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Calvin809
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I'm no George B. McClellan

Mon Mar 10, 2014 8:28 pm

So I have started my very first full campaign (the early beginning April one, union side) and I am no McClellan. I need some advice for raising and organizing an effective army. What are some of the things you veteran players do to raise/recruit an army and how do you fit a naval recruitment into that? Also how do you get things organized? Do you use theaters to organize and ship units to different places? Also it seems like units appear that I have not ordered does that continue to happened or is that just the first few turns?

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GraniteStater
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Tue Mar 11, 2014 2:11 am

Well, I'll try, especially seeing as you are from the first State to fly to the defense of the Union.

Lately, I've been building a fleet very, very early, getting a start on what I'm going to need. The build times are long and one doesn't need a huge army right away.

Ships take $$ & WS, but not a lot of men.

Artillery is the same: $$, WS, but fewer men. Don't go too nutty; arty is an excellent thing and a strength for the Union, 'cuz you can build quite a bit, especially the 20-lbers for Corps arty. Still, infantry is your main hitting power.

The Inf/Inf/Cav brigades are 45 day builds, fairly quick. They're not bad early. After a bit, I start on Inf/Inf/Arty Bdes - I llke to have them, even if the Arty is 6-lbers and stays that way (current glitch in the game).

Mix in the Inf/Inf/Cav/Arty Bdes as often as will fit in a good mix for your Divisions.

Support Units are important to overcome CSA Leadership advantages.

Independent Cav - there's a recent thread on that; there's a bunch of good threads addressing your questions.

All I know is what I do - others have their styles.

Essentially, I don't like to take the same ground twice - slow & steady.

Plus, you need Cav/Cav/Horse Arty for raiders & partisans; plenty of supply Wagons for live formations and to build Depots...

How you build, and what, is determined by your strategic approach. To some degree, it is the game.

Have a nice war.
[color="#AFEEEE"]"Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!"[/color]
-Daniel Webster

[color="#FFA07A"]"C'mon, boys, we got the damn Yankees on the run!"[/color]
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ArmChairGeneral
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Tue Mar 11, 2014 7:39 am

General starting advice:

What is your overall strategic plan? Marching on Richmond? Destroying the ANV in the field? Anaconda Plan? Turtle until you have the overwhelming advantage? All are potentially viable options, as are others, but commit to a specific big picture strategy early. Strategic plans can take game-years to execute, so it is important to begin acting on your plan from the earliest moves.

You cannot prevent the CSA from controlling Harper's Ferry (HF) early without potentially weakening either Alexandria or Washington. What the two sides do about this situation is the first major decision nexus in the April scenario. Your response should be consistent with your long-term strategy.

You will need to take HF at some point if you plan on campaigning aggressively in the East. You probably can't get it right away, (Athena can't without losing Alexandria) but the longer you wait the harder it will be. If instead, you decide to focus on the West, you might choose not to contest HF immediately, instead bottling up Johnston and Co. with a defensive position at Frederick, MD. (Hold Alexandria at all costs no matter your overall strategy. It is critical to defending DC and operating in Virginia.)

Defining your long-term strategy will also help you make organizational, deployment and build decisions in the short-run. If you plan on defeating the ANV in the field, you will need many divisions of troops in the mid-Atlantic to force the CSA out of the depots at Manassas and Harper's Ferry: start building in MD, PA and NY. OTOH, for an Anaconda style game, you will need sea-mobile divisions as early as possible to take New Orleans and a considerable buildup of troops in IL, IN, and OH to take control of the Mississippi, constraining you in the East.

Obviously you may need to change your strategy depending on what your opponent does, but having an overall plan from the start will simplify and guide decision-making. The sooner you start the more likely any plan is to succeed.

More specific:

The Union is at a small but noticeable disadvantage in the East at start. You have poor commanders, and though you have a lot of troops around DC and northern Virginia you have two important forward positions that must be held in force (DC and Alexandria) limiting what you have left over for early offensive moves. Buy lots of replacements early to quickly bring the scripted forces to full strength. Hold Alexandria and decide how Harper's Ferry fits in your overall plan. Do not overextend; Athena is very good at recognizing and exploiting tactical overreach.

Prior to any battle (not just in the beginning of the game) have a plan to deal with what will happen if it does not go your way. The Wiki Retreat page is a short but extremely informative resource. Try to fall back and recover at strongly held depots (again, Alexandria!).

Until divisions become available in Oct 61 all of your large stacks will have command problems, further limiting your fighting ability. It is generally preferable to have large stacks that suffer command penalties than to have many small stacks. Small stacks risk outright destruction if friendly stacks fail to support them in battle. The max command penalty (for a human) is -35%, so once a stack has that penalty, adding more troops doesn't make it any worse and large stacks fight better than small ones.

New scripted forces continue to arrive for the first several months in various places; after a couple of games you will have a feel for where and when to expect them (they're listed in the game files, if you want to know exactly). Watch for the elite brigades; they pass their cohesion buff to the rest of the division they are in, so you will form your best fighting divisions around them (don't put them into the same division, their bonuses do not stack with each other).

Rather than move troops between theaters, which costs transport pool and time, try to build what you need in the places you will need them. Early game, reshuffling can make sense if it allows you to accomplish a specific goal or contributes to your overall strategy.

Your Armies will be your primary fighting stacks (in the East) until Corps become available simply because they have all the CP's. 2*'s on their own only have 4 CPs, but with enough 1*s along, they can also command medium-to-large formations, especially once Divisions are allowed.


Good luck, hope this helps!

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pgr
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Tue Mar 11, 2014 1:07 pm

As others have said, it depends on what you want to do. I still experiment myself, but I tend to have a rough idea of the division composition I will want to build and try to plan my brigade builds accordingly.

Frankly though, you are going to run into a manpower crunch in mid-summer no matter what you do.

