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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Narwhal

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Edit : I cannot have the images any bigger, so you will have to zoom if you can. The quality when zooming is good. I will try to explain as much as I can meanwhile.

Part I : Presentation

So I decided to make a Let's Play / After Action Report about Rise of Prussia, a game that should cater to most of the traditionnal Paradox crowd : it is not full of flashy animations (it doesn’t have any actually), but it is a complex game where patience and planning is necessary. No instant gratification, just bad news stacking on more bad news. It is unfortunately fairly unknown – even though it is relatively accessible for a wargame.

The AI of the game is outstanding, but I am going to do a PBEM [Play-by-email]. The other player may not post here, but rest assured he will play as meanly as he can.

Rise of Prussia is a Simultaneous Turn Based game. I play my turn, my opponent plays his - and then both actions are resolved at the same time. A "turn" lasts 15 days.

This AAR is intended for beginners, so I will explain game concepts from time to time, as the need arises.

I will play the 1757 Grand Campaign (longest game possible), with Historical Attrition, Historical Stats for Leaders, No redeployment, Normal Activation Rules, Long Delayed Commitment in Battle, so in one word, as realistic as possible.


I will take Prussia and its coalition, my opponent will take Austria and its coalition (there are only 2 players : each player is playing all the countries involved in each coalition – which does not mean that “nationalities” of units have no impact – far from it). It is quite fitting, because having played 3 games against that opponent (2 at Birth of America, 1 at Revolution Under Siege), I know he is a master of defense, but too careful and slow in attack - which is pretty historical for the Austrians. I believe I am a more balanced player, even though not quite as aggressive as the real Frederick was.

Anyway, what is the situation in 1757 ? Well, see by yourself here (explanations to follow).
.
Long story short : during the First Silesian War (1740-1742), Frederick used the fact that Austria had its hands full in the War of Austrian Succession to quickly seize Silesia, uniting the two parts of his Kingdom, then peaced out of the war – the War of Austrian Succession would last until 1748. This angered both its enemy (Austria) and its allies (France and Russia).
In 1757, Austria is building an alliance to take Silesia back from Prussia. Prussia has not a chance against a Austria-Saxony-Russian-French-Swedish coalition. But Frederick has a plan : if he strikes fast and hard, he can kick Saxony and even Austria out of the war. Without Austria, France and Russia would have no reason to carry on fighting, and Sweden is not strong enough on its own. Thus started the 7 years war, with a massive offensive on Saxony, to destroy it before it mobilizes. Saxony is annihilated, its cities seized, and the moderately big army it could assemble is sieged at the Pirna Camp.
Which is exactly when the campaign starts.

[The assault on Saxony itself is a “tutorial” campaign]
 
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Narwhal

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Part II : Objectives

What are my objectives for this campaign ?


Objectives are on the left page, while cities on the right page are just nice to have (and bring points if you cannot get a decisive victory).

To win the war, I only need to take an handful of cities. I put red crosses in front of them on the following map



Yes, you saw well ! Only a few days of walking between my objectives. Why is the map so large, then, and why does it includes all of Germany and Poland ? No, new objectives won’t appear, but new fronts will – except if I crush Austria quickly enough. You will see that going from Pirna to Vienna will be a daunting task.
Let’s have a quick glance at the rest of my kingdom (Black crosses mark objectives I must protect)

Central and South Prussia :


Northern Prussia


East Prussia


To prevent questions, I should add that :
Yes – Sweden had territories in Northern Germany back then. Remains of the famed Gustavian “Swedish Empire”.
Hannover is a greyed out objective because it is neutral for now – quickly enough it will become my strongest ally.
Poland is neutral, and everyone can walk through it. The Poles know why, but they don’t like to talk about it.

GAME : In the last pic, a Prussian King is hiding. Can you find him ?
 
