From: Main Line, PA
I wrtoe this a few months ago and never posted it. There are some flaws but enjoy...
After ten plus PBEM games I have been able to come up with a few decernable approaches that turn the armed forces of the north in to a unstoppable monster. (It is unstopable to start with...)
The July 61 and the Southern Steel scenarios are both games that challenge the northern player in the area of resource management. All things given the north should not loose to the south, it should be a question of time...or in other words it is the mark of the CSA to see how long they can hold out.
In the PBEM game against various players the settings have been advanced with no time limit and quick combat. The games also represent leaders as historical and random.
From the start the north should have a realistic assessment of its capabilities. Understanding what its forces can do and can not do is critical to bring the war to the end in the shortest possible time. The true test of victory is whether a player can do better than his historical counter parts. From the start (Southern Steel & July 61 historical) the USA player should be focused on four things: forts, mustering, education & expansion.
1) Forts offer a critical two-for-one deal, time and protection. The Lower Missouri River, Central Mississippi River and the Ohio River should have Level One forts built immediately by ground forces. Ground forces are preferable for using cities to 'produce' forts because it takes less time, and if a CSA force is able to advance into a river area it will stop the forts production. But, remember not to let your resource total drop below 100 in each of the applicable categories after a force has been set to build a fort. Nothing is more frustrating then setting a force to build a fort and then not havening it built next turn because during production because a build/production has cause the resources to drop below the required 100 in each category (money, labor & iron). The Missouri-Mississippi, East Ohio & Ohio River Pittsburgh should also have forts built to offer that extra layer of protection. It is most likely that the CSA will not advance into these river areas but they do have the capability. The difficult part is the West Ohio and the Tennessee Rivers. They are not accessible to the USA from the start of the game for two very different reasons. The Tennessee River fort starts in the hands of the CSA and the West Ohio is neutral, an advance into it will most likely give Kentucky to the CSA. Do not give Kentucky to the CSA. More on Kentucky later... With these forts built the at start deficiencies in the quality of the USA forces can be somewhat offset by the defensive bonuses of forts, terrain and moral bonuses given to the defender in quick combat. Behind this line is the industry that will win the war every time. Do not let the CSA take either the Missouri-Mississippi or the Ohio Rivers at any cost, if they do and they build forts, it can and will be very disruptive to the USA build schedules. Also, Kenawha, Abingdon, Franklin, Shenandoah and Fredricksburg should have forts built in them if they can be taken. Once built all of the above forts should have guns with a siege firepower of 10+ bought for them and the attributes Breastworks and Abatis. The Breastworks slow the overall progress a siege by 25% and the Abatis slow the most numerous units in the CSA army, Infantry, by 25%. The CSA at some time or another will get on to these forts and will try to siege them. With the guns and attributes the valuable commodity of time will be given to the USA player to get forces to the era and knock the CSA back. A none city province will fall every time a enemy force starts the turn in sole possession. Make the CSA fight on the Norths terms. The forts represent a heavy capitol investment, try not to loose them. Relieve the low initative army leaders immediatily. Make sure the Army commander have a initiative rating of 'good' or above. Nothing brings the tears faster than watching a fort fall because a unit refuses to move one province because of repeated initiative failures, I learned that the hard way...more than once.
2) Mustering allows the USA to rapidly expand the army without spending resources. Check each state every turn to see if the Governor supports mustering. Also if there is a 10% chance of trouble it is still worth the risk to get an army fielded quickly. As the population available drops be careful to make sure that there are a minimum of two available before the muster is called. One unit mustered needs two manpower. Also keep an eye the Governors loyalty, do not let it drop to low. Eventually it becomes a case by case basis. Do remember each April new population become available, start the process all over again.
3) Education is the key.
As quickly as possible the USA should begin building one of each type of Upgrade Developments in each of the cities that have universities. When these cities have reached their maximum support levels build a mansion in each. Keep the Upgrade Developments going unit each school of development has at least five or six of each type (Armory, Lab, War College, Engineering & Naval.) It is highly recommended that the Labs, War Colleges and Engineering are built to a level of eight each. There will be some variance of these numbers based upon the unknown factors as the game progresses but the previously stated levels should be reached by the end of 1862. There will be no regrets when the USA logistical supply chain reaches maximum efficiency. Build the upgrade schools safely up in the North. Having one taken or burnt to the ground is a heart breaker but the money and time spent to rebuild is the real loss. As a side note the building of hospitals is also a key factor in alleviating the massive trouble that can be cause by diseases and attrition. It is not so much the loss of forces that cause trouble but the lowering of disposition that can hurt an army for months to come if they are not in range of a comfortable level of hospital coverage. The building of hospitals and mansions (once maximum support has been reached) in Cairo and Cincinnati is also important. Get the hospital coverage up and then upgrade the the hospitals efficiency and range when they become available.
