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Subject: Why haven't I / don't I hear more about TCS? rss

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Chris Buhl
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My friend Brad and I just started playing GD '42 this weekend. We started with scenario 4.1 (probably should have started with 4.2, it looks like fewer units). We decided not to use the command rules / op sheets in order to play a bit faster and learn the mechanics of the game. Even so, the first turn took about six hours, and after two full days playing I think we were getting a turn done in about 2 hours. We didn't bother with pre-plotted artillery, as we couldn't get our heads around it. We had to reference the rules constantly. Even so, as I read the TCS rules publisher's notes, I realize we got a lot of stuff pretty seriously wrong. And some pretty serious things (the conditions under which overwatch fires are allowed, for instance; even worse - we just assumed any units within LOS and 3 hexes [all our turns were snow turns] was spotted). I (as the Russians) am basically re-creating WWI western front tactics, slamming headlong into his prepared defenses and getting slaughtered. Very little maneuver (which I love in games, almost to a fault). All in all, as I re-read what I just wrote, I think it sounds like a pretty bad gaming experience.

We both love this game! Brad's probably in bed, but still thinking about the game (and we didn't play it at all today, we went to TABSCON instead). I'm up after midnight writing this. We can't wait to keep going - learning the rules for one thing, and certainly utilizing the command system. It is just such a fun and intriguing game, handling so many things so elegantly, I'm surprised I haven't caught more "chatter" about it.

I know that the average rating is quite high, especially for a war game, here on BGG. Still, I'm surprised there isn't a more vocal and avid following. This is a great, great game.

Anyway, my question above is partly rhetorical, and partly meant to just say "Great game!" to the designers. I'm surprised I haven't heard more about such an interesting game system. I get the idea that there's a more active community on CSW, which doesn't surprise me. Even so, I'm awfully glad I finally found my way into playing this beauty.

I do have one actual question - is there any place I can see a list of what year the different versions of the rules were printed, and/or which games were published specifically under which version?

Thanks,

Chris
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Kev.
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I'll jump in as I'm new to the system too. Lots of older wiser players around than me.
Most of the fans are pretty cool, besides the odd curmudgeon.

I think one reason for the low profile is that most of the games have been out a while, and as you have found require a serious investment in time and effort to absorb, THEN play CORRRECTLY - either historical or just within the bounds of reason.
I recently halted a campaign of GD '42, after bloodying 50% of the Soviet forces in 1.5 days of game time, and over 110 hours solo. So I hear your / feel your pain.

Here a link to a series of articles, polls, videos, essays, questions I wrote about GD '42
some of the waffle in there might help - Opsheets, and Arty and tactics. If you skim thru some of the forum here I posted lots of questions about the system. Ethan and Jay and Lee have been super supportive.

I was lucky enuff to obtain 2 separate deals to grab the entire series. So glad I did. Its worth sniffing around for the 'titles' that work according to the players here, some 'work' better than others. i.e GD '42 /Leros/Semper Fi /Screaming Eagles /Bloody110 /to name a few. By the way Op Sheets add a wonderful layer to the game experience and REALLY require some serious thought. Don't short change your game experience by not using them, or not using them correctly.

Whenever I play a game one of the reasons I like to record experiences is to help others find something they might like, or show them something they have thought about playing. Selfishly it has helped me make new players locally for various titles.

But most of all its a series like TCS that has wonderful narrative, great tactical feel for the decisions company/battalion/regiment commanders faced, and "feels" right when you play it that hooked me.

Welcome aboard.

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Kev.
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I don't know the answer to the Rule book question, suffice to say the rules are backwards compatible. With a little work, as counters changed at some point, and game specific rules require adjustment - most of which is available on their archive site.
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Ethan McKinney
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In the long run (the campaign), GD '42 has a lot of maneuver. For 4.1, 4.2, or 4.3, using the command rules doesn't add anything to play time. You're going to be stuck with your initial orders, except for Germans in reserve, that sort of thing.

Could you specify what was confusing about the pre-plot rules so that we can work on them for Canadian Crucible? I've tried to clarify them for it, but I don't know if I've addressed the problems that you had. Please be as specific as possible: "We couldn't understand" is hard to act on, "Do you need an observer for a pre-plot?" gives something specific to add to clarify the rule.

There's no existing list of rules and years. If you follow this link in the primary information block for GD '42 to the TCS page, you can see all of the games. Bloody 110 had 1.0, Objective Schmidt and Omaha had 2.0, Matanikau had 3.0, and I'm not sure when the shift to 3.1 happened. GD'42 is the first game with 4.0. Canadian Crucible will have 4.1.
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Lee Forester
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Ethan has it right, 3.1 came out with Black Wednesday, and had a long run until GD '42. Many TCS players spent a few years with us working on the 4.0 rules, that took quite a while!
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Lee Forester
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And we may call it 4.01, it's just going to be some tweaks, clarifications etc. because 4.0 was a major overhaul.
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leeforester wrote:
And we may call it 4.01, it's just going to be some tweaks, clarifications etc. because 4.0 was a major overhaul.


After four version (one better than other), I hope you will concede us a brief period of relax, playing with the same set of rules for a new wargame or two!

Great work with GD'42, eagerly waiting of Canadian Crucible!

F.
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Hi Chris,

I can speak for my personal experience: my first The Gamers wargames was Omaha, chosen for the particular situation and it was my first approach to tactical wargames.
Now I own nine titles of the series and I'm very satisfied of them.
To the problems: here in Italy in my area, but I think in all the Nation, people play a lot of ASL as mayor tactical system, followed by CC, PG and CoH.
All the production of The Gamers/MMP is regarded as a top-quality line, loved, collected, sometimes desidered, sometimes hated but played.
OCS, CWB, SCS, even RSS/LoB are the most common here, you can find some good groups of enthusiast players.
But, there is a but, TCS has little followers, at least in my area (near Milan, 2nd biggest city): I've played all my TCS wargames 75% solo, 25% with the same one or two people.
In brief, when I've occasion to play them my focus is to give them all my dedication so, egoistically, I've no time to share my experiences with others and, probably, the small numbers don't push me to write AAR, despite I love TCS.
With more people interested I'd be more motivated!
That's my personal answer, so don't take it as example to follow...

F.
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Ethan McKinney
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Filippo Chiari wrote:
But, there is a but, TCS has little followers, at least in my area (near Milan, 2nd biggest city): I've played all my TCS wargames 75% solo, 25% with the same one or two people.
In brief, when I've occasion to play them my focus is to give them all my dedication so, egoistically, I've no time to share my experiences with others and, probably, the small numbers don't push me to write AAR, despite I love TCS.
With more people interested I'd be more motivated!


This is the wonder of VASSAL. Just set up a game with Tom Påhlsson or with Andreas Lundin. (Or with Kev in the middle of the night--whether yours or his I'll leave up to you!)
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elbmc1969 wrote:
Filippo Chiari wrote:
But, there is a but, TCS has little followers, at least in my area (near Milan, 2nd biggest city): I've played all my TCS wargames 75% solo, 25% with the same one or two people.
In brief, when I've occasion to play them my focus is to give them all my dedication so, egoistically, I've no time to share my experiences with others and, probably, the small numbers don't push me to write AAR, despite I love TCS.
With more people interested I'd be more motivated!


This is the wonder of VASSAL. Just set up a game with Tom Påhlsson or with Andreas Lundin. (Or with Kev in the middle of the night--whether yours or his I'll leave up to you!)




Was that a glove being thrown...?laugh
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Andreas Lundin
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Vassal and me.. let's just say we're not friends.
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Ethan McKinney
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There's definitely a hump to get over with VASSAL. Of course, if you have a sufficiently slow computer or a slow internet connection, live play may not work well.
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Kev.
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that and the added pressure of live play with all those dam choices. I like PBem or solo for this game. I imagine F2F would be tense and very time consuming unless both were deep experts.
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Chris Buhl
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hipshot wrote:
that and the added pressure of live play with all those dam choices. I like PBem or solo for this game. I imagine F2F would be tense and very time consuming unless both were deep experts.


Oh yeah ... it took Brad and I six hours to set up and play the first turn of scenario 4.1! We were going much faster after that, maybe 1 1/2 hours per turn eventually (a turn being both Soviet and German). And yes, it was very tense (and intense). I just could not figure out how to avoid German artillery long enough to mount an effective assault. I tried a couple of fairly unrealistic flanking maneuvers (we weren't using command rules), but his arty just fell like rain. I probably needed to be more casual about suffering some losses and make an initial attack, then bring in some reserves.

In any case, it was lots of fun.
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Kev.
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one long time player (PErry) commented on my blog about GD '42 (www.meshtime.com) that the Arty in this module is tuff, but a little unrealistic as their is freedom to fire across battalion,

From Perry's post:
I feel the nazi arty is ahistorical. a typical nazi FOO could only call for his battery. in the game you can have any formation call in any arty and it is overwhelming. i think the game would be more interesting if the nazis had to list arty by battery on each op sheet and each battery could only be on one op sheet. that would provide a much better model of the nazi arty.

(edit insert) Optional rule idea:allow the nazis to fire a bn shoot only via preplanning. my guess is let them use a 4 hour planning delay. without planning they can only fire one bty per assigned FOO. the nazi arty fire control was NEVER close to the awesome way the USA or the Empire handled it in 43-45.

Another idea: i also think the soviet arty is screwed by being limited to only bn sized fires. it is the target ring that annoys me. let them fire using a bn ammo but use just one battery for a smaller target ring. my goal is not to allow every soviet battery to fire (although they could have) but to give the soviets an option to configure the target ring to better match the on map needs.

all of these options would change the game but i think make it a better model.

Interesting thoughts. your troops by the way can flank etc, within any predetermined boundaries for their operation (assume you allocated them), you dont have to put that much detail in the OpSheet (i.e. specific attack angles or hexes).

Its hard enuff to be Battalion/Company/Platoon(s) Commander!!

Time wise It took me 60-70 hours to play a full day with Opsheets etc solo. I'd like to be able to spend more time thinking about what to do rather than checking rules!
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Ethan McKinney
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leeforester wrote:
Ethan has it right, 3.1 came out with Black Wednesday, and had a long run until GD '42. Many TCS players spent a few years with us working on the 4.0 rules, that took quite a while!


My copy of Hunters from the Sky has a copy of the 3.1 rules in it, but I bought it second hand, so I can't swear that it was published with it.
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Chris Buhl
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elbmc1969 wrote:
In the long run (the campaign), GD '42 has a lot of maneuver. For 4.1, 4.2, or 4.3, using the command rules doesn't add anything to play time. You're going to be stuck with your initial orders, except for Germans in reserve, that sort of thing.

Could you specify what was confusing about the pre-plot rules so that we can work on them for Canadian Crucible? I've tried to clarify them for it, but I don't know if I've addressed the problems that you had. Please be as specific as possible: "We couldn't understand" is hard to act on, "Do you need an observer for a pre-plot?" gives something specific to add to clarify the rule.

There's no existing list of rules and years. If you follow this link in the primary information block for GD '42 to the TCS page, you can see all of the games. Bloody 110 had 1.0, Objective Schmidt and Omaha had 2.0, Matanikau had 3.0, and I'm not sure when the shift to 3.1 happened. GD'42 is the first game with 4.0. Canadian Crucible will have 4.1.


Hi Ethan,

Sorry for the delay. I should say that in my post, I didn't state correctly what happened with the artillery rules. I hadn't read them yet, and Brad had only scanned them. We were itching to get playing, and figured we had the basics, but didn't want to dally with learning the pre-plot stuff at that time. After reading them, I understood fairly well.

In general, I did find the rules a bit harder to digest than some, but I think of that as a different phenomenon than confusing. Brad and I both spent a great deal of time referencing the rules during our play over the weekend, but more due to not having internalized them fully than finding them confusing. Another way to say it may be "there was a lot to remember."

We didn't find anything to be overly gamey, or I could say we weren't able to game the system (although I had a feeling that the German artillery was a little bit too powerful / flexible). As much as I love ASL, for instance, there is a lot you can do with leaders in that game that would never really have happened in combat. We didn't catch anything like that in our play, and we spent a solid 15 - 20 hours (at least) during the weekend. We both agreed, by the end of the weekend, that if we were doing something and it produced an unrealistic or gamey outcome, we were probably doing something wrong. That proved true several times, at least. We both agreed as well, that is high praise for a ruleset.

I hope this is helpful in some way.

Thanks for the great game,

Chris Buhl
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I'm always happy to hear new people that fall into this game system. I agree, it's amazing. I think it's one of the best wargaming experiences you can have.

