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SCOUTING RULE

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SCOUTING RULE

Post  Father General on Wed Jul 02, 2014 12:34 am

New and improved scouting rule.

Infantry commanders: c. 100 yards from their units.
Cavalry commanders: c. 300 yards
Division and Corps: c. 400 yards

I'll leave a period for open comment. The above are guidelines. I'm open to tweaking them.

Commanders who fail to abide by these guidelines and wander much too far away from their men will risk the punishment of the Hand of Fate which oversees all life in the OOB*.
















*Don't ask me what I might actually do to you because I actually can't do anything. But hopefully you'll play along.
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Re: SCOUTING RULE

Post  WJPalmer on Wed Jul 02, 2014 12:55 am

This is a sound rule that perhaps should even be reigned in more with experience. Without such a restriction, there is virtually no chance for hidden movement, which is IMO at the core of HITS.
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Re: SCOUTING RULE

Post  Mr. Digby on Wed Jul 02, 2014 10:04 am

Hidden movement isn't at the core of the games we play, which shouldn't be called HITS, but Kriegspiel. A realistic environment in which intelligence gathering and interpretation in a timely manner without being able to see the whole battlefield and knowing the enemy's plan and objectives is the core. Stopping players investigating over the hill is less realistic than what we had the other day because SoW doesn't have a scouting or picquet line feature, which it needs.

By limiting officers to a short distance from their troops you are giving away *more* information to the enemy because when he sees that officer he knows a force is very close to him.

I would suggest we play another game on a map that's less open without changing the officer scouting rules and see how that plays out. The main Gburg map is a very open and poor example to base a reaction on. Had our first battle been on a Chancellorsville map I bet everyone right now would be clamouring for *more* distance ahead of their units.

If you're going to limit distances I'd suggest reversing the values for cavalry and div/corps officers. Or not limit cavalry COs at all.

The trouble with ranges like 300/400 yards is its very hard to judge them.

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The other Martin - Charles Reille, le dernier Maréchal de France.

"Any hussar who has not got himself killed by the age of 30 is a jackass." - Antoine Charles Louis Lasalle, commander of Napoleon's light cavalry, killed in battle at Wagram 6 July 1809, aged 34.

"I had forgotten there was an objective." - Generallieutenant Mikhail Borozdin I
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Re: SCOUTING RULE

Post  MajorByrd on Wed Jul 02, 2014 10:26 am

Digby wrote:SoW doesn't have a scouting or picquet line feature, which it needs.

It does not, true. But could one not simulate it by having to take a regiment with you if you venture out? At least if you're a Brigadier. That would limit the individual Brigadier to the speed and range he can take the regiment out. If he's too reckless, he can loose the regiment and he has to judge whether or not he can leave the rest of his Brigade to itself or not. Artillery crews should have no reason to leave whatsoever except to scout out ground to set up on proper.

Digby wrote:By limiting officers to a short distance from their troops you are giving away *more* information to the enemy because when he sees that officer he knows a force is very close to him.

Relative I guess. An officer can cover quite the distance.

Digby wrote:Had our first battle been on a Chancellorsville map I bet everyone right now would be clamouring for *more* distance ahead of their units.

I suppose that's true.

Digby wrote:The trouble with ranges like 300/400 yards is its very hard to judge them.

Frankly it's impossible. But using the 200 yards in the GCM games, it at least keeps officers within a 1-400 yard radious I'd say.
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Re: SCOUTING RULE

Post  MajorByrd on Wed Jul 02, 2014 12:08 pm

Come to think about it, it's very possible to install a picquet line.

I can think of two ways, one slightly more historical than the other.

1. You could venture out, take two regiments with you, leave them where you want the picquet line to be and just watch the top left corner if they have sight on anything by just OOB'ing through them.

2. More historical. You can order your Brigadier to detach forces from his command. In a Brigade of 5, giving the order gave me one Lt. Col with two regiments attached. I guess if I ordered the Lt. Col to detach forces, a new major would spawn and either one would have command of one regiment. I then sent them forward to a certain spot and had them hold there. The AI soon ran into him and he sent me a courier back telling me that the "Enemy is sighted in his vicinity". Sounds like a picquet to me alright.
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Re: SCOUTING RULE

Post  Mr. Digby on Wed Jul 02, 2014 12:51 pm

Purely for info but I have the range radar turned off. We encourage all players to do this in KS games as it gives too much information.

Your second idea sounds good but in these sorts of games players don't like diluting their combat strength by detaching forces away. I'd rather hold my brigade back, TC one regt and go ahead with it to spy out the land.

