The South Will Fall! (PBEM AAR, XPav vs. CSL)

So I see CSL has started a thread, which, of course, I will stay out of. However, I’m going to do my posts in this thread, so that in addition to entertaining people, after the game is over, we can each laugh at what the other guy was thinking was going on.

While I encourage comments, of course, please don’t crosspost info that would ruin the fog of war for each of us.

This is my first PBEM game of AACW, however, I’ve played plenty of PBEM games of The Operational Art of War in the past, have a pretty good concept of Operational Warfare in general and I’ve been reading the AACW forums for strategic tips.

My first turn was pretty simple. With absolutely no unlocked units or reinforcement options, my sole actions were:

  1. Buy up a couple replacement set of militia, with the hope that they’ll reinforce the garrison at Harper’s Ferry prior to CSL’s likely attempt to march up the Shenandoah and take it. Harper’s Ferry opens up another supply line to DC and another front to guard, and so while it’s not a a way for me to go anywhere really useful in return, I need to keep that valley bottled up.

  2. Call for Volunteers to get more reinforcement points.

  3. Call for Total Blockade of the South.

  4. Invested in Industry across a variety of Northern states that have Excellent/Very Good/Good returns, with the exception of Missouri, because it doesn’t make much and it’s a contentious state.

My overall strategy for 1861 is the following:

  1. Hold in the East – keep Harper’s Ferry and Alexandria if I can. I’m not going to throw my Eastern Army at Richmond, which will give me a Morale hit, but there’s just not enough troops and good commanders available for a good push.

  2. I am going to scrape together an amphibious force of a division or so, and proceed to drive CSL nuts by amphibiously assaulting forts and cities along the Carolina coast. I can pick where I’m attacking, and it’ll force CSL to divert resources to Coastal Artillery and Garrisons. This will also should blood my good generals that I’m going to need to command my Corps and Armies in the future. With enough resources to a Navy, I should be able to maintain good presence in the Blockade Boxes, Atlantic box (for auto supply transport to ports), and ships and transports for tactical operations.

  3. I want to secure Kentucky for the Union. This means not attacking Kentucky, with the hope that one of CSL’s generals screws up and flips the state into my camp. I want to take Columbus and Forts Henry and Donelson if I can.

  4. I don’t care that much about Missouri. I need to hold St Louis to keep Illinois and Cairo safe, but beyond that, I’m not going to spend a lot of effort over there. I think I’ll fire all the towns and camps in the far west and bring all the Regular US troops I can to do real work.

  5. I’ll need a few militia to garrison cities and depots behind the lines that don’t have auto garrisons. I can’t be distracted by cavalry raids.

Have you tried this in single-player? Is attacking forts from the sea viable at all? I’ve only really played as the Confederacy, and I imagine that if it does work, it would be pretty frustrating.

How much single-player have you played, by the way? Have you played enough to at least have an idea of the events etc. that come up during the first year or so?

Have you tried this in single-player? Is attacking forts from the sea viable at all? I’ve only really played as the Confederacy, and I imagine that if it does work, it would be pretty frustrating.

Maybe not forts direct, but at least land next to them and take them from the land. If nothing else it’ll make him learn to keep reserves.

How much single-player have you played, by the way? Have you played enough to at least have an idea of the events etc. that come up during the first year or so?

I’m a few years into a single player game, so I’ve got an idea of the event. Most important are the Kentucky and Missouri events.

Kentucky going Union or Confederate is/was apparently a semi-broken set of event triggers that used, and may still, usually fall for the USA. Apparently, whomever attacks in Kentucky, maybe only the cities, loses it. If no one attacks, eventually there’s a random coinflip, with negative modifiers to getting Kentucky if you have lots of troops in the area.

So it’s basically a crapshoot, like in real life.

Missouri is a simpler coinflip with some plusses and minuses to win or lose.

Also exists it the “must threaten Richmond!” decree. It makes the Union player chose between sending their main field army, possibly before it’s ready, at Richmond, or just losing 10 NM points.

Oh I love this dueling AARs idea! Following with interest.

