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Subject: Scenario 1 - The Battle of the Wilderness rss

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Chad Marlett
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Plymouth
Michigan
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Any clue on how to win this scenario with the Confederates?

Two games (one F2F, one solitaire) seems to indicate that the best Lee might do is a marginal victory if the Union rolls poorly in combat.

- aside from Parker's Store and the Locust Grove, all of the victory point hexes seem unobtainable for Lee. Even with very succesful combats, Lee's divisions will be fatigued to a standstill long before getting to Wilderness Tavern, Chancellorsville, etc.

- the Confederate cavalry is far too weak and poorly lead to contest Todd's Tavern, and the two Churches.

- If the Union wins the first one or two initiatives, Hancock can easily get to Parker's Store first, which requires almost the whole Confederate effort to assault and take back.

- The Locust Grove will face some pretty overwhelming attacks and there aren't enough Southern divisions to prevent flank attacks.

- The Union can survive a bad combat roll, but a single bad combat roll for the South will give away far too many VP in manpower losses, along with leaving a fully fatigued and disordered division in a position where it will probably be routed for even more damage.

Now, if the South gets the first two moves into Parkers' Store, and the Union blows a bunch of commander rolls, along with a few 1/6 combat die rolls, maybe there is enough manpower losses to squeak the marginal, but this is far more luck than a plan.

Does anyone have a plan to contest more than just Parker's Store and the Locust Grove? What is the key to Southern victory, rather than just rolling far better than the Union?

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G. Harding Warren
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I don't have the game in front of me, so I am going from memory, but can't the Confederate simply hang on to Locust Grove and Parker's Store and win a marginal victory? I recall this game as being pretty well balanced (and, indeed, it is often used in tournament play for that reason).

If I correctly recall my own experiences with the scenario, I find that the CSA does well if it hangs on to those hexes and can likely get another VP hex (the crossroads?) if the Union fails to get his troops into position quickly enough.

Those big Union assaults you speak of can yield some pretty devastating Federal casualties against entrenched positions. Also, while the Union can often get some flank bonuses, I think they can be slowed in their approach with CS cavalry and infantry brigades ZOC. Also, the numerous woods hexes can reduce Yankee flank bonuses to less than the deadly +4.
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Chad Marlett
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The Confederates don't start with Parker's Store; it is likely that the first initiative roll will be the one to get it. This makes it better than 50% chance for the South, since they win ties.

Leaving out Parker's Store and Locust Grove, the Union can easily get 75VP from the other VP hexes for a marginal victory.

So, you can entrench Locust Grove, because you start there. Getting to Parker's Store first and entrenching before getting hit is less likely.

Assuming you do make it to Parker's Store and entrench, along with the Locust Grove, the Union is still winning (marginally), so the Union can take their time maneuvering for flanks and only attack with a significant DRM advantage.

The woods hexsides have a pretty minor effect on flank bonus; it only helps cover unoccupied hexes. The Union has enough divisions to fill all the hexes it wants.

Now, say the Union gets to Parker's Store first-how does the South manage to deal with that when they lose 3VP for each manpower, versus 2VP for the Union?
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Rob Doane
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Chad,
I would encourage you to keep playing this scenario as a lot of experienced players feel that it is one of the best in the entire series. A few tips to help you out:

You are right that the VP hexes further north than Parker's Store and Locust Grove rarely see any action. The game usually revolves around those two plus the cav VP hexes (Todd's Tavern, Shady Grove Church, and Piney Branch Church).

Remember that the CSA automatically has the first initiative. Normally the CSA player uses this free init to march someone to Parker's Store. There are two schools of thought about how to do this. Some feel that the best move is to activate Ewell's corps and send E. Johnson to Parker's Store while the other two divisions guard Locust Grove. Since your minimum movement allowance will be 3, E. Johnson is guaranteed to get there. The only thing that can screw you up is if the 5NY gets a good cav retreat roll and stops Johnson in his tracks.

The other standard opening move is to activate A.P. Hill's corps and push them towards Parker's Store. They have a less than 50% chance of making it in one move, though, so you'll have to decide if you want to force march them or wait and hope to win the next init. The latter is not a bad option since the rebs have the init advantage in this game (they win ties). If you do get in and win the next init, use the entrench action to start building abatis and breastworks.

But it's important to realize that if the Union does beat you to the Store, this is not the end of the world. Get Hill's division adjacent and prepare to assault. Your corps leaders both have better tactical ratings, you have an automatic +1 for an assault, and you have the Lee bonus - that's +3 before you even look at combat strengths! You have a good chance to take the Store from the Union even if he outnumbers you there.

If the Union takes all objectives except Locust Grove and the Store, he will have exactly 75 points. He can't really do that, though, because to just sit back and try to hold everywhere means that you have to spread yourself thin, even with the Union's numerical advantage in numbers of units. Those low tactical ratings make it hard to defend everywhere, and the woods negate the usual Union artillery advantage. Remember that the CSA has Longstreet moving up. He can threaten the cav VP hexes if the USA is just sitting back and defending.

Finally, I disagree that the reb cavalry is too weak to help out. The USA has to leave two cav units behind at the Wilderness, so that helps somewhat to even the odds. The problem for the CSA is that their cav is spread out. Spend a few moves to consolidate them, though, and you will be giving the Union something to think about. If the Union has cav units defending the three southern VP hexes, you will often see CSA players use their cav to help Longstreet get flank bonuses when he moves to attack those hexes. It's usually enough to force the Union to either retreat or fight at poor odds.

Hopefully this is enough to make you want to try it again. Let us know how it goes!
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