My particular approach is to focus on the army and river fleets. I tend to push ocean naval construction until the fall, and as others have noted, a number of the automatic fleet units start understrength, so if you switch them to G/G is a port with a shipyard, you will get some "free" ships from your reserve pool in the first year. Make sure your "recruting" generals (Burnside and McClernand) are inside cities of +=5. I find that McClellan and Halleck are effective in training militia units to regulars. However, their throughput is only 4 regiments per turn between the two of them, meaning you will have a big training backlog if you go the militia only route.

IMO, from day 1 you should sort out where and how you want to make major offensives, but assume you won't be launching them until March 1862, and try to plan your force builds so you can finish the force you want in time.

It's not an exact science, but as long as you think strategically and prioritize, you should sort things out. If you are looking for specific advice, look around the forum a bit, there are some extent threads on division composition, corps structure etc.

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Gray Fox
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Tue Mar 11, 2014 2:27 pm

A very simple but effective strategy I use is to set up a strong defense first in 1861.

Entrench a Division sized force in Saint Loius MO, Cairo IL, Evansville IN, Louisville KY, Cincinnatti OH, Ashland OH, Marrietta OH, Wheeling WV and Pittsburgh PA. These are ports that allow your riverine forces to control the Missouri, the Ohio and the northern tip of the Mississippi rivers. Most of these cities already have a depot. You can construct one with cheap river transport for those that don't. Each city should also have a supply wagon which actually helps in defense. The garrison Division should have a sharpshooter, two of the brigades with two infantry and an artillery battery and one with two infantry and one cavalry. The rest can be militia from that state. They get a bonus fighting in their home state. If you make the militia first, then they can start entrenments right away. This creates a line of strongpoints along defendable rivers for a firm Union center.

All other depots in the Midwest should be blown up at your convenience, but as soon as possible. These are magnets for partisans, Native Americans and trouble. A few cavalry units should be able to control any of these units that pop up while they are eating dirt.

You are allowed three army stacks led by a 3-star general. Have the strongest entrenched in D.C. I cannot emphasize this enough. If you lose D.C. you will lose the war. Another should be entrenched in Harper's Ferry. The third will be your reserve. If you entrench one Division similar to the city garrisons in the mountain region east of Pittsburgh and west of HF, that will discourage any CSA move into the underbelly of PA. This is your strong eastern flank. If a Confederate force moves north, then your reserve army should give them a stern reprimand.

Ignore the west. Its just one huge wasteland. Don't build a huge blockade fleet either. Every bit of war materiel spent on ocean going vessels would be better spent on land forces.

Now that your own house is in order, you can build an army to take Richmond and end the insurrection.

P.S. About holding Alexandria to defend D.C. Let's say I have a force of 2X defending the capital. Why would I split this in two and send X amount of force to Alexandria "to defend D.C."? How do half the original number of troops that remain in D.C. now defend it better? In RL, Confederate artillery might have shelled the White House from Alexandria, but that is not the case in this game. A rebel army in Alexandria still has to cross a major river to attack Washington. No matter where the troops originally came from, anyone in Alexandria should be actually present defending the capital.

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Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:22 pm

As you can see Calvin809, there is not a single "correct" answer on what to do. We offer advice based on what we have done and like to do. There are some AARs out there (such as Banks vs. Soundoff, Ace's What the Union did in the west), which show different approaches, and some of the reasoning behind what they are/did do.
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ArmChairGeneral
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Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:30 pm

Gray Fox

Alexandria indirectly protects DC. Control of it makes it easier to see and prevent the CSA from attacking DC directly (coming from the Valley or eastern MD is slow and gives the Union time to react and counter-attack in the open regions around DC). It has a rail link across the Potomac, giving the Union mobility and easy access to Virginia. A force at Alexandria is a constant threat to Fredricksburg, forcing the CSA to spread out their defenses over a wider area and build troops in VA that could have gone to the West. A depot in Alexandria allows the Union to operate and contest No VA (a local strong-point to fall back to for recovery, counteracting the abysmally slow Union replacement rate) much more effectively than from DC.

Defensively, keeping it out of CSA hands is the important thing. From there they overlook the harbor at DC, control the rail link on the lower Potomac and have a strong position from which to proceed against DC (they still have to attack across the Potomac, but so will you when you try to take it back). It crystallizes the CSA defense of Northern VA making it far more difficult for eventual Union offensives to get started (because you have to clean out Alexandria first). It allows them to concentrate their defenses into fewer regions and puts an extra obstacle on the most direct path to Richmond. If the CSA has Alexandria, Union forces crossing into Leesburg are surrounded by strong stacks in Harpers and Alexandria. Bypassing a CSA-held Alexandria to attack further south is dangerous because of the constant threat it poses to DC, to the rear of your invasion force and its ability to prevent supply flow along the river.

Sure, if the CSA can actually reach DC it is better to have all your troops there, but Alexandria is important to preventing them from being able to reach it in the first place. Having Alexandria slows those superstacks down, forcing them to go around or spend time and resources taking it, and is a great position from which to launch and support future offensive campaigns in Virginia.

I would trade Alexandria for Harpers Ferry any day, playing as either side. Obviously you want both, but if you can't, Alexandria is the superior position. I would go so far as to say that it is the single most important region in the game (after the two capitals of course) worth sacrificing just about any other objective to take or maintain it. Can you succeed without it? Sure, but it will be much easier (as either side) if you hold Alexandria.

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Gray Fox
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Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:39 pm

This is what Athena does and her three Divisions in Alexandria did nothing to protect Wahington D.C. when I took it and won the war. A force in HF can do everything you think an army in Alexandria is doing and it is the linchpin of your eastern defense. Genius is when you look at something that everyone has looked at, and you see something important that no one else saw.
We agree to disagree my friend. :)

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ArmChairGeneral
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Tue Mar 11, 2014 7:00 pm

Not necessarily disagree, I tend to try to keep everything quiet in the East as a rule, because the consequences of failure are severe. I need to work on my Eastern game as there is obviously much to be gained that I am leaving on the table. I'm not saying Alexandria alone can prevent a back-rank mate (nor can Harpers), but I still feel it is a very important initial position for the Union that must be maintained.

