Wayne Hansen
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Springfield
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I am a huge fan of John Theissen's More Aggressive Attitudes, so of course I had to get his next ACW operational sandbox game, Objective Shreveport!. I wanted to write up a quick session report of my first game. I eventually intend to write a review, where I will go a lot more in depth on the game, and the campaign it is based on. For now, Mark (username ZombieMark) has written a great unboxing/preview. You can find it here. I wish I had taken more pictures during my game, but oh well.



The first few turns there is not a ton of movement, as Banks (Union) and the majority of Union troops (excepting the Cavalry) are held up in Alexandria. Taylor (CSA) has no such limitations, and knowing the Union would be pushing towards Shreveport Louisiana in the south and Washington Arkansas in the north, I moved Taylor down towards Alexandria. Taking advantage of his mobility, I began moving Marmaduke (CSA) and his Cavalry towards Little Rock in the north to harass Steele. I left Price and the remaining CSA troops to garrison Washington.

CSA Cavalry in the north had a lot of success running Steele around a bit, and harassing some of his troops who initially start on their own. In the south, Taylor was also successful in disrupting Union movements. The Union began following the Red River with what troops they were able to move, including the AJ Smith, Porter and the river fleet. With the Union supply trains moving so slowly, and it being difficult for them to stack due to the extra movement points required, the line of Union forces became spread out. This is very much historically accurate. In my game, when Banks was able to move, he quickly moved out of Alexandria and went towards the front of the line. This was a mistake, as Taylor, using the force march special event card, was able to flank Banks and move adjacent to Bank's supply train. One overwhelming combat advantage later, and Bank's supply train was destroyed. A disaster for him! Or so it seemed at the time.

In the meantime in the north, after running Steele around a bit, I was able to move him back onto the road, reinforce him with the Union reinforcements, and begin the march on Washington. Price moved up to support Marmaduke's Cavalry and they began a fighting withdrawal towards Washinton.

Back in the south, Banks had only one choice with the destruction of his supply train, and that was to rely on the river fleet (Porter) to keep him supplied. He stacked with the remaining forces Union forces in the south, and began the slow march up the road towards Shreveport. At that point, Taylor was significantly outnumbered, and none of his attacks were able to cause any disruption or severe casualties. I then began moving Taylor towards Shreveport.

After several turns, Banks closed on Shreveport. This necessitated that he leave the supply radius of the river fleet. His first two attacks on Shreveport were repulsed. Attacking a fortified position while being unsupplied was not going well. However, through this battle of attrition, Banks lost enough strength points that AJ Smith's supply train took over and was able to supply a majority of the forces, changing the stack of units from unsupplied to supplied. Two more battles later, I rolled a 1 as the Union (lower is better), and the defending Confederates were forced out of Shreveport. As this happened on Turn 16, it gave the Union 1 VP.

In the north, Steele and his Union forces were held off just long enough that they were forced to retreat back to Little Rock (due to the "Lack of Food" rule that occurs on that turn) or likely be defeated directly. With two turns left in the game, I then had Price rush south to reinforce Taylor, and hopefully making a push to retake Shreveport from the Union. But it was not to be.



Price and the Rebel Cavalry couldn't make it in time, and ended up one hex short of being able to launch a (hopefully coordinated) attack on Shreveport. Taylor attempted one final attack, but with the combat odds at 1:3 due to the fortification shift, he stood no chance.

Final Result: Union 1VP, Confederates 0VP. Talk about a close game! I look forward to playing again, and trying different strategies.
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Mark
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Lemme git this straight...You let them Damn Yankees capture Shreveport! Why, my Southern Mother would'a tanned yer hide!

Nice write up and interesting results. I've got the game set up and ready to go. I just have to convince my high school age son to play, by threatening to withhold his college funds. C'est la guerre!
 
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Wayne Hansen
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ZombieMark wrote:
Lemme git this straight...You let them Damn Yankees capture Shreveport! Why, my Southern Mother would'a tanned yer hide!

