ACWCO Engineering Department

ACWCO Engineering Dept.

 

Tessier Style Game Suggestions

There have been several attempts for modified multiplayer games made in the ACWGC over my twenty years of involvement in the club. I had played in one and acted as a moderator in two others some years ago. Recently Gen. David Mallory asked me to assist him in learning how to run such a game. I eventually agreed help him and handle the Union turn while he handled the rebel side of the game. You can find more information on that game here.

In the process of doing that game I had the opportunity to go over some of my notes from the previous games I ran and found some things that worked well and others that I felt could be improved. Between that and discussions I had with David over how and why I did certain things I thought it would be a good idea to put these things together as sort of an outline or a primer on how to run such a game for those foolish enough to consider doing so.

 

A Major Commitment

The first thing you want to consider is whether you have the time to spend to run one of these games. This is a major commitment of your time. You may need to answer several emails a week as the players send their orders to you. Then you will have to play the turn, I normally played the game turns on the weekend and gave the players all week to get any new orders sent to me. Depending on the size of the scenario this could mean 1-3 hours to play both sides of a turn and send out messages.

The most recent game was a single day scenario of 38 turns, it took us 9 months to complete although we did skip one week due to David having internet problems due to weather. My previous two games were a two day scenario of 87 turns and a three day scenario of 147 turns each taking about 18 months to complete. I took some shortcuts in the three day game that I would highly recommend in any game like this as it speeds things up.
If the two sides do not start within sight of one another in the early stages of a game I would do three turns, an hour of play until the two sides got within sight of one another then switch to single 20 minute turns.
If a multiple day scenario I would do the night turns in one week to speed the game up going back to single turns on the last night turn before dawn.
After playing this last game with David and I splitting the duties of moderator I would highly recommend that style if you can find a second person willing to do so, it cuts the workload in half.

 

Now What ?

OK you've decided you want to run a Tessier style game. The first thing you will need to do is determine what scenario you want to use. You could of course just use one of the stock scenarios from one of the more popular games. With the unlocking of the oob's and maps you can create a custom What If scenario using your own oob file for your game if you are familiar enough with the Scenario Editor and comfortable with creating an OOB file. Or you could move a stock oob from one game to another to use a particular map if you are so inclined using an existing or custom PDT.

 

How many players ?

Once you have settled on a scenario you need to figure out how many players you will need. The CSA is pretty easy, most of their armies had divisions of 3-5 brigades. In my first game I set up both Union and Confederate sides with players as Division, Corps and Army commanders. I found several Union players who after their two brigade division was heavily engaged and damaged quickly lost interest in the game while their Confederate opponents with their larger divisions seemed more inclined to continue after their first engagement. So for the second game I elected to have the Union players as Corps Commanders as each Corps had 6-8 brigades which was comparable to the Confederate 4-5 brigade divisions. I then acted as Division Commanders for the Union. I sent the players replies to messages/orders to the Divisions and handled their order execution during game turns using a list of options and a dice roll when I wasn't sure what to do. This was similar to what I did acting as the Brigade commanders when I used Divisions for both sides. In addition to giving the Union players more units to handle it reduced the number of emails I had to handle. If you plan on using a custom OOB you can design it with this in mind and keep the divisions for both sides about equal, and some early war scenarios for the eastern area do have larger Union divisions.
In any case you will probably have little trouble finding players for the lower commands, ordering brigades/regiments/guns around is where the fun is, the problem is usually finding the Corps and Army CO. These players have to make decisions based on what they see in the replay or in the case of Corps CO on the orders of the Army CO and then discover that their units are not able to react immediately to the changing situation. Also occasionally orders are delayed or lost and their subordinates may interpret their orders differently than they think they should. Although they will usually have some units attached directly to them they may decide to detach them for use by their subordinates during the game.

What should the players know ?

Now that you have your scenario selected and the number of players you will need figured out you will want to provide the players with a description of the situation and an intelligence report on the enemy strength and intentions. This was the one complaint I got from the last game. I took a stock scenario and modified it removing some objectives in an attempt to force a fight at a particular location and leaving some possible rebel reinforcements listed in the scenario but setting them so they wouldn't arrive. This kept the two sides nearly equal which was what I was trying to do. Unfortunately I used the scenario name and description which the CSA commander felt did not adequately describe the situation and the Union intentions. In looking over my first two games I believe he had a point as my Intelligence reports for those two games were a little easier to understand than the scenario description I sent both sides. So keep this in mind when putting together your description of the situation and enemy intentions.

