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AAR of Incompetence!

 
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AAR of Incompetence! - 12/8/2006 4:42:33 PM   
Grotius


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This thread will demonstrate how *not* to play Forge of Freedom! I plunged into the Advanced Game after reading the epic Gil/jchastain AAR and skimming the manual. Don't get me wrong, the manual for FoF is terrific, but when I first got the game I was anxious to fire it up, and so I just played. Now I'm reading the manual and realizing all the mistakes I made.

Anyway, I have the Union, the AI has the CSA, and I'm playing the Advanced Game with most of the defaults enabled, including CSA Emancipation. I started by following jchastain's advice on Kentucky: move troops out to improve one's chance of Kentucky joining your side.






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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/8/2006 4:46:55 PM   
Grotius


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Sure enough, that worked. Kentucky joins my cause in late 1861. But I prove frightfully incapable of exploiting this diplomatic success! My March 1862, half of Kentucky is still in CSA hands. But never mind that! I think I'll go siege Knoxville, just to show 'em.






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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/8/2006 4:50:20 PM   
Grotius


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Unfortunately, I underestimated the strength of Early's division to the southwest. He swoops in and boots me out of Tennessee without raising a sweat. I fight a detailed battle without bothering to learn from the manual how to change facing, or the importance of supply. :) It won't be the first time I underestimate the AI.

In the meantime, stalemate rules in the East. We've skirmished some in West Virginia, but the front lines haven't shifted much.






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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/8/2006 4:51:59 PM   
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Virtually my only military triumph has been on the high seas. My navy sits off the Carolinas and defeats the Confederate navy several times. Here I am, looking for trouble off Charleston.






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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/8/2006 4:56:16 PM   
Grotius


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In the meantime, I'm having lots of fun with the "Civilization"-like strategy game of deciding what to build in my cities. I want more generals, so I build a couple Academies, but all the same I notice that I'm losing the leadership game. The CSA has lotsa famous generals: Stonewall Jackson, Longstreet, JEB Stuart, and some guy named Robert E. Lee. I've got..McLellan. Sigh.

Anyway, I'm also perturbed that even with all those horse-rich provinces in Kentucky, I'm chronically short of horses -- and overloaded with iron. So I switch most provinces to make horses. One build decision that I don't make is one I may regret the most: I don't build much artillery at all, and no siege artillery to speak of. Here's a look at my City List.




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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/8/2006 4:58:36 PM   
Grotius


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Undaunted by my setback in Knoxville, I decide to invade Arkansas. On to Little Rock! At first things go well. I push forward, and I try to box out the famous Stonewall Jackson.






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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/8/2006 5:00:38 PM   
Grotius


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But right around now (spring of 1862), the South emancipates its slaves, which turns everything topsy-turvy. The downside for the South is that Texas and North Carolina stand down from the war effort. But the upside is diplomatic, it seems. I'd already been slipping diplomatically with the Europeans, and emancipation makes my diplomatic position extremely precarious. Money and technology flows from Europe to the South like water. I'm waaay behind on tech. I see this guy a lot.




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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/8/2006 5:02:50 PM   
Grotius


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And things only get worse diplomatically. The Brits declare war on me in the spring of 1862! They have forces in Canada, eep! Fortunately, they only have one container, a division, but I see lots of scary looking siege artillery and stuff near Toronto. I scramble to build infantry in upstate New York and to send a general and a couple brigades that way from Maryland.




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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/8/2006 5:08:22 PM   
Grotius


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In the meantime, an ill omen in Arkansas. I'm struck by disease in the Ozarks. I don't have much hospital coverage at all out there. (I have built a couple hospitals in the Maryland area, but even so the Army of the Potomac has been hit by disease once.)






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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/8/2006 5:10:44 PM   
Grotius


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Fortunately, the initial British invasion isn't that fearsome, at least not by land. The Brits lack containers, and so they come at me piecemeal. At this stage they're more of a nuisance than a genuine threat to my livelihood. Here I win one minor battle in Rochester, for example. Generations will remember the glorious Civil War battlefield of...Rochester!








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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/8/2006 5:12:29 PM   
Grotius


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At sea, however, things look more worrisome. Since British entry into the war, the CSA Navy has become increasingly robust. I'm not sure if I'm fighting Confederate ships alone or British ships too, but whichever it is, there are suddenly a lot of them. I actually have gotten one naval upgrade -- reinforced hulls -- but the CSA has had two or three. Here we see a CSA fleet about to engage my fleet off New York....




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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/8/2006 5:14:33 PM   
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...and here we see the result. Perhaps I should be happy that my ironclad didn't move fast enough to get to the battle.






