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The historical test - 12/31/2006 1:31:26 PM   
Jonathan Palfrey

 

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I've copied the comment below from the Wish List thread...

quote:

ORIGINAL: Thresh

I wish I could play this game as historically accurate as I can, and still get a reasonably accurate outcome.

Currently, that's not possible.



This is a good test of any game representing a historical conflict. Of course, the game should allow you to use your own choice of strategies, otherwise it's not a game.

However, if both players choose to use the strategies that were used historically, they should get more or less the results that occurred historically.

If the historical strategies are impossible to use in the game, then the game isn't representing what it claims to represent.

If the historical strategies are usable but lead to unhistorical results, then the game's mechanics or calculations are probably wrong and should be tweaked in some way.
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RE: The historical test - 12/31/2006 1:45:27 PM   
Twotribes


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Well I must admit, in the case of the Civil War it has been very hard to make a game that was very historical and competitive. I think the base game of FOF gives to much parity to the south, BUT some restrictions must apply to the north or hindsight really would crush the south quickly.

The Economies are to skewed in my opinion. The North doesnt have enough and the South has to much in at least one regard. The diplomatic part can be very ahistorical a few "good" rolls and the south will be head on research in most fields, which simply didnt happen.

Overall though, because of the easy to change files in most respects, I would say this game is very good one, it can be good for replay and parity and it can be good for reasonably historic recreation.

(in reply to Jonathan Palfrey)
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RE: The historical test - 12/31/2006 2:10:12 PM   
Sonny

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Twotribes

Well I must admit, in the case of the Civil War it has been very hard to make a game that was very historical and competitive. I think the base game of FOF gives to much parity to the south, BUT some restrictions must apply to the north or hindsight really would crush the south quickly.

.....................



Exactly! What is really needed for historical accuracy would be either to incorporate the actual problems and difficulties that made the Union victory take so long or gameplay restrictions/balances.

The first would be almost impossible without a super computer and would be far outside the scope of this game - or would confine the player to historical paths which give the player so few options as to not make playing enjoyable . The second seems to upset the grognards.

There certainly are some problems which need to be corrected in the game balance area and we are told they are being worked on.



_____________________________

Quote from Snigbert -

"If you mess with the historical accuracy, you're going to have ahistorical outcomes."

"I'll say it again for Sonny's sake: If you mess with historical accuracy, you're going to have
ahistorical outcomes. "

(in reply to Twotribes)
Post #: 3
RE: The historical test - 12/31/2006 2:41:46 PM   
Jonathan Palfrey

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Twotribes

Well I must admit, in the case of the Civil War it has been very hard to make a game that was very historical and competitive.


Are you implying that the historical conflict wasn't competitive? It seemed pretty competitive to me...

Sure, the South lost, and given the balance of advantages it wasn't surprising that it lost. But at several stages of the war it did well enough to give Lincoln some serious worries. A historically-accurate game shouldn't be a walkover for the North.

(in reply to Twotribes)
Post #: 4
RE: The historical test - 12/31/2006 3:31:50 PM   
Titanwarrior89


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Probley the new civilwar game coming out by Pocus and friends will be much more historical. However I do like this one but it is Not history.

I think most historical wargamers(myself included)want the game to give you the war has it was but beable to change history within the historical framework of the history presented.

This is a fun game based on the American Civilwar- but it is far from being the American Civilwar. This one is more of a Market game but not bad at that.

I would still recommend it to people who enjoy a good game.

_____________________________

"Before Guadalcanal the enemy advanced at his pleasure. After Guadalcanal, he retreated at ours".

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RE: The historical test - 12/31/2006 3:33:57 PM   
Titanwarrior89


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Jon! I agree with ya buddy. You hit the nail on the head.
quote:

ORIGINAL: Jonathan Palfrey


quote:

ORIGINAL: Twotribes

Well I must admit, in the case of the Civil War it has been very hard to make a game that was very historical and competitive.


Are you implying that the historical conflict wasn't competitive? It seemed pretty competitive to me...

Sure, the South lost, and given the balance of advantages it wasn't surprising that it lost. But at several stages of the war it did well enough to give Lincoln some serious worries. A historically-accurate game shouldn't be a walkover for the North.



