Gettysburg The Tide Turns -- Initial Thoughts

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Gettysburg The Tide Turns -- Initial Thoughts

Post by Urthur » Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:06 pm

This is not a game for dedicated war gamers, especially those with a deep familiarity with the battle of Gettysburg. There is not much to recommend; a lot against a recommendation favorable to the game. I played 2 games as the South, one lasting 24 turns and the other 16 turns, before the game hung each time. In both cases the south was on the verge of an overwhelming victory.
Here is a list of points, with full discussion of each point following the list:

Game ending freezes
Design concept: Chits
Design concept: Victory
Design concept: No fog of war
Behavior: Artillery moves and shoots
Behavior: No fatigue
Behavior: Units move effortlessly through other formations
Behavior: Zones of control do not hinder movement as they should.

1. Game ending freezes.
In the 30 turns I played, the game froze six times. By this I mean the game stopped in the middle of an action with the wait wheel spinning. Four times I was able to resume the game by quitting to windows and the reentering the game. Twice nothing I did would resume the game.

2. Bugs.
Sometimes my infantry units would not move toward an enemy infantry unit that was within attacking range. My units were in full form without any reason to not move toward the enemy.

Design Concepts.

Chits. Without a doubt this is the main problem with the game. Each unit (division for CSA; Corps for USA) on the battle field gets one movement chit, and each army gets one battle chit. This chits are put into a "bag" at the beginning of a turn and drawn one at a time in random order. Thus the player has no control over the order in which his units move. With the exception of the battle chit a drawn chit presents a use it or lose it situation. For example,

Two divisions are in column approaching the battle field on a road. You draw the chit for the trailing division first. That division has to leave the road to move forward as the leading division is in the way. You cannot delay the movement or replace the chit for later drawing.
Your movement into enemy zones of control is countered if the enemy chit is draw before you get your battle chit. One of your divisions has the opportunity to hit an enemy unit on three sides so you advance three units next to the enemy unit. The next chit drawn is the enemy unit's chit, so the enemy unit moves away. No fire is exchanged. Had your battle chit been the next drawn, you could have attacked and destroyed the enemy unit.

This is only a couple of examples of where the chit system makes the battle unrealistic and skews tactics so the success of careful planning is more luck than skill.

Victory Conditions
The victory conditions are simple: The South wins if they control two or more victory locations; The North wins if they cause more confederate casualties that the north suffers. I guess it's a tie if both sides fulfill their condition.

My problem with the victory conditions is that there are victory locations that the South must seize. Assigning victory locations assumes that the armies should be interested in the same locations there were historically considered vital. In some cases, and Gettysburg is one, locations should be secondary to the main important aspects -- those aspects being open to the players choice.

In this battle, the North's victory condtion is partially valid -- destroy more of the enemy than they do of you. However, the victory condition should be layered, with complete victory only coming when the confederate army has been destroyed (e.g., 70% casualties.)

The confederate victory conditions are not valid, as they force the South to pursue the same basic strategy that was actually used. The Southern victory condition should be either "get your forces off the southern edge of the battlefield so that your army survives" or better still, destroy the union army.

No Fog of War
You can see every enemy unit on the battlefield and plan accordingly. The computer either has a limited capability to see your units (or is an idiot).

No Fatigue
Units zoom about the battlefield never getting tired. I've watched Union units move from top of the hook to the base of little round top in one turn and in the next turn the same units move back to the top of the hook. There appears to be no loss of movement or combat ability due to the fatigue of moving (or fighting for that matter).

Artillery Moves and Shoots
I find it inconceivable that artillery can move its full movement, unlimber, set up, and fire in one turn. Each turn is an hour, sure, but in some cases artillery moves from one side of the battle to the opposite side and then back in two turns, firing both times. Artillery should only be able to fire when a percentage of its movement is saved for that purpose.

Units Move Effortlessly Through Other Formations
The computer may position its units in mass with layers of units five or six deep. But units on either side of this formation may move through the center of the mass with impunity. Thus a unit on the east side of the formation may move through the mass, including downhill and uphill, to position itself on the west side of the formation. In one turn, multiple units move to and fro through the mass. In my experience, moving one formation through another is difficult much less doing that while other formations are moving through the same area. The problem with this is that it allows unlimited us of interior lines.

