Civil War Estabs (Work in Progress)

Discussion in 'Command Ops Series' started by LongstreetCSA, Jan 30, 2020.

  1. LongstreetCSA

    LongstreetCSA Member

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    Hello everyone,

    as the title of the thread suggests, I am currently working on a custom "estabs" file for an American Civil War (1861-1865) setting. The organisation of the various units has been researched using historical material and is including details like number of wagons in the supply trains.

    Since I have been using the Steam version I was missing the standard estabs XML file (only the coe file seems to be available), so putting together a working custom estabs file was somewhat challenging.

    In any case most of the basic work is done now, but I still have a few issues to iron out and some points to work on:
    - rework the gun ranges so the AI does not start to fire at extreme ranges,
    - redo (if possible) the formations to those used during the civil war (and have the AI use it too)
    - add a few more weapons like a smoothbore musket, the Parrot cannon and a carbine rifle

    One very puzzling problem I currently have is with artillery movement:

    My smallest artillery unit is a single Napoleon 12-pounder, with a gun-limber, a caisson and limber, horses and 20 men (the standard crew for the gun, the crew for the 2 limbers and 5 spare men). Then there is an artillery section which features double the equipment (2 guns, 4 limbers) and crew, spares, horses and an officer (41 men). And then there is an artillery company (battery) of 4 guns with 4 times the equipment, men and officers.

    Strangely enough the artillery company/battery moves without any issue when given the order, but the single gun and the 2-gun section keep delaying their movement indefinitely for no apparent reason. They just won't move, no matter what (even though they practically have the very same equipment the full company/battery has).

    Has anyone encountered a similar issue or knows how to resolve it?
     
    Chris Merchant likes this.
  2. jimcarravallah

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    If you have assigned a manpower carrying capacity to each limber may be having a problem with "wheeled" vs. "foot" movement where some of the troops in the contingent lack "wheeled" or "foot" transport at the horse speed rate. The delay may in effect be a wait until the available horses and wagons take their maximum contingent of soldiers to a location, and then return to the starting point to pick up the remaining manpower in a second trip.

    As an added question, I'm curious how you resolve the hand combat issue with your units?

    The ranges and default settings for spacing in the current estabs focus on a 100-meter grid, with the grid the optimum manpower two-dimensional spacing for the smallest sized combat unit (in general a company contingent). Weapons ranges are set to start at the 100-meter range, meaning the use of close proximity combat devices such as swords, lances, and bayonets are not modeled effectively to replicate hand to hand combat.

    A significant amount of American Civil War combat resulted in close in melees, which at a minimum 100-meter range for individual weapons, means swords, lances, and bayonets would become effective at that range and closer.
     
  3. LongstreetCSA

    LongstreetCSA Member

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    @ jimcarravallah - thank you kindly for taking the time to reply and trying to figure out what the issue might be! Awesome for the information about how spacing works, this might come in very handy when I will take a look at modifying those numbers (but like I mentioned above I have my doubts that one can actually force the use of 19th century formations).

    1) artillery issue:

    I did test the not-moving-issue with the 1-gun and 2-guns artillery units in a simple custom scenario that lasted 10 days. Alas these two units stubbornly refused to move, regardless of how much time they had. They just kept delaying their movement but without giving any reason why the movement was delayed.

    I also tried to set the passengers capacity (which had been 2) of the gun-limber (3 crew) and cassion-limber (3 crew) both to 0 to see if that has any effect, but again only the full company moved without any issues while the two other units did not move at all.

    I think there might be enough horses (i.e. "wheeled" since horses are sadly nothing but trucks) since the units seem to abandon some horses when on the map (in the "estab" file the single gun artillery unit for example is assigned 7 horses, but in the scenario maker it suddenly has only 5 horses.

    It just does not seem to make any sense, even less so since the bigger unit (company/battery) that practically just has 4 times the equipment and men moves just fine.

    2) close range combat:

    It is quite funny but at this time the only short range weapons in use in my estab are revolvers that are used by the cavalry and officers. They are practically like rifles but with their ranges reduced to 0 meters up to a maximum of 50 meters (most effective / highest accuracy from 0 to 5 meters). This seems to work quite well actually in my test (it even seems to be used correctly by the AI), making the cavalry practically a scouting unit, good for delaying the enemy unit help arrives or for following up on successful attacks.