_____________________________

"Before Guadalcanal the enemy advanced at his pleasure. After Guadalcanal, he retreated at ours".

"Mama, There's Rabbits in the Garden"

(in reply to Jonathan Palfrey)
Post #: 6
RE: The historical test - 12/31/2006 3:35:27 PM   
Roger Neilson II


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I think in an unbalanced historical situation like this we have to redefine what we mean by win or lose.

As far as I am aware the nearest thing to an actual loss on the part of the Union was in 1864 when the elections were due - had the war continued to go badly Lincoln may have lost and a peace candidate would have given the South what it wanted. Once that is past then its difficult to see how the South could have won as the North's supremacy just begins to steamroller.....

So a better way of looking at win/loss would be surely to take the actual end date and regard that as a 'drawn' game. Ok the Union won but if what we are trying to achieve here is a better than historical outcome then that provided the line to work from. If the Union can finish the war faster then it gets a 'win' that is qualified by a performance descriptor - for example - your performance was x weeks better than in real life.... thus you are measuring the win in time terms. Conversely for the Confederacy the descriptor would be 'you maintained the conflict for ..... weeks more than in real life. It then become a measure of achievement rather than a straight win/loss.

At this point you start to question why you need to add in artificial game balancing features...... and you end up with a closer simulation - which is less of a 'game'. Don't know how possible this would be to mode, I suspect its in the coding so its not.

Cheers

Roger


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RE: The historical test - 12/31/2006 3:45:13 PM   
Titanwarrior89


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Yes, yes Roger! You are correct as well. Will you have one of those tonight(your picture)?


If your fellows remember Victory games The Civilwar was close to what Roger is saying.

_____________________________

"Before Guadalcanal the enemy advanced at his pleasure. After Guadalcanal, he retreated at ours".

"Mama, There's Rabbits in the Garden"

(in reply to Roger Neilson II)
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RE: The historical test - 12/31/2006 3:50:26 PM   
Roger Neilson II


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Not Guinness, it doesn't taste the same when not drunk in Ireland! However there is some nice wine or whisky available - oh the choices in life we have to make!

If I recall the Victory Games ACW its main problem was that you were able to do things so quickly the war could be over in a year. It always struck me as a shame that as the actual game was not bad.

Roger

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RE: The historical test - 12/31/2006 3:59:13 PM   
Titanwarrior89


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It used command pts joined with Leaders rolls to see if they moved. It was hard for the Union in the begining of the war in VG ACW to get any kind of movement forward. This did not change until later in the war when you finally received your....... Grants,Shermans and other excellent union leaders.

You really had to worry about some of the Leader rolls during combat-you could not afford to lose many playing the southern side.

I liked the game myself. Spent many a hour on that one.

_____________________________

"Before Guadalcanal the enemy advanced at his pleasure. After Guadalcanal, he retreated at ours".

"Mama, There's Rabbits in the Garden"

(in reply to Roger Neilson II)
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RE: The historical test - 12/31/2006 4:04:54 PM   
Roger Neilson II


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Not the one I had then, its so long ago I cannot be sure what the title/publisher was.

Roger

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RE: The historical test - 12/31/2006 4:57:37 PM   
Twotribes


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Due to problems with leadership the North gave the South at least 1 maybe 2 years of that war that didnt have to be. No One in the East was willing or able to grasp the concept of what the strength of the North was when facing Lee and Jackson. Grant showed them when he came East.

A player doesnt have to wait for 2 years if one gives the north everything they historically had and dont provide some kind of leadership restrictions. The South never had a chance EXCEPT by perception. They had to break the Norths will to wage war, the desire to reunite the Country. Militarily , economically they never had a prayer.

Once the shooting began it was over for the South. Unless they could break the will of the North.

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RE: The historical test - 12/31/2006 5:00:26 PM   
Mike Scholl

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Twotribes

Well I must admit, in the case of the Civil War it has been very hard to make a game that was very historical and competitive. I think the base game of FOF gives to much parity to the south, BUT some restrictions must apply to the north or hindsight really would crush the south quickly.

The Economies are to skewed in my opinion. The North doesnt have enough and the South has to much in at least one regard. The diplomatic part can be very ahistorical a few "good" rolls and the south will be head on research in most fields, which simply didnt happen.

