Barca
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How do CW2 fans feel about battles of annihilation?

Tue Dec 09, 2014 9:55 am

First, all hail to Pocus for his fine work on the latest beta patch.

I just want to confirm that the newest beta patch is partly designed to stop battles of annihilation, and ask some questions about such battles. I am referring to battles in which entire divisions or corps are wiped out. Playing around with previous versions of the patch, I have experienced a lot of such battles (on both the winning and losing side).

In one case, an entire division under Jackson was eliminated, due to the retreat rules, I suppose.

But I also wonder if it was because Jackson was using RR movement and encountered a larger Union force. Is it dangerous to rail a force into or through a region containing a large enemy force, even if the region is 100% friendly controlled at the start of the turn?

I also wonder if battles of annihilation are related to Postures not working properly. Jackson's force was set to "Defense, Retreat if Attacked" and the Union army was also in defensive posture, which makes the annihilation of Jackson's force even more odd. I suppose the Union force switched to offensive posture because the region was 100% CSA controlled, but the battle report didn't show this.

Anyway, let me finish this message with a plea: AGEOD, please do not take CW2 in the direction of battles of total destruction. In my opinion, that would ruin an otherwise fantastic game. Battles of annihilation (as opposed to mass surrenders of besieged forces ) would be a dealbreaker for me.

Others may disagree, but here is a good quote from the Rules of Play of "The Civil War" by Victory Games, the classic Civil War boardgame:

"Without exception, no Civil War battle resulted in the destruction of either side's army. Some people claim that the battle of Nashville was a crushing victory, but in fact it was not. Hood's Army of Tennessee was not destroyed in a single battle, but was destroyed in two battles -- Franklin and Nashville -- and a disastrous retreat over barren lands in the dead of winter.

"The general result of a Civil War battle was that oje side or the other would win a tactical victory and the other would retreat away in good order. Pursuit was impossible because the winner was as exhausted by victory as the loser was by defeat. The armies would regroup and face each other again. On some occasions, one army would recover faster and would be able to turn the tide of initiative and launch a counteroffensive."

oldspec4
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Tue Dec 09, 2014 10:18 am

I agree that the current beta battle results seem too excessive. As a result, I have not participated in the latest betas for CW2 and have shelved further TEAW beta play until the battle results are addressed further.

That being said, I do appreciate AGEOD's history of listening to player concerns and continuing support.

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tripax
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Tue Dec 09, 2014 11:28 am

I agree that this would be a dealbreaker. As I posted elsewhere:

tripax wrote:I agree that battles resulting in complete destruction should be rare, especially when the two forces were large (even when there is a significant size imballance).

I'm trying to think what large battles had more than 30% losses for either side. The Union had a few successful large sieges (Island 10, Donelson, Vicksburg, Port Hudson, Petersburg) and Forrest captured a number of smaller garrisons (some which had greater number of men than he had). Bull Nelson failed at Richmond Kentucky losing about 7,000 - his entire force - to about 7,000 under Kirby Smith, but otherwise, even routes like the Battle of Okolona (7,000 Union vs 2,500 Confederate, Union was routed but only lost 350 men), and Nashville (Thomas' 55,000 routes Hoods 30,000, Hood losing 6,000 men), Sheridan's victories in the Valley against Early and Picket usually saw under 25% losses on either side (Opequon saw 30% losses by the confederates). Bloodbaths such as Shiloh, Gettysburg, Stones River, Chickamagua, Spotsylvania, and The Wilderness saw at most 28% (Confederates lost 28% under Bragg at Chickamagua, Union lost 30% under Rosencrans and the Confederates lost 34% under Bragg at Stones River, Lee lost 32% at Gettysburg).

The table, here, has a bit more. That list has the 33 costliest battles, the average losses in those battles are 17% for the Union and 21% for the Confederates. I think these numbers are a bit high because they include Port Hudson where the Confederates surrendered and count only the corps involved in some battles during the siege of Petersburg such as at Fort Stedman and at the Crater.

