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tripax
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How does the south win in PBEMs?

Sun Jun 14, 2015 7:03 pm

Hi all. I haven't played many PBEMs (two, both as union), and have a question for the more experienced. When the south wins, how does it happen?

In one of mine I accidentally lost something like 20 NM (more?) for demoting/promoting the wrong general over a political one who had more seniority. I played very conservative for a long time after that but won in early April 1865 once the rail lines thawed and I could move a couple large Western corps to Richmond. In the other I dominated the coasts with naval invasions (some of which were a bit gamey) and won in 1863. In both I dictated the game, somewhat. I had fun and I know one of my two opponents enjoyed it, but I'm curious if I play another PBEM what I need to do/watch out for.

I can see that Gray Fox can win as the south by creating an eastern steamroller and taking DC in 1861 or 1862. Are there other common ways for the south to win?

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Ace
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Mon Jun 15, 2015 6:10 am

Gray Fox is right. The best chance for the South to win is to try to grab DC. The alternative is to try to grab defensive positions in Virginia, and along Mississipi Ohio and Cumberland rivers, and play a waiting game. The flaw of the second approach is you give initiative to the opponent and give him ample time to organize superior force and steamroll you in later years.

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Gray Fox
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Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:38 pm

If your opponent moves the Union capital to NYC, which costs nothing since the NM score normalizes back to 100 automatically over time, then you can't bank on a "one-hit wonder" by taking D.C. Of course, you can move your capital too, which pretty much takes an instant NM win out of the equation for the Union, too. Then you must play a long game and piece together every VP. The thing people don't know about my 1861 lightning campaign is that I also have a garrison Division defending each of my important ports, a western defense force and I increase my industry ASAP. In a long game you are going to have to live with inflation to make up for the effect of the blockade on your cash income. I would make a line of strong points on each front defended by militia Divisions and a reserve of the best troops you can muster to counterattack when the Union forces are spent. This "high-low" mix is similar to what the Germans used against Zhukov. If the Union is strong in the East, then maybe you can find opportunity elsewhere. Find out what works and do that even better. Challenge yourself to become the player that can take your army and beat their army, and then take their army and beat your army. That's what Lee was and that's what you need to be as the South. Good luck!
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Ace
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Mon Jun 15, 2015 3:58 pm

Gray, I can see you are a crack player...

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Gray Fox
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Mon Jun 15, 2015 5:33 pm

Coming from you, that is high praise indeed.

I'm actually saving up to build a huge, gaudy, neon shrine to my humility.
;)
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tripax
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Mon Jun 15, 2015 7:24 pm

@gf: In the long game, it sounds like you have put a high priority of defense against sea invasion. Do you face a slow retreat (with some counter-attacks or whatever) against the land invasion on all fronts, or do you hold firm at, say, Culpepper, Bowling Green, Paducah, and Fayetteville. If I understand correctly, this is basically a version of your Union strategy in reverse with no steamroller in the East after 1862.

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Cardinal Ape
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Tue Jun 16, 2015 2:21 am

Sometimes the South can achieve victory by winning a decisive series of field battles. Three victories that each result in 5Nm end up being a difference in 30NM. Once the South get a NM lead like that it can very hard for the Union to successfully attack.

As the Union it can be easy to out maneuver yourself. Trying to go for too much too quick is a hard to resist temptation. The South can encourage this bad behavior by feinting weakness and letting the Union indulge in over aggression. Hide in the hills until the time is right.

After the Union lands on your shores you may want to immediately counter-attack, but sometimes it is best to pretend that you don't care. Wait for them to spread out. Most coastal targets are marsh or swamp regions - it can be very hard to counter-attack Union forces in captured cities.

Whenever I play the Union and I can't see Lee or Jackson on the board I get very paranoid.

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Tue Jun 16, 2015 4:10 pm

Truth be told, against any decent opponent in a PBEM "winning" in the sense of making Union NM fall below threshold in a PBEM is all but impossible as the Confederacy. Your best hope is to try and drag out the war as long as possible and bank on either reaching the end of 1865 or securing foreign intervention by keeping your NM and VP higher. The best way to do this is A) Make sure you secure your ports. Particularly New Orleans, Norfolk, and Charleston. B) Establishing successive and pre dug defensive positions using militia to create fallback lines already entrenched to level 4. C) making sure you use HQs and your two available training officers to get the most out of your outnumbered forces and keep the quality edge and D) aggressively sabotage Union logistics and burn every depot from any territory you withdraw from.
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Gray Fox
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Wed Jun 17, 2015 1:00 pm

Tripax, with the 1861 forces you get and a focused production, I can build some industry, set up a stack aimed at D.C., have a small reserve and put together 9 mostly militia Divisions for city garrison duty of places like New Orleans, Charleston, Savannah, Wilmington, etc. These garrisons don't form a Maginot line, they are just fly paper to slow down an invasion force until the reserve shows up. The best you can do is attack the Union army's supply line, not the Union army. However, if you have a stack of 3400 power aimed at the Union capital, this should keep their army on a short leash until they can match your strength. If your opponent hasn't read any of my posts and would rather invade NO, liberate MO and KY, build a huge blockade fleet and forget about Abe's home, then sink your canine's into Washington's throat and shake vigorously.
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tripax
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Wed Jun 17, 2015 3:44 pm

