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Nick, and dev team.

1st off thank you for your inspired hard work on this title.

Your game is being crafted into a solid very fun and accessible STRATEGY game....

Ive held back my feedback as I wanted to play the game for awhile to get a sense of the design, from a game play perspective. (Im not the guy to give you bug reports).

After having played so many hunderds of hours of strategy games over the years, I've watched to see what entertains me with this hobby, and these types of games.

I will tell you its the quality of the ongoing dynamic decision set, that Im presented with within each moment/turn.  Where one must make hard choices, with limited resources, that have interesting outcomes.

A good game provides interesting, hard choices. The best games deliver a situation where the subtlest of choices, will essentially effect the final decisive results. This Game is very close to being that well crafted, such that commiting one brigade of not....  will, against the solid AI or a skilled oppenent, make all the difference.

 

However, I think the biggest fine tuning still to come will be in the use of Leaders and cannon and how moral is modeled.

For cannon I would focus on how they effect moral of both sides of the feild.

For local troops the presence of locally placed cannon should imporve moral of time of local brigades. The amount of moral boost should be conditional on initial placement, then any solid positive observed results of the batteries, as in repulsing an incoming attack. So, for example having a battery within eye shot should inspire troops on the line.

The main concept, concerning moral, is that troops are looking for and need reasons to believe they are going to survive a battle and death. In my research into Napolenonics this is what I read in the histories.

So as well the local presence of leaders, should be signficantly moral boosting.  THe game reflects this, however, I think the game needs to keep leaders in place and in danger, instead of having them fall back all the time...It should be the players choice as to how brave leaders should be... maybe one could include a Direct inspire Button, to lock a leader to help a brigade in crisis and or on the attack... Leader death should be part of this game as well...

Further I would give a moral boost for having a brigade parked in the rear of a front line unit. As well bonuses for having brigades to each side. The feeling is this: I am surounded by friendly resources, which by god should be enough to survive and win the day!!

Positioning of troops, batteries and leaders should be very critical to the moral situation, and thus provide interesting decision sets.

Do I place cannon right in the front lines for moral boost, but open them up to being shot up?  Do I make my lines thick and moral hardy, or thin and more brittle?

Do I commit my Corp leaders on the front line opening them up to being shot and stopping them from helping to rally routed brigades in the rear?

 

To further this idea, of Moral imperatives,  Defending brigades should be shocked hard by being shot from behind. Flanked units should be in trouble very quickly....

This game should be a game of manuever. And a game of defense in depth, with cannon leaders and terrain being a force multipliers.

Want to crack Devil's Den and round top? Then pin the defenders and flank the positions and then assult.


Now I would fprward a few ideas on how cannon can be moved. I would suggest that time and rediness of cannon moved up hill threw forest should make this a serious challenge. Pushing a battery up to the op of a hill is seriously hard work and very time consuming.  Again hard choices.   I would suggest moving cannon over water is mostly not going to happen within the time scale of this game.

Bridges should be strategically vital for moving cannon.... Right now cannon move around like motoralized tanks...

Further I have some feedback about the moral needed to rush a solid cannon implacment.  I could be wrong in this... but it should be very hard to next to impossible for a brigade to frontally rush a solid multi battery position across open ground. Again flanking is your friend for this type of assault.

For example. As the Union I had 4 batteries, in place on top of high ground, with a clear open LOS>. This position was frontally rushed by the Rebs and taken out.  I ask: How is this possible?  I was pulled out of the game flow in frustration, as I placed that cluster of batteries to shore up that area of the feild. After that I thought; why bother trusting a battery park to do the job? Which took away an intersting and fun opion of resource use.

I assume historically these mad rushes where possible, but I argue, for game play situations, should be successful in only very select (lucky), conditions...  thus making a player seriously consider the ramifications of this attempt... ( as in, heavy loss of troops, moral hits and moral boost to enemy if attempt fails...)

I ask does the game engine make a moral check before a brigade even will leave the 'safety', of the lines to rush a gun position....?

Well okay then... these are the issues I watch for while playing the game against online opponents. Which has been very very challenging and fun!!

Again Darth... thank you for your passion on this project... I look forward to playing the final game.

Darren


 

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Very interesting comments.

