1. McClellan, Sigel and Halleck can each upgrade two militia to almost line infantry per turn. It may be that the upgrade costs additional resources, but it's well worth any cost. They can also upgrade mounted infantry to early cavalry.
2. A good recon is worth it's weight in replacement chits. A single cavalry, ranger or partisan element on Green/Green, Evade Combat can infiltrate southern lines to give you intel on enemy preparations. A brig with one of these elements or a balloon can also scout out coastal regions. Know your foe.
3. Artillery battalions were eventually used by the Union. A good General in command of a Division with only 15 batteries of artillery is an effective way to simulate this actual unit.
4. Many of the Regional Decision Cards offer Victory Points for cash. If you use these judiciously, you can garner several hundred VP's over the course of the game.
5. If you click on a stack and then press the "7" key, you can cursor over regions where you plan that stack to attack and you'll get a menu of terrain and weather effects. You also get a listing of the number of combat and support (artillery) units that will be available in battle there.
6. A single stack set to Blue/Orange (Conservative Attack) may offer more time for other nearby stacks to March to the Sound of the Guns.
7. A couple well placed stockades garrisoned by a Division can block off any quick access to Washington D.C. by the Confederates early in the war. As already mentioned, brigs on the Potomac can also prevent river crossings.
8. Mixed Divisions of infantry, cavalry and artillery are better for defending critical structures and regions, because they have a little bit of everything. The best offensive unit would have a sharpshooter, a couple cavalry and the rest infantry types. Try to use one marine or sailor to reduce the river combat penalty. One elite brigade can boost cohesion for the entire Division. A stack of these Divisions benefits most from an all artillery Division.
9. You can't choose which of your units get attacked, but you most definitely chose which of your units join your own attacks. "Don't poke it with your finger, smash it with your fist" (Guderian).
10. A General with one of the defender abilities can work with a pontooneer and engineer so that a stack entrenches in the quickest time. Don't underplay force protection just because you must attack.
11. Expanding the blockade is of limited use. A 100% blockade would only cause 50% of the CSA cash production per turn to be lost. Conscripts and War Supply are not affected. The South can easily replace the cash by printing money, raising taxes or selling bonds. So use the blockade squadrons you start with, but creating any further units for this purpose is not a good investment.
12. The threat of an amphibious assault somewhere along the coast ties down a portion of the CSA forces available. Actually performing an amphibious assault to take and hold a target along the coast ties down a portion of your forces for the remainder of the game. I'll let you do the math.
13. You win if at any time your National Morale (NM) rises above a certain level or you drive the CSA NM below a certain level. Events affect NM as do winning battles and taking Strategic Cities. If you do not win by NM, then the game progresses to 1866 and the winner is the side with the highest Victory Points. You get VPs by playing Regional Decision Cards, making policy choices, holding objectives that produce VPs each turn and destroying enemy units. Thus a winning strategy involves crushing the CSA NM or grinding out more VPs.
14. Supply is everything. The reason the Union army actually advanced along the Cumberland and the Mississippi is that a river was an excellent route for supplies. Sherman marched across Georgia to the sea to get to a supply base in the port of Savanna. There weren't enough mules in North America to supply his army in Atlanta. Whatever strategy you choose, you must consider supplying your forces enroute to your objective and during your assault.
15. Whatever strategy you choose, you must win battles. Three types of offensive engagements are possible, the Set Battle, Assault and Meeting Engagment.
-Set Battle. You want to take an Immediate Objective (IO). This may lead to another IO and so on, to an Ultimate Objective (UO). Do a map recon of the IO. Use the 7 key and find out the terrain and weather limitations. Does your route cross a river into the IO region? A "dry" route overland is less risky because a river crossing has a severe combat penalty for the attacker. Send a recon team in to get as much info on any enemy force in the IO. Estimate the level of entrenchment by comparing the enemy icons to similar icons for your forces. You want to get names and stats for Generals and power numbers for any units. Is it a Corps/Army which might be reinforced by adjacent units that MTSG? Maintain a recon until you can attack to prevent surprises. Assemble a force to win the Set Battle. Use your best leaders with your best infantry/cavalry/artillery mix and solid supply support. The enemy will thank you for not giving 100%.
-Assault. Enemy held cities, stockades, forts and redoubts can slow an invasion force or block supply routes. Sometimes, an objective may be fortified. In addition to the normal routine for a Set Battle, extra batteries of heavy artillery can aid in causing breaches. You may wish to make a field army to take IO regions that then continues to the next IO while a slower force designed for sieges performs the assault.
-Meeting Engagement. Your forces are moving to an IO when they encounter an enemy force and an unplanned Meeting Engagement ensues. Think Gettysburg. This is less of a gamble if you plan your moves well. As always, a recon is the best insurance policy. Don't pretend that a region is safe, know that it is. If you detect a risk, move synchronized or so that adjacent units might best MTSG. It's better to be present for battle with ten men than absent with ten thousand.
16. In general, you don't need a plan to attack everywhere, but you will need a plan to defend somewhere. Sun Tzu noted that if you defend everywhere equally, then everywhere you will be weak. With that in mind, you might develop an overall Strategic Defense Plan (SDP). Scutinize the map from top to bottom and make priorities. You may decide that forts on the Gulf Coast are less important than Fort Monroe, so you would reinforce Monroe. Similarly some States may be less critical to your war plans than others. Certainly, cities that generate VPs or grant NM should be defended or at least garrisoned appropriately to any given threat. You don't need a Maginot Line of continuous forts from D.C. to CA, however a few strong points backed up by a mobile reserve force dedicated to quick response is a good plan. Terrain is again key to fighting on "good ground". Garrisoned cities along the rivers from St. Louis to Pittsburgh may form a good defense. The hills of WV and a few stockades in MD might complete a "shield" that would deny the South any initiative. When your position is strong, then you can plan offensive operations without distraction.
17. You can wait. You have an SDP. Your industry is superior. You get better leaders and units the longer you wait. Of course, in RL Lincoln would just fire you for not losing a lot of pointless battles, but you can wait. Or you might move with a purpose, set at least one UO for 1862 and take some IOs along the way to generate momentum. No one likes a long war, especially elected politicians, so imagine that you wake up every morning surrounded by those people.
18. Make two stacks of five blockade squadrons each. Put one in each blockade box set to Green/Green. These will give you a good blockade percentage and not require much support for a year or more. They will also catch runners every now and then.
19. In the Far West, you can purchase a flatboat in Southeastern California and use it to build a depot. Then use the Regional Decision Cards to slowly "Build Depots" stretching to Fort Craig, for operations against Texas.
20. The chance for a small unit to cut a railroad is equal to its power number. So a Division with only four cavalry elements is still stealthy if set to Green/Green and Evade Combat, but can cut rail lines deep in enemy territory if its cohesion is high.
I'm the 51st shade of gray. Eat, pray, Charge!