v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (Full Version)

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pzgndr -> v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (1/8/2021 10:58:50 PM)

For the past couple of weeks, I have been fine-tuning and adjusting the new AI functions I've recently implemented. Retreats, advances, redeployments, and movements of special units (Gd, Arty) are tricky to get "just right." Things like force ratios for the strategic situation, the operational situation within an enemy nation, etc. The 1812 Scenario is the testbed I'm using, playing as Russia against France and other MPs as computer opponents on hard difficulty. The following screenshots show the development of the 1812 campaign...

pzgndr -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (1/8/2021 11:02:59 PM)

June 1812 opening moves. As Russia, my strategy is to run. Northern armies retreating to the forest between Minsk and Vitebsk, the southern army retreating to Kiev. France advances to Kovno/Grodno/Brest-Litovsk.


pzgndr -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (1/8/2021 11:08:08 PM)

July 1812. France moves first! So it's the dreaded double-move, and Davout leads the attack against Russian forces in the north. Russia chooses Defend, France chooses Echelon. The combat wasn't so terrible, but the French pursuit was brutal. Barclay retreats with what's left.


pzgndr -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (1/8/2021 11:11:29 PM)

August 1812. Russia continues its retreat to Moscow, not wanting to take further chances at this point. France advances to siege Minsk, Vitebsk, and Smolensk. Napoleon lags behind with the Guard and Artillery.


pzgndr -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (1/8/2021 11:16:48 PM)

September 1812. Russia holds firm in Moscow, but southern army under Tormasov advances west. My thought is to potentially threaten Frances rear flank depending on what they do. France continues a slow advance but does not proceed past Smolensk.


pzgndr -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (1/8/2021 11:24:36 PM)

October 1812. Russia decides to go for Brest-Litovsk, easily taking the French garrison. France reacts violently and dispatches large forces under Napoleon himself back to Brest-Litovsk to stabilize the situation. Russia has a choice, to either defend and risk certain heavy losses or attempt a withdrawal and hope for the best. So, Russia chooses Withdraw but it fails. France chooses Assault, plus its artillery bombardments, and chews up the Russian defenders. Stragglers are totally eliminated by the French pursuit.

This was an army lost that didn't have to happen. However, it made France pull forces back to the frontier far away from Moscow, and the weather is starting to get cold...


pzgndr -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (1/8/2021 11:27:16 PM)

November 1812. A quiet month. The Russian army holds in Moscow. French minor forces cautiously advance beyond Smolensk.


pzgndr -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (1/8/2021 11:34:09 PM)

December 1812. Another quiet month. Russian infantry reinforcements in September and again in December are starting to beef up the army again. Looking at some of the French corps strengths, reduced more because of foraging losses than battle losses, I suspect the force ratio has shifted to the point where the French AI isn't making bold advances. Russia holds, and can start 1813 in fairly good shape.


pzgndr -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (1/8/2021 11:45:59 PM)

A few closing comments. I have run and re-run this campaign probably a dozen times in the past week. Each time I'll see something that warrants an adjustment to the code, so with each "fix" it gets better.

This was a pretty good run, but I'm still not happy with how the Gd/Arty special units advance in the campaign. I'm also questioning the retreats, since those French minor corps close to Moscow should be close to being outnumbered and pulling back. So I will relook these code sections.

If nothing else, folks should recognize that the computer opponent is now something to be reckoned with. The AI is still not brilliant, but is much more capable than before and that makes it a bit more challenging. I will keep poking at v1.23.08 for the next couple of weeks, running playtests with both the 1805 and 1812 campaigns. I do hope to finalize an official release later this month. Keeping fingers crossed!

DonCzirr -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (1/10/2021 2:19:40 AM)

Nice work Bill - thanks.

I'll upgrade once you do the official release and give my Brits a run on the full campaign.

pzgndr -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (1/10/2021 6:32:29 PM)


Nice work Bill - thanks.

Thank you. I share this stuff to show what I'm thinking about. The 'old' AI did not advance, retreat, or redeploy forces over long distances. Now it does. Sometimes good, sometimes not so good, so I playtest to see what the AI is doing and why, think about what it should be doing better and how to code that, and then make adjustments.