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Narwhal

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Part III - Forces in presence


At the beginning of the campaign, there is only one front : the Austrian-Prussian Front.
The Prussians have some great generals, one of them being the badass Frederick the Great himself, who led his troops in battle himself. He is not my absolutely best general, but he is close enough, which means I don’t want to pay the political cost to replace him as the Commander-in-Chief of my armies – because there is such a cost.
Prussian soldiers are elite. Many of them are Grenadiers, which is basically the “elite” force of the game, but even the regulars are good enough. I have a significant cavalry, but not a huge one.
On the other side, Austrians have horrible “leading” generals, with the exception of General Daun, the master of Defense ; I am probably going to talk a lot about him (basically – I probably won’t attack wherever Daun, except if I am massively superior). Their troops are only average.
So how can Austria hope to win ? Well, it cannot hope to win at the beginning. But time plays for them : as more battles occur, their poor generals are going to be demoted and once they have hacked through the dead wood, they have good generals. As more battle occurs, my Grenadiers will die and I will have to recruit troops who are no better than them. But more than everything else, time plays for them because they are in defense... They will quickly have an army twice or three times my size, and their allies will come help them, increasing this ratio even more (we are speaking of Russia and France, there). So if Austria can defend one or two years, it will be able to take initiative again.
Here is a quick review of my main column (I have already modified a bit compared to the beginning of the game, in order not to have to say the same thing twice. I’d like to get over with the presentation ASAP to jump into action.


Frederick and his brother Wilhem

At the beginning of the game, Wilhem was in command of a column, but he is by far my poorest grand general, and since he has a lot of seniority (he is supposed to command the force he is in), I put him with Frederik, who obviously still outranks him.
In red, you can see the columns commanded by Frederik as a Commander-in-Chief (not directly). As long as those columns are not too far from Frederik, he gives them various bonus I might get into later.

Keith Column with 25 000 men, 13 000 horses and 144 canons, is led by Keith (duh!), by far my best general – so I have him lead my most powerful column (I can change the composition of columns in a couple clicks).


Ferdinand (von Brunswick) column, with 15 000 men, 7 000 horses and 96 canons, is my second largest army. Ferdinand is a great general, and is especially good in leading extremely large armies thanks to his special capacity.




With only 11 000 men, 2 600 horses and 96 canons, Moritz's (von Anhalt-Dessau) column is the smallest one. Moritz himself is ok as a general, but has the special malus “reckless”, so I ll keep him in reserve more often than not. Having fresh troops ready can save your armies in this game.


Johann von Wedell's column is on the east, with a little more troops than Moritz’s. Von Wedell is not really a good general, and I am planning to replace him as commander of his column as soon as possible.


Finally, von Schwerin has an army on his own (=it is not part of Frederic’s columns), and a large one (20 000 men, 3 000 horses, 96 canons). Schwerin has somewhat poor stats (still better than what the Austrians have) but two great special capacities : Brave (Keith has that as well), which means his troops are more cohesive – more resilient in battle - and Admired Commander – which means his troops recover their already increased cohesion faster. This makes him a good general. Not outstanding, though.


I won’t show all the other units I have : most of them on this front are cavalry units (Zieten’s in Leipzig, Württenberg’s in Dresden with Frederic and co, Gessler’s in Breslau). They are independent forces.

Beginner's corner

How do you know who is a good general, and who is not ?
A general has 4 (main) stats : Strategy, Offense, Defense, Seniority. Let's first see the first three.
Strategy, Offense and Defense can be seen next to the name of the general when I put the pointer on the stack (which I did on the first column). For instance, Frederik has 6-4-3 while his elder bro' has 4-0-0. What do these stats do :
Strategy ranges from 2 to 6 - it provides various bonus when the unit is commander-in-chief (in my case, Frederick and von Schwerin), also dictates how often the unit is "activated" (a non-activated units cannot attack and moves very slowly) and gives various bonus during battles (chance to come in renforcements when a neighbouring column is attacked for instance).
Offense and Defense (range from 0 to 6 at the beginning, can go beyond with experience) is just a bonus to the general when he leads, well, attacks or defenses.
Only the stats of the leader of the stack is taken into account.
Who leads stack, then ? Well, the general with the highest rank, and, among those, the ones with the smaller seniority. That's the problem of the Austrians : their generals with good stats have a poor seniority, their generals with good seniority have poor stats.
General can also have "specific bonus", like being a "fast-mover", a "fortification expert", ...