With the enemy approaching from the west, position half of a corps' units on the west side and half on the east side. In battle, the west side units get damaged. In movement, move the west side units through the mass to east side and the east units to the west to replace the damaged units. Considering the mass of troops in the interior, the damaged units should not be able to retreat and the east units should not be able to replace/reinforce.

There should be a movement penalty incurred for each formation that a unit moves through.

Zones of Control do not Hinder Movement as They Should.
Zones of control in the game hinder movement in that a unit must stop moving when it enters an enemy ZOC, and a unit may not move directly from any enemy ZOC into another enemy ZOC.

The problem is most evident when a point of entry for reinforcement is blocked. For example Heth's division has moved south and blocks the Emmittsburg road approach for union reinforcement arriving up that road. When the reinforcements arrive the first unit stops immediately, following unit ship to the right or left on hex and enter, again stopping on their hex of entry. All these units stop because they have arrived in one of the ZOC hexes of the Heth's division.

My expectation is that the next turn these units will have to engage Heth to try to break through. In fact the union units slide left/right though the ZOC hexes a march away from Heth, effectively negating the fact that their approach onto the battlefield was blocked.

This ZOC movement problem could be minimized with an "Ambush" rule. The Ambush rule should be that when a unit enters the ZOC of an enemy unit the enemy unit should fire immediately on the moving unit without suffering return fire.

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Re: Gettysburg The Tide Turns -- Initial Thoughts

Post by zakblood » Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:17 pm

thanks for the comments and feedback, have you tried the 1.02 patch as yet? site version only atm mind you.

which version atm are you playing? site 1.00 or 1.02 or steam at 1.00?


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Re: Gettysburg The Tide Turns -- Initial Thoughts

Post by Spudsie74 » Fri Oct 27, 2017 4:09 pm

Hmmm....I agree w/a lot of what you say re: design concepts. Fatigue, problems w chits, ect. That said, I still like the game...more as a "beer & pretzels" thing. Definitely not hard core. I have not yet had any problems w/bugs, or the game hanging up, but have only logged ~ 10-12 hours on it.

I do think the conceptual problems could be dealt w/in an update. Perhaps, for example, allowing a player to pass on a chit (return it to the bag). Same thing w/fatigue...movement, IMO is too fluid, allowing my CSA troops to form cauldrons. In particular, the artillery seems a bit too mobile.

I don't think there is much hope for a good PO (the nature of gaming AI), but perhaps head-to-head play is a preferred option.

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Re: Gettysburg The Tide Turns -- Initial Thoughts

Post by avatar36 » Sat Jul 13, 2019 12:42 pm

Historically, the complaints the OP recited about the chit system was not uncommon in the CW. Columns were delayed endlessly due to traffic jams, petulant commanders, conflicting orders, etc. So, yes, luck DID have a huge role to play in that period of limited communications.
My biggest complaint (I haven't played it, though) is why every new CW game is about Gettysburg? Huge battle, yes. Dramatic, yes. But hardly the only huge dramatic battle between 61-65!

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Re: Gettysburg The Tide Turns -- Initial Thoughts

Post by Kenneth Watkis » Sun Jul 26, 2020 9:18 pm

Regarding the fatigue and moral I believe that is factored into the high loss rate in combat. If you take units out of the line and rest them for several turns some of their strength tends to gradually return.
I found the random draw to determine the order in which units move, to be quite interesting and a refreshing change from standard military strategy games. I did find that the combat system is either too deadly or the AI is too aggressive. While playing the Union side at the two star AI level, I managed to completely eliminate the southern forces at the beginning of the 30th turn. This is far from what happened historically. Historically the southern forces cessed fighting on the 3rd day after Pickett’s charge and on the 4th day they withdrew from the field of battle with about 50% of their force still intact. Another issue I had with the game was, that after the southern forces were completely eliminated the game did not end. I had to continue cycling through all the units (Union and Confederate), whether the units existed or not, for the rest of turn 30 and all of turn 31 before the game ended. I was lucky that I had not eliminated the southern forces on turn 22 or I would have had to cycle through 9 more turns without opposition before the game would have ended.

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