Strategic Hex Game McClellan's Last Command (custom GCACW module) - community playthrough

Saphroneth

Major
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Feb 18, 2017
This is partly an interest check and partly a sign up thread.
I've been working for a while on doing a version of the Grand Campaigns of the American Civil War rules to explore the what-if possibility of the Loudoun Valley campaign, or more specifically the possibilities offered if McClellan hadn't been fired.

This also has some scope, in my opinion, for a community game.

For those who don't know the GCACW ruleset, it can be found here:
Advanced Rules
Refsheet

The module I've done is in this case covering the period from 8th November to 10th December inclusive; it can go further but by that point we should be able to compare the result to the results of the Battle of Fredericksburg.


Here's the intended game structure.

Each side (Federals and Rebels) will be controlled by committee. Only the units released to the main commander of each side will be under the command of the committee; other units will be controlled by the gamesmaster. (This shouldn't be significant in general and is mostly to reduce the workload.)


I will provide a blank map copy at the start of the game, and again on request, so that the players know the layout of the area.
I will also provide a map to each side showing the locations and strengths of THEIR side at the start of the game (only), unless as noted below.
At the end of each turn, I will provide a scouting and march report in text in a google document. This document should be used for planning and discussion purposes.

Each turn, players will need to provide march orders for their units, in words. These will be interpreted as follows:
- No instructions - that unit will do nothing (except defend itself), or continue to follow previously given instructions if those instructions have not been fulfilled.
- Rest - the unit will not move.
- March to a location - the unit will attempt to move to that location.
-- If it is ordered to conduct an easy march, it will stop before it hits the extended march rule.
-- if it is ordered to conduct a forced-march, the unit will burn itself out trying to get there if necessary (and may suffer both exhaustion and attrition as a result).
-- if neither of these instructions are given, the unit will march until it reaches fatigue 3.
- Up to 20 manpower (10,000 men) in one unit may travel by rail per day. This unit may move up to 40 hexes (at the cost of 2 fatigue points).
In addition, the unit may be ordered to attack, or retreat if attacked. Without these instructions, the default behaviour is:
- If a unit is on the move and makes contact with an enemy, make the most hasty attack which would have at least a +4 advantage; otherwise stop.
- If an infantry unit is attacked, attempt to hold position.
- If a cavalry unit is attacked, hold position unless the enemy would have at least a +2 advantage; otherwise conduct a cavalry retreat away from enemy forces.

The end of turn report will consist of:
- the results of all marches conducted during the turn, in terms of success or failure.
- any contact with enemy forces. (Enemy forces are seen if there is no more than one clear hex between them and a friendly force.)
- the results of any battles.
- information from cavalry scouting.
-- cavalry scouting information consists of the locations and approximate strengths of any enemy units within 10 movement of friendly cavalry, unless those units are within 5 movement of enemy cavalry.

In addition, if a corps or larger unit was entirely stationary for the whole of the turn, a strength report is provided for that formation.
(Both sides would start with an accurate report for their own forces.)


So, does this sound interesting? Like something you'd want to sign up for?
 
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Pat Answer

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I was working on a similar idea to roll out nearer Christmastime for a grand strategy game (simpler move and combat system, somewhat less than historical accuracy but not too much). Same team Yank vs. team Reb approach. A main thread for the 'double-blind' game board and a PM thread for each side.

This could really be fun with about two to three 'regulars' on each side (ideally one commanding general and two subordinates) and an umpire (or two depending on how much coordinating is needed). With cold weather setting in, the holidays coming, and the lock-down continuing, now may be the best opportunity to get the most involved.

Anyway, sign me up for this and let's see what the response is.
 

Saphroneth

Major
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Feb 18, 2017
The minimum requirement is two people plus myself as umpire, and I think the maximum would be four or five per side (high commander, wing commanders (Jackson/Longstreet and the maximum three Union wings) and cavalry commander.

The idea here though is to take a lot of the load off the people involved except for the actual operational decisions.
 

