Geoff Davis
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Bolingbrook
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All Basic Living Rules and Optional Rules contained therein, except 10.1 “Helping a Novice Union Player” Also, used Advanced Game Rules “B.1, B.2, &B.3” (Supply), “C.1” (Marches & the Command Table), D.1 (The Command Table Battle Orders), D.4 (Coastal Defenses), E.1, E.2, E.4, E.5 (Leaders), F.1 (The Capture of Washington) and F.2 (More Support from the Border States). Pretty much all the bells and whistles were used with the notable exceptions of Containment, Foreign Intervention, Confederate Navy, Battlefield Morale, & Desertion.


JULY 1861: 1st turn limitations made offensive moves less appealing (only two marches per side, neither could enter Kentucky, river moves cut back to one box per march, no naval moves allowed…), so the Union consolidated around Washington and Harper’s Ferry using the union’s RR bonus movement to transfer militia units from New York to Harper's Ferry and Philadelphia to Washington D.C. Then promoted a militia in Washington to Veteran status and dropped new recruits in D.C. as well as a militia cavalry in Cincinnati. The Confederates followed up with a double march via RR taking the militia unit from Mobile to join the existing militia already in Memphis. Johnny Reb lucked out with a 1 rolled on his own promotion segment (Confederate Replacement Training) allowing for two promotions and decided that the buildup around Washington warranted both the Fredericksburg and Manassas Junction militia units to be promoted. The Confederates were then able to recruit infantry in Richmond and Memphis as well as a militia cavalry in Nashville, shoring up the Eastern and Western theaters in the early going…

AUGUST 1861: The Union came up with a big roll of 6 for its movement segment (reduced down to “4” marches by the command table, but still allowing naval invasions to be attempted). The veteran as well as two militia infantry from Washington successfully invaded New Orleans without taking any casualties from "Coastal Defenses" (each port city defends itself as if it were an entrenched unit of the same combat value as its recruitment number). Additionally, the yanks sent the militia in Bloomington down to Cairo and promptly promoted him to veteran status, and then made a fatal miscalculation, plopping down another militia infantry recruit in Cairo in response to growing rebel forces in Nashville and the Mississippi Valley, neglecting the Eastern theater altogether.

Johnny Reb’s euphoria over a 1st turn double promotion and two militia placements back in July suddenly turned to shock and despair now that Billy yank had just dropped approximately 30,000 combined veterans and militia infantry into a major Southern recruitment city (New Orleans), opening the way for a second Union front along the Mississippi River.

Confederate movement roll of 5 yielded “4” marches for the South, according to the command table, and the rebels decided to take full advantage of them and their recent bonus veteran promotion to assault D.C. The North had foolishly left only one militia infantry alone in Washington thinking it would be safe due to permanent entrenchments, river crossing defense bonus, and the 20,000 militia in supporting/reinforcing role to the west in Harper’s Ferry. Three marches later, the South combined all of its Virginian troops into Manassas Junction and launched an all out assault against the Northern capital with 2 militia and 2 veteran infantry. Command table rolls left both sides with merely two command points for the first round of battle but in an amazing stroke of fortune both Southern veteran infantry managed to roll a 2 or less quickly dispatching the lone entrenched Union militia before reinforcements could arrive from Harper’s Ferry. The other rebel marching order had been used to abandon Memphis and split up the 3 units from there, into Jackson and Vicksburg to face off against the Union invaders in New Orleans. After battlefield and normal promotion, 3 rebel veteran infantry and 1 rebel militia were firmly entrenched in the Northern capital, while Jackson, MS had been bolstered by a veteran promotion as well as a newly recruited militia infantry opposite Union forces down in ‘The Big Easy’. A roll of 5 for the conquest of Washington (Advanced rule F.1) put the Union’s Army Maximum Size down to 28, only one greater than the South’s; things were looking pretty grim for Billy Yank indeed…

SEPTEMBER 1861: The Union had 3 marches available to counter the decisive blow dealt by Johnny Reb in the early going. One march was spent on the three units in Cairo to invade Memphis and deprive the Rebs of a recruitment city worth two points towards max. army size, and both militia units in Harper’s Ferry rolled into Baltimore, promptly entrenching themselves to account for all three Union marches. One of the entrenched units in Baltimore was promoted to veteran status and new militia were recruited in both Cairo and St. Louis to press for an advantage in the West.

