PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (Full Version)

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Gil R. -> PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/9/2006 9:19:13 AM)

I'm not allowed to peek, but I know that jchastain just started an AAR for our play-by-e-mail game. I'm playing the CSA, and am about to describe my decisions and moves. I'll also be posting a bunch of screenshots. We'll try to make at least one move each day. The point of this AAR is to show the strategic game, just as Hard Sarge has been demonstrating the tactical battles.

(Please wait until I'm done before posting a message here, since I might miss it. I'll always make it clear when I have no more postings for a given turn.)

In case jchastain didn't mention it, we're playing with the Advanced Rules. When these comes into play, we'll point it out.

Okay, on to the first turn. We're playing the standard November 1861 scenario, which gives both sides time to build up for the war effort. The first turn is always very long, since one has to set up one's economy in addition to making the usual decisions about moving troops and arming them.

Since it's easy to forget to move one's blockade-runners, I make it a habit always to do that as the very first thing each turn. The CSA starts with two, and these are found in the Savannah River. Upon clicking on one, I see that right offshore there can be found 30 Money (a very nice sum), and that I have an 80% chance of attaining it and just a 10% chance of my runners taking damage. So, I go after that batch of runners goods with one group of runners, and use the other to go after 30 Horses in another sea zone (for which the chances are 50% and 10%, respectively). I decide that these horses are a more appealing target than the 10 Weapons or 10 Labor I could also get.


EDIT OF NOV. 30: Now that the game is available there is a new sub-forum devoted to AAR's. Inside you will find my detailed battle AAR "Battle in the Wilderness," which has some interesting screenshots (http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=1289320). In addition, it would be worth visiting at least one of the detailed battle AAR threads started by Hard Sarge -- "AAR III" (http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=1286095) or "AAR II" (http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=1280248). (The second features some unfinished graphics, since it was composed during a stage of beta-testing when not all of the graphics had been added.)

EDIT OF APRIL 19: It should be pointed out that this AAR was played using a pre-release beta version of the game, and that countless changes (improvements all) have been made to the game via patch since then. So, while this AAR accurately reflects the game in general, the current version of "Forge of Freedom" has changed greatly.

EDIT OF OCTOBER 29: While reading this AAR between myself and jchastain is certainly recommended, be sure to look at the magnificent AAR that Grey Hunter has been putting together (which has the added virtue of being played on a patched-up version of FOF, rather than a pre-release beta version). Go here: http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=1472699&mpage=1&key=




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Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/9/2006 9:26:17 AM)

Now on to setting my economy the way I want it. Every province produces either Money or Labor and Iron or Horses, and one must choose which it will be. Going to the Nation Screen, I see that my starting resources are 93 Money, 74 Labor, 27 Iron, and 92 Horses. Diplomacy in the game is handled by investing money to improve relations with Britain, France, or Other European powers. I desperately need money, but at the same time I can't afford to lose European support, while at the same time I need to increase European support because that will translate into larger amounts of goods for blockade-runners and gifts of technology and perhaps even money. So, I decide in this first turn to invest 10 Money in diplomacy with each of the three powers, leaving me a net income of 63 Money for the next turn. (Note that a coin has been put into a slot for each power, which raises the percent chance of better relations.) If I'm lucky, this investment will pay for itself by making my blockade-runners bring back bigger scores.

EDIT: As you can see, I already have some amount of support from each of the three, while the Union has none. But the Union has more money, and will soon be spending it like mad to make up for this...


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Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/9/2006 9:32:11 AM)

The next step involves going to the Development Screen for each city and checking to make sure that I'm receiving the maximum number of needed resources. If a city, say, is producing 6 Labor but could be giving me 7 Money, I then can switch it to money production if I feel that would be helpful. I make a few changes in order to raise the amount of Iron I am getting, which comes at the expense of Horses. (Remember that I started with 93 Money, 74 Labor, 27 Iron and 92 Horses. The changes I make get me to 103 Money, 64 Labor, 39 Iron and 77 Horses.)

One change I make is to have Augusta, Georgia go from 4 Horses to 3 Iron. Augusta is one of three cities that begins with an Iron Works building, which automatically doubles the amount of iron produced there. This means that I'll want to build a lot of new Mines -- building which produce +2 Iron/turn -- there and in the other two cities, since these will produce +4 Iron/turn.


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Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/9/2006 9:34:58 AM)

At the start of each game, one has a certain amount of resources to spend at the outset. I began with 100 Money, 50 Labor, 25 Iron and 90 Horses, as well as 20 Weapons (which are not produced by cities, but by Arsenal complexes). Deciding how to spend these initial resources is a tough decision, but I know that I need Iron desperately to build up my forces over the winter, so I use 40 Labor to build my first Mine -- right there in Augusta, where it will give me an additional +2 Iron/turn.



