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Subject: For the People - How to Lose - Redux rss

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Vince Londini
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For the People
Session Report
May 4, 2007


JP and I sat down for our 4th game of For the People, our 3rd session report. Also, our third attempt with JP playing the Confederacy and me (Vince) playing the Union.

Timing
As you may recall from the 1st session report we posted. Our playing time has been a concern of ours. We still can't bring ourselves to race through FtP in 1-minute decision segments (as discussed at the end of that 1st session report). We also wanted to try playing without my incessant note-taking. So, I can't report this game in anywhere near the detail of the previous two reports.

Without the note-taking, and now that we're pretty familiar with the rules, we find 1 game year (3 turns) takes us about 2 1/2 hours. This means that a game lasting all 4 years should take us around 10 hours. That is better than the 18-20 hours we were facing in that 1st session report, but it's still double our previous plans for speed play.

1861
1861 opened with phenomenal luck for Vince, who drew 4 "3OP" cards. Vince formed the Army of the Cumberland (AC) to assist the Army of the Potomac (AP).

Vince managed to supply AP with 12SPs, AC with 8SPs, and Pope with 6SPs along with taking Manassas, Winchester, and Strasborg. Seizing a weakness, AP charged down to attack Richmond and fell just 1-die-point short of capturing the Confederate capitol.

But by the end of the year, through fighting and attrition AP had only 4SPs, AC and Pope's forces were eliminated, and JP's Army of Northern Virginia (ANV) held Manassas with a Confederate fort.

1862
Vince rebuilt AC and also formed the Army of Tennessee (AT) in Harper's Ferry. The luck held when JP played "Forward to Richmond" and Vince was able to stop the mad charge by simply attacking ANV with AC, the subsequent defeat leaving AC where it started in Frederick to defend WashDC.

However, Vince's luck ran out as a handful of 1OP and 2OP cards conspired with his lack of foresight (see "Lessons" below) and General Robert E. Lee. Lee entered the game in Tennessee and quickly conquered KY.

Freemont captured MO for the Union, but Lee invaded Indiana to capture Indianapolis. WV joined the US through a Union card play. But Lee took Springfield, IL and then moved north to cut off both reinforcement railheads. He followed up with a march toward Columbus, OH, and then cut off the railhead in Sidney, OH. During these moves, Vince scattered 1SP units throughout the countryside to wear Lee down step by step. This drained Confederate reinforcements for a turn or two.

But by the time this year was finished, Lee had taken the three Western Union capitols, Kentucky, and had sealed the Union reinforcements railheads in the West costing all 10SPs.

The Emancipation Proclamation card came up, but the conditions weren't met, so the deck was reshuffled.

Finally, ANV drove AC out of Frederick. The newly formed Army of the Mississippi (AMiss) under Stonewall Jackson took Baltimore, and both attacked, but failed to take WashDC.

1863
The Union recieved only 5SPs in WashDC (losing 3 for the captured capitols and all 10 in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois/St.Louis because of the blocked railheads). Grant finally arrived in the AC.

A concerted Union attack by AP, AC, and AT managed to destroy ANV and reduce AMiss to 1SP. Lee (having moved through WV to Richmond from Ohio) moved north and destroyed AC, sending Grant to the turn track.

The Union got "Contraband of War" and removed the last SP from AMiss, also weakening Lee's Army (technically the Army of Tennessee, but I call it Lee's out of respect). This saved WashDC for a time and Lee retreated south to gather more troops.

Vince's luck completely failed when he had to play "Forward to Richmond" (curse that reshuffle) which moved AP near Richmond (but didn't attack), where it narrowly retreated before battle to avoid Lee. Lee went around AP, which failed to intercept, and drove to WashDC with fresh troops. Easily capturing WashDC, Lee inflicted the 30SW penalty on the Union.

