Hi guys, just wanted to share in a short post a game I just finished against the AI. I had great fun even if the AI is really infuriating at times. I did that after having just rebought the game early jan (my old copy was dead after the old PC died, hadn't done a copy and rather than as the Phils, since it was sunday the 1st and I really had an urge to play, just bought it again).
I played the 61 campaign with Kentucky, an in order to have fun and make up for the shortcomings of the AI I decided that :
-I wouldn't optimize my force structure too much, ie the Carolina and Georgia Department would stay where they are for exemple, no gambits a la Grafton WV either...
- I would go for slow progressive mobilization of forces, matching what the AI did one turn later.
-I would try to be aggressive, attacking not waiting for my forces to be uber ready before attacking, particularly in the East.
- Gave the usual advantages to the AI, and tried as well to "sheperd it" into avoiding too dumb actions. (one of the problems of the lessened FOW for the AI is that it manouvers too much, trying to sneak behind the lines going all the way via the Covington - Lynchburg gap). I basically garrisonned western Virginia pretty well in order to prevent sending the whole ANV on a raid...
Now I had great fun and the AI offered an interesting resistance in the East for 2 years and a half before its stupidity got the best of it.
The general time line was as follows :
- in 1861 in the East I got Harpers Ferry and beat back an attack on Manassas then immediately sent Johnston to try to get the war to the north by invading Frederick MD, but got beaten back by a Union force in Carrol MD so retreated back to Harpers Ferry. Had a bit of back and forth with the Union Threatening Fredericksburg, which led to 2 big battles in Stafford to force it back but forced me to abandon Manassas and retreat to the Charlottesville-Albermale-Fredericksburg. Johnston had to retreat to Strasburg slowly but was strong enough not to be bothered for the winter.
- in Tenessee I built up slowly the army in Corinth until Kentucky joined the Union and moved to secure Bowlings Green with ASJ. Stayed there as I wanted to give the AI a chance to get itself organised rather than storm Kentucky. in the Meanwhile the Confluent was pretty well secured with a force in Charleston-Paducah area.
- In Transmississipi, built a Cav-Ranger div under McCullough with a supply wagon in Texas and tried to supplement Price with some forces, by risking raising forces in Missouri. End result was that i kept Springfield, and got and lost Jefferson City and Rolla a few times, ending up with wintering with a small force in Jefferson City while the Union kept Rolla.
in 1862 I could say I had fun in two theatres : East and Transmississippi :
- In the East I had a really fun campaign : I was quite aggressive, not waiting for the Union to impale itself on the defense line. I launched an assault on a corps in Manassas, took it back and then attacked Alexandria while the Union was busy sending massive forces up the Shenandoah against Jackson (i had by then sent Joe to be the leader of the Army of the West since Dorn was 3-1-1 crap). Then I had quite a nice 1st Valley campaign, "sheperding" the Union back with a conjugated attack from Jackson from Strasburg Depot and Beauregard from Manassas, while Longstreet kept guard in Alexandria. Pushing back the Union I had just gotten the initiative back for an invasion when Lee activated. Basically I had a coverin Corps in Harpers under Gsmith (1 div), Longstreet in Alexandria anchoring the line with 2 or 3 Divs, can't remember, and invaded MD with Jackson and Lee, with 30 000 each via Montgomery to threaten DC and Baltimore. As Jackson tried to cut to Annapolis, the Union attacked Lee in Montgomery and I got myself something like real life Antietam : I officially won but in a battle of 75 000 (MTSG between Lee, Jackson and Longstreet) against 95 000 I lost 12 000 against 15 000 for the Union and with the Cohesion of the forces under Lee trashed, had to retreat back to Loudon for Lee and Harpers for Jackson. Then the Union attacked up the Shenandoah against Jackson and again I had a nice campaign where I had to pull back to Rockbridge, where it beat back a Union corp but couldn't quite destroy it because of low cohesion on my part. End lines in 1862 where Alexandria-Manassas and the mountain lines for me, DC Harpers and the Strastburg Depot for the Union. Fun campaign.
- in Kentucky, utter boredom. The AI never organised anything, I could have walked all the way to Louisville and freed all Kentucky without a reaction. I tried not to have too massive an army, spreading corps under Corney or whatever his name and Polk in Paducak and Clarksville while ASJ sat in Bowling Green. had a bit of fun with an east Kentucky campaign with Walker from Huntsville and Ed Johnson from Covington. Had a few nice battles between Walker and a Union force based around a disions south of Lexington, and Ed Johnson got to Ironton where he set up camp for the rest of the war. All in all massively boring with a AI that look as if it is programmed to believe that Kentucky is stil locked... When i did a couple of Cav explorations I could see leaders and troop on the other side of the Ohio.. They never crossed and organised forces to consolidate their grip on central Kentucky and the Louisville-Lexington area... very disappointing. Around the confluent I suppose the AI was stuck by my defense and never made a move.
