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engagement ranges

10 years 8 months ago #1 by larrytagg

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  • engagement ranges was created by larrytagg
    Bruce Trinque of the Gettysburg Discussion Group just sent me the best research I have yet seen on engagement ranges of formed bodies of infantry.
    His research builds on Paddy Griffith (_Battle Tactics of the Civil War_), Brent Nosworthy (_Crucible of Courage_), and a couple of other researchers who have investigated opening engagement ranges.
    Paddy Griffith had the average "open fire" range at 104 yards in 1861-2, 127 yards in 1863, and 141 yards in 1864-5, with an overall mean of 121 yards.
    Brent Nosworthy calculated an average engagement range of 141 yards for the Civil War.
    Mark Grimsley, with 89 data points from major Eastern battles, calculated an average beginning engagement range of 116 yards.
    Now Bruce has done a study of the Official Records which yielded 368 data points (!). His results: For firefights in the years 1861-2, the average engagement range was 131 yards; for firefights in 1863, the average range was 171 yards; for firefights in 1864-5, the average range was 190 yards. As the soldiers got more battle experience, they got less gung ho about close-range firefights, and stood back farther when opening fire.
    Bruce did a special study of Gettysburg for me, with 29 data points, and yielded an average range of 125 yards for Gettysburg engagement ranges.
    So, at 160 yards, Scourge of War: Gettysburg is definitely in the ballpark for 1863, but we could move it in to 125 yards to really simulate the closer-in fighting that reflects the desperate character of the fighting at Gettysburg.

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    10 years 8 months ago #2 by Chamberlain

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  • Replied by Chamberlain on topic Re:engagement ranges
    Good stuff Larry,

    At 125 yards, it would give battles another perspective...

    Chamberlain

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    10 years 8 months ago #3 by Garnier

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  • Replied by Garnier on topic Re:engagement ranges
    An average of 125 wouldn't mean that the maximum was 125 though, would it? Many firefights in game do occur at less than 160, 160 is just the max.

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    10 years 8 months ago #4 by Little Powell

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  • Replied by Little Powell on topic Re:engagement ranges
    Garnier wrote:

    An average of 125 wouldn't mean that the maximum was 125 though, would it? Many firefights in game do occur at less than 160, 160 is just the max.


    Good point. We wouldn't want the max to be decreased to 125 because firefights did happen at greater distances. It was just more common at 125 yards at Gettysburg. However we have discussed the idea of decreasing the effectiveness the farther the range, even letting them shoot over 200 yards to be out of canister range (so we can get infantry peppering away at gunners like they did in the war).

    So 125 yards, you get the maximum effectiveness. This will encourage players to want to fight at this historic distance.

    But you can still fight much farther away (possibly up to 300 yards) but the effectiveness will be greatly decreased.

    Thoughts?

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    10 years 8 months ago #5 by CoB4thTEXAS

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  • Replied by CoB4thTEXAS on topic Re:engagement ranges
    Little Powell wrote:

    Garnier wrote:

    An average of 125 wouldn't mean that the maximum was 125 though, would it? Many firefights in game do occur at less than 160, 160 is just the max.


    Good point. We wouldn't want the max to be decreased to 125 because firefights did happen at greater distances. It was just more common at 125 yards at Gettysburg. However we have discussed the idea of decreasing the effectiveness the farther the range, even letting them shoot over 200 yards to be out of canister range (so we can get infantry peppering away at gunners like they did in the war).

    So 125 yards, you get the maximum effectiveness. This will encourage players to want to fight at this historic distance.

    But you can still fight much farther away (possibly up to 300 yards) but the effectiveness will be greatly decreased.

    Thoughts?



    I agree with the 300 yrd rifle range, only if you have a way of holding rifle fire, kinda like the the arty has now.

    Never ever liked the fact that arty could move to 200 yrds with no harm comming to them, then just start blasting away.

    Heck, the terrain is going to dictate rifle ranges for the most part.

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    10 years 8 months ago #6 by Marching Thru Georgia

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  • That's a great find, Larry! It's just the sort of data we need to make more historically accurate changes to the game. I believe the game has an optimal range variable that the AI uses to set the firing distance plus or minus a random distance. Now we have a good number to give it, if it is not already set to this value. In addition to the good idea of allowing troops to fire at longer distances with reduced effectiveness, the AI could choose to fire at those ranges based on the unit's skill and experience and perhaps, fatigue levels.

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    10 years 8 months ago #7 by Garnier

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  • Replied by Garnier on topic Re:engagement ranges

    Good point. We wouldn't want the max to be decreased to 125 because firefights did happen at greater distances. It was just more common at 125 yards at Gettysburg. However we have discussed the idea of decreasing the effectiveness the farther the range, even letting them shoot over 200 yards to be out of canister range (so we can get infantry peppering away at gunners like they did in the war).