Note, all my estimates are from Wikipedia articles on the battle and include killed, wounded, and captured as casualties.

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pgr
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Tue Dec 09, 2014 1:31 pm

First thing, make sure, if you are playing with the beta 1.05 patch that you have installed the "new" 1.05RC3 (dated December 5). The slightly older 1.05RC3 had a bug that was causing crashing, while 1.05RC2 had a problem with forces not retreating from battle properly. This bug has been addressed in RC3+ (as far as I have seen in play anyway), and with it the "Annihilation Battles."

So if you are still playing on 1.05RC1 or RC2, try the newest patch and see.

I have also previously posted on the subject.

I'm not for annihilation battles in the sense that stacks will just stand and hammer each other into the dust, despite having safe provinces to retreat to.

But I am against forces that have been completely surrounded, with no friendly province to retreat to, being able to slide through enemy lines without problem. Annihilation battles happen when there is nowhere else to go. So if you maneuver your enemy into a corner, you should have a good shot at bagging his whole force. (And if there weren't many decisive battles in the Civil War, its because Civil War armies were very good at keeping lines of retreat open and not getting cut off.)

I have seen no indication that AGEOD intends to have all battles turn into annihilation. the 1.03 changes are about making the battle and retreat work more smoothly. (on example is getting rid of the retreat bug that would cause a retreating stack to bounce back and forth between two enemy held regions, fighting battles until annihilated, instead of choosing neighboring friendly regions.) All the release candidates have been beta-tests, and part of the process is seeing what happens when you make changes. RC3 seems to have worked out the battle results problem that you guys are worried about, and I'm pretty excited about it to be honest.

Finally, I think it is great that Pocus puts out the beta RCs for us to test drive. A lot of development companies would keep the process to themselves and just issue the finished patch.

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Tue Dec 09, 2014 1:31 pm

The advantage of his new rule is that smaller forces attacked by a lot larger forces, now tend to be annihilated, wich should be the case.
In the past, I've often attacked smaller units with a superior force, at least 5 times their size.
If they have a lot less cavalry then you do, these kind of engagements should have a good chance to result in the much smaller stack being captured/annihilated

Edit: Posted at the same time as pgr. I agree with pgr

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Tue Dec 09, 2014 1:37 pm

As I've noted elsewhere, I definitely think there is something not working correctly, and I am guessing a combination of two things. This is with RC3.

1. Lack of a force, especially a force of equal size, not retreating out of a region after losing battle seems to be an issue. However, this might not be a problem if it were not for...
2. There also seems to be an issue, as noted in other threads, with MC. When a force enters an enemy region to attack, MC is 0 when it enters. But it never seems to gain any MC. The result is that the next turn, because MC is 0, the force changes to offensive, attacks and, if it loses, fails to retreat (and cancels any moves).

I believe based on my testing that this is what is occurring, resulting in the eventual complete wipe out of armies, not just smaller forces.

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tripax
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Tue Dec 09, 2014 3:33 pm

As a note, I'm not using RCs because I just want to have fun. But I hope it is ok if I try to comment and help.

minipol wrote:The advantage of his new rule is that smaller forces attacked by a lot larger forces, now tend to be annihilated, which should be the case...


I disagree, this should not be the case. Even in Opequan (and Fisher's Hill a couple days later, which should be included for comparison to this game) where Early made some mistakes and against a brilliant Sheridan 40,000 Union troops defeated 12,000 Confederates, both losing about 5,000 across the two battles and Early having time to regroup and consolidate with other forces to fight lose at Cedar Creek a month later (and at Cedar Creek Sheridan's 31,600 lost another 5,000 while Early's 21,000 lost 3,000). In neither case were any entire regiments destroyed, I think.

In the West, Wilson's Creek and Westport are great examples of outnumbered forces escaping destruction. Lyon at Wilson's Creek could even be said to have had orange or red posture (my understanding is that posture and cohesion might not really matter in these cases since MC is the most important factor).

