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Stacking ... what does it represent?

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For those of you who have been here some time, you've read my statement(s) that stacking isn't required in SC. I've been meaning to explain why I believe its not necessary, and this is my attempt.

The Past

In wargames, we all know what stacking means. Rules allowed you to put more than one unit in the same hex, which increases your offensive or defensive power. But what is it in real life that the rule is trying to represent?

The Reality

Stacking is an attempt to represent the battlefied front being condensed. WWII division would defend a five (5) to eight (8) mile front and attack in roughly half of that frontage. The fifty (50) mile hex works quite well with the SC Army representing roughly eight (8) divisions. Bear in mind, that in real life, a combat unit is almost always given more area to cover than they have manpower for. Thats where the ability to take advantage of the terrain and creative use of mines and barbed wire come into play.

On the attack, since you are willing to accept more losses to achieve the objective, you advance across a narrower front. So in theory, you could add more units in the same amount of space. But you run into two problems here. One being that the logisitical support you receive is limited by the road network (think morning traffic jam). Second being that as you concentrate your units, you suffer a higher casualty rate.

The Future

Ideally, you would simply limit the amount of units that could attack or defend a hex, but not restrict the number of units that could be in a hex at one time. With movement penalties in place to represent the traffic congestion, you have a representation of what happens in real life. Now, the player would make sure his units are dispersed, since why have multiple units in a hex take damage, when only a portion of them can fight back? Now that we have computers, one day someone will do it like this. Until then, our legacy has given us units and stacking limits.

The Present

The SC Army is a proper representation for WWII divisions on the defense. But what about when it attacks? I should be getting twice as much combat power in the same area. You are. SC does it by two different values for the Soft Attack (4) and Soft Defend (2) factors.

Corps, representing half an Army, occupy the same amount of hex area. You would think they could stack since they wouldn't overburden the logisitcal road network. Thats where you run into a different set of problems, known as Command & Control. Two Corps operating together are not as efficient as one Army that consists of two Corps, since they don't have that higher level HQ coordinating them. This is one of the reasons that the Russian "armies" after Barbarossa, are properly reflected by a Corps unit, not an Army.

The Conclusion

Stacking isn't required for Armies or Corps in SC, but we should be able to pay a MPP cost to "merge" two (2) Corps into one (1) Army.

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First, let me say this is my first post, though I have been playing and lurking for quite some time.

I played a game some time ago called Aegean Strike. In it, units like engineers, artillery, air defense, etc. were used as force multipliers.

If we are to buy Shaka's arguments, and I do, we are not compelled to forbid stacking using the above types of units.

We are not allowed to stack corps, armies, and tank groups, but we could stack special units that gave the principal unit a special ability or simply added to the unit's combat power.

Of course, this would imply the introduction of these units. This could, for example, accomodate people's desire for paratroops. A paratroop corp would be a national asset and would act as a significant force multiplier when added to a army or corp stack. If the para unit were sufficiently expensive, it would be rare on the battlefield (read, historically accurate), but nevertheless used when warranted (Market Garden, Normandy).

Just some thoughts

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How about on the right click unit menu we have a choice called "Add Assets". Player could choose to add (not a real unit) but combat modifiers to the chosen unit. Use your imagination, this can go anywhere, for instance "Paratroop drop" adds a surprise element to the combat like surprise contact in SC now. Artillery enhancement, anti-tank elements, armor, engineers, special assault forces, etc.

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The idea of a right click to add an element is interesting, but I think you lose some strategic complexity and brings the game closer to RTS.

By having actual units, you will have to move them. Moving them implies decisions and long term planning. Paratroops could have a radius and have the potential to be intercepted. Engineers would be a unit that moves behind or with the main forces -- the same for artillery.

I understand that all armies and corps have artillery,AAA,engineers, etc. What we're talking about here are organized independant units a la 101st airborne, or the Royal Marines that might do ???? (don't know yet).

