Initial Strategy Considerations – Objectives for 1861
The risk is that I try to do everything. The purpose of establishing these objectives is to ensure that I remain focused on what I should actually be achieving and don't get distracted by – oooo, shiny – I mean, chasing raiders all over the map. 1) Defend Washington
There are two parts to this. The first is to ensure that I have a large enough force in the area. My ideal is to outnumber my opponent by 2:1 on the front lines, plus have some reserves. A realistic goal is probably a 1.75:1 advantage, and a minimum of 1.5:1. The second is to maintain a front line far enough away from Washington. My ideal is Alexandria, Leesburg, and Harper's Ferry. I also imagine that is his ideal defensive line, and that Harper's Ferry in particular will be hard to get. Fredricktown is a good fallback position from Harper's Ferry. Falling back to Alexandria, Montgomery, and Carroll is less desirable, and not only because it is closer to Washington. While Montgomery and Carroll still have the benefit of being behind rivers, they are both open terrain that can allow the Southern leadership to shine. Although the same could be said for Northern canons... Anyway, Montgomery and Carroll will both receive stockades and small forces to build entrenchments. If Alexandria falls, I will also want brigs on the Potomac to prevent crossings into Washington and Charles.
My specific objectives are to:
i) Defend my forward line.
ii) Build stockades and trenches on the rear defensive lines.
While it is possible to move the capital if it is threatened, that actually does include a significant FI (+15) hit as well as the better known money and NM costs (and a small VP cost). 2) Capture and secure Paducah, KY
Securing Paducah ensures that the Union river fleet is able to act as a single body and is not cut in two. It allows far more flexibility with amphibious operations. It allows for more effective river defence, allowing the fleet to concentrate if there is a strong Confederate fleet but also allowing the fleet to easily peel off units to block river crossings. Furthermore, holding Paducah makes it highly unlikely that the Confederates will build a fleet to challenge the Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. If the Union fleet is divided, it becomes a very credible risk that the (hopefully) smaller Confederate fleet can effectively challenge the Union fleet.
The objective is to secure Paducah if Kentucky secedes. 3) Capture Springfield or Bowling Green
Essentially this objective is to make significant progress in either Kentucky or Missouri. Realistically, it is likely that Kentucky will still be neutral or have only recently seceded, making Springfield the more likely target. Whichever one I target, I will also want to capture the remaining cities in the state to deny my opponent one of those large build pools. I am willing to revise this target to Island 10 or Forts Henry and Donelson if the opportunity arises, although I expect both of those to be harder battles.
Actually capturing any of these objectives in 1861 will be ambitious. My goal is to be adjacent, and therefore threatening, at least two of them. 4) Secure West Virginia
I would like the VPs from Morgantown and the ability to threaten the Knoxville railway can tie down a few enemy resources. Although it is possible to adopt a strategy of committing enough resources to ensure a significant numerical advantage and then to reassign them after I win, I prefer to start by committing relatively few troops. I also want to destroy the depot in Morgantown to make supply as much of a challenge as possible in the theater.
My goals are
i) Retain control of Morgantown
ii) Ensure that all Confederate forces are South of the B&O Railroad5) Burn the Far West
Burning as many stockades and settlements in the far west as possible appears to be the most risk adverse strategy. It will make it very hard for my opponent to capture the goldmines, at least so long as they remain loyal to me. There is a significant risk that my NM forces encounter supply problems. I will likely build them a depot to tide them over once the Regional Development Card becomes available in January. Ultimately, my supply solution in this theater is to link up with the California Column and establish a supply line to California.
My goals are
i) Ensure that goldmines remain well protected, especially against attacks that rely on low loyalty.
ii) Destroy enough stockades to make an enemy advance logistically challenging. 6) Coastal Operations
I have a few goals from coastal operations. The first is to secure important cities – essentially strategic and objective cities, especially those that produce significant amounts of money. In addition to securing these resources for myself, I want to deny them to my opponent. Second, I want to tie down enemy troops, ideally using as few of mine in the process as possible without leaving myself vulnerable. Third, I would really like a port where my ships can recover hits in the Gulf. That means a size 3+ harbour. There are also a few minor benefits from operating in the theater. I can gain VPs from capturing structures and beating up on garrisons. I can gain experience for generals I want to promote, especially from capturing forts. Florida, Texas, and possibly Lousiana are all small enough and close enough to the coast that capturing them early may deny him the full build pool those states provide, although I suspect the Confederates would only really miss the LA troops.
