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An in progress report.

 
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An in progress report. - 1/31/2010 5:36:40 PM   
JW

 

Posts: 1033
Joined: 8/12/2000
From: Monroe, LA, USA
Status: offline
I wanted to post this mainly to let the developers know I'm having great fun with this game and to let people know how a game might play out.

This is my second game of WBTS, playing as the CSA. My first game I played on low AI level, no fog of war, letting the computer control my production. I won as the CSA, mainly because the USA was very lethargic. This time I turned on fog of war, took control of production, and upped the AI level to Challenging. That seemed to do the trick.

Right now it is the start of the CSA turn, Jan. 1864. The current score is USA 1002 VPs, CSA 832 VPs. Here is a brief summary of the major events.

The West

In 1862, the Union began a concerted offensive along the axis Memphis-Vicksburg, and toward central Tennessee, all emanating from north of Memphis. I had pushed a small army into central Kentucky, threatening Louisville, while remaining outnumbered and on the defensive north of Memphis. However, the Union took Memphis and broke into central Tennessee. I kept my army in northern Kentucky one month too long and only extricated it with great difficulty. During the winter I rebuilt my forces at Corinth and western Tennessee.

In 1863, the USA began an offensive toward Vicksburg. Grant defeated Beauregard in a major battle at Jackson, and that sealed Vicksburg's fate. Meanwhile, smaller forces broke into Alabama, but a corps under Bragg contained that offensive. At the same time, my army under J. Johnston went on the offensive and recaptured central Tennessee, while the Union was occupied with Mississippi.

Currently Beauregard is licking his wounds in camp at Hattiesburg, while Johnston is on the defensive in Murfreesboro. It appears the Union is planning on pushing down to Baton Rouge and New Orleans from the north, while attacking north up the mouth of the river. In December, a large union fleet finally defeated the forts at the mouth of the river, and that large fleet is sitting there in the river.

I might mention that I defeated a small union amphibious operation into south Louisiana in 1862, and that I advanced into Missouri early in the game, and still hold one portion of Missouri. No action there for two years except scouting and raiding. I have also hindered the Union effort by largescale raiding with Van Dorn, Forest, and Wheeler, into Kentucky, eastern Tennessee, and now Union-held Mississippi. I think it has helped but am not sure how much.

The Atlantic.

The Union captured Pensacola in 1862 and has now captured most of Florida. More important, they surprised me, and due to my carelessness captured Savannah in 1862. I narrowly missed retaking Savannah a couple of months later, but now McLaws sits in Port Royal outnumbered, and just watching and raiding.

The East.

Mainly a stalemate though a monumental battle was fought in December. The Union has tried offensives up the Peninsula and has been beaten back, and down from Washington, and after some initial success also beaten back. I used Jackson in 62 and 63 to go up the valley and capture Harpers Ferry twice, only to have large Union forces push him back out. I think this has helped take pressure off Richmond though, which was why I did it.

In December 1863, Hooker repeated the real life disaster at Fredericksburg, attacking from Manassas Lee's fortified position at Fredericksburg. The result was a catastrophe for the Union: 16,300 men, 70 guns lost, including 6600 captured, while Lee lost 3100 men and 10 guns. It is enough to make me consider gambling on an immediate counterattack, as Hooker's losses have left him for the moment with no more men than Lee.

It also leads me to a question. Those 6600 captured, are they in addition to the 16,300 lost or included in that total?

A couple of other points. I have three commerce raiders out, and they have been rather successful though I don't know how much effect they have had. But with the Union point level so close to 1000, I guess every point counts.

I've also used a river fleet on the Mississippi to harass the US, and the AI seems a little careless about leaving transports for me to pick off. In fact that seems to be about the only real weakness I've seen in the AI at the Challenging level. Of course right now there is a huge Union fleet sitting at the mouth of the Mississippi, and a large fleet north of Vicksburg, so my ironclad and couple of gunboats might just be about to meet their end. But they've had a good run.

So now it seems I have to figure out how to get the Union below 1000 points by November. But I'm running out of options. I'm outnumbered badly in Mississippi and have no option there, and I only have enough in Tennessee to hold my own. There is no way to go on the offensive in the West at this point. I am too badly outnumbered everywhere.

I think I'll have to look back to Virginia after Hooker's disaster and take a closer look at what Lee might be able to do. BTW, Longstreet was killed in 1862 in defeating a Union advance up the Peninsula, and Lee's army consists of two corps commanded by Jackson and AP Hill, plus an artillery corps commanded by Pendleton and then of course Stuart's cavalry.

I'll delivery an after action report when the war ends.
Post #: 1
RE: An in progress report. - 1/31/2010 7:36:02 PM   
runyan99

 

Posts: 146
Joined: 7/21/2008
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Nice to meet you. There doesn't seem to be a lot of people playing this title. Not flashy enough maybe.

(in reply to JW)
Post #: 2
RE: An in progress report. - 1/31/2010 10:24:07 PM   
JW

 

Posts: 1033
Joined: 8/12/2000
From: Monroe, LA, USA
Status: offline
I think it is a great game. The complexity level is just right for me, among other things. Not too simple, but not so complex that you can't comprehend it or feel the need to turn off a lot of things, though I'm still figuring out how production works. After all, this is just my second game.