- In the Transmississippi I had quite some fun. McCullough and Watie had series of battles with a pair of Union divisions in the Indian territories, Arizona, Dallas, then back up all the way to Ft Smith. Fun back and forth with Low cohesion frustrations on my part which never allowed any exploitation of potential success. In Missouri, Joe had 2 small divs under Price and Bragg and I kept having running battles in the Rolla-Springfield-Jefferson City triangle, losing an reconquering Rolla and Jefferson city a few times. It was quite fun thanks to Joe being often inactive. Still I had to consciously decide never to make a move on St Louis, which was never really defended and that I could have got easily.
1863 was quite fun as well.
- The Union invaded Pensacola and Wakka something in Florida and I had a fun campaing down there under Beauregard army of the Mississipi, the Union trashed Mobile at one point, then conquered Columbus. For a while we were both stuck, with the Union in Santa Rosa with 2 stron divisions and me with a div under Hindsman + some brigades under Ealy in Sparta Al (just north of Pensacola) and Some forces under Taylor protecting Mobile. Thanks to Beauregard being often inactive, it took a while to sort it out. Had to chase up a division that went all the way to Columbus GA, and left the status quo while Beauregard went to free Wakka something in Florida. In the end it is when I got a corps under Hood with an additionnal div under Hoke that I manage to beat the Union, push back to its boats and took advantage of the presence of my forces to clear Fort Pickens. I must say this campaign was fun, lasted 8 months, and the AI was only really stupid once, leaving a div to starve to death isolated between Montgomery AL and Columbus GA (silly deep raiding...).
- In the East it was again great fun. I launched a second invasion of Maryland, with Stuart covering the northern flank, and had another defeat in Montgomery. 100 000 CSA against 150 000 USA. I technically won, loosing 18 0000 to 25 000 to the Union, but had again to fall back on Loudon. This happened in the early july turn and really it felt like Gettysburg.
(i have a screen print but don't know how to post it)
Next move the Union surprised me by attacking en masse Alexandria and pushing back Longstreet. Lee, Jackson and Hill were risking to be cut off and I had to evacuate in haste back to the Charlottesville-Fredericksburg line. But this is where it got great and at the same time the Ai started behaving suicidally: Jackson got isolated in Winchester and kept being attacked and made to retreat through the Shenandoah. He had a 35 000 strong Corps at the beginning but ended up after retreating all the way being attacked at every step by having just 7 000 and 3 shells of divisions with basically just the arty alive, while one of his 4 divs had just been distroyed. But in his general retreat he was heroic as the Union AI pushed it back but having horrendous losses in the process, I think that because of troop numbers Jackson always ended up trying to escape but there were 4 battles (!!!!) where he lost 5-6000 guys while the Union force attacking him, orginally around 90 000 strong ( basically the whole ANV) suffered 10-12000 losses every time. Worse was about to happen for the AI as it ended up trying to round the corner going all the way to Lynchburg in nov-dec, in Mud and snow with dwindling unsupplied forces. I could see the AI committing suicide right there live... Bit of a shame really, it should have never left the valley after having attacked Jackson the first few times. I think what did it for the Union was that i had made the mistake of putting an engeneer int the stack, which meant that for each battle it was well entrenched. Anyway it is a this time, on the jan turn where the moral trigger for defeat of the Union is affected by the election that the game ended., with the Union having squandered a 150 000 ANV and Potomac armies by going again for the hook through the mountains, despite my best efforts at sheperding.
- in Kentucky, in the end I went for the Louisville-Lexington area with ASJ and freed it, with just 1300 av stack. trying to bait a AI force into attacking me to get a bit of fun, to no avail.. All along I could see Grant spending most of the year doing diddly squat in Illinois, just like Sherman, until he went for a bout of deep raiding, sailing all the way up the Tennessee river, than back down, never to land anywhere but getting bombarded along the way... Sigh.. really disappointing theatre...
- more of the same in the Transmississippi area, where I battled it out with the Union with limited forces against the Union. I ended up with a pretty stable and secure Missouri, never attacking St Louis which I would have conquered easily, and not doing any deep raiding.
So game finished in jasn 1864. quite fun in the East and Transmississipi but boring as hell in the middle. the settings were Lieutenant, extra time for AI, normal activation bonus, and medium detection bonus. I suppose i should have given the AI more activation bonus.
Again I had great fun, rediscovering this game after another 18 months or so hiatus, but 2 grippes against the AI :
- sometimes it feels like the detection bonus actually hinders the AI as it then goes for manouvers, trying to get behind the lines to reach the objectives.. The AI not being able to calculate past the next turn or the one after, it puts itself in a position to be isolated and destroy as I react... the way it squandered its army going for the Shenandoah Hook all the way to Lynchburg in the mud and snow in late 63 being a case in point, just as the divs lost in Columbus GA and the Grant raid going nowhere.
- Its force structure is a mess, and by never actually doing anything in the west, it never got the Grants and Shermans of the world to play a role. I would be completely in favor of the AI cheating by : getting to build its Divs for free for example, having Army HQs for free as well and that respawn automatically if destroyed. I also think the AI should get special events that trigger in winter that clean up its command structure, and do automatic promotions of its best leaders, as happened in the real war.
anyway I just wanted to share the fun I had, hoping that Ageod will make another gem worth of AACW.