 

Set rules for messages and make sure the players are aware of how you will handle the game turns.

By this I mean how you will handle the messages, how you will move the units during the game turns and how you intend on handling the combats. You want to create a set of rules for yourself and make sure the players are aware of them. This will allow the players to understand how things are going to be done and that you will not be affecting the outcome of the game. Below is a copy of the tables I used to the last game I ran. You can use it as is or modify it as you are inclined. `

 

Orders and Messages

Players will send orders to their units and each other via the moderator. Orders should be in the following form to make it easy on the moderator.
 
Sent 0720
To: Gen. Ector
From: Gen McCown
On receipt, hold your right flank and form your line E to W, keep off the highest ridge line so as not to alert the enemy of your position, be ready to advance.
 
Written orders must use directions or landmarks, I will not accept written orders sending a unit to a specific hex, the exception is movement of a player's officer (see note on IPVM below).
Sending an order to "Join me" will cause the receiving officer to move to the senders location unless another landmark is noted. You can use Locations such as towns, houses, roads, streams, rivers, woods for markers.
If a road doesn't have a name you can do something like
"Upon reaching Sharpsburg take the road to the southeast and move to Rohersville"

Couriers will cover 36 hexes in one turn. It is possible for a courier to be killed and the sender not become aware of it. They may also get delayed or lost on the way.
Players can send a message by more than one courier up to their message limit.
Players may request return receipts for messages, Couriers sent back with acknowledgements do not count towards a players message limit, they are returning to the sender with any reply.
All messages to Non Player (NP) officers or units will be acknowledged by the moderator with a reply.
Returning Couriers are subject to Courier Success Roll.

All messages are Sent at the START of the turn.
When a message is received by the moderator the distance is calculated and the Courier Success table is used to determine when the message arrives.
The message is then marked for arrival time and placed in the message file.
All messages arrive at the Start of the Arrived turn.
The exception to this is IPVM messages/orders, these can be received at the START, DURING MOVEMENT or at the END of the turn based on when the officer issuing the message/order reaches it's recipient. See IPVM below.
Players received messages are sent after the current turn each week.

Messages/Orders Arrive at the Start of the turn.
When an Order is received by a NP officer or unit, the Moderator will roll on the Order Acceptance Table to see if the order is Implemented (in other words if the NP commander you sent it to orders that your instructions be carried out).
All modifiers are used based on the officer/unit's condition at the time of this roll.
The Order will be implemented except on a roll of 2x1 or modified 3. On a 2x1 the order is ignored, on a 3 it is sent back for verification. Sometimes there is a delay in Implementing an order of a turn or two.
The Moderator will mark the order Implemented hhhh, this is the time the order will be rolled for on the Order Execution Table.

Orders will be rolled on the Execution Table at the START OF THE TURN an order is Implemented.
Once again modifiers used are based on the officer/unit's condition at the time of this roll.
In addition to following his orders a NP officer/unit can Panic, Blunder, or Waiver. I have defined them as follows:
Panic means just that, the command will retreat a hex if ordered to stand or stand in place if ordered to advance.
    Panic outcomes are treated as Blunder if no enemy is in LoS.
Blunder will cause an officer to do something strange, if ordered to advance he may retreat, or he may go the wrong direction.
    If ordered to stand he may advance or even charge.
    Normally I will make a quick list of possible blunders and roll a die to see which one occurs.
Waiver means the officer hesitates and will only use half his MP following the order.

Order File Example
Below is an example of what a message looks like in the Moderator's file.
The initial part is what was sent by the player, below is the notes I made in the Message file I kept.

Sent 12 N
To: BG Cruft
From: Gen Palmer
Col. Hazen's brigade will be moving to the left to assist Col. Grose. Please extend your lines to the left to cover the vacated positions covering the Pike and Round Forests. Keep your brigade prepared to also move to the ford.

12 N Rolled 8 - Courier arrives as scheduled
Arrives 12 N
Rolled 6+1 Unit/Leader In Command - Order is implemented as written.
Implemented 12 N
12N Turn Rolled 10 - Order is executed as written.
Executed 12N

It is possible to send messages or orders to a unit outside of your chain of command. However it is very likely to do more harm than good. Plus it is a dubious use of command points at best.
If an officer receives multiple orders from the same commander he will follow the one with the latest time on it.
If an officer receives orders from two different commanders he will follow the one from the superior in the chain of command.
If he receives orders from his division commander and another officer not in his Chain of Command he will follow his division commanders orders.