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Hobbes du Canada

I understand that all armies and corps have artillery,AAA,engineers, etc. What we're talking about here are organized independant units a la 101st airborne, or the Royal Marines that might do ???? (don't know yet).
Good. Then we can move right on to the next point. There were no "special" units at the scale we are talking about. If you do a little bit of bending and twisting, you could "justify" a Paratrooper Corps to give SC some "chrome". The amphib assault ability in SC is all wrong, way beyond ahistorical ability, more in the realm of fantasy. Construction engineers (not combat engineers) are already part of SC, they are just not in a unit you can see. Who do you think repairs the damage to bombed ports or is building those rail lines so you have supply access to your captured cities in Russia? Germany experimented with Artillery divisions for the East Front, but abandoned the idea because they didn't have enough artillery pieces to supply both the Corps/Armies and create seperate units. More importantly, the doctrine to support them being used as a independent unit didn't exist. Russia, on the other hand, formed seperate artillery divisions for that very reason, but those divisions were part of the Russian Armies (ie our SC Corps). So at our scale, its a level we don't have to deal with.
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Specialized units in different armies, much of which cycles back to your original observation about SC being fought on a Grey vs Red basis as oppossed to German Army vs Russian, etc., as all the armies, navies and air forces work on the same organization and (built in) tactical doctrine, the only difference is in the colors, again, as you said months ago.

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i was wondering about 2 corps in this game representing the equivelant of an army when in the board game TOTALER KRIEG it takes 3 corps to build a full strength army. who's correct? TK is a more detailed game but pretty much the same scale. also in TK if you are the axis and the dice are unfriendly you will take lot of attrition

on your armor and you lose. any knowledge and ideas concerning these thoughts i would like to hear.

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There really is no specific correct and incorrect. Generally it's 2=next level, but this is seldom the case.

The German Sixth Army, for example, when surrounded at Stalingrad was inflated to 250,000 men and had elements of other formations, most notably the Fourth Panzer Army, under it's command.

Some units are also considered undersized or oversized depending upon what has been attached to it or detached from it.

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  • 4 weeks later...

JP Wagner

Great choice in bumped threads; this one can definitely be added to, as can the 1923 successful Putsch, though in that case I doubt it will be through lack of interest in the historical subject. In that one Bill's pretty much said what he had in mind and I said what I had in mind and I don't think anyone else is keen on the subject; a pity because it's an overlooked time and place. All the same, I'm pleased that you bumped it.

Regarding stacking.

In this instance I think it's main significance would be allowing for smaller units than the corps and airfleet.

I wouldn't mind a more complex system that would go down to -- and I know this is an abstraction as every country had it's own system -- Brigade x2< = Div x2< = Corps x2< = Army. I'd make HQs free on stacks with 0-0 combat and unlimited movement including across water where a friendly port to port link exists.

There would be several advantages to this:

One being a rear area city could be garrisoned by a single brigade instead of tying up an entire corps or army in some cases. This would be a great aid in Yugoslavia and the USSR.

Another that there could be greater diversity, instead of tank units, there could be tank and mechanized -- an added touch would be to organize tanks as regiments instead of brigades, more often associated with infantry and mech.

Air cunits could be diversified into fighters, tactical bombers and bombers and formed into airfleets of varying composition.

Naval units could be individual capital ships with flotillas of destroyers, light cruisers and subs, all stackable into larger task forces and fleets.

Freeing HQs from their direct supply function would mean the creation of Supply Depots, which should themselves be treated as slow moving brigades -- not corps as in the game.

This would also mean allowing units to combine and separate according to the needs and desires of the individual player.

The upside of combining into larger units could be a synergistic increase in combat effectiveness -- an army has heavy artillery attached to it while brigades would not.

The downside would be slower movement -- coordination of more units in the area and slower moving ordinance lagging behind.

This would also allow for the creation of specialized units, such as rangers and commandos -- normally organized as battalians but in this case we could assume they'd be used in pairs, creating a brigade or regiment -- which would help in the creation of better amphibious operation rules.

Yes, yes, I know this departs from the sacred concept of "Keep it Simple","Few Parts Mean Fewer Breakdowns" -- Thank you Maytag Repair Man -- but the jump in realism and play challenge would be worth it.

I appreciate simplicity, but this sort of system can also be made smooth and simple with ease of play and the result would be a much better game.

A help area -- say that empty rectangle at the bottom of the screen -- should be included on the display area for those who want to click to find out how to combine and separate units along with other play specific functions.