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Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/9/2006 9:38:19 AM)

Finally, I get around to worrying about my armed forces. My navy is in port, and isn't strong enough to venture out on the high seas, so I focus on my armies. One of the first things I need to do is assign the group of generals who start the game where I think they would help me the most. The majority of them head to Fredericksburg to command the Army of Northern Virginia (including Lee, whom I'll promote to four stars at the end of the turn), while others go to most of the other divisions.



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Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/9/2006 9:40:38 AM)

And jumping ahead to the end of the turn, here's the list of generals to promote. One gets to make one promotion per turn, until one hits saturation. The way to increase the number of 2-, 3- and 4-star generals (not to mention adding a 5-star general) is to invest in Academies. This means that at the start of the game there are more corps and divisions than there are generals of sufficient rank to command them. So, I'll have to decide whether to be spending my money on Acadmies or other desperate needs...


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Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/9/2006 9:46:48 AM)

Time to start dealing with my armies. First, I take a look at Kentucky, which always starts neutral and full of forces from both sides. Knowing the the presence of my troops might be an irritant that could compel Kentucky to side with the Union, I decide to withdraw from the state. Doing so also lets me defend my own territory more easily. So, I'm going to take the free-standing brigades in eastern Kentucky and have them join two divisions in western Virginia -- where they'll soon be defending Wheeling -- and I have my divisions in western Kentucky head down to defend the area of Nashville and Fort Donelson. In addition, the 13th Division, in westernmost Kentucky, will immediately head to the Mississippi River around Memphis, since that city and the four forts there are vital, and I know that jchastain knows that too.

Also, note that at the far left I've sent my Raiders unit into the province occupied by the Union army. My Partisans are about to join them. Perhaps they'll make life harder for this army before (as I expect) it heads for Memphis.



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Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/9/2006 9:49:58 AM)

Here's the 13th Division. It's small, but its brigades aren't depleted, and it has three "Legendary Units" -- brigades that come into the game with special abilities and attributes that give them an advantage. The Texas Sharpshooters are highlighted; usually, one has to invest 60 Money to give a brigade the sharpshooting attribute.

This division heads down to Memphis. I dispatch Gen. Sibley, one of my best starting generals, from Richmond to join it.



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Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/9/2006 9:58:10 AM)

Time to start investing the 100 Money that I start off with. That money could be used for countless things, but knowing how important the western forts are, I decide to use it to bolster them. It is important to do this before the enemy arrives, since if there are enemy units in a province it is not possible to upgrade a unit, whether mobile or immobile.

I start by spending 20 Money to buy Rifle Pits for Fort Henry, which could be the first point attacked. Rifle Pits double the damage done by garrisons.

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Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/9/2006 10:02:06 AM)

I also purchase Rifle Pits for Fort Donelson, to help protect Nashville.

In the area of Memphis, I rearrange my garrisons. There are four forts there, but I do not yet have enough brigades to man them properly, so I move the garrisons out of the two smaller and weaker forts into the two biggest, Fort Pillow and Island No. 10. The former ends up with 2 garrisons, the latter with four. I then use the rest of my money to buy Rifle Pits and Breastworks (have a 25% chance to reduce siege damage) for Island No. 10 and Rifle Pits for Fort Pillow.

This means that if the enemy beats my division to this area -- or defeats my 13th Division when it gets there -- these forts will be able to hold out until I can get more forces there.



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Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/9/2006 10:04:20 AM)

Speaking of moving more forces there, I decide that the odds of an attack in western Arkansas are small -- and if worst comes to worst, the most I'd be likely to lose is Little Rock -- so I take my free-standing brigades and division out of western Missouri and Arkansas and head them in the direction of Memphis. If fighting breaks out at the forts these units might be able to reinforce during this turn, and by next turn I can have them right there in the river province.



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Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/9/2006 10:05:40 AM)

Finally, I deal with Virginia. First, here's an overview of how the forces are distributed.


[image]local://upfiles/16018/B35348E3DFC44F4DA3D92FDD0EDFC67A.jpg[/image]




Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/9/2006 10:08:16 AM)

Since the enemy is almost certain to move its two divisions in the direction of Wheeling -- the two provinces they currently occupy have almost no value -- I want to send my own two divisions there. But first, I need to upgrade them. Unfortunately, having spent my Money on the western forts, all I have is 20 Weapons, 15 of which I use to buy a single brigade some Minie rifles. Next turn, I think I'll focus my resources on these brigades and upgrade them before sending them to Wheeling.

