Tag Archives: Scenarios

Free Scenarios Numbers Six Through Ten!

We are continuing the list of thirty free scenarios that will be rewards for early backers of the General Staff Kickstarter campaign. These battle scenarios were the top vote-getters voted by you. Click here for the top 1-5 vote-getters.

The Battle of Austerlitz December 3, 1805. Click to enlarge.

Not surprisingly, this is not the first time that we have visited the battle of Austerlitz. Below is a screen shot from The War College (UMS III) which is, indeed, an ancestor of the General Staff Wargaming System.

Screen capture of Austerlitz from the War College (UMS III), a solid model 3D real-time simulation.

Austerlitz, sometimes called the Battle of Three Emperors, is one of Napoleon’s greatest victories. The General Staff system of multiple command layers should make for an interesting simulation of Austerlitz as orders travel from the Emperor to the subordinate commanders and then down to units. It will be very interesting to see how the new artificial intelligence routines react to this tactical situation.

Fantastic engraving of the battle of Saratoga from the Library of Congress. Definitely click to enlarge.

One of the most interesting features of General Staff is the ability to use the same map for different scenarios and we will certainly do that for the two scenarios at Saratoga in 1777. These two battles – the first considered a Pyrrhic British victory and the second a great American victory under the leadership of General Gates – eventually resulted in Burgoyne’s defeat which certainly encouraged French King Louis XVI to intervene on the side of the Americans.

German map of the battle of Gravelotte – Saint Privat made shortly after the battle. Click to enlarge.

Most Americans – myself included – know very little about the Franco-Prussian War so it was especially interesting to read up on the battle of Gravelotte (or Gravelotte–St. Privat) on 18 August 1870. The largest battle of the Franco-Prussian War, the Prussian victory sealed the fate of the French later trapped and besieged at Metz.

The Battle of Antietam scanned from the Official Military Atlas of the American Civil War and imported into the General Staff Map Editor. Click to enlarge.

The author walking across Burnside’s Bridge in 1966 (age of 12).

The Antietam battlefield is very special place for me. It is not as well known as Gettysburg and – at least during the 1960s – attracted very few visitors.  However, almost all of the battlefield is federal property and, unlike Gettysburg, has been preserved. It is eerily quiet.

Antietam is my ‘favorite’ battlefield; if one can have a favorite battlefield. I would visit Antietam with my father most summers. To the right is a picture my father took of me crossing Burnside’s Bridge in 1966. I was twelve at the time. In 1968 my father and I would visit Antietam for the last time. A month later he died of cancer.

Burnside’s Bridge – named after IX Corps Commander Major General Ambrose Burnside who was assigned the task of taking this bridge – is the key tactical feature in the southern part of the Antietam battlefield. We will do a General Staff scenario concentrating on this part of the battle.

Kickstarter Backers Will Receive Thirty Battle Scenarios With General Staff

We want to assemble a collection of the best and most desirable rewards for early backers of the General Staff Wargaming System on the upcoming Kickstarter campaign. We are looking at catalogs of embroidered caps and oxford shirts and bags. We’re looking at fancy pens. But, then we realized that the one reward that our Grognards would really like are thirty free battle scenarios!

One of the features that makes General Staff so unique is that it is not just a ‘single purpose’ wargame that ships with just one battle but, rather, it’s a wargaming system that facilities the creation of any map, 18th or 19th century armies and battle scenarios. So, after asking for your favorite battles, we have now assembled the list of top vote-getters of 337 votes cast. The first five are:

Nineteenth century map of Waterloo. Click to Enlarge.

It is certainly no surprise that Waterloo was the top vote-getter. It is also probably the battle that has most often appeared in a computer or board game. Indeed, Waterloo was featured in my first commercial computer wargame, UMS: The Universal Military Simulator way back in 1987. The question is: what can we do that is new and interesting? We may concentrate on the fighting around Hougomont or, perhaps, our AI will do something very unusual. Indeed, detailed analysis of Waterloo by my TIGER program (at 1000, 1430 and 1600 hours) indicated that the AI recognized that Wellington’s flanks were considered to be ‘unanchored’.  TIGER AI loves to pounce on anchored flanks.

Gettysburg, Day 1. From the Official Military Atlas of the American Civil War. Click to Enlarge.

Again, no surprise that Gettysburg was one of the top vote-getters. However, unlike Waterloo, Gettysburg was a series of smaller battles that combined over three days to became the epic battle in the history of the North American continent. The first day’s fight at Gettysburg was a very interesting affair involving Confederate infantry versus Union cavalry that was backed up, in just the nick of time, by Union infantry featuring the famous Iron Brigade.

Gettysburg July 2, 1863: the Battle for Little Round Top. From the Official Atlas of the American Civil War. Click to Enlarge.