There are even examples where raiding forces have been defeated deep in enemy territory and have been able to return to their starting point with losses but all regiments and brigades in tact (the Camden Expedition being the largest of these, perhaps).


pgr's point is fine, as it was three weeks ago. I didn't respond then because while encirclement is a great strategic and tactical goal, it seems to fail for tactical reasons which the game usually abstracts away from the player. He didn't suggest that annihilations were common, just that they were a common goal. I am trying to point out that they weren't a common result and shouldn't be a common result in most games. If in the game a player fails to give himself ample possibility to retreat, then the player isn't playing like most historic commander General's would recommend, and total destruction seems logical (but not definite). If a player does have a retreat path, even when outnumbered, I feel comfortable assuming that even a bad general on the ground would have the tactical wherewithal to take it.

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Wed Dec 10, 2014 4:15 am

Barca wrote:Others may disagree, but here is a good quote from the Rules of Play of "The Civil War" by Victory Games, the classic Civil War boardgame:
"

Of all the boardgames I have ever played that game, and Hell's Highway were my
most favorite. I feel like CW2 is a close computer simulation to Victory Games
classic.
"Ludus non nisi sanguineus"

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ArmChairGeneral
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Wed Dec 10, 2014 7:03 am

The balance I am looking for is that it should be possible but very difficult to achieve one of these smashing victories. I still use 1.04, and once or twice per game against Athena I am able to get decisive enough wins against Corps sized stacks that I can all but eliminate them given properly timed and executed follow-up attacks on the "shattered" Corps as they attempt to flee to safety. These are the peak moments of my games, way more satisfying and fist-pump-inducing than the relatively anti-climactic NM victory screen.

That being said, it should be HARD. More than once or twice (if that) a game would take away from the sense of accomplishment and break historical verisimilitude. I find it perfectly appropriate that as the winning side I should still need to hunt down and finish off the defeated stacks on subsequent turns, but am OK with one-turn-annihilation being possible under very narrow sets of circumstances.

Ping-ponging is annoying when it happens, but has been fairly rare in my experience, and the impression I get from the feedback in the threads is that the cure so far seems to be worse than the disease. I have no doubt that everything will be resolved in the end, though.

(At the risk of sounding like too much of a fanboy, the care and attention that is being put into this issue by the developers and the community as a whole is really impressive!)

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pgr
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Wed Dec 10, 2014 8:51 am

Armchair, I'd say it's premature to say the 1.05 development is a situation where "the cure is worse than the disease." the first RC had battle instability, but subsiquent versions seemed to have addressed the issue.

I find the Dec 5 1.05RC to be working pretty well, though there are rough edges to work out. I'd suggest that if people are really concerned about where things are going, they should do a parallel install, load up the beta patch, and play test the heck out of it. In my experience, the developers really appreciate error reports etc that help them iron out problems.

If you aren't that interested in playing with test versions, then I'd suggest staying with 1.04 at the moment, because the 1.05RCs are a bit unpredictable.

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Wed Dec 10, 2014 1:20 pm

tripax wrote:I disagree, this should not be the case. Even in Opequan (and Fisher's Hill a couple days later, which should be included for comparison to this game) where Early made some mistakes and against a brilliant Sheridan 40,000 Union troops defeated 12,000 Confederates, both losing about 5,000 across the two battles and Early having time to regroup and consolidate with other forces to fight lose at Cedar Creek a month later (and at Cedar Creek Sheridan's 31,600 lost another 5,000 while Early's 21,000 lost 3,000). In neither case were any entire regiments destroyed, I think.


See my original message, I was talking about forces at least 5 times the size of the other force. And capture or annihilation should not happen everytime but at least there should be a chance for it to happen.
Also, the number of total cavalry on both ends should play an importent role in deciding wether a force is surrounded and subsequently captured or destroyed or not (=able to escape)

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Wed Dec 10, 2014 2:48 pm

pgr wrote:Armchair, I'd say it's premature to say the 1.05 development is a situation where "the cure is worse than the disease." the first RC had battle instability, but subsiquent versions seemed to have addressed the issue.