Lubliner

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It sounds very interesting but way beyond my knowledge level. It would be fun to somehow watch on the sidelines. Rule No. 1, same as watching a chess match.
Lubliner.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
It sounds very interesting but way beyond my knowledge level. It would be fun to somehow watch on the sidelines. Rule No. 1, same as watching a chess match.
Lubliner.
Fortunately you wouldn't need to know the rules intimately, just be able to give high-level orders. For example:


1st Corps to move on Purcellsville
2nd Corps to make an easy march to Woodgrove
5th Corps to march to Hillsborough
6th Corps to march to Berlin
9th Corps to hold position and rest


would be a valid set of commands for the actual Union movements on the 1st of November.

ED: plus, of course, anything that goes in this thread as the results is going to be time-delayed by at least an in-game week - just to prevent spoilers...
 

Lubliner

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I am very much a novice at CW games. I have the AGEOD game that absolutely baffles me to the point I can't move. Somehow the events' move of 15 days with detailed info of what transpired negates my thought processes; can't explain it any better than that. Maybe the micro-management of every theater distracts to the point of stupor. Hate to be so critical on myself, but that is what happens. Possibly with a single corps? IDK. With the AGEOD that corps is broken down to brigade and regiment levels. The ability to move fragments of the corps, stating strengths, etc. are complex to me. I don't know the GCACW.
Thanks, and any explanation is welcome.
Lubliner.
 

Saphroneth

Major
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I am very much a novice at CW games. I have the AGEOD game that absolutely baffles me to the point I can't move. Somehow the events' move of 15 days with detailed info of what transpired negates my thought processes; can't explain it any better than that. Maybe the micro-management of every theater distracts to the point of stupor. Hate to be so critical on myself, but that is what happens. Possibly with a single corps? IDK. With the AGEOD that corps is broken down to brigade and regiment levels. The ability to move fragments of the corps, stating strengths, etc. are complex to me. I don't know the GCACW.
The basic summary of the GCACW level is that for the most part here we'll be working with infantry divisions (though brigades can be detached) and cavalry brigades (though regiments can be detached).

Units move a random amount of distance per movement turn (which is increased if the corps is closed up enough to operate under their commander properly) and cavalry typically moves about twice as fast as infantry. Moving along roads in clear weather is always one hex per movement point, but going offroad (or bad weather) makes the cost much higher.

When fighting, you can either have one unit attack one enemy hex or launch an "assault" (with multiple units); assaults can fail to get properly organized. In an attack, all the things you'd expect (strength ratios, artillery, defensible terrain) affect the dice rolls; basically being able to threaten enemy flanks is good, while attacking a fortified enemy on the far side of a river is very bad. Simple enough to explain.

Units in good condition fight much more effectively than units which have been tired out by marching or in a fight. Basically a division (or smaller unit) that's been roughly handled or worked hard is going to need a day or two of rest in order to recover back to full potential (though casualties are permanent).

Unit strength is in multiples of 500 men.


The extent to which the gamesmaster (i.e. me) will be handling the back-end means that you don't really need to know the numbers, as such.
 

Lubliner

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Oh, rolling dice? I thought this was a computer game being GCACW is an acronym I am not familiar with. I have never participated in multi-player games and how this all pans out on-line is incomprehensible to me. I will leave it at that.
Lubliner.
 

Saphroneth

Major
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Feb 18, 2017
Oh, rolling dice? I thought this was a computer game being GCACW is an acronym I am not familiar with. I have never participated in multi-player games and how this all pans out on-line is incomprehensible to me. I will leave it at that.
Lubliner.
GCACW (Grand Campaigns of the American Civil War) is a series of board games which - like many board games - has been converted into modules for the Vassal board-game engine. So dice rolling is the main way in which things are resolved; the dice are digital in Vassal, but not much else has changed except that to run this game won't take up a room for a month.