[image]local://upfiles/16018/F089A33797CB458FB360005DEF7285BB.jpg[/image]




Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/9/2006 10:09:16 AM)

And here's the Army of Northern Virginia after I've assigned the generals. (Remember, Lee will soon be promoted to four stars.)



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Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/9/2006 10:10:13 AM)

Before I had made my moves, here's what the overview map looked like.

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Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/9/2006 10:10:47 AM)

And now it's a bit different.


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Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/9/2006 10:14:25 AM)

After one hits "End Turn" there is a chance to give instructions to one's Raiders and Partisans. I had moved these from Paducah into the river province occupied by a Union army that I strongly suspect is about to attack Memphis, Fort Henry, or Nashville. So, much as I'd love to steal Weapons (and thus improve the quality of my own forces), I decide to go after the enemy's supplies. My Raiders have a chance at destroying 17 Supplies (shown below) and my Partisans can destroy 31 Supplies. If both succeed, that army will be in very bad shape if it attacks this turn. And if it doesn't attack, I've still cost the Union a bit of money.

After this, the turn is over, and I e-mail the save-game files.

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Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/10/2006 7:39:14 AM)

Second Turn

Okay, now comes the second turn, which won't be too exciting, seeing as how I wasn't attacked and am not about to go on the attack. This turn is devoted to moving my forces so that they can hunker down for winter and to building up vital infrastructure.

First, here's the Events List that pops up at the beginning of the new turn. As you can see, one blockade-runner got me 30 Money, which will come in very handy (see below), but the one with a 50% chance at horses and 10% chance of damage actually took damage. If it's hit by damage again it might be destroyed and I really should bring it to a shipyard for repairs, but I desperately need resources and therefore am gambling it'll last a bit longer. (Part of the reason I'm gambling is that diplomacy is paying off and there are excellent runners goods to obtain -- if the pickings were slim, I'd head to port. But there is 50 Iron and 40 Weapons out there, and both are very large prizes I can't ignore.)

Also, note that my division in Arkansas was hit by disease. In late fall and winter a random brigade on each side is hit by disease, and disease then spreads to any other friendly brigade in the province. I'm about to move this division to Memphis -- good thing the enemy is unaware it was hit by disease and its morale nearly collapsed.



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Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/10/2006 7:43:42 AM)

And here I am moving that division into the Tennesee-Missippi River province, where it will help to defend Memphis. I now will have two divisions there plus fort garrisons, so if the Union attacks I have a fair chance of winning.

Memphis is one of the cities that has a Hospital complex. These have two purposes: they raise the disposition of units with low morale, and they reduce the effects of disease. This division just got hit by disease and has units in need of a morale boost, plus it can't afford to lose more men. So going to the Memphis area will help this division regain its fighting form, while protecting it significantly from the effects of another bout with disease.



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Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/10/2006 7:50:33 AM)

Memphis, Nashville, and Chattanooga, where all of my western divisions are currently located, all each have a hospital, so those divisions are relatively safe. But none of Virginia's cities has one, meaning that the Army of Northern Virginia, number 100,000 strong, could be reduced by as many as 28% men if I don't act. (Disease normally causes 14% casualties, but can be as bad as 28%.)

So first, until I can build hospitals, it makes sense to take the army apart, so that if one of its brigades gets hit it won't affect the whole army. Therefore, I take the District of the Potomac, numbering close to 40,000 men, and send it to Lynchburg. (I'll have to build a hospital there later.)


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Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/10/2006 7:54:16 AM)

Another thing I do is take some of the infantry brigades out of the ANV and use them to garrison the forts in Fredericksburg. Since that province has no city, it cannot have Hospitals, and therefore the army cannot spend the winter there without risking severe problems. If a few garrisons get disease that's okay, but I can't afford for the army to be hit. So, before I can send the ANV to James River, where I'll build a Hospital, I remove three brigades and a division container and put them in Fort Evans. Now if the Union tries to invade Fredericksburg there will be enough garrisons to hold them off, while the ANV (and District of the Potomac corps) will be just a province away.



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Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/10/2006 7:55:33 AM)

And now the Army of Northern Virginia heads to winter quarters outside of Richmond...

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Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/10/2006 7:57:05 AM)

...and this is what Virginia will look like for the winter, unless there's trouble. (And if there is trouble, I'm well positioned to deal with it quickly. I'd love to have more railroads, though. Maybe if my blockade-runner gets the 50 Iron I'll build up my RR infrastructure.)