The strategic decisions seem very realistic, like when I had to abandon Kentucky because of the Union offensive toward Memphis and Vicksburg and Donelson and Henry. That's similar to what happened in real life.

I don't care to fight detailed battles. And the economic model is not overly complex to manipulate, though I realize I don't yet understand the implications of everything I'm doing. I think the game hits just the right balance -- for me. And the AI is very, very good.

It reminds me in very broad terms of Guns of August, in that there is a chesslike quality beneath everything. And the AI is very good and doesn't make any obvious stupid mistakes in my limited experience.

Edit - Flashy. You are right. It is not flashy, just as Guns of August is not flashy. I can see some people avoiding it because it is in some ways rather bare.

(in reply to runyan99)
Post #: 3
RE: An in progress report. - 1/31/2010 11:03:44 PM   
oldspec4

 

Posts: 687
Joined: 11/1/2004
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I've been playing this on and off since release (also the same w/ GOA). Actually currently playing as the Confederates at the challenging level. Not sure tho if I can pull this one out.

I keep coming back to both titles for basically the same reasons as you've stated. IMO, both are very good games

(in reply to JW)
Post #: 4
RE: An in progress report. - 2/6/2010 8:25:23 PM   
JW

 

Posts: 1033
Joined: 8/12/2000
From: Monroe, LA, USA
Status: offline
I lost.  It was a near-run thing, but I lost.  I was unable to get the Union below 1000 points by the election of 1864.  I nearly did.  They had 1002 points.  In the east I attempted to attack Ft. Monroe, running some heavy guns to Kentwood to keep the Union from reinforcing Ft. Monroe from DC or Manassas.  I found out earlier the hard way that they could do that during their reaction phase.  I failed.  In the west I could not prevent the capture of New Orleans.  After that I merely attempted to survive.

To sum up the game, I attempted to prevent the capture of New Orleans but could not. 

A large Union force under the command of Lyons advanced out from Savannah to Augusta.  I could not slow them down.

In Tennessee the Union took Chattanooga.  I expected a push from there and/or Augusta to capture Atlanta, but it never happened. 

In the east, Lee brutally beat back two attempts by Sherman to attack from Manassas to Fredricksburg.  Meanwhile, Lyons moved to Ft. Monroe and captured Kentwood in May 1865, which coincided with Sherman's last failed offensive. 

I counterattacked Kentwood in June 1865, but we'll never know what happened because my points fell to -2, and the war ended with an undefeated Army of Northern Virginia on the offensive.

Final score, Union, 942, Confederacy -2.

Some thoughts from an amateur.  Anyone who wants to chime in and give advice or expand on some of my points is welcome, since I'm still learning.

I built too many factories.  I had lots of supplies, more than I needed, for the entire game.  But I could have used more artillery, heavy artillery, gunboats, etc.  I'll have to balance that better next time. I wonder what the optimum number of factories would be.

I might have built more commerce raiders.  Just a few more points and Lincoln might have lost in 1864.

I forgot to add artillery leaders to my heavy artillery in some coastal forts until later in the game, after reading that I needed to do that somewhere.  The rule book I think.  I wonder how much difference that makes.  I'll find out next time.

I also had the idea at the start that if I build factories in regions that can't build certain things, that they would then be able to, like artillery.  I found that is not true.  I'll have to think about where to build factories and like I said above how many to build.

I also did not fully understand the effect of a negative available population number in a region and what to do about it at the start.  I think I have a better understanding now, but I will have to work on that part, too.

And I had a great time.  This is a great game.  At least I think it is great.  I enjoy the absence of detailed battles.  I like looking at the strategic level.



(in reply to oldspec4)
Post #: 5
RE: An in progress report. - 2/7/2010 3:58:23 PM   
runyan99

 

Posts: 146
Joined: 7/21/2008
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Negative population means you need to delay building some units in that region.

You want to play a human? I need to play a full game as the union.

(in reply to JW)
Post #: 6
RE: An in progress report. - 2/7/2010 8:07:50 PM   
JW

 

Posts: 1033
Joined: 8/12/2000
From: Monroe, LA, USA
Status: offline
Sorry, no offense, but I don't play humans, just the AI.

However, any further critique you could give on any of the points I raised would be welcome. This was just my second game, and I had an absolute blast.

(in reply to runyan99)
Post #: 7
RE: An in progress report. - 2/7/2010 8:16:09 PM   
JW

 

Posts: 1033
Joined: 8/12/2000
From: Monroe, LA, USA
Status: offline
And one more point to new players.  Read the victory conditions carefully.  In fact, here they are.  I think printing an excerpt is okay.  If not, I apologize:

16.0 Victory Conditions
If during the Political and Victory Phase of the Initial Turn of each month, either player has been reduced to zero political points, the game ends and the other player is declared the winner. If Lincoln loses the election of 1864 and the game has not yet ended, the game will end after the Political and Victory phase of the April 1865 turn. If Lincoln wins the election of 1864 and the game has not yet ended, the game will end after the Political and Victory phase of the July 1865 turn. If the game ends due to one of these time limits, the Confederate player is declared the victor. The level of victory depends on the Political Points of the winning player at the moment that loser reaches zero Political Points or the game ends due to a time limit.
Union Victory Level:
1200+ Decisive, 1000+ Substantive, otherwise Marginal.
Confederate Victory Level:
1000+ Decisive, 800+ Substantive, otherwise Marginal.