Overall though, because of the easy to change files in most respects, I would say this game is very good one, it can be good for replay and parity and it can be good for reasonably historic recreation.




This is where you are all "missing the boat". You make a "Simulation Game" as historically accurate as possible. Period! That's the BASE POINT from which all else proceeds. Then you use the "bonus options" to make it "competative". And let the modders handle "fantasies" like the "Mighty Confederate Navy". If you don't get it right to start with, it's almost impossible to correct it going backwards. In the IT business it's called "Garbage In/Garbage Out".

And before someone launches into a tirade about how "it's a game, not a simulation" --- read the Title. FORGE OF FREEDOM, The American Civil War 1861-1865. Nothing about being an abstract, balanced, game set in the 1860's...or strange happenings in the Andromeda Galaxy. "The American Civil War". Warts and all, un-balanced, the real situation facing both sides; being the implied promise. As long as it's "handicapable" and "modable", you can create "balance" in whatever manner you wish. But you can't make historical if it's not there to start with.

(in reply to Twotribes)
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RE: The historical test - 12/31/2006 5:13:29 PM   
jimkehn


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Roger, I agree with you with regard to your post about winning the game. I see so many gamers whining that the game is not balanced because the South (or Germany, or Japan, of "fill in the blank") cannot win the war. In my opinion, if a game is to represent history, the South should NOT be able to "win the war". But the player who plays the South should be able to win the game. And to follow up with your theory on timeline, there are potentially other units of measure. Conquered (and unconquered) cities. Casualtie counts. Resources in tact. etc., etc. My philosophy has always been to adjust the victory conditions so the underdog could win the game without turning history completely on its head. Anyone remember the Europa series? Case White comes to mind. A good Polish player could win the game, but no way in hell would he drive Germany out of East Prussia. A game that would allow that wouldn't be a historical simulation.
I haven't completed my first game of FoF yet. I am enjoying hell outta the game, but some of it just doesn't feel quite right. Not sure what it would take to make it feel right, but it seems that I as the south can run willy nilly around those Northern states and capture the ones with no cities/forts with impunity....at least against the AI. And while there is little to be gained, there is some to be gained. And the risk/reward ratio seems to warrant it.
Granted, the AI made a costly mistake that few human opponents would make. The North took Fredericksburg with relative ease, using a huge Army of the Potomac, and then marched right into Lynchburg without leaving anything protecting its rear. On the following turn, I marched ANV into Fredericksburg, sealing his line of retreat. I then attacked him in Lynchburg, and since Lee and Jackson had better initiative, I caught him where I wanted him. And while he slightly outnumbered me (we both had on top of 50,000 men), I was able to defeat him in QC. The combat was a close run thing, going down to the last two brigades (or three.....not sure now) on each side. But in the end, the North was defeated and all troops either died or surrendered. He has literally no fighting force, now. [Playing on First Seargent, IIRC]

(in reply to Roger Neilson II)
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RE: The historical test - 12/31/2006 5:32:31 PM   
Mike Scholl

 

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Exactly Jim. The fun and challange is in doing what the real commanders did (or couldn't do) while facing the same challanges, problems, and force ratios. Give yourself too much in the way of "bennies" and you may well win, but you won't have achieved anything. If you are playing the "scrappy, underdog, Confederacy" you need to feel caught between "a rock and a hard place". If you are playing the powerful but cumbersome and sometimes politically handicapped Union..., you should feel Lincoln's frustration with his generals and his political "friends".

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RE: The historical test - 12/31/2006 6:54:24 PM   
Jonathan Palfrey

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Sonny

What is really needed for historical accuracy would be either to incorporate the actual problems and difficulties that made the Union victory take so long or gameplay restrictions/balances.

The first would be almost impossible without a super computer and would be far outside the scope of this game - or would confine the player to historical paths which give the player so few options as to not make playing enjoyable. The second seems to upset the grognards.


Supercomputer? Since when has a supercomputer been needed to play a game?

The art of game design is to represent the essentials of a complex situation in a much simpler way. If you tried to represent all the factors of the original situation to ten decimal places of accuracy, sure you'd need a supercomputer but that's not game design. The fault of almost all modern computer games is that they include too much detail -- because they have the technology to do so. All this detail just gives players too much work to do, the games take too long to play -- and the essential strategical factors in the situation are obscured, because the game hides them in a welter of unnecessary details.

