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Combat log? - 2/23/2019 11:45:30 AM   
Jabod

 

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I have seen references in this forum to a log file that can be created to record the details of the last combat, but I don't see any explanation of how the player selects this option. What is the procedure?

I am trying to understand the mechanics of combat, and in particular the role of Initiative. Do all the individuals (sub-formations) involved in a combat attack at some point - or is it just sub-formations that belong to the attacking side, followed by permitted counter-attacks?

Can defending individuals get to attack before attacking individuals, if the defending ones have higher Initiative? How exactly does it work?
Post #: 1
RE: Combat log? - 2/23/2019 12:41:29 PM   
ernieschwitz

 

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Honestly, I don't know. I am sure someone like Bombur, or similar would know. Vic for sure would know... It's amazing how long I've played this game, just on intuition.

(in reply to Jabod)
Post #: 2
RE: Combat log? - 2/25/2019 10:42:30 AM   
Jabod

 

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References to this mysterious "combat log" is found in threads in this forum from several years ago (I am prevented from posting links, but you can find them by searching for "combat log"). There is no file anything like this combat log in my Log folder or anywhere else.

Fortunately, I have figured out a lot of the details of combat that interest me by looking at the regular combat summary after a battle, and also by using the very handy Combat Simulator (in the System Options of the Scenario Editor). The simulator lets you set up a model battle and then rerun it 200 times to discover the average outcomes.

It’s clear that if you give individuals high initiative they will “attack” first, even if they are the defenders in the overall battle.

The impact on combat is relatively minor, though. If you jack up the defenders’ initiative ratings so they fire first, they might be, say, 2% more likely to win a battle. It’s barely noticeable.

Far, far more decisive for the combat outcome is modifying the variables for counter-attacks (in the RuleVars). The ability to counter-attack greatly boosts the defence – even without the 50% reduction which (in the base game) applies to all counter-attacks by the attacking side.

I am primarily interested in modelling pre-20th Century warfare, and one thing I have come to realise is that the defensive is massively favoured in the plain vanilla game. This is no doubt appropriate for the 20th Century but it doesn’t work for previous eras.

If you think about a typical musket-era or medieval battle – the two sides were usually fairly evenly matched. Even if the attacker had a slight edge, it was never anything like the typical “3:1 odds” needed to overcome the defence in WW2, which is the basis for the game.

Disabling counter-attacks through the RuleVars provides a good way to redress the balance: without the counter-attack option I have found battles delivering far more historical results (for the pike-and-musket era).

As far as initiative is concerned, I have noticed a tendency for scenario designers to treat cavalry like tanks and therefore give them higher initiative than infantry. This sounds right intuitively: nimble fleet-footed cavalry against those slow-witted infantry!

But given that initiative simply decides who fires first, I think this is the wrong way to think about it. The range of weapons should be more important. Unlike tanks, cavalry can’t bring their weapons to bear until they are in direct contact. Musketmen got to fire first – and even a pike is longer than a sabre.

So for my pre-20th century battles, I intend to give the highest initiative to artillery, followed by infantry (but only in defence), then cavalry.

But as mentioned, differences in initiative ratings have relatively minor impact. Changing or disabling the counter-attack options is much more decisive.

(in reply to ernieschwitz)
Post #: 3
RE: Combat log? - 3/1/2019 3:37:10 AM   
MC456

 

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quote:

But given that initiative simply decides who fires first, I think this is the wrong way to think about it. The range of weapons should be more important. Unlike tanks, cavalry can’t bring their weapons to bear until they are in direct contact. Musketmen got to fire first – and even a pike is longer than a sabre.


I think there is also a "FirstRoundPenalty" stat which is useful for modelling assault/melee units. If you have a copy of the guide for ATG it also has a list of a lot of variables with details next to them.

(in reply to Jabod)
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RE: Combat log? - 3/1/2019 4:35:49 AM   
Ormand


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It has been so long that I forgot my password! I look, but have been busy as heck. Too much work.

Anyway, you can learn more about the combat mechanics http://www.vrdesigns.net/atwiki/doku.php?id=combat_calculations#determine_stacking. It describes it to some degree, but I will say that it is pretty complicated. However, I need to thank you for pointing out the simulator, I just never noticed it, and it is helping me to understand how it works and how to mold my to try and fix issues I find with the AI.

Yes, there is a "FirstRoundPenalty" for round 1 and 2 (so much for First). It is meant to reflect the disorganization of the attacker.

