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Tactics Recommendations for an UGG Update

David Fair

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Currently UGG is tactically a bit flat. 

If there are flank or rear fire modifiers they are not evident (at least to me) over hundreds of hours of playing time. 

Basically the game rewards units with higher “Morale” and “Condition” regardless of the tactical skills of the general.


Because the game is a tactical “simulation” it should reward sound tactics. 

Flank attacks or taking an enemy in reverse have always been the tactical goals for field commanders because these attacks can be devastating.


The game needs an update and the tactical situations could be much richer for the game’s generals as well as more of a challenge. 


Additionally, the game would be much more historically accurate. 


I've tried to make suggestions that can:

1) be abstracted into the game without changing the UI and

2) do not demand significant coding changes.  



Background for these suggestions:


Over the past week I had an opportunity to talk with a couple of U.S. Army officers, who are ACW aficionados, while walking the Manassas battlefield.  Their observations and perspectives on ACW artillery, open flanks, and other topics were insightful and I thought I’d share some of their comments and well as providing implementation suggestions for the consideration of the design team.



Observation #1:


ACW artillery, while not particularly effective at inflicting causalities, was fundamental to the battlefield tactics. 


Artillery’s primary role was to keep the enemy’s infantry under constant annoyance. 


While this did not inflict many casualties – it had a profound impact on the unit when it came into action. 


Units under sustained artillery barrage became “brittle” in action.  Units that had been under a sustained artillery barrage, when called into the line could (and usually did) snap in very short order if they experienced setbacks at close range.  


For example, the musket-ranged combat during Pickett’s Charge was of an extremely short duration.  Fusillades of musketry began at about 400 yards and stalled most of the advance at about 250 yards.  Regiments from both Virginia and North Carolina still argue about the “Higher Water Mark” of the Confederacy; but the point is that these were regiments that managed to close to hand-to-hand combat – not entire divisions.


Note that it took about 20 minutes to advance to within musket range, a few minutes less to return and the total duration of the attack is estimated between 45 and 50 minutes.  The frontal attack was decimated with 90% of the casualties occurring within the 400 yard perimeter of the stone wall over a period of about 15 minutes.  This same observation is true at Fredericksburg for each wave of the troops committed. 


However, at Shiloh, Chickamauga, and the Wilderness the troops were in the cover of the forests where artillery could not play on their ranks at long-range prior to musketry-range contact.  In each of these musketry-range battles the infantry conflict was sustained for an extended duration at close range.


Avoiding a sustained artillery barrage with troops out in the open was tactically important during the ACW.  ACW generals tended to keep their infantry out of artillery range, behind stone walls, which were particularly effective on numerous battlefields, or on reverse slopes of hills, out of the sight of artillery, until they were needed on the line of combat.


Note that stone walls were the preferred cover during the ACW. 

With a few inches of digging a trench behind a stone wall vastly improved their defensive qualities. 

Dirt thrown on the front of the stone wall cushioned the effects of direct hits by artillery. 

Troops in the positions behind stone walls had some of the best cover for stopping the soft lead musketry projectiles, and a shallow ditch made these troops almost impervious to artillery.  This is why stone walls played such a critical role in so many ACW battles.  The angle is a good example at Gettysburg.


Implementation suggestion for UGG #1:


Beef up the defensive value of the stone walls in UGG.  This will help commanders fight their battles in UGG where the armies deployed and fought at Gettysburg. 


Regarding Artillery:


Each unit would have an “Artillery Effect Multiplier” (AEM). 

Each time a unit was targeted by artillery the AEM would increase by 10%. 

When the unit comes within musket/canister range and takes damage to their “Morale” or “Condition” at close range the AEM modifier accelerates the damage to their “Morale” and “Condition” based on the number of times artillery had targeted the unit during the phase. 

Thus units that sit out in the open will not have their “Morale” or “Condition” destroyed at long-range; but will suffer the effects of the artillery as they close for action.

When units are stationary the AEM effect would be decreased by the quality of cover the unit is defending.  Thus a unit on the defensive in 40% cover, hit by ten salvos of artillery during a phase, would have an AEM acceleration modifier of 160% (10 rounds X 10% = 100%, doubling the “Moral” and “Condition” effects in close combat, reduced by their “cover” of 40% = a 1.6% acceleration factor for the unit.



Historical Accuracy Benefit #1:


Currently the tactics in UGG are very basic. 

Everything in UGG is about firing and the casualties and the impact that these casualties have on “Moral” and “Condition.” 

But the ACW is rife with examples of units shattered by an enemy charging into the flanks or rear of a unit.  


By introducing a bit of tactical diversity it encourages and rewards players who use ACW tactics. 

UGG generals will need to establish lines of infantry deployed behind critical stone walls or on reverse slopes or out of range until needed. 


For example at Gettysburg the troops used in both of Longstreet’s attacks on July 2 and 3 were kept out of harm’s way until the advance was ordered. 

Union troops were deployed along Cemetery Ridge behind stone walls.


This AEM system will reward careful tacticians while punishing generals who leave their infantry exposed in the open as artillery targets. 


In short – it encourages players to use ACW tactics when they play the game.



Observation #2:


Flanks are critical.


ACW frontal attacks were brutal and often resulted in failure with massive casualties. 

Antietam, Fredericksburg, Malvern Hill, Second Manassas, Gettysburg, and Cold Harbor are all examples.


