexes are 125 yards, so effectivley you are saying the troops deliever a volley at 125 yards and then run 125 yards to engage in hand to hand fighting. Alternatively you could view a "melee" has a closer fire fight. I actually have some data on two 400 man units closing on each other. Maybe I can compare the numbers with the game engine to see if a "melee" is necessary to model the final action at 50 yds.

Lt Gen Bob Breen
Commanding XIX Corps, AoS


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2005 12:58 pm 
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Hello General Breen- the real innovater!!

I dont see how small units would be any more effective than they are currently. I am referring to the move then shoot system and the BG system.

As to the shoot while moving system I see your point but this is countered by eliminating the Blitzkriegs that are now possible.

Field Lt. Tony Best


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2005 2:30 pm 
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I think that sounds like an interesting idea. The turn system results in the non-phasing player's units standing there and watching an enemy unit whisk around their flank or some other thing they would have an opportunity to react to in real time. Far away from each other, turns don't affect things. Close up, it creates a a bizzare "you flank me then I flank you" effect. It also seems like it would resolve the issues of weak artillery in melee. I think the need to react to small units in rear-guard actions is also a bonus rather than the speed-bump they are now. If you try it let us know how it works out. [;)]

Major General Dirk Gross
XIV Corps/AoC


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2005 3:29 pm 
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This would be a significant change and shift of advantage from attacker to defender. It would require some serious play testing to verify whether it unbalances the game. Particularly in Historic Gettysburg where the CSA must accomplish great things in the first day to counter the Union weight of numbers and artillery on the second day. It would make the slow retreat tactic which is already very effective in the HPS system (phased play) almost impossible to overcome.

BG. Kennon Whitehead
Chatham Grays
III Corps, AoM (CSA)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2005 3:45 pm 
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Why I think the idea may have a downside relative to small unit defense, in particular if they are in the woods.

I just played the Armstrong Raid scenario in the HACW tourney and if we were playing with your suggested rule, I think my boys in blue would have done even better with the small unit defense in the woods, although the scenario should be renamed for the rebs to "I can win this in X turns"!

When unit loses a melee I believe they always take a morale check - so they have a chance to rout and will always be disordere. So if an opponent moves up and melees, they are likely to push the unit back one hex and many times have them rout off, and hence e able to move multiple hexes the next turn.

If a unit can only move up and fire, it is less likely they will cause a morale check due to fire, remember the firing unit is halved for moving, and morale checks only occur with that funny probablity equation. So on its next turn, the defender unit moves back one hex and does it again. So effectively you can limit your opponents advance to 1 hex per turn. Now if this is in the open there would be opportunites for longer range fire and that will impact the dynamics, but in the woods I think the rule would make the speed bump defense much more effective.

So off the top of the head, I would suggest two things to consider. One is some fine tuning for units in the woods and a second for units that are disordered.

As and aside, unless there is some other reason to press the melee, I have found it a good practice to shoot up your target first before meleeing anyway.

Lt Gen Bob Breen
Commanding XIX Corps, AoS
"Defenders of the Right"


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2005 6:32 pm 
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..and now to cofuse the topic with some facts.

From a booklet by Paddy Griffith, "Battle in the Civil War". A fire fight in 1864 of 400 rebs attacking 400 yanks, reasoanbly open terrain. Rebs had 30 rounds of ammo each, yanks had 50. (If accurate, I don't think the games model this very well at all)

Yanks open up with defensive fire at 250 yards (that's 2 hexes in these games).

Rebs begin to reply at 150 yards.

Rebs halt at 50 yards.

Fight lasts for 2 hours (6 turns in these games - I think one of the Roundtop scenarios is about 6 turns and I bet the rebs melee at least 4 times in that one).

Rebs take 110 hits (27.5%); yanks take 90 (22.5%) (The booklet also has some stats on losses in 21 battles and on the average the winner lost 15% and the loser 20%: the losers casualties were also about 1.3 times that of the winner -- there are numerous exceptions to the averages)

Now I think it is pretty obvious our games would not model the above fire fight very well. Casualty rates are higher and we rarely just shoot at each other for 6 turns.

If you had 2 units of 400 men fire at each other at 3 hexes for 6 turns, you would see about 95 casualties - although the range of results could be about 35 to 160. While the overall result is close to the numbers it would be a pretty boring game.

If you had one unit of 400 men march up, fire and melee a 400 man unit in one turn, you should see about 60 casualties to the attacker and 40 to the defender, with C-quality defender having about a 15% chance of routing. There's also a pretty wide range around those numbers. Assume a turn to recover and do it again, that would be roughly twice as bloody as the historical example in 6 turns.

