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Offline choppinlt

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The Battle for Belle Fontaine
« on: September 20, 2016, 08:31:24 PM »
Christian, here is your mission should you choose to accept it. Here is your basic order of battle (OOB), and I can give you more detail if you need it. Otherwise feel free to make some assumptions.

Americans
You are in command of A Company 115th Infantry Regiment. They are a standard full-strength US infantry company, with all its typical assets. Additionally they are supported by 2-81mm mortars and 2 batteries of 105's.
Orders-your company is helping to support a large overall assault. Your primary job is a holding action on the German positions, HOWEVER if the opportunity presents itself you may occupy Belle Fontaine. Remember, keep casualties to a minimum while maximizing fire on enemy positions.

Germans
The Germans are fighting with elements from 3 different company strongpoints. These areas are roughly located on the map below. Feel free to adjust the setup area as necessary. While the setup areas should contain many of the associated troops, it is assumed some forces can set up outside the area.
Front-Left setup area is a weakened platoon from the I Kompanie 9th FSJ Regt. The Front-Right setup area is a weak platoon (approximately at 50%) from II Kompanie. The Back-Center setup area is a weakened platoon from III Kompanie. This area also has an HMG section and 2-81mm mortars.
Orders-All German troops are dug in with access to wire and minfields. The Germans are under orders to give no ground without a severe fight.

Spoiler Alert-the Americans are not realistically expected to take Belle Fontaine. My simulation shows them pulling back after about an hour of fighting with minimal ground taken (i.e. less than 200 meters gained) to prevent casualties.

Feel free to ask questions, and most of all HAVE FUN!!

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Offline Christian Knudsen

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Re: The Battle for Belle Fontaine
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2016, 03:30:47 AM »
Ok, I just saw this, and I'll start plugging away at it tonight!
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Offline Christian Knudsen

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Re: The Battle for Belle Fontaine
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2016, 04:45:10 AM »
Ok, I assume you have already gamed out the barrage effects, so I don't need to worry about that, although I will keep the 105 on call! 

No armour or HT support for the Amis?  I assume the mortars are on-board?

What is the timeframe for this scenario?  Is it 1200 to 1400?  An interesting question is how to translate ASLs "2 minute" turns into something that is not too long for the game in terms of game turns, but not too short to reflect what would have been possible in a two-hour period.  I will adopt the scheme from Lone Canuck's Purple Heart Draw mini-HASL campaign, which I am using with the creator's permission for force generation and fortification point purchase tables.  This campaign uses individual dynamic scenarios that each represent 3-3.5 hours of time, and translates this to 5-8 ASL turns.  I will keep this and see what happens.  I hope to have force translation to ASL terms done tomorrow before work. 

Mapping in ASL with its modular boards is always interesting.  I have tried to keep to the spirit of the thing using the mapboards available on VASL, and have trimmed the map size to about what you have given me to work with.  It is not going to be totally realistic to the terrain, but there is a bunch of bocage which the Americans have to traverse, and a town at the southern end of the trace, so hopefully that will do.

In addition to posting my (briefer) AAR here, I plan with your permission to post a more extensive and ASL-centric AAR on the Gamesquad ASL AAR forums.  Of course I will talk up TO there, and hopefully drum up some interest as a potential ASL (and more) campaign scenario generator! 

I'll keep you posted as it develops.
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Offline choppinlt

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Re: The Battle for Belle Fontaine
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2016, 08:08:55 PM »
The 105's are part of the combat equation, which means they are assumed to be on-call!

No armor or HT's. I'm not sure of the implications of the on vs off-board mortars, so you use what you feel is most appropriate. The company does have the 2 mortars assigned directly to them, but they could theoretically be held off-board. Battle start time is 1224.

Regarding game conversion, yeah that is always the trick with a game like ASL. It is theoretically possible to accomplish everything in the 2-minute turn, but engagements were typically much longer than that when trying to plug it in to a campaign situation. This is all good information and important to have brought up, and this will provide data we can analyze and adjust as we need. Like I said, my sim had the battle lasting roughly 1-hour and the Americans took 10 casualties while advancing about 200m before ceasing their advance. I highly doubt that translates to 30 turns for ASL, so what you are doing sounds good.

