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 Post subject: The Melee Elephant
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2018 6:51 am 
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Game mechanics and any historic realism are broken by the melee functions in my opinion. Many design features are imbalanced in order to combat blitzkrieger tactics which throws most values in the game off. Cavalry use overpowered charges, square formation becomes a meme, artillery are given super powerful close in fire values, and it snowballs from a simple concept of units moving into the enemies' hex. What are some good practice house rules used to mitigate melee assault doctrine? I was thinking about limiting each melee to a single unit from each hex but, allowing MIM for successive attempts in a 10 minute turn. Probably would require CPTF off to enable wave attacks. I generally dislike artillery's concurrent attacks instead of dispersion of a single attack in multi-infantry hexes as well.
Anyone ever try something like this? I probably haven't hashed it out fully and wouldn't wanna drag someone into a bad house rule scenario. MDF seems like a terrible solution unless the players can commit to 2 turns/day.

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45ème Régiment d’Infanterie de Ligne,
2éme Brigade,
2ème Division,
1er Corps d'Armée,
La Grande Armée


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 Post subject: Re: The Melee Elephant
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2018 9:36 am 
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For a number of years the embedded melee concept has been used. It first came out of the Master of Europe (MOE) Tournament that the Club has done on occasion and it has been used in normal games by many since. I'm not sure where the current set of standards are at for the concept, but these are the version that was employed last year in MOE V:

M – MELEE

M.0 Players must agree before the game to use either the “no melee elimination optional rule” or an Embedded Melee house rule.

M.1 If the “no melee elimination optional rule” IS NOT BEING USED, then all melee combat takes place in an Embedded Melee Phase within the player turn. The player may move and/or fire as many units as he wishes, setting up his melee combats for the turn. He then executes ALL melee combats. He may then move and/or fire any units still eligible to do so, but may not conduct any further melee combat for the remainder of the turn. Players will have to agree on whether or not the optional rule or the embedded melee phase, or both, is in effect.

M.2 Melee attacks against skirmishers (if numbering less than 100), wagons, and/or leaders may be conducted at any time during the turn. Overruns by charging cavalry can occur BEFORE the embedded melee phase.

M.3 IF THE EMBEDDED MELEE RULE IS IN EFFECT: Charging cavalry may still melee multiple hexes in one turn, but the first two of these melees must take place within the embedded Melee Phase. For example, charging cavalry MUST initiate their first melee within the melee phase. It may then attack a second hex BEFORE melees involving other units are initiated. In other words, charging cavalry can conduct two (2) melees BEFORE all other melees are conducted. This allows cavalry an opportunity (though limited) to penetrate and cut off retreat routes. AFTER all other melees are done, then charging cavalry can undertake their third and fourth melees if they desire. After the initial melee, attacking cavalry can move through clear terrain, overrun skirmishers, artillery, and wagons without restriction. These actions do not count as melees. Cavalry intending to conduct such melee attacks must, obviously, charge BEFORE the embedded Melee Phase.

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 Post subject: Re: The Melee Elephant
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2018 10:44 am 
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Problems with this rule are that a player is still capable of packing in an 1800 man assault force on a 100m front. The cavalry equation (which is the greatest current melee flaw) isn't affected other than by sequence. I could see problems in memorizing the assault forces and follow on movements due to the seperation of the turn. All in all it should be effective at twarting deep attacks and micro-pocketing tactics though. I have one game I just starting using a variation of this rule (by battle sector and restriction on follow through forces) so hopefully I'll soon get a feel for it's effectiveness.

Perhaps in conjunction with this embedded melee concept a single unit melee per hex rule would fully capture historical close combat. The series began with a x3 multiplier for cavalry which despite cav movement rate equated the two corps due to cavalry density multiplier. Gamewise squadron slaughterfests and 6 gun batteries throwing more lead than 600 men per turn have really upset the design. Probably a rewrite of the standard pdt is needed to affect solution. H&R restricted game functions like the density multiplier which shouldn't be necessary.

The core tactics should be the brigade musket line without any seriously gamey counter defense other than to engage in coordinated linear battle or withdraw. Melee should lead to overwhelming attrition on the side of the assaulter. Cavalry and infantry should be restricted to an amount of men that could align and advance in a 100m frontage which would be a cavalry platoon spread on line followed by it's reserve platoon or two closed column infantry battalions without their rear halves being effective in the advance. Thus one entire squadron or battalion at a time.