Sure, thats why I said seems and impressions based on posts from all of you guys; I'm still using 1.04 because I haven't had time to devote to the 1.05 patches that I would want (I have had an unusual amount of work limiting my playtime the last month otherwise I would have loaded up and charged right in there) so I'm sticking with the one I know for now due to limited playtime (yes, I forum post at work a lot, my employer doesn't mind but would draw the line at actually playing while at work :) ).

Anyway, the part of what I was saying that was relevant to the OP was in the first two paragraphs: possible-but-hard.

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Wed Dec 10, 2014 6:04 pm

ArmChairGeneral wrote:possible-but-hard.


I agree totally... It's just translating that into code that is tricky...

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Wed Dec 10, 2014 8:09 pm

ArmChairGeneral wrote:(At the risk of sounding like too much of a fanboy, the care and attention that is being put into this issue by the developers and the community as a whole is really impressive!)


Wow! What thoughtful and great posts from this community. I will definitely stick with 1.04 for the moment until this issue is worked out, and I now have no doubt that it will be!

I also completely agree with pgr's distinction between (1) annihilation because a force really cannot retreat and (2) annihilation in other circumstances. If an army really is surrounded and trapped with its back to navigable rivers, and defeated, then I think destruction is warranted. It's only terrible when forces with valid retreat paths are wiped out.

Even the Victory Games "The Civil War" boardgame I referred to also allowed for battles of annihilation if the defeated army had no retreat path (in that game, forces could not retreat across navigable river hexsides, for example).

It's also very interesting to hear that the problems with 1.05 may be more due to MC than to posture or cohesion. For the moment, I will leave all those issues to those more knowledgeable than me.

As a final comment, one reason I dislike total destruction of units (except if they surrender) is that the complete destruction even of regiments is somewhat against the flavor of the Civil War. I think that in the real Civil War, it happened alot that regiments that started the war with around a 1000 men finished it with 20. But the regiment itself was not destroyed. Lots of Confederate regiments (and even brigades) that surrendered at Appottomax were reduced to skeletons, but still, they existed.

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tripax
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Thu Dec 11, 2014 6:33 pm

minipol wrote:See my original message, I was talking about forces at least 5 times the size of the other force. And capture or annihilation should not happen everytime but at least there should be a chance for it to happen.
Also, the number of total cavalry on both ends should play an importent role in deciding wether a force is surrounded and subsequently captured or destroyed or not (=able to escape)


Are there examples of forces at a 5:1 disadvantage that actually joined battle in an open field? This happened when the disadvantaged force was in a fort (such as Forrests attack on Pillow with about a 4:1 advantage), but in the field such a disadvantaged force would retreat as soon as it could. I think the disadvantaged force in CW 2 would/should automatically retreat at the outset when seeing such a disparity. I don't know how this works in the current game, it should definitely be a big risk to have a small force on the front lines with an enemy army in the neighborhood, but retreat from an overwhelming force should, in my opinion, be possible. I'm on a trip, but if no one has any examples, I'll try to find out what happened in the real war when overwhelming forces hit smaller ones. Sherman's marchers, for instance, forced retreats in their path but didn't, I think, annihilate any bodies of troops.

Also, it is hard to model movement across navigable rivers in the game. Since not all movement in the game takes place in the presence of transports, I don't know how the game should best model when Grant retreat to avoid confederate counterattack at the Battle of Belmont (you'll remember, that is when he rode his horse onto the ship as the last man to safety). Allowing retreats across a river is somewhat historic in this example, but it was a much more complicated action than the game makes it seem.

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tripax
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Thu Dec 11, 2014 7:01 pm

I have a couple thoughts I'd like to add.

First, after a second though, I agree with minipol more than I let on. Another way to interpret the rarity of 4:1 fights in the war is that such fights would have been such a strategic mistake that they were universally avoided. If such a force is near the front lines in the game, that is a strategic mistake that should cost the player. A real life example is the hypothetical result of Lee's lost order had McClellan been more daring before Antietam (hypothetically, Lee should have lost a corps at least).