By all means, please give your battle AAR here and feel free to post on other forums. The more exposure the better, and the more explicit we can be the better! So all you are doing sounds great and I look forward to seeing your results. Thanks again for helping do this!  :)
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Offline choppinlt

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Re: The Battle for Belle Fontaine
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2016, 12:39:02 AM »
For those interested in following CK's progress of this battle, feel free to jump over to http://www.gamesquad.com/xenforo/index.php?threads/the-battle-for-belle-fontaine.128453/
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Offline Christian Knudsen

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Re: The Battle for Belle Fontaine
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2016, 06:15:31 PM »
Ok, in the interest of getting the battle done on time, I am taking a hiatus from the detailed ASL AAR on the Gamesquad forums - hopefully noone is too disappointed, and for those following, the whole AAR will be posted by Mon/Tues.

But an update here, I am currently starting the German Turn 5 (of 6 1/2), and things are in a real see-saw at the moment.  The Americans are just on the cusp of breaking through the forward German positions to the depth Platoon position, but the attack is very disjointed due to the compartmentalized nature of the terrain, very effective German AP mines, and the German's desperate defense, which is just barely plugging the holes left by American firepower.  The American advance so far is about 300m, and they have taken around 10 casualties.  Some devastating American mortar and MG fire has caused about 15 German casualties in return. 

I gotta say, ASL really does a great job of reflecting the reality of bocage fighting, as it sounds in the sources.  It's slow to move, hard to see, hard to generate a lot of firepower, and artillery is really challenging to use.  You really get the sense of having to slowly clear one hedgerow at a time.  Mortars are key, and the way the game handles concealment leads to a real chess game of only firing when you really have to, to avoid losing concealment and bringing worse down on your own head. 

I'll post the results Sunday, so we can get on with the next TO turn!
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Offline Christian Knudsen

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Re: The Battle for Belle Fontaine
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2016, 04:26:20 PM »
Ok, the results are in!

A/1/115 has won a scenario victory in the Battle for Belle Fontaine, putting enough pressure on the Germans that they were forced to commit the depth platoon to a counterattack to avoid their forward platoons being totally overrun.  The Amis advanced approximately 300 meters, and inflicted severe casualties on the Germans, mainly through effective use of mortar and artillery fires.

The Americans suffered 15 casualties in the attack, and the Germans took an unacceptably high 25 casualties, almost an entire platoon KIA/WIA.  The Americans, however, are seriously disorganized and will require some time to reorganize and prepare for any potential counterattack.  The Germans fired one HE mission of 81mm Mortar, and each American supporting 105mm Bty fired one HE mission.  American onboard 81mm and 60mm Mortars fired fairly heavily, and will require immediate resupply from Bn stocks.

Choppinit, let me know if there is anything else you need for input.   I will start updating the ASL AAR on the GS forums today, and the AAR here today, which will focus entirely on points that arose for making an effective and quick interface between ASL and TO.

Thanks for letting me be involved in this, I totally plan to continue - maybe just with CM, though, ASL is a lot of work, especially if I'm writing everything down.

Edit - I think I will hold off on the final AAR here until I have finished posting the ASL-centric AAR.  I am hoping that that will focus my thoughts on the ASL/TO interface issues.  Hopefully all done in a day or two.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2016, 05:59:31 PM by Christian Knudsen »
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Offline choppinlt

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Re: The Battle for Belle Fontaine
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2016, 02:33:18 AM »
You are welcome, and thank you for doing this CK!  :) Interesting results… I will be interested to see your AAR in greater detail to see how you arrived at these results. Please keep your notes and thoughts regarding conversion to and from ASL. This will be valuable as we go along, and your participation has been a valuable asset! Finally, it sounds like you had fun with this, and at the end of the day that is the bottom line of what this is about. I’m glad you are ready for more.  ;D

All, this experience highlights some of the considerations that will need to go in to conversion of different game systems. I am specifically talking about casualty rate, expenditure rate of ammo, conversion of time, and distance advanced. Some games are going to be easier to evaluate on these different aspects. Other games are going to require some additional work for proper conversion. Let’s face it, some games have higher casualty rates by design than others. For instance, what does it really mean when a squad is eliminated in ASL? CK and I briefly discussed some of these things as he went through this battle. Then there is how the players command their forces in these same games.

