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RE: AAR II

 
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RE: AAR II - 10/26/2006 10:45:20 PM   
jchastain


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Just to touch on AI for a moment since it has gotten a good deal of attention, an experienced player can beat the detailed battle AI far more often than he will be beaten by it.  The game just has too many levels of complexity for the AI to be able to evaluate the situation as broadly as a human can.  It does reasonably well, but it is McClellan to the experienced player's Lee as should be expected.  That's not to say it isn't fun - it is.  That isn't to say it is a cakewalk - it isn't.  But the bottom line is the AI is not and cannot be as good as a player on a level playing field.

Complexity is the enemy of an AI.  AI can play tic-tac-toe pretty well.  There are very few options or alternatives and no surprises.  Raise the bar up to playing chess and the programming is far more difficult, but AI has gotten pretty darn good at that game - though it took literally tens of millions of dollars in investment to accomplish that task.  Wargames in general are complex and it is difficult to build an effective AI for any wargame.  FoF is complex even in wargame terms.  Anyone who saw the screenshot of all the different brigade and attachment types understands the complexity in just the tactical game.  Beyond that there are different terrain types, different weapon types for each unit, different generals, supply, morale and a whole host of other factors that makes this particular game seriously complex and especially difficult for the AI to manage.  And yet, it actually does a decent job.

The tactical AI is better than it was in CoG and it has actually been a ongoing discussion point and a point of emphasis during the development and testing of this game.  During the beta, there has been considerable discussion about the AI and whether or not it should be allowed to cheat in order to give it some extra capability.  The testers have come out generally against cheats and strongly against anything that players might be able to see or detect.  Without cheats or unless one is willing to reduce the complexity (and therefore the richness) of the gaming experience, the AI is at a disadvantage. 

So, what does that mean to the playing experience?  First, without cheats, as you raise the difficulty level of the game it applies more to the strategic game than to the tactical game.  But if you have far fewer resources to buy troops, research technology, upgrade weapons, promote generals, and conduct diplomacy, you will eventually lose on the battlefield simply because you don't have the firepower to compete.  That won't show itself in the early portion of the game but it tends to provide a bit of a snowball effect down the road.  So the first few battles might be fairly easy, but they will become progressively more difficult.  Remember Hard Sarge actually has better weapons in the battle above and can fire unmolested from long range.  On more difficult settings, that won't be true for very long.

So, when talking about the AI, I would caution that you have to consider the whole game and not just the tactical AI in isolation.  For those who still can't handle the fact that AI can't compete with a human in massively complex simulations, you can always turn off tactical battle entirely.  With Quick Combat, things are FAR less complex and the AI competes on an even par with a player.  As I have said before, the strategic game is entirely fun and playable by itself.  And, of course, you can always PBEM against another player.  But don't neglect to consider what happens on the battlefield as the war wears on if one side has a considerable resource advantage over the other.  In fact, isn't that a pretty accurate description of what happened historically?

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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 2:19:26 AM   
regularbird

 

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Hard Sarge, thanks for the AAR's I look forward to them every day.  I do have one question.  In your latest post it looked like you had 98,000 soldiers in your army around parkersburg in 1861.  Should the rebs be able to muster that kind of strengt in 1861?  I think the rebs never fielded more than 80,000 in an army the entire war, although I could be wrong.

From other ACW games brigades usuall consist of 400 to 1200 soldiers, is that the same for FOF? 

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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 4:22:07 AM   
doktor

 

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IIRC, regiments usually numbered between 300 and 700 soldiers.  A brigade would consist of three to five regiments.

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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 4:29:40 AM   
Hard Sarge


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got to run to work in a short bit so have to answer shortly

in the game, a Bde can be 3000 men (upgrades can up this to around 4000)

but most Bdes do not start at full stength

one thing on the main map, when you mouse over, you also get the stength of the city and fort troops also, so that is not the numbers of the ANV


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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 8:38:36 AM   
Grotius


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Thanks for that sensible explanation of the AI, jchastain. It sounds like the devs have taken just the course I would hope -- no obvious AI cheating, but difficulty levels with which to handicap the human player. Also, I'm not one of those who demands (unreasonably) that the AI be as capable as a human. Besides, I stink. :) Everyone tells me how bad the WITP AI is, but I still find ways to lose to it, if I crank up the difficulty setting and play reasonably historically.