The simplest game I know of is Tic-Tac-Toe, but I don't know many people above the age of three who play it.

[ September 26, 2003, 06:02 PM: Message edited by: JerseyJohn ]

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JJ, I like your take on the lower echelon units. Now you know I'm no proponent of micromanagement, but I'm going to throw this out for critique. How about we design our own units with a sort of TO&E. Now I know this can't be as specific as TOAW's unit's organization, but we could ..say put together different battalions/regiments of a certain equipment profile and the units would take on different characteristics and strengths. Or you could have a generic set of units named artillery, recon, tanks, leg infantry, garrison troops, anti-tank, mech-infantry etc. that could be combined to form a corps/army of your specific organizational requirements. You could even add paratroops to give a surprise factor or special assault forces like marines for amphib. characteristics.....use your imagination....I'm imagining to much micromanagement....ahhhh forget it!

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Ah, the nostalgia for the Grand Micromanagement Wars of Yesteryear!

Agreed, as always, that I wouldn't want to get into the detail insanity these things sometimes develop into.

BTW -- glad you mentioned paratroops, I'd forgotten them. I deliberately omitted combat engineers because they're present even in regimental and brigade organizations.

Looking at WW II, the Germans frequently changed their divisional organizations. The most famous being after France, when they doubled the number of Panzer divisions by reducing the number of tanks in each to half. Ironically the generals preferred it that way and the units operated better with twice the mechanized/motorized infantry and self propelled artillery.

I know your idea can be taken to absurd extremes but basically it's a very good one.

Is it true the Federal guys found the still? A damn shame if they did. ;)

[ September 26, 2003, 06:48 PM: Message edited by: JerseyJohn ]

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JJ, I swear your clairvoyant, you know those bitches....I mean Feds found the party, nuthin good ever last forever, they even plowed up the crop....that's the corn ...for you guys with a lively imagination and confiscated the monument... you remember. Now I'm in AA... that's Airborne Assault mode awaiting HttR, gonna try it in real/prime time, no hexes, expand my horizons, maybe get some novel ideas for HCs new and improved SC2, ... lookin for "Utopia Wargame", closest thing is still SC "gotta luv it"

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Freeing up HQ's of their supply function,would mean supply trucks!Like in The Ardennes Offensive or Korsun Pocket now.

Individual unit that needs to move along with the front line to provide mail,shaving soap,ciggarettes and other usefull stuff.

If this unit is destroyed,it would be pop up again for free some distance behind the front,leaving the frontline troops to crap without paper for a while.

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I'm shocked !! -- But essentially, yes, that's the gist of it. I was talking four or five years ago with an American who climbed Mount Everest, and he said toilet paper was a prime commodity!

Bringing up supplies was a real weakness of the Soviet Army, there's should be even slower than those of Germany, Italy or the Western nations.

Also, as has been said in earlier threads on this subject, I believe by either SeaWolf48 or Panzer39 or possibly SeaMonkey, the non-combat HQ would be immune from combat destruction unless totally surrounded, in which case it's lost; otherwise it would automatically relocate to the nearest friendly controled hex or city. It should also relocate to nearest friendly city if lost in an area with no port, moves automatically to nearest city across an intervening body of water.

[ September 26, 2003, 07:49 PM: Message edited by: JerseyJohn ]

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This is a sad day for freedom loving boozers everywhere.

-- And they tore down your Barbarossa monument too? That's an outrage, destroying the finest representation ever made of a general attempting to hide behind a sapling! By Jove, they've gone too far this time! If "Boss" Hodges were still alive -- cut town at the age of 103 while still in office! -- he'd have done something about this.

A pictorial memorial to our lost institution:


[ September 26, 2003, 08:00 PM: Message edited by: JerseyJohn ]

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Such an appropriate pic. JJ your embellishment of a distant time brought a gleeful tear to my eye. Fear not, I shall not be distracted long by this AA fantasy, for HC ponders SC2 and for all we know it may be more than a contemplation. Besides, growing season reigns most of the year in these southern nether regions and being a master chemist I will persevere at improvising a new, stealthier distillation apparatus. As I bid you adieu, eyes still glistening, a tune imparts my lips......"Thanks for the memories"

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I'm going to reply to this thread, because stacking is the only thing that has ever made me wonder as far as actual game design is concerned.