Thanks again CK, and great work!  :)
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Offline Christian Knudsen

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Re: The Battle for Belle Fontaine
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2016, 04:03:24 AM »
Definitely more to follow, but one of the things I didn't account for was persistence level, and how that would be affected by the type of battle (assault, probe, holding attack, etc). 

I am thinking more and more that in a campaign setting like we are looking at, I need to look less at creating scenario specific VC.  You raise some good points above about differing game systems and the need to perhaps handicap for that.  But the bigger issue in this specific case is that I designed the scenario as a scenario, not as part of a greater campaign game where force preservation plays a greater role.  Had the Germans had the option to retreat, they might have done so in order to reduce casualties, although the Americans caused a lot of casualties by being extremely lucky at a few key points.  And as well there is the question of scenario length, and how to factor that in.  Lots of moving parts.

I think the way forward in integrating ASL and ToO is going to be to assign victory levels like the HASL campaigns do; to provide a geographic requirement for scenario victory in the form of phase lines/locations, tempered and modified by CVP levels. 

Anyways, the whole After Action Report is up on the GS forum, and the AA Review is in process.

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Offline choppinlt

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Re: The Battle for Belle Fontaine
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2016, 03:24:41 PM »
Ah, this is great discussion because we are getting deep in to design philosophy and considerations of the tactical aspect.  :D I want to make TO open enough to make it flexible based on what each user wants. There are going to be those that look at TO as a mere battle generator for their tactical games, and that’s great. There are going to be those that simply want to play TO as an operational level wargame, that’s great too! Then there are going to be those that are going to want to use it as a mixture of the two above. Personally, that is how I foresee myself playing TO…but the beauty is each player can make it work pretty much how they want to.

I am a long time fan of the Total War series of games. If you are still having questions regarding what we are trying to accomplish, it is similar to how Total War has a strategic layer and the ability to fight out the battles you want on the battlefield. Yes, there are some differences, but that is basically what we are wanting to accomplish.

For those that don’t want to read all the details, here is a quick summary of what is about to follow. There are several considerations with converting tactical battle results to and from the operational layer. TO will allow you to convert the results however you want, you just need to find an agreeable method with you and your fellow players. The methods you choose for conversion can be as flexible or inflexible as you want, and the plan is to help provide guidance in doing so.

…otherwise keep reading!  ;D

CK, in this battle example, you looked at TO as more of a battle generator to set up a game of ASL. You had less regard for the operational consequences regarding casualties, etc. At the operational level, tactical battle results can be handled in one of three ways:

1.   You can use the tactical battle results strictly as determined in the battle i.e. you pay little to no regard to game conversion, just input the precise results in the operational layer;

2.   You can have what I will call a “strict conversion” meaning that you have a precise formula to convert battle results to the operational layer based on the type of tactical game you are using. I.e. there is a pre-set formula for game conversion to tweak battle results (such as how casualties are applied, time conversion, etc), but otherwise the battle results are what they are;

3.   Finally you have what I will call “governed conversion”. What happens if this isolated tactical battle (in the middle of many other engagements) produces incredible results for the Americans by destroying every German unit with no casualties and advance a full kilometer in a matter of minutes? Strict conversion would mean that you apply these results after some minor game conversion steps (e.g. converting tactical turns to battle time, squads eliminated to actual number of casualties, etc), HOWEVER the results produced are so far from any probability that it risks what some may consider operational game integrity. So players may want to “govern” tactical battle results to perhaps throttle them back to keep it within a more realistic boundary. Additionally, players will probably want to govern results due to our natural tendency to fight the tactical battles like there is no tomorrow!

How do you and your fellow players want do it? It is up to you and your preferences, but I see Option 3 being used most by me. The type of conversion that players use will depend on the different tactical games used, and what players mutually agree to. The key is that players will have the flexibility to play as they choose in each and every instance. All it takes is mutual agreement.

CK, in the case of this battle, I will probably fudge your results a little (i.e. "govern" the casualties) based on how you conceived the scenario, but the essence of your results will be applied. In other words, your results reflect better American performance than what I originally calc’d, and that will be applied at the operational level. Furthermore, I have done nothing with ASL conversion to date. I only knew it was conceptually possible. Your information and efforts here are GREATLY appreciated because we can use this experience to develop conversions going forward. So yes, what you have done is blazed a new path for players to follow using ASL for tactical resolution, and that is greatly appreciated!  :) Your work now will make it easier on everyone going forward.

