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

I’m surprised that you aren’t more perturbed about his cavalry. Is it just not that big a deal to repair cut lines, blown depots, etc?

Not if he isn’t planning to attack on those lines anyway. Considering most of XPav’s posts have been about N. Virginia, I’d be willing to wager that that’s the case. In any event, it’s more of a delaying tactic than a denial one.

I’m not really sure about the relationship between infrastructure and money making in this game. I don’t believe CSL is actually capturing much territory out west, and the heartland of the Union is the New York/New England area, so it can’t be having that big of an impact, can it? And even if CSL does start seriously grabbing land, he’ll have to repair most of the stuff he himself destroyed if he wants to get anywhere.

In the real world, the war was decided by the capture of the Mississippi by the Union, and the later push into the Deep South, even if most of the cool stuff happened on the Atlantic coast. CSL’s own game as the Union acknowledged that fact – he established a strong (mostly) defensive line in N. Virigina and then made an all out push along the river.

I still think that XPav could take his numerical superiority and pull off an Overland campaign. Kind of expensive, and could be seriously fail considering the ridiculous superiority of CSA leadership during the early years. But it could work, and it’d definitely grab some attention from the West.

Repairing cut lines is annoying. That’s it. Depots are much more serious, but to date, beyond the one I accidently torched in St Louis and the mutual torching in Virginia, I’m not sure if he’s gotten any of mine. All my depots do have militia guarding them, and that’s usually enough to beat back a cavalry raid long enough for other forces to show up.

Some of his raiding in the NE actually did put a bit of crimping on my army movement with the busted rails, and that shows, at least there, I need a few more garrisons, but it’s a minor inconvenience only.

Besides, I’ve got to accept that there’s not much I can do about cavalry!. Cavalry can just roll straight through lines and popup in odd places, but they can’t hold ground. If they do take a city, it’ll just flip back to my control the moment they leave. So I’m just going to chuckle at the amount of time and money he’s spending on cavalry, defend my main cities, and just repair the rail that he breaks.

Anyway, my new plan for the rest of the 61, prior to the snows coming, is:

  1. get Hooker some sort of nice threatening base in Virginia so that I don’t have my entire main army staring at their main army, I have 2 stacks he’s got to watch.
  2. Kick the crap out of Polk, destroy the fort at Island 10, see if I can take Forts Henry and Donelson
  3. Secure western Kentucky, specifically, Bowling Green.

Amphib invasions will have to wait until next year.

I’m not really sure about the relationship between infrastructure and money making in this game. I don’t believe CSL is actually capturing much territory out west, and the heartland of the Union is the New York/New England area, so it can’t be having that big of an impact, can it? And even if CSL does start seriously grabbing land, he’ll have to repair most of the stuff he himself destroyed if he wants to get anywhere.

Cities do produce money and supplies, but he’s not holding cities, he’s just raiding. If CSL does start grabbing land that’s otherwise worthless, more power to him. It’ll fix his forces in place with the needs for garrisons and supply lines, and he doesn’t have enough forces for that.

Alright, here we go. A nice glass of wine brings out the bravado.

Hooker, ATTACK! Take out Stonewall and Johnston in the Shenandoah. Schurz, go back him up and go grab Harper’s Ferry back! Some cav and supply will meet up with you there.

Mansfield, take your division, and the other 3 brigades of troops in West Virginia and head for Ed Smith at Grafton before he can take out the depot. Even if the troops come in piecemeal, they should be able to beat him back.

McClellan, ATTACK, or, well, do the best you can, because you suck. Go take your tiny army and grab Lexington.

Lyon, cross the river to Paducah, Foote’s coming down the river with more gunboats, and Heinz57elman will join you. Prep to take Polk out next turn.

I’m buying a bunch of ironclads in Missouri and Kentucky, because CSL has some gunboat squadrons moving up, a few reinforcements, and an army command, which is mainly a sop to McClellan.

Don’t drink and play PBEM games.


I follow the example of US Grant!

Anyway, last turn, had another inconclusive battle between Johnston and Hooker. Another “loss/draw”, that Hooker got points for “winning”. Hooker and Johnston are still staring at each other, so dammit, I’m going to attack, AGAIN! I’m also bringing Schurz down with ANOTHER division to continue the attack. I can and will grind CSL down.