By the way, I created a new advance function for special units (Gd/Arty) so that's working quite well now. Quite well. I changed the Russian retreats to be 2-3 areas now, and also looking to apply that to other nations at war with France outside their home nation areas. Quick playtest as Turkey to watch AI France and AI Russia had the French steamrolling to Smolensk and beyond, and Russia went for a conditional surrender in October. Wow. I think I have unleashed the computer opponent! Now I'm pondering how the AI can garrison home cities during land move retreats, to help slow down invaders.

pzgndr -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (1/19/2021 12:26:37 AM)

Round #2. It's been about 10 days and I've been busy trying to tackle several AI issues. Firstly, as discussed previously, I added a function for retreaters to garrison home cities. I did change the Russian retreats to be 2-3 areas in Russia. I also added a feature to un-assign leaders in overwhelming numbers situations, to help preserve AI nations' leadership from being all killed or captured. Another nagging issue was how the AI was placing and removing depots, and that's taken me several days to figure out and resolve to my satisfaction.

So, what follows next is another playtest of the 1812 campaign. This time I'm playing Turkey so I can observe a hands-off AI-vs-AI game. I'm pleasantly surprised at the results. Here we go...

pzgndr -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (1/19/2021 12:32:41 AM)

June 1812. During Russia Reinforcement, leaders Bagration and Tormasov are un-assigned. Odds are 7:1 and 6:1, so they take a break. Their armies retreat back past Minsk and Kiev, leaving a garrison at Brest-Litovsk. Forward depots are removed, and rear depots established at Vitebsk and Kiev. France advances forward, assaulting Brest-Litovsk but the fortress holds.


pzgndr -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (1/19/2021 12:44:02 AM)

July 1812. Russia continues its retreat. Barclay and Wittgenstein retreat 2 areas, leaving a garrison at Kovno. The other army also retreats 2 areas, to Smolensk. Oddly, Russian VI and XI Corps stayed at Kovno. France moves to attack both Barclay and Kovno. Barclay wins the battle and Murat retreats. Napoleon wins at Kovno, forcing the two corps to retreat with about 3 factors left.

Comment. Usually, Barclay would retreat 3 areas with all corps and be north of the Dvina River. This time he left himself vulnerable but held his own. The variability of retreats (1-2 areas or 2-3 areas, depending on odds) cause some uncertainty, and sometimes creates opportunity. The 2 corps at Kovno should have retreated toward the nearest depot, toward the northeast. There is a glitch somewhere that I have been trying to track down and resolve for good. Usually the retreats work correctly, but occasionally I still see things like this.


pzgndr -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (1/19/2021 12:50:21 AM)

August 1812. France moves first, and gets a double move! Murat goes right back after Barclay, 73:33, but gets handed another defeat. Jerome goes after the Kovno stragglers with a trivial combat, 45:3, but Russia still manages to limp away with 1 militia. Barclay retreats back past Vitebsk. Russia assigns Kutnesov to the army at Smolensk.


pzgndr -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (1/19/2021 12:54:13 AM)

September 1812. A quiet month. Russia holds its positions around Smolensk. Napoleon advances past Vilna towards Vitebsk. Davout is dispatched to deal with the last of the Kovno stragglers back in Konigsberg; 2 corps and 20 factors going the wrong way...


pzgndr -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (1/19/2021 12:58:53 AM)

October 1812. The race is on. Barclay retreats to Moscow, and Kutnesov retreats to Tula. France advances to Vitebsk, but Napoleon lags behind with the Guard.

Comment. The AI was doing pretty good placing depots, but here Russia has not placed depots at either Moscow or Tula for some reason. An issue I need to look at, tomorrow...


pzgndr -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (1/19/2021 1:05:48 AM)

November 1812. I didn't expect the AI to go for it, but it did. Murat charges ahead to Moscow and attacks, 54:36. L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace. However, to charge ahead and then select the Probe chit, and Barclay responds with Esc Counter Attack, the battle does not end well for the French. Russia holds.

Edit. Also notice how the southern army is now starting to retreat, now that the capital Moscow is threatened.


pzgndr -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (1/19/2021 1:17:10 AM)

December 1812. Russian forces are consolidating at Moscow and standing firm. Still no depots being placed at Moscow or Tula. French do not attack again, but oddly move north to the forest west of Moscow. This ended up being fairly historical, in that the French made it to Moscow and the Russians are still holding on. I've seen the Russian AI sue for peace, a conditional surrender, to the French AI, but not this time. Well played.

Considering the several battles that Russia won and France lost, a quick look at the VPs shows Great Britain ahead at 80%, France in second place at 77%, and Russia a close third place at 74%. Not too bad.


pzgndr -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (1/19/2021 1:31:05 AM)

Final comments. The advances and retreats appear to be working well. I'm still concerned about how Napoleon lags behind with the Guard, but the Artillery moved forward with Murat and was used against Barclay and the Russian artillery so that's good. The retreats leaving behind a garrison helps balance things out by causing some delays, at least for AI-vs-AI. A human player probably would not leave behind so many forces to besiege and would press ahead.

