Goodmongo
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Cavalry and Stack Question

Mon Jun 11, 2018 4:40 pm

I have two questions that I would love all the experts to voice in on. As the CSA you have some really good cavalry commanders (Shelby Forest,etc.). What is the better option for these guys. To create a division of cavalry (or mostly cavalry) units and then put them in a corps, or to run them as an independent division? As a followup show you really only have cavalry units in this division.

I felt that having them as an independent division allowed for deep recons or to track down enemy incursions. But if most of my cavalry units are with them doesn't this hurt the corps and the divisions in the corps?

That leads me two a second question. I have an army and a single corps. For arguments sake say I have 10 artillery units and 3 divisions made up of various brigades but mostly inf types. How should the army and corps be outfitted? Should I create a single artillery division and use that with the 3 inf based divisions all in the corps? Should the army have any units in it at all? What about a single brigade int he army etc.?

Thanks for your insights.

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Gray Fox
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Re: Cavalry and Stack Question

Mon Jun 11, 2018 5:50 pm

What is your strategy to win the war? Don't make a cavalry Division/Corps for Forest/Shelby if it's a great hood ornament on an Edsel. A cav Division/Corps commanded by these two may MTSG really well. If placed in support in a region next to a crescent of entrenched Corps regions, they might succeed in MTSG and tip the scales in a crucial battle. However, an all cav unit takes all cav casualties and works best with expensive horse artillery in support. Weigh your options and judge if this works as part of your overall strategy. Your infantry Divisions can make do with the brigades that already have cavalry. Save the lone cav elements for recon, counter-recon and raids or put them in your cavalry stack.

Other than Lee, some Confederate Army commanders have questionable abilities. You want the best stack possible. Hood as Corps commander may be the better choice. An artillery Division represents the CSA's artillery battalions. Putting your guns in a Division under a good commander is a solid option. An infantry Division with 4 more infantry types instead of 6-lbers will also fight better. So make one strong stack without CP penalties and put the better commander in charge. If you choose this to be the Corps, then the Army commander just has to be within range to give a bonus. Good luck!
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Re: Cavalry and Stack Question

Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:42 pm

Thanks for the reply.

My idea for Shelby was to run around west and north of Missouri capturing stockades and then destroying them. Same for some small towns. And of course to do some raids against the farm income regions. Forest and others would hunt down the union troops doing raids or landings. One example is New Orleans or other regions up and down the Mississippi. Some groups of union troops land and cause havoc. The vast majority are under 300 strength and supply takes a toll on them. I thought using a strong cavalry force could move and kill these off as the cavalry leaders are almost always active.

I really wouldn't use them too much in the east for deep raids as the union has tons of forces all over the place. Indiana and Illinois are more suited for some raids, at least I think they might be.

Based on your answer for the corps question then as CSA are the preferred brigades the ones with all infantry followed by the ones with 2 infantry and a cavalry over any with 6 pounders? What about the few that have a 12 pounder as part of the brigade?

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Gray Fox
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Re: Cavalry and Stack Question

Mon Jun 11, 2018 8:22 pm

It's difficult for the CSA to get away from the embedded 6-lber brigades. I was able to make about 20 Divisions with only two of these batteries per Division. The 12-lber is somewhat better. Divisions in an entrenched position get the most out of the light guns because the entrenchment adds to the accuracy of artillery. You'll want a stack to have as many guns as the terrain will allow for the support frontage to get the most firepower. If you want Lee to have the best stack you can assemble, then infantry heavy Divisions supported by an artillery Division is the way to go IMHO. Clausewitz made the organization of an Army one of his main points of strategy. You can play the game and not really worry about this, or you can try to optimize your Divisions.