My fleet moved to Fort Monroe because I caught wind of the Virginia ironclad, taking the Monitor with them. Some fighting happened, but mainly, I see CSL’s large reserve army down there in Norfolk and Suffolk, gearing up to take Fort Monroe or perhaps do some crazy amphib assault on Baltimore…

but too bad I have a big fleet there, and all the Harbors are blockaded. HAR HAR.

In Kentucky, CSL took Louisville, which would be so bad except for the fact that I just started building some ironclads there, so now he’s got captured, mostly not-put-together ironclads, and he knows I’m gunning back for it next turn. My position was weak in the center, and he found that. A division is headed for Louisville and he’ll retake it.

In the far west, Lyon and Heinz aren’t powerful enough to take on Polk. So, Heinz will jump back to Cairo, and Lyon will head for Forts Henry and Donelson, take, and burn them before headed back to Cairo also. St Louis is pretty strong, and there are more ironclads being built there.

I’ve got money, but not a lot of guys. Some militia regiments in Kentucky are being built, and some industrialization continues. I also have lots of trains at this point, because I’ve been buying them with leftover cash.

An interesting point about playing the Union is the crappy generals. Most of my generals are “3-1-1”. First rating is strategic, which covers how often they’re active. Then comes offensive and defensive ratings.

I currently have 34 generals.
Winfield Scott, 4 stars, (3-3-3), who is fixed in Washington. Great.
McClellan, 3 stars (1-1-2), who is like never active, but has the “training” ability.
Fremont, Butler, and Banks, 3 stars (2-0-1), and they suck. Not only are they never active, they’re horrible generals.
McDowell, 3 star, (2-2-2), who would be alright if he had better strategic rating.
Halleck, 3 star, (1-0-1), a truly horrible general.

McDowell is the best 3 star I have, and to make armies, which allow you to coordingate corps, you HAVE to have 3 stars. So I have to give the next army to McClellan else I lose victory points and morale!

Out of 1 star division commands, I have Lyon (5-2-2), Burnside (3-1-2), and Hooker (4-4-2).

The remainder is 2 2-star 3-1-1 generals and 21 1-star 3-1-1 generals, so 2/3rds of my generals pool is completely average by Union standards.

Sucks to be me.

Well, except for the fact that Lyon’s division was completely wiped out, it was an uneventful turn. I screwed up with my understanding about how the assault would play out, and payed for it.

Oh well, more troops where they came from.

It appears I may have sunk the Virginia, I’m not sure – I don’t see any ships remaining in Norfolk harbor, but Buchanan is there. I do see a ship in Richmond, so I’m sending Monitor up there to bombard.

A bit of fighting in Virginia – Longstreet’s been detached from the main CSA army and banged up Keyes’ Union division. Johnston retreated further into the valley, but I’m not going to chase him anymore, but pull back to Harper’s Ferry. More stalemate. My reinforcements landed at Fort Monroe.

Louisville is mine again, it appears my ironclads are back and I can keep on working on them. I’ve decided to send Sumner against Springfield, MO, perhaps he can distract CSL a bit. CSL sure is having fun with his cavalry, I’m just running around and fixing broken rails when they go away. Whatever.

I now have McClerand, Banks, and Burnside all recruiting in large cities. I think this should get me many more conscript companies a turn, so I can put them in divisions and recreate Omaha beach. It’ll be great.

So is that what the recruitment ability does? From reading the description it sounded like you just had a chance per turn of recruiting a brigade, but just giving extra conscript companies would make more sense.

It’s more conscript companies.

Pretty boring last couple of turns. CSL sent Jackson up to Grafton for some reason, and didn’t torch the depot. I don’t get it, it’s West Virginia, there’s nothing there.

Kentucky continues to be fought over. I’ve got some cavalry running around, cutting rail lines. My river ironclads are almost finished, US Grant just popped up, and we continue to sit in Virginia staring at each other.

I sent boats up the rivers to check out Richmond – yup, there’s Macgruder all right. CSL pulled his troops from the James and sent them to link up with Joe Johnston’s new Army of the Shenendoah.

From counting divisions, I appear to outnumber CSL by 2-3 divisions around Virginia. I’m not quite sure what to do with that, as I’ve got the problem where I can’t uncover Washington, while he’s got a little more space to deal with.