Here's an example from the On To Richmond module:

1607685563049.png



Of course, in this particular idea I'm the only one who sees the board most of the time.
 

Pat Answer

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Oh, rolling dice? I thought this was a computer game being GCACW is an acronym I am not familiar with. I have never participated in multi-player games and how this all pans out on-line is incomprehensible to me. I will leave it at that.
Lubliner.

Please, please, don't be afraid! Just think of it as 'team hide and seek' on a map. Ideally, you and your team (you don't have to be the commander) will jointly figure out how to 'get there with the most men' and thwart the other team based turn by turn on the information revealed. The computer (your staff officers, so to speak) will handle all that bean counting and logistical stuff - you just have the fun of seeing how it turns out, and helping to come up with Plan B (and then C...). Hey, if you and your comrades win, well, just think of the bragging rights you'll get around here for the next few months! 😁

Seriously, to everyone: any level of interest in how a Civil War campaign worked qualifies you. With Saphroneth and the computer doing the work, this could be a blast.

Edit: I am not as familiar with the fine details of the GCACW system either.
 

Saphroneth

Major
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Feb 18, 2017
For versions of "the computer" which means I'm the computer, this is pretty much the case! Though I did mean to bring up logistics, thanks for the reminder.



There are basically three versions of logistics implementation which we could use.

1) None.
In this implementation, logistics does not apply. Units are always considered to have access to the required supplies.

2) Weak.
In this implementation, units are considered to be supplied unless there is a strong reason for them to not be. For example, we know in this period based on actual events that the Union divisions could operate for about nine days between resupply stops, so it would only be if a unit has gone for more than nine days without touching somewhere they could resupply that they'd start to suffer penalties.

3) Strong.
In this implementation, I would keep track of "proper" supply lines - which basically means that there'd be supply dumps on the map and each one would be supplied either by rail or by road (from another supply dump or from a friendly board edge, basically). If one was cut off from viable supply routes then it would no longer be able to supply units far away from the depot, and if it got taken by the enemy it would no longer be able to provide supply at all.
New supply depots could be set up, too.
 

Lubliner

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Ok, maybe we are progressing. I say maybe! First is the room a Skype affair, which if given 'how to' I could navigate finding the rest of the participants. I am unsure of 'Zoom', unless instructed by confirmation. {Someone needs to say, 'Yes, that is it!'}.
Next: Reading the sprite 'HOOD' for instance is 2-1, which means (?) and x4 means regiments (?). I help plan with McLaws, Smith, and Garland (who actually was killed at Caperton's Crossing in W Va.) for the next dice roll, and...?
Lubliner.
 

Saphroneth

Major
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Feb 18, 2017
Ok, maybe we are progressing. I say maybe! First is the room a Skype affair, which if given 'how to' I could navigate finding the rest of the participants. I am unsure of 'Zoom', unless instructed by confirmation. {Someone needs to say, 'Yes, that is it!'}.
Next: Reading the sprite 'HOOD' for instance is 2-1, which means (?) and x4 means regiments (?). I help plan with McLaws, Smith, and Garland (who actually was killed at Caperton's Crossing in W Va.) for the next dice roll, and...?
Lubliner.
My expectation of how this would be handled is to set up two PMs on this site to give out the google docs for the daily reports. How the teams plan then is up to you, though the google doc would be a good place for the discussion.

You would not have to do planning around individual dice rolls. It would be more like this sort of thing:


Union orders for 4th November

(infantry)
1st Corps - normal march to Rectortown.
6th Corps - follow 1st Corps with an easy march.
5th Corps - hold position.
2nd Corps - march to Ashby's Gap and attack Confederate units there to gain control of the gap, but do not attack if there are more than 10,000 Confederates there.
9th Corps - if needed, support 2nd Corps, otherwise hold position at Upperville.