It seems that there is no combat log, but I suspect that this is similar to the results with the "Switch View" button. And, from the previous posts, it was lastcombat.txt in the log directory (perhaps more interesting is the file Allog_N, which I only just noticed). You can get more info from the "Details" button (and you should turn Fog of War off so you can see the opponent). It shows all the bonuses.

What is amazing is that overall infantry units have very little chance to hit anything, yet they do, after some 10 rounds or so.

Some quick observations, entrenchment REALLY matters, the entrenchment is added directly to the hit points. So, an entrenchment of 200 gives an infantry unit 300 hit points. Given that infantry have ~10 ATT points, it will be hard to make headway.

Unless you use concentric attacks. These bonuses can be huge! probably too much.

What you want to do is an interesting challenge, and should be doable. As for modeling early warfare with large massed formations, the first two things is to ask are why this was and hat drives this in a game. Why would this work better for a player.

As for the first, it is actually probably for a fe reasons:
1. weapons had low firepower and one needed a fair amount of troops to throw lead down field. They were slow to reload and they didn't have much range.
2. infrastructure. There wasn't a good road network so it was harder to supply troops away from a strong communication network.

There first can probably be summed up there being no machineguns. Meaning that with machineguns one could cover larger territory with fewer men. Having the firepower to stop attacks. In addition,since early machineguns were unwieldy, they were ineffective on attack. But, they could sure stop one.

I am not sure how to deal with #1 as there isn't a way to give a bonus for more stacking. Just the opposite. But, given the low ATT factors and high hit points, it is better to have more units as they can eventually hit things with more SFTs. Perhaps you should increase MaxAttacks as you want "he who has more troops" to win. Thus, a penalty for exceeding max attacks is not what you want.

You don't want everything in a single stack, but to maneuver and utilize the concentric bonuses, which should probably be higher since facing was more important in this era. Infantry should also have a higher initiative on defense. Although perhaps the FristRoundPenalty covers this well.

The second is easy by not having too many roads and increasing supply movement off roads. Thus, it is hard to move off the road networks, which was probably pretty much the case. In this regard, cavalry would be important as a means harass, and break supply lines.

As for cavalry and initiative, I am not sure I totally agree with you. Against early infantry with musket without much range, cavalry was intimidating, and the would likely reach the lines before the the infantry could really reload. That said, a charge into a mass of muskets wasn't a good idea. Instead, they were more useful to maneuver and outflank troops. They actually the troops that you should use to get the concentric bonus. Note that you can easily get a 40% bonus for every unit in the attack by having a unit attack from the back. (in ATG, they concentric bonus is how you should widen a breakthrough).

Also, the infantry should have almost no recon, just cavalry.

In this type of scenario, both training and morale REALLY matter. Essentially, combat should be a crap shoot, 50-50 in combat, with an edge towards well disciplined and highly motivated troops. So, you want this as a capability for the leaders.

Artillery, or perhaps more accurately field guns are also important. An issue is with range. Two hexes is probably way unrealistic. But, with one hex, they affect stacking on defense.

It is an interesting concept and the engine should be capable. Whether the AI can or not, I doubt. I suspect that it prefers to cover the map. Also, I am not sure the AI will handle artillery with a one hex range well.

(in reply to MC456)
Post #: 5
RE: Combat log? - 3/1/2019 10:26:42 AM   
Vic


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Ormand is right.

The combat log files may rest in peace since the "Detail" button has been added to the Combat Result window.

The Details Window shows ALL the steps in the calculations being made.




Be sure to play without FOW to have the full stats for both sides.

Attachment (1)

< Message edited by Vic -- 3/1/2019 10:27:20 AM >


_____________________________

Visit www.vrdesigns.net for the latest news, polls, screenshots and blogs on Decisive Campaigns and Advanced Tactics


(in reply to Ormand)
Post #: 6
RE: Combat log? - 3/1/2019 11:32:11 AM   
Jabod

 

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Many thanks guys for your replies. I very much appreciate this information and feedback. The first-round modifier is definitely something I’ll be looking at.

And thanks Vic for clarifying the issue with the combat log. After studying the in-game combat summary, I realised that it contains a lot of useful information. (And the combat simulator is an even more helpful feature. Really useful.)

quote:

As for the first, it is actually probably for a few reasons:
1. weapons had low firepower and one needed a fair amount of troops to throw lead down field. They were slow to reload and they didn't have much range.
2. infrastructure. There wasn't a good road network so it was harder to supply troops away from a strong communication network.

There first can probably be summed up there being no machineguns.


I have actually been thinking a lot about this issue and I agree with your conclusions.

