I am new to this game but it seems this forum is still active. I'm playing the Union and am gradually getting the hang of all of its nuances, particularly the leadership game engine. But supplies are really vexing me even after reading the manual several times over. My main problem is for the past year (Jan '62 - Jan '63) my overall supply numbers are sometimes down to low double digits. Some turns started at 0. Part of the problem was I had too many depots but even after eliminting what seemed to be the ones serving no useful function it hasn't helped, particularly as I've started to grow a rather large Union army overall. Questions:
1. What real purpose do supply depots serve? In AGOED's civil war game depots were absolutely essential to any Union advances, particularly in the West and Tennessee regions. In this game I haven't figured out what they really do for me.
Although in desperate situations I believe that isolated troops may be able to supply themselves from depots (if the Union finds its troops cut off and isolate from their supply grid they have bigger problems that just supply, the primary function of depots is to increase the likelihood that an army commander will gain initiative. Your best best is to build 2 depots in the AC base region, that gives him a double increase. He also gets an increase for each turn he remains in the area.
As your front moves deeper into the south, dismantle your depots; you'll receive the 20 supplies back but you'll not costs to build them. Always build depots/forts with admin leaders like Dix or Meigs that have an administrative rating of 6; building depots with other commanders with admin ratings of 3 is much more expensive.
2. I'm not getting the supply grid concept. In the West, from Humbolt through Kentucky, almost all of the regions are showing a supply cost of one and they're all showing Grid 339, which is Detroit, which is a ways away from these regions. Should I be building absolutely nothing but supply in Detroit? The grid basically connects every area with a railroad (and maybe a transport through railroads and transports to every unit on a railroad (or as i recall in a non-railroad area adjacent to a transport). Everybody connected to the grid will automatically supply itself from your supply reserve, the number at the top of the panel that occurs on the right side of the screen when you move people, etc. That is only and all that it does.
Per above, depots provide logistical support for an advance, helping the AC to obtain the all critical initiative. Build no depots in Detroit or any other area already connected to the grid. Build depots only in regions on your front line (or maybe one region behind if you are staging and hiding)
3. I've tried to follow the strategy tips in the manual regarding dedicating about 50% of factory production to supplies. Yet as I stated above, I'm still starting every turn with really low numbers of available supply. What could I be doing wrong or rather not doing? Common problem; happened to me the first few games. Always build a factory in Cairo the first turn (will help with western theatre TC initiative in 1862 and [1863). On the Atlantic build ironclads in NY and cruisers to chase pirates everywhere else. Build a few factories. My theory on supply and the critical political points is: (1) reduce pirate pilferage with cruisers and naval leaders, (2) beware of building depots/forts with anybody but a "6" admin leader, (3) avoid stationing troops in double and triple supply cost retions, (4) demobilize depots as you move forward, (5) avoid promotions until after the Emancipation Proclamation, (6) minimize TC/AC leaders changes in 1861 and 1862 (your corps commanders are poor anyway, so spending PPs for better TC/AC leadership to advance just to lose a battle is dicey).
4. Regarding the South, as I stated in another post, with the blockade keeping free trad supplies to around 60-70 per turn (this is with Norfolk and the Mississippi being shut down), I turned off FOW and saw that South the has over a 1,000 supplies available in Feb '63! Is this WAD? Is the fact that I haven't taken a lot of territory contributing to this? 60-70 CSA supplies per turn is clearly way too many; your objective should be to get them down to 21 in short order. Are you remembering to keep your anti-pirate cruisers supplied with a transport in both the pirate box and the box adjacent that connects them to the grid? If the cruisers in the pirate box are not in supply they do nothing at all (as I recall) to stop pirates/raiders. As I recall, your blockading cruisers also need to be in supply and have double effect if the islands you seize contain depots. Make this happen ASAP to maximize the effect of your initial 10 cruisers.
Eliminate southern factories by capturing those you can (admittedly few in reach in '61 and early '62).
Consider basing your best TC and AC in Washington DC with a couple of amphibious corps and at least two depots. As soon as you have captured the coastal islands and blockaded the Mississippi and James Rivers with HA, launch seaborne invasions every turn you have initiative. These invasions will typically hit areas that do not include the best CSA leaders or excessive artillery. Deploy cruisers or gunboats for max fire support. Pick on isolated areas such as Florida and Texas. Closing those ports will both create new fronts to spread out the defense, help with your PPs, and 100% close the port (even a 100% effective blockage lets a few supplies in).
"L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace."