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Subject: DAR and Impressions rss

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Mike Willner
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The following During the Action Report and impressions was contributed by Angela Sutton of Metro Wargamers of NYC:


Mike and I are working through a game of None But Heroes, the first game in the Gamer's Line of Battle Series (the update / replacement for the Regimental Sub-Series), a regimental-level simulation of the Battle of Antietam. Units are mostly line infantry, with artillery and a smattering of sharpshooter, cavalry, and other auxiliary units.

A lot of effort went into cleaning up basic mechanics, and moving and firing is really pretty straightforward, though things like weapon types do have some influence on outcomes. The only real hard-factor confusion was in the use and capabilities of the various open-order units that don't fight in line - sharpshooters, cavalry, etc. Most of the mechanical emphasis and complexity, as with many Gamer's games, is in the soft factors - morale and command and control.

The command and control aspects are in the orders-writing system, in which the player as army commander issues written instructions to certain lower-level commanders in order to get the army moving. Without orders, a command can only defend in-place and shuffle units within its defensive perimeter. The rate at which orders go out, and the speed with which they are implemented (if they get implemented at all) depends on the type of order and on the quality of the sending and receiving commanders. Once a command does get into an attack, it can "fluke out" - the boys decide they've had enough - and needs new orders to get going again. This is a huge counter to the perfect-knowledge problem in wargaming - you may see a giant opportunity to smash your opponent, but even under the best possible circumstances it will be a half-hour, in game terms, before your underlings can do anything about it, and usually much longer. By the time anything happens, like in so many Civil War battles, your troops may be committed to doing exactly the wrong thing.

Our game started with the historical morning attack on the Confederate left in the Cornfield. Due to an 8-turn (2 hour) prohibition on fluke-outs, I Corps and several Confederate divisions tore each other into ribbons; we may actually have surpassed the historical casualty rate, which takes some doing. XII Corps arrived to support, but fluked out at the exact moment the Confederates were fleeing from the Smoketown Road, and it looks like the left may turn into a standoff. Meanwhile, II and IX Corps are in various states of order implementation, and while the Confederates look weak right now, the morning is wearing away without any more Union attacks. So we shall see...
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