What does "historical" mean in a strategic wargame like AACW?

Induce the player to follow actual historical events, and produce a similar outcome as historically.
8%
8
Recreate the historical conditions that determined the actions of the historical actors.
92%
98
 
Total votes: 106
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Heldenkaiser
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What does "historical" mean in a strategic wargame like AACW?

Tue Apr 28, 2009 12:59 pm

(Long post!)

I have been thinking about this and watching the debates on this board for a good while now. It seems to me that there are two almost antagonistic schools of thinking with respect to what "historical" means in a strategic wargame simulating a whole conflict, like AACW does. Both sides, of course, believe in historical accuracy, but they have drastically different ideas of the meaning of that word.

A) There is that school that believes that a historical conflict simulation is good if
1) with two equally competent players, it produces in most of the cases the historical outcome, i.e. the game lasts as long as historically and is usually won by the side that won it historically; and
2) it has a good chance to follow the historical course of events at least roughly.

This one is the school that advocates with respect to AACW, typically, things like
1) the war should have a good chance to go into 1865 (claiming that a Union victory in 1863 is unhistorical);
2) conscription in the North shouldn't be possible before 1863 (as that was the historical date of its introduction);
3) McClellan should be in charge of the Army of the Potomac (claiming that sending him to guard the Canadian border instead is "gamey").

B) Now on the other hand there is the school that believes that the true mark of historical accuracy in a strategic wargame is the simulation, not the recreation of history. In other words, this school advocates that a historical conflict simulation ought to put the player in the shoes of historical actors by recreating as faithfully as possible the historical conditions that determined their actions, but then give him, within this framework, the greatest possible freedom of action. This school says that the player has a distinct historical role in the game; that for a strategic war simulation like AACW this role is the overall military and political decision-making for the national war effort, i.e. the role historically held by Lincoln and Davis; and that decisions that were historically within the purview of this role should be possible for the player to take. Each decision should have benefits as well as costs, and the player should be forced to make difficult decisions, i.e. weigh for himself whether the benefit is worth the cost. Ideally, he should not be too well aware of either benefits or cost when making his decision, as neither were his historical counterparts.

This school--and as a professional historian I cannot help but feel attached to it, even though I believe it to be in a minority among AACW players (but that's why I made a poll, as I'm curious to find out)--would say that the mere fact that an action was taken historically does in no way mean that it was the only possible, or even the most likely, course that could have been taken. History does not work like that. In fact, history has an odd way of sometimes choosing the most unlikely course and producing the most unbelievable outcomes. Cortés with a few hundred men conquered the Aztec empire, as a result of a most incredible series of accidents. That wasn't preordained, it wasn't even likely. A wargame simulating this encounter would have to go to length to make a Spanish victory even possible and by doing that would distort history to a degree to make playing it not worthwhile. The actual historical outcome is often badly at odds with historical plausibility. Thus a historical simulation, rather than making the unique and often implausible historical outcome of actual conflicts the measure of accuracy, should aim to recreate the generalisable historical conditions within a conflict. In short, it ought to create a sort of historical laboratory in which the conflict, within the framework of its historical conditions, can be run and re-run by players and/or computers to find out the different possible and maybe--if one cares--the most likely outcomes, which will not often be the actual historical ones.