Ok after you have mentioned all the blather about historical frontages, and terrain limitations and points of contact, the fact remains, SC only places one unit in a hex, because that is how the software was made, and it has nothing to do with anything else.

That much is fairly transparent, and is not the end of the world.

It ranks up there with the reason there were only so many minor neutral counters in Third Reich. It was because there were only so many spaces on the counter sheet, and had nothing to do with anything else.

In Advanced Third Reich they fixed this. Each nation had it's own private force pool of counters, and if you attacked that nation, you dealt with that nation, no dodge where you were able to just walk in, because you had strategically purged the game of available counters by previously declaring war elsewhere.

There is ZERO reason why a fleet which is ships that take up zero land, can't occupy a port simultaneously with a land unit which occupies zero amount of water in a port.

And an air unit, is not deployed militarily like a land unit, so discussions of a land units footprint in a hex has no relevance to where those planes land units would be deployed.

Additionally, a HQ unit is not deployed like a frontline unit.

So all that said, a person can basically rant till hell freezes over, and it will not address the fact there is no reason a fleet a land unit a ship unit and an HQ unit can't all simultaneously occup a port location.

If an "army" can occupy a hex, and the game considers a "corps" a generic half army (with no desire to fret over national variations on historical deployment specifics), then it is seemingly pointless to argue that two corps could not occupy a hex.

But to do this is simple. If the player wishes to deploy two generic half armies called corps into the same hex, merely code the software into merging both into an army counter (because clearly two halves make a whole, or at least my limited math skills suggest it does). There doesn't need to be any messy justifications.

I loaded up the 39 campaign five seconds ago. How about that, a corps costs me 125 and an army 250. Not surprising that half of something should cost half of something. No gain to be had then merging two corps into armies, you are not getting something for nothing.

Naturally if you merge a veteran corps with a greener one, you should suffer replacement effects. Personally, I think any average programmer should be able to manage the math that we should be telling the computer where that is concerned. It is all number crunching, and isn't that what computers are supposed to be good at?

All of my ideas will no doubt be undoable inside of the current SC design, so I am frankly not going to waste energy asking for them to be crammed into it.

I can adjust to no stacking, it is just a condition to play under. You just have to use timing, planning, and realise your air unit will not be able to appear in the same region as a ground unit, and you will have to decide what sort of unit sits in a port to hold it.

Want to know what I would like to see on the subject of stacking?

I would like to see Hubert state for the record, that stacking is equal to the lack of adequate counters from Third Reich hehe.

Nothing to do with history or military deployment characteristics, and everything to do with how he was able to figure out coding the games counters.

Sometimes I think people read to much into why a designer did what they did smile.gif

Most of us are fairly extensively schooled in both military history and wargame design. But a lot of us seem to fail to realise, that often there is a very simple reason for a seemingly simple problem, that has no available solution.

If and that is a big IF, if Hubert ever does SC2 or whatever he wants to call it, I would like him to remove this lack of stacking element from the design.

But as we speak, I plan on playing SC just as SC with no intention of asking for it to be "eventually" replaced with a better SC.

I don't neeeeeed a "better" SC.

If we find any major design glitches that just plain damage the games ability to run, it might justify a 1.08 patch "IF" Hubert has the time.

But I am not going to wait here constantly asking for more.

What I would like to see from our more analytical membership, is some more mods and or Campaigns to keep the game fresh.

I am saying this as a person that is just now finishing off doing some intense play testing of yet another Mega Campaign for Steel Panthers. I thought a 4th MC would never see the light of day actually. But an MC is not a redesign of Steel Panthers, it is just a major release of something to be used with Steel Panthers.

Ask not what SC can do for you, ask what you can do for SC should be the motto of our members that are always claiming to be so good at the game.

You champs (and you know who I am referring to don't you) smile.gif , if you haven't made a mod for the game yet, then you are not as much of a champ as the guys that have eh.

Want that hero medal? get out there and produce something for the game.

Right now I would like to salute the creator of the SC Strategy Guide for a job above and beyond.

And our mod creators, I want to say your actions merit a salute too.

Just winning the game a lot only makes you an enthusiastic supporter hehe.

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