For instance, in a game of the whole American Civil War I see no need to represent all the different weapon types explicitly. There were various different weapons used at the time, yes; but I submit that you could arm all the troops with the same weapons and it would make no real difference to the strategical situation. The quality of weapons could just be factored into the quality of the troops in general.

There are two main tests of a game like this. As I said at the start of this thread, one test is whether you can pursue historical strategies and get roughly historical results. The other test is whether the game stops you from pursuing strategies that would have been impossible in reality. (When I say 'strategies', I mean grand strategies affecting the whole course of the war, not little exploits such as cavalry raids, which made no real difference overall.)

If the game passes both tests both with and without a certain game feature, best to discard that feature (or least make it optional), because it's complicating the game without contributing anything essential to it.

I don't criticize a brigade-level game for not representing regiments or companies. That's a valid design decision and surely a game can pass the historical tests without representing small units explicitly. Probably a divisional-level game could pass both tests tolerably well without representing brigades either.

I've love to see an ACW game that could be played to completion in a few hours while passing the historical tests. I believe it could be done. But no-one seems inclined to produce such games. Sigh.

(in reply to Sonny)
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RE: The historical test - 12/31/2006 8:48:59 PM   
Queeg


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For you folks who are complaining about balance issues, what difficulty and power settings are you using? I agree that that AI has been a bit of a pushover in my first couple of games, but I've been playing at low difficulty and balanced power settings. Before we advocate a complete overhaul of the game balance, it would be nice to know what can achieved using the settings already in the game.

(in reply to Jonathan Palfrey)
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RE: The historical test - 12/31/2006 9:04:08 PM   
Jonathan Palfrey

 

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I'm not complaining about balance issues. The game already has simple controls to modify the game balance, and I agree that's the right way to do it.

The standard game should have the historical balance: the North should win most (but not all) games between players of equal ability. People who want a more balanced game should be able to get it by using a game balance modifier control.

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RE: The historical test - 12/31/2006 9:14:26 PM   
Queeg


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I tend to think that the base game should be balanced and historically plausible - and fun. The settings then can be used to tweak the balance to satisfy the differing tastes for what is "realistic." And I've yet to see any solid proof that that can't be done with the setting options already in the game.

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RE: The historical test - 12/31/2006 9:30:24 PM   
Jonathan Palfrey

 

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I think "balanced and historically plausible" is in general a contradictory objective. Most historical war situations were not balanced.

However, as Roger has suggested, you can balance a game by adjusting the victory conditions: in this case, the Confederate player can be awarded a win for doing better than the real Confederates did. That's sensible; and in fact FoF already implements that idea in effect, by awarding the Confederate player extra victory points from 1865 onwards. (Full marks to Western Civ for this rather neat idea.)

I temporarily forgot about this above when I said that the North should win most games. Given the extra victory point scheme, it's not necessarily true that the North should win most games.

(in reply to Queeg)
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RE: The historical test - 12/31/2006 9:49:50 PM   
Queeg


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Jonathan Palfrey

I think "balanced and historically plausible" is in general a contradictory objective. Most historical war situations were not balanced.



Nor, oftentimes, are they fun. Nor, in the end, historical. Antietam: "General Burnside, take that bridge, now!" Union routs ANV. War ends. That's completely historical in the sense that it could have, should have, happened given the balance and disposition of the forces involved. But it's completely ahistorical in terms of what actually happened. So when you ask for historical fidelity, which history do you recreate: the outcome or the potential?

quote:

However, as Roger has suggested, you can balance a game by adjusting the victory conditions: in this case, the Confederate player can be awarded a win for doing better than the real Confederates did. That's sensible; and in fact FoF already implements that idea in effect, by awarding the Confederate player extra victory points from 1865 onwards. (Full marks to Western Civ for this rather neat idea.)



Yes. But then you end up with a glorified game of pinball. "Woohoo, I got 1000 points!" The bane of most "historical" wargames.

