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Subject: Confederate +1 advantage in close combat rss

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Mick Mickelsen
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I'm playing a game on Vassal and my opponent and I have gotten into a discussion about the +1 advantage that the confederates get in close combat. My opponent seems to think this overpowers the confederates and is not historical. He acknowledges the confederates had better generals but doesn't think their troops were superior in close combat. Does Bowen justify this advantage in his designer's blog? (If he does, I overlooked it.) What do you civil war experts out there (of which there are many, perhaps too many) think?
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David "Brother" Eicher
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I cannot imagine the game working without the attack advantage given to the Confederates. They are in an attacking role, and as such, must attempt to muscle their way through heavily defended positions. This bonus makes it possible for them to succeed.

As for whether or not the Confederates were truly superior in close-combat is a question I leave for Civil War experts.
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MLeis
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The confederates' advantage only applies when they are the attacking.

It can be seen as a sum of various small advantages over the attack procedure, not as just an advantage in close combat.
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Doug Adams
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mickmick wrote:
I'm playing a game on Vassal and my opponent and I have gotten into a discussion about the +1 advantage that the confederates get in close combat. My opponent seems to think this overpowers the confederates and is not historical. He acknowledges the confederates had better generals but doesn't think their troops were superior in close combat. Does Bowen justify this advantage in his designer's blog? (If he does, I overlooked it.) What do you civil war experts out there (of which there are many, perhaps too many) think?


Bowen discussed this on Consimworld in 2010...

Quote:
Bowen, would you describe the +1 as a bonus for elan or for operational initiative?


Elan mostly. At the time of the ACW, the balance between offense and defense was tilted pretty strongly towards defense, and so you see an awful lot of failed (and sometimes disastrously failed) attacks. What is remarkable about the ANV is not that a lot of its attacks failed, but that it was so often able to attack successfully, even with inferior numbers.

As part of the research for the game I read all the OR reports for the battle and in the reports for both sides an underlying belief in the general inferiority of Union infantry to Confederate infantry comes through again and again – even when it is being explicitly denied in a Union report (nobody ever feels the need to bother to deny that Confederate infantry is inferior to Union infantry, which tells you something right there).
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David "Brother" Eicher
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I was able to find Simmons' design blog entry in which he discusses this issue.

Here is the link for your reading enjoyment.

http://simmonsgames.com/products/Gettysburg/diary/Entry30Jan...
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Randy C
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is there a vassal module?
 
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Rich James
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/993023/vassal-module
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Giuseppe Gessa
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The vast majority of games about acw gives to the confederate army a bonus for close combat and a bonus for fire to the unionist....
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Pete White
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As the opponent in question (unless Mick is playing another game too!), I'd just point out that I'm part way through my first game, so this is a thought exercise (and I can easily imagine it is necessary for play balance).

I just had the impression that historically the Union army was a good deal larger than the Confederate one, comparable in quality, but usually outgeneralled. This game seems to model the two armies very comparably; the Confederates are much better in infantry, but the Union artillery is a good deal better. And in numbers terms, it's about even (which was what most surprised me - though I suppose some of those Union corps must have been very weak indeed if 7 corps plus artillery and cavalry amounted to 85,000 men).

It's pretty clear Bowen disagrees with me, from his designer's notes, and he has more solid justification than my impressions from a few books - but it still surprised me.
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Mick Mickelsen
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I do have another Vassal opponent, but yes Pete I was referring to our discussion. To you who found Bowen's discussion of this topic, thanks!
 
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Randy C
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I was looking under "G". Doh!
 
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Seth Owen
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plwhite wrote:
As the opponent in question (unless Mick is playing another game too!), I'd just point out that I'm part way through my first game, so this is a thought exercise (and I can easily imagine it is necessary for play balance).

I just had the impression that historically the Union army was a good deal larger than the Confederate one, comparable in quality, but usually outgeneralled. This game seems to model the two armies very comparably; the Confederates are much better in infantry, but the Union artillery is a good deal better. And in numbers terms, it's about even (which was what most surprised me - though I suppose some of those Union corps must have been very weak indeed if 7 corps plus artillery and cavalry amounted to 85,000 men).

It's pretty clear Bowen disagrees with me, from his designer's notes, and he has more solid justification than my impressions from a few books - but it still surprised me.


I think, in general, Union and Confederate overall proficiency was about even, which really isn't surprising given that they were all Americans and all operating out of the same military tradition and were all about the same level of experience.

The "being outgeneralled" part of the Union problem is under the players' control in the game, but I don't think Gettysburg constitutes a good example of that in any case. If anything, Meade and his corps commanders did a tad better than Lee and his corps commanders. I don't think there was any systemic edge at all at the brigade and division levels by this point in the war.

I do think the game is justified in creating an edge for the Union in artillery and for the Confederates in the infantry department.

As far as artillery goes, both sides were organized effectively and showed comparable technical proficiency. The Union advantage rested in having more ammunition, in fielding larger batteries (6 guns to 4), more uniformity in armament and, most importantly, the general defensive posture that the federal army took. All these factors added up to the Union artillery contributing more to the army's success than the CSA gunners did. This really doesn't reflect on the CSA gunners, though.

The infantry presents a more controversial approach, but I think it's pretty clear from the historical record that the ANV did show an exceptional level of elan while attacking. I think the +1 is almost wholly about that -- although it's also true that CSA regiments tended to be a little bigger than Union regiments. I think both sides were equally brave, equally proficient at the regimental and brigade levels and Union troops certainly were capable of attacking. But the contemporary opinion on both sides supports the idea that the Rebels were more enthusiastic attackers. Some have even written entire books on the topic chalking it up to some ethno-cultural legacy traced back to the Celts. That may be taking it too far, but I think it's fair to say that the Union Army seemed to represent the more workmanlike "this is business" style we've come to associate with American warmaking and less the romantic notions that fuel headlong charges.

As the burden of the attack is on the CSA and the CSA commanders certainly acted as if they expected they really had that +1, it seems appropriate to me.
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Gordon Blizzard
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I think the idea is to give the Confederates a chance to attack on Day 1 because the reinforcements are incredibly variable and it's very possible to get stuck on the deployment areas even with that help on the attack.
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