... the quality of the ongoing dynamic decision set, that Im presented with within each moment/turn.  Where one must make hard choices, with limited resources, that have interesting outcomes....A good game provides interesting, hard choices. The best games deliver a situation where the subtlest of choices, will essentially effect the final decisive results. This Game is very close to being that well crafted, such that commiting one brigade of not....  will, against the solid AI or a skilled oppenent, make all the difference.

 

I think it may be more a matter of a context with dynamic choices that may be or seem hard, or easy, and sometimes the obvious course is right, and sometimes not. Which in an unscripted game is likely to be the case. That a well-timed commitment of troops can sometimes turn the tide is seen in this game as historically.

 

 

 

For local troops the presence of locally placed cannon should imporve moral of time of local brigades. The amount of moral boost should be conditional on initial placement, then any solid positive observed results of the batteries, as in repulsing an incoming attack. So, for example having a battery within eye shot should inspire troops on the line.

 

The morale boosting effect of even light guns to infantry (and their firing, even if without notable effect) was known and used for several centuries before Gettysburg to steady troops and lend them confidence, particularly when being shot at and unable to fire back themselves. So, yes, that is a good point that might not be reflected in the engine - the practical difficulty in the game is positioning the guns near the infantry so they can shoot - they really should each automatically adjust into a sensible line, whether the guns are before, behind, beside, or interlined with the foot.

 

Further I have some feedback about the moral needed to rush a solid cannon implacment.  I could be wrong in this... but it should be very hard to next to impossible for a brigade to frontally rush a solid multi battery position across open ground. 

 

I think this should be a much more qualified statement. Against properly fortified positions, with long and clear interlocking fields of fire, it should indeed be a murderous affair to approach in the open, and an even gentle cover-less downslope in front of a gun position for a half mile should serve nearly as well for psychological purposes, being able to engage an attacker successively with shot, shell, and case.  

 

However, there are many places on the ground where the ground and vegetation allow a covered approach to within effective musket shot, where it would be good odds that the gunners would be disrupted and driven off by fire before they could shake the infantry, so a simple rule assuming optimal conditions for either side should not apply.  

 

I can't speak to the specific experience you had (a battery tends to withdraw if facing infantry alone), but I would assume that a single brigade of infantry with those guns coordinated in close support among them would present the strong resistance you expect. My game experience is less intense than some who post here, but I do find that the approach of treating artillery as attachments and supports for infantry rather than as an independent formation (except for a massed battery, which would have some support or flanking fire coverage from foot), is a successful one. 

 

Again flanking is your friend for this type of assault.

 

One of the more profound observations about the armies of the ACW that impressed me was that they were organized and drilled in a manner so suitably articulated to respond to flanking maneuvers (provided their commanders were alert and capable), that the continual perseverance in attempting to flank their opponents on both the grand and minor tactical levels that was driven by the military history in which they were steeped was routinely frustrated by this adaptability. A flanking attack that is countered becomes at some point a frontal attack, which in the course of battle can be difficult to recognize from the rear and break off.

 

Chancellorsville was a great success in this respect, to a point, yet the disaster was limited and the Army of the Potomac was not destroyed in Napoleonic fashion.  

 

I am pleased that the flow of UGG battles shows a great deal of these attempts to flank opposing units and counter these efforts by the general or by the unit itself (fall back or wheel). Sometimes they work.  

 

   

 

 
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Darren, 

I really thank you for the thorough feedback. Most aspects you mention, like artillery boosting morale of nearby units is actually working or flanking benefits. What we will surely try in the next and the coming updates is to enhance these effects and balance them optimally to make the game even more tactically rewarding. In the next update at least flanking and rear attacks should break the units faster.

Especially for this matter:
 

For example. As the Union I had 4 batteries, in place on top of high ground, with a clear open LOS>. This position was frontally rushed by the Rebs and taken out.  I ask: How is this possible?  I was pulled out of the game flow in frustration, as I placed that cluster of batteries to shore up that area of the feild. After that I thought; why bother trusting a battery park to do the job? Which took away an intersting and fun opion of resource use.

I assume historically these mad rushes where possible, but I argue, for game play situations, should be successful in only very select (lucky), conditions...  thus making a player seriously consider the ramifications of this attempt... ( as in, heavy loss of troops, moral hits and moral boost to enemy if attempt fails...)

 

In early versions of the game, to march towards artillery positions with a single brigade was nearly impossible but we got negative feedback for that. Now you need to defend artillery fortifications with some infantry to repel successfully almost any assault. If artillery is completely unguarded, it will depend of the situation of the battle how effective will be an infantry assault. If infantry has very low morale/condition, it will most likely do some casualties and will be driven back. If the infantry is fresh, most probably it will storm successfully the artillery, with considerable losses of course.