My biggest problem with many Civil War strategy games is that the best generals are all known to the player from the start, which is totally non-historical. Some games have historical ratings but put in a process that limits fast promotion. Other games randomize skills so that you have to see who develops. How does this game handle it? I’ve never gotten around to picking up AGEOD’s game because I got the competing Forge of Freedom instead and felt one grand strategy Civil War game was all I could justify at that point. But it seems like AGEOD’s game has had longer legs.

Edit: Speaking of Civil War games, I’m still hoping my fantasy of a Total War treatment comes true. The new Empire game coming out soon doesn’t cover the period, but it’s possible they could do so in an expansion to that game. I’m hoping.

AACW has options ranging from totally historical (what we’re playing with), through completely randomized. Only downside of the randomized is that you lose some of the specific general flavors, as some of them get worse as they promoted, just like in real life.

The games also very moddable, from what I can read.

Alright, Turn 2. 1861, Late April.


What happened: Industrialization resulted in about 21 more ammo and 44 supply per turn. That’s about a 2% gain. Not bad. My Total Blockade dropped Foreign Engagement by 11 points. That’s a nice kick in the nuts if CSL’s thinking he can bring the british in. Just like me, CSL called for volunteers, but he also printed money.

As expected, he went for Harper’s Ferry, and thankfully, my garrison held, with equal losses. It was a draw, so my dudes are besieged, but hey, 2 weeks at a time. They’re pretty shot up.

He did grab Fort Sumter and Norfolk though, which isn’t a surprise at all.

Winfield Scott (3-3-3) has taken direct control over all static troops in DC, because none of them can move, but at least he’s not a crappy general.

The rest of my generals all showed up too, so now I have a whole pile of shitty 3-1-1 generals. I’m going to start mailing them around now to get a good mix, sending about a third of them east.

My one unit that can move, Schurz’s Cavalry Brigade, is headed on rails toward Harper’s Ferry. CSL is going to know that they’re coming, I bet, but even if I don’t get there intime, having that cav brigade will help see what else is going on. If they don’t die, that is.

Industrialization left where it was, a few trains and boats bought. No options for anything else.

Turn 3 - Early May, 1861. The first real turn with options.

Last Turn:
There was a non-battle at Harpers Ferry, where I engaged CSL with 0 casualties on both sides, but I won, and then ran away, so I hold Harpers Ferry for now.

Banks, a useless 3 star save for his recruiting ability became active.
Hooker, my first useful commander, with 4-2-2, became active
The Washington Brigade in DC appeared, and the USMC in Annapolis became active.
The entire US Army of Northerneastern Virginia became active, all 5 woefully understrength divisions under lame-o McDowell and 4 mediocre division commanders appeared, but it’s all locked.

A variety of ships also unlocked, I’m sending them to blockade boxes for now, mainly to hide them yet be useful.

It appears Joe Johnston is at Strasbourg.

Plan for this turn.
I found the first general in DC that was active, made him a division commander, gave him the Washington Brigade, and put them on a train for Harpers Ferry, and sent the USMC out there to join them also. Those are my only 2 full strength, mobile units at this point. I’m hoping that CSL really wants Harpers Ferry, and will try and rush it again, and I hope the elite units will hold, frustrating him.

Replacements in Line Infantry, Cavalry, Light Artillery, Field Artillery, and Supply all purchased to fill up the AoNV. I’m sending a few more generals to the AoNV from my Washington Surplus to help manage that mess.

Banks is going to New York to recruit with his one useful ability.

I also need more troops and money, stat. Partial mobilization and exceptional taxes, here we come. Ordering… 32 militia regiments, 6 cav regiments, 6 sharpshooters, and 12 artillery units. That should get me 4-5 or so well stocked militia divisions, with the hope that the militia convert to Line Infantry, like the Ageod forums claim should happen! I’m not sure these divisions will be any good at offensive action, but if they can be my general-purpose “sit on their ass most of the time” troops, then I’ll save money for other things.

Turn 4, Late May.