Another comment. I noticed after all these months that Bessarabia was not ceded to Russian control. I fixed that. The two Russian corps that start there did not retreat, either initially or once Moscow was threatened. So that's another issue I want to resolve.

Final comment. These playtests have been VERY productive. The computer opponent is now behaving like a more challenging adversary. I want to resolve these minor issues I mentioned and then move on to some final playtests. I want to play out 1812 through 1814 as Austria and/or Great Britain to see how the end-game looks. And then back to 1805 to see how the first couple of years look with these AI improvements. After that, maybe a few more minor adjustments and then wrap it up for official release. A couple more weeks hopefully. Fingers crossed...

Rasputitsa -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (1/19/2021 6:24:59 PM)

I have let this game pass me by, but now coming late to the party and impressed to see the development work you are achieving.

This is looking better and better, thanks very much for a must get game.

pzgndr -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (2/2/2021 9:15:37 PM)

An update of sorts, to let folks know what I've been up to for the past couple of weeks. I did start playing as Austria in 1812 scenario and got into autumn 1813. The war in Russia between AI France and AI Russia was interesting to watch. Some French forces survived to spring 1813 and battles lingered in western Russia and Poland. AI Prussia did not DOW France until late summer 1813. Austria got into a nuisance war with Turkey and I held them off until we resolved an informal peace. That allowed me to focus on reclaiming Tyrol and Carinthia, as well as pressing forward toward the Rhine. However, a couple of issues forced me to stop. Tyrol, being ceded to France and made part of Confederation of the Rhine, did not return to Austrian control. This required several days to track down and resolve conquest of ceded provinces held by a Kingdom, not the same as a minor country. Another Kingdom issue was that French minors that became COR were not building reinforcements. I had code for Free State minors to do this, so just added Kingdoms to it. The good news is that I think I resolved these issues and a few others, but the bad news is that along the way I introduced something to cause Access Violations and other errors. These will take a little while to track down and resolve, as the debug code just locks up and doesn't show where and why. It's frustrating.

I will also say that once AI Spain surrendered to France, AI Great Britain forces basically holed up in Portugal. This is going to be an item for v1.24 later, to look at naval transport for strategic reinforcements and withdrawals, as well as redeployments. I can only shake my head for now. My focus is on getting v1.23.08 wrapped up and released. Hopefully this month but maybe March. We'll see.

pzgndr -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (2/24/2021 12:55:11 AM)

Another update. It's been about 3 weeks. As I got back into 1812 playtesting, more adjustments were needed for advances, retreats, and redeployments. It looks pretty stable now and I'm not as annoyed with the AI as I was. Playing as Austria, I got to July 1813 and DOWd France when I could, and then moved to retake Bavaria, Tyrol, Carinthia, and Dalmatia. Tyrol I already fixed for a ceded province controlled by a kingdom, COR. Carinthia was still a problem with evacuating my units, but I fixed that too for the case of retaking a ceded province controlled by a major, France. Both work now and Austria has control of its provinces again.

On the other fronts, Spain surrendered to France a while back and Great Britain was forced off the peninsula. In Russia, France did not make it to Moscow but the back-and-forth battles took a toll on both sides. There is STILL fighting in Vitebsk, Smolensk, and Kiev, and it's now September. The Battle of Leipzig should be happening next month but Russia is still struggling to kick France out. Oh well. Anyways, I want to continue this game a bit more to see how 1813 ends and get into 1814 for a bit before shifting gears back to playtesting 1805 some. And then release. That's the plan.

On a personal note, good news is that I retired in December but bad news is my priority now is taking care of my wife with some serious medical issues. Wargaming provides some respite but there are days I cannot focus on code development. I do what I can. We'll get there. We're close.


pzgndr -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (3/1/2021 12:41:24 PM)

The 1812 playtest saga continues. But this is good, because as I continue to play through the endgame I see things that need adjustments and can make those adjustments. Like why is France continuing to redeploy units to Russia when it's in Instability? Fixed. Why isn't Russia attacking COR minor corps? Fixed. Why is Tyrol showing Conquered political shading instead of home nation? I haven't been able to fix that one. Oh well.

Two success stories to report. One. As I continued to watch AI Great Britain do nothing, I finally dug into the amphibious invasion code to see what could be done. The code works pretty well early on with minor DOWs and invasions, so what is the holdup later? A few adjustments later and I've seen AI Great Britain move fleets to Sweden and then invade Denmark with Swedish corps, besieging Copenhagen. This is a positive development. Two. I noticed new AI corps with minimal factors starting to move and wondered why not transfer some garrison factors to corps if applicable? So some more code and a new transfer function later and I've seen Prussia transfer factors from Berlin to a corps. This is another positive development.