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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/8/2006 5:17:40 PM   
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But have no fear! Those two Brit brigades on the Hudson River won't be able to take the Big Apple, and in the meantime, I'm still threatening the crucial strategic pivot-point of...Little Rock. I mean, what's more important, all that money production in Manhattan, or control of the financial capital of Arkansas? To this end, I grant small promotions to the two generals leading my Arkansas offensive. One is Heintzelman:




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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/8/2006 5:18:59 PM   
Grotius


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For those of you new to FoF, one of many fun aspects of this game is that promoting (and demoting) generals affects your political standing with the governor of the general's home state. I've made Heintzelman's friends a little bit happier today.




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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/8/2006 5:22:00 PM   
Grotius


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Note from that last screenshot that I continue to win skirmishes in upstate New York -- but that the CSA continues to roll in technology upgrades. But never mind all that! I've got to attend to the Invasion of Arkansas. In June 1862, I conquer White River. I'm a *little* worried that the AI might be smart enough to cut off my supply lines, but the AI can't be that smart, can it?




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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/8/2006 5:27:21 PM   
Grotius


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And here I make my single dumbest mistake of the war. I kinda assumed the AI would make a Typical AI Dumb Mistake and not try to cut off my supply line. So I rather nonchalantly take the Army of Arkansas and move it south into Arkansas River, the river province south of White River, so that I can besiege Little Rock (which is in the Arkansas River province). I don't move my Corps to the north to follow, in part because it's obviously very weak, and in part because I'm just not thinking this through at all. :) Against a human, I'd never do something this stupid, but I figured, bah, it's just AI. :P

Also, note that a couple of Choctaw cavalry brigades have joined my cause. This emboldens me in irrational ways that I still don't understand.

Anyway, on to Little Rock I go! And, um, out of nowhere, a CSA division enters White River and instantly cuts me off! But it's only a division, right, so why worry?




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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/8/2006 5:28:43 PM   
PlacidDragon

 

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This was a refreshing view on AAR's, i must say

I will closely be watching your road to ultimate victory


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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/8/2006 5:33:44 PM   
Grotius


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And here I compound my initial error. I now debate: can I go ahead and besiege Little Rock while being cut off, or should I try to move back north and dispose of that pesky division? A rational person would read the supply rules now. Or at least change my supply level (which I didn't think of touching til I was already in combat!). But I do dimly recall jchastain pressing a siege of Jackson while cut off, so I figure if he can do it, I can do it. On to Little Rock!

What I didn't expect was that Field's division would move south to engage me in Little Rock. He does. I'd underestimated his strength. I shoulda remembered that a CSA brigade packs more punch than a USA brigade; this is a wargaming lesson I learned 30 years ago playing Avalon Hill's "Gettysburg," and one that the manual in FoF helpfully reminds us of, if we read it. :)

So the Battle of Little Rock begins. One thing I like about FoF is that you can choose whether to do detailed battles, and it's best to use them for big engagements. So the "flow" of the game feels right. You get strategic warfare for a couple months, punctuated by big famous battles.

Anyway, here I'm marching on Hickory, one of two victory locations I need to take. In the vanguard is the Crazy Delawares "legendary" brigade. Don't ask me what the Crazy Delawares are doing in Arkansas.




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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/8/2006 5:39:52 PM   
Grotius


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I have absolutely no artillery (recall my earlier cunning decision not to build any), so the only way I can defeat the garrison on the victory hex is to surround it and pulverize it with infantry fire. This I manage to do, but it takes a whole day. In the process, two of my brigades become disordered.

(Questions for the experts: what's the best way to get them undisordered? If I see 0% by the column and line formation options, that means it's fruitless to click those buttons, right? So does one just skip a turn repeatedly? Also, is spacebar the same as skipping a turn?)

Also, I have only one supply caisson. Now that I've read the manual, I think this is partly a consequence of (1) being cut off on the main map and (2) not ordering a rise in the Strategic Supply level of this army group on the main map.

Anyway, after I take that one victory hex, a sole CSA brigade mounts a furious counterattack from the east. It sweeps aside two of my brigades and heads right into the center of town -- and then makes a beeline for my disordered units, routing them instantly. It caps all this off by destroying my sole supply caisson, or at least I think that's what happened. The supply unit seems to be lying on its side, broken. Here's a look at the marauding CSA unit, this time in "chit view" (NATO symbols):




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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/8/2006 5:44:24 PM   
Grotius


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I eventually do rout that sole CSA unit, but by this time another CSA brigade shows up, and I've lost my caisson. I think I read in the manual that the town hex I control is a supply source, but I seem to be doomed anyway. My guys all rout. I'm not quite sure what happened next because I had to answer the phone. When I return to the game, I can't find any of my brigades on the strategic map! All that's left are my two commanding generals. If you lose a battle while you're cut off, all your brigades surrender?