This is really a cavalry tactic I am thinking. In a corps the CO would designate one div as his lead formation and the div CO would probably designate one brigade as his lead formation and then that brigade (for our games) becomes a player scouting formation with that one brigadier allowed to push ahead of his formation if he takes a regt with him.

The brigade still really heads the axis of advance and doesn't go too far from its div. Cavalry on the other hand should be allowed to detach and go scooting off on flanks and such and do deeper patrols. I personally feel happier with div and corps COs staying well back and responding to info fed them from their brigades and screens.

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The other Martin - Charles Reille, le dernier Maréchal de France.

"Any hussar who has not got himself killed by the age of 30 is a jackass." - Antoine Charles Louis Lasalle, commander of Napoleon's light cavalry, killed in battle at Wagram 6 July 1809, aged 34.

"I had forgotten there was an objective." - Generallieutenant Mikhail Borozdin I
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Re: SCOUTING RULE

Post  kg little mac on Wed Jul 02, 2014 1:09 pm

My opinion is that the ranges for cavalry should be 300 yards, division and corps 200. All on a players honor, as there is no way to enforce the rule to the yard.

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Re: SCOUTING RULE

Post  WJPalmer on Wed Jul 02, 2014 1:14 pm

Digby wrote:Hidden movement isn't at the core of the games we play, which shouldn't be called HITS, but Kriegspiel. A realistic environment in which intelligence gathering and interpretation in a timely manner without being able to see the whole battlefield and knowing the enemy's plan and objectives is the core. Stopping players investigating over the hill is less realistic than what we had the other day because SoW doesn't have a scouting or picquet line feature, which it needs.
I know what it is, Digby. And I heartily disagree that being able to scout in an unlimited manner over hills and ridges with officers to discover an otherwise hidden enemy is somehow more realistic than using cavalry if in the game or advance infantry skirmishers or "pickets" (in Civil War parlance) if not. SoW does provide for these. Whether officer scouting limitations of zero, 100 yards, 200 yards, etc., are a better reflection of Civil War battlefield reality is open to discussion. That such distances should be limited in some manner is (again, IMO) a fairly straightforward adjustment and better suited to a simulation where restricted knowledge of an opponent's movements is considered important. In fact, it has been suggested by some that the original NSD development should have limited the ability to discover enemy units to combat units only (infantry, cavalry, or guns).
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Re: SCOUTING RULE

Post  MajorByrd on Wed Jul 02, 2014 1:35 pm

Digby wrote:Your second idea sounds good but in these sorts of games players don't like diluting their combat strength by detaching forces away. I'd rather hold my brigade back, TC one regt and go ahead with it to spy out the land.

True.

1. If we wanna follow up on your idea of adding an actual picket regiment to each brigade, this regiment could easily be placed under an officer, subordinate in rank to the Brigadier itself.

2. If that's not feasable for any reason, players would have to chose between a) wanting to stick with their command, detaching and dispatching a subordinate with a regiment to picket or b) leading a regiment out themselves to scout.

I like 1 myself but I have to say that If push came to shovel, I wouldn't object to presenting a choice to players (a or b), each choice bringing its own positives and negatives to the table.

In the meantime, I believe all of us to be perfectly fine Gentlemen, able to observe certain rules based on the honorsystem.

We are already relying on it anyways.
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Re: SCOUTING RULE

Post  Guest on Wed Jul 02, 2014 2:53 pm

It would be nice if the troops were able to shoot at CMDR's while they openly cruise the countryside. Since they can't there probably should be some kind of restriction on how far they can travel away from their command. Personally I think they should be able to roam where they can but since they can't be killed when they do do this, there should be restrictions on movement.

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Re: SCOUTING RULE

Post  Mr. Digby on Wed Jul 02, 2014 3:01 pm

Its good to hear everyone's views, I'm cool with trying any method a few times so we can see what gives us a result we feel is best. I was being super-cautious about a knee-jerk reaction to the last battle where many of the problems could have been caused by the very open map.

Do any of the KS players have a preference?

I'd like to suggest we try a forested map like Chancellorsville and see what kind of experience it gives us. On those maps you have to try hard to resist the temptation to toggle the trees off. That kills the mood completely.

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"Any hussar who has not got himself killed by the age of 30 is a jackass." - Antoine Charles Louis Lasalle, commander of Napoleon's light cavalry, killed in battle at Wagram 6 July 1809, aged 34.