In Person Verbal Messages

When two officers end the turn in the same hex they can send In Person Verbal Orders or Messages which I will forward to the receiving player immediately to give him a chance to reply. IPVO to NP officers will be immediately placed in that officers file and acted upon in the next turn. In Person Verbal Orders or messages are permitted to use specific hex numbers. This is assuming the officer is pointing at the location either directly or on a map. If there is a large number of messages between such officers their MP for the next turn may be reduced at the moderators discretion.

I have no objection to an officer sending me orders like those below with IPVM's for each location.
 
McCown will move to hex 41,44 and IPVM the artillery there, then move to Maney, then Stewart, returning to hex 40,44.
 
The officer will be moved to each hex and a deduction made in his MP for each message so they may all not get delivered in one turn if the hexes are far apart. In this case I believe the officer only covered a distance of 5-6 hexes and was able to deliver all the messages.

Opening Turns

Since the two sides start out of contact and out of sight of one another we plan on running 3 turns at a time.
This will be done to speed things up, once the enemy is sighted NP units will report the sighting to it's Player officer. We will determine the time for that info to reach the nearest commander (player officer) using the Courier Success Table and halt at the end of that turn and go to 20 minute turns. Any NP units that the sighting would influence will be handled by the system, they will not blindly continue forward but will follow one of several options we decide on based on a die roll.
In the case of players receiving messages in the middle turns they will be allowed to send replies based on the turn they received the message.

 

Movement

When an order is given to a brigade or a division all of its various parts will move with it unless units have been detached for special missions.
Units out of command range may not use all MP to represent the delay in receiving orders.
 
A Player commander can assume that his brigade or division will bring along all of its parts unless ordered not to. If a player commander orders a unit to detach itself from its brigade or its division I.E. leave command range, it will need another order to rejoin its command. Attachments may be made by Corps/Army leaders, placing a division under a different Corps commander or attaching a brigade to another division.
Commanders should be aware that there is no way to move a brigade to another division for Command Control purposes in the game engine. So doing this will leave that brigade/division at a disadvantage for the officer in making his In Command checks.
Units that rout or are detached by me will return to their commands on their own.
Units ordered to detach by players will not return without a written order.

Artillery directly attached to brigade or division will also return to their parent command unless ordered not to.
Artillery grouped in separate artillery battalions or brigades without a leader icon on the field will attempt to stay with their parent command unless they are attached to a unit.
Thus an artillery battalion at division level will act as a single unit and remain within 5 hexes of the division commander unless ordered to do otherwise.
If a player commander orders a battery or artillery battalion to detach itself from its brigade or division, it will require another order to rejoin its command.
Artillery formations attached to Corps or Army level will always be kept within command radius unless ordered to detach.
 
Detailed Skirmisher rules are not necessary for this era, or this system.
However, Civil War infantry and cavalry units in line formation in the presence of an enemy always deployed them.
So it will be assumed that Skirmishers deploy unless ordered not to, any time units do not have a clear line of sight to prevent surprise.
Skirmishers will be recalled before units move adjacent to the enemy to maximize combat ability.
 
HQ staff escorts will move with their leader. Separate orders for their movement need not be done as long as they remain with the leader.
I will attempt to keep them from getting disordered while moving through woods whenever possible.
 
D'd units will not move into an enemy ZOC. They will remain adjacent to the enemy unless at high Fatigue in which case they will fall back.
Brigades will attempt to relieve D'd units with fresh ones whenever possible, passing thru them or reteating them when necessary.
 
A battery not stacked with or shielded by infantry supports, will limber up and leave if it is within the range of enemy infantry to move adjacent to it in a single turn.
A battery unprotected like this was an easy target for advancing infantry.
Battery commanders were very careful not to put themselves in this situation and left promptly. Their first charge was not to lose the guns.
If a battery is ordered to stay at all costs it will of course stay.
 

 

Tables used by the moderator for handling orders and messages.

Courier Success : rolled for every Message and Order sent by any officer or unit.

Order Implementation : rolled for every Order received by a Non-player officer or unit.

Order Execution: rolled for every Order received by a Non-player officer or unit.