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45ème Régiment d’Infanterie de Ligne,
2éme Brigade,
2ème Division,
1er Corps d'Armée,
La Grande Armée


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 Post subject: Re: The Melee Elephant
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2018 11:33 am 
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MDF helps a lot, still this "attacker can only attack with a single unit from a hex" was also something I thought about but the base values for melee are 1 defender equals 1.66 attackers, so without any combat modifiers the usual 800 men battalion must be attacked by 1328 men and this only achieves a 50:50 chance.

That the PDT must be adjusted is also true, that is simply because the whole game is build on turn instead of phase gameplay.
Artillery needs more firepower at range or the use of any kind of grand battery is still useless as even the 12pdr does not make a noteworthy impact at ranges beyond 1km.
Same counts for muskets, I read that the French trained firing on 300 meters and that musket fire was even conducted up to 500 meters in 1806, although the later wasn't lethal at that range as fire was just "Prallfeuer" similar to the way artillery uses canon balls. We only have 200 meter range and on that range musket fire isn't worth the trouble.

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 Post subject: Re: The Melee Elephant
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2018 12:14 pm 
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Musket fire has been shown to be quite deadly in this series. I see anywhere from 38 to 65 or more losses from a 600 man battalion. Higher for the large battalions.

As to the artillery .. we use the effective fire values. For instance a Prussian 6lb gun past 600-700 yards was not very effective. The series never had the ability to hit targets behind the target hex (skipping cannon balls). If we increase the values and ranges then the cannon end up being far too powerful.

One of the more obvious problems is there is no auto-square for infantry. The older Talonsoft games had a Defense Phase where you could change formation. Later versions of the BG series had a countercharge. Unless the series is let out to the WDS folks we wont have this.

Face it .. the series is 19 years old and has a lot of updates. You can't find a company that has followed up on their products like this.

For any of you that want to gripe about the game let me give you some advice - I am in the midst of writing my own new Napoleonic brigade series game - its not easy. You have to try and cover all of the bases. By now folks think, "wow, we should have a perfect Napoleonic game by now" but we don't. Its because people have their own viewpoints on how the battles were fought, how the troops acted, etc. Add to it you have to make up a check list a mile long to try and cover everything that goes into a game.

Ask Paco - he has seen my design spreadsheet for the new game. Making up a game from scratch is not easy.

When I started working with John Tiller originally I had high hopes that we would be able to do a lot of changes to make the game better. However, John saw the bigger picture as a company owner. He put out series that sold more copies such as the Panzer Campaigns series. The EAW series was similar to the Nap series in popularity but the ACW and Panzer series got more of John's programming time.

In the long run you have a Nap. series that does need updating but face it .. we are still playing it 18 years after Eckmuhl released. There must have been SOMETHING good about it! ;)

We have been done this discussion path before. Its why I dont spend a lot of time on it much anymore. You are preaching to the choir, guys.

Go out, build your own Napoleonic game, let us see it and evaluate it. If its better I would be happy to play it.

(there was a 3D Napoleonic game that came out some time back that was supposed to be the end of all Napoleonic games ... I am not even sure that its being played anymore - the programmer ran into a snag and as far as I know it never was resolved - I play Field of Glory 1 by Slitherine Ltd - the original programming team never finished with all of the modules and the follow on modules that did come out were done in Unity code and its separate product - its a mess - the new FoG2 game is out and it looks nice but you have to have above average graphics in order to play it - and I am going to wait on buying it until they have finished ALL of the modules AND I have a better computer)

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Infanterie-Brigade Hessen-Kassel
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 Post subject: Re: The Melee Elephant
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2018 2:44 pm 
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Bill Peters
>there was a 3D Napoleonic game that came out some time back that was supposed to be the end of all Napoleonic games
Perhaps you mean 'Wargamer: Napoleon 1813' http://wargamer.sourceforge.net/. Seems neat, it had a strategy layer as well as the tactical battles but, is said to be bug ridden trash. Was released as an opensource project. Hasn't been tinkered with officially for over 15 years. The source code is well annotated but, if you want to compile it than you should run recursive searches on the strings you change because they're all over the place. 'Battles of Napoleon' features better arithmetic and logic than NB but, I'm not after a different series just solution for this one.
Lack of auto-square isn't a major problem. That hundreds of cavalry can charge into and through the front of an undisordered battalion in a single action is though. A battalion in square is cut-off and pretty much doomed unless it can be relieved. Not something I'd want the computer to handle as a player. BoN had auto-square checks, auto-charge and counter charge checks and over 20 different combat modifiers but, it complicated the hell out of the 8bit interface.