This school--let me call it the "historical conditions school"--would reply to the claims of the "historical accuracy" school roughly as follows, taking the same three points made above as examples:
1) Taking the vast Union superiority in personell, materiel, industry and infrastructure into account, it needed an odd series of comparatively unlikely incidents to let the Confederacy survive (just barely) into 1865. In fact, an unprejudiced observer would find it hard to believe that the Confederacy ever survived 17 September 1862. Anybody, literally anybody but McClellan in charge of the Army of the Potomac at Antietam, and the war would have been over on that very day. Likewise, only sheer luck saved the Confederacy again at Chancellorsville. Both days should have ended with the complete annihilation of the Army of Northern Virginia and brought the Army of the Potomac into Richmond within a fortnight. Only a series of extremely near misses thus saved the South on the battlefield until its luck finally ran out in 1865.
In other words a Union victory in 1863 is not only not unhistorical; but it's the most likely outcome. To make the Confederacy, as a rule, survive into 1865 in a simulation of the Civil War needs to stretch historical plausibility to a certain degree for sure; maybe even to a considerable degree.
2) Conscription was not invented in 1863, nor was it unconstitutional before that year. It was unnecessary, as enough volunteers were forthcoming, and it was rightly considered unpopular. But introducing conscription would have been legally and practically possible right when the war began in 1861. So there is no reason, other than conforming to the historical course of events, why the player should not have that option right from the start. Of course it should come with a hefty morale penalty simulating the likely unpopularity of that decision with the populace as a whole. But leave the player the choice. If he thinks the additional manpower gained by introducing conscription in 1861 is worth say a 30 NM hit, with the attendant combat penalties for his troops, then let him try to put quantity over quality to that extent and live with the results.
3) McClellan really wasn't in any way inevitable. Appointing and dismissing general officers was the commander-in-chief's prerogative in war, if there ever was any. McClellan was no particularly high-ranking, popular or accomplished officer at the start of the war (in fact, he was not even regular army, as he has resigned his commission in 1857) and really became a political figure only when Lincoln chose to drag him from his West Virginia backwater into the limelight. He could quite simply not have done so, and McClellan would never have become the hero of the eastern soldiers and the self-styled saviour of the Republic. Of course, once appointed and popular, McClellan proved harder to get rid of than some other generals, but still, Lincoln could sack him and he did so, twice in fact. And the Republic did not crumble. In short, McClellan was to a large degree Lincoln's own creation, and had he not appointed him, maybe somebody else would have filled that role.
The pertinent point about McClellan is not that Lincoln was forced to appoint him, or unable to fire him--neither is true--but that Lincoln twice found it useful to appoint him. So if the game design finds it worthwhile to induce the player to appoint McClellan, it should not force him to do so, but rather make it attractive for him to do so. Lincoln chose McClellan because he thought--rightly--that McClellan could build an army and--wrongly--that he was a great strategist. So if the game finds it useful to recreate these circumstances, then 1) McClellan's presence should be a palpable boost for coherence and morale of his army and 2) maybe the player should not be quite as aware of the actual performance he can expect of his generals before he appoints them?
But really, in the end, forcing McClellan on the Union player, who otherwise has a comparatively free choice of his army commanders, is putting conformance with individual historical events over historical plausibility. One could as well end up requesting everybody else in charge of the army he led historically. In fact, with this line of thinking one could end up advocating that the Union must not be allowed to invade Georgia before 1864, as it did not do so historically.

Now if the player had the freedom of action in the game that the "historical conditions school" would advocate, what would that mean for the game's competetiveness in PBEM? I suppose with two equally competent players, we would more often see a Union victory in 1863 or so. Would that be so bad? For the historical accuracy school, certainly. For historical plausibility, IMHO, not. For wargaming purposes it would simply need a redefinition of what constitutes a "victory". You could say something like (very simply) if the Union wins by 1864, that's a draw. If it wins in 1863, that's a Federal victory. If the Confederacy makes it into 1865, that's a Reb victory. Or in fact, one could probably leave it to the players to determine (preferably in advance) what "victory" means. Afterall, "winning" or "losing" is not primarily what I am looking for in a historical simulation. I want to re-live the dilemmas faced by the historical actors, be faced with difficult choices, find my own strategies, fight, and keep moving on. :)

To sum up: Recreating the actual historical course of events in a wargame is in my opinion a rather narrow and superficial understanding of the meaning of "historical". In fact, doing so necessarily needs artifical restrictions of the player's freedom of actions, restrictions by which the historical actors, whose role he takes in the game, were not in any way bound. Therefore, doing so, in my humble opinion, makes the game less historical, and less valuable as a historical simulation.

That having said, I am greatly enjoying AACW, and it is in my opinion the best historical simulation of the Civil War around. :thumbsup: It will remain so even if events in the game become ever more scripted. But I do think it would be an even better and historically more plausible simulation of that conflict if it gave the player more, rather than less, leeway.

If you made it to here, thanks for reading to the end. Now vote! :)
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Gray_Lensman
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Tue Apr 28, 2009 1:30 pm

The problem with any ACW game is that if you don't actually impose some of the real problems the north encountered such as dealing with McClellan and the NM problems associated with using him or not, threatening Richmond, or restricting conscription until it was actually historically imposed, you have a cake walk for the USA side.

Eventually, we are supposed to be getting a new GUI that will allow toggling some options to turn off certain specified events. When that capability is added to the game, we will be reworking a lot of the main events to enable player/gamers to turn off such game changing events that they may like, but until that time, we're continuing to work on the game as per AGEod's original design intent and adding the necessary events to reflect the historical course of the war.

What you are referring to is a game with a lot of "What If" capabilities, which is cool, But in a game design the historical design always comes first, then the what-if's are added to provide the replayability. It's a shame that the GUI referred to above is not already available, but that's the way these things sometimes work out.

