Marstov
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This is the second installment of my newbie learning Campaign game with
Chris Montgomery
United States
Joliet
Illinois
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The first installment may be found here. Please note this is a learning game for both of us, so some of our strategic choices might be questionable.

The summer of 1861 saw the Union with high hopes for successful offensives. The first thing I had to do was allocate my reinforcements. Union reinforcements in FtP come in three lots: a giant pile in Washington DC (8 SP) a modest pile in the midwest (6 SP) and a small pile in the west (4 SP). You have some flexibility about where to drop everyone but the Washington DC contingent. I dropped my western boys in St. Louis and scattered the rest across Ohio and Indiana. With the exceptions of some garrisons I left to block two river crossings, I wasn't too particular about where they went because they were all destined to ride the rails in the strategic movement phase.

Confederate reinforcements arrive differently. The Confederacy generates a base number of reinforcements consisting of nine SP a turn. Each of the nine original rebel states that are captured by the Union reduces this number by one. These reinforcements must be spread out, with no more than one per state.

Each of the four blockade zones has the potential to generate 1 SP in an open blockade runner port for a maximum of 13 SP this turn. This can go even higher if Kentucky or Missouri declare for the Confederacy, as they'll each generate 1 SP a turn themselves. When coupled with the limitations on CSA strategic movement, this makes it hard for the rebels to concentrate their forces.

This turn he got all of his base nine and three of his four blockade zones, which was a bit unlucky as he just needed to roll a 2+ to get past my fledgling blockade. He placed a lot of his boys in his coastal forts to deter my shutting down the blockade running. This may have been a mistake, as we shall see.

Once all of our boys were on the map, we had the option to move troops around via Strategic movement. SM allows you to ship troops anywhere within your railnet or even from port to port if you're the Union. The USA gets 15 SMs; the CSA, due to their limited industrial base only gets 7. As I mentioned above, this makes it hard for the CSA to quickly concentrate their forces. The USA, on the other hand, doesn't have this problem.

I took advantage of my material prosperity and moved about 78,000 men and their gear around. I dropped 4 SP into Sabine, TX, forming the nucleus of a strong corps. I dropped 4 more into the AotP and shipped 1 SP to reinforce my garrison at Pittsburg. With West Virginia in the CSA (for now!) Pittsburg is the bottleneck for east/west rail traffic. If I left Chris gain control of Pittsburg, my ability to show off my awesome set of trains would be severely impaired.

Chris used his sad little rail net to reinforce Johnston and Beauregard in Manassas, building up their corps to almost the strength of the AotP. He also built a small corps of 3 SP in Nashville, presumably to support operations in Kentucky.

Now comes the fun part of the reinforcement phase: General Roulette! Each turn there are a certain number of generals scheduled to appear for both sides. You must decide which locations will get generals and how many; the actual general who turns up in each is selected randomly from those arriving that turn. This reflects the historical struggles both Lincoln and Davis faced in trying to get effective leaders into positions from which they could be most useful.

The one exception to this is cavalry leaders; they are assigned from a pool of just cavalry. Most turns you won't have more than one such leader, so it's pretty easy to get him where you want him.

He picked up three new leaders; I picked up seven! My boys were a mixed bag; there were a couple of activation 2 leaders (Burnside and Pope) and some decent battle commanders (1-1 and 0-2 offensive-defensive) and one 3 activation, 0-0 dead weight. I needed someone effective to help McDowell with the AotP and someone else to spearhead my invasion of Texas so I sent two generals to each of those locations. The remainder I sent to Pittsburg (to help guard that bottleneck), St Louis (to hopefully replace the dead weight of Fremont) and Washington DC (to keep old Abe company and to allow me the use of those troops if necessary).

I ended up with some good and bad luck. McDowell got two good subordinates, Rosecrans and Halleck. McClellan ended up in Pittsburg, which wasn't perfect but wasn't bad either since I just wanted him to sit there and defend. Pope and Burnside (my relatively quick moving 2 activation leaders) ended up in St Louis and Washington DC sitting on modest collections of troops. Sabine TX ended up with a slow but decent battle commander (3 act 1-1) Buell and General Banks, the 3 0-0 dead weight. This wasn't great, but as long as I drew some 3 ops cards I could expect Texas to fall.

One of his generals was the legendary cavalry leader Jeb Stuart, who was placed with his large corps in Manassas along with Braxton Bragg, a turn of fate which was to have unpleasant consequences down the road for Chris. Kirby Smith went out to Nashville and we were finally ready to start operations.

