Every few games I'll try another game as the CSA and I can't figure out why it goes so badly. The games usually work out more or less the same. I capture and hold Tuscon with a small Texas brigade and a single 6lb artillery, hold El Paso with New Mexico militia, take most of Missouri, St Louis, and Cairo, largely with the armies I get for free, and have an Army in Northern Kentucky. Most of my builds are in Virginia. I've repelled a couple coastal attacks, but usually have trouble repelling an attack in Houston, Pensacola, and at least one of the Atlantic Ports (Charleston and Wilmington have both fallen in my current game, Wilmington is retaken). In Virginia, I do ok, I've got a 5 divisions under Lee in Richmond, 2-4 divisions at the base of the Shenandoah under Jackson, a division in Covington and a few other divisions chasing around random small attacks.
And then things get weird/horrible. All of the sudden the Union splits up its large armies and sends down dozens of divisions to invade. The first few win nothing and die of attrition. But eventually I can't hold them off. I've pasted a picture of Virginia below. You can see AP Hill's division moving to rejoin Jackson and there, but there are a few divisions in North Carolina chasing down random Union attacking divisions not on the map.
In the upper Mississippi, the Union has 5 divisions in 5 different counties in Tennessee and a Corps in Cairo and 2 corps near Louisville. I can take a few of these, but will probably not get Cairo and Memphis back, and will have to retreat to Louisville.
I can't figure out what I can do. The Union has 257/0 power. If I held Memphis and Charleston (which I just lost), my VP gain would be 54 per turn to the Unions 57. Even so, I'm getting crushed on VP, 2138 to 2405. I've had nearly twice the NM, currently at 141 to the Union's 81.
So my question is, what am I doing wrong? I industrialize most of what I can. I don't lose very many large battles in the first 18 months and have kept losses 3:2 in my favor. I do ok on supplies. In 1864 I'll retreat further. My VP debt will go up and up. I haven't recruited a new unit in a while and will probably not recruit any more, having to buy so many replacements. I won't win more than 1/4 of my future battles. I am going to lose, and I have a hard time playing these games to the end.
For settings, I play historical attrition, standard naval boxes, Colonel (toughest) AI, Athena gets Activation and AI Detect bonuses, normal aggressiveness, AI gets more time and uses all behaviors. For your consideration, here
is what I wrote about my first game as CSA (my post on March 12th is after things go sour), same result for every game since.