(cavalry)
Pleasonton - support 2nd Corps and scout through Ashby's Gap
Averell - march south towards Manassas Gap
Bayard - march to Salem, south of Rectortown



Part of the idea here is that you'd be working with the sort of level of information that the actual commanders would have*. This means that you wouldn't get to see the nice maps, sadly! (Not until it was late enough that showing them wasn't too much of a spoiler.)



* blank map because you know the geography, a report from the start of the game of how strong your units were, text reports of how the marches went on each day and what the results of battles were, and imperfect scouting information
 

Lubliner

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Missing the idea a bit, here. So I get the Union orders of command, and say I have been assigned, or picked Pleasanton. Now, how I am I to obey the order? I know what I am supposed to do, but how do I do it?
Lubliner.
 

Saphroneth

Major
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Missing the idea a bit, here. So I get the Union orders of command, and say I have been assigned, or picked Pleasanton. Now, how I am I to obey the order? I know what I am supposed to do, but how do I do it?
Lubliner.
It's the other way around. You give the orders.

If there's only one Union player, for example, then you're responsible for making all the decisions and writing all of the above.

If there's enough Union players that you're in charge of (say) the cavalry, then you and the other Union players discuss what to do and then you write the cavalry orders.



ED:

In the interests of avoiding ambiguity, here's how I envision the turn sequence going:


At the start of a turn, I provide both sides with their report on how the previous turn went and what their scouting tells them.

The people running each side discuss amongst themselves what to do.

They then write out orders for what each unit will do. If these orders miss a unit out I will check to confirm them, because I know it can be hard to keep track.

Once I have the orders for both sides, I will then implement them.

After the end of the turn, I will write out the report on how that turn went.

Sending it out marks the end of that turn and the beginning of the next one.
 
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Lubliner

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So if my orders are to move a certain number of spaces, I await to see how far my orders were executed, which is determined by the dice roll, and where my opponent may be. Right?
Lubliner.
 

Saphroneth

Major
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Feb 18, 2017
So if my orders are to move a certain number of spaces, I await to see how far my orders were executed, which is determined by the dice roll, and where my opponent may be. Right?
Lubliner.
You'd be giving a march destination and how hard you'd want them to march, but more or less yes. (By which I mean, you'd say "march to Culpeper" not "march a dozen squares").
This is because, well, commanders would say to march to a town.


You'll notice it's much easier to give orders about how to attack the enemy if you know where the enemy is - that's one reason to pay lots of attention to cavalry scouting. But your orders can include a general statement like "attack the enemy if he's located", or put conditions on that.
 

Lubliner

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I am beginning to understand. So I would have a full information packet via PM on whatever unit I choose to command. I suppose I would be given one map that carried the location of my own troops and other commands, allowing for the 'fog of war' to represent possible enemy command proximities. I would then 'conspire' or rather plan with others on my team to decide our best advantage in dealing with the enemy, make a command decision based on that plan, and await the outcome. It sounds good! I would like a shot if a chosen time can be found acceptable. What sort of time limit is required, per move; and with an objective in view, the duration of the game?
Lubliner.
 

Saphroneth

Major
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Feb 18, 2017
I would like a shot if a chosen time can be found acceptable. What sort of time limit is required, per move; and with an objective in view, the duration of the game?
Since the game is turn based, there wouldn't really be a hard limit on the amount of time you'd have to give the orders. I'd hope for it to be no more than a couple of days between you getting your turn report and producing the orders, though.

The objective would basically to be in a good position by 10th December (which is about the time of the historical Fredericksburg). With that meaning slightly more than thirty turns, the total game duration would be expected to be a month or two - though not a great deal of time within that month would be taken up, hopefully.
 

Lubliner

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Oh, I was thinking it was a sit down and not leave, type of game. No wonder I was confused. So in the day or two after receiving the set-up, I can PM with my own team, and coordinate each effort, and submit the response at a chosen time. I hope I am understanding this. I would initially need a bit of information regarding the map hexes, how movements are counted, etc., and what you may consider common knowledge is a blank receptacle here on my former experience.
Lubliner.
 
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