CSL took Cairo, which, well, I’m not surprised. I had no chance to get troops there.
Fort Sumter, which fell in Turn 2, got reinforcements, and flipped back to Union. I’m not sure what the heck that’s about, I’ll check with CSL.

My 60 new units have been raised, coupled with events that popped up another 13 brigades around the area and Patterson’s army in Western Virginia. CSL said he was not happy that I went for mobilization, because I think he was hoping that I wouldn’t do it, being my first AACW game and all. Either way, there’s a lot of troops that he know he’s going to be facing. The fact that most of them are fast-building militia will put a giant crimp in any short term cav raiding plans.

Some of my militia landed around cities where I have moved some generals too. I’m happy that a lot showed up right in McClellan’s city, because regardless of how much he sucks, he can train those regiments up really nicely.

Missouri’s Lyon’s event also fired, meaning that Missouri hates me, but I get troops, and again, some militia was raised right where Lyon’s is, so I can put together a good force there in St Louis to head down the river to Cairo.

I raised some bonds, and bought more troops, all in Missouri. With St Louis the sole place I own, all troops and artillery I raise will appear there, making it easy to build up a nice striking force and march back down the river to retake Cairo and beat the crap out of Polk.

All my new eastern militia is headed to Baltimore, along with most of my spare generals to attempt to put together a reserve.

The artillery will take about another month to get ready, but the militia will provide nice meatshields if they’re needed.

Turn 5.

CSL decided to do the easiest things with the old Sumter reinforcements, which is kill them. What’s odd is that he’s still got 5k troops hanging around down there, with no leader. Hrm.


Anyway, strategy this time was to continue building up Hooker’s command in Baltimore. He’s becoming my Eastern Reserve. I don’t know whether I’ll use him to shore up holes on the Potomac, send him to Fort Monroe, or perhaps someplace like Wilmington. I see CSL forces in the valley, but nothing down south. I’m tempted to grab Manassas and burn the depot there, maybe next turn when McDowell and his dudes unlock, so I can reorg them into a more useful force. Patterson is hanging up there as another reserve, to prevent motion there.


In the West, Lyons has a good scary division. I didn’t like CSL taking Cairo, so he’s headed down the river to grab that prior to reinforcement. Once he gets there, if it looks promising, he’ll engage Polk.

I’ve got a couple militia brigades and some cav looking to take the depot in Salem back.

In the far west, I’ve sent some of the newly unlocked US Cavalry to head for various isolated depots in CSL-held territory. If I can burn his depot chain, he’s not going to be able to advance in Missouri without really investing in supply wagons. Plus, cav raids are ANNOYING.


No options pick this turn, but I did order all the militia I could in the border states, mainly to secure towns and depots. I did order 2 giant, well rounded NY Regular brigades too. While they’re pricey and take longer to build, each one of them is alone about as powerful as some of the juryrigged militia forces I’ve put together with Lyons and Hooker.

Turn 6.

A few skirmishes, my troops kicked the hell out of the CSA in Salem, they’re now gone. We took Rolla, and burned the depot there. Somehow, I pressed the wrong button, and I burned the depot in St Louis also, which was definitely NOT part of the plan.

Cairo rose up and expelled the invaders, which is good, because Lyons is taking forever to get there.

Finally, US Army of NE Virginia unlocked. I reorganized it into 1 stack with 3 divisions, leaving some troops behind to garrison Alexandria. I did this, because I can’t form Corps yet, and without the ability to form Corps, it’s really hard to coordinate multi-stack advances. There’s also aren’t enough troops to warrant corps anyway. McDowell is active, so I’m sending him with his Army on Assault orders at Mannassas. If I can kick the crap out of the CSA troops there, and perhaps burn the depot, I’ll be happy. I’m hoping CSL doesn’t move his troops out of the valley, due to my troops up there defending Harper’s Ferry, as well as Patterson’s troops hanging to his north.

I’m buying a few more NY militia, which I think means that all the states that are somewhere near the front lines are completely out. Rally points are Baltimore, where Hooker is, St Louis, and Cincinnati, where McClellan is. I’m almost out of generals for 1861, but I’m at my division limit for now also.