Christian Hecht
An undisordered battalion receiving it's first charge should probably throw back the assaulter. Then a successive wave of attackers (given MIM on) would begin to pummel the defense. The first wave should be spoiled. Even light artillery like the 4 pound (8cm shot) guns take 20-30 seconds to reload and fire. To fire properly and safely reload time would be multiplied with the weight from there. Napoleonic firepower is about volume and artillery weren't produced and concentrated in mass until after men started to congregate in 100 thousand man hordes. One major missing feature from the battlefield is smoke effects. If anything I'd say the range values in NB are overly generous to just how unreliable smooth bore firearms and cannon were. I'd even suggest reducing the scale to be thought of as 100 paces or 75m the current (Leipzig) ranges would be more in line with point blank effect. Skipping rounds requires dry level ground which is an exception rather than a rule for field artillery. Spheres make awful projectiles and it's pathetic that it took 500 years too reason out ovular cased ammuntion.

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45ème Régiment d’Infanterie de Ligne,
2éme Brigade,
2ème Division,
1er Corps d'Armée,
La Grande Armée


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 Post subject: Re: The Melee Elephant
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2018 8:22 pm 
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No, this was another game. HistWar: Napoleon

http://www.histwargames.com/boutique/en/

Its on the list of club games. Not sure if its being played by members at this point.

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Husaren-Regiment Hessen-Kassel
Infanterie-Brigade Hessen-Kassel
Königlich-Preußisches Armee-Korps
Scenario Designer for Napoleonic Battles series - John Tiller Software
http://friendsofwargaming.com/support-bill-peters.html


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 Post subject: Re: The Melee Elephant
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2018 11:15 pm 
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Activision resold earlier totalwar editions to a few companies that made rather poor games out of it. I think real grognards would want a very deep and detailed engine which would be better represented by simultaneous execution or turn based tactics. What is your favorite tabletop game ruleset? I'm sure there are some very detailed rules that come close too realistic Napoleonic tactics but, I haven't seen them yet.

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45ème Régiment d’Infanterie de Ligne,
2éme Brigade,
2ème Division,
1er Corps d'Armée,
La Grande Armée


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 Post subject: Re: The Melee Elephant
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2018 11:45 pm 
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I'm no boardgamer and I haven't played these but they seem to be popular:
https://labataille.me/

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 Post subject: Re: The Melee Elephant
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 12:07 am 
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Thanks, there is even a comparison of cavalry rules used in major revisions:
https://img1.wsimg.com/blobby/go/a1f310 ... _52875.pdf

This seems to be the latest and greatest super detailed variant 'Le Règlement Rev 11':
http://www.labataille.us/files/Reglemen ... letter.pdf

Problem I have with most rulesets including this is that their attacking strength is not modified by the defense strength in some fashion. It's just a baseless attack roll for damage dealt without consideration of the bodies that can actually be struck or bayonetted. In NB combat result terms the attacker's 'high combat value' should be modified always and directly based on the density of the defending hex. That way there would be no need for a seperate density modification routine or functions like the skirmisher *0.25 modifier. The effect could even be applied to the 3D frontage of different formations better (i.e. a closed column should not be able to take as much damage as a battle line).

One thing I think Tiller always planned on coding in was hex depth. You see it somewhat here with the frontage of line battalions that cover the 'lower' in-hex units. As early as 'East Front' the graphics represented a forward and rear hex area. Would definitely make a more perfect simulation of Napoleonics due to the short musket engagement distance. The developer could increase the base scale and add in greater operational atmosphere.

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45ème Régiment d’Infanterie de Ligne,
2éme Brigade,
2ème Division,
1er Corps d'Armée,
La Grande Armée


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 Post subject: Re: The Melee Elephant
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:57 am 
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Christian Hecht wrote:
MDF helps a lot, still this "attacker can only attack with a single unit from a hex" was also something I thought about but the base values for melee are 1 defender equals 1.66 attackers, so without any combat modifiers the usual 800 men battalion must be attacked by 1328 men and this only achieves a 50:50 chance.


Returning to the subject though, this is not a problem. 1:1.66.. would be the mean interval RNG multiplier as a ratio. The infantry vs. infantry attacker must first disorder his opponent and the mean ratio would effectively degrade to 1:1.12. Given that he doesn't have two or more hexes to attack from in the same action he'll receive "realistic" weighted close combat damage for appoaching a line sporadically firing in it's defense. A single battalion column or charging squadron approaching a well ordered battle line's front should be brutalised.