Whatever happened, it amounts to a catastrophe in Arkansas. Heintzelman and Siegel limp back north.

Back East, I've been building up a small army in Buffalo. This is Buffalo in June '62.




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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/8/2006 5:48:15 PM   
Grotius


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But in August 1862, the CSA lands a serious invasion force in New York. Unlike the harrassing Brits, these guys seem to mean business. They immediately eject my two-brigade defense force, leaving New York open to siege. I will have to bring troops from Buffalo, not to mention Pennsylvania and Maryland, to fight for New York City.




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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/8/2006 5:51:16 PM   
Grotius


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And that's where I am now. Note the score: CSA 4, USA -8. The CSA wins if it gets to 24, or if it leads me by 32 points. Things aren't looking good! But I shall play on. If nothing else, I'm curious to see how the November 1862 elections will work.

I imagine we gamers may eventually find ways to bamboozle the AI, but my AAR is testimony that the AI can certainly play a good game if the player doesn't know what he's doing. :) In the meantime, I'm now going to do what I should've done in December 1861 -- read the manual cover to cover!

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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/8/2006 5:57:16 PM   
Grotius


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quote:

ORIGINAL: PlacidDragon

This was a refreshing view on AAR's, i must say

I will closely be watching your road to ultimate victory




Hehe, glad you're enjoying it! But um, if you're hoping for ultimate victory, you may be disappointed.

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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/8/2006 6:54:36 PM   
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Fun AAR to read, good job.

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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/9/2006 2:21:56 AM   
satchel


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All this Arkansas action is making me giddy.

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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/9/2006 6:24:07 PM   
MT Melon

 

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Grotius

Gotta thank you for having the cannonballs to come on here and post this type of AAR. Far from looking stupid, it demonstrates your thought processes in a way that I am sure a lot of us can identify with ( well , at least me anyway ). Like a nerd going to a new school and finding a "nerds" table in the Cafeteria - its nice to know that I am not alone
Keep it going

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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/9/2006 8:22:02 PM   
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Very nice read.  Thanks.  One of the things I like about this game is that there really are a lot of strategic options and the process of learning what does and does not work is its own little adventure.  I too have regrets from my war with Gil, and learning and trying new things is all part of the fun.

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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/9/2006 10:22:19 PM   
Hard Sarge


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Grotius

I have absolutely no artillery (recall my earlier cunning decision not to build any), so the only way I can defeat the garrison on the victory hex is to surround it and pulverize it with infantry fire. This I manage to do, but it takes a whole day. In the process, two of my brigades become disordered.

(Questions for the experts: what's the best way to get them undisordered? If I see 0% by the column and line formation options, that means it's fruitless to click those buttons, right? So does one just skip a turn repeatedly? Also, is spacebar the same as skipping a turn?)

Also, I have only one supply caisson. Now that I've read the manual, I think this is partly a consequence of (1) being cut off on the main map and (2) not ordering a rise in the Strategic Supply level of this army group on the main map.

Anyway, after I take that one victory hex, a sole CSA brigade mounts a furious counterattack from the east. It sweeps aside two of my brigades and heads right into the center of town -- and then makes a beeline for my disordered units, routing them instantly. It caps all this off by destroying my sole supply caisson, or at least I think that's what happened. The supply unit seems to be lying on its side, broken. Here's a look at the marauding CSA unit, this time in "chit view" (NATO symbols):

quote:



spacebar skips the turn for that unit, not the whole turn

if they are at 0, yea, don't try to bring them back, move them to where they are out of sight, let them rest, and the Generals will try and bring them back into order, or the numbers will begin to get better, and if out of the way, out of sight, 30-40% is not a bad number

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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/9/2006 10:22:49 PM   
Grotius


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Thanks for the morale-boosting words, guys! Fortunately, I am slowly learning; I read the manual cover-to-cover yesterday, and it's helping.

That said, August of 1862 didn't start well. France and England, in a rare display of unanimity, are now both at war with me.




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RE: AAR of Incompetence! - 12/9/2006 10:25:35 PM   
Grotius


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So French troops are forming up in Texas, British troops are in upstate New York, and Confederate troops have landed in Brooklyn. Ohhh kaaay! I'm determined to fight on, and for once I've formed a coherent plan. I have a three-star general, Shepley, in charge of a new corps I formed in Chicago. The plan is for him to hook up with a small Pennsylvania division and drive the invaders out of Long Island.




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