I'm actually not voting because I favor a third choice and that's a mixture of both choices above, along with the capability of turning major events on/off for replayability.

edit> There's another aspect to this that sandbox players fail to realize. AGEod probably relies on more than 75% of it's database development for all their games from dedicated historical buffs. They attract such help by keeping their games as historically based as possible. Without the emphasis on historical accuracy most of these individuals would take a quick look at the game(s) and walk away to find other games more satisfying to their historical dedication and as a consequence AGEod's overall game design output would drop off drastically.

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Tue Apr 28, 2009 2:25 pm

I agree with both of you.
[SIZE="1"]Maybe because I'm a consensual man[/size] :)
Historical accuracy is one of the most important thing for a wargamer, IMHO.
That's why we buy such a game, to face the same crucial decisions and dilemmas that the real leaders are dealing with in History, and the game must reflect that with a number of scripting events and "must have" or "must do" decisions.
But, and it's an important "but", we also want to have a "game", which allow us to take our own decisions and moves, and not a too dirigist way of gaming.
A good game is the one which can mix these two "schools" of thinking, and I think AACW is one of those.
There is some necessary approximations, and some little tricks a "gamey" player can exploit, but when you find a fair opponent, the possibility of "house rules" can resolve this. As Heldenkaiser said, victory is a matter of point of vue, and the winning conditions can be discussed before the game starts.
So, I conclude as Gray did, I vote for a mix of the two "schools". The game is already relatively well balanced, and in the same time have a quite good historicity and plausible situations. When the new GUI will be implemented, I think that all of the players will find their favorite style of playing.
We just have to wait a little, and congratulate another time the development team and all of the people who work hard to improve such an excellent game.
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Tue Apr 28, 2009 4:46 pm

Gray_Lensman wrote:edit> There's another aspect to this that sandbox players fail to realize. AGEod probably relies on more than 75% of it's database development for all their games from dedicated historical buffs. They attract such help by keeping their games as historically based as possible. Without the emphasis on historical accuracy most of these individuals would take a quick look at the game(s) and walk away to find other games more satisfying to their historical dedication and as a consequence AGEod's overall game design output would drop off drastically.


I totally agree with this point. If AACW had not been as based on history much as it is, I would probably not be playing it still.
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Tue Apr 28, 2009 5:06 pm

Gray_Lensman wrote:edit> There's another aspect to this that sandbox players fail to realize. AGEod probably relies on more than 75% of it's database development for all their games from dedicated historical buffs. They attract such help by keeping their games as historically based as possible. Without the emphasis on historical accuracy most of these individuals would take a quick look at the game(s) and walk away to find other games more satisfying to their historical dedication and as a consequence AGEod's overall game design output would drop off drastically.


That is an excellent point, and one which needs to be taken into account. I wasn't aware of that aspect.
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Tue Apr 28, 2009 5:21 pm

Curiously, I don't even think about like that ( that's not to say these posts aren't worth reading of course).

When I take a design decision in SVF, I take the Lincoln or Davis criteria before anything else. You're in game term the leader of the State. So:

- Mcclellan: I raise McClellan to the 3 stars rank if Manassas isn't taken. For me, it reflects the pression of public opinion. But I let player free to place him or not at the head of the Main Eastern Army. AI will have McClellan placed at, but mainly because I feel MCCLELLAN ABILITIES can be useful for AI and because there's a random chance McClellan to be removed later from play, opening command path to a better leader

- conscription for both sides appear before June 62. Precise turn is random ( time to get the bill !). Not in 1861 because volunteers were plenty. On the contrary, use of conscription is causing large NM loss
- disagreeing for your point 1. The fact is Grant in 1864 tried to destroy Confederate Army and failed. I'm not sure someone else than McClellan or Hooker would have succeeeded in 1862 or 1863 to this point. Much harm, certainly, a whole destruction...


So I would consider the question more as a balance between historical constraints and freedom to explore alternative paths and not between historical outcome or historical exact path of events. With the feeling if you get right the historical constraints you will get the historical outcomes and generally most of the historical path of events..less the errors but with some new ;)
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Tue Apr 28, 2009 5:43 pm

We did take into account the human choice in the lastest rework of McClellan/McDowell instead of rigidly locking the human player into acceptance of McClellan if McDowell fails to win at Manassas. This is not out yet, but it's the current work being tested.

The following additional changes were made to restore some of the balance to the game.