How do I know whether an army is strong or weak ? Rule of the thumb : you can see the size of a force by the number of dots (here : Green) at the bottom left part of the leader face. Only one is small, five is huge. The color indicates how exhausted and ready to fight the unit is. It is all green for now.


Now, let's get into action !
 
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Narwhal

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Now, let's get into action !

Part IV : First orders Early September 1756

Here is the long term master plan. Not a chance it holds, but you need to have one.


The objective is to march directly on Prag from Leipzig, just letting as few units (i.e. Moritz column, with no more supply than what the soldiers can carry) as possible sieging the Pirna camp. It is October, and it would be great to control Prague before the Winter (which tends to stop all military operations).

At the same time, Wedell will go west and support von Schwerin, who will attack Troppau. Troppau is not an objective, but taking it will close of the main passage to Breslau (enemy armies will have to go East of the Oder river).

If Troppau is taken in due time, Olmutz might be attacked, depending on where the enemy is. Frederick’s columns will winter in Prag in any case, except failure of taking it. Next year, the objective will be Koeniggratz. Maybe.

This strategy let the Austrian have a passage to the center of Prussia (North of Prag, between the Elbe and the Oder), but I don’t think they would use it as it would let Prag defenseless. Moreover, I know my opponent is defensive.

Of course, I will send 3 cavalry groups to scout the map and se where the Austrian regroup. Probably in Prag, in which case my attack on Prag may be called off (crossing a river in attack is tough).

I will keep a mobile reserve of 10 000 horsemen in Kosel on the Oder, just in case von Schwerin needs back up.

I did some minor moves at the back of the front. Won’t show them as they are not interesting.

Here are how my orders are "translated" in game :
[Not the good image. I will update this soon]

Yah… complex… it will be much easier later to understand later, but as the armies are grouped now and I do some reorganization, it is quite bizarre. Each line belongs to one “stack”.
A turn lasts 15 days. My opponent and I give the orders… and then… 15 days pass without us being able to interfere.
Note that I have a force (cavalry only) trying to occupy the access Pirna back from the South. This is due to the “scripted event” of Pirna : if I can hold all the access for 1 to 3 turns, it will surrender. This is to be sure that even if my main troops cannot pass Pirna (has a fort often blocks the way), the other access is cut… except if my opponent send troops himself.
 

Anazagar

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Ah the prague gambit. It can give you a huge advantage if it succeeds. It is my experience tho that you should converge all the available forces on Prague to give you the numerical supperiority and additional siege guns from schliesen. It is also advisable to build a depot at lobositz.

Did you think about storming Pirna??

Oh and any home rules on cav forces storming cities?? If not then you should think about building a fort in Leipzig when u get an arty unit to spare.

It's a great game hope you have fun.
 

Narwhal

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On Pirna, we have the house rule (more like self-imposed rule) of no assault on it - because it brings more than 20 National Morale point to Prussia, and takes that much from Austria, which has a HUGE impact (through combat capacity and also number of recruits) - and Austria cannot do anything against that.

Concentrating all forces, including von Schliesen guns, is another option, but I chose not to do it : if winter comes too early, or the siege fails (you need several levels of breach) - you are in troubles and you have a huge opening on your East (with only von Schliesen without any gun in defense).