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RE: The historical test - 12/31/2006 10:27:15 PM   
Jonathan Palfrey

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Queeg
Nor, oftentimes, are they fun. Nor, in the end, historical. Antietam: "General Burnside, take that bridge, now!" Union routs ANV. War ends. That's completely historical in the sense that it could have, should have, happened given the balance and disposition of the forces involved. But it's completely ahistorical in terms of what actually happened. So when you ask for historical fidelity, which history do you recreate: the outcome or the potential?


The potential, of course. We're talking about games, not historical reenactments. If it was possible in reality, it should be possible in the game.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Queeg
Yes. But then you end up with a glorified game of pinball. "Woohoo, I got 1000 points!" The bane of most "historical" wargames.


Quite a lot of different games are scored in points of some kind. That doesn't mean that there's any other similarity between them. I don't see what you're trying to say here.

(in reply to Queeg)
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RE: The historical test - 12/31/2006 10:50:24 PM   
Titanwarrior89


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I would have to agree with you Jon. Now down to the Docks to catch that boat I missed.

_____________________________

"Before Guadalcanal the enemy advanced at his pleasure. After Guadalcanal, he retreated at ours".

"Mama, There's Rabbits in the Garden"

(in reply to Jonathan Palfrey)
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RE: The historical test - 12/31/2006 11:28:38 PM   
Thresh

 

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I like the "What If" involved with games of this nature.  With this game it's more a test of "Can I do better as the South, assuming all things are eqaul?"

The problem is the assumption that all things are equal, which from the games I have played have shown me they are not, they are skewed in the South favor.  Maybe not to much, but enough that it matters.

Ultimately, this can be solved with one simple test:

Play a game as the Union and come as close as possible to recreating the progress of the war as it happened.  
There are certain events that happened historically that are almost impossible to do in game currently, at least IMO.

Thresh




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RE: The historical test - 12/31/2006 11:32:53 PM   
Mike Scholl

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Queeg

Nor, oftentimes, are they fun. Nor, in the end, historical. Antietam: "General Burnside, take that bridge, now!" Union routs ANV. War ends. That's completely historical in the sense that it could have, should have, happened given the balance and disposition of the forces involved. But it's completely ahistorical in terms of what actually happened. So when you ask for historical fidelity, which history do you recreate: the outcome or the potential?


"Straw Dog". True, if McClellan had just gotten his whole army to attack at 7AM the fight would have been over by 11. But "Little Mac" gets a much poorer leadership rating than Lee, so the game reflects the probability that the Union will "screw the pooch". But if Mac had gotten his head out, or Lee had had the heart attack that eventually killed him, the War could have ended at Sharpsburg. Every once in a while the Union SHOULD win big and early. Not often, but the potential is there. Much more so than for the South, which needed superior performances from it's Commanders and it's troops just to counter-balance the Union superiority in numbers and material. Even when they won spectacular victories like 2nd Manassas or Chancellorsville they simply lacked the strength to finish the task. The South needed to "pull a rabbit out of the hat" over and over to keep the war going in hopes that the North would lose heart and quit. Victory through conquest was simply beyond their capabilities.

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RE: The historical test - 12/31/2006 11:35:26 PM   
Queeg


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Thresh

Ultimately, this can be solved with one simple test:

Play a game as the Union and come as close as possible to recreating the progress of the war as it happened.
There are certain events that happened historically that are almost impossible to do in game currently, at least IMO.



At what settings? Impossible under all difficulty and power settings? I doubt anyone can say that with any certainty.

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RE: The historical test - 12/31/2006 11:52:37 PM   
bountyhunter

 

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What's next? Someone will say all generals killed during the war should be removed on the turn they were killed historically even if they aren't anywhere near their historical place of death i.e. Stonewall is killed at Chancellorsville while leading the Army of Tennessee near Chattanooga!

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RE: The historical test - 1/1/2007 12:00:09 AM   
Queeg


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Mike Scholl

"Straw Dog". True, if McClellan had just gotten his whole army to attack at 7AM the fight would have been over by 11. But "Little Mac" gets a much poorer leadership rating than Lee, so the game reflects the probability that the Union will "screw the pooch". But if Mac had gotten his head out, or Lee had had the heart attack that eventually killed him, the War could have ended at Sharpsburg. Every once in a while the Union SHOULD win big and early. Not often, but the potential is there. Much more so than for the South, which needed superior performances from it's Commanders and it's troops just to counter-balance the Union superiority in numbers and material. Even when they won spectacular victories like 2nd Manassas or Chancellorsville they simply lacked the strength to finish the task. The South needed to "pull a rabbit out of the hat" over and over to keep the war going in hopes that the North would lose heart and quit. Victory through conquest was simply beyond their capabilities.