In other words, if I had survived with positive victory points until the end of July, I would have won the game.  I was far from that, but that is something else that I somehow read over and didn't understand until I took a closer look at the victory conditions well into the game.  So the Confederate player needs to do things to maximize his victory points, because even if he can't bring about the defeat of Lincoln in 1864, he can still win the game.  What happens btw is that the losing side of the election of 1864 loses 100 vps per month after that, i.e., the Union loses those points if Lincoln loses, the CSA if Lincoln wins.

So I had -2 points at the end of June 1865, so apparently I would have won the game if I had been in the plus, even +1, after June 1865.  Now I would have been in the negative after July 1865, but I think I would have won based on the time limit.  Someone can correct me on that, too.

(in reply to JW)
Post #: 8
RE: An in progress report. - 2/26/2010 7:23:49 AM   
rmday

 

Posts: 8
Joined: 7/9/2008
Status: offline
Sounds like you played a fun game.

For the CSA, I start a game with the following thoughts:

1. I don't get good results when I invade Kentucky...so I let the North do that and then counter punch. Your mileage may vary. I usually miss out on grabbing Paducah. I can build up in Humboldt though. I throw a bunch (think 4+) of Heavy Artillery into my (fortified) northern holding along the Mississippi to discourage gunboats. I have regular artillery here too and some cavalry to scout the Union in Paducah. I try to be stingy in NW Tennessee as long as possible (Winter of '62 and beyond if possible). My best Army Commander in the West will be with these forces.

2. I defend central Kentucky, and later central Tennessee, with blocking forces. I try to stay behind rivers and in forts as much as possible. I use cavalry here to raid. I try to keep a reaction force with an Army Commander in Central Tennessee. Hopefully, this force will be able to react into Kentucky or Humboldt as needed.

3. I start my first turn by converting an Arkansas militia into cavalry and then taking Springfield, MO. Usually, I follow up by sending infantry (one or two tops) to hold Springfield and moving the cavalry South and East to help in Tennessee. I can usually get away with one militia in each of the exposed regions in Northern Arkansas thereafter and forget the Trans-Mississippi for the rest of the game.

4. I've never seen an AI assault through West Virginia. I put token forces on the West Virginia border.

5. I fortify Virginia early and often. I like to hold Manassas as long as possible. My personal preference is to give up Manassas before losing the Yorktown peninsula. I try to have substantial reaction forces that are one step back from the front but can react both North and East. I move most of the Heavy Artillery built in Virginia to NW Tennessee and the LA delta. Gosh, I hate gunboats. Cavalry should scout and raid. It sounds like you did great in Northern Virginia.

6. I always lose something on the gulf coast. I try to discourage the Union from picking the Mississippi delta by moving militia and heavy artillery into the delta forts. Also, I try to discourage moves against Mobile by keeping some militia and some heavy artillery there with a leader that can handle larger amounts of infantry (great place for those 2+ star generals that are not fit for the front). Don't forget to put at least one militia in the zone due East of Mobile. One Union Heavy Artillery unit there and they close down Mobile. The Union usually grabs one or both of Pensacola and Galveston eventually. I just try to delay that with a militia unit and a second string leader. Look at the victory point value of each gulf coast zone. Try to protect the remaining high point zones as practical.

7. The South Atlantic coast works the same way as the Gulf coast. I try harder not to lose anything here. Fortify, garrison, and install heavy artillery in all of the big ports. Tallahassee, New Bern, and Port Royal probably don't need the artillery as much as other locations. I still fortify and garrison them though. Most of the rest of the zones are low value swamp land that I do not worry about. Some games I play with a reaction force in North Carolina. Some times I regret siphoning off troops when the Union attacks Manassas and the peninsula simultaneously. Invasions against your big ports usually generate extra militia. When I bring second tier generals back from the front, I usually put them in my big port cities.

8. Raiders!! I start building them on turn #1 and keep building them until the Union cries "Uncle". OK, if the momentum of the game is going my way and supply is tight I might stop. Maybe.

9. I usually control my own production. When I do, I like to build enough heavy artillery to have at least 4 units at the north end and 4 more units at the south end of the Mississippi. Maybe more. I like to have at least 2 heavy artillery units in each of the big ports and maybe one in the minor ports. I build regular artillery to fill out the artillery corps in Tennessee and Northern Virginia. I build few factories. I like to save Georgia for artillery production in the early game...so usually elsewhere and away from the front.

10. Training units is critical. Scouting the enemy is critical. Sucking the Union into 2-3 decisive losses is sweet. There is nothing like well trained and well led reaction forces rushing to the aid of fortified blocking forces and crushing the well scouted blue coats.


Hope this helps.

(in reply to JW)
Post #: 9
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