    So 125 yards, you get the maximum effectiveness. This will encourage players to want to fight at this historic distance.

    But you can still fight much farther away (possibly up to 300 yards) but the effectiveness will be greatly decreased.


    This is the first thing I modded with the SDK, and will most certainly be in use any time I play MP after mod folders are enabled. If it was done in vanilla that would be wonderful.

    My opinion is that maximum canister and rifle range should be identical, so there isn't that little gap where one side or the other is absolutely powerless in a rifle vs cannon fight. Regardless of how "accurate" the numbers may be, the tactics used when such a gap exists do not strike me as realistic.

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    10 years 8 months ago #8 by Jack ONeill

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  • Replied by Jack ONeill on topic Re:engagement ranges
    I too have seen this research. I have both of Paddy Griffiths books and Crucible of Courage. Something else to add here. Mr. Griffiths research also shows, due to the number of smoothbores employed by both sides AND the density of North American terrain, the average firefight range was in reality 40 yards. Some Confederate units carried smoothbores almost to the end of the war. I agree, at Gettysburg the ranges were probably longer, but then this was pretty much low rolling hills with wide expanses of cultivated farmland. Great fields of fire. Gettysburg and Antietam were the exceptions. Chancellorsville, Shiloh, Wilderness, Spotsylvania Courthouse, The Seven Days battles - all fought in rugged, stream-broken, heavily forested areas.
    Having done Wilderness as a reenactor, I can say with assurance the firefight ranges of 40 yards is about right. Once we finally found the Federal troops, (after groping around for what seemed like forever), we exchanged fire with the Damn Yankees at roughly 30-40 yards. The woods were so dense, that's when we first saw them.
    Here's the picture for your minds eye - Two horribly confused battlelines blazing away at each other furiously. Literally, all you can see of the opposing side are shoes, Battleflags and rifle smoke. As an NCO, I travelled the line to try and find members of my company lost during the advance into the woods. Some parts of our "lines" were 6-7 men deep, firing. Other parts had platoon-sized holes in it. No-one could or would advance because you couldn't see any gaps in the opposing lines to exploit due to the smoke. No organization at all beyond a few men and an NCO or an Officer close by them. We didn't even know thw Federals had withdrawn until the smoke cleared.
    So, I'm thinking the ranges in the game are just fine.
    My two cents.

    Sic Semper Tyrannis

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    10 years 8 months ago - 10 years 8 months ago #9 by kg_sspoom

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  • Replied by kg_sspoom on topic Re:engagement ranges
    I also like the engagement ranges as they are.
    Not only did some of the better rifles engage at
    farther than 160yds so did Artillery use canister
    at greater than 200yds. So it seems fairly well balanced to me.

    Im guessing that the ranges we have now are where the fire actually starts
    being effective instead of having us waste ammo at longer ranges.
    Last edit: 10 years 8 months ago by kg_sspoom.

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    10 years 7 months ago #10 by larrytagg

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  • Replied by larrytagg on topic Re:engagement ranges
    The researchers (Griffith and Nosworthy), including Batrinque, stress that many references to starting engagement ranges can be found at every distance from 20 to 250 yards.
    I agree with Little Powell that we should lengthen regiments' rifle-musket range to a distance outside canister range. However, this still leaves us with the problem of how best to simulate starting engagement ranges for infantry vs. infantry in SOWGB.
    The game's 160-yard default engagement range does square well with Bruce Trinque's research for the year 1863: he found 107 references in the OR and the average unit opened fire at 171 yards. However, Gettysburg was closer-fought than average, according to the 25 OR references he found for this battle.
    At this point, I would ask interested players to play the game, paying attention to starting engagement ranges: I have done so lately, and have noticed that although 160 yards is the default, not every unit starts firing at that range, especially if they are closing on the target's flank. If you notice something interesting, please report it in this thread.
    If we had ambushes, the average starting engagement range would come down. If I'm not mistaken, as it is now a unit can see every unit that can see it. If we got hiding in wood lines or behind stone walls into the game, the average starting engagement ranges would come down. Probably tricky to code, however.
    I spent yesterday scouting out Bruce's Gettysburg references. My notes are attached here.