Finally, our plan is to give some conversion guidance with different tactical game systems this exact reason above. Many factors are involved regarding which game systems, but the key word is “guidance”. That means there is nothing to stop players from using their own “house rules”. I hope all of this discussion is making sense and opening minds to the possibilities, not creating confusion….
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Offline Christian Knudsen

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Re: The Battle for Belle Fontaine
« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2016, 05:20:30 PM »
Yeah, I MEANT to more closely reflect a campaign (force preservation) scenario, but got bogged down in designing the scenario and kinda lost track of that.  Again, tying "acceptable casualty" levels to the ToO persistence mechanic is going to be key, and then finding a way to translate that to the scenario, then back to ToO.

An example:  Let's say that the persistence setting mandates that a side will want to disengage after taking 15% casualties.  This creates 2 issues; what is meant by casualties in the context of the game and how does that translate, and what does "disengage" look like for the attacker/defender?  How is the distance of advance handled?  If the defender decides to withdraw, does he have to do it in the scenario, or can he just say "Alright, that's the end of the battle, as I'm going to just withdraw 500m to Operational Map point 1234."  I think the concept of phase lines will help here; attacking and defending forces might be more willing to take casualties above the persistence "trigger" the deeper into the defense the attacker gets, although the defender may be less willing to fight, wanting to give ground to save lives.

Ultimately it will help when the full campaign is realized, as the players will have a good sense of what trades they are willing to make in terms of time, space, men, and machines.  In fact, the whole persistence mechanic may end up being entirely optional for head to head play, as only personal morale checks are brought into play.  Part of the issue in my battle was that I didn't care about my pixeltruppen enough, and didn't have enough info internalized about the campaign and its force preservation needs when I was playing.

For ASL and other board/mini games, I am starting to think the real roadblock will be translating the battle durations into a sensible number of turns; too many and the defender can just be overrun, too few and the attack never gets off the ground.  Most HASL campaigns use a variable 5-8 turn limit, and I think that will be where I will start in continued playtesting. 

Thanks again for letting me be a part of this, it's good to exercise the brain in a non-work environment.
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Offline choppinlt

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Re: The Battle for Belle Fontaine
« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2016, 04:01:41 AM »
Quote
Yeah, I MEANT to more closely reflect a campaign (force preservation) scenario, but got bogged down in designing the scenario and kinda lost track of that.  Again, tying "acceptable casualty" levels to the ToO persistence mechanic is going to be key, and then finding a way to translate that to the scenario, then back to ToO.

How you did it is OK though, because it is all how players want their tactical battles to work. Casualty rates can be part of the conversion without much issue. One thought I had was to use the in-game combat resolution system to provide players with a baseline of final results. This can be used to build in victory conditions, or for conversion.

Quote
An example:  Let's say that the persistence setting mandates that a side will want to disengage after taking 15% casualties.  This creates 2 issues; what is meant by casualties in the context of the game and how does that translate, and what does "disengage" look like for the attacker/defender?  How is the distance of advance handled?  If the defender decides to withdraw, does he have to do it in the scenario, or can he just say "Alright, that's the end of the battle, as I'm going to just withdraw 500m to Operational Map point 1234."

Exactly! And this is all part developing the conversion process. Some games/systems will be easier to convert than others.

Quote
Ultimately it will help when the full campaign is realized, as the players will have a good sense of what trades they are willing to make in terms of time, space, men, and machines.  In fact, the whole persistence mechanic may end up being entirely optional for head to head play, as only personal morale checks are brought into play. 

Very true, persistence in TO doesn’t have to be used at the tactical level. In TO, persistence is a UI way to give better control on casualty tolerance. It can be used to help guide or create the tactical scenarios, but it wouldn’t have to be used.

Quote
Part of the issue in my battle was that I didn't care about my pixeltruppen enough, and didn't have enough info internalized about the campaign and its force preservation needs when I was playing.

And this is exactly what I had in mind with Option 3. This is NOT going to be an uncommon phenomena because most tactical players will NOT want to surrender the battlefield without a severe fight regardless of what it means in the bigger picture…but some players will want to keep that fidelity.