Harpers (as the Union) is dangerous to DC in CSA hands for the same reasons as Alexandria, and is important to defend against. But if you successfully defend DC in the early game, Alexandria will be much more important to long term success for the Union, and will cost a lot of men and time to take back if you let it fall (Harpers too, but Alexandria will be more strongly held and easier for the CSA to defend). It is not a magic defensive bullet that makes DC impregnable, but is a very important region to hold for either side, contributing to both defensive and offensive operations in both the short- and long-terms, so I fight hard to keep it.

Obviously I want both, but if I couldn't get both I would rather have Alexandria than Harpers. The main problem for the Union at the start is that it is hard for them to cover every approach to DC and still have enough left in DC to fend off attacks. Alexandria does more to help at the starting position than Harpers IMO, and is why I like to prioritize keeping it.

P.S. What would having had HF have done to protect DC against your left-hook from Manassas? You went through Leesburg right (couldn't tell from the screenshot)? In either case your concentrated Army meant that the defense needed to have collapsed back on DC in the first place because of your threatening presence that close to DC.

P.P.S. I also have to throw in the corollary to the oh-but-a-human-player-wouldn't-let-you-get-away-with-that argument: CSA Athena is not likely to try such daring early moves as yours. (Apparently Ft Monroe is more important to her than capturing DC :bonk :)

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GraniteStater
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Tue Mar 11, 2014 7:30 pm

Do not overlook four shooting naval elements in the Potomac between Alex & DC stops the river crossing, by rule.

Athena felt her oats in a game, early, and I had McDowell in strength and Hunter in a loosey-goosey stack, both in Alex - JJ muscled up in one stack (from Manassas) and destroyed Hunter's stack, gone, with Hunter WIA & McDowell retreating to DC - but JJ can't cross directly.

So, that's a tip for a Union player. Makes the CSA look for other crossings.
[color="#AFEEEE"]"Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!"[/color]

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[color="#FFA07A"]"C'mon, boys, we got the damn Yankees on the run!"[/color]

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Gray Fox
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Tue Mar 11, 2014 10:02 pm

For the sake of discussion, let's do the math from the CSA side. The South have the 2X force in Manassas which I must hold so the Union loses a pile of NM. However, the Union offers Alexandria as a Gambit. I absolutely must have it and split force X off from Manassas. The Union player has eliminated half the force guarding Manassas without firing a shot. When the Union takes Manassas, you must fall back to defend Fredericksburg/Richmond and the Union gets Alexandria en passant. The depot and armory in HF are more important than Alexandria. I don't have any ships that must be in D.C. harbor. The depot in HF and in D.C. feed supplies to Manassas overland and don't need a rail-line.Alexandria had a purpose in RL, which this isn't. That's how I see it. Ciao for now!

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ArmChairGeneral
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Tue Mar 11, 2014 11:37 pm

Fox,
I understand what you are saying, but I don't think you understand what I am saying. I am NOT saying that absolutely, throw every other consideration to the wind, you will lose without Alexandria, although I can see that what I wrote could be construed that way (overstating is one of my character flaws).

What I AM saying, is that Alexandria is an extremely important position and since the Union holds it at start that it would be foolish (unless you are baiting some kind of trap or have some other darn good reason) to give it away for nothing as a consequence of overly aggressive early moves (especially against Harper's Ferry which is easy for the CSA to hold unless the Union weakens either DC or Alexandria). It is not the be-all-end-all region (those are DC and Richmond) but you will have a MUCH easier game (certainly against the AI) with it in your possession. Obviously there are ways to neutralize it and get around it, especially if you are clever, but Alexandria is still one of the most advantageous regions in the East for either side. The fact that it is so valuable is WHY a trap like the one you describe could tempt the CSA to take the bait.

Now, if we are taking a poll on which is more important between HF and Alexandria, my vote goes to Alexandria for all the reasons above, but I definitely see a case for HF for almost all the same reasons. Either way, my original point still holds: the first months of the game are about determining who will control those two regions (plus Manassas) and the Union does not have the juice to get both right off the bat (well, sometimes you can, Athena is prone to mis-handling this portion of the game in general). Even if you think HF is slightly better, it still doesn't make sense to throw away one for the other; sit tight and you can get them both soon enough.

Example (stipulating that "what Athena does" is often the way NOT to play): Athena sends 3/4 of her starting Alexandria forces through Leesburg towards HF almost every time, JJ repels them easily and Beauregard takes Alexandria behind her allowing the CSA to establish the Potomac Line for almost nothing. Sometimes, instead of going all the way to HF, she will change her mind and turn south from Leesburg to the now lightly defended Manassas, but then I can move JJ into Leesburg to cut off the escape route and surround and destroy them in Manassas at my leisure. These are rookie mistakes by Athena (which I am sure she will stop doing in future patches, and are less common if you give her lots of Detection), but since the OP said he is a rookie, I was trying to steer him away from that kind of eager-beaverism by stressing the tactical importance of Alexandria.

DC Harbor: I know it is not very smart of her, but she likes to send troops down the Potomac by river-pool from DC, and guns at Alexandria make her pay the price. Also, they stop wagons along the Potomac from drawing river supply from DC (harbors, like at Falmouth, could still bring in supply by sea-pool).

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GraniteStater
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Wed Mar 12, 2014 1:46 am

Calvin809 wrote:So I have started my very first full campaign (the early beginning April one, union side) and I am no McClellan. I need some advice for raising and organizing an effective army. What are some of the things you veteran players do to raise/recruit an army and how do you fit a naval recruitment into that? Also how do you get things organized? Do you use theaters to organize and ship units to different places? Also it seems like units appear that I have not ordered does that continue to happened or is that just the first few turns?