Nice write up and interesting results. I've got the game set up and ready to go. I just have to convince my high school age son to play, by threatening to withhold his college funds. C'est la guerre!


The greybacks tried, but the fault lies with their Commander. When the Union consolidated and began pushing up the road towards Shreveport, I gave up harassing their forces and retreated to Shreveport to hunker down. I should have attempted to block the Federals and slowed their advance. At the worst, that would have had the game ending in a draw.
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Mark
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Mamma always said, "Some days, you eat the bear. Other days, the bear eats you."

I just finished turn one (solo), deciding where and how to delay the Union forces out of Alexandria looks like the important decisions of the game.
 
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John Theissen
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Thanks Wayne, great report and photos. Glad you liked the game.

Quote:
Lemme git this straight...You let them Damn Yankees capture Shreveport! Why, my Southern Mother would'a tanned yer hide!


 
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Wayne Hansen
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melchett1 wrote:
Thanks Wayne, great report and photos. Glad you liked the game.


Thank you John! I think you've really hit the nail on the head with these ACW operational sandbox games. I can't wait to see what you are working on next!
 
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Mark
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Played my first game of Objective Shreveport yesterday. I had it all set up for while, but because it used Special Event cards, I was reluctant to go it alone (so, solo). I held off till I could corral a real-live opponent. In this case, a regular gaming guy. Of course, he didn't even bother to ask if I wanted to take the Sacred South's side in the game. He's used to my Southern shannangins.

Of course, I forgot to take pictures. So, please refer to the map, and try to remember Arkansas is north of Shreveport, and Alexandra and the encroaching Yankees are a'come'n up the Red River FROM the south-east.

With so few counters in play, and two very functional Player Aids (one for each side), set up is stupid simple.

The South goes first each turn. Knowing the Northern force to the south is delayed by command-and-control issues, I move Gen. Taylor (my main force) down to Grand Ecore to set up what I hope will be a rolling withdrawal, slowing down the Dang Yankee's advance.

Up North, Arkansas way, I don't do much. We were completely bemused by the (9-step) combat system at this point. Not knowing how bloody it would be. Turns out, not-so-much. So, I was afraid of getting too close to larger Yankee forces.

Now, because this is a report written by one player about a two-player game, I can only give you my best interpretation of events from my perspective. Knowing full well my friend will never read this. Which liberates me from tediously giving him ANY credit for his good play. Just say'n. Also, that means my observations of his actions may not take into account every nuance that affected what he was doing. But, because he routinely plays the Yanks in our ACW games without complaint, you can assume he is by nature devious and duplicitous.

I should say, despite a very straight 5 pages of rules, there are a number of minor, but significant caveats and other exceptions. Such as, "US units cannot retreat before combat if stacked with a Supply Train." That's not decisive. It might only come into play once or twice a game. But, it is a thing.

Another minor (Major?) thing is buried in the Terrain Effects Chart. US Supply Trains pay double for moving off road in clear hexes. Oh, the Confederates are absolutely and completely unaffected by Supply considerations. So, no supply trains, no supply sources, and no supply effects on combat. What this means for the advancing Union is to be most effective in combat, they must stick to roads. Which means the road that parallels the Red River between Alexandria and Shreveport is the axis for the main Union advance. Which is historic. This is the ONLY significant factor that channels and restrains movement in the game.

The Confederates can pretty much go anywhere on the map, and stay combat effective (out of supply for the North means half combat factor). But, as infantry only moves two hexes and cavalry only three (some Special Event cards can boost movement for all units starting in a single hex, by one hex). Nobody is racing all over the map.

Effectively, the US forces from Alexandria move up the river and road next to it, in a slow, but inexorable fashion. While, the smaller US cavalry forces from Arkansas are more fluid. And, that's what happened in our game.

