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Projekt Pasha
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Removing MTSG or how Nostra accidentally fixed the game.

Sun May 03, 2015 1:37 am

This is a bit of a long story so bear with me.

As some of you may know a group of AGEOD fans have been playing a particular type of PBEM on the Paradox Forums for the sake of a larger audience for AAR writing. We call this a Mass Game where nations are divided up between players so as to make the factions more manageable, but that is not what I am posting about today. We are currently on the 4th of these "Mass Games" and something that became very prevalent in all of these games was a phenomena of "Deathstacks" Traffic was something of a mitigating factor but it could be ignored by clever use of rail movement and eventually became irrelevant in the third game by some point in 1915. It was at this moment that Nostra, a fellow player, hit upon what seemed like a radical idea that could fix this problem, simply removing MTSG would eliminate the ability to bypass traffic this way but it ended up having unexpected and, in my opinion as well as that of others, positive side effects.

With a simple altered settings file plus traffic we suddenly found a situation where more than one stack would refuse to engage in any region at any time. This may sound negative but bear with me. Suddenly, the game properly simulated static warfare for the first time ever. Battles were less severe in casualties per turn, but instead will go on for months with multiple formations in areas of dense concentration (i.e. the western front) and troops being rotated in and out of line. Fronts were encouraged as having more than two armies in a region unless one was about to attack became completely pointless, and even then no more than 3 or 4 depending on their weight. On the eastern front long fronts are encouraged, and warfare remains fluid due to length of the front precluding the concentrations necessary to fight months long battles. This one alteration turned the game from, in the words of my distinguished colleague Merlin "CW2 with infinite railcap and machine guns" to something that both looked and felt like the first world war for the first time ever.

It should be noted that there is a dissenting opinion, held by Merlin, on the benefits of this quick modification. However I do not entirely understand his argument in this matter. I will include the altered settings file below and I would encourage others to try this in their PBEM's so as to get more feedback. The alteration is a mere two lines deleted as I understand it, but the effects are incredible. Whilst this is a radical suggestion, I felt the improvement it brought to the game warranted sharing on these forums as well and perhaps a peek at it by our hardworking devs.

[ATTACH]33498[/ATTACH]
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PBEM MTSG Mod.zip
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Current Russian player in the third Paradox OT Forums Mass AAR.

Former Ottoman Player in the first Paradox Forums TEAW Mass Multiplayer AAR. Victor of Tripoli, Tyr, and Xanthi. Defender of the Holy Cities of Jerusalem, Mecca, and Medinah. Conqueror of Kuwait and Kitchener. Bane of the British and Sword of the House of Osman.

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Altaris
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Mon May 04, 2015 1:25 am

I'd be interested in knowing how the results pan out with these settings. Especially if the either the attacker or defender has multiple stacks in the region at the same time.

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Projekt Pasha
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Mon May 04, 2015 2:44 am

I shall do my best to keep you duly informed, without giving away too many details to other players in the game that may be reading this I am planning a larger scale battle now and will detail the results here for the benefit of the community.
Current Russian player in the third Paradox OT Forums Mass AAR.



Former Ottoman Player in the first Paradox Forums TEAW Mass Multiplayer AAR. Victor of Tripoli, Tyr, and Xanthi. Defender of the Holy Cities of Jerusalem, Mecca, and Medinah. Conqueror of Kuwait and Kitchener. Bane of the British and Sword of the House of Osman.



Militant confederate in my spare time. :neener:

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BBBD316
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Mon May 04, 2015 3:22 am

I should note as a follower/participant of the AAR's that of the 3 so far I think we have had the longest game go to mid 1916 I think. The last ended when Bulgaria was unlocked after the Germans had surrounded Paris.

The second was ended when basically the entire AH and Russian forces, I mean ALL of them, clashed in the mountains before Belegrade.

So we have noticed that this will really change the tactics of players

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Projekt Pasha
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Mon May 04, 2015 4:08 am

BBBD316 wrote:I should note as a follower/participant of the AAR's that of the 3 so far I think we have had the longest game go to mid 1916 I think. The last ended when Bulgaria was unlocked after the Germans had surrounded Paris.

The second was ended when basically the entire AH and Russian forces, I mean ALL of them, clashed in the mountains before Belegrade.