I really need to start up a game on VASSAL...
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Kev.
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Yahhhh. new players.
Well I was just trying to set up VASSAL GD 42. my 6 core x64, 16GB memory system wont scroll the maps.....its nearly 1 minute a refresh.
I adjusted the heap to max, fiddle, no joy.
The tech support or what ever you call it on vassal ord : "must be some other problem than addressable memory space. It might get fixed in V3.2..........oh thats cool.
 
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jay white
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Kevin, did you toggle "memory mapping" or whatever it's called?

I find that makes a big difference.
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Kev.
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i believe so. I'm going to try and play, but its mostly un useable as is.
I'm going thru and doing a CC clean, defrag etc and see if its something on win 7 thats fubar'd.
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Chris Buhl
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hipshot wrote:
i believe so. I'm going to try and play, but its mostly un useable as is.
I'm going thru and doing a CC clean, defrag etc and see if its something on win 7 thats fubar'd.


It has to be something about the program's interface with your system. I have a computer with far lesser powers than yours, and it handles this module just fine. With many larger modules, I find that at times (I think due to java) the program starts to slow down and I have to save and re-start. That seems to have to do with how memory gets used and not released by windows, as far as I can tell. It also happens more often if I'm running other programs, or have firefox open with lots of tabs at the same time.

One difference, I still use Win XP. I have read some posts on the vassal forums of difficulties with how Windows 7 and vassal interact. Something to do with granting permission in Windows, maybe? If you look through their tech support forum you may find people with similar issues who have fixed them.

Good luck,

Chris
 
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hipshot wrote:
Another idea: i also think the soviet arty is screwed by being limited to only bn sized fires. it is the target ring that annoys me. let them fire using a bn ammo but use just one battery for a smaller target ring. my goal is not to allow every soviet battery to fire (although they could have) but to give the soviets an option to configure the target ring to better match the on map needs.


The current rules are a good representation of the inflexibility of Soviet artillery in the period. Sure, they could have fired only one battery, but doctrine and practice was to fire by battalions. There wasn't any concept of precision point fire.
 
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Chris Buhl
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elbmc1969 wrote:
hipshot wrote:
Another idea: i also think the soviet arty is screwed by being limited to only bn sized fires. it is the target ring that annoys me. let them fire using a bn ammo but use just one battery for a smaller target ring. my goal is not to allow every soviet battery to fire (although they could have) but to give the soviets an option to configure the target ring to better match the on map needs.


The current rules are a good representation of the inflexibility of Soviet artillery in the period. Sure, they could have fired only one battery, but doctrine and practice was to fire by battalions. There wasn't any concept of precision point fire.


I will say that, while I thought the Germans may have had too much freedom to use their arty (I'm not sure of that, but it seemed awfully potent), I thought the Soviet rules were an accurate reflection of how, to my knowledge, they used artillery. As for the target ring, couldn't you adjust the target hex by one in most cases and have the same end result? Scatter does randomize things, I guess.

On the final turn of my game with Brad, I'd tried a flanking manuever and had a line of infantry set up in the forest, with one clear hex to cross before being able to assault Brad's line. His forces were strictly AT & AA guns, no infantry, so even if a small number of my infantry made it across, we'd have likely taken the hill. He called in all of his arty batteries right on top of my line, as continuous fire missions, one right after another in the hexes. If he'd had even one battery scatter one hex the wrong way, he'd have dropped arty on his exposed guns. Every battery was accurate, and only one was even a bad shoot. He called in continuous fire missions, so even though most of my troops made it through the initial barrage, moving was impossible. Remember, they were facing two and in some cases three batteries of combined fire in each hex. That may have been a fluke of the dice, but the Germans have pretty good odds on the table (base 10 column for accuracy). And he could have done the same thing the next turn, and the next, and the next. So that may have colored my "German arty is too powerful" feeling some. If I were a more competent commander, I'd likely have figured out a way to exploit the part of his defense that wasn't getting arty support. But they were a huge line of infantry dug in on a ridge line, also no easy task.

Anyway, it was a great game and I'm hoping to get to soloing it some this weekend, starting to play with the command rules this time.
 
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Ethan McKinney
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I assume that there was an infantry platoon somewhere that could spot for these fires ...
 
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