Also, by the time I do get a thwacking the AI, I'm usually up for a PBEM anyway. This game supports some sort of multiplayer, right? I've forgotten whether it also includes tactical battles in multiplayer.

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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 8:50:55 AM   
Gil R.


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Grotius
Also, by the time I do get a thwacking the AI, I'm usually up for a PBEM anyway. This game supports some sort of multiplayer, right? I've forgotten whether it also includes tactical battles in multiplayer.


Well, "multiplayer" is, of course, limited to two sides. We have PBEM, hot-seat, and TCP/IP. Tactical battles can't be fought in PBEM, but can be in the other two. (Tactical battles are simply too complex for PBEM, and a single battle would take months and months to finish. That said, I believe it is possible to play tactical battles by e-mail if one plays hot-seat and saves the game and e-mails the save files after each turn or so.)

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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 5:43:03 PM   
Joram

 

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As far as jchastains comments, I completely disagree with the last paragraph. While it's nice to have the option to turn off the tactical battles, it doesn't make sense to say "Don't worry about the AI, just turn off that part of the game". I absolutely hated the quick battles in CoG and if it's the same system here, I know I will hate the quick battles in FoF. Which at least to this potential buyer, it would be nice to be sure that the tactical AI issues have been addressed.

I am encouraged by your other comments and do appreciate the complexity of creating an AI believe it or not. While it might be more feasible to do PBEM here then in CoG, I usually get bored waiting for the days or even hours between turns so PBEM is not a viable option for me normally. Which is why I harp on the AI issue so much!



Anyway, back to the AAR, keep up the screenies Hard Sarge, without a demo this is the next best thing and you definitely do the game justice.

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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 6:08:54 PM   
Hard Sarge


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Gil had wanted me to show off the Wilderness if I had the chance so here is a shot of it

of course, the Union decided it didn't want to fight the ANV, so ran away





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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 6:23:20 PM   
Hard Sarge


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This may be a long one, or it could be a dud

but over all, this could be the war

Robert E's Corps and Early's Corps have moved to engage part of the AOP that slipped behind my lines, with the ANV (Gregg, pretty weak really, a weak Corps) and the 16th Div (Bragg) set up for reinforcements

(going to try one of the commands I have not used before, the support command)




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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 6:31:03 PM   
Hard Sarge


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Sorry skip this post, wrong fourm

< Message edited by Hard Sarge -- 10/27/2006 6:33:44 PM >


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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 6:43:47 PM   
Hard Sarge


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Ahhh

my Corps ran into single Bdes moving around and slowed them down, so only the Div joined the battle

so 53000 Union vs 10000 CSA

well, need to use the terrain and my new skill, (hasty Entrechment)

I am going to use the heights (my choice of terrain this battle) and dig in and hope Bragg and the Z Man can hold out long enough for the Corps to be called in

this one could be nasty

which for the history books, this will be known as

The Battle for the Knob






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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 6:55:47 PM   
Hard Sarge


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ahhh, not much of a line, most of the Corps did not show up

I need to wait till the 2nd day, before I can call for more help

Terrain is my friend, but most of the Div has worthless weapons

my 2 Cav Bdes could be a bonus, but I do not have Dragoon Tactics yet, so they would be a one shot wonder if I just use them to rush the flank or rear

numbers are just too shaky to take any risks yet




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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 6:57:38 PM   
Hard Sarge


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and this is what my boys see coming at them




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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 7:12:33 PM   
Hard Sarge


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Day two

I have called for more help, Early is on the way

I have sent out my Cav to make hassle raids, but want to show off the fancy troops you may be able to get (check out the top unit)






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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 7:21:15 PM   
Hard Sarge


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I have moved off the hill and am closing in on the southern force, the north is turning to deal with my Cav and my 3 Bdes up there are closing in, so I need to distack the southern force from joining the the troops up north

(LOL, that make sense ?)