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Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/10/2006 8:05:02 AM)

Now comes time to start building. Since the odds of fighting in winter are very small, I'm going to devote all resources to building new buildings. I have greatest need for: hospitals (for reasons described above), research institutions (to start advancing me in logistics, weaponry, tactics, etc.), railroad infrastructure (so I have the flexibility to move my forces quickly in the defense of any province), camps (which reinforce my brigades by each distributing 500 men per turn to a certain number of brigades), and finally, more mints and mines (to add to my Money and Iron income).

I begin the turn with 98 Money, 74 Labor, 42 Iron, and 167 Horses, and plan to maximize these resources. (I also have 31 Guns, but plan to stockpile this and buy myself something special, instead of just a bunch of Minie rifle.)

My top priority is a Hospital in Richmond, so that the Army of Northern Virginia won't be devastated by disease. That costs 40 Labor, and takes two turns to build. If I'm lucky, disease will hit elsewhere in the meantime.

After spending the 40 Labor, I will then spend 20 Labor and 100 Horses for a Camp in Wilmington. Once this is ready in two turns I'll receive 500 extra reinforcements for my brigades each turn. Since some of my brigades are more than 2000 below capacity, I'll need a lot of Camps to get my army to an acceptable size. Luckily, the South produces a lot of Horses, so I should be able to build a new Camp every 2-3 turns. (Here I have an advantage over the Union, which produces fewer Horses.)






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Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/10/2006 8:13:39 AM)

At this point, I still have all 98 Money left, but am down to 14 Labor, 42 Iron and 67 Horses. Since research institutions take six turns to build and then take many more turns before the provide enough research points for an upgrade, I better start working on this area. As you can see, I can afford any one of the six types. Each costs 75 Money, but they vary between 30 Iron and 30 Horses. But I realize that if I purchase an Armory (+3 weapons research), and Engineering School (+3 engineering research), or a Naval College (+3 naval research) that will be all I can afford to build this turn. But if I instead expend horses, I can get a War College (+3 tactics research) or a Laboratory (+3 logistics research). Since I already have four War Colleges, I decide to build a Laboratory.

Now, what I build is important, but so is where I build it. Two cities, Milledgeville, Georgia and Raleigh, N.C., have a University, which tacks on an additional +1 research point each turn. If one is going to build a research institution, it makes sense to do it in one of these cities and get +4 rather than +3 in that area of research. So, I build it in Milledgeville.

After I've done this, the only thing I can build is a Mint (10 Labor, 30 Iron), which will give me +2 Money each turn once it's done. I build it, and have gotten as much as I could have from my resources.


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Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/10/2006 8:15:25 AM)

Finally, one last move. Before the Union's fleets arrive, I move some naval vessels from Mobile Bay to New Orleans, where I have a shipyard. If ever I can afford to, I'll build a fleet in the shipyard, and those ships can be added. So, it makes sense to relocate them now, when it's safe for them to hit the open waters.


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Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/10/2006 8:17:17 AM)

I now hit "End Turn" and get to promote another 4-Star general, so I choose Stonewall Jackson.

I then get to order my Raiders and Partisans to bother that Union army again, so I have my Raiders steal weapons (thus adding to my Guns stockpile), and tell my Partisans to destroy the enemy's supplies -- just in case it has its eyes on Memphis.

And with that, the files get e-mailed...


[image]local://upfiles/16018/A562E6F254CF4810942C81297F336633.jpg[/image]




Hard Sarge -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/10/2006 10:38:46 AM)

Don't forget to set your supply levels for the Divs

or you trying to live off the land ?




Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/10/2006 6:33:25 PM)

Actually, I did some of that in the turn I'm about to post but didn't take screenshots, since I figured I'd do so another time. Essentially, I'm keeping every division on "low" supply because it's winter and they're already nearly at capacity and they're unlikely to fight. But in the case of that division of three brigades I stuck in Ft. Evans and the division in Shenandoah I am having them forage, thus saving myself about 5 Money. I'll probably make more changes in the next turn.




Gil R. -> RE: PBEM AAR - It Ain't a Lost Cause Yet! (11/10/2006 6:45:23 PM)

Third Turn

This turn was quick and pretty boring. In addition to making those minor changes in supply -- the rules for which I'll explain if I'm informed that jchastain didn't do so in his thread -- I built some stuff, and that's about it.

First, here's a screenshot of the first half of the Events Report. Note that my Raiders unit was destroyed. I now will need to build another, but that costs 100 Horses and I need those to make more Camps and get more reinforcements. For now, that's my priority, but if this were summer I'd go with Raiders so as to do harm to the enemy.



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