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    10 years 7 months ago #11 by 14CVIPerson

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  • Replied by 14CVIPerson on topic Re:engagement ranges
    You are certainly correct that the Gettysburg average of 125 yards did not mean a "real world" maximum of 125. In the OR data that went into my compilation of opening firefight engagement ranges, the max recorded was "300 to 500 yards" with a number of others being recorded at 200 yards or greater (the closest was 19 yards in a night ambush). My firm impression is that terrain, smoke, ground cover, weapons type, etc., were generally the factors that determined at what range fire was opened, although sometimes tactical considerations (holding fire until able to maximize the shock of the first impact) also played a role at times.

    My Gettysburg data yielded a somewhat lower average than 1863 as a whole, as Larry noted, but I am not inclined to attribute this to anything special about the Gettysburg battle in itself, beyond the nature of the terrain and plain data randomness.

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    10 years 7 months ago #12 by NY Cavalry

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  • Replied by NY Cavalry on topic Re:engagement ranges
    In actual game play, I would say the average is around 100 yards. Of course this isn't documented. Just from my playing the game there is some engaging at 160 yds, but most fights are closer.



    Harmon

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    10 years 7 months ago #13 by larrytagg

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  • Replied by larrytagg on topic Re:engagement ranges
    I played the game tonight, Div. vs. Div., and moved around and monitored opening engagement ranges. They were, in yards: 99, 139, 156, 139, 119, 68, 110, and 135. The average is 121 yards.
    The average is pretty close to perfect, historically. And the distribution is pretty nice, too. Excellent showing by the game.
    Playing as the corps commander, I gave my division commander "All Out Attack" stance. That may have influenced the engagement ranges. I'll have to try the scenario with other Stance orders, and see if the engagement ranges differ from these.

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    10 years 7 months ago #14 by larrytagg

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  • Replied by larrytagg on topic Re:engagement ranges
    My last post got deleted. It ran something like this:

    I played more games closely monitoring the opening engagement ranges of the infantry regiments, with different Stances--on "None," and "Hold to the Last," for example--and the engagement ranges looked pretty much like the ones described in my last post: from 68 to 159 yards, averaging right on the historical opening engagement ranges at Gettysburg at about 120-125 yards.
    I'm reinforced in my thinking that the engagement ranges for the game are good, but could perhaps use some shorter engagement ranges and some longer engagement ranges.

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    10 years 5 months ago - 10 years 5 months ago #15 by Mazikainen

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  • Replied by Mazikainen on topic Re:engagement ranges
    Hi all,

    A bit off the side of topic, but I was wondering if anyone could help me with a design issue of my own.

    Apart from playing SOW, I'm also a miniature wargamer. I have a collection of Baccus's 6mm ACW, based in 6cmx3cm elements of 28 figures each. The problem is that I haven't found a rules system which would both cater to my basing convention (the "regiment" isn't divided into smaller elemets and the formation cannot be changed to line with single regiments) and be entertaining. I've tried the Polemos ruleset available from Baccus but I'm not entirely happy with it. So I decided to take some elements from that ruleset and design my own homebrew system.

    The scale I was thinking was that since I have all these 6cm x 3cm blocks, a brigade would consist of two elements. This would allow me to represent a brigade in line by two bases side-by-side, a 12cm x 3 cm block, or by one after another, signifying a column formation.

    Now the question I have is that what would the ground scale be should the brigade frontage be 12 centimeters? How long would the frontage of an average acw brigade-in-line be?

    Of course, I know the brigade sizes varied greatly, but I'm looking for a suitably abstract size that'll give me an entertaining yet plausible gaming experience.

    for the figures we're looking at, go here: www.baccus6mm.com/includes/polemos/acw/acw_text.php

    EDIT: To clarify a bit, I intended that each brigade, apart from the two elements, would have a record of a combat value, morale level and weapon type. The combat value would be dependent on the amount and grade of men, say for example, a point per 100 men plus some modifier for grade or superior weaponry. The weapon type would dictate range in a simple smoothbore/rifle categorization and the morale level would indicate the leadership, experience, determination and elan the brigade has.
    This being the case, would it be unrealistic to assume that brigades with lots of men and as such, high combat rating, could be assumed to be in a double line formation and as such having a frontage roughly equal to a smaller brigade in a single line? It's because I want the smoothbore range to be a bit more than a couple of centimeters as it would look silly :)

    -Mikko A

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    Last edit: 10 years 5 months ago by Mazikainen. Reason: addendum

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    10 years 5 months ago #16 by Cleaburn

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  • Replied by Cleaburn on topic Re:engagement ranges
    Wow how awesome where do you get these units just curious?

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    10 years 5 months ago #17 by 14CVIPerson

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  • Replied by 14CVIPerson on topic Re:engagement ranges
    My study was drawn directly from the battle reports in the ORs -- all units in all theaters of the war, for the entire war.

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