Early is slowing showing up and being rushed to the southern battle




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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 7:28:24 PM   
Hard Sarge


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got to keep the pressure up, Union forces charge though the high grass and catch one of my Bdes in the flank and rip it apart

them fancy troops have driven off both of my Cav (one ran away, the other is pulled back and resting for the next chance)

some of the Union boys are good ones, but it looks like not enough of them, the rest are Green and unsure




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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 7:29:27 PM   
Hard Sarge


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Ahhh, I think I forgot to add, the I got to pick the terrain, but the Union got the combat roll and did a raid supply, so I am pretty much short of ammo after my first shot

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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 7:33:06 PM   
Hard Sarge


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Crudwell

a double flank attack, and both bdes are out of command (top row almost all the way to the right, shows how many troops are out of command and how many I can bring back into order, out of command, means the AI takes over, something you don't really want to see too often, the AI will really ruin your plans)

but, over all, it may be a nasty attack on me, but opens them to the counter attacks






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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 7:34:02 PM   
Hard Sarge


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also, if you look, you can see the middle two CSA units have faded flags, which is how you can tell who is in and who is out




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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 7:36:07 PM   
marecone


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Looks bad Hard Sarge
Where are your reinforcements?
Someone will answer for this!

< Message edited by marecone -- 10/27/2006 7:38:12 PM >


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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 7:38:52 PM   
Hard Sarge


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Ahhh, these are the times you wait for

the Union is in trouble

as you can see, I was able to bring those two Bdes back under command

the fancy pants up north, are about to be double flanked (my flank in the south, when the wrong way !)

the cav is about to make a attack

both Union units are in disorder

the center is about to break, and the north is hurt, it all comes down to Early and the Southern force




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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 7:40:36 PM   
Hard Sarge


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oh, maybe I have forgotten something

see the blue boxes (I trie to use up as much movement as I can when I take snaps)

that is you movement points left over if you move into that hex and the arrow shows which way you will be faceing

very helpful

of course, nothing says the dogs are always going to go where you tell them to




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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 7:47:18 PM   
Hard Sarge


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oops, may of spoke too soon, the Fancy pants tear into my guys

the south has taken a heavy hit

but I should be able to out flank the north





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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 7:48:15 PM   
Hard Sarge


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but the south is the main area of battle now, looks like if the Union has any good troops left, here they be






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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 8:01:41 PM   
Hard Sarge


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a number of rounds of combat follow, but once fancy pants break, the Union starts to give up, looks like 6000 losses for the Union and a little over 3000 for me

the bad news is the Union retreated back onto the ANV

46175 to 38007, but I get the Terrain (forts and flat)

and I get the other choice too !, I am going to try for Internal lines, to try and stop the Union from being able to pull in the rest of the AOP (gonna be a bad enough battle as it is, with out dragging another 150000 men into it, but I got FORTS)




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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 8:11:16 PM   
Hard Sarge


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the ANV is a little better armed then the Divs running around, but the numbers are low

the 2 forts will help

the only help I can call on is Bragg and the 16th Div (8000 strong)

I got my battle option, so the Union can not call for any help until the 2nd day

oops wrong picture




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< Message edited by Hard Sarge -- 10/27/2006 8:13:39 PM >


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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 8:19:17 PM   
Hard Sarge


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oh oh, they coming right in, this could be bloody




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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 8:22:11 PM   
jchastain


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The numbers are reasonably close.  You once again start with better morale and therefore a greater will to fight.  They also have depleted ammunition from the previous fight.  And you have a definsive position with strong forts to defend.  I think it is safe to predict a rout here General Sarge. 

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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 8:23:35 PM   
Hard Sarge


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15 of 20 of the Union troops are in sight

my big guns have opened up, but the one fort is a little out numbered, if they brought any Arty with them, this could be ruff, but I do not believe it will be

there morale is pretty much shot, they lost a battle last month and just lost a battle this month




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RE: AAR II - 10/27/2006 8:37:57 PM   
Hard Sarge


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Heavy battle lots of give and take, the Union seems to be taking more then it is giving

the fort has been hammered

northern Union force is broken, time to bring down the boys to make sure the South is broken as well





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