So we have noticed that this will really change the tactics of players


That was the first one that lasted until mid 1916, and it only lasted so long because no one had any idea what they were doing yet. As for the second game it was before Budapest on the Hungarian plain, but yes that is what happened. The entire Russian Army and the vast majority of the Austro-Hungarian along with very large chunks of the German clashed in a series of decisive battles that led to the Central Powers conceding their defeat.
Current Russian player in the third Paradox OT Forums Mass AAR.



Former Ottoman Player in the first Paradox Forums TEAW Mass Multiplayer AAR. Victor of Tripoli, Tyr, and Xanthi. Defender of the Holy Cities of Jerusalem, Mecca, and Medinah. Conqueror of Kuwait and Kitchener. Bane of the British and Sword of the House of Osman.



Militant confederate in my spare time. :neener:

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Pocus
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Mon May 04, 2015 9:12 am

I don't get everything. With MTSG off and Traffic on, you have stacks in 2 different regions unable to help each other, so you rely only on what you have in a single region, no support. With Traffic, it is harder to move at the same time a lot of troops in a single region, so again, you increase the 'loneliness factor' of a given region.

That said, once you have put in place a lot of troops in said region, why would only one stack be able to attack? Unless you changed frontage, there is nothing in the code altered, so you would still be able to have several large armies, in a single region, launch a major and decisive offensive. But as you don't have MTSG and Traffic slow down concentration, the front is more brittle, not less.
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Highlandcharge
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Mon May 04, 2015 1:44 pm

To me in EAW it doesn't make sense that a corps would leave there trenches in another region to MTSG, surely thats what rmy lvl reserves are for?

I love this game, but there is something about the Western front that doesn't quite feel right...

I believe that the Nostra mod if after testing is found to better simulate the static warfare of WWI , it should then be included as an option in the game menu, then it can be switched off or on as people prefer, like the traffic rule option...

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Mon May 04, 2015 4:04 pm

Highlandcharge wrote:To me in EAW it doesn't make sense that a corps would leave there trenches in another region to MTSG, surely thats what rmy lvl reserves are for?

I love this game, but there is something about the Western front that doesn't quite feel right...

I believe that the Nostra mod if after testing is found to better simulate the static warfare of WWI , it should then be included as an option in the game menu, then it can be switched off or on as people prefer, like the traffic rule option...


There should be a "front friction criteria" making a unit neighbouring ennemy provinces unable to MTSG : WWI MTSG was the second, third lines (divisional and corps reserves) and army reserves plugging the holes, not the front line troops doing it ! Simply put MTSG should be impossible if you are on the front line. So to MTSG a player would have to keep some quality troops in second line, which would emulate WWI better. The problem is that the front isn't "sticky" enough. units on the frontline were stuck there, they could hardly move. The whole concept of a frontline is that the 2 ennemy armies have pinned each other down, are holding each other with thousands of hands and can't move !

MSTG should be a lot more discriminant in a WWI game, this Napoleonic or CW game concept cannot work the same way in WWI Europe.

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Shri
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Mon May 04, 2015 4:42 pm

Well, Guys the way i understand MTSG is this way-
You have say 3 ARMIES (i have assumed armies to be 3 corps i.e. 6 divisions + Guns + Extras) and seven province to guard (just an example),
what you will do is put the armies on the EVEN tiles and put 1/2 CORPS (I have assumed corps to be 3/4 divisions + some guns) on the ODD tiles.
Now what happens on these tiles?

You probably need about 1 corps (Say 2 divisions + 1 Engineer/Sapper) worth to HOLD the line, the remaining troops in the army and corps are "FREE".
These are your tactical reserves and strategic reserves and they are used in MTSG. Or rather, that is the whole point of MTSG.