I bought some riverine transports in Missouri, hopefully they popup in St Louis, and I rebuild the depot with them. Foote’s transports are going into Cairo to build a depot there, that’s going to become my main base to threaten CSL.

I think we’ll have a battle this turn.

A plan to attack Manassas in early 1861 as the Union? Brilliant! The war will be over in weeks! =D

I hear some guy called CSL had a pretty good plan for playing as the Union, why not just do what he did? :)

But he knows that I know what he knows!

Hopefully the fact that he doesn’t have his army consolidated in Manassas will allow me to beat the crap out of a fraction of his force. Hopefully. I hope he thinks I’m going for Richmond, mainly to keep him on the defensive.

I’ve been playing a game against the AI, which is just stupid, as it doesn’t know how to really play well. It send a large army to invade… New Mexico, has odd leaders in charge of the Army of Northern Virginia, and spread the army out all over the place. You learn mechanics, but not how to play.

But does he know that you know the he knows what you know? huh? HUH?!

Turn 7

Well, that offensive didn’t go as planned. I ran into more of CSA’s army than I expected. While the game says it was a Confederate victory, I’m going to say it was more of a draw. McDowell and one of the division generals got congratulated for the “victory”. While a bit bloodied, he’s outnumbered, and so will pull back to Alexandria.

In other bad news though, I screwed up my orders, with the result that one of my Harper’s Ferry divisions took off and went with the cav to take Fredricksburg. CSL move his forces up, and crushed, 100%, Shurz’s militia force holding the depot, wounding Schurz. He should have died for that, but instead he limps home. Bastard. I might even need him to command more troops! The wayward Harper’s Ferry division is going to Alexandria to reinforce the Army of NE Virgnia. Perhaps its best that he left though, another few thousand men might just have been beat harder.

So, anyway, since I probably need Harper’s Ferry back, I’m sending Hooker’s command, a mini-corp currently more powerful than the “main army”, over to Frederick, to cover that side. Some of Patterson’s troops have been split off into a small division and sent down to see if I can burn Strasbourg depot while CSL is mucking around in Harper’s Ferry. West Virginia is pretty useless except as a place to threaten his supply lines.

I’ve got the event that I’m supposed to threaten Richmond. Ha! HAHAHAH! Like that’ll work. I’ll take the morale hit after that great battle I was just in, but I am sending a cav regiment to rip up rails.

In the Ohio/Kentucky region, McClellan is building up an army worthy of Mordor…

Ok, not really, but he has a division.

Over in Illinois, a new supply depot is being built in Cairo with 2 transports, Lyon’s is crossing the river to Charleston and moving some gunboats, I’m going to see what Polk’s got there. I might not engage, but I may threaten.

St Louis is building more transports and gunboats for Foote. 57 Heinzelman is there also, forming a new division. The CSA depot at Rolla is burned, Sumner’s got a tiny group up the river, and my cavalry didn’t quite take and burn Fort Smith.

Ordered another 24 militia regiments, 3 cav regiments, and 5 artillery regiments, along with a few replacements. That’ll add to my existing 80 militia regiments. Perhaps I can make CSL slip in all the blood while he’s in my base killing my d00dz, like he just did at the 2nd Harper’s Ferry Massacre.

I kind of like that you’re basically as inexperienced as the real Union leaders, while CSL knows exactly what he’s doing. I’m personally betting on you to win – you’ve got a massive resource advantage, and eventually you should be able to wear him down Grant style. Just gotta survive them early days.

Also, you totally walked into that Manassas thing.

Looked at the turn this morning right before work, had another fight between Beauregard and McDowell, with another similar stalemate where both CSL’s army and mine beat the crap out of each other, inflicting roughly equal losses. My army retreated in good order to Alexandria, and my wayward division that went to Fredricksburg met them there.

So, inflicted equal losses and got my army out intact? I count that as a win!

Plus, I came down behind him in the Shenadoah and took the Strasbourg depot in his rear, I’ve got Hooker’s mini-army in front of him in Frederick, and I think I’m going to roll it down to Strasbourg Depot through Harper’s Ferry and see if I can take out a couple stacks that way.