55. McClellan/McDowell in 1861: (1861 Threaten Richmond event replaced by the "USA Army In Manassas" event)
a.) McDowell will remain activated "every" turn throughout the "Army In Manassas" period (1861 Early May thru 1861 Early Sept)
1.) If the USA establishes Military Control over Manassas (Fauquier, VA), the Army In Manassas event is satisfied. McDowell retains command and McClellan is left in Ohio.
2.) If the USA fails to establish any Military Control over Manassas (Fauquier, VA) by the expiration of the Army In Manassas event:
a.) USA loses 10 National Morale points. (the same ones previously lost in the failure of the now defunct 1861 Threaten Richmond event.
b.) Irvin McDowell is automatically removed from command of the Northeastern Virginia Army at no cost and McClellan will be moved to the same location as the Northeastern Virginia Army commanded by Irvin McDowell
1.) If the USA is being handled by the AI: McClellan automatically becomes commander of the Army of the Potomac. McDowell remains in the same stack without command.
2.) If the USA is being handled by a human: McClellan, McDowell and the Army of the Potomac HQ unit are stacked separately for the player/gamer to decide who retains command.

56.) McClellan/McDowell and the new "Threaten Richmond" events in 1862:
a.) Two new "1862 Threaten Richmond" events created to add political pressure on the USA player to threaten Richmond in 1862. One event expires 1862/06/30. The other expires 1862/10/30.
b.) If you satisfy the "Threaten Richmond" requirements prior to the first expiration, there is no NM penalty at all for 1862.
c.) If you don't satisfy the "Threaten Richmond" requirements before the 1st expiration there is a 10 NM penalty.
d.) If you don't satisfy the "Threaten Richmond" requirements before the 2nd expiration there is another 10 NM penalty.
e.) McClellan or McDowell (depending on the Army In Manassas outcome) will remain activated "every" turn throughout the "1862 Threaten Richmond" period up until the 2nd expiration or the successful completion of the requirements whichever comes first.
f.) The 1862 "Threaten Richmond" events will be made optional once Pocus provides the on/off support capability.


We're constantly having to walk a tightrope as to which camp to satiisfy, either the sandboxers or the historical buffs. Given a hard choice, I will tend to go with the historical buffs because quite frankly, AGEod needs their help. However, I try to always find ways to provide choices for replay value and this new idea regarding on/off options eventually will be a great asset to the game for all players.

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Tue Apr 28, 2009 6:14 pm

Heldenkaiser wrote:B) Now on the other hand there is the school that believes that the true mark of historical accuracy in a strategic wargame is the simulation, not the recreation of history. In other words, this school advocates that a historical conflict simulation ought to put the player in the shoes of historical actors by recreating as faithfully as possible the historical conditions that determined their actions, but then give him, within this framework, the greatest possible freedom of action. This school says that the player has a distinct historical role in the game; that for a strategic war simulation like AACW this role is the overall military and political decision-making for the national war effort, i.e. the role historically held by Lincoln and Davis; and that decisions that were historically within the purview of this role should be possible for the player to take. [color="Red"]Each decision should have benefits as well as costs, and the player should be forced to make difficult decisions, i.e. weigh for himself whether the benefit is worth the cost.[/color]


These are the types of games I enjoy. If you make historical decisions, you obtain a historical outcome; but the players should make the decisions not the game. If you make non-historical decisions the game model should simulate what these non-historical decisions would have had.
For example, if the Federal player does not want to move on Richmond in 1861,but instead build and train his army; what would the consequences of this action be? Lower Northern support for the war, greater foreign support of the South? I'm not sure, but these are the types of questions that need to be asked and the AACW events created to model this.

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Tue Apr 28, 2009 7:18 pm

ShovelHead wrote:If you make non-historical decisions the game model should simulate what these non-historical decisions would have had.


I would like this also, but I don't know how much or to what end. I also wonder if this wouldn't lead to serious game play issues.

I myself would like the choice of cotton embargo/liquidation. Davis chose embargo, not sure if that would have been my decision.

For now I am extremely happy with what I have in AACW. :thumbsup:
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Tue Apr 28, 2009 7:25 pm

Your option for liquidation is to not choose the embargo. :) The money the embargo costs is the average loss of income you're giving up for not selling your cotton. I'd like to see it be a bit more variable in costs. At the start of the war, there simply wan't a lot of cotton to sell. It was spring/summer and most had already been shipped prior to that. In the fall is when the costs should go up and the risk/reward should be higher since that's when the other countries would normally be importing.
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Tue Apr 28, 2009 9:56 pm

But generals are not the only ones who make stupid mistakes. Politicians make as many, if not more. How much damage did General Order 33 do for the Union war effort? Send by Stanton on April 3rd, 1862- it ordered the closing of all federal recruiting offices (and even the selling of their furniture). It seems like Stanton thought the war was about won! The Order wasn't formally rescinded until three months later on June 6th, 1862, and June 18th, Adjutant-General Thomas asked his state governors, "We are in pressing need of troops. How many can you forward immediately?" The answers can't have been encouraging.