We did several more turns and, well, I am happy I did not try it (even though I did mistakes also)
 
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Anazagar

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On Pirna, we have the house rule (more like self-imposed rule) of no assault on it - because it brings more than 20 National Morale point to Prussia, and takes that much from Austria, which has a HUGE impact (through combat capacity and also number of recruits) - and Austria cannot do anything against that.
Makes sense - It rly puts Prussia ahead. Were saxons allowed to break out??

Concentrating all forces, including von Schliesen guns, is another option, but I chose not to do it : if winter comes too early, or the siege fails (you need several levels of breach) - you are in troubles and you have a huge opening on your East (with only von Schliesen without its guns in defense).
Well there's not much the Austrians can rly do in Schliesen in the whole year 57, as the whole area is fortified, not unless they invest and build more siege cannons (which is hard as they don't have much money). But I agree - full out attack at Prague is a high-risk high-gain strategy. Nevertheless it's my belief that you have to be bold as Prussians in 56/57 - If you don't achieve some big victories then then Austria will simply swarm you in 58 (as they should be able to muster bout 100k french split in 2 armies, 30-50k Saxon and HRE troops, bout 100-120k Austrians, 20-30k Swedish and last but not least 100k Russians - to which you can reply with up to 80k troops in Hannover, 70k in Saxony, 20-30 k in Schliesen and 40k in the north-east).

BTW what activation rule do you play with??
 

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nice to see an AAR of one of AGEOD's games, I plan for months to start a game of their American civil war game, but somehow I failed to grasp the basic principleof the game.:wacko:

Then lead the Prussians to victory!
 

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As you are very talented player, it is also reflected in representing the conflict and the game with deep and excellent illustrated AAR. Excellent work until now Narwhal:)

As a defensive player I hope to make my best moves for preventing Prussians early flanking tactics. If Aus coalition survive without losing some strategic cities in early part of the game,it looks like it will be long and very satisfying game. Although French,Russians have some good amount of men, they will need time to deploy and organize. Best part of Rise of Prussia game is troops and generals of Prussian side have excellent quality where as Austrians suffering from the lesser rate of firepower and maybe shorter range. But there is refined balance factor in the conflict as quality versus quantity. But it should be mentioned that Prussian player will have to think twice about deciding where and when to move the troops.
As a matter of fact, Aus player will need to be offensive when the game progress as Victory points is favouring Prussian side as early campaign setup, and historically this is very well represented in the game.;)
Have a nice reading.
 

Narwhal

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Part V : Late September 1756

The plan does not go exactly as expected.



On the Western part of the Prussian-Austrian front (the Pirna-Prag axis), the march of my troops is stopped in front of Pirna (in the game, a fortress may stop the march of an enemy army). Only Frederick passes through – which is bad, because it means he won’t be able to do a coordinated march on Prag.

At least, Zieten’s cavalry cuts the supply line for Pirna : the camp is now sieged.

Austrian troops of General Browne and the column of General Lucchese (two poor generals) deploy in front of front of Prag. They are protected by the river, which means my troops will be at a disadvantage for a massive assault.

On the Eastern Part, the plan is working as expected with Wedell being just a bit slow. The fortress of Koeniggratz is a tempting target, but I decide to carry on with the plan as I don’t want to split my forces : a crushing defeat for the Prussians, and the game is more or less over.

My new plan on the Pirna-Prag axis is to concentrate forces East of the Elbe. This would allow me to march directly on Prag without battle, or to attack Browne from the South, without having to cross a river.

This is very beautifully showed in the next SC.

 
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Narwhal

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Part VI : Early October 1756

As far as movement is involved, the master plan is working as expected, only one turn late on the Pirna-Prag axis. Unfortunately, a disease breaks out on my largests column (Keith’s column) :



[Note : this is announced in the ledger. I just chose to show the effect rather than the announcement]

Beginner’s corner

How do you know the health / cohesion of a unit ?