Just to get back to a coupla the OP's questions:

I need some advice for raising and organizing an effective army. What are some of the things you veteran players do to raise/recruit an army and how do you fit a naval recruitment into that?


These two I made an effort to answer & I think you can go from there without a barrage of specifics.

Also how do you get things organized?


Until Early Oct 61, you do the best you can; larger stacks survive better (I had a real Ouch Moment against Athena not all that long ago). Know what you're desiring the stacks to do, i. e., 'mission oriented'. Then, in Early Oct 61, you can form Divisions; in Early Mar 62, Corps, which now enable automatic support of brother Corps in the same Army in adjacent Regions. Lotsa threads on these subjects.

Do you use theaters to organize and ship units to different places?


Unclear. I don't. One kinda defaults to neighboring Regions and cities in which you build.

Also it seems like units appear that I have not ordered does that continue to happened or is that just the first few turns?


No, these keep coming at various intervals - these are almost always elite Brigades, so use them well.
[color="#AFEEEE"]"Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!"[/color]

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[color="#FFA07A"]"C'mon, boys, we got the damn Yankees on the run!"[/color]

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Gray Fox
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Wed Mar 12, 2014 1:03 pm

"If he defends everywhere, then everywhere will be weak." Sun Tzu

The CSA cannot properly defend both Manassas and Alexandria. The Union cannot properly defend both D.C. and Alexandria. If the Union takes Manassas, then Alexandria must be abandoned without a fight or you will be trapped there when I take Fredericksburg. If the CSA takes Washington, game over. Troops don't magically fill every gap. The economy of force that Clausewitz described dictates that you absolutely do those things that you must, to the exclusion of all other things.

Harper's Ferry already has a depot and an armory. A Union army in HF threatens Manassas from the CSA side of the Potomac. It is a base of operations for the capture of Winchester and the Confederate depot in the next region. Holding these regions removes the base of operations the CSA has for an attack against the underbelly of PA, i.e., any CSA army stack will then need to take enough supply wagons to get from Manassas to PA and back or starve. Once the Union has these, you can concentrate on Manassas and get Alexandria for free.

Alexandria is neither extremely important nor advantageous to hold. It doesn't have a depot or anything else. Even if it did, the South already has a base of operations for a strike across the Potomac with the depot at Manassas (as I believe I've demonstrated). The fact that artillery in Alexandria can shoot at occasional ships going into D.C. harbor is not a strategic concern. Besides, I base the whole Atlantic fleet in Long Island. Yes, I start with Alexandria. I'll finish with it too, but on my own terms.

I'm not a mathematician or an economist or a Civil War buff. I spent half my youth as a soldier. This is what we do. ;)

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pgr
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Wed Mar 12, 2014 4:00 pm

Gray Fox wrote:"If he defends everywhere, then everywhere will be weak." Sun Tzu

The CSA cannot properly defend both Manassas and Alexandria. The Union cannot properly defend both D.C. and Alexandria. If the Union takes Manassas, then Alexandria must be abandoned without a fight or you will be trapped there when I take Fredericksburg. If the CSA takes Washington, game over. Troops don't magically fill every gap. The economy of force that Clausewitz described dictates that you absolutely do those things that you must, to the exclusion of all other things.

Harper's Ferry already has a depot and an armory. A Union army in HF threatens Manassas from the CSA side of the Potomac. It is a base of operations for the capture of Winchester and the Confederate depot in the next region. Holding these regions removes the base of operations the CSA has for an attack against the underbelly of PA, i.e., any CSA army stack will then need to take enough supply wagons to get from Manassas to PA and back or starve. Once the Union has these, you can concentrate on Manassas and get Alexandria for free.

Alexandria is neither extremely important nor advantageous to hold. It doesn't have a depot or anything else. Even if it did, the South already has a base of operations for a strike across the Potomac with the depot at Manassas (as I believe I've demonstrated). The fact that artillery in Alexandria can shoot at occasional ships going into D.C. harbor is not a strategic concern. Besides, I base the whole Atlantic fleet in Long Island. Yes, I start with Alexandria. I'll finish with it too, but on my own terms.

I'm not a mathematician or an economist or a Civil War buff. I spent half my youth as a soldier. This is what we do. ;)


As a point of order, Alexandria does start with a level 1 depot plus you wind up with a fort, and you don't have to cross a major river to begin a move. Sure you can use HF as a launch point for invasions, but you can easily get bottled up by the Blue Ridge, and Washington remains uncovered. Frankly, line from HF through Leesburg to Alexandria is a lot simpler to hold than DC-(what ever the next region is)-Fredreck-HF along the Potomac.

That said, I use Patterson to take HF and keep JoJo in the Valley while McDowell holds Alexandria and Stone covers Leesburg. All eastern theater builds go to McDowell, until McClellan unlocks and goes to Washington. Once there, Washington becomes the buildup and training point. (But now we are drifting a but from the army build up thread)

Grey Fox, your post on division sized forces from St-Louis to Pittsburgh is interesting, but that is a lot of divisions really strung out for 1861. You're talking 1 cav, 1 sharp shooter, 2 six pounders, 4 line inf, and 9 militia? It seems like you could eat up all your conscripts pretty fast... (of course if you can do that building schedule by October 61, my hat is off to you.)

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Gray Fox
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Wed Mar 12, 2014 4:25 pm

I posted that even with a depot, Alexandria is redundant to both sides and a fort doesn't change that. Forget about this "Potomac line". A force split defending three regions is not as strong as a unified force attacking one region. 19th century warfare is about maneuver. Build a Maginot line from Alexandria to the Ol' Miss. I'll still punch through and take what really should have been defended.

Anything that can be organized can be done. A mere nine mostly militia Divisions hold defensive strongpoints so that the Union player can concentrate on what is important back east. If a CSA army wants to tour the Midwest, then it won't be available for the defense of Richmond.