The Confederacy subsequently earned 3 marches of their own, and quickly scanned the map for an opportunity to gain the necessary army max. size to force the Civil War to a quick and decisive outcome in the South’s favor. Three marches didn’t appear to be sufficient to make that happen on this turn alone, so the Rebels decided to send the lone militia in Richmond up to Washington D.C., while emptying the three veterans and one militia already in Washington, sending them up against the 2 entrenched units defending Baltimore and the Northeastern region. A victory would give the rebels a strong likelihood of enticing Maryland to join the Confederate cause, while also opening up Northern cities with high recruiting values to subsequent attacks, potentially forcing the Yanks to sue for peace. Command table rolls yielded 3 ‘orders’ per side and the rebels would at least get to take three shots each round against the entrenched Union soldiers defending Baltimore. Union defenders held out strong, destroying three of the four invaders from D.C. and forcing the lone Southern militia in Washington to reinforce the battle before succumbing. Confederate Replacement Training meant that the loss of 2 veteran units allowed the rebels to gain a second promotion on a roll of 3 or less (instead of the typical 1), and they did, promoting the cavalry unit in Nashville and a militia in Jackson, MS. A roll of 2 during the recruitment segment only yielded 1 new militia infantry and 1 militia cavalry unit in Richmond. With victory close at hand, the Rebels settled on a future strategy of taking advantage of chaos in the North, a greatly reduced Union Army Max. Size, and the threat of future cavalry jump moves to try to raid the North, ensuring a quick victory through superior Army Max. Size in the coming months.

Going into October, the Rebels would almost surely gain the allegiance of Maryland to their cause, but with D.C. left entirely unguarded, the Union was now in a position to re-take Washington and get back in the fight!

OCTOBER 1861: Union forces in Memphis had intentionally used a downriver jump move, skipping Island No. 10 back in September, which placed this stack of three units out of supply. Now a union militia was sacrificed reducing this force to just one veteran and one militia infantry, but freeing up an extra militia to be recruited into the Northeast in an attempt to shore up defenses around Washington during this month’s recruitment segment. Unfortunately, the Union was limited to just three marches for October, but it used two of them to have the militia from Pittsburgh retake D.C. The last march was then used to split up two militia infantry from St.Louis into Evansville and Louisville, respectively. The lone militia behind Washington’s permanent entrenchments was promptly promoted to veteran status, while the three available units in the militia pool were recruited into New York, Philadelphia, and Scranton.

The two Confederate units in Baltimore now found themselves out of supply and the militia was eliminated, leaving behind one Crack infantry, and a chance for Maryland to swing over to the Confederacy depending on a roll of the die… Success! The Maryland militia infantry unit now joined the Confederate’s out of supply militia unit recently eliminated from Baltimore, along with another that had been left over from September’s recruitment segment (when the Rebels had only been able to recruit two of the three units available).
Going into October the Rebels already had three units available to recruit before any fighting or promotions. Johnny Reb now rolled up three marches for the month and scanned the board for the win. The infantry from Richmond moved into Fredericksburg while the cavalry used an additional march to make it all the way from Richmond to Charleston West Virginia, depriving the Union of yet another recruitment city.

Another assault on Washington’s entrenched veteran unit was tempting, but Philadelphia with a solitary militia unit looked ripe for the taking; so the Crack infantry unit in Baltimore got its marching orders… A lucky first volley from Union militia defending the city of brotherly love reduced the Crack infantry to its damaged side before it could even fire a single volley. A hard decision had to be made whether to continue the fight, knowing that the yanks could pull in reinforcements from both New York and Scranton during the battle’s second round. Begrudgingly, the rebels retreated back to Baltimore rather than face the prospects of three full strength militia infantry all with defender’s first shot advantage, knowing one more ‘hit’ would spell the end of the South’s foray into the Northeast. The triumphant defenders gained a sorely needed battlefield promotion and now the crack unit in Baltimore was flanked by veteran Union infantry in D.C. as well as Philadelphia. Although combat had proved fruitless, a lucky Combat replacement roll of 1 granted the Confederates a second promotion, and now the rebels would have more militia than they could possibly recruit available to bolster their growing military forces.