P.S. Stockades and towns near MO don't seem to be a priority target to me. Union supply in the Western Campaign sector, i.e. the Mississippi valley, would be a priority. Interdict supply lines by getting higher Military Control in regions not garrisoned but on a supply route to depots. Destroy weakly garrisoned depots. This is a war winning strategy.
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ArmChairGeneral
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Re: Cavalry and Stack Question

Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:41 am

I agree that really good cav generals are wasted in Missouri, they should be in the West proper (TN, KY, IN, OH, IL). Shelby belongs in MO, but he is best used as a stack /division commander in the campaign for St. Louis.

Fox said, but I disagree somewhat:

Stockades and towns near MO don't seem to be a priority target to me.

While I agree that nothing in northern Missouri or IA ("near MO") is relevant, the stockade chain that leads from the Leavenworth, KS area south to Fayetteville needs to be destroyed very early (there are plenty of forces and leaders on hand to do this) in order to secure the western flank for a Springfield -> Jefferson City -> St. Louis push. If you allow that chain of stockades to remain, Athena will use her build-points in KS/western MO to constantly harass Fayetteville via a stockade-highway aimed like a dagger right at the weakest point in your supply-chain. Athena can also use these forts as a base to send units to interdict supplies and small stacks shuttling between Fayetteville and Springfield. One of the forts is even capable of relaying supplies to Union forces in Springfield. (It's weather dependent of course, but as the Union this has saved my bacon more than once by giving me the extra turn I needed to capture Springfield). Best play is to create a fire-break two or three regions around Fayetteville as early and as cheaply as possible. Stand Waite is good for this role.

Similarly, it is sometimes useful to eventually capture and destroy forts and settlements in IT (modern-day Oklahoma) and southern KS to secure north TX from annoying raiders infiltrating from the Ft. Arbuckle area. The objective is not to "win" the area, because it is strategically irrelevant, but to free Texas units to defend the Gulf Coast or switch theaters entirely.
Last edited by ArmChairGeneral on Tue Jun 12, 2018 7:11 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Cavalry and Stack Question

Tue Jun 12, 2018 7:05 am

For the most part, "hunting down" raiding and harassing forces is a waste of a good cav general (and mostly a waste of resources no matter who you use). They need to be out mega-scouting or else contributing their awesome stats and abilities to as many elements as possible in actual battles. The so-so cav generals belong in tip-of-the-spear Army/Corps stacks where they can contribute their +25% combat boost to the largest possible number of elements (the whole stack gets the bonus, regardless of whether they have command). In combat, cav elements with a cav-bonus are almost on par with line infantry and are superior (IMO) to conscript infantry.

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Re: Cavalry and Stack Question

Tue Jun 12, 2018 3:58 pm

Honest discussion is like the bricks of which strategy is formed. What is one side going to do and why? Upon this discussion war places a factor Clausewitz called friction. In game, this is present as attrition. Move a unit without a Supply Unit for 10 days and you get a 10% chance for a loss of a hit point. Move a stack and each element is subject to attrition. Some of the hits are treated as stragglers and the hits get replaced for free. However, move a lot of units w/o a SU or use the more realistic hardened attrition and you take hits that you must replace with money, men and materiel.

http://www.ageod.net/agewiki/index.php? ... ction=edit

How much does it cost the CSA to remove a line of stockades? If the Union has a plan to use these, then the stockades will just be replaced. The Union has more of everything making this possible and the units suffering attrition may be expensive CSA cavalry. Also, a human Union player may set a trap, so the CSA units are subject to destruction. Is the risk worth the gain? Forrest hit Grant's supply base. This was obviously worth the risk. Would the same risk be worth protecting AR or TX? The threat alone may cause the Union to spend resources protecting supply lines. Having a cavalry force in a position that might destroy a depot or stockade may get the result you want, i.e., more Union forces tied down in garrison and not attacking you, than actually risking it. The CSA as the underdog, should always be aware of attrition effects, or you'll end up with a hole in your resource bucket.
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Re: Cavalry and Stack Question

Wed Jun 13, 2018 12:18 am

In the case of the MO/IT stockades, you start right next to them, with mobile units and active leaders, it is summer and you typically have decent weather, so the CSA can easily beat the Union to them and face auto-garrisons at worst.