I drew my five cards for the turn, and once again fate smiled on the old Stars and Stripes. I had a number of useful events and most importantly a 3 ops card I could use to overrun Texas. I once again got to go first, which is determined by whether or not the CSA wants to play a minor or major Campaign card. Since it is generally an advantage to go last, the CSA will usually decline unless an unusual opportunity or need is at hand.

I led off with an event, "Contraband of War". This is a reference to the vast numbers of slaves who ran away to the Union armies as they marched South. As they were considered the "property" of individuals in rebellion against the lawful government, they were subject to seizure (hence the term "Contraband"). In practical terms this meant that the Union army put them to work doing various labor intensive activities to help the war effort, paying them some small wages for their time. For the South, it represented economic disruption as large chunks of their labor force melted away. In game terms, it allowed me to remove a SP from two different locations. I chose to knock down Johnston's group below the critical Army creation level and then to diminish the defenses of Richmond.

Chris responded with admirable focus, spreading his treasonous twaddle throughout Kentucky. Losing Kentucky would be more serious than losing West Virginia as it actually produces troops for the rebels. I was not concerned though; I had good old John Pope sitting on a big pile of boys. He'd see that Kentucky stayed loyal.

First I had clear the dead wood out of my hand. As I've mentioned, taking your more powerful actions later in the turn allows your opponent less time to react to them. I try to play my weaker cards first. The exception to this is when you need to act NOW, as in the case above of preventing the creation of a southern Army. The dead wood in question was a 1 ops, too small to activate any of my generals, but it did produce a 1 SP batch of new recruits as Kansas is Admitted to the Union.

At this point Chris awoke from his Rainman-like focus on converting Kentucky and noticed that he had mispositioned his lone defender in Texas. No railroads went anywhere near Texas, so his only defender there was the 1 SP Texas generated in the reinforcement phase. He had set the troops in a forward defense, which upon reflection wasn't the best choice. He had thought to keep me from conquering all of Texas in one move, but his forward deployment robbed him of the defensive benefits of fighting in the resource area of Marshall TX.

Resource areas are sources of supply for the CSA, consisting of cities that had some industrial capability. If ever such an area is converted even temporarily to Union control, it is assumed that pyromaniacal patriotic troops accidental fires burn down all of the war related industry. The area ceases to serve as a supply point and the CSA loses some SW based on how important a town went up in smoke. CSA troops defending such a key location get a small boost.

Marshall TX was only worth 1 SW, but the next nearest resource areas were Little Rock AR and Jackson MI. If I took it, it would make operating in the southwestern Confederacy a little bit harder. Accordingly, he played a 1 ops card and pulled his local defense force back into the city.

I responded with another blockade raising event. If I could keep up this trend, they'd be eating their shoes in Richmond within a year! Chris, ignoring the specter of starvation looming over his nation just muttered "I must have Kentucky" and played an event ("Prewar Treachery!") that allowed him to drop two forts down in that state.

Forts play into a part of the FtP rules that seem to cause difficulty for a number of people; the river rules. Historically, the Union constructed a fleet of river going ironclads which played havoc wherever they went. There were very few ironclads in the CSA navy to oppose them. Unless blocked by the heavy guns of a fort, the USA ships would roam up and down the rivers, destroying bridges, sinking merchants and transports and generally having a grand old time. In FtP, this means that the CSA cannot cross a river unless they have a fort or one of their rare ironclads present (the actual rules are a bit more complicated than that, but you get the idea).

Both of Chris' new forts were positioned to allow him to cross rivers into Union territory. I wasn't worried about a serious invasion, but raids were a definite possibility given that Kirby Smith was sitting in nearby Nashville with a few good old boys. I decided to take care of two problems with one triumphant march. I would activate John Pope to sweep east from St. Louis, destroying one of the new forts and getting into position to stop Kentucky from making a foolish, foolish mistake.

The proud Pope marshaled his forces and set forth with trumpets blaring--only to grind to a halt almost immediately. Chris played an event, "Mud March", to halt Pope's move after only one space.

Pope retired to his tent to drink whiskey and mutter curses against the weather. Chris unleashed Kirby Smith to a whirlwind tour of guess where, wait for it....KENTUCKY! Smith scattered troops all over those portions of the state not already converted by Chris' seditious lies to win by force what he could not by guile.

Pope woke up with a headache and switched to coffee. The galling thing about this for me was that the card I had used to activate him had a very useful event that would have increased my Amphibious Assault modifier. Like the blockade, this starts the game at zero but may be increased by events. It is the modifier added to the attack roll when the Union conducts an amphibious invasion. It represents the greater skill at joint army-navy operations the Union developed over the course of the war.

This particular event would have bumped the modifier by 2. However, you need a 3 ops or a campaign card to do a naval invasion. My thoughts were that such operations would be relatively rare and that I would be better off focusing on winning on the land. It is clear from reviewing the deck that the Amphibious modifier can rapidly become quite large, making naval moves very attractive, but for this game at least I would stick to my landlubber strategy.