The militia infantry in Fredericksburg as well as the militia cavalry in Charleston were promptly promoted to veteran status, and a recruitment roll of 4 sent another militia cavalry and militia infantry into Richmond, as well as a militia infantry into Nashville and another into Jackson, MS. Despite the North’s valiant defense of Philadelphia, the South’s ever-expanding cavalry and Western armies were a lethal combination leaving the North’s cause in grave jeopardy entering the cold winter months…

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1861: A mere two marches were rolled up for the Union for the 1st half of the winter of ’61-’62. Adding insult to injury, yet another Union militia infantry was lost to attrition as the units in Memphis remained out of supply. With merely two militia in the Union’s recruitment pool, it was obvious that Southern cavalry would now threaten to raid Northern cities while Western forces would threaten to take back Memphis, New Orleans, or invade the North, putting the game out of reach before the end of 1861. The lone veteran in Memphis entrenched to prepare for assault by Rebel forces in the West. The militia cavalry and infantry from Cincinnati moved into defensive positions in Parkersburg and Chillicothe, respectively, to prevent the rebel veteran cavalry in Charleston W.VA from jumping into Northern recruitment cities. New militia cavalry was recruited into Pittsburgh and infantry recruited into Cincinnati and St.Louis. Now the Union held its breath in anticipation of the assault that would surely come against Memphis…

The Confederacy rolled a 6 earning “5” marches according to the 1861 command table and eagerly sent its Western army of 2 veterans and 2 militia infantry from Jackson, MS against Memphis, while simultaneously emptying Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Baltimore of their total combined forces of 1 Crack, 1 Veteran, and 1 militia infantry, as well as a militia cavalry into Washington D.C. for a second invasion of the North's capital city. The Union’s entrenched veteran infantry in Memphis fell in the first round of battle, as the Confederates earned four battle orders and were able to roll up two hits in the first volley. The Union’s lone entrenched veteran in D.C. fared little better, managing to take out a veteran infantry before finally succumbing to a wounded Southern crack infantry from Baltimore.

Washington had fallen for the second time in 1861. the North controlled only one Southern recruitment city (New Orleans) and superior rebel forces not only held Washington D.C., but had also amassed in the West in Memphis as well as Nashville, ready to invade Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, and the entire Mississippi Valley. The Union’s greatest single force was the veteran and two militia infantry still in New Orleans. Nowhere else on the map did they have a stack larger than one unit. The confederates by comparison controlled Washington, Baltimore, Charleston, and stacks armies in Memphis of 1 crack, 2 veterans and 1 militia infantry; 1 veteran cavalry and 3 militia infantry in Nashville; and 1 crack, 1 veteran infantry and 1 militia cavalry in Washington D.C. by the end of 1861. The final Army Max. Size at the end of 1861: Rebels 28, Yankees 26.




AFTERTHOUGHTS: AHD is one of my favorite games, and this is my first session report on BGG, paying homage to a game I still love after so many years. The Living Rules are my favorite way to play the game, and although the ones I choose to play helped shape the Union's defeat in the early going of this session, I believe the mistake of paying too much attention to the Western Theater and neglecting Washington out of a false sense of security on the game's second turn was really the deciding factor in the North's demise here. NOT the rules I choose to include.