At this point (end of Spring 1863) we called the game. The Union player would have had to place the Union Capitol on one of the Eastern Capitols, all of which were within easy striking distance of Lee - the 2nd penalty of 30SW would have triggered an immediate Confederate victory (having double the Union SW at the end of any game turn).

Lessons
About halfway through this game I couldn't believe what was happening. With some good cards and maybe an inkling of smart play, I'd managed to hold WashDC longer than the previous two games. In fact, in 1861 I entertained visions of victory - even attacking Richmond once in a crazy grasp for a lucky break. But then Lee started munching up the West, I got handfuls of 1OP and 2OP cards, and I felt increasingly helpless.

While I was getting killed, I started reading Mark Herman's Union Strategy notes, which JP happened to have in the box (why didn't I look these up sooner?). One point Mark made spoke directly to my experience in this game. He advises making sure the AP has a "2" activation General leading it. I should have taken the SW hit to reorganize my Eastern armies with Pope and Burnside as the commanders. Their 2OP activation would have made a world of difference. For most of 1862 I couldn't move those troops because I didn't have the cards, giving the Confederacy time to build up SP levels. In the long-term, having the right generals in charge is worth the SW hit.

JP says I should have attacked more in the East (if I'd had cards and the right Generals in the right positions to do so). While I psych out over DRM disadvantages, he points out that the Union can afford to lose more SPs than the Confederates. Even losing battles wear down the Confederacy. I just didn't see it that way and consequently, while I was playing, I couldn't see how to win this game.

Next time, we'll probably switch sides. I'll discover the unique tensions (fewer troops, less strategic redeployment) that make the South's position seem just as paralyzingly tenuous as the North's appeared.
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Steven Bucey
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Quote:
1861 opened with phenomenal luck for Vince, who drew 4 "3OP" cards. Vince formed both the Army of the Potomac (AP) and the Army of the Cumberland (AC).


Why did you have to form the Army of the Potomac? You should have already had it as a army in DC.

I know Mark advocates replacing McDowell with Pope or Burnside as soon as possible, but my preference is to form two new armies, one each under Pope and Burnside. I leave McDowell to defend DC, preferably not in DC itself but from some spot in nearby VA (with a fort). Pope or Burnside form an army that operates just to the west, clearing the Valley and threating any Confederate army with a flank attack on it's LOC. Besides forcing the Confederate player to spread out, one big advantage of doing it this way is if the Confederate player plays "On to Richmond" as he did in your game then I don't have to march my DC defense force off to oblivion but can send Pope or Burnside off on the fool's mission. The other '2' initiative general goes out west, usually to help take KY. He gets an army if I have enough SP, otherwise he waits until turn 4 to get his army.

Quote:
He followed up with a march toward Columbus, OH, and then cut off the railhead in Sidney, OH. During these moves, Vince scattered 1SP units throughout the countryside to wear Lee down step by step.


Just a note in case you missed this but you can do division moves into enemy controlled spaces in Union states. If Lee's army is stopping around Ohio you should be able to at least threaten to cut off his LOC with division moves if nothing else.
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JP
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Quote:

Just a note in case you missed this but you can do division moves into enemy controlled spaces in Union states. If Lee's army is stopping around Ohio you should be able to at least threaten to cut off his LOC with division moves if nothing else.


Egad. We totally screwed that up!
 
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Steve
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I really enjoy your For the People reports, please keep posting them!
 
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JP
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Our For the People reports should more accurately be called: the Comedy of Errors reports, because we always seem to screw up some rule somewhere....

But I must say, Vince deserves all the credit for keeping track of all the games we play. Kudos to him!
 
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Vince Londini
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Hey Steven,

You're right - I didn't form the AP, I started the game with it (wee-hours mis-statement)...I reworded my account above.

AH!!! I did miss that my divisions could enter enemy-controlled Union States territories... thanks, now to remember that

Vince
 
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Vince Londini
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Awww...thanks, I do enjoy writing them cool
 
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