Let's also take cognisance of what the Imperial German Army's Defensive Expert Col. von Lossberg did-
(The Imperial German army was absolute best in defensive and offensive battles right up-to mid 1918, the tactics and strategies they evolved were almost always successful due to the excellent training given to the officers of the General staff)
Lossberg advocated a "LIGHT" front-line trench with criss-crossed machine guns, mortars, mines etc followed by 2 layers of strong trenches and then deep behind were the "Counter-Attack divisions".
The Front-line was held by 2nd line troops, the 2 levels of trenches by a mix of 2nd and 3rd line troops and the counter-attacking troops were "Picked troops" absolute 1st line. Along with the bulk of the Heavy Artillery they were about 5-8 miles behind the front depending on the situation, intensity of attack etc and as soon as the 1st line had broken they would start moving forward, the enemy will fight a bloody battle with the second line and just as they relaxed or tried to get their reserves trooping in, the ENORMOUS counter-artillery batteries will rain FIRE and the 1st line divisions will give a solid counter-attack.
This was the reason for those enormous casualties for Defenders as Defenders did not do PASSIVE DEFENSIVE battles.
This also meant a "QUICK" advance was necessary or else the army will get bogged down, that is why right up-to 1918 there was stalemate on the Western Front.
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Projekt Pasha
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Tue May 05, 2015 1:34 am

Pocus wrote:I don't get everything. With MTSG off and Traffic on, you have stacks in 2 different regions unable to help each other, so you rely only on what you have in a single region, no support. With Traffic, it is harder to move at the same time a lot of troops in a single region, so again, you increase the 'loneliness factor' of a given region.

That said, once you have put in place a lot of troops in said region, why would only one stack be able to attack? Unless you changed frontage, there is nothing in the code altered, so you would still be able to have several large armies, in a single region, launch a major and decisive offensive. But as you don't have MTSG and Traffic slow down concentration, the front is more brittle, not less.


I'm not a programmer nor am I particularly familiar with the AGEOD engine, and I am not the progenitor of this modification. However all evidence up to this point shows more than one stack in a given region will refuse to engage in a given battle with the modification in question, attacking or defending. You can send several armies forwards, but only one will engage per turn and same with the defense. So instead of having a single day battle with 100s of K casualties each you have combat stretched out over months with smaller battles each turn and troops being rotated in and out of the frontline. The issue before was not simply that fronts were brittle, it is that they were not forming at all. Each armed forces would be to the greatest extant possible concentrated into a single stack capable of fighting as a group with the entire army if possible MTSG. Now that is impossible, and the ability to respond means its pointless to have more than two armies in a province on defense, and having more than three or four on an attack runs into problems with traffic. The result is the eventual formation of a static western front where any large scale battle lasts months and not days, as historical, and a fluid eastern front.

As I said once a good example of a multi-stack extended battle comes up I shall detail it here.
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Former Ottoman Player in the first Paradox Forums TEAW Mass Multiplayer AAR. Victor of Tripoli, Tyr, and Xanthi. Defender of the Holy Cities of Jerusalem, Mecca, and Medinah. Conqueror of Kuwait and Kitchener. Bane of the British and Sword of the House of Osman.



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Nostra
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Thu May 07, 2015 6:55 am

So, I had no idea this would get so big.

I am the guy that made this dirty little "fix" and it really is nothing more than exactly that.
It merely touches the game settings and disallows commanders from using MTSG that is absolutly all it does.

Also it seems that troops that enter or are in a province do fight together as can be seen from this battle we just had in our game over Lemberg.

The attachment xHZ9Wxg.jpg is no longer available


As can be seen more than 1 army formation participiated in this clash allthough not all of them and only some of them are actually displayed in the log.

Overall atlest for me as the Russian player it really slowed down and made me hesitant to go for the Warplan prize of Lemberg right from the start until I had everything in position and could them sent in with synchronized movement in waves.

The Westfront in our game actually sees almost no movement even in 1914 although that might be the defensive warplan by germany and general hesitation by the players
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Shri
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Thu May 07, 2015 9:38 am

@Nostra
That is one terrible battle. 78000! is approx. 20% and the Austrians lost 29000 which is approx 30% of their forces!.

I am curious why the front was static in 1914?
Kluck and Bulow as also Hausen have only the 5th Army, Belgians initially and later the British unless the "PLAYER does gamey positioning of other French armies in Belgium", so the Germans can win a few battles up-to and possibly including Lilee even with MTSG off.
I am quite sure the Belgians cannot beat the 1st and 2nd German Armies on their own.

On the other hand without MTSG any offensive in Longwy, Briey, Sedan and Alsace-Lorraine is nearly impossible due to almost equal stacks in numbers, the French have the advantage in numbers and guns, the Germans have the Medium and Heavy Artillery to blast the French attacks with strong counter-attacks.

