Go West Young Man! (Full Version)

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RickInVA -> Go West Young Man! (6/4/2011 5:32:48 PM)

I have really been enjoying playing Forge of Freedom. It is a great game (like all games with room for improvement) and I look forward to any further strategic Civil War game along similar lines.

There are some areas that could stand improvement. Others have mentioned them in this forum, such as the relative impotence of Union riverine forces compared to their historical performance. But there is one area where I have noticed that all Civil War games I have played deviate from history.

That is in the importance of the Eastern Theatre. In the real war great importance was placed by both sides on the Maryland/Virginia area. Massive resources were placed there by both sides. Every time Lee moved into Maryland the North shuddered. The Union was determined to force its way to Richmond despite all opposition. Grant was willing to spend lives like water towards that end. That was the reality.

In every Civil War game I have played it is not. Both the Union and especially the Confederacy stand to reap much greater rewards for success in the West and Trans-Mississippi Theatres. Certainly there is an argument to be made that Confederate control of Illinois and Ohio could have forced the Union to peace. But on the other side the actual Union control of Tennessee, Mississippi, most of Georgia, Arkansas and Louisiana were insufficient to bring the Confederacy down absent the loss of Virginia north of (and including) Petersburg.

I am not enough of a Civil War historian to have great answers to this that conform to history. I would, however, like to see a game that somehow puts greater emphasis on, and rewards success and failure more in, the East.

Any thoughts?

newmanovci -> RE: Go West Young Man! (6/4/2011 9:13:28 PM)

I'm not an expert on the period either, but from what I've read, the Union effort in the Western Theatre was hugely important as firstly it entailed the capture of the full length of the Mississippi (cutting off the Conferderate heartland from a major source of supplies west of the river), and secondly the campaign culminated in Sherman's March to the Sea, which both cut the Confederacy in half again and went a long way towards eroding the will of the Southern people to continue the fight.

That's not to say that the conflict in the East wasn't also massively important, but the fight in Virginia wasn't the whole story by any means.

But, like I say, I'm no expert.

RickInVA -> RE: Go West Young Man! (6/4/2011 9:39:14 PM)

A good point. My general counter argument is that by itself it was not enough to bring the Confederacy down, but in this, or any other, game I have played it is.

In most games I have played the East becomes an area where both sides strive to not loose, generally by not fighting, rather than an area where both are trying to win. If there is a way to incent the players similarily to how the real leaders were incented to focus on this area I would find that enjoyable.

newmanovci -> RE: Go West Young Man! (6/4/2011 10:47:55 PM)

Interesting. Well, this is my first ever strategic-level ACW game, so I bow to your greater experience. I'm still finding my way with FoF, but I'll certainly bear your analysis in mind as I explore the game.

Graymane -> RE: Go West Young Man! (6/6/2011 2:13:11 PM)

While great importance was placed on the eastern theatre, it can be argued that the war was fought and won in the West (or fought and lost in the West from another perspective).

Ugly Guy -> RE: Go West Young Man! (6/6/2011 4:55:09 PM)

I think that the very issue raised here is the reason why the West was ultimately important. Both sides placed large amounts of resources into the East, and it was deemed immesnley important. But because for the better part of three years, neither side was able to substantially alter the strategic picture in that area (it took Grant into 1865 to gain a strategic victory in the area), it became the west that determined the the fate of the Union and Confederacy.

Now it isn't really as simple as that, as its very easy to see that Grant's attrition policy is what won the East and brought the Confederacy down. The game actually models this quite well, although it doesn't allow people the "glory" of vast offensive and defensive campaigns in the Eastern theatre. Indeed, most of my eastern strategy consist entirely of stacking about 80,000 men under one of my better generals in Fredericksburg and letting the Union bleed against that for three+ years. But I think the problem for many, is that this strategy isn't very "sexy".

The way to solve this isn't to decrease the importance of the West, but rather break-up the north-eastern Virginia cooridor alittle bit more. I also think that offensive manuevers shouldn't be as punishing as they are. I am not sure if its the difficulty I play, or the nature of the game in general, but the attacker seems to be at a severe disadvantage to the defender. I can see this if the defending army has been in a province for longer that 1 turn (some sort of pseudo entrenchment bonus), but it seems that attacking units route much quicker than defending units et ceteris paribus. I am ok with attacking forces having more casualties, but I am not sure that a "defensive stance" really generated a significant morale advantage. I would be willing to argue the opposite. An attacker will have the advantage of being able to have the resources in place to rally units at critical areas of attack much more so than a defender. But I am digressing at this point.

Ultimately, decreasing the "attacking penalty" and giving more room for army manuevers in the north-eastern part of Virgina would make the situation much more fluid there. While it may not alter the result in any game, it would certainly make it feel more fun in that region, other than another "oh boy, a 150k plus Union army is about to attack my 80k army and get the crap kicked out of it again". In essence, the game models the eastern theatre as it was Grant's attrition model the entire time (as the only real danger to the Confederacy there is whether you can replenish your battle losses quickly enough to not be forced to retreat), rather than the Napoleonic "war of manuever" that existed there until Grant assumed command.

newmanovci -> RE: Go West Young Man! (6/6/2011 8:45:53 PM)

Yes, breaking up the Fredericksburg province into smaller packets might well do the trick (says the man who hasn't even completed a game yet! [:D]). Mind you, I'd be interested to hear Gil's reasons for drawing the map as he did.

KurtC -> RE: Go West Young Man! (8/6/2011 4:33:23 AM)

After having played Forge of Freedom a lot against the AI, pretty much every game I have had has been a game of maneuver and attack/counterattack throughout the West. Tennessee/Missouri/Kentucky seem to be my main battlefields.

The East is build up some good armies and wait for them to attack. I play defense there because I seem to get ripped to shreds when on the attack. I build up forts and defend them.

newmanovci -> RE: Go West Young Man! (8/6/2011 11:40:33 AM)

Yep, that's pretty much how my recent campaign game against the AI went (I was the South). It would be very nice to have greater granularity in the Virginia region, but it's not a game-breaker in my opinion.

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