It isn't like you have a choice to attack depots in IL or IN with these guys instead: Fayetteville is hell-and-gone from Illinois Farm Fields. So if you decided to leave the stockades in place, what else is there to do with a few cav, Indian and mounted volunteer units that is better than gaining medium-to-long-term security for your supply line?

Athena has never rebuilt the stockades in any of my games. A human can choose to rebuild, but stockade cards are a limited resource, so that's still at least an even trade, IMO. As the Union I contest those stockades as best I can and am willing to spend to rebuild in order to maintain access to Fayetteville from that flank.

As far as attrition goes, the reason to destroy those specific stockades is precisely to make the attrition and supply system work in my favor: any sneaky Union attempts to capture or destroy MY depots at Fayetteville and Springfield become substantially more difficult since it is THEY who now have to march without supply or shelter in order to get near enough to threaten me. I am trading a (very) slight cost in time in order to increase the long term security of a critical and very tenuous supply line. Within three or four turns from initial activation, they can accomplish this task and be on their way to Springfield to help in repelling Lyons' inevitable attack or begin the counteroffensive on Jeff City. (Tip for new players, ALWAYS blow the depot at Rolla as soon as the militia there activates or else the Union captures it on the next turn and Lyons stays in supply all the way to Springfield.)

Now, I grant you that the Missouri Game is a long-term resource sink if you can't convert and actually capture St. Louis. BUT, you are saddled with a lot of starting force in AR that is otherwise useless due to relocation costs, so you might as well play for St. Louis, which is a very tasty prize. Assuming you can fend off the early attack on Springfield, (which the stockade tactic directly helps you to do!) you will ALMOST have enough troops available in-theater to take St. Louis by main force, so it is important to grab every advantage you can.

St. Louis is not decisive of course, (DC is the only decisive objective) but it is a very big win for the CSA, and you can make it happen relatively early if you play with commitment.

I would posit that in terms of cost/benefit, St. Louis is the CSA's most achievable/valuable target after DC. It is also fairly easy to capture Louisville-Lexington-Cincinnati, but I think the CSA stands better with St. Louis if they can't do both (while not losing in the East).

Every other theater is irrelevant if one side or the other can win in the East, and All East is (IMO) the best path to victory. But if neither side can gain a decisive advantage in Virginia, then the side that goes out and kills the most enemy divisions in the other theaters wins.

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Re: Cavalry and Stack Question

Wed Jun 13, 2018 3:54 pm

ACG, if the raids are an integral part of a plan to take a major objective, then of course that would be worth the risk. However:

"My idea for Shelby was to run around west and north of Missouri capturing stockades and then destroying them. Same for some small towns. And of course to do some raids against the farm income regions."

This part of Goodmongo's plan may have some flaws. I was merely pointing these out in general.
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Re: Cavalry and Stack Question

Wed Jun 13, 2018 8:24 pm

This part of Goodmongo's plan may have some flaws.

Yeah, we are on the same page there: some stockades matter, most don't. The CSA needs Shelby in command of divisions in the tough battles; he is the best general in the region and belongs in the thick of things. Stand Waite on the other hand is suited for stockade warfare, (to the extent that it matters) since he has trouble commanding CSA troops anyway.

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Re: Cavalry and Stack Question

Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:00 pm

Goodmongo,

I really wouldn't use them too much in the east for deep raids as the union has tons of forces all over the place. Indiana and Illinois are more suited for some raids, at least I think they might be.

I think this is an accurate assessment, and you are generally on the right track in your thinking.

"Raiding" usually doesn't give you a good payoff unless it directly helps win a battle or series of battles. (See Fox's post about risk and attrition costs above.)