    I thought about adding bayonets (as additional weapons on rifles) but am not sure if that would work out well since I have not seen any other edged weapon in game (so I doubt this is even properly modeled by the engine).


    In any case if you like you can take a look at the estab, maybe you see a mistake or something I missed?

     
  4. jimcarravallah

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    I can look at the Estab to see if there is information that should be added and to review the issue is with the artillery movement.

    Assuming you have enough time in the LnL forum, I believe you can attached a zipped file of the XML file in a private message and I can access it from there.

    I'll need to know what game version the XML was designed under as part of the review.
     
  5. LongstreetCSA

    LongstreetCSA Member

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    Send you a zip of the files as suggested. Your help is much appreciated!
     
  6. jimcarravallah

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    I quickly looked at the Estabs, and your gun limbers, caissons, mounts, and horses don't identify a quantity for "personnel capacity".under the performance tab for the "vehicle."

    That number is the quantity of troops who can ride on the "vehicle."

    Look at page 21 of the Estab Editor manual for information on "personnel capacity" and other aspects of vehicle performance.

    I suspect the disconnect between the number of troops needing a ride and the number of available spaces for rides leads to the delay in the basic unit starting.

    I don't know why that wouldn't occur in larger artillery formations since I'm not privy to the programming necessary to make the Estab work in the game.

    Hope this helps.
     
  7. LongstreetCSA

    LongstreetCSA Member

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    Thanks for taking the time to take a look at the issue. It is really weird - especially since the company sized artillery moves without any issues. Did a few more test with more men and changing the personnel capacity but still no change - the section (2 cannon) and single gun units stubbornly refuse to move, no matter how long one waits.

    I also had the idea that it might be a general engine-problem with the smallest unit types, so checked with the cavalry (company, platoon and squad-sized), but regardless of their unit size they move just fine and promptly.

    Another puzzling thing is that the range rings for artillery do not show up at all and even if I should be in range I get the "out of range" notification when I try to have them fire at a location. The infantry also seems able to open fire at longer ranges than the one given in the weapon estabs file, which is also weird.

    I am beginning to think that the engine might not be suitable for 19th century warfare and other periods.
     
  8. jimcarravallah

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    As we discussed, there are weaknesses in the engine when it comes to resolving some of the more frequent hand to hand combat from the civil war and earlier eras.

    As far as the movement issue with the small artillery units, try constructing a dummy unit with the same quantities of personnel and horses,but substituting wagons for any of the horse drawn artillery items including the artillery piece.

    If that moves as anticipated, then change out one set of wagons for one horse drawn artillery item except the gun and see if it still moves as anticipated. If not, check how the movement performance for that item compares with the wagon that had moved, and correct differences you find.

    Once you get all the artillery-peculiar "wagon" type items moving as a unit, add in the gun, and see if the unit performs correctly. If not, there is something wrong with the way the weapon was coded that prohibits the unit from moving.

    Once you get that small unit to perform as expected, check out the movement of the larger units just to make sure they haven't been affected by the changes.

    If the unit doesn't move with the pure wagon type, then there is something wrong with the way you coded the wagons in the Estab.

    German forces in WWII relied on horse drawn transport for their logistics operations. If you have Estabs for a module with German forces included such as COTA or HTTR, you might check the XMLs for those Estabs and see how the manner you coded horse drawn transport matches with the horse drawn transport items in those XMLs.

    Hope this helps.
     
  9. LongstreetCSA

    LongstreetCSA Member

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    A shot update from my end.

    So far I have not been able to fix the artillery issue mentioned above since nothing I tried seems to have a positive effect. A unit with a single cannon and a unit with two cannons do remain unable to move, even if one assigns more men than are actually needed to crew the guns. Interestingly, if one does not move the guns, the assigned men also appear to be unwilling to man the guns, as one can not use the "fire" button, even though the unit is "deployed". Again it does not seem to matter if there are many more man available to crew the guns that are actually needed. I will have to check, if a 3 gun unit would equally refuse to move or fire.