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Hi Darren,

 

Great post above.  I'd suggest you take a look at the Pfanz books on Gettysburg.  Specifically on Day 2 in the Peach Orchard attack.  

 

The Union III Corps left flank running from Emmitsburg Road east toward Devil's Den / LRT were defended by a line of 32 guns - without sufficient infantry support.  Roughly the situation you point out above in your post.

 

Union General Humphrey desperately requested that he be given a couple of regiments to replace some of these batteries on the line.  Why?

1) An ACW regiment of 200 men had more firepower than an artillery battery.

2) An ACW regiment deployed as skirmishers could shred an artillery battery - without presenting much of a target for the artillery.  

 

See Bigelow's Battery images for the devastation inflicted by skirmishers on a battery.

The battery quickly loses is horses / mobility and the men retreat leaving the guns.

Note also that the other 5 Union batteries overrun at Gettysburg were taken in precisely the same way (except the horses & men withdrew leaving the guns).

 

Union III Corps was holding an extended line and limited infantry could be allocated to support Humphrey's artillery line.

 

It was precisely at this weak point in the Union line that the CSA attacked to flank and shatter Union III Corps along Emmitsburg Road.  This was not an accident - the CSA was exploiting the weakest point in the Union line - a line almost exclusively held by unsupported artillery.

 

Combined arms were critical in the horse and musket era.  

 

As you point out above artillery had a profound morale effect on infantry supported by artillery.

 

If the game mechanics are attempting to replicate ACW reality then artillery in a line was, and should be, vulnerable to infantry attacks.  

While the actual tactics required skirmishing this should be reasonably abstracted in UGG without representing skirmishers.

The combat ought to be resolved in UGG as if the infantry was properly and logically deployed as skirmishers.

 

Bottom line is that unsupported artillery could not stand up to ACW infantry tactics.

Artillery typically withdrew in the face of infantry.  

When ordered to "hold at all hazards" the result was Bigelow's Battery - 100% loss of mobility (this is after all the horse and musket era).

 

Game Mechanics:

 

Infantry supported with artillery should get a morale bonus.

 

The affects of artillery should be, as stated by General Gibbon author of "The Artillerists Manual" 1861 & 1864 "more moral than physical".

Right now this is upside down in UGG.  

Brigade vs. battery conflicts result in massive brigade and light battery casualties.

Note that the fire of a battery was roughly equal to a 200 man regiment.  

Brigades had an average of about 5 or 6 regiments averaging 200 men.

 

Artillery should give a morale boost to friendly troops and a morale penalty for attacking troops.

 

But the casualties caused by artillery should be reduced.

 

Also - no battery north or south at Gettysburg routed after they fired their ammunition.  

They went back to the artillery park for more ammunition.  

The artillery on both sides was largely in tact on Day 4 at Gettysburg and ready for another day of action.  

The primary damage to artillery was the loss of horses - 35% of all CSA artillery horses were hors de combat after Gettysburg.

 

--------------------------------------------------------

 

Logistics:

 

Also ACW artillery batteries were limited because it was much easier to feed, move, and maintain a 200 man regiment than to support the logistical requirements for an artillery battery.  Each battery required about 200 animals and horses eat vast volumes of bulky food.  If you've ever wondered why there are so many pictures of hundreds of guns lined up during the ACW it was the politics of industry trumping the military requirements of the army.  Building guns was relatively easy.  Getting them into the field was difficult.

 

 

--------------------------------------------------------

 

 

Final observation:

 

General Norman Schwarzkopf allocated tremendous resources to stopping Iraqi Skud Missiles.

He was then taken to the impact crater from a Skud.

As he looked into the roughly 30 foot by 6 feet deep and muttered, "Wow - these things are militarily irrelevant".

 

By comparison an artillery round during the ACW was propelled by 2 lbs of black powder.  

ACW artillery was a direct line of site weapon.

While artillery was important in the morale context of the ACW battlefield system the queen of the battlefield was the rifled musket.

 

It is really important in an ACW battlefield game that artillery play its proper role - otherwise the game devolves into who micromanages their artillery the best.  

 

Getting the artillery to infantry balance incorrect is a key part of why the AI is so inept as an opponent.