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Wed Mar 12, 2014 4:52 pm

You just got the game, right? Played both sides? Played Colonel - not that I expect CSA players to put it on Colonel? Historical Attrit for Player Only? Given Athena Detection bonuses? Very Hard Activation?

Have you played a human?

Pretty confident, I say, for someone who's had the application for, what, a week? I document applications and wouldn't tell my boss I'd have the manual for See 'n Spell ready in a week.

Play Jim-NC, play Ol' Choctaw, play Ace, play soundoff. I've got one going, but drop me a line sometime when you're feeling rambunctious.

You put Athena on the right settings & she's far from a pushover. In an ongoing Colonel game, she had JJ flex up & took Alexandria - good thing I've got ships in the river. JJ in Alex puts a crimp in things and it'll take time to find him lodgings elsewhere.

A mere nine mostly militia Divisions hold defensive strongpoints so that the Union player can concentrate on what is important back east. If a CSA army wants to tour the Midwest, then it won't be available for the defense of Richmond


Nine Divs, mostly militia??? Excuse me, I'll be back in a sec...

Sorry, had to take a pain pill for my ribs.

Do that against ArmChair, I flat out dare you.

Do that against me, and I'm a mostly Union player, and my boys'll be eating deep-dish and watching the Cubs sooner than you can say 'stockyards'.

One last thing - the CSA can lose Richmond and keep on fighting and fighting respectably. If you don't take Tennessee, etc., heck, I'll give you Richmond.

The war is won or lost in the center.
[color="#AFEEEE"]"Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!"[/color]

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Wed Mar 12, 2014 5:08 pm

Well, I haven't even played the Union side yet. I did play Athena on Colonel and I cursored over each of the AI settings and took what was recommended as the toughest. I started playing last Friday. I think that a lot of people post who have not played a human, but I am very much looking forward to the next tournament.

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GraniteStater
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Wed Mar 12, 2014 5:22 pm

Thank you. Train up. Keep in mind that a human gets no AI plusses - Jackson can't go XX-Fast, just Fast. No Faster Cohesion Recovery. You get the picture. You could say that LT games with a thoughtful setting mix are better for training.

FYI - in AACW, I actually lost to Athena once, NM on a loss of DC.

I'm 0-4 in PbeMs, some narrow, but I enjoyed them and learned.
[color="#AFEEEE"]"Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!"[/color]

-Daniel Webster



[color="#FFA07A"]"C'mon, boys, we got the damn Yankees on the run!"[/color]

-General Joseph Wheeler, US Army, serving at Santiago in 1898



RULES

(A) When in doubt, agree with Ace.

(B) Pull my reins up sharply when needed, for I am a spirited thoroughbred and forget to turn at the post sometimes.





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Gray Fox
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Wed Mar 12, 2014 5:31 pm

This is all that I hope to do. Some of the best games of chess I ever played were ones that I lost.

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ArmChairGeneral
AGEod Grognard
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Wed Mar 12, 2014 6:44 pm

Yeah, lots of us only play the AI (according to the polls on another thread most of us in fact).

Do that against ArmChair, I flat out dare you.


Thanks for your confidence but I sincerely hope he does not try to do that against me, it would present the CSA player with a host of problems.

A Depot line along the Ohio and Mississippi I think is a good trick and would certainly give the CSA problems in trying to storm the Midwest (which is currently MY favorite exploit against Athena). I am trying to capture the rails and use the depots at Salem, Vincennes, and Indianapolis against the Union. Instead Fox denies these by destroying them and putting the Depots along the river where they are much easier to defend. I can't move around freely even if I capture all the rails because the river lets him quickly bring in troops from far away to deal with my aggression. He is in good supply with freedom of movement and operating from strongly held depots. I have to build my own depots, and the rails I am relying on for mobility and supply are very vulnerable to interdiction. Ick.

Also, guns along the river won't do much to stop the flow of supplies, there are huge supply sources on either end of the chain (St. Louis, Pittsburgh) and some of the depots will still be connected to the rail-net.

One Division won't make a depot impregnable, but it would be expensive and time consuming to take, and it wouldn't be safe to bypass the line and leave one of these things in my rear near the river crossing. (Did I mention you can't starve/force-surrender them without establishing riverine superiority?) That is a lot more use than I have ever been able to get out of militia.

Whether there are enough conscripts, wagons and cash available to complete this in a reasonable time frame without letting DC fall is something I can't speak to, I hardly ever play the Union. But it wouldn't have to be completed to be effective. Three or four such positions between Metropolis and Cincinnati would be pretty effective all on their own, and there is no need to use whole divisions anywhere upriver of Cincy.

While I am sure I could figure out something to counter it, and it would probably be difficult to execute in each and every game, but speaking as a CSA player, an Ohio-River-Line sounds like a pretty reasonable defensive scheme for the Union in the Midwest. Lets see how it works in practice!

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ArmChairGeneral
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Wed Mar 12, 2014 6:50 pm

I find that best AI decision-making comes from increasing her Detection bonus. She uses the same algorithm but can make more informed decisions and is less prone to aimless attacking moves (although they still happen).

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GraniteStater
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Wed Mar 12, 2014 6:55 pm

Psst - you go around.

I don't think you would take long to figure out a riposte.

Militia heavy Union Divs against the Heavy Bdes under the better CSA Leaders would not be that effective, imo. Plus, by blowing his Depots, he destroys the 'pumps' along the Supply network. I wouldn't do it, not until forced to in a tactical situation and only then.

The better Union defense, imo, is taking advantage of the RR net for quick counters. This all takes time. The Union can afford to lose Evansville for a bit, Rolla, Parkersburg, even Louisville - don't lose Cairo, Cincy, Pittsburgh.

I don't have tons of faith in Militia.

