I have come to understand that if I can win a campaign game on my first attempt, something must be horribly wrong. So, I will give the benefit of the doubt this time, and consider that I did play AACW some time ago, and I have played Napoleon's campaign's and maybe this experience with some luck may have worked in my favor. But... I really don't think so.
My game started what I would expect to be in a typical fashion. I played the North and was resolved to stay behind my defenses in Alexandria, build my numbers up, wait for the division / corp structure and some decent leaders to appear. I had no desire to go waste thousands of troops pitting McDowell up against the likes of Johnston or Longstreet.
I had been successful holding onto Leesburg, but this was only because Johnston had not made a serious attempt to take it. So we sat for a few months with Johnston at Harper's Ferry and Longstreet in Manassas, and my attention was building a force for Lyon so he could move south from St. Louis, while putting every extra "dime" into ironclad construction at St. Louis. Then... for whatever reason, Johnston peels out Northeast and heads for Pittsburg! Okay, so I better get McClellan an army and I patch together what units I can get him, along with some really lousy leaders in support, realizing that I will never be able to stop Johnston. And then, as if he was lonely in Manassas all by himself, Longstreet abandon's Manassas and follows Johnston? What????
So my original thinking is to send McDowell after Longstreet and hopefully catch Johnston and Longstreet between McClellan and McDowell. Come to think about it, that was really a very stupid idea, the M&M combination will never be able to beat those two southern generals. But here, my own ignorance of the game comes to my benefit as from Winchester I realize that I can never even catch Longstreet over that rough territory in West Virginia. I send Hooker back to secure an empty Culpepper and then to take out a small force defending Charlottesville and my road to Richmond is open.
Using my rail I move McDowell's army back west, then south through Culpepper to Charlottesville and then east towards Richmond, figuring that maybe, I can get Johnston and Longstreet to change directions and fly back to defend their capitol.
It was all, really a feint. I figured Richmond would be adequately defended, Johnston would show up and I would end up beating a hasty retreat with my tail between my legs through Fredericksburg and north back to the Alexandria defenses.
And here is where the south makes another big mistake. Beauregard pulls from Fredericksburg and moves east, not southeast to cover Richmond, but instead moves to lay siege to Butler in Willaimsburg! Then, Lee who is defending Richmond, leaves the defense to Hood, and takes over the siege of Butler. Now... why would Beauregard and then Lee even care about Butler's mostly defensive force in Williamsburg with the main of the Northern Army bearing down on Richmond?
McDowell lays siege to Richmond, and Joe Johnston gives up his siege of Pittsburg and virtually disappears with Longstreet (another of my mistakes... how do I let an army disappear?... guess I need more cavalry out)... , leaving Stonewall Jackson with two corps in Morristown. McClellan lays siege to Jackson who eventually surrenders (I know, I know... this is painful news to many on this on this forum)... and Johnston shows up eventually, not in Winchester or Charlottesville as I expected, but rather down in Knoxville in support of Albert Johnston! .... ???? Say what?
I eventually take Richmond (Fall of 1962), and the Southern army is split in corps surrounding Richmond, but making no attempt to cut off the North's line of communications and supply up the tracks to Culpepper, as I pour replacements and reinforcements into McDowell.
And the Southern side, had these forces split between Lee, (who gave up the siege of Butler), Hood, Beauregard and Holmes) around Richmond, separated by rivers and unable to support one another. So, I sent a "Super corp" out to sequentially destroy them in detail and take their morale down for the major victory by March of 1863.
I think one of the reasons we play these games is the sense of accomplishment we get when we improve on the deeds of the great generals of history, but I got no satisfaction from winning this game, when the AI played as it did.
* Why would they uncork McDowell and go racing across West Virginia and western Pennsylvania for some distant objective that I will likely have enough time to reinforce?
* Why would they pull their best leaders out of Richmond when they should see the Northern army bearing down on it?
* Why would they send the Army of the Shenandoah to Tennessee rather than to reinforce their threatened capital?
* Why would they split their forces around Richmond to be defeated in detail?
If anybody has played the game long enough to know why this happened, I would appreciate knowing.
"Vive le Empereur!"