A very useful but overlooked thing that "scout" stacks can do is MC-busting: establishing MC control around and along the axis of attack/defense to speed/impede the eventual advance. MC in regions surrounding the axis is also useful since it forces enemies to retreat along a predictable path: they will only retreat to one of your MC regions if they do not have one of their own available. If you can force them to retreat to a disadvantageous region with sketchy terrain, torn-up or absent rails, and away from their own supplies you can easily starve them for a turn or two then counterattack and destroy the entire stack.

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Re: Cavalry and Stack Question

Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:19 pm

Goodmongo and other new players,

A thing to keep in mind while scouting/raiding against the AI is to avoid sitting on Athena's rail lines unless you specifically need to tear-up/interdict that particular track. Athena spends a lot of time shuffling units back and forth for her inscrutable reasons, and there is a good chance that a stack that just happens to be moving along the rail will detect and bring you to battle by coincidence. Human players don't needlessly use their rail-pool like this, at least in my experience, but it is still something to keep in mind.

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Re: Cavalry and Stack Question

Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:01 am

Three thoughts on the foregoing discussion:

First, the KS/IT stockades can be rapidly accessed and ultimately reduced with minimum attrition risk by a ranger unit or two from Adobe Wells. It's a resource win for the CSA and does help secure the flank. I generally don't attack auto-garrisons: IMO casualties taken against them are a waste. Simply destroy the sockades that surrender. And your rangers can serve as bait for ambushes of your own. Think German strategy at Jutland.

Second, establishing MC is indeed more valuable than many think. I'll add that in the West it's worthwhile and easy as can be to establish MC over Welcome, AR to deprive the Union of eyes next to Fayetteville.

Third, a further problem with using cavalry to react to Union landings is that cavalry loses much of its combat power in the swampy regions along the Mississippi and up and down the coast.

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Re: Cavalry and Stack Question

Thu Jun 14, 2018 8:13 am

If I am able to get Forrest promoted to 2 stars, I like to use him as a great stack commander period. Even commanding infantry, he is fast and his offensive/defensive stats are top rate. He is the best hammer out West, so give him the resources to act as such. (I have had sucess with 3 infantry divisions and a cavalry division. If you pick fights well, he will win the battle and have enough cav to inflict a lot of pursuit damage.)

I am a fan of cavalry corps (2/3 divisions of cav, horse arty, and a mounted infantry) for moments where getting there first is important. I tend not to put wagons with the cav , so I dont loose speed. (In any event, the stack carries two turns of supplies, which is enough to go out and come back)

I find that deep raiding really isn't that useful . Cavalry corps are great at grabbing key terrain, cutting railroads that could bring renforcements , and blocking. But I keep an infantry corps next to them in case they need support.

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Re: Cavalry and Stack Question

Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:06 pm

I've been wondering what effect a great defensive Corps Commander like Thomas or Hood might have on a cavalry Corps with good defensive Division commanders. Anyone tried that?
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Re: Cavalry and Stack Question

Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:32 pm

Just some clarification. The reason I mentioned Shelby destroying stockades and small town was because the AI would go after Fayetteville in 62. I don't see much need for Shelby in TN in 61 so I thought I could destroy the union supply chain just west and north of Springfield. Once Springfield is secure I can move him out of there to do raids in IL or IN. Or help capture KY depending on events.

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Re: Cavalry and Stack Question

Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:04 pm

MO is a trap for the Union. Athena may send an army to assault AR, but that army would have no flank security and a long supply line. You should thank any Union player for attempting to do this. Also, never waste talent. Would you send Lee with only a few cav into northern MO? Why send Shelby?