Quote
For ASL and other board/mini games, I am starting to think the real roadblock will be translating the battle durations into a sensible number of turns; too many and the defender can just be overrun, too few and the attack never gets off the ground.  Most HASL campaigns use a variable 5-8 turn limit, and I think that will be where I will start in continued playtesting.

It will be interesting to see what you come up with on this. I don’t have any real context for time conversion with ASL. I remember years ago playing microarmor miniatures and the rules I was using were 2 minute turns, but the rules suggested 10 minutes/turn in a campaign type setting. I found that fascinating at the time, but now I understand it much better.

Quote
Thanks again for letting me be a part of this, it's good to exercise the brain in a non-work environment.

Ha, ha agreed! Glad to have your help.  :)




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Offline A Canadian Cat

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Re: The Battle for Belle Fontaine
« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2016, 03:10:26 PM »
This is a great dissension.  I had not thought of the many ways you could conceivably handle converting the tactical result to the operational game.  I just figured option 2 would be the way.  It is still the way I want to think about it - I *want* the challenge at the tactical level to consider when to withdraw and conduct the actual withdrawal and see how successful (or not) I can be.  I *want* the operational level to seep into how the tactical commanders play and not have a fudge factor to even things out.  I *want* that player in one tactical battle to gain that 1km of ground and have the enemy feel the pain of not conducting an orderly withdrawal or the trap that could result in a counter attack cutting off that force that moved to far forward.  Rather than evening things out.

However having said that having options is a good idea.  Probably conducting things like options 3 for a while before going full on - what happens happens would probably have a benefit while people learn about the consequence of their actions or to introduce new players.
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Offline choppinlt

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Re: The Battle for Belle Fontaine
« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2016, 08:37:59 PM »
Thanks Cat! I am hoping that lots of people are benefitting from this conversation, as opposed to making their head spin. You stated what I assume most people do. You know how you want the game to be played, but it may vary wildly with how others have envisioned. So take this current example, CK is not involved in the operational aspect. I give CK the info and he plays out a battle with how he thinks it should be done. He gives me the battle data stating “well I lost track of the whole casualty aspect”. So now I have to make a decision on what to do with the results. The case with CK isn’t a big deal, but there will be those cases that develop wildly different results. For those having dedicated "tactical only" players, I anticipate this being rather common. The other issue involves wild variations in player abilities when playing out the tactical side.

I would also like to add that I can virtually guarantee that tactical resolution of a battle will lead to significantly higher casualty rates when applied to the operational layer. Is this an issue? You and the people you are playing with get to make that determination and what to do about it. Players can be flexible with each case if they choose, or they may apply a strict set of rules on how to handle every case.

Notice that I havn’t described any of the above as a "problem", these are simply things that should be considered as players start a new game. All it takes is coming to agreement how things will be resolved before the game begins.

Quote
I *want* the challenge at the tactical level to consider when to withdraw and conduct the actual withdrawal and see how successful (or not) I can be.  I *want* the operational level to seep into how the tactical commanders play and not have a fudge factor to even things out.  I *want* that player in one tactical battle to gain that 1km of ground and have the enemy feel the pain of not conducting an orderly withdrawal or the trap that could result in a counter attack cutting off that force that moved to far forward.

Cat, I agree with you that I would love to command the operational level and resolve some of the battles tactically where I am have to consider force preservation. I also have to keep in mind that people will have varying degrees of interest and thoughts of how this should be played out.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2016, 02:17:50 AM by choppinlt »
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Offline A Canadian Cat

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Re: The Battle for Belle Fontaine
« Reply #14 on: October 05, 2016, 02:31:22 PM »
Cat, I agree with you that I would love to command the operational level and resolve some of the battles tactically where I am have to consider force preservation. I also have to keep in mind that people will have varying degrees of interest and thoughts of how this should be played out.

For sure your game will be better if the players can control various of those items.  I am considering this from the perspective of the few umpired campaigns I have played in (part of a big one on the A Few Good Men web site right now) where the battlefield commanders have been given clear direction on the relative importance of force preservation and communication during the match up about pressing further, holding fast or withdrawing.  I like playing that way.  But you are right your game should offer some options for people to use.
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