But we have hindsight and know the scale of the war hopefully won't have our recruiting offices closed the day before the Peninsula Campaign started, and three days before the Battle at Shiloh.

And then on July 2nd, 1862, Stanton issued another call for volunteers, but the response was disappointing to the point where the bounties had to be increased to $100- $25 being paid in advance.

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Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:21 pm

There are several considerations involved here as I see it, but ultimately the problem is creating a simulation that is on the one hand sufficiently historically accurate to satisfy the audience for such simulations, while at the same time remaining accessible and enjoyable. As much as many wargamers profess their desire for more "hardcore" games, the fact is that truly comprehensive conflict simulations (of the sort used by military planners and their supporting contractors) are tedious and filled with so much minutia that the vast majority would find them hopelessly overwhelming and not the least bit enjoyable.

That said, the question then becomes how to fill in the gaps intentionally left by designers to make the whole thing manageable. Scripting events and forcing the player into historical circumstances, while perhaps confining, does create a greater sense of recreating the historical event. It also accounts for the hindsight from which players benefit.

The alternative, offering players free reign within a framework of historical circumstances, offers many more possibilities for examining the hypothetical outcomes of a conflict, but also open the door to players taking advantage of hindsight and utilizing "gamey" tactics.

Perhaps the best alternative is to allow players the option of disabling historical scripting if they choose. The result would be basically two distinct simulations: one representing the historical events, the other the historical circumstances. The former would be much more like typical wargames designed for the civilian market, including balancing events to make it more enjoyable for multi-player games, while the latter would offer a more open framework to examine historical possibilities, accepting that these may result in very ahistorical and one-sided outcomes.

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Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:33 pm

Spharv2 wrote:Your option for liquidation is to not choose the embargo. :) The money the embargo costs is the average loss of income you're giving up for not selling your cotton. I'd like to see it be a bit more variable in costs. At the start of the war, there simply wan't a lot of cotton to sell. It was spring/summer and most had already been shipped prior to that. In the fall is when the costs should go up and the risk/reward should be higher since that's when the other countries would normally be importing.


I would love to see the whole cotton market aspect expanded. Rather than a fixed figure, some sort of formula based on blockade state, number of Confederate blockade runners active, percentage of Union blockade, and the passage of time (as alternative sources of cotton were developed) would make the choices available to the South much more difficult. David G. Surdam's Northern Naval Superiority and the Economics of the American Civil War has excellent information on all of these factors.

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Wed Apr 29, 2009 7:08 pm

I voted B but with a stipulation. A perfect Historic simulation will reproduce the "A" situation. That is, if it really simulated all the problems of command, the personalities you have to work with, the political situation you must deal with, etc. the outcome will tend to be the same. Be it Antietam, Chancellorsville or the Peninsula.

However, you have to adjust all these when you design a game because the player rarely acts as a single person within the Historical simulation. In ACW we get to Lincoln, his cabinet, his Generals, his admirals, his colonels, maybe even his dog. That means you can coordinate actions on a level no real leader could ever achieve so the game designer must limit you in some way.

A real historical simulation would put you in the game as a single individual. Only controlling what that individual has control over. No one really wants to do this. Playing Lincoln would be really boring. Writing letters to try to get your generals to move. Even playing Lee wouldn't be all that great. You ride over and tell Longstreet to attack, come back four hours later and find he still hasn't even moved into position.

My view of what makes a great historical game is that it makes you feel you are controlling events within the period. That actions you take will have similar outcomes as they did historically. But "feel" is the most important part of this. It should "feel" like the period. How good the design is is how well it reproduces this "feel".

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Wed Apr 29, 2009 8:59 pm

02Pilot wrote:I would love to see the whole cotton market aspect expanded. Rather than a fixed figure, some sort of formula based on blockade state, number of Confederate blockade runners active, percentage of Union blockade, and the passage of time (as alternative sources of cotton were developed) would make the choices available to the South much more difficult. David G. Surdam's Northern Naval Superiority and the Economics of the American Civil War has excellent information on all of these factors.


Also see Lincoln and His Admirals. The author notes the infighting amongst the USA army, navy, Treasury Dept., etc., on what to do with captured cotton. Apparently, those who could confiscate it could take a personal cut of the profits upon disposition by the prize court. This was an incentive for the Red River campaign. There was even some USA-government-sanctioned trading with the enemy since the northern textile mills needed cotton so badly. The justification for such trading was that "we (USA) will gain more than they (CSA) will by such trading."