    I truly do wonder why the 4 gun units do actually work - they move and fire just fine - but the smaller ones just do not. It makes no sense at all.

    I have also played around with the formations, making anything but line and column extremely unattractive for the AI - preliminary tests look alright (but of course this will never be anywhere near perfect, since one is very limited making changes to formations and has no way of limiting the AI to use only certain ones).

    In addition to that I have tried to get the AI not to dig in and entrench but somehow they always seem to do so even if I up the values - so could it be that those values in the estabs do not do anything?

    If anyone is interested I can post some screenshots of the formation tests that also feature different basic unit sizes (since I am still not sure if company-size or regiment-size would be the best way to go, it depends on what the AI can use better I guess).
     
    #9 LongstreetCSA, Feb 3, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2020
  10. LongstreetCSA

    LongstreetCSA Member

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    Here are 2 screenshots showing of the "civil war like" formations. Screenshot 1 uses company sized units as the smallest infantry units and in Screenshot 2 regiments are used as the smallest units. Note that the frontage and depth is larger than it should be.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Also I finally was able to test the 3 gun artillery and get the same negative results as with the 1 and 2 gun units. But since the normal 4 gun units work just fine it does not really matter, even though it is rather weird.
     
    Markojager likes this.
  11. john connor

    john connor Member

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    Interesting. Which battle will you model, if you manage to get that far?
     
  12. LongstreetCSA

    LongstreetCSA Member

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    The civil war estabs are practically done and ready to be used (maybe a few more weapons could be added to gain some variety there, but that is only a minor detail), so any battle would - in theory - be possible.

    The biggest issue at the moment are formations and the AI's unwillingness to use only certain ones (even if one makes them extremely unfavourable to use), so playing against the AI results in undesirable results (to put it mildly). I am hoping that we might get the option to better mod formations and gain the ability to choose which formations the AI is utilizing (especially since that would open up the game for many other historic period mods).
    Also units tend to "dig in", even though I have upped the "dig in" and "entrech" times considerably to prevent that - but changing the time does not seem to have any effect (maybe it is hardcoded?).

    Probably the best results would be gained playing against a human opponent, but with the currently issues multiplayer games have this does not seem to be a good option either.
     
    #12 LongstreetCSA, Mar 2, 2020
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2020
  13. jimcarravallah

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    Your issue with formations may be how you structure your forces for combat.

    CO2 allows smaller formations to be incorporated into the combat model because with the World War II era weaponry. effective lethal ranges and command and control utilities available, smaller units of troops could be more widely dispersed to control larger geographic areas than what was optimum for similarly-sized formations in the American Civil War era.

    I'd suggest working with the formation effects and formation sizes in the Estab editor, perhaps allowing no formation smaller than a battalion or possibly regiment size to create the "flavor" of Civil War-era command and control and adjusting the combat depth and frontage (explained on PG. 29 of the EstabEditor Manual) to pull your smallest formation closer to a line rather than a box.
     
  14. LongstreetCSA

    LongstreetCSA Member

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    Hope that we will be able to edit/mod the "doctrines" the AI uses one day so we could use the engine to model other (non-ww2 type) conflicts.

    That said can one edit/mod the "US-MilSym-ForceIcons.png" file, or would one run into issues? I would really like to be able to add more civil war type icons for the units instead of the usual NATO symbols.
     
  15. GoodGuy

    GoodGuy Member

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    Does the file also contain the alternative (non-NATO) symbols?
    If I am not mistaken, these are custom icons (ie. the cute little silhouettes indicating unit classes, like infantry, motorcycle, tank, SPGs and other symbols) developed by Panther games, so that would be a copyright issue.
    If Dave agrees that ingame gfx can be used/changed/modded, then you should be able to find someone on here to help you with modding such game gfx. I don't have the game installed atm, so I wonder if that file can be found in the game folder or if they are zipped and parked in a subfolder?
    Close combat/bayonets: Shouldn't the engine be able to handle weapons with say a max range of 1.5 meter (Bayonet)? The AI/routines may then just act funny (imagine a Coy/platoon running out of bullets and then having to move up to get in effective bayonet range, in order to finish the attack task), because of the 100-meter grid, but I tend to think that it'd be still able to render bayonet usage, since your tests with pistols turned out ok.
     