Now, I regret to report that the Confederates defending in the North were betrayed by the most ignominious treachery! Clearly written in the rules does it say US counters with a "yellow type symbol" in Arkansas cannot leave Arkansas. Clearly that "yellow caveat" should have been written in HUGE BOLD YELLOW TYPE. Well, it might have helped. It might have stopped me from abandoning all defense of Arkansas, thinking them Dang Yankees would stay put. Nope, only TWO Yankee counters are affected. The rest of them darn varmints are not so restricted and so made their way down Shreveport way. Sure, it was obvious, and a kinda dumb assumption on my part. But, still...Cost me a precious Victory Point, and made holding on to Shreveport more difficult.

Aight, I have to vent a little about VP's. First, don't let the 19 slot VP track on the map fool you. I guess it's an artistic carryover from the previous game in the series? In fact, the US can only ever achieve a max of 5 VP's. Capturing Washington, Arkansas gives 1 VP. Capturing Shreveport early, and holding for the entire rest of the game would give a max of 4 VP's. That's it, that's all.

Now the Confederates have a theoretical max of 9 or so VP's. Three VP's for capturing Alexandria. Which would be like the USMC losing the invasion beaches at Guadalcanal. (theoretically possible, but monumentally incompetent AND unlucky). 1VP if the North never occupies Shreveport (doable, but not probably). And, 1 VP for each time a large Union force is defeated in combat. In fact, historically, the Union won the biggest battle of the campaign, but retreated afterwards anyway. Banks was very risk averse due to pressure from Gen. Grant, who had no confidence in him, or the whole endeavor. But, in the game, this would require an all-out effort, and a great die roll. And, at great peril. To put this perspective, as in the OP's game, here, the South also scored 0 VP's.

Another oddity is the convoluted combat system. Its 9-steps take into account a lot of factors, and is adjudicated with numerous die rolls on several tables). I'm not sure a much more simple, standard, single die roll CRT would not achieve the same thing.

In any case, with no stacking restrictions or zones of control, forming Deathstar stacks just makes sense. So, there are a very few stacks of counters in play, and the very few combats are all in the 1:2, 1:1, 2:1 CRT columns. Which are relatively bloodless. Each side has 10 (CSA) or 12 (USA) Disruption markers. We did not have even ONE Disruption result all game. And, no Eliminated results, except when a 1 SP unit took a 1 SP loss.

An awful lot of Fire and Fury for very little effect. The net effect is the South cannot really win a big battle decisively, and can't generate VP's. Again, these are the observations of ONE game.

Oh, yeah, this one game...Ahem. Abandoning Arkansas was a tragic mistake. It gave the Yanks one undeserved VP. Meanwhile, my defense of Shreveport proper was simply inspired-ish. I was able to threaten Alexandria enough that Bank's column had to fall back to protect the town.

BUT, I was not able to keep them Dang Yanks from invading Shreveport. Yes, I am happy to report the Northern Defilers were ejected immediately, but not before gaining another VP.

So, a moral victory for the boys in Butternut. But a (2 VP) to a (0 VP) win for the boys in blue. And, I can't say for sure we played all the little rules, all right. So, they might have changed things a bit. But, probably not.

My friend's thoughts were qualified. He's more about how the the game plays, than what the game portrays. He's a process guy. He liked the game system. He didn't care for this application.

I'm all about atmosphere and emersion. On that score, the game probably recreates the basics of the Red River Campaign (I am NOT an ACW expert). But, unless I'm missing something (highly likely), it's a tall order for the Good Guys to amass ANY Victory Points. And, maybe it's historic, but a few massive stacks of counters (oh, those 10 mile hexes) doesn't make maneuver all that amazing, and combat is generally indecisive.

Now that I've seen the Special Event cards in action, I know the game is very easy to play solo. Which I shall do. I have no problem mentally switching sides between virtuous Southerners and villainous Northerners. Perhaps I'll report back. Well, if I win with the South you know I'll report back.

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