Each unit, except a general without division (some general control groups of units “directly”) has two bars in its picture. (If a general has two bars, it means he controls a “division” of units. You can know what units are in the division by hovering the mouse over his portrait. You can create divisions (almost) freely).

The purple bar is cohesion – you lose it by marching, fighting, or being in uncomfortable situation (without food in winter ? Bad). You recover it by doing nothing – you will recover quicker if you wait while in a structure. The lower the cohesion, the slower and less efficient the unit.

The green bar is the “health” – how many people are able to fight compared to the maximum possible for the unit. You can only recover it in a depot / large structure, and if you have replacements available. I will cover replacements later.
End of the beginner’s corner – as you can see my army now has a low cohesion (50% is low).

With the strength of my largest column halved, and the winter already coming, I believe it is safer to call off the attack of Prag, for such an assault would suppose my already exhausted by disease column walks 15 days before battle – while crossing a river. Too risky. I decide to call back my troops, first to the neighbouring province, just to make sure no army tries to “free” Pirna Camp, and also because I know I cannot walk home in only 15 days (1 turn) anyway :



As for Troppau, the siege has begun.



The “red” area shows the place where my army cannot go with my large army as long as Troppau is standing. But Troppau won’t stand.

My cav scouts confirm there are no enemy army going to defend Troppau, so I am confident I can take the city – provided the wall does not last until winter.

As a final note, the winter is already there in the mountains, so I have no regrets for not being more aggressive to take Prag – winter could have killed me.
 
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Narwhal

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Part VII : Late October 1756

ALERT ! In Pirna, the Saxons try to break the siege, and actually succeed – with the help of a Austrian General - at forcing Moritz to break off the siege.:



This was actually a fairly poor move from me to keep Moritz there alone, but well, the cost is not really huge. 1500 Prussian bodies. I still don’t like that.

In any case, my plan is to make sure no one gets out of Pirna – I still can get a surrender as the supply lines are cut in all direction. Frederick troops goes North to block the Southern access, while my boats (shown in next picture) are going to try to hamper the enemy army to cross (I actually don’t know if Bateaux can do this – I believe they cannot).



In the East, not much change. The city is still holding, and von Wedell is taking is merry time to reinforce the siege. Meanwhile, te Austrian General with funny hair, a.k.a. Piccolimi (I think), is getting closer from Troppau.



Finally... no winter. I curse the climate change !
 
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Narwhal

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Part VIII : Early November 1756
In spite of their victory against Moritz, the Saxons surrenders by lack of Austrian reinforcement (except a general – the Saxons soldiers were very disappointed).



You can see the detailed effect in the toolbox in the lower part of the screen. The effect is tremendous – as you can read in the description : Saxony is out of the game for now, I got their troops (so-so troops, but always nice to have) and their guns (nice guns), and Austria also has troops and guns, as a "Saxon Legion" of sort is formed.


Actually, there is a shortcoming in the game on this event, the Saxons get to move, and then disappeared as the surrender event takes place at the end of the turn. It did not change anything – it would if they had attacked something.

On Troppau, Wedell FINALLY arrives. Troppau still holds. As I called my cav back to resupply it, I don’t know anymore what is happening and whether Piccolimi is on his way, so I order my cavalry to be back on the scouting work.



Rest of my orders on the Pirna-Prag axis :



Prag is heavily protected

Beginner’s corner

How do siege works ?

When an army is on an enemy city, the city does not get any more supply but of course carries on eating whatever it has available. When the besieged units have no more supply, they surrender. But this can take a lots of time.
There are two ways to accelerate this :
- If the sieging army is stronger than the besieged army, there is a small chance each turn, if the supply runs low (but before there are no more supply) that the enemy army surrenders before the end.
- An army can assault the city, but ONLY if there are as many levels of “breaches” as there are level of “fortress” (2 in the case of Troppau, 3 for Prag). Each turn, the attacker runs a test, with a bonus depending on the size of his army, the presence of guns (esp. siege gun), the presence of military engineers and a few other bonus I won’t get into, versus a defender test with bonus of his own. If the attacker “wins”, the city gains one level of breach.
 