Except that, in the game, McClellan won't be in command. Because the modern player, drawing on the wisdom of 20/20 hindsight, won't make that mistake. And since he's sacrificing merely silicon soldiers instead of real ones, he'll just pound away with his superior resources until the South is annihilated.

Could have, should have, happened in real life. But humans rarely act in real life with the inexorable logic of a computer and the bloodless detachment of game player. So a "simulation" can faithfully recreate the numbers and still completely miss the reality.

The ACW captures the imagination precisely because of its human element. Had the North successfully employed its superior manpower, technology and resources to crush the South in a year, do you think anyone today would be making a game about it?

(in reply to Mike Scholl)
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RE: The historical test - 1/1/2007 12:45:45 AM   
Mike Scholl

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Queeg


quote:

ORIGINAL: Mike Scholl

"Straw Dog". True, if McClellan had just gotten his whole army to attack at 7AM the fight would have been over by 11. But "Little Mac" gets a much poorer leadership rating than Lee, so the game reflects the probability that the Union will "screw the pooch". But if Mac had gotten his head out, or Lee had had the heart attack that eventually killed him, the War could have ended at Sharpsburg. Every once in a while the Union SHOULD win big and early. Not often, but the potential is there. Much more so than for the South, which needed superior performances from it's Commanders and it's troops just to counter-balance the Union superiority in numbers and material. Even when they won spectacular victories like 2nd Manassas or Chancellorsville they simply lacked the strength to finish the task. The South needed to "pull a rabbit out of the hat" over and over to keep the war going in hopes that the North would lose heart and quit. Victory through conquest was simply beyond their capabilities.



Except that, in the game, McClellan won't be in command. Because the modern player, drawing on the wisdom of 20/20 hindsight, won't make that mistake. And since he's sacrificing merely silicon soldiers instead of real ones, he'll just pound away with his superior resources until the South is annihilated. And who will replace him? The North's supply of competent leaders is severly restricted in the game. Mac is much better than a lot of them. Whereas the South has "Napoleons" running out of it's ears.

Could have, should have, happened in real life. But humans rarely act in real life with the inexorable logic of a computer and the bloodless detachment of game player. So a "simulation" can faithfully recreate the numbers and still completely miss the reality. But if you insist on making the sides "equal" then why can't the North start the war with Sherman and Grant and it's other good leaders? They were certainly in uniform and out there. The "simulation" MUST recreate the numbers and the infrastructure if it's to call itself the ACW. And the South's leadership edge needs to be there as well, as well as the political pressures that kept Lincoln's days miserable. But remember that Jeff Davis also had a "rough row to hoe" politically. Brown in Georgia was perhaps the biggest pain-in-the-ass of any Governor on either side.

The ACW captures the imagination precisely because of its human element. Had the North successfully employed its superior manpower, technology and resources to crush the South in a year, do you think anyone today would be making a game about it? Yes..., had Lincoln had von Moltke and the Prussian Great General Staff things would have been much easier for him. And if you DON'T give the Union "its superior manpower, technology and resources" then you are not playing the ACW. And that's what the players say they are playing..., so it ought to bear some resemblence to that event.


(in reply to Queeg)
Post #: 29
RE: The historical test - 1/1/2007 3:22:24 AM   
Queeg


Posts: 492
Joined: 6/23/2005
Status: offline
If by "simulation," you mean a game where the North has all of its historical advantages and the player is free to employ them in a manner that Union never actually did, then I fail to see either the "realism" or the "game" in it.

In FOF, the Union player has to think and plan and persevere to win. Turns out that's what the Union had to do in real life, too. Because, in real life, the war was decided by more than mere numbers.

And for those who want the "realism" of a Union cakewalk, no one has yet demonstrated that that result cannot be achieved by using the difficulty and power settings already in the game.

(in reply to Mike Scholl)
Post #: 30
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