The AI cannot micromanage artillery at the the same level of proficiency as a human.

 

The game would be dramatically improved if artillery played its historically correct role in UGG.

 

I've been preaching from the rifled musket pulpit for nine months now.  

It is great to see others are figuring out the artillery implementation has serious problems.

 

One of the fundamental differences between the Napoleonic Wars and the ACW was that relationship of smoothbore muskets vs. rifled muskets.

In the Napoleonic era canister range exceeded effective musket range - giving artillery a much greater battlefield role - which inflicted more battlefield casualties .

In the ACW rifled muskets achieved parity with canister range and superiority with accuracy and rate of fire.

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1 st off thanks for all the great feedback to my ideas.

Seems my concern about the leathality of frontal assualting batteries is covered.

My further concern would be about the game balancing of the Rebs vs the Union.  Seems the Union are consistently brittle. 

In the spirit of fair multiplayer battles, either the scenarious need to have a few more Union troops or you may want to look at tweeking the Union a bit... to help them hold the line a bit longer...

Ive pouned the hell out othe Rebs and they stood there, while the Union seems to melt way quicker...

Is this historic?

I like the variation in troop quality, but where the Union that much more brittle?

Darren

 

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After some extensive testing I do have to say with all honesty that for all the maps released on multi-player both Union and Confederate are pretty even. Union it seems does tend to need a bit more micro-managing. You need to be aware of your Brigades morale at all times and need to fall back accordingly. But as the Confederates advance if the Union fall back correctly without having too many of your Brigades Rout. The tide of the battle can turn very quickly. You can sap away the Rebels morale and when your Yankee reinforcements arrive you can flank and roll up the rebel line with ease. I have found no problem using this tactic on any of the maps and winning with the Union. But again the key is to fall back before your Brigades rout. If you have too many of your Union Brigades rout from battle you will find a hell of a time trying to have your units hold the rest of the battle. Do not be afraid to lose a VP cause they will not be able to hold it long.

 

My suggestions for battle placement is to set up two or three rows of Union Brigades. NEVER place your entire Army in a single line of Brigades. As Confederates advance fall back. Once your units have fallen back march those troops to the rear of the line behind other Brigades giving them time to regain Morale. Fall back before you rout your army. Focus your fire on only one or two Confederate Brigades. When the Confederates begin to waiver then you need to flank around the sides of their battle line and roll up their line. If you flank around to early you will give up your advantage and the Confederates can counter you. Do not Flank to early in the battle. You will be surprised how easily you can destroy even the best morale Brigades using this simple tactic.

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Darren,

 

Here's my quick incomplete list of brittle Union behavior in battles of the ACW:

 

First Bull Run

Ft Donelson 

Shiloh 

Stones River

Chancellorsville

Gettysburg

 

Both Grant and Sherman experienced the brittleness in Union formations - but as they evolved in command their forces appear to become less brittle.  Part of this change is because after Gettysburg the CSA was seldom on the offensive.  Note in all but First Bull Run the Union was on the defensive in each of these battles.

 

I don't include Antietam because it was a poorly coordinated attack running from north to south along the battle lines and the result of the Union attack was similar in results to other attacks (both north & south) during ACW battles.

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Another mystery to me is why when your fighting near the border of the map,  your brigade falls back and disappears from the map never to return.   Seems a tad unrealistic to me is this a bug?

Did it again today,   I will try to send in a bug report when it does,  but letting you know it is very frustrating

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Ive not noticed it myself but in another post a couple of days ago MikeK said ... "One annoying recurrence was units fighting near the edge of the map falling back to the map edge under the picture frame so "disappearing" for all practical purposes and thought routed from the field.  One of these, the Irish Brigade, showed up with a small portion visible again of its own accord, in fine shape, after the Confederates fell back out of Gettysburg itself.

 

Drawing a "box" extending beyond the visible map seemed inconsistent in selecting hidden units. "

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Ive not noticed it myself but in another post a couple of days ago MikeK said ... "One annoying recurrence was units fighting near the edge of the map falling back to the map edge under the picture frame so "disappearing" for all practical purposes and thought routed from the field.  One of these, the Irish Brigade, showed up with a small portion visible again of its own accord, in fine shape, after the Confederates fell back out of Gettysburg itself.

 

Drawing a "box" extending beyond the visible map seemed inconsistent in selecting hidden units. "

I clicked a bug report yesterday when an artilley unit disappeared from the field in a battle.

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