Panic means retreat a hex if ordered to stand or advance.
    Panic outcomes are treated as Blunder if no enemy is in LoS.
Blunder is just that, officer will do something other than follow his orders.
    Moderator will create several possible mistakes and roll a die to choose one.
Waiver means the officer hesitates and will only use half his MP in following the order.

The Order Execution Table will also be used at the moderators discretion whenever an opportunity arises for a non player unit to take initiative.
If a good move is available the Moderator will roll on the Order Execution Table to determine if the unit/officer takes advantage of it.

Tables

Die Roll

Courier Success Order Acceptance Order Execution

2 x 1

Courier is lost unbeknownst to sender. Order is ignored. Leader/Unit Panics and blunders.

<3

Courier is lost, sender informed 1 turn later. Order is sent back for verification. Leader/Unit Panics.

4

Courier arrives 2 turns late Orders is implemented 2 turns late. Leader/Unit Blunders.

5

Courier arrives 1 turn late. Orders is implemented 1 turn late. Leader/Unit Wavers.

6 - 11+

Courier arrives as scheduled. Orders is implemented as written. Order is executed as written.

2 x 6

Courier arrives 1 turn early or this turn. Order is implemented now +1 on Execution table Leader/Unit aggressively seizes an available opportunity.
 
  Modifiers Modifiers Modifiers
-5 Sender or receiver is isolated. -2 Leader/Unit is isolated. -3 Attack order and formation at 50% loss.
-1 Each additional turn Courier must move. -1 Replacement leader. -2 Attack order and formation at 35% loss.
-1 Receiver moved during the current turn. -1 Complicated order, 20 words or more. -1 Attack order and formation at 20% loss.
+1 Sender and receiver in LOS of each other -1 Leader is Detached -2 Leader/Unit is isolated.
+1 Sender and receiver in adjacent hexes. -1 Sender not in chain of command. -1 Leader is Detached.
+1 Receiver has not moved for 2 turns. +1 Leaders is In Command. +1 Leaders is In Command.
  +2 In Person Verbal Order.  

Modifiers are cumulative, they add, so if the receiver has not moved for two turns but the courier will take 3 turns to get there the modifiers would be -1-1+1 for a net modifier of -1.
Note that 2x1 and 2x6 are special cases. Modified rolls below 3 or above 11 do not result in these outcomes and are treated as 3 or 11.
If a 2x1 roll is made for a Courier arrival time roll again, if 2x1 is the result of the second roll the opposing side receives the message, courier has been killed or captured.



Here is an example from the file I kept for Gen. Reynolds that I provided David during our recent game.

Arrives 920 AM
Sent 0840
To: L/1st MeCav
From: Gen. Reynolds
Move north via Hagerstown-Boonesborough Pike to resume escort duties at my location vic. Clagett's Mill.
Rolled 6 -1 Receiver moved during the current turn - Courier arrives 1 turn late
Rolled 7 -1 Detached - Order is implemented as written.
Rolled 4 -1 Detached - Leader/Unit Blunders.
Turns wrong way at road.
At intersection roll dice
2- turns right
3-5 continues straight
6-11 realizes mistake and reverses direction
12 turns left
Rolled 8 reverse direction moves back to pike.


The blue is the original message, the red lines are the additions I made first for determining time of arrival, as the entry indicates the although only one move away the courier did not find the unit right away so instead of the message being available at the start of the 9:00 AM turn it wasn't rolled for Acceptance until the start of the 9:20 AM turn at which time it was Implemented.
However with the low Execution roll the unit Blunders and with that result on the Execution roll I figured the unit would turn the wrong way upon reaching the road.
With an intersection shortly after turning on to the road I picked several choices, set up chances and rolled the dice, the unit realized the mistake at the intersection and reversed direction and finished it's move having lost about half of it's movement with the Blunder.

 

Final Comments

I have provided a basic outline of how I ran three Tessier Style MP games. I do not profess to be an expert nor am I foolish or stupid enough to think my way is the only way or even the best way to run such a game. It is my current method and if I ever decided to run another game it may change. If you decide you'd like to try running this type of game feel free to use anything I have noted here or to change anyting to suit your own idea of how it should work. Like a lot of what is on this site it's provided as a service to the ACWGC members, my way of giving back for all the enjoyment I have gotten out of the club. You'll find a zipfile below containing the information provided on this page in Word and plain text format along with copies of the tables I used.

Tessier MP Game Help.zip

 

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Last updated 01/11/2021

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