Plus, plus, plus...

the CSA doesn't need to go beyond the Ohio. Sure, 850 yards total offense is flashy, but when you can go up 24-7 and say, "Here, you can have the ball," and have the D chew up every QB they trot out...

the Union spending 30 months trying to get to Nashville is a Big Deal in itself. I play Slow but Sure, but I must advance and can't wait for the Hayes administration to do it.

If the CSA makes it expensive enough and long enough, the Union's strengths start to become peripheral.

Time is not on the Union's side, it's on the South's.
[color="#AFEEEE"]"Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!"[/color]

-Daniel Webster



[color="#FFA07A"]"C'mon, boys, we got the damn Yankees on the run!"[/color]

-General Joseph Wheeler, US Army, serving at Santiago in 1898



RULES

(A) When in doubt, agree with Ace.

(B) Pull my reins up sharply when needed, for I am a spirited thoroughbred and forget to turn at the post sometimes.





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ArmChairGeneral
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Wed Mar 12, 2014 7:24 pm

I don't have tons of faith in Militia.

Me either, but this is a better use for them than most. While one of those division won't stand up against multiple well trained CSA Divisions, having to stop and do it gives the Union plenty of time to put together a counterattack, whether it comes by rail or by river. I won't be able to go around them because the river is a highway to bring in all the other Depot divisions in behind me to cut me off.

The landlocked depots won't be pumping supplies in from Cleveland and Chicago, but the river depots would pump them in from Pittsburgh, St Louis, Wheeling, Cincy, etc. and it will be difficult (nothing is impossible though) to break that chain because supplies can come in from either direction.

Using the railnet is an appropriate response to CSA invasion as well. OTOH an invader has a lot of tools to make this more difficult (destroying tracks, establishing MC along the approaches, etc.) while it is generally harder to interdict river mobility. (Tangent: you can spot land forces a lot better than river ones; usually only 2 or 3 detection on river hexes).

I'm sure I would come up with something, but it certainly would present an extra set of problems to solve. There may be some obvious thing that makes an Ohio-River-Line vulnerable, but I am looking forward to getting back home and trying it out for myself.

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GraniteStater
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Wed Mar 12, 2014 7:51 pm

ArmChairGeneral wrote:Me either, but this is a better use for them than most. While one of those division won't stand up against multiple well trained CSA Divisions, having to stop and do it gives the Union plenty of time to put together a counterattack, whether it comes by rail or by river. I won't be able to go around them because the river is a highway to bring in all the other Depot divisions in behind me to cut me off.

The landlocked depots won't be pumping supplies in from Cleveland and Chicago, but the river depots would pump them in from Pittsburgh, St Louis, Wheeling, Cincy, etc. and it will be difficult (nothing is impossible though) to break that chain because supplies can come in from either direction.

Using the railnet is an appropriate response to CSA invasion as well. OTOH an invader has a lot of tools to make this more difficult (destroying tracks, establishing MC along the approaches, etc.) while it is generally harder to interdict river mobility. (Tangent: you can spot land forces a lot better than river ones; usually only 2 or 3 detection on river hexes).

I'm sure I would come up with something, but it certainly would present an extra set of problems to solve. There may be some obvious thing that makes an Ohio-River-Line vulnerable, but I am looking forward to getting back home and trying it out for myself.


(A) You don't need to go beyond the Ohio to win and win convincingly. KY alone can put the ball on their 20 - for a long time. Believe me, as a Union player - waiting until the EP to take back Bowling Green is very irritating - "space for time", and time favors the CSA with a good map. Couple KY with holding the Mizzoo River line (you don't need northern MO and certainly not Iowa) and it's spike-chewing time for the Union.

(B) The landlocked depots won't be pumping supplies in from Cleveland and Chicago, - why not?

(C) pump them in from Pittsburgh, St Louis, Wheeling, Cincy - you don't need Everyplace - take the Mizzoo River and StL - take KY and Cincy. Take Cairo. The Union in the center is then #$%^&*ed - Big Time. Let him spend the next two campaigning seasons getting back to the Bluegrass Jamboree in Owensboro.

(D) OTOH an invader has a lot of tools to make this more difficult (destroying tracks, establishing MC along the approaches, etc.) while it is generally harder to interdict river mobility. - no, he has one tool, Blowing or Ripping Stuff Up. Trying to establish 75% MC in places that are pro-Union would take much too long for smaller stacks. Larger stacks means Ya Gotta Decide at a certain point, are you gonna truly invade or not? Even with ripping up rails, you better hit chokepoints, 'cuz the Northern Net is too dense to obviate trivially; lotsa go-rounds.

You need to get some Union games under your belt. I'm tellin' ya, if I knew I were facing less than a dozen militia-heavy formations from Cairo to WVa, I'd be licking my chops as the CSA.
[color="#AFEEEE"]"Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!"[/color]

-Daniel Webster



[color="#FFA07A"]"C'mon, boys, we got the damn Yankees on the run!"[/color]

-General Joseph Wheeler, US Army, serving at Santiago in 1898



RULES

(A) When in doubt, agree with Ace.

(B) Pull my reins up sharply when needed, for I am a spirited thoroughbred and forget to turn at the post sometimes.





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pgr
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Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:42 pm

ArmChairGeneral wrote:Yeah, lots of us only play the AI (according to the polls on another thread most of us in fact).



Thanks for your confidence but I sincerely hope he does not try to do that against me, it would present the CSA player with a host of problems.

A Depot line along the Ohio and Mississippi I think is a good trick and would certainly give the CSA problems in trying to storm the Midwest (which is currently MY favorite exploit against Athena). I am trying to capture the rails and use the depots at Salem, Vincennes, and Indianapolis against the Union. Instead Fox denies these by destroying them and putting the Depots along the river where they are much easier to defend. I can't move around freely even if I capture all the rails because the river lets him quickly bring in troops from far away to deal with my aggression. He is in good supply with freedom of movement and operating from strongly held depots. I have to build my own depots, and the rails I am relying on for mobility and supply are very vulnerable to interdiction. Ick.