We’ll see. It also looks like my Militia regiments are starting to convert to Line Infantry. That should give me a lot of free combat power. It’s hard to tell why I haven’t had a good, cleancut win – because my generals suck or my meatshield divisions kinda suck.

How reliant are you on militia regiments?

They currently make up most of my army. I’ve been making divisions with 1 cav regiment, 1 sharpshooter regiment, 4 artillery, and as many infantry regiments as I can stack in. For an all-militia regiment, this usually gets me combat power of around 450 or so, with the sharpshooter/cavalry traits also, which ain’t bad. The normal divisions that I’ve put together, mostly with “free” troops, end up around 500.

The other bonus of the militia regiments is that having a lot of them means I can send a few regiments here and there to repair rail. Most “regular” units that are bought end up being a larger brigade that you can’t cut apart, so you really lose out on combat power if you have to use them for scut work.

So I sent 7 divisions at Beuregard at Manassas again, outnumbering the force there 55,000 to 26,000. I lost, and had 2 divisions completely shot up, with the rest not even engaging. I mean, not at all. No ammo used, no cohesion hit, nothing. Grrrrrr.

I’m almost tempted to try it again, but I suspect that because I’ve got 3 unrelated stacks (not Corps of an Army, because I can’t do that yet), that they’re not engaging the way I’d expect.

So I’m not going to do that. I’ve still got plenty of combat power due to the other 5 divisions being untouched, so I’m not worried about CSL advancing. Winter’s starting to set in too, which is really bad for cohesion, so I’m going to just continue to hold in the East.

In Kentucky, I’ve cut the rail line out of Nashville, McClellan is moving into Louisville, and the other useful town there is Bowling Green. CSL’s got a few distributed forces, but as usual, he doesn’t have the moxie to actually attack my divisions, he’s just letting me come to him.

Don’t know how the game handles it but it was an era where there was little advantage in being on the offensive unless you managed to displace your opponent through manuever.

But come on, a 2 to 1 numerical advantage? Argh.

I’m figured out how to rename my units too. I now have “Ninja Corps”, “US Marine Corps”, “Redeemer Force”, and the like. I think CSL can see those, but I’m just fucking with him.

Oh I totally want to be a militia company if we’re renaming regiments now!

With a 2:1 advantage with equal caliber generals, troops with the same experience, and even ground I’d expect you to win but take heavy casulties, perhaps even 2:3. Course who knows what modifiers the game throws in. It seems like you tripped something nasty.

I think CSL had a big entrenchment advantage. There also seems to be some concept of frontage, so you can’t deploy all your units at once. My guess is that your crappy militia troops assaulted dug-in defenders across a narrow front and basically got chewed up by artillery. When the next divisions in line saw what happened to the guys in front of them they said ‘screw that’ so never got into the fight.

I only know what I see from the screenshots, but there seems to be quite a few factors that affect the outcome. More than enough to overcome a 2:1 advantage, especially considering that your troops are much lower quality.

So is the AI in this game really as bad as it seems? Not to derail this AAR, but I’m in my first attempt at the full scale campaign on normal difficulty and playing as the Union. I haven’t won yet, but the AI doesn’t seem to quite have a grasp on what to do even though they seem to constantly raise money and call for troops. It’s early 1862 and I’m threatening Richmond with a large army under McDowell, I’ve got an independent corps that looks unopposed in central Virginia and I’ve got two corps that are basically keeping most of the Confederate army under Johnston/Jackson busy in the Shenandoah (where all they have left is Harpers Ferry). Meanwhile Lee keeps attacking Fort Monroe.

I really hope the AI is better on higher difficulties. Not that I expect AI to be great, but it should at least be challenging the first few times you play a game.

Your scenario sounds very plausible. 2:1 is a really a baseline and if XPav’s troops enaged piecemeal then the results make sense.

Frontage is definately part of how the game resolves battles. Depending on the terrain, that frontage can be as small as four units wide, which is why many people on the official boards recommend no more than four artillery units per division. So CSL’s higher quality line troops were facing waves of XPav’s militia and it’s no wonder XPav took heavy casualties and lost.

Plus the South generally have better leadership, especially early on in the game, and a human player does a much better job managing his/her leaders then the AI seems to, at least from what I’ve seen.

There’s also the question of just how you make your divisions up. The Wiki for the game has some really good ideas on how to best maximize your bonuses at the division level and it’s not clear to what degree XPav has been doing that versus how CSL has been doing that.