Second, retreating forces are almost always faster than attacking forces. Union retreats to Springfield after Wilson's Creek and DC after Bull Run (and, I think, a couple other Viriginia battles I can't remember which) are examples. Even at Appomattox, Lee would have kept retreating to Tennessee if necessary if Grant hadn't sent a corps (under Gibbon? or Ord? or ?, can't remember) around his flank. I think fast retreats are possible even with very low cohesion. I don't have a strong feeling how this should work in the game, I just want to mention it as another reason annihilation was so rare.

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Fri Dec 12, 2014 1:29 am

Grant retreated from Belmont after Confederate reinforcements from Columbus started arriving. I've had exactly this happen to me a whole bunch of times: go in, fight a battle and win, a few days later my force bugs out because an even larger force comes to the first force's rescue.

I can't think of an actual battle in which the losing side directly retreated across a major river. Depending on where it was there might be enough transports nearby to pick up troops in the night and be gone by morning, but I wouldn't count on it if I were a commander. Shiloh is the only battle I know of which took place directly on a major river and outside of any urban areas.

If there were transports to be had, worse would be a smaller river that is too shallow to be navigable, but impassable because of a lack of bridges/fords. Lee was caught after Gettyburg in that situation. The Potomac is very wide, but shallow and with a very rocky bed. While he was waiting to cross it, because rains had swollen the river, and his first pontoon had been taken down by Union cavalry. Until he got a second bridge erected he might as well has had his back to the Mississippi without transports.
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minipol
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Fri Dec 12, 2014 12:54 pm

tripax, that's exactely my point. I might not happened a lot or even at all, but the chance should be there. In real life people tend to be a lot more careful.
So, if you, in the game decide to wonder around the front with a small force, and you meet a force with is significantly bigger (as i said, at least 5 times bigger),
then the force has the numbers to surround you.
If they have a lot of cav, then there should be a big chance they can tie you down and destroy you (in turns maybe) or capture the lot.
As you correctly pointed out, IRL the commanders where more carefull when dealing with movements and manoeuvers.

This is why the option in the game (total destruction) might be different from what happend in the war.
Because these kind of conditions weren't really met IRL. But I believe that if you make these kinds of mistakes, you should pay for it.
Otherwise people will always tend to send almost all troops to the front line, where in real life, lot's of cities, forts, depots etc where garrisoned.

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Fri Dec 12, 2014 3:26 pm

There is no doubt that the game can be different from real life. Of course, some of the fun is trying to achieve "what if" scenarios like "what if Lee's army had been caught and destroyed North of the Potomac" (after Antietam) or "what if McClellan's army had been trapped and destroyed" (during the Seven Days).

But a consensus is definitely emerging on this thread:

1. Total destruction of a force should be the result of the lack of a valid retreat path, and not something else.

2. Total destruction of an enemy force should be hard to achieve.

3. Players must take care to preserve a valid retreat path (MC) in order to avoid the total destruction of their forces.

The challenges are (1) to define what a valid retreat path is (and an invalid one); and (2) to make the whole thing work using software.

If POCUS and the team (and the community) can crack this combined problem of retreat logic + total destruction logic, then I think this game will be vastly, vastly improved, and that the improvement will impress the heck out of a lot of gamers . . .

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pgr
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Fri Dec 12, 2014 3:34 pm

Captain_Orso wrote:I can't think of an actual battle in which the losing side directly retreated across a major river.


I suppose you could make an argument for Antietam, in that Lee had to retreat across the Potomac via 1 ford. Lucky for him, Mac only decided to commit 1/3 of his force on September 17th (and but for the timely arrival of AP Hill, Burnside was close to blocking the path to the ford), and not attack on the 18th, allowing Lee to withdraw across the river without pressure.

As an aside, it is interesting that the game models "frozen" rivers that block sipping, but not high or low water... but I suppose that is a subject for a different rant!

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