In fact, had there been just one additional militia in D.C. I think the North would have been in a terrific position to win the war. Focusing on the West, given the ability to strike from both ends of the Missisippi, (both from New Orleans and out of Cairo), could have severely crippled the South's ability to sustain the fight in the war's opening years. Even despite the North's blunder here, it still took an exceptional roll on the part of the Rebels initial attacking force to take Washington. Had reinforcements from Harper's Ferry been given a chance to aid in the defense of Washington, this mistake could have just been a footnote in a rout of the Confederacy. I may go back and replay this session in the future starting from the Union recruitment phase of August 1861, putting 1 militia infantry in D.C., rather than Cairo, just to see how well the Confederacy could recover from the Union's intimidating position in the Western Theater. Under those circumstances I couldn't justify sending the entire Army of Virginia into Washington, and it would be interesting to ponder the alternatives...
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Geoff Davis
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DOH!

I accidentally submitted this session entry twice.shake However, this thread contains the fully edited version along with a tidbit of analysis in the form of "afterthoughts".

If a mod can delete the other thread that would be great!
 
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Geoff Davis
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I would also be greatly interested in hearing from other AHD fans on which Optional/Advanced rules they believe produce the most balanced and exciting gaming experience.

When teaching a new player I usually only add in Leaders, Union RR Bonus, Border Support, and Coastal Defenses. And if Washington falls, game over. I sometimes wonder if the command table to generate battle orders could be done away with altogether though, as I don't usually miss the command table when playing with a newbie (other than bad luck on rolling marches), but the Leaders and RR bonus seem pretty essential to me, even in a stripped down version of the game.

However, with experienced gamers I prefer almost all of the Living Rules with the exception of Morale, Desertion, or Refitting the Army, as I think those add-ons start to bog down the game with too many additional die rolls or bookkeeping issues in keeping track of which units are damaged. I like to get in a complete game within a reasonable time frame and without the need to leave things setup for another day.

I really do like the Leaders, the command table (at the very least to generate marches and as long as the Union RR bonus is used to counter the early Confederate command table advantages, and protect against early Confederate mobility and cavalry raids), as well as Confederate Replacement Training. These rules give the Confederacy an early military advantage that feels abstractly appropriate to historical events. Subsequently, the longer the war goes on, the South's command table advantage disappears, and the leadership advantage swings over to the Union's side. Again feeling abstractly appropriate in a historical sense...

What say you?
 
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Geoff Davis
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Geoff8695 wrote:
I would also be greatly interested in hearing from other AHD fans on which Optional/Advanced rules they believe produce the most balanced and exciting gaming experience.

When teaching a new player I usually only add in Leaders, Union RR Bonus, Border Support, and Coastal Defenses. And if Washington falls, game over. I sometimes wonder if the command table to generate battle orders could be done away with altogether though, as I don't usually miss the command table when playing with a newbie (other than bad luck on rolling marches), but the Leaders and RR bonus seem pretty essential to me, even in a stripped down version of the game.

However, with experienced gamers I prefer almost all of the Living Rules with the exception of Morale, Desertion, or Refitting the Army, as I think those add-ons start to bog down the game with too many additional die rolls or bookkeeping issues in keeping track of which units are damaged. I like to get in a complete game within a reasonable time frame and without the need to leave things setup for another day.

I really do like the Leaders, the command table (at the very least to generate marches and as long as the Union RR bonus is used to counter the early Confederate command table advantages, and protect against early Confederate mobility and cavalry raids), as well as Confederate Replacement Training. These rules give the Confederacy an early military advantage that feels abstractly appropriate to historical events. Subsequently, the longer the war goes on, the South's command table advantage disappears, and the leadership advantage swings over to the Union's side. Again feeling abstractly appropriate in a historical sense...

What say you?


Footnote: 1st Turn Limitations and Supply rules are also a MUST in a game with an experienced gamer... If playing with a newbie Confederate player I won't include Supply rules. That way, he enjoys the advantages of being able to raid Confederate recruitment cities in the North and immediately build up troops without having to worry about supply issues. However, I will only develop my own offensives as if Supply rules were in effect. If a new player takes the Union I'll still play the South according to Supply rules to prevent myself from taking advantage of the Newb...
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Donald Everett
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Geoff, thank you for taking the time to share your AAR. I also like to play with all the advanced rules, and find the game thus very enjoyable to play.

-Donald
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Jim Marshall
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Geoff Davis wins the war for the South? Surely some mistake there ....
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