  16. LongstreetCSA

    LongstreetCSA Member

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    Thanks for your input, but I am afraid that you might have misunderstood my initial question. What I was asking is: Whether or not one can actually add to those "NATO" icons in order to add my own customized icons. I did not find anyone talking about modding those yet, so I thought I throw the question out there and see if anyone has tried that already (as there is no point in creating icons if one can not add them).

    Yeah like I said the test with the pistols went surprisingly well, although I have not tried to add bayonets yet. The AI just has massive problems deploying units, as it constantly uses formations that it should not be using, even if one makes them very bad to use (it is as if the AI does not care at all). Hence my mentioning the hope that one day we get a doctrine editor of some kind so one can force the AI to utilize only certain formations, while ignoring others.
     
  17. jimcarravallah

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    There was some discussion by the game creators in the past about how to alter the .bmp files which provide terrain patterns for MapMaker, so I don't think there is a copyright issue prohibiting alteration of the graphics.

    As I recall, the changes in graphics could be incorporated in a custom scenario by renaming the terrain graphics file and designating it for use in the MapMaker program.

    The same should hold true for the .png icon file with one major caveat:

    If there is no mechanism that allows designation of a custom icon file to be used in EstabEditor, altering a default file for a peculiar use, such as Civil War scenarios, would alter the icons for all scenarios using that file. The developers have discouraged the saving of altered default files under the same name to discourage downstream alterations of the configuration.files for people who may want to include the custom scenario in their game files.
     
  18. LongstreetCSA

    LongstreetCSA Member

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    Cheer's mate - that is exactly what I feared would be the case. Would mean that while one can customize those Nato Symbols, it would only work locally and would alter all existing scenarios as well (since one can not just add to the file or have a dedicated custom symbols file in one's custom estabs folder).
     
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  19. GoodGuy

    GoodGuy Member

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    Are you going to experiment with bayonets, though?
    I wonder how that would turn out.
    With or without bayonets, the formation (enemy AI) will be the real problem. There is no possibility to tell the enemy AI to keep the typical wide line formations (say with a depth that would simulate 2 to 4 rows) that were used at the time.
    But even for the historical periods depicted in the original CO scenarios and estabs, an option to make individual units maintain certain formations at all times (without having to readjust the formation for every new order), would be a really nice convenience addition. Such option would be useful to surround/mop up stragglers in woods, for example.
    Maybe 3 additional estab entries/parameters would to the job for civil war and WWI scenarios, where then the engine code would have to be adjusted to include and consider formation restrictions : Someting like "Formation: line" ("unit can only deploy in the following types of formation"). "Defensive formation: line". "Defensive formation if facing enemy attacks from multiple directions: Tercio (or square)".
     
  20. LongstreetCSA

    LongstreetCSA Member

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    @ GoodGuy: Thank you for your posting!

    I could not agree more, any chance to influence/mod AI behavior would be a brilliant to have! Otherwise the AI is practically unable to utilize napoleonic/civil war tactics, even if one makes certain formations extremely unfavorable to use (it is like the AI just does not care at all).

    The biggest problem is that modding AI doctrines, AI behavior or AI formations is probably only interesting for the small handful of modders like myself, that are looking to expand into other historic periods (which would be wonderful as the base game has so much potential). Most of the player base seems to be quite happy with the WW2 setting, and making chances to the code to allow for AI behavior modding (who knows if that would be possible at all) is probably not a high priority for the developers.

    What would work is playing against a human opponent with house rules and the players micromanaging everything themselves (since the AI can not be trusted), but as I understand it, the current version seems to have issues with multiplayer games.

    Regarding the bayonets - I would have to give it a try, but with the AI being incapable of using period tactics it seems a wasted effort at this point.

    Btw. you can see how the modded formations currently look like in 2 screenshots I made, posted above in this thread: https://forums.lnlpublishing.com/threads/civil-war-estabs-work-in-progress.5695/#post-32410
     

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