"I had forgotten there was an objective." - Generallieutenant Mikhail Borozdin I
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Re: SCOUTING RULE

Post  Martin on Thu Jul 03, 2014 3:31 pm

I’m a KS player, but don’t claim any special expertise in ACW scouting.   Here are some thoughts anyway  Very Happy 
 
I’ll start with some comments on scouting in European wars, as it may give some pointers.  Scouting out to any distance had to be done by mounted men for obvious reasons.  It was an inherently dangerous business, so a mounted escort of some kind was important to protect against being jumped by enemy cavalry.  I do not think infantry fire was a major risk in the Napoleonic period at least, as the effective ranges were so low.  The normal Prussian practice was to use small cavalry patrols, typically only half a troop (which in Prussian terms was just c20 men).  One of Wellington’s trusted intelligence officers in the Peninsular also recommended small patrols.  From what I can gather, there were 3 reasons for this:
 
1.  large patrols dissipated cavalry strength, and you might need them concentrated for battle
2.  scouting wore-down the horses
3.  young high-spirited officers leading large patrols had a tendency to look for fights, rather than observing and reporting
 
[There were exceptions.  Napoleon sent a complete hussar regiment to establish whether Bluecher of Grouchy was approaching the Waterloo battlefield.  But I would argue that this was not really conventional scouting, as it was known that a strong force was there, and Napoleon also knew it was likely to be Prussian.  The key thing was to confirm this and, if so, delay it.  So this was not a typical patrol situation.]
 
How does this translate to ACW?  Well I think 1. and 2. are probably still applicable.  And quite possibly 3. as well, at least in the Virginia theatre.  So I think it is reasonable to assume that cavalry commanders are accompanied by perhaps half a company of cavalry when scouting.  They therefore do not need to take a whole regiment with them, as they will have some protection from enemy patrols.  We could even perhaps represent that by giving such commanders additional headcount in our OOBs.
 
Looking at contemporary ACW OOBs, it appears that Union infantry corps commanders normally had between 1 and 3 cavalry companies detailed to them as ‘escort’.  Union divisions only very rarely appear to have cavalry permanently allocated to them.  You do find cavalry earmarked to Confederate corps and even divisions, but this is very unusual in 1863 (albeit somewhat more common in 1864).  But that may just be because cavalry companies were detached to them in rotation, rather than being permanently earmarked.  That’s speculation though.  Overall, it does look as if a corps commander could summon a mounted escort if required, and hence perhaps we should treat them as cavalry commanders.  Maybe we should extend this to division commanders also, as the game’s scouting function is otherwise quite limited.
 
As far as I can see, there were normally no horsemen allocated to infantry brigades.  Historically, it seems likely to me that the commanders would only scout at all if they suspected enemy were nearby, and then only short distances.  I would support the earlier suggestion that if those commanders wish to scout, they should take a regiment with them, which could obviously be deployed as skirmishers, if they wished.
 
I think there is one significant change between the Napoleonic period and the ACW, which relates to the improvement in infantry firearms.  It is still debated how much the improved range and accuracy of rifled muskets impacted on ACW tactics, but that’s not really the issue here.  The real risk to patrolling officers was not the effective range at which an infantry regiment might start firing, but the range at which a marksman could pick you off.  That would be much greater, and added a new risk to scouting IMHO.
 
But I think that would only be an inhibiting factor if you had reason to believe that enemy infantry were nearby.  For more general scouting, I don’t think it would stop you riding to the high ground for example, although I guess you might be inclined to give woods & buildings a wide berth.
 
So in summary, one possibility might be to do something like this: 
 
 Like a Star @ heaven Cavalry, corps & division commanders – can scout freely, but not within 4-500 yards of woods & buildings, unless they have a regiment with them.  In which case they would then need to accompany it.
 
 Like a Star @ heaven Infantry brigade commanders – can scout anywhere (even in woods & buildings), but need to take a regiment with them, and stay with it.
 
 Like a Star @ heaven Artillery battery commanders – no scouting unless friendly troops are already where you are heading to.
 
Just a suggestion though.......
 
One question.  If we do limit infantry brigade and battery commanders in this way – or some other way - will they have a sufficiently entertaining game, at least in the manoeuvre stage?
 