I am getting to the end of my list for 1812. I will soon start a 1805 playtest to verify how all this stuff works through the early game. I'd like to caveat my thoughts about AI to emphasize that this is not just about being able to play better solo games but to improve the computer opponent enough so that it's reasonably competent to the point that small playgroups of 3-4 players might try faster PBEM games with some computer players.

pzgndr -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (3/6/2021 12:42:27 AM)

As I got into 1815, Russia and Prussia failed to impress me. I think something wasn't right with determining enemy in an area if the enemy was kingdom units, so I addressed that. Russia is now going after Warsaw finally, and Prussia sent a couple corps out of Berlin to prep for an attack on the French in Posen. Prussia is also advancing towards Amsterdam and redeploying towards Paris, with two corps ending in Nassau and besieging that city. The AI code I have written to determine a nation's overall strategic situation and its postures to advance or retreat gets complicated. In this case I fixed one logic error and made another adjustment to restrict the retreat posture if the strategic situation is 2:1 or more. This was holding Prussia back; it appears fully energized now.

Another thing here is that Great Britain has invaded Holland and is besieging Amsterdam, which is good. I want to adjust the amphibious code just a bit to also allow some reinforcement invasions to move more troops from London to Amsterdam. At this point I want to get something to work decently for v1.23.08 release; refinements will have to wait for a future version. Another adjustment I want to make is to provide sea supply to support these actions. Again, the old game code was OK for some DOWs on distant minors and making an amphibious invasion. I just want it to do more for possibly invading other minors already at war. Risky invasions against majors may also have to wait for a future version.

I previously mentioned getting the AI transfer function to work for moving factors from garrisons to corps. Considering the AI often has corps away from depots and ineligible to receive reinforcements, as I sometimes forget about, I added a check for the AI to see if it has unplaced reinforcements and to convert unplaced factors to infantry, and then cycle through the reinforcement functions again. Little things like this help the AI behave more and more like a real player.

Last comment. This is taking so long because I really need to "play" the game myself to see what works and what doesn't, and make adjustments accordingly. This game is now into spring of 1815, but with the adjustments I have made I expect Great Britain, Prussia, and Russia would have performed much better in 1813 and 1814 and we'd be in a better position. As Austria, I have held my forces back at the French border to allow my AI allies to do what they do. It has been quite tedious and frustrating to run and re-run my game saves over and over again to zero in on problems and fix them. Slowly and surely it is all coming together. Next goal is the reinforcing amphibious invasion and sea supply. Then wrap up the 1812 scenario and play 1805 some. I hope some players are keeping up with my comments and find this stuff interesting and informative. Onward!


nelmsm1 -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (3/6/2021 4:10:01 AM)

Yes, I'm following along and finding it interesting. Grateful you are keeping up the work.

pzgndr -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (3/7/2021 4:55:08 PM)

And here we go. AI Great Britain has completed a reinforcing amphibious invasion, landing Wellington and a second corps at Amsterdam. I had to find and fix a logic error in my strategic ratio function that was including depot and garrison forces in range of the previously landed corps at Amsterdam. The odds were too high to support a reinforcement, my thought being a trivial combat situation is a lost cause. So now the odds are better and the landing proceeded; sea supply is also supporting the landing. Of course, this correction to the strategic ratio will affect all other situations checking for retreats and advances, hopefully for the better. I'll watch how it goes when I playtest 1805 next.


pzgndr -> RE: v1.23.08 Playtest - 1812 Scenario (3/11/2021 1:00:27 AM)

Continuing on into June 1815. Yes, not quite Waterloo, but the playtest goes on. Two things here. First, a second reinforcing amphibious invasion to Amsterdam was not being executed, so I resolved that. Here, Great Britain has landed two additional corps for a total of four on the mainland now. The Amsterdam garrison continues to hold on, but the Brits will soon be free to march south to Paris. Also, the Prussians are in Holland at Breda, and the total allied force is causing the two French corps to retreat.

Second, during June reinforcements I noticed AI France trying to place minor corps in Hanover, Hesse, and Saxony but failing. Again, this had to do with the complicated kingdom unit status so I had to add some checks for kingdoms (Confederation of the Rhine) so the original nation for the corps matched the original nation for placement. Here we see the Hanover and Saxony corps were placed and moved. When the corps could not be placed, the cavalry factors could not be placed and the new code was converting those factors to infantry. So that's working.

I am seeing light at the end of the tunnel...


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