Also, guns along the river won't do much to stop the flow of supplies, there are huge supply sources on either end of the chain (St. Louis, Pittsburgh) and some of the depots will still be connected to the rail-net.

One Division won't make a depot impregnable, but it would be expensive and time consuming to take, and it wouldn't be safe to bypass the line and leave one of these things in my rear near the river crossing. (Did I mention you can't starve/force-surrender them without establishing riverine superiority?) That is a lot more use than I have ever been able to get out of militia.

Whether there are enough conscripts, wagons and cash available to complete this in a reasonable time frame without letting DC fall is something I can't speak to, I hardly ever play the Union. But it wouldn't have to be completed to be effective. Three or four such positions between Metropolis and Cincinnati would be pretty effective all on their own, and there is no need to use whole divisions anywhere upriver of Cincy.

While I am sure I could figure out something to counter it, and it would probably be difficult to execute in each and every game, but speaking as a CSA player, an Ohio-River-Line sounds like a pretty reasonable defensive scheme for the Union in the Midwest. Lets see how it works in practice!


I'm with Granite that blowing up ALL the Mid-West depots except on the river line seems a bit overkill. Plus I would like to think they aid in the moving stuff around department. As a Union player, I tend to concentrate armies in Cairo, St-Louis, and Cincinnati/Louisville. It's their job to maneuver and block any attempts to cross the Ohio. (And if need be, fleets to block crossings etc.) A competent player with concentrations in those locations should be able to cut off and kill any raids across the river.

Now may be in the minority, but I think Kentucky's neutrality helps the Union more than the Confederacy. If Dick R and Secession fire in the same turn, you often find yourself in with a lot of spread out locked forces. A natural Ky is a KY where I can calmly build the Army of the Ohio and move south when I want to.

I just kinda shudder at the thought of all those strung out divisions unable to support each other.

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GraniteStater
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Wed Mar 12, 2014 9:07 pm

Yes.

You can have problems with raiders and Forrest and the Grey Ghost Marching & Chowder Society, but that's what Cav+HorseArty is for. Build a C/C/C/C/HA/HA, I always build at least one; C/C/HA * 2 or 3 for the smaller tuff.

Forrest is a special case; he can almost outrun locomotives and can man up in some strength. It is important to know his makeup.

Get enough Discouragement going in the Great Northern Hinterland and the Bad Guys start running. After awhile, they may not leave home. This takes time to build and deploy. Don't get discouraged. Autogarrisons delay, but are not the final word. Dedicate some anti-raiding forces, maybe even a 300 pwr Inf Div for Final Words as a fire brigade and you should be OK against all but an all out Invasion.
[color="#AFEEEE"]"Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!"[/color]

-Daniel Webster



[color="#FFA07A"]"C'mon, boys, we got the damn Yankees on the run!"[/color]

-General Joseph Wheeler, US Army, serving at Santiago in 1898



RULES

(A) When in doubt, agree with Ace.

(B) Pull my reins up sharply when needed, for I am a spirited thoroughbred and forget to turn at the post sometimes.





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ArmChairGeneral
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Thu Mar 13, 2014 1:59 am

A) Yep, lots of ways to win.

B) Because Fox blew them already.

C) Not sure what you are saying here. All those union cities I listed produce a lot of supply that could move down the river just as easily as across the rail net. You can't blow up the river; you have to emplace guns or have riverboats, and you have to do it in multiple places because there are supplies entering the chain all along it as well as at both ends. That's all doable, but costs, and slows down the steamroll.

Saying just take Cairo and Cincinnati doesn't make any sense; the whole point of the OH line is to try to STOP me from easily seizing those very cities. If I can still do so then the tactic, by definition, doesn't work. If it does work, then I will NOT be able to do it easily. The best counter to any tactic is for the tactic to have failed in the first place.

D) There is more than one way to mess with the Union's midwestern rail network, but it is complicated and I gotta get to the airport. Let's just say I have an intimate familiarity with every inch of track between Columbus OH, and St. Louis.

Will the OH-line actually work? Who knows? But I find it plausible, especially if done on a more limited scale.

Probably the best way to put a stop to any CSA nonsense in the midwest is to invade Tennessee or not lose KY in the first place.

planefinder
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Thu Mar 13, 2014 3:50 am

Going back to northern Virginia for a second, I would make a few general notes:

1) The Union in reality has three potential stacks suitable for use: a-the main Union army in Alexandria, b-the various light infantry, militia units, etc unlocked from the various Northern cities - I tend to form these up in Frederick/Harper's and c-the West Virginia Army under Patterson. Because it forms up on the railroad and can be rapidly dropped on the flank of a Confederate Harper's force, C in particular should not be underestimated or underutilized, particularly in context of Harper's/Frederick. Furthermore, given the terrain in WV, the risk of CSA taking advantage of the temporary absence of your forces is low. Like Civil War operational generals, look for potential unit combinations where you can combine multiple stacks within a sequence of 1-3 turns when an enemy may not be able to take advantage when you take the initiative.

2) On that same note, please, don't forget about Stafford, Loudon and Clarke, particularly not Clarke. Ignoring or at least contesting Loudon/Leesburg gives your enemy an eye into your backfield and lets him operate against Frederick or plan an alternate Potomac crossing. Ignoring Clarke allows the Confederate player to shift stacks with impunity between the Valley and Manassas. Ignoring Stafford gives your enemy the ability to attack Alexandria from two sides. Aside from just scouting these regions, they are also useful attack vectors. Clarke in particular is something that I've noticed in my past few games as ripe for exploitation by the Union - it's not expected, and you can easily shift to an attack there using rail lines from Alexandria/Loudon, allowing you to steal a march that other routes (i.e. direct attack on Manassas, attack through Stafford) wouldn't let you achieve. There is more room to maneuver in VA than you think if you don't fixate on Manassas.