When flanks were exposed and exploited casualties became much more lopsided in favor of the flanking unit.


Implementation Suggestion #2:


Units in line of battle with “supported flanks” get the benefit of reduced “Morale” and “Condition” effects. 

Units with their flanks “in the air” suffer accelerated loss of “Morale” and “Condition.” 

In order to be “flanked” a unit must be engaged and taking casualties on its front. 

This should pin the unit with suppressing fire from the front.

A second, “flanking unit” must be within musket range in a 90 degree arc from the center of the line of battle from the “flanked” units front (the 90 degree arc is 45 forward and behind the ends of the unit) . 

Flanked units suffer a “Flank Effect Multiplier” of 1.4% accelerator for Casualties, loss of “Morale” and “Condition” each time the “flanking unit” fires a salvo into the flank of the “flanked unit”. 



Observation #3:


Being taken in Reverse is Devastating.


Units taken in the rear by fire often feel “betrayed” by their leadership. 

The impact of an enemy unit in a unit’s rear is immediate and usually catastrophic to “Morale” and “Condition”. 

Ammunition cannot be brought forward. 

Casualties cannot be evacuated. 

Orders cannot be carried by courier to outlying regiments. 

Worse still canteens cannot be refilled.

Many men surrender. 

Survivors who are not captured often run. 

In short - chaos becomes immediately pervasive in and the continuity of command and control are shattered. 


Implementation Suggestion #3:


Units that are pinned in the front and taken in the rear suffer an immediate loss of 80% of their “Condition” and “Morale”. 

Units do not need to be fired upon in their rear to cause the crash of “Morale” and “Condition”; being within musket range of the rear of a unit should be enough to encourage the unit to seek safer ground. 

Units that do fire into the rear of a unit get the benefit of a 2X musketry multiplier to represent both casualties and captures. 


Note that when a unit is taken in reverse its ability to return fire is limited.  The physical and psychological benefit to the troops firing into the rear of a unit while facing limited return fire is electric and tended to boost “Morale”. 

Troops firing into the rear of a unit should get a 10% “Morale” increase every time they fire into the rear of a unit.


The rear of the unit is defined as any enemy unit that is entirely behind the 90 degree arc on the flanks of units. 

To be considered in the rear of the unit that unit must be under fire from the front as well.  Conceptually troops that are taken in the flank or rear will turn to fight on the flank/rear when they are not pinned in place as they receive fire from the front as well.


Historical Accuracy Benefit of #2 & #3:


Rather than dealing with sprites bludgeoning each other regardless of the tactics; the tactics would matter profoundly for the outcome of the game.

Generals that flank positions will be rewarded. 

Generals that bludgeon their way forward with frontal attack tactics will be punished.


Sort of like the generals who fought at Gettysburg.

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i have to say, the being attacked from the rear NEEDS some major overhauling.  i mean, i played a game where i charged into the enemies rear......AND GOT REPULSED!!!   that is just not right.  lol


flanking.  i have thought about that and wonder, how much of an angle do i need, to be considered as a flank attack?  do i literally have to "cross the "T"" or can i be at a 45 degree angle, or maybe less?


so you toured manassas?  nice place.  i live about 3-4 hours west from gettysburg, and have toured most of the great battlefields, and some smaller ones.  it is kind of eerie in a way, huh? being in those places i mean.

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thanks for yet another insightful post.


I've also been mulling over about artillery a lot and I, too, came to the conclusion that a "simple" way to both rebalance it and make it more historically accurate would be to shift its destroying power from casualties to morale/cohesion.


This way the arm would stay a very important one but more in a tactical sense rather than in a "let's see who's able to annihilate the other one's troops before armies get within musket range" one (and this was also the goal I had in mind when posting my suggestion about more modding flexibility for the next UG:G titles, i.e. giving one the chance to adjust the units' different values according to one's liking/historical taste).


It would both reflect common sense and (moreover) be historically accurate. Of course, for the very same reasons I agree with your flanking/attacking from the rear suggestions, too.

Edited by IheardITthruTHEgrapeshot
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Yep, my game experience is the same with the flanks and the rear attacks.  

I go to great lengths to get on a flank/in the rear and for god's sake Fits Lee's cavalry brigade with 545 men defeats 3 Union infantry brigades numbering 2,500 in total.  Preposterously discouraging!





I've spent a great deal of time 4 hours west of Gettysburg in DuBois, PA, hunting deer etc...


Central Pennsylvania is great country.  


I took a three month sabbatical in my motorhome to tour ACW battlefields.  

The plan was to do the war in the east first touring battlefields in chronological order.

Then follow Sherman's path in reverse through Savannah, Atlanta, Nashville, north into Kentucky.  

Finally, travel to Corinth and go south to New Orleans.  


I haven't hit every battlefield site; but I don't think there are any major ACW battlefields I haven't visited.


Great time and I met some wonderful people.

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Thank you very much for the suggestions David.


Lots of new coding of unit AI behavior would be needed for those changes not to ruin the AI but damn, wouldn't that be sweet!

Edited by Hister
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I'm not certain that "lots of new coding of AI behavior" would be required.  

It seems like the software architecture should be flexible enough to incorporate combat modifiers without knocking over the AI.

The math behind the AI parameters would simply be triggered differently.


Just trying to find suggestions to make the game a more rewarding experience.

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