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Thu Apr 30, 2009 9:20 am

I think we had this discussion before :) . But I like the way you put both sides forward, good post.

I would like to add some thoughts.
First I am mostly in the second category: I like the situation and the restraints historical, but like to make my own choices (read: mistakes) without being forced to make the same choices as were historically made. The kind of choices I can make, and the way I can diverge from history should be linked to the level of command I have in the game: in a tactical game I should be able to send a squad to the left instead of to the right, in a grand strategical game I should the able to choose to blackade or not, to draft troops or not - etc.

In practice there are some difficulties making a game like that.
The first one, I think, is that it is impossible to know all the (probable) effects of a choice that has not been made. Lets take the draft in AACW. Lincoln didnt go "total war" in 1861. He theoretically could have instituted the draft, raised more taxes, and put the industry on war footing much sooner. So it would be nice if the player had this option. But if the player does, what should be the effect? Inflation, a lowering of NM, a higher NM and a military state, nervous neighbours, draft dodgers, revolution, electoral defeat, California switching to the south or declaring independece, someone blowing up the white house inclusive president in 1862? One of the above, several or something complete different? No way to know, and no way to put probabilities on the events. And as you stated, in history some very improbable outcomes seem to pop up rather often.
Second, in a game like this you do have (need to have) a number of scripted events. Idian uprising, states splitting, etc. These events historically took place, but were no way a forgone conclusion. So if you want to make a "historical conditions" game, you would need to make these events random. And what is more (and lots more work - if not impossible) is that you also need to put in all the other events that might have occured but did not.... Lots more work, as you need to scipt them all, and put probabilities to them. And impossible, because you actually have no way of knowing what events could have happened, but did not, and what the chance was of them happening. How close were other Indian tribes to an uprising, and why didnt they? How close was Stand Watie to being bitten by a rattlesnake in 1861, and what would have been the effect on the uprising if he had been?
Third, if you somehow managed to make a game like that, you would probably loose a large part of your customers. A civil war game in which the south manages to slip a force into Washington in april 1861, capture congress, and settle on favourable terms for the south - what stupid kind of game would that be? (The events are improbable, but not impossible. In one of the Dutch-English wars de Ruyter did something like this to the English. Just as improbable, just as "game changing").

So I think we are stuck with games like this - were we do have choices, but the options are limited to close variants to what was actually done. And where, no matter what choices you make, the following events are more or less what actually happened, not something else what could has happened - or what might even have been more probable.

That isnt all bad - we learn about history, we learn about the choices Lincoln had to make, and we have good fun doing that :) . But we are not actually in the same situation as Lincoln, as we have way more knowledge about what the situation is, and what is going to happen and (as important) what is not.

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Gray_Lensman
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Fri May 01, 2009 1:39 pm

This thread has only one common denominator... Historical conditions/events... There are so many diverse opinions as to what each person would like to see in the game regarding historical conditions/events, that the only thing the programmer/developer/coordinator/betas can do is support the historical conditions/events. For all other different variations of the game that may be desired, all we can suggest is to do like Clovis did and learn how to Mod, or have a little patience while we wait for an on/off Options interface, which probably won't be anytime soon. We gotta wait for VgN and RoP to be finished up first.

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Pdubya64
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Simply Amazing

Sat May 02, 2009 12:06 pm

Regardless of your opinion on this subject, I still have to occasionally remind myself that it is truly amazing that we can even have this discussion.

AGEOD really set themselves apart when they decided to continue to support earlier games with newly-designed capabilities and improvements. To my 45yr old recollection, no game company has ever done this before- not that we haven't thanked them for it profusely already... but, MAN! What a company!! :thumbsup:

Are we in the golden age of gaming or what?! :w00t:
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Great thread!

Sat May 02, 2009 2:45 pm

I have never before witnessed the deep, thoughtful and wonderfully articulated discussion by so many on this topic before. See AGEOD, now you've done it. :thumbsup: You've created a game, through your unbelieveable dedication and follow up that so closely merges history with the necessity for my own human ego to demonstrate its "superior intellect" by winning. That controversial dynamic between my two energies will, IMHO, never disappear. I have two energetic forces within me that will prolly never be quenched.

Tribute belongs to all for not degenerating this thread into "gimme what I want cause it's the only way it should be". And tribute to Heidenkeiser for both his thoughtful presentation and his insight in bringing this topic to the forum. And truly thoughtful pieces written by so many. Wow! I must be in the right shoe department, finding so many sizes that fit so well.

