Alternate PDT file useage for 1812

A file, called Alternate.pdt was shipped with everyone's game. Below are instructions on how to put this file to use, followed by a more detailed description on what the file actually is and what effect it will have on your games when you use it.

If you are contemplating a game with another player as opposed to a solitaire situation, both players must agree to employ the same PDT file. The procedure for substituting the alternate PDT file for the original is as follows.

Start a new game, we will assume it is a PBEM (Play-by-email) game. Without selecting PBEM Encryption save the file and close the game. Then go into Windows Explorer or My Computer and browser to your game directory. Find your new game file (in this example we are going to call it game.bte)

Open the game file by double clicking on it. If you have never done this before a window will pop up asking you what program to use to open the file. Choose "Notepad" and click ok.

A new window will pop up and you will be looking at the contents of the PBEM file. It will look something like this:

----- PEM Header -----
1 0 -1 -1
The Battle of Fort Meigs, May 5th, 1813
1813 5 5 7 45 0 0 10 24
10 20 20
10 20 20
-200 -100 100 200
2 2 0 0 20223 0
49 23
Fort Meigs.oob
Fort Meigs.pdt

The line we are concerned with is the red one above. The game is currently looking at the Fort Meigs.pdt file. We are going to change that to Alternate.pdt once you do that you can save and close the file. You are ready to open the game back up and start playing again. Your opponent already has the Alternate.pdt file in their directory so no modification is necessary on their end.

The reason it is suggested that you make the modification to the PBEM file is, it only effects your current game. If you make the change to the .scn file before starting the game, and then forget to change it back afterward, every subsequent game you start will pull the Alternate.pdt file and your opponents may not want to use that.

Further Notes

The primary difference that players will note between the original PDT file and the optional alternate PDT file is that the alternate file will produce significantly higher casualties in certain circumstances. The alternate file is intended to take advantage of the nuances made possible by the scale of the game (125 feet/42 yards per hex) to more closely model actual historical lethality patterns. Players should be aware, however, that there may be a potential cost to their enjoyment of the game if they fail to adjust their tactics accordingly.

While the musket's inaccuracy was notorious, there is often a tendency to forget that once the range of engagement began to move inside 100 yards, that inaccuracy became much less of a practical factor and the lethality of massed musketry began to rise steeply. While longer ranged duels would tend to be attritional in nature, close range volleys by formed units were quite capable of ripping decisive chunks out of the enemy line at a single stroke. Accordingly, pressing an attack to very close range would usually result in one side or the other breaking rather quickly. Historically, the offensive role of artillery and skirmishers was to produce enough prior disorder in the defender's ranks to allow formed units to survive closing with the defender to the point where they could deliver decisive close range fire and break the enemy line. Of course, if the defender was still in relatively good order, the attack might be shredded by close range defensive fire and break instead, leaving behind a disconcertingly large pile of bodies.

To put it very simply, there is a vast difference between the likely consequences of engaging at 125 yards (3 hexes) and the likely consequences of engaging at 42 yards (1 hex).

Modeling this in the game, however, has its risks. An active debate began among the developers as to whether players would still enjoy a game in which units could be quickly torn apart and routed? Would this ruin the game? The alternate view was that tendency of play testers to close to adjacent hexes was more an artifact of tactics that they learned in larger scale games, and that in time players would learn to adjust their tactics to fit the realities of the smaller 42 yard hex scale. As such, the players themselves would preserve the playability of the game by becoming more judicious about their decisions regarding when it is or is not appropriate to press to very close range.

Artillery firepower is also adjusted in the alternate PDT to create a more historically accurate lethality footprint given the scale. Accordingly, players using the alternate PDT should take the following differences into account and be aware of the fact that the pattern of artillery lethality is somewhat different than that which they may have become accustom to in larger scale games.

In contrast to the standard PDT, when using the alternate PDT, maximum artillery lethality is not achieved until range two (84 yards). This was done to represent the idea that the cone of projectiles formed by a canister round would need to travel a certain minimum distance before expanding sufficiently to achieve its maximum potential to generate casualties. (The standard PDT assumes a more rapidly expanding cone of projectiles than the alternate, and thus produces the same pattern as players may be familiar with from larger scale games -- i.e. maximum firepower is achieved at range one.) It is left to the player to decide which model is more appropriate.

Another difference between the standard PDT and the alternate in the area of artillery effectiveness is that greater allowance has been made in the alternate PDT for the depth of the canister footprint, especially with respect to larger caliber loads. The higher firepower values associated with canister reach out further and drop off more slowly. This means that the alternate PDT tends to make artillery more effective overall, and particularly more effective in the 84 to 250 yard range band (2 to 6 hexes). Once again, the player is advised of the potential increase in casualties to be expected when employing the alternate PDT and is cautioned to adjust his tactics and expectations accordingly.

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This page updated on 07/27/00.