I’ve got yet another militia division or 2 grouping up in Baltimore. CSL’s cav is having way too much fun ripping up my rails, I’m thinking I need a few more garrisons around though.

So, after getting home, I can’t do exactly what I want. Hooker’s inactive, so he can’t attack with the main useful of Hooker being his 4-4-2 rating.

So, he’s going to move down a bit to Montogomery to cover the Potomac, and make people wonder where he went. I don’t think CSL is going to cross, he doesn’t quite have the troops that I can see. I don’t need a big stack together to defend, as far as I can tell, he doesn’t have a lot of other forces around.

The guys in Strasbourg are going to hold for a turn to torch the place. If I lose them, it’s a good price to pay. I don’t think CSL will pull back from Harper’s Ferry or move from Manassas, not while both of those forces have large forces right in front of them. At the very least, it’ll make him expose his reserves.

I’ve seen most all of his good leaders (Beauregard, Johnston, Jackson, Macgruder), with the exception of Ed Smith. Hrm. I suspect Macgruder is back in Richmond defending there in case I do something interesting, with Ed Smith running his offensive reserve, so my guess is that he’s going to show up at Strasbourg.

So, because I can’t see where his d00dz are, I’m running my cav unit up between his forces to see if they see someone. They might run out of supplies. Oh well.

My NE Virginia army has been reorganized to push the most punished troops into the rear, with the 3 divisions remaining all at around 80% strength or so. I detached a few of the supply carts there to build a depot, I think I’m going to be here a while.

More militia dudes constantly stream into Baltimore, I think I’m done for a bit, because I am totally out of generals. Some of my excess are going into DC and forward to Alexandria to fill out some of the depleted divisions there.

I got news that Buchanan tried to get past Fort Monroe, so I’m loading Farragut up, meeting up with Dahlgren and Monitor, and seeing if I can have a nice ironclad tussle.

And, yeah, I totally walked into Manassas, I’m just really happy I got out as scott-free as I did. With the exception of the “in ur base killing ur d00dz” massacre at Harper’s Ferry, we’re pretty even to date. Even = I win.

A few replacements bought, and whenever I get bored and have money, I buy more trains and boats. I’m going to use my greater money supply to ferry my troops around quicker.

CSL torched the Harper’s Ferry depot, I torched the Strasbourg depot, he brought Joe Johnston back from the smouldering ruins to kick Mansfield out of Strasbourg.

Now, THIS turn, Hooker’s active, didn’t actually move out of the region for some reason, and I’ve got Johnston’s weakened division or so right down the valley, in range of Hooker, even if he goes through Winchester and punches out Gus Smith’s scratch force there. This would be a slam dunk – if Hooker wasn’t low on supplies for some reason. I’ve got another division under the infamous Schurz ready to back up him, I’m thinking I might send Schurz and a couple supply wagons back to Harper’s Ferry, either to rebuild the depot or just supply Hooker after the fact. I’ve played a bit with the movement to see if I can get all the way down the valley to Strasbourg in 2 weeks, the game says 13 days.

Ed Smith popped up in Grafton to take the depot too – I assume Macgruder is still somewhere back near Richmond with his defensive reserves. I’m sending a brig in to Richmond for a looksee, and maybe scare CSL to thinking I’ve got another amphibious assault coming up the James. I hope the fact that I’ve got divisions everywhere is unnerving him. He’s got cavalry everywhere, but yawn.

CSL also attacked Kentucky, so he’s the agressor now, with a control penalty from now in Kentucky. McClellan is moving in with his “army” of one division. I’ve got Heinz57elman ready to go out of St Louis with another division to join Lyons down near Cairo, and together they can talk on Polk, I think, along with the gunboat squadrons sailing down to join Foote right there on the river.

I’ve got to sleep on this though. Manassas was a sucker trap, I don’t think this is the same thing, because:

  1. CSL is reacting to me
  2. I don’t think he’s got enough forces ready to fight back. I don’t know what he’s been spending his money on, and that does worry me a bit.