My specific objectives therefore are to:
i) Have 3 brig squadrons constantly probing his coastline to gather information on potential landing spots. These units will either encourage him to constantly react (doubtful) or allow me to send scouting missions ahead of actual landings without generating suspicion.
ii) Capture a size 3+ Gulf harbour that I am able to defend. In 1861, that is most likely somewhere in Texas. This will be the major landing I plan for 1861.
iii) Conduct a few minor raids. Although I doubt I will hold them long, they can contribute a point or two to the blockade and retaking many of those likely will actually tie up my opponent's force for longer than my initial raid took.7) Navy
The navy risks becoming a big money sink. I am certainly leery of over-investing here. It does though have its uses. I want it to support coastal operations, although this requires relatively few resources unless I am aggressively running coastal forts. I want it to contribute to the blockade. I don't plan to enhance the blue water blockade but I would like to engage in a bit of brown water blockading. I want control of the rivers, which means I need to invest a bit in the river navy. I want the river navy to be able to block his navy and potentially prevent some river crossings. I would also consider running the guns at Fort Donelson. Finally, a strong navy will be very helpful if FI actually does occur. In order to keep this investment reasonable, I do not plan to spend more than 10% of my money on non-land combat troops.
My specific objectives are
1) Ensure clear river superiority, including being able to cover when I send ships back to port for repairs and recovering cohesion.
2) Implement one brown water blockade.
3) Avoid spending more than 10% of my money on purchases other than infantry/cavalry/artillery. 8) Miscellaneous
i) Economic GrowthEssentially my other goal is to raise economic production. My direct options for economic production are industrialization and shipping. I will eventually be able to build 48 transports at $20 each for a total cost of $980. When I put most of that in the shipping box, and combine it with the merchant shipping, I get about $100 per turn and about 50 WS, depending on how many raiders there are. That means I'm spending about 10x the money I make in one turn (This is a very rough estimate – somebody could easily test it more rigorously).
I could instead invest in industry. The chart below provides a (very crude) estimate of how many turns it takes for different industry options to break even. In fact, I am pretty sure that resources production is restricted to integers – I think that introduces a margin of error of about 50% in my illustrations. Again, there is an opportunity for a more rigorous analysis.
[Edit: I am not convinced that this economic analysis is actually accurate enough to be helpful]
I draw a few conclusions from this analysis. First, shipping appears to be a wiser investment than industry, at least initially. Second, the Union can ramp up WS production almost overnight by building Iron Works.
Note: There is a rumour that industry starts producing the turn it appears on the map, even though it still shows as under production. I believe though that there is still a 1 to 3 turn lag between ordering the industry and it actually appearing on the map. Even so, industry seems to have the advantage that it starts producing slightly faster than the transport that is definitely not producing while it is still under construction.
Note 2: Industry production is definitely affected by loyalty and national moral (and I think this is actually reflected in the numbers the structures on the map indicate that they produce). I honestly have no idea if shipping is. I suspect that the loyalty bonus will mostly be slightly bigger than the NM penalty on resource production, which may give industry a slight bonus.
Note 3: Shipping has the advantage that it allocates its production between $ and WS based on which is less plentiful (this is not quite the same thing as which you need more – I would almost always prefer that my shipping produced more $ and less WS). Industry does not have this flexibility.
Note 4: The pricing for the NE England Armories looks like it might be an error, especially since it is identical to the Middle States Iron Works price.
My objective is to build the New England Armories early. I want to increase shipping somewhat – a target of 25$ / turn seems reasonable. I want to build a second set of armories if the loyalty in the target region is high enough to justify it (at least half the target cities over 85% to protect against demonstrations).
I have a few objectives from boosting loyalty. One is to protect against some regional decisions. Loyalty over 50% prevents my opponent from playing partisans or copperheads. Realistically, this is mostly a concern in the Far West where those forces can be a serious threat to gold mines. Elsewhere, it is mostly just annoying. Loyalty over 85% protects against demonstrations too. High loyalty also enhances production, with each 10% increase in loyalty increasing production by 5% (side note – I don't know if this only applies above 50% loyalty or if there is actually a penalty on the base production with loyalty under 50%). Loyalty over 50% also limits my opponent's ability to gain free intel on the region. If the South has a general in the theater that increases detection (and I believe there area few), I believe my opponent can get a detection value of three in these regions, allowing significant intel behind my lines. Finally, loyalty above 50% facilitates guarding cities. It both protects them from raids and also allows me to gain victory points from them without garrisoning regular troops in them.
My objective is to have all of New York, Philadelphia, Washington and Boston with loyalty above 85% and Baltimore with loyalty above 50% by the end of 1861. In addition to a few Habeas Corpus cards, I plan to send Butler (with his hated occupant) to these cities with a few cavalry regiments. Ideally I also want all of the gold mine regions to have loyalty above 85% but I will satisfy myself with a minimum goal of 50%.