If you delayed the melee by one turn (Commander Best's proposal)and had another round of fire that should end up around 95 and 75 casualties, which is also close but in 1/2 the time (I assume you would need the next turn to recover to do it again). (Note in 6 turns this would produce roughly 190 and 150 casualties, 70% more then the example, but the ratio of attacker losses to defender losses is just about the same 1.26 vs 1.2)

I also took a look at what would happen if the units closed at 1 hex over 5 turns and meleed on the 5th turn. If I did the calculations correctly, that resulted in about 125 casualties to the attacker and 80 to the defender, with a C-qualtiy defender having about a 15% chance of routing. Again lot's of variation around the numbers. Now this is also close to the fire-fight and suggests the idea of an even simpler rule for a more "historical game" , you can only move one hex toward a visible enemy. Now this could also be an unintereting game, but perhaps a 2 hex rule would be playable.

Interesting topic. There's lots of factors I did not include -- probablity of disrutping from fire, probablity of recovering from disruption, impact of fatigue etc. If you play without the optional fire and melee tables you also get a lot of variation from the "averages" I used -- anywhere from 35% to 165% of the averages).

Lt Gen Bob Breen
Commanding XIX Corps, AoS
"Defenders of the Right"


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2005 12:49 am 
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I was hoping Bob would sink his teeth into this one!

As to confusing us with facts, quite the contraire. Very interesting post.

Kennon replied that it would affect balance and he is quite correct but then all major innovations do that as the games are not play tested with alternative rules. Play tests must be done in mirror matches.

I have always believed these games do an excellant job recreating the dynamics of Civil War battles. We are given what the original commanders were given and the same battlefield to fight on.The results are up to our abilities. Thats the "game" part. The "battle" part is whether it "feels" like the actual fight both tactically and strategically. Again HPS and Battleground(Talonsoft) do a wonderful job. Our constructive ideas are to tweak the battle part to inhance "feel".

Field Lt. Tony Best


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2005 1:08 am 
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Actually I like it, <u>precisely</u> because it would allow smaller forces to really fight delaying actions. With the present melee calculations in HPS, they are just gobbled up without any appreciable losses or fatigue for the attacker, if his superiority is good enough (one area where the BG games did a better job at portraying reality, IMO).

Gen. Walter, USA
<i>The Blue Blitz</i>
AoS


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2005 2:00 am 
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<blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by tony best</i>
<br />I was hoping Bob would sink his teeth into this one!

As to confusing us with facts, quite the contraire. Very interesting post.

Kennon replied that it would affect balance and he is quite correct but then all major innovations do that as the games are not play tested with alternative rules. Play tests must be done in mirror matches.

I have always believed these games do an excellant job recreating the dynamics of Civil War battles. We are given what the original commanders were given and the same battlefield to fight on.The results are up to our abilities. Thats the "game" part. The "battle" part is whether it "feels" like the actual fight both tactically and strategically. Again HPS and Battleground(Talonsoft) do a wonderful job. Our constructive ideas are to tweak the battle part to inhance "feel".

Field Lt. Tony Best
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

Considering these games aren't true combat simulators, like a Flight or Tank simulator, they do give you the "feel" of a Civil War battle. This is mostly because they are based on systems that have been tested for over thirty years by the old cardboard companies like Avalon Hill and SPI. What Bob described probably isn't simulated but it probably represents one of many extremes that occurred in actual fighting. Most engagements lasted only a few minutes with one side or the other deciding they lost or won and removing themselves to a safer place. The HPS move then melee system probably does simulate this type fighting well.

The "Melee" was rarely true hand to hand fighting but represents the closing of the opponents to very short distances where one side loses its nerve and withdraws or runs. It doesn't represent a separate step from the advance to the position but rather the ability of the attacker to maintain command and control necessary to push the attack home. What Bob describes is what can happen if that C&C fails and the attacking formations stop before taking their objective. Also, the "Melee" rarely involved hand to hand combat. Even Spotsylvania which involved some rather close in fighting only produced 14 casualties with Bayonet wounds.

That said, I don't think the HPS system reflects the disorganizing affects of movement and melee. While an advance to take a position would easily occur to completion in a 20 minute "turn", usually the attacker was so disorganized by the operation that they seldom could follow up on their success. The HPS fatigue system reflects the long term affects but the disrupt system doesn't do a good job for the short term affects so we have very high casualty rates as our armies continuously push forward. Rarely do you have to stop and reform.

The proposed move and then melee in next turn would slow down the advance but might be a little to artificial since I don't think it addresses the real problem but it is something we can do without a game engine change.

BG. Kennon Whitehead
Chatham Grays
III Corps, AoM (CSA)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2005 4:43 am 
Perhaps a better solution would be to limit melees to units of low or medium fatigue only - no high fatigue units can initiate a melee.