The CSA cavalry operations should mirror those I described for the Union (the post on 14 Sep):

viewtopic.php?f=331&t=43074

Small cavalry units should be doing recon. Hunter-Killer groups should send Union raiders to Andersonville. Make a simple Excel spreadsheet and log every Union Division you contact, with leader, power, and anything special you can spy. Information Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB) is a real thing, so Know Your Foe. Cavalry are your eyes and ears. Larger cav formations can flip MC in your favor along Union supply lines or catch an unguarded depot unawares. Always be bold with your cavalry, but keep them on target.
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Re: Cavalry and Stack Question

Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:53 pm

Here's what I don't understand. What can you do with Shelby in KY/TN before October 61? So for June to late September what is the opportunity cost to using him in MO? I do see your potential point about the Union taking Springfield and then wasting troops trying to go for Arkansas. However the Union can take MO and then shift their forces to the Mississippi. You lost MO and still have to face those forces.

On the other hand if I as CSA secure Springfield then the Union has to be wary of my moving on St. Louis. Like a fleet in being it can tie down Union forces that otherwise would be attacking KY and TN. Or am I really not understanding and missing something?

My intention was to move Shelby to TN and fight along the Mississippi or into KY. But depending on events that might not even happen in 61 at all.

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Re: Cavalry and Stack Question

Thu Jun 14, 2018 8:46 pm

Here is what I do as the Union. I entrench a strong Division in St. Louis, Cairo, Evansville, Louisville, Cincinnati, Ashville, Parkersburg, Wheeling and Pittsburgh. That's my "shield". I put brigs in the Potomac and a stockade in MD to block access to D.C. My cavalry, rangers and partisans do recon until I know as much as possible about my opponent. Grant immediately goes with an amphibious Division led by Lyons to capture Fort Clark, which is an island and cannot be easily reinforced by the CSA. This closes the coast to infiltration by any CSA ironclads trying to get to VA and gets Grant promoted. By late springtime '62, I have a force of approximately 12 elite heavy infantry Divisions supported by a Division of 20 lbers ready to take Richmond under his command. Richmond is worth more than MO or indeed all the other objectives combined. Even if the CSA moves their capital, Richmond has a big chunk of their war industry.

So, take Springfield. Blow up the stockades in MO. That saves me having to do it. Threaten St. Louis with everything you can spare from your eastern defenses. I have a reserve Corps for any surprises.

That would be the game as I understand it.
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Re: Cavalry and Stack Question

Thu Jun 14, 2018 9:49 pm

But my question was not what the union should do but what should the CSA do with Shelby in till late September 1861? Plus it seems to me based on your response it doesn't matter what Shelby does.

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Gray Fox
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Re: Cavalry and Stack Question

Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:15 pm

I started with a theoretical discussion of what the CSA might do to a hypothetical Union play and now gave a specific Union situation for discussion. As the Union, I restrict what the CSA might successfully try until I firmly have the initiative. In this, you no longer have to respond to Union threats out west, because these are in the east. So, Forrest and Shelby might shift east or continue your plan to take KY. I moved Shelby east and put him in the stack that assaulted D.C. in October 1861.
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Re: Cavalry and Stack Question

Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:17 am

Goodmongo,
I immediately destroy the stockade chain west and north of Fayetteville to protect that flank and then commit (almost) everyone in the theater and everything I can build in Springfield to taking St. Louis. This almost always works against the AI even at hard settings since the back-door to Fayetteville has been largely neutralized. Against a human, who knows, but I still feel like this is strategically sound play. Shelby may spend a turn or two at the start burning those stockades but after that he is my most effective division commander in the campaign for St. Louis. Shifting him to a different theater essentially cedes your chances to take St. Louis in favor of playing defense in MO, where you at a long term disadvantage and will probably eventually lose it.

So, to me, Shelby belongs right where he is, leading at the front lines of your campaign against St. Louis.

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Re: Cavalry and Stack Question

Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:23 am

Fox is not wrong: "All East" is the strongest strategy for either side. That said, the CSA has troops in MO that can't do anything else useful....

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Re: Cavalry and Stack Question

Fri Jun 15, 2018 2:47 pm

I try to change things around every now and then, so to be honest, I have taken St. Louis a time or two as ACG has described. Like minds, T-bone!
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