Let me add my 20 inflated dollars (used to be 2 cents).

I've been wargaming since Afrika Korps was a $2.95 boxed game you couldn't find in stores. As I teenager I conducted and wrote a piece for the AH General (rejected) decrying the fact that in my 800 Stalingrad game test trials the Germans won less than 10 times. This topic has intrigued me for just that long, too.

As an adult the whole internal conflict regarding historical authenticity is a dilemna. With the benefit of hindsight I want a game that closely gives me the historical choices, a close approximation of the historical result and equally, allows me to win. Seems something within me wants it all ways, which is, I'm thinkin, impossible. A result where I can win and demonstrate my superior military commander prowess (big puffed up chest over here) as well as a pathway where I can do it imminently within historical boundaries without much deviation from history.

It would feel less than wonderful to win as the CSA if I have to fight in Cleveland, San Francisco and Philadelphia to do it. Somehow deviation from the historical events to win, makes my methodologies feel cheap and tawdry even if I pull off a victory. If I win a game that way I feel less than quenched. I seem to feel I need to make it happen with McClellan, at Gettysburg and Antietam not with the a new theoretical Battle of Newark, New Jersey.
My desire to win, you see, can conflict with my desire for a replication of historical events. A company, like AGEOD, can't resolve that conflict within me. It can only provide a landscape filled with historical possiblities. And as Lensman states, its fan base will push it to dive for the cover of historical possibility/authenticity when conflicts arise. Its the only "cover" available. Let me equally be clear. "Cover" is not a bad thing. It is the defensible territory we all seek when our actions are questioned and our security seems threatened. AGEOD has done as close to the impossible as I am aware of.
When players decry the fact that the North seems to win in 1863 too often, I am reminded equally how many USA players, to win, relegate McClellan to a UPS route in Wisconsin. And of course, when the downside is removed (McClellan, in this case) the overall result will of course come more speedily (an 1863 USA victory).
As Heidenkaiser so wonderfully points out, Cortes is virtually impossible to replicate without extreme player constriction and divine intervention through game events. Hence the only game I have of it is Command Magazine's tactical Battle for Mexico city.
My ego tells me, "it's not a worthwhile victory if the game system made it happen". Most historical wars suffer from this extreme of uneven balance. It is the reason why the same battles are simulated again and again.....because there are few that approach a historical balance which allows my ego's need to "win thought personal brilliance" to shine through. I have come to the conclusion that I want it all: history without deviation and winning, too. And to play someone who wants to win by spamming militia all over my territory, makes me feel like HE cheapened the game. It's genuinely hard to please me, my ego and my world, I'm thinkin. :wacko:
So lemme pull out the champagne glasses and toast AGEOD with some of their best French (Moet Chandon, I'm thinkin). :coeurs: Within my own personal preferences and restrictions that I bring to the gaming table, they have accomplished close to that unthinkable realm that approaches perfection. Well done, team!

SkyWestNM
(stuck somewhere outside Newark prolly) :bonk:

SkyWestNM
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Ps

Sat May 02, 2009 2:50 pm

Ugh! Now I gotta vote, huh? :D

richfed
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Sun May 03, 2009 2:55 pm

I just want a game that simulates the conditions of the time for each side. Then, let Davis and Lincoln - aka The Player[s] - make their choices, within the confines of the conditions, to affect the ultimate outcomes ... A touch of gameplay balance has to be added, but other than that, very simple.

AACW does this near perfectly.
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Krec
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Sat May 30, 2009 8:36 pm

richfed wrote:I just want a game that simulates the conditions of the time for each side. Then, let Davis and Lincoln - aka The Player[s] - make their choices, within the confines of the conditions, to affect the ultimate outcomes ... A touch of gameplay balance has to be added, but other than that, very simple.

AACW does this near perfectly.




I agree. This is whats makes the game so good.

Big Muddy

Fri Jun 19, 2009 6:09 pm

I voted (recreate), which 92% of the players choose.I don't want to be forced to follow actual events, otherwise I wouldn't even brother.

facmanpob
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Sat Jun 20, 2009 10:31 am

richfed wrote:I just want a game that simulates the conditions of the time for each side. Then, let Davis and Lincoln - aka The Player[s] - make their choices, within the confines of the conditions, to affect the ultimate outcomes ... A touch of gameplay balance has to be added, but other than that, very simple.

AACW does this near perfectly.