Although some of the aforementioned mansions and hospitals are classified as expansionist builds the truly key factor is camps. The USA needs to get its reinforcement level to a minimum of 20,000 per turn as fast a possible. By the end of 1862 a minimum of 25,000, 1863 should see a close with 30,000-35,000 and 1864 40,000+ per turn. The USA will need the high levels of reinforcements to replace the combat losses and even the daily attrition rate.
Guns, are the next step. A USA output of 100 weapons a turn should be the minimum goal. Use the smaller cities to get those arsenals going. Two important upgrades are the weapons manufacturing and the improved spring field. The plus one to each arsenal allows the USA out put from 33 arsenals producing 66 guns a turn to 33 arsenals making 99 guns a turn (approximately.) The rearming of the USA forces with the improved Springfield doubles the fire power of any unit with a musket. The CSA will eventually not be able to replace its losses. All those forts will also be needing guns that will take a cost 80 to 90 guns per fort.
The building of mansions in the USA largest cities is also a option to keep the economy growing. Including the previously mentioned mansions the USA is generally looking at building at least ten mansions during the course of the game. Other build include rail roads, training grounds, signal towers and telegraphs. The states of New York and Pennsylvania are training ground central. Academies should be build to level of six by the end of 1862. The five stared Grant is great but, the academies training of the armies, corps and divisions is the real benefit. Once each container unit has logistical and command staff of fair they are no longer receiving negative effects in quick combat.
Once these levels of build has been met the USA should switch to building siege artillery, artillery, cavalry and ships. These should be balanced. If the USA is not overly aggressive in 1861 & 1862 they will have not lost that many battles that effect National Will. Keeping the National Will losses manageable in the first two years of the war will keep the USA from spending capital on European relations. All thing s considered the USA should spend monies on relations if the British and/or French reach a level of four or five. The danger of CSA emancipation and the plus 3 boost to all European relations becomes a real danger. Under no circumstances let the French or the British enter the game. Spend the money every turn if necessary. If the USA has not damaged its National Will and given the CSA the corresponding increase in will there should be the necessary money in 1863 to build a Cavalry and Artillery every turn. If the USA has built a minimum of five or six armies with a minimum of two corps per army they will need 10 to 12 siege, cavalry and artillery units distributed evenly (one siege, artillery and cavalry per corps.) Do not forget get to put at least one engineering attribute in each siege and artillery unit. The engineering and artillery advantage during a siege will decrease the time necessary to take a city/fort. Taking a city quickly before "Bobby" Lee shows up and kicks ass is very important.
As USA begins the game there should be three rally points that allow protection and time to collect the scattered USA forces. The Central Mississipi, The East Ohio River and the Cumberland should be the rally points of the early Union armies. Building three large armies at each of these points with their accompanying forts should make the cost of battle very high for the CSA. If Kentucky stays neutral for a few turns (It stayed neutral until turn 24 once...) it acts as a partial buffer for the East Ohio River army. It the CSA forces the state of Kentucky quickly reinforce the garrisons and try to fight a defensive battle as best possible.
Other game notes...
In the East do not loose the Cumberland or Annapolis. The forts there should have at least five garrison (Cumberland & Annapolis, Fort Madison) and minimum one per fort in the remainder of the Annapolis. Keep the Potomac River forts filled. If the CSA tries to take one of these large forts that are filled to the brim, it will be a grim undertaking. Use the well supplied eastern army to fight with a +2-+4 fort modifier, a +2 terrain modifier and the moral boost that goes to the defender. Losses on each side will most likely be high but, The Union can afford the three to one losses. It's Lincolns grim mathematics...
In the west try not to looses the river line. With forts on the rivers and a over linking hospital net...its build up time. The losses of Cairo or Cincinnati can disrupt the smooth build up of the USA's superior numbers. By 1863 there should be a qualitative parity and by 1864 the USA should have both the qualitative and quantitative advantage. By then it is hammer time. Hammer the CSA armies one turn after another...if possible let one army rest one turn while attacking with another army.
It is most advisable not to promote Grant, Sherman or Sheridan unit they become Army Commanders. A one, two or three star commander can be killed in combat, a four or five start can not. To get one of these kill as a three star or less is a tragedy...