In fact, it is not just machine guns but defensive weapons in general (massing armies together became really problematic by the late 19th century when you had quick-loading long-range rifles – though it took generals a while to realise this!)

As I touched on in my previous post, what’s notable about pre-20th Century warfare is that even an attacking army with only a small superiority would often win the battle. This couldn’t have happened if the defenders had had machine guns!

This had big implications for strategy, not just tactics. If you had split your army into lots of divisions spread out along a front, and one division was suddenly jumped on by much larger force, then the defenders would be overwhelmed before you had any time to respond. You had to keep your forces compact for mutual protection.

As you mention, logistics are also important. It’s not just the lack of good roads. It’s also the complexity of maintaining a supply line (depots, garrisons, wagon trains etc). Each separate army needed its own supply line. The garrisons needed to defend these lines would have to be just as big for a small army’s supply line as for a big army’s, so you needed to limit the number of your armies.

Napoleon was in fact the first general to break these rules when he introduced the corps system, with each corps advancing along its own axis. This was a big step towards the modern concept of the front-line. But even Napoleon’s armies were compact by modern standards: the corps were supposed to be one day’s march (about 20 miles) from each other.

And even Napoleon concentrated his corps together for major battles, which followed the traditional “battlefield” model: 100,000 men on each side facing each other over a couple of miles. Which brings us back to those other issues requiring armies to be clumped together for combat.

The other issue is communications. Of course, they didn’t have radio in those days. You had to communicate with couriers. So you needed your subordinate commanders to be fairly nearby for any hope of coordination.

quote:

You don't want everything in a single stack, but to maneuver and utilize the concentric bonuses, which should probably be higher since facing was more important in this era.


This is going to depend a lot on the campaign you want to simulate. Actually, there are some campaigns where I DO want everything in a single stack (at least for a particular theatre), because that’s what actually happened in those days.

The thing to remember about the concentric bonuses is that they provide a huge incentive for players to split up their forces, rather than clump them together in historical fashion.

In fact, historical examples of field battles involving ATG-style concentric attacks are few and far between. Now why is that?

Maybe one reason is that armies were very slow-moving in those days, and defending armies did not sit around waiting to be surrounded. Typically, they would just move out the way. (In most historical periods, battles never happened unless both sides wanted to “give battle”.)

If the scenario turns are, say, a fortnight or a month in length, then in reality the defender would have had time to react to the attacker's manoeuvres. Some compromises may be needed, e.g. with the concentric bonuses, to encourage historical results.

When you do look at those few historical battles with concentric-attack features, what you notice is that the tactical benefits weren’t as great as you might think.

Napoleon at Leipzig is a classic example. Facing was not a problem because his army was deployed in a circular formation. (He did lose the battle in the end, but only after a three-day fight and outnumbered two-to-one. Not so much because his enemies had attacked him in the rear. They attacked him from different directions because they were coming from different directions to begin with.)

You seldom had a situation where an attacking army crept up behind a defending army and suddenly stabbed it in the back unawares. The time it takes to approach with an army is much more than the time it takes to about-face some of your troops to defend your flank, or even your rear.

Of course, no general liked to be encircled. But the problems with encirclement were more likely to be strategic rather than tactical. Mack surrendered at Ulm because his supply line was cut off, not because his troops were facing the wrong way. The game engine handles issues like supply well.

quote:

As for cavalry and initiative, I am not sure I totally agree with you. Against early infantry with musket without much range, cavalry was intimidating, and the would likely reach the lines before the the infantry could really reload. That said, a charge into a mass of muskets wasn't a good idea.


In the game, initiative just gets to decide who fires first. So it’s not a matter of how fast it takes to reload. Infantry are almost always going to be able to use their weapons before the cavalry get to use theirs. This is also true of pikes as well as muskets. (In fact, in the early era, pikes rather than muskets would be the problem for cavalry - a formidable obstacle in fact, unless the infantry was already disorganized).

As far as subsequent rounds of combat are concerned, I think infantry should also get to fire first. The point is that if cavalry were repulsed in the first charge, they would not remain locked in melee or some such (as unrealistically depicted in the Total War games, for instance). They would retire, regroup and charge again. So musketmen would get to fire at them first, all over again.

But I think this initiative benefit for infantry should only apply in defence. If infantry try to attack cavalry, the cavalry should get the initiative benefit (they would literally run rings round the infantry). Defending infantry should also get to fire at attacking infantry first, so I would give infantry higher initiative in defence compared with attack.

(in reply to Vic)
Post #: 7
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