The idea of only being able to advance one hex towards a visible enemy is a good start, but needs some modification. Perhaps two hexes of advancing against enemy units that are within rifle range would be a better rule, since just saying a visible enemy could mean someone halfway across the map two miles away.

CW units rarely advanced over open ground long distances without stopping to fire at their enemy, even when assaulting a static enemy. And it might not have been a “Halt! Make ready! Aim! Fire!â€


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2005 7:38 am 
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Hi, Tony,

I think your idea would make the single phase system a viable option again. It still wouldn't prevent the attacker from massing fire while the op fire might or might not be effective, but it would certainly prevent the blitzkriegs. For multiphase, I think it would tilt the balance too much toward the defender, who could use a squad to halt a division. In single phase using too small a unit would be chancy, as if it was wiped out by fire, presumably follow-on units could exploit the hole. That sounds only fair to me.

One thing I have noticed in playing HPS historical Gettysburg is that skirmishers cause an extra three movement points in their cone of control instead of one. So if an enemy infantry unit is five hexes away he cannot move into your ZOC in line over open ground; less if there is any obstacle. Of course, you have to have an undisrupted unit of over 100 men, and it costs firepower, but it also limits unrealistic delaying tactics by small units and preserves your position from being assaulted by units that begin their move from beyond rifle range. For those who would really like to limit movement to contact, I suspect you could raise the number of hexes it costs to enter the skirmishers' cone. Better cover your flanks though.

MG Mike Mihalik
1/III/AoMiss/CSA


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2005 2:39 am 
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Location: United Kingdom
Why don't we have a house rule which says that all units must form or adopt skirmish formation at all times? Wouldn't this give more realistic movement and prevent unecessary melees?
Units disrupted in melees or by fire cannot move forward until they recover and then redeploy skirmishers.
Units which recover but are in a zoc cannot move either but can melee and fire at the units exerting the zoc?
I played in a multi player game where the GM used skirmish formation to move units about and it seemed pretty realistic to me.

Col Coyle Army of Georgia


Georgia the Brave


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2005 4:42 am 
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I'll philosophize some on the topic of houserules.

As a practical matter,I don't like house rules. I usually have about 6 games in progress over 3 clubs at any one time. Too many houserules means a post it note on the terminal for each game. I currently have one Nap game in progres where the psot it note directs me to an 8 1/2 x 11 typed sheet! The good news is that as long as I can remember to follow the instructions I figure my memory is still working okay.

More to the point. There are some subtle interactions among the components of the game engine that can often enable you to find a way to gain an advantage with many house rules. So that you solve one problem and another pops up.

Take the topic of Disorder. Restricting what a unit can do when Diordered seems very logical. However "command" and quality ratings will determine both how often this occurs and the rate at which units recover from Disorder. In these games I think it is generally true that the rebs have this advantage. So if for example you have a house rule that limits advancement of "Disordered units" and the Rebs are going to Disorder less frequently and recover from Disorder more frequently, you have in effect given the rebs a relative "movement" advantage. Which could easily increase there relative "effective" manpower 20-40%.

Another example, requiring units to advance toward the enemy in skirmsish order, will slow movement and will also reduce the overall imapact of combat-- both good things in my view. However, deployed skirmishers reduce the effective fire power of the unit by 100 men. That means a 300 man unit looses 33% of its firepower, while a 500 man unit losses 20%. Since the rebel units are usually smaller, this house rule effectively gives the union an advantage in fire power.

My point is not to argue for or against these topics just point out some interactions that might be unintended.

Personnally I think you can get a more realistic game if you play with most of the optional rules (and I don't need all those post-it notes). My choices in priority order are: optional fire and melee, quality fire and melee, weak zoc, flank morale, VP for leaders, partial retreat, isolation rules.

An interesting exercise would be to determine what rules -- optional and/or house - make for the most historically accurate engagement and what rules make for the best game

Lt Gen Bob Breen
Commanding XIX Corps, AoS
"Defenders of the Right"


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2005 6:14 am 
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Bob is right on as to House rules. Few are used with any regulatity especially ones that make large changes, He is also correct in that when they are being used other imbalances or unrealities are apt to occur,

That having been said I have a good track record of having presenting and then testing major house rules especially those involving command control. I played several very public series replays( General Don Adams and General Jon Thayer were my esteemed opponents.) The experimental rules were very successful but I have not used them again and I suspect Generals Adams and Thayer also have not. I point this out to indicate that even play tested house rules are not popular. Folks like the game engine to enforce their play and they do indeed want to influence "feel" by the use of options.

Field Lt. Tony Best


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