P.S.: Interested in playing a PBEM with your group and trying out the settings. Let me know if i can join in the next game.
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Highlandcharge
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Thu May 07, 2015 10:57 am

Hi Shri, sorry I have been out of contact for a few days, been busy, hey why don't me you and Durk start a new game with the mod?

I am excited and really hopeful that this mod may make the Western front actually feel like the Western front...

Edit.... would you be able to play against the AI with this mod enabled?

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Shri
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Fri May 08, 2015 9:33 am

@Highlandcharge

I am okay with starting a new game, same TEAMS, provided DURK is also on board with the NOSTRA mod.

@NOSTRA
Is there any way we can install your mod and yet go back to playing VANILLA if necessary without major changes?
If so, please let me know.
Rascals, would you live forever? - Frederick the Great.

Nostra
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Fri May 08, 2015 1:50 pm

If you have the game on Steam just deleting the settings file and then verifying the game should redownload it.
Otherwise a complete new install would ofcourse also revert it back.

If not on Steam making a copy of the settingsfile and storing it is advisable.
Once you want to go back just copy and overwrite the file and you are done.

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Shri
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Sat May 09, 2015 8:44 am

@Nostra

Thanks
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Altaris
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Mon May 11, 2015 1:05 am

So a few things I question about this setup:

1) Battles initiate any time a stack moves into a region. With this setup, do you have a bunch of battles being triggered left and right when new stacks move into the region? I can see how this might accomplish the goal of limiting number of units engaged once the front becomes static, but if there's ever any movement I would think you'd have lots of battles initiating.
2) What happens in the early 1914 game? This seems the biggest potential issue with removing MTSG completely, as it would be very easy to stop the Germans dead in their tracks without them having the ability to mutually support their flanks.

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Byrd
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Mon May 11, 2015 1:37 pm

I can not really see how disabling MTSG would work. A Corps a region would simply not do since it only takes a single Army to possibly devastate it entirely. This happens with MTSG often enough as is. Without, the only plan to ever make sense for Germany would be the one with the narrowest front (while this always makes sense, germany can at least hold on to a possible somme/marne/mosel front preserving a chance of a final offensive) I just can't see how Germany could maintain a frontline without sufficient troops in every region to repel a possible 2 Army assault as the CP will end up outnumbered.

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Sir Garnet
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Tue May 12, 2015 7:59 am

Maybe it makes sense to break this down into separate problems that are being solved.

Considering that the months-long "battles" tended to be comprised of a series of much shorter battles from a day to two weeks or so before they wound down, often at shifting spots along the line, the length in time of battles seems matched to the length of game turns, during which a formation can be involved in multiple engagements.

The game system with MTSG inherently devalues the "death stacks" needed in many games in order to concentrate force because nearby forces can cooperate effectively through proper use of orders and the effect of MTSG. Without MTSG and only individual stack-on-stack combats, isn't the priority to have the strongest stack?

The excellent posture/engagement orders and military control system in the Athena engine makes it possible for opposing troops within the same area to sit on the defensive facing each other and entrenching deeply, or move back out or across, without having to fight unless an attack order is given, or troops are called by MTSG to aid nearby friends.

At least on the conceptual level, this should make it very good for representing opposing trench lines where adjoining and rearward formations can provide substantial reinforcement to the units at the point of battle. The power of entrenched defense means a fraction of a formation can maintain the front while troops are rotated laterally to support friends, or engage in supporting attacks or counter-attacks further along the line. Having formations in a second-line makes sense as well with MTSG, both for defensive support and when staging for an offensive through the front lines.

I expect that there is a problem if the in-game battle results include broad sectors of the line in the west breaking loose from their entrenchments other than by successful assaults dislodging the defenders or as a result of repositioning prompted by a breakthrough.

Severity of casualties depends on orders given, and the point at which one side withdraws depends on the settings. Maybe the effects of ordinary defend and "at all costs" ROE settings need to be adjusted to allow for more tenacious defense for a formation that is part of an entrenched line (i.e., continued by units to one or both adjoining flanking regions, which makes retreat a danger to the whole line).

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