This concept is actually in opposition to embedded melee. Couldn't be used in conjunction now that I think about it. It should rely on MIM wave attacks. Would allow infantry to attack deeply and pocket forces IF they can overcome the 'solo hex assaults' limitation. Alot easier to process, doesn't rely on disingenious sequential 'realism', and will negate most first turn contact schwerpunkt manuevers. It shouldn't require a PDT edit either.

What I'm disregarding here is that a defender could have 2 or more units in his hex and make it suicide too attack. Especially in the case of cavalry versus cavalry. Back to the drawing board..

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45ème Régiment d’Infanterie de Ligne,
2éme Brigade,
2ème Division,
1er Corps d'Armée,
La Grande Armée


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 Post subject: Re: The Melee Elephant
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 2:12 pm 
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Geoff,
I think one problem in modeling the era is that so much changed during this period.
In the early Revolutionary Period you have a mix of French professionals and a militia against professional armies-the early battles and operational movements looked more like the 7 years war than Napoleonic Warfare. Then the French militia gets experience and training and takes advantage of the lessons learned and we start to see a more dynamic battlefield. then Napoleon comes on the scene and applies the new tactics within the framework of his operational genius and the wars take on a new form....

1805-1807 see very professional armies collide and fight-you still see both sides fighting a lot in line formation and both armies starting to use their cavalry in mass behind the center of their formations and less and less on the wings....

Then , 1809 happens, and by Wagram the quality of each army has decreased to the point that masses of artillery start to make a huge difference in the battles and infantry fight less and less in line formation.

1812 was a mix, with both the French and Russians using massed columns, some line formation, and massed artillery. By 1813 even the Prussians rarely use much line formation.

My point being that what defines historical tactics depends on the year.

I would agree that the JTS/HPS system is not perfect, but it is the only one around that has pretty much all the battles of the era and good OOB.

I really prefer the 10 minute turn games and only play the older ones, for the most part, with embedded melee. 10 minute turns with embedded melee cuts a of blitzing. There are a few players (Tom Moore, Anton K, and others) who have modified the games to decrease stacking. I like Anton's system the best.

I wish Tiller would change the code to make melee cause less loses, but I doubt he will change it at this point.

Have you tried playing a 10 minute turn game in phased based? Christian and I have been playing this way for a few years..

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 Post subject: Re: The Melee Elephant
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 3:26 pm 
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Jim Pfleck wrote:
My point being that what defines historical tactics depends on the year.

And I wish we had some tools to model these changes stronger, movement points by side for example so the speed of maneuvers of each force can be depicted.


Jim Pfleck wrote:
Have you tried playing a 10 minute turn game in phased based? Christian and I have been playing this way for a few years..

Although still in the process of finding THE set of optional rules I think Jim & I got pretty close o the base of 10 minutes phased game play, even when I'm not too happy about what I see in Austerlitz as the game needs some serious adjustments for the Austrians.

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 Post subject: Re: The Melee Elephant
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 4:43 pm 
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Christian,
I think you and I disagree a bit on the Austrians. Part of the problem with these games is that the losing side will rarely make the same historical mistakes that led to defeat, which makes modeling the Austrians difficult--their rank and file fought well in 1805 for the most part, so rating them lower than C (most are C except some grenadiers and light troops) is not historical.

I contend that even taking into account that I am not quite as hapless as Mack, the organization of the French army, into corps with a cavalry reserve, gives it inherent advantages that play out over the course of a long day of battle. If you have not played the Coalition side much in Austerlitz I recommend trying it.

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 Post subject: Re: The Melee Elephant
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 9:40 pm 
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Jim Pfleck wrote:
...Have you tried playing a 10 minute turn game in phased based? Christian and I have been playing this way for a few years..


Phased play requires 3 email rounds per turn. The pacing of PBEM is already slow where I can get a turn exchanged once per day (on a good day). I'm discovering errors in the game code which maybe part of the cause of melee dominance over ranged fire. In the process of retesting my proof. I agree that despite historical outcomes every consideration should be given to the losing side. At Austerlitz Napoleon had a 'fool proof' game plan which could have easily backfired if the Austrians just sat on the hills a couple more hours and reconniteurred the northern French army that was gathering instead of diving down into the western valley to get fish hooked like retards.

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45ème Régiment d’Infanterie de Ligne,
2éme Brigade,
2ème Division,
1er Corps d'Armée,
La Grande Armée


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