On the second day of Gettysburg, Confederate commander, Robert E. Lee, attempted to batter the Union flanks; first the Union left flank that was anchored on Little Round Top. Confederate general Longstreet argued unsuccessfully for a sweeping envelopment maneuver. Many options and a varied terrain make for an interesting scenario.

Gettysburg July 2, 1863, Culp’s Hill. From the Official Military Atlas of the American Civil War. Click to Enlarge.

Day two at Gettysburg saw Lee now attempting to force the Union right which was anchored on Culp’s Hill. One of the many interesting personal stories of Gettysburg involves the death of the Culp brothers; one who fought for the Union and the other fought for the Confederacy and both died on the farm where they had grown up. The topography for this scenario should make for an interesting battle.

Battle of Borodino. Source unknown. Click to Enlarge.

Borodino was Napoleon’s Pyrrhic victory over the Russians that opened the road to Moscow but at an extraordinarily heavy cost. As commander of the French will you be able to win with fewer casualties? As the Russians will you be able to extract even a greater toll?

What 18th and 19th Century Battles Would You Like to Receive with General Staff?

We have decided to reward backers of General Staff on Kickstarter with thirty (yes, thirty!) battles / scenarios for the General Staff Wargaming System. They can be any battle, skirmish or detail of a battle (think the Peach Orchard at Gettysburg, for example). The only restrictions are they should be battles with a limit of about thirty units per side (the map just gets too crowded with more than 60 units running around) and there should be two superior levels of command (e. g. if we were to do Gettysburg there would be the  Army Commander and the Corps Commanders with divisions being the units represented on the map).

Let your imagination run wild! What battles, scenarios or skirmishes would you like to see? Please post in the comment section below, or use this handy Contact Us email form or write to me directly at Ezra [at] RiverviewAI.com

Screen capture of a scenario using a map of Trenton and General Washington’s Continental Army. Click to enlarge.

 

 

Creating Victory Conditions in General Staff

The General Staff Wargaming System provides users with the tools to create scenarios of their own design. These scenarios can be historical battles or they can be ‘what if’ scenarios (e.g. what if Custer had brought Gatling guns to the Little Big Horn or what if Robert E. Lee fought Wellington). To determine the victor of these scenarios or battles we need to have a predetermined set of Victory Conditions. Below is a screen shot of the Edit Scenario Victory Conditions screen:

The Victory Point editing screen in the General Staff Scenario Editor. Click to enlarge.

And below is a screen shot of the self-checking error function for setting Victory Points:

General Staff automatically checks for impossible victory conditions. Click to enlarge.

The General Staff Wargaming System is designed to give maximum flexibility to the scenario designer. It fully supports creating scenarios from 18th and 19th century armies and any map.

General Staff Features

General Staff is a direct descendant of the UMS seies which featured a suite of tools that allowed the user to create new maps, armies and scenarios. Our recent survey indicated that 73% of respondents felt that it was either ‘very important’ or ‘somewhat important’ for General Staff to have these abilities, too. Below is a flow chart of the five modules that make up General Staff:

Flow chart of General Staff. From the main screen the user can either create a new map, create a new army, combine a map and two armies into a new scenario or play a previously created scenario. Click to enlarge.

Flow chart of General Staff. From the main screen the user can either create a new map, create a new army, combine a map and two armies into a new scenario or play a previously created scenario. Click to enlarge.

From the Main Menu the user can select:

The Create Map Module

This module provides all the tools that a user needs to create detailed, authentic-looking maps. The are numerous tiles that represent the eight different terrains (field, water, swamp, city, woods, bridge, road, fort). Additionally, the user can sculpt hills and ridges with the AI automatically adding ‘splash contours’. Rivers and roads are added using a Bézier curve tool.

After the map is completed the user can select the amount of ‘dirtying’ (map folds, coffee stains, age stains, etc.) to be added to the map.

The Create Army Module

Armies can be in either an hierarchical format (see below) or a flat format. A flat format is a data structure without layers of commanders. Next week we will be running a user survey to find if you have a preference for hierarchical or flat army unit structures.

Screen shot from UMS II: Nations at War showing a hierarchical army structure. There are four levels of command in this army structure: Army Group, Army, Corps and Division. Click to enlarge.

The original UMS had a flat army structure while UMS II had a hierarchical unit structure.  For both systems an intuitive click and drag interface is provided for quickly creating, editing and saving armies.

Available unit types include: heavy and light infantry, heavy and light cavalry and heavy and light (horse) artillery. Headquarters and courier units are provided for hierarchical army structures.

Create Scenario Module

In the Create Scenario Module a user can combine any two previously created armies with a previously created map to create a new scenario. Mix and match to your heart’s content! The Napoleonic Imperial Guard against the Army of the Potomac’s First Army Corps on the Gettysburg battlefield! The battle of Marengo re-fought with Russian and Austrian troops! Obviously, you can also create historically accurate scenarios, too.