The bright side of this was that Chris was now out of cards, and couldn't stop Buell's triumphant march through Texas via my 3 ops card. This little expedition showcased another subtle aspect of the FtP rule set: sometimes less is more.

There are three CRTs used in FtP: small, medium and large. The table you use is based on the total SP you and your opponent have in the fight. The bigger the table, the more casualties you will receive and inflict. I found while marching through Texas that I wanted to leave some troops behind so as to stay off the medium table, reducing my potential casualties. Also, it is very easy in FtP for the defender to "win" the battle but to end up with no troops left. Most of the time that means the attacker wins after all. So by leaving the troops behind I made sure I wouldn't lose more than 1 SP taking Marshall, keeping me on my goal of a 1:1 loss ratio.

Buell proved to be a competent commander albeit a bit slow to start. He crushed the defenders via that "dead men win no battles" business I described above and went on to place the Union flag in Shreveport LA.

That finished our strategy phase. The end turn sequence saw Marshall burning and Texas rejoining the Union, while Kentucky was led astray by the honeyed words and shiny muskets of the CSA. I had swapped Texas for Kentucky (not a fair exchange from the POV of anyone living in either state I suspect).

This left us still essentially tied in SW, with 110 for me and 104 for him. It was critical for me that he stay below 110, because at 110+ SW he could play a card giving him the recognition of England and France which would wreck my blockade, increase his reinforcements and reduce mine.

Between my heavy play of events and Pope's muddy start of a drinking problem, I ended the turn with way too many troops stacked together. I lost 5 SP during the attrition phase to disease and desertion, something like 30,000 men! I resolved to spread out more in the future where possible. He only lost 1 SP, at Manassas.

The interesting thing about all this is that, due to the historical short sightedness of the recruiting authorities, neither side receives any reinforcements in the 1861 Fall turn. He only had 4 SP in the entire eastern theater verus 10 SP for me.

This is where his concern about putting garrisons in his coastal forts was perhaps a mistake, as it didn't leave him enough troops in the east. Of course, he didn't know I was planning on ignoring the navy in favor of land operations. Indeed, if he had left the forts ungarrisoned perhaps I would have changed my strategy to take advantage. It is these kinds of hard strategic choices that make this such a great game.

With a 2.5: 1 advantage in troops, surely I could take Richmond in the fall, bringing the end of the war much closer. What could go wrong?

Another drink, General Pope?

Next; The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (Almost)
Edits: To fix a rules mechanic that I had described a bit incorrectly.
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Mark D
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Lansdale
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Quote:
I took advantage of my material prosperity and moved about 78,000 men and their gear around. I dropped 4 SP into Sabine, TX


I'd recommend sending enough SPs to create an army next time you play. Not only is it easier to convert spaces, but it allows you to SR units directly to the army. Another great spot to land and create an Army is in Florida. It's easy to convert and if you have an army or a force in Texas already it really causes the South to have to spread out it's forces.

I play a lot as the Union, and it's almost never worth it to move on Richmond till late in the game.Too many battles lost in Hanover, marooning my men in Fredricksburg as the South splits up his army and cuts my LOC.

Great read, keep them up!
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Bill Powers
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Triangle
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Excellent AARs. Keep them coming!
 
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Chris Heap Senhouse
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Somerville
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These are fantastic!!!

I love the way you are interleaving your narrative with descriptions of the game rules!

Chris
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Jason Johns
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GREAT AARS!

Now where's the next one???
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Chris Montgomery
United States
Joliet
Illinois
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The Coat of Arms of Clan Montgomery - Scotland. Yes, that's a woman with the head of a savage in her hand, and an anchor. No clue what it means, but it's cool.
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We just started Turn 6, at the conclusion of which will be the half-way point of the game. I won't spoil any of Marstov's AARs, but the game is progressing.

If you want to see the Cyberboard map at any point of the game, I can post some JPGs. It's my first time playing the CSA, and I hadn't really learned how to play the Union. I thought as the Union the game could be frustrating! Poor Dixie . . .
 
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Joe Steadman
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Evans
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"CSA troops defending such a key location get a small boost. "

Where can I find that in the rules? There is a modifier for fighting/defending a resource space?
 
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Mark Herman
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JoeSteadman wrote:
"CSA troops defending such a key location get a small boost. "

Where can I find that in the rules? There is a modifier for fighting/defending a resource space?


It is in the key to the CRT where the asterisk is shown. Effectively the asterisk result is neutralized by a Capital (State or National) or a Resource space.

Mark
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