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Narwhal

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Well - that's all for now. Ia m going to play a turn or Baris will kill me.
 

Narwhal

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Makes sense - It rly puts Prussia ahead. Were saxons allowed to break out??
Well - yes. Maybe they should not have to "balance", but so be it.


Well there's not much the Austrians can rly do in Schliesen in the whole year 57, as the whole area is fortified, not unless they invest and build more siege cannons (which is hard as they don't have much money). But I agree - full out attack at Prague is a high-risk high-gain strategy. Nevertheless it's my belief that you have to be bold as Prussians in 56/57 - If you don't achieve some big victories then then Austria will simply swarm you in 58
I understand this, but I believe I have the first half of 1757 to "catch back", without risk of being surprised by winter.
With an early 1756 attack, I can be worse off if the siege of Prag fails (which happened to me about half the time in SP), as I cannot use only "one" column to attack on the other side.
Against another player, the siege of Prag can be made much more difficult if my opponent garrisons guns in the city. As I said, Baris is a master of defense, so he might have done that. With a credible threat on Prag and an attack on Troppau, I am sure to get at least one.
(as they should be able to muster bout 100k french split in 2 armies, 30-50k Saxon and HRE troops, bout 100-120k Austrians, 20-30k Swedish and last but not least 100k Russians - to which you can reply with up to 80k troops in Hannover, 70k in Saxony, 20-30 k in Schliesen and 40k in the north-east).
Never knew the exact number - I stopped at "awful lot of Austrians", "awful lot of French", "awful lot of Russians", "quite a lot HRE troops" and "quite a few Swedes".

BTW what activation rule do you play with??
Normal activation rule (no activation = Malus). I find that the "extreme" activation rule balance sthe game between the two sides, but I believe it makes the game frustrating for the Austrian.
 
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Anazagar

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Well - yes. Maybe they should not have to "balance", but so be it.
Yes it can be a bitch if they manage to succesfully break out (by which i mean avoiding the surrender event) - i have managed to do so once in PBEM.


I understand this, but I believe I have the first half of 1757 to "catch back", without risk of being surprised by winter.
With an early 1756 attack, I can be worse off if the siege of Prag fails (which happened to me about half the time in SP), as I cannot use only "one" column to attack on the other side.
Against another player, the siege of Prag can be made much more difficult if my opponent garrison guns in the city. As I said, Baris is a master of defense, so he might have done that. With a credible threat on Prag and an attack on Troppau, I am sure to get at least one.
Well it makes sense. Remember there is stuff you can do to increase chances of succes - building depot in Lobositz (where you can winter most of the army without supply problems), using bateux to bring supplies from dresden (by transporting empty wagons there and bringing them back - purchasing 1 or 2 additional bateux is very useful for that).

Never knew the exact number - I stopped at "awful lot of Austrians", "awful lot of French", "awful lot of Russians", "quite a lot HRE troops" and "quite a few Swedes".
Yes there is an awfull lot of enemies.

Normal activation rule (no activation = Malus). I find that the "extreme" activation rule balance the game between the two sides, but I believe it makes the game frustrating game for the Austrian.
Yes it does on both accounts.
 

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thank you ... I've just picked up RoP in the latest sale and have been avidly reading the manual and playing with small bits just to start getting my head around it. To say this is both timely (for me) and brilliant is to rather underestimate my appreciation of you doing this.
 

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thank you ... I've just picked up RoP in the latest sale and have been avidly reading the manual and playing with small bits just to start getting my head around it. To say this is both timely (for me) and brilliant is to rather underestimate my appreciation of you doing this.
It's not that bad once you get the hang of it. Unfortunately the manual is a bit outdated so if you have any questions just ask.

EDIT: here you can get the latest betapatch btw
 
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