I agree. For me a great historical strategy game is one in which the players are allowed to follow history closely, but are also free to deviate from that history to explore alternative scenarios - for example a WWII Western front simulation which allows the Allied Commander to choose the invasion point as Pas de Calais if he so chooses, rather than always having to go via Normandy!

AACW is an excellent example of this, as whilst it may encourage certain historical actions, it never actually forces you to adopt particular grand strategies if you choose not to.

enf91
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Sun Jun 21, 2009 3:17 am

I voted B, just as almost everyone else.
The problem I have with a game engine requiring players to follow history is you get a situation like another Civil War game I have, called Robert E. Lee: Civil War General. It was a cool game, but what made it a little silly was the campaign had the player follow a strict set of battles, so the Battle of the Wilderness would still be fought even if Lee had devastated Meade at Gettysburg. Also, the units involved were the historical ones, with the only variation being the weapons assigned to them (in the campaign). I tend to follow a historical-ish approach against the AI, but that's only because -- let's face it, it worked. Took awhile, but it worked. But I know that if I had to follow that same strategy over and over and over, including against humans, I would lose interest in the game. It's part of the reason I stopped playing Call of Duty and Metal of Honor.

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Tue Jun 23, 2009 1:21 am

enf91 wrote:I voted B, just as almost everyone else.
The problem I have with a game engine requiring players to follow history is you get a situation like another Civil War game I have, called Robert E. Lee: Civil War General. It was a cool game, but what made it a little silly was the campaign had the player follow a strict set of battles, so the Battle of the Wilderness would still be fought even if Lee had devastated Meade at Gettysburg. Also, the units involved were the historical ones, with the only variation being the weapons assigned to them (in the campaign). I tend to follow a historical-ish approach against the AI, but that's only because -- let's face it, it worked. Took awhile, but it worked. But I know that if I had to follow that same strategy over and over and over, including against humans, I would lose interest in the game. It's part of the reason I stopped playing Call of Duty and Metal of Honor.


I remember Robert E. Lee! As you say, it was a cool game in certain ways. For example I liked how one had the power to upgrade rifles and cannon and such, and I liked the fact that the South had inferior weaponry to the Union played almost as big of a role as the Union's superior manpower. I think that the inferior weaponry of the South is one factor that isn't simulated as well as it ought to in this game. But as you said, the fact that you had to play a certain order of battles regardless of how badly you beat the AI turned me off to the game. My experience with Robert E. Lee makes me rebel against the idea of forcing players to do certain things just because "that is how it was done historically." If I am playing the CSA and I want to have 5 seperate armies by 1862, why can't I?

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DaemoneIsos
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Great Insights

Wed Aug 26, 2009 5:53 am

Kudos, Kaiser. Very thought provoking, and it seems that the devil is in the details: lots of consensus around choice B at a high level, and quite divergent ideas on how B is to be optimized.

I admit to being particularly impressed with how AACW has managed this. Is there anyone who has played PBEM who still thinks McDowell was incompetent simply because he couldn't take Manassas in early '61? Is there anyone who has captured Washington against Athena who thinks McClellan was wrong to protect it closely? Is there anyone left who agressively attacks a big stack when he thinks his troops are about evenly matched?

Fortunately none of us actually have to face the consequences of our failures; Hooker resigned command of the Army of the Potomac once he realized he couldn't face that responsibility with the boldness he had as a subordinate general.

Great lessons learned, and ones not learned so viscerally from a history book.

Hats off, -D
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saintsup
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Wed Aug 26, 2009 1:02 pm

kwhitehead wrote:I voted B but with a stipulation. A perfect Historic simulation will reproduce the "A" situation. That is, if it really simulated all the problems of command, the personalities you have to work with, the political situation you must deal with, etc. the outcome will tend to be the same. Be it Antietam, Chancellorsville or the Peninsula.


You're assuming that the historical outcome is the most likely to happen (center of the bell curve). Or otherwise said that the 'system' modeled by the game as a stable equilibrium in the historical path.

I don't think that's true and specially on a 3/5 years time span. Small actions/mistakes/bad or good luck could have tremendous effects on the outcome.

OTHH, would a wargame with a vastly non-linear / 'butterfly effect' input/output model be actually enjoyable and appeal to the wargamer public (including me) is an other story.

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Gray_Lensman
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Mon Feb 22, 2010 7:18 am

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Comtedemeighan
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Mon Feb 22, 2010 7:20 am

Gray_Lensman wrote:Nothing like thread necromancy or voting in a poll that is well over 9 months old... Time to put this thread/poll to rest. It's now meaningless and irrelevant as far as AACW is concerned.


I agree
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