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Re: SCOUTING RULE

Post  kg_sspoom on Thu Jul 03, 2014 6:51 pm

One thing that seems a bit unrealistic is that when the hill ahead is 500-1000 yards off, any commander worth his pay grade is sending someone to see what's on the other side before bringing his brigade within range of a potential defender. With arbitrary scouting restrictions the game will slow way down as you will need to detach a regiment and send them forward before going over each hill or through each patch of woods. With communication relying on couriers there is no instant data passed on. And the further out a commander is from his troops the less likely he will be able to get them out of a tight spot while scouting ahead. There is a price paid by scouting ahead and that is it takes that much extra time for your orders to reach your troops. I feel that using a commander to scout is the equivalent of sending your staff out to recon your route of March. I'm not in favor or limit from your own troops but would support a limit as to how close to the enemy a unaccompanied commander can get.
Just my .02$
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Re: SCOUTING RULE

Post  Mr. Digby on Thu Jul 03, 2014 6:59 pm

"...when the hill ahead is 500-1000 yards off, any commander worth his pay grade is sending someone to see what's on the other side before bringing his brigade within range of a potential defender."

That is a very valid point.

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"Any hussar who has not got himself killed by the age of 30 is a jackass." - Antoine Charles Louis Lasalle, commander of Napoleon's light cavalry, killed in battle at Wagram 6 July 1809, aged 34.

"I had forgotten there was an objective." - Generallieutenant Mikhail Borozdin I
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Forgotten Horsemen

Post  WSH Baylor on Fri Jul 04, 2014 9:14 pm

Martin is not quite right regarding no horsemen on the Brigade staff. In fact, many brigade commanders carried large staffs ranging from Colonels down to 2nd Lts., all of whom were available to serve as couriers and SCOUTS! The regimental TOE provided for no horsemen - all officers were dismounted.

Hope that helps.

J
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Re: SCOUTING RULE

Post  Martin on Fri Jul 04, 2014 10:52 pm

See this link  http://garytameling.hubpages.com/hub/American-Civil-War-Life-Filling-The-Ranks-Order-of-Battle-Brigade-and-Above 

The article goes into some detail on the brigade staff.  Whilst numbers did indeed appear to be somewhat flexible, 9-13 officers appears to have been the normal range.  But they all had jobs to do (adjutant, commissary, quartermaster, ordnance, surgeon, chaplain etc), and none of those involved scouting.  The most likely candidates seem to be the aides-de-camp (1 or 2 of those), but they had jobs too.  And where would a mounted escort come from?  Without that you risked sending specialist officers on a mission for which they were not trained, and on which they were likely to be lost if they met any enemy on the other side of that hill.  Would a modern brigade commander consider using staff officers in that way?

However I may be wrong   

Whatever the truth of the matter, the game has to be fun and involving for those playing more junior commanders.  Steve would clearly feel unsatisfied with a limited role, and if I’m honest, so would I.   

His favoured approach is pretty much what we played last weekend.  But after that game the Reb’s expressed concerns that the Union team scouting capabilities were too great, and specifically that some officers scouted too far in advance of Union troops, which made it impossible to achieve surprise.  There is a clear tension between that view and allowing everyone to have scouting fun. 

There may be a bit of trial & error before we bottom this one out.  Just as well the Father General’s got all this in hand...........

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Re: SCOUTING RULE

Post  MajorByrd on Sat Jul 05, 2014 8:23 am

So what would the consensus be for tomorrows game?

A lot of valid points to choose from.
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Re: SCOUTING RULE

Post  kg little mac on Sat Jul 05, 2014 8:41 am

"Infantry commanders: c. 100 yards from their units.
Cavalry commanders: c. 300 yards
Division and Corps: c. 400 yards"

Neal's the one making the rules.
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Re: SCOUTING RULE

Post  MajorByrd on Sat Jul 05, 2014 11:11 am

I see.

And I've just found out that today is saturday so I'll catch y'all later.
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Re: SCOUTING RULE

Post  Father General on Sat Jul 05, 2014 6:17 pm

I just got back from my 4th of July celebration on the coast and expect to make it to the game, or at least send you off if there are no slots left over.

I haven't had time to really think this through, so any final decision would be off the cuff and would probably fit poorly. You see, I also just woke up.

Anyway, I'll review all this again later and try to come up with a rule.

Because of the lack of cavalry in this particular engagement, I'm inclined to be a little more liberal with the restrictions. Besides, I can't really enforce a rule anyway. What am I gonna do, kick you off the internet?

Please use reason and try to think historically when scouting. If you want to simulate taking some men with you by taking a regiment, that's your choice however such a rule is impractical because troops move slow and tire across terrain.

I kinda want to see how everyone behaves during this battle to see if we need to set some guidelines or if we can let this issue be. I prefer fewer rules, unless there are flagrant abuses or significant complaints.

-Neal
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