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GraniteStater
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Thu Mar 13, 2014 5:05 am

ArmChairGeneral wrote:A) Yep, lots of ways to win.

B) Because Fox blew them already.

C) Not sure what you are saying here. All those union cities I listed produce a lot of supply that could move down the river just as easily as across the rail net. You can't blow up the river; you have to emplace guns or have riverboats, and you have to do it in multiple places because there are supplies entering the chain all along it as well as at both ends. That's all doable, but costs, and slows down the steamroll.

Saying just take Cairo and Cincinnati doesn't make any sense; the whole point of the OH line is to try to STOP me from easily seizing those very cities. If I can still do so then the tactic, by definition, doesn't work. If it does work, then I will NOT be able to do it easily. The best counter to any tactic is for the tactic to have failed in the first place.

D) There is more than one way to mess with the Union's midwestern rail network, but it is complicated and I gotta get to the airport. Let's just say I have an intimate familiarity with every inch of track between Columbus OH, and St. Louis.

Will the OH-line actually work? Who knows? But I find it plausible, especially if done on a more limited scale.

Probably the best way to put a stop to any CSA nonsense in the midwest is to invade Tennessee or not lose KY in the first place.


Yep, lots of ways to win.

Yes, there are. I said, the South doesn't need to invade the Midwest to win. The response, "there exist other ways," does not parse. If X is sufficient but not necessary...you're a statistician, but I'll chalk it up to being in a hurry.

The point is, the CSA doesn't have to do all this and a human just might not let you waltz into Toledo. Ever play the CSA against wetware? I have, twice, in AACW. Humans don't let you just hop on board the Indy 500 Special. Remember, Athena tends not to invade New Orleans, retake Norfolk, etc. Harper's Ferry is a whole 'nother story against a human. It is a whole different ball game, as much as the difference between a real good college team and the World Champion Red Sox (can't say that too many times).

I thought I knew the game. I was bored with Athena. I had thrashed her in seven different ways, with stone weights on my mouse.

Then I played Pat. All those lovely strategies met a human.

Because Fox blew them already.

Just not a good idea. If you think it is, then next time you fire up a CSA start, start blowing Depots in Corinth, Chattanooga, Petersburg...you don't need 'em anyway, right?

If I understand Supply rightly, the Depots (usually found in Town and Cities and the sizes of these help to determine Supply demand - hey, I wonder if there's connection...) act as filters or pumps, what have you. A network consisting of NYC, Chicago and targets along the river just doesn't seem to be optimum. "OK, our first move is to torch all we have in Dayton!" just rubs me wrong. Plus, uh, how are we doing this? Raising good little militias who then merrily torch their cantonments? Granted, militias ain't expensive, but, especially in the early game, the North isn't Uncle $am and won't be for a while (play the North some more, you'll find out; the Resources are a bit straitened for much longer than you might think). So, you either spend resources you really can't spare on building militias you don't really need that badly, all to destroy your own Depots, or you have a few militias running & railing around destroying your own Stuff, just so Forrest can't have a ham sandwich about six game months later.

If that makes immense sense to you, AGC, then I'm definitely keeping you out of the Risk Management meetings, OK?

(C) The CSA needs to evaluate Overextension as a Risk. Taking St Louis is a no-brainer; supplement with the Missouri river line & St Joseph; Leavenworth would be nice and is a Strat City. Cincy is a Strat City and a good speedbump. Cairo is a Strat City too, iirc, and should be taken, for duh! You don't need to risk much more, unless you're feeling your oats & want Pittsburgh. Even a dull Union player is going to wake up at this point and start looking for those 500 pound sledgehammers he heard about. See what I'm saying? Athena is one thing - a human will respond and even a Union sorely gashed can be one nasty gorilla once it gets a load on. If you strike at a king, you'd better kill him, right quick.

(D) You don't have time to hang around with LtCav or Partisans or the 155th Bushpullers and try to change MC, 'cuz any semi-somnolent Union player is going to show up with at least two Cav and a pop-gun if he's had his coffee - tout suite. Forrest can get away with Pulling Stuff, 'cuz he is Very Fast, but that network of RRs will Gitcha! every time. I know, I have played the CSA against good players and You Do Not Get Away With This against a competent defense.

Which brings me to my main point, which I think I was saying in the first place. AGC, I will bow to you all day in analysis and number crunching and willingness to sandbox - but there is no substitute for experience, as we say. I can teach you how to sell cars, there is a well known and proven set of steps used by all, but until you've dealt with those first 1,000 customers, you have lots to experience. As I used to say to one rookie in Kansas, "the only real difference between you and I is that there is very little that I haven't seen or heard."

The same in the game. We AACW vets (and for all I know, AGC, you spent 3500 hours with it) who got involved in some serious PbeM - well, play us, I think you'll find "a brave new world that hath such creatures in it!"

M'sieu Gray Fox has had the game for a week and is coming up with Ideas and Approaches - very well, they should be examined and the gentleman has good ideas, a good imagination. You will be a scary opponent in PbeM, 'cuz You Know Too Much.

But until you have tried some of these theories against Soundoff, Banks, pgr now, I would say, my opponent havi, who I can just feel soaking things up as we play, and some really strong players on both sides, like Pat - don't go to the bank too soon.

Remember, four wheel drive don't work that good when the dirty side's up and the shiny side's down ;)

Regards,
The Big Blue Glacier - coming soon to a plantation near you!
[color="#AFEEEE"]"Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!"[/color]

-Daniel Webster



[color="#FFA07A"]"C'mon, boys, we got the damn Yankees on the run!"[/color]

-General Joseph Wheeler, US Army, serving at Santiago in 1898



RULES

(A) When in doubt, agree with Ace.

(B) Pull my reins up sharply when needed, for I am a spirited thoroughbred and forget to turn at the post sometimes.





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