#GF: First, looking at some AARs, I see what you mean. The AAR you did is a bit of an outlier since you and your opponent had some idea of what was going to happen, but the charlesonmission (Union) versus Kentuckian (CSA) youtube AAR seems to have a similar theme and is a nice example of the Union forces over extending themselves. When I play Athena, she never seems to concentrate enough forces in Virginia to ever threaten DC (assuming 2 divisions plus the fixed DC defense), but clearly Kentuckian (and you) show that the Union has to keep a large Virginia army between the CSA's forces and DC - charlesonmission got caught trying to defend both HF and DC and invade the gulf (not to mention he seemed to get too cute in Missouri and the Far West and has a few extra brigades in Ohio/Northern Kentucky waiting for Kentucky to declare rather than fighting/garrisoning active departments).

All that said, charlesonmission's NM is still in the 90s. If he stops taking non-combat losses and limits combat disasters for a year or so, he'll end up strong enough in 1863 to to attack Richmond either from one or two directions (out of, say, the Shenandoah Valley, Overland, The Peninsula/Norfolk, or via Wilmington). My reading of these recommendations is that if you move your capital to Atlanta and are careful with VPs, you can survive this type of slow crumble in 1863-1865. Is that right? And speaking of Atlanta, when is the best time to move the capital?

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Wed Jun 17, 2015 4:04 pm

NM will normalize back up to 100, or back down to that score. In one test against Athena as the South, I moved her capital to Atlanta for her and then took Richmond. I had about 150 NM, but I was bleeding 3-5 NM per turn. I no longer had one target that could push my NM over the winning score. It was unlikely that I could win a string of battles to do this in one or two turns. I sent an invasion fleet right up the river to Macon that has no forts guarding it (the Altamaha River to the Ocmulgee River ) and took Atlanta two turns later, but this wasn't enough to get the NM win. The game doesn't have an automatic win by VP. Once you move your capital to the Peach State, it's game on to the finish date. I still wouldn't move it until it was necessary, so that you don't reveal your ace in the hole.
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Durk
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Thu Jun 18, 2015 6:15 am

The South has wonderful offensive leaders. Concentrate you division commanders with the offensive ability.
St Louis, Cincinnati and Baltimore are really available objectives. Forget moving capitals, and active South can take Maryland and Delaware, plus Missouri.

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Gray Fox
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Thu Jun 18, 2015 12:05 pm

A human Union player in pbem would have to be extremely incompetent to allow you to take all of those objectives.
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Thu Jun 18, 2015 7:18 pm

I think this is an interesting point. In my current PBEM YouTube AAR, the CSA is running circles around me and my NM is still above 90. More likely, the CSA wins in the long haul through VPs... basically, in my mind, if the CSA can hold on to significant territory including objective and strategic cities by the end of 1865, they've won.

Projekt Pasha wrote:Truth be told, against any decent opponent in a PBEM "winning" in the sense of making Union NM fall below threshold in a PBEM is all but impossible as the Confederacy. Your best hope is to try and drag out the war as long as possible and bank on either reaching the end of 1865 or securing foreign intervention by keeping your NM and VP higher. The best way to do this is A) Make sure you secure your ports. Particularly New Orleans, Norfolk, and Charleston. B) Establishing successive and pre dug defensive positions using militia to create fallback lines already entrenched to level 4. C) making sure you use HQs and your two available training officers to get the most out of your outnumbered forces and keep the quality edge and D) aggressively sabotage Union logistics and burn every depot from any territory you withdraw from.
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Thu Jun 18, 2015 9:36 pm

charlesonmission wrote:I think this is an interesting point. In my current PBEM YouTube AAR, the CSA is running circles around me and my NM is still above 90. More likely, the CSA wins in the long haul through VPs... basically, in my mind, if the CSA can hold on to significant territory including objective and strategic cities by the end of 1865, they've won.


They might be pushing you around in that game, but most of the battles have been fairly even. You did lose two divisions in one battle, but I want to say even that one was fairly close. So although the CSA is doing pretty good, they're not getting the nice NM swings that they could be.

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Fri Jun 19, 2015 4:09 am

Gray Fox wrote:A human Union player in pbem would have to be extremely incompetent to allow you to take all of those objectives.


With a bit of luck on Kentucky, the South has a really enhanced production system and the excellent Kentucky units. It is not about incompetence on the Union part but aggression on the Southern part. It is a crap shoot, but is also possible.

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Gray Fox
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Fri Jun 19, 2015 12:11 pm

I see, the old "a bit of luck" "crap shoot" Grand Strategy.
;)
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Durk
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Fri Jun 19, 2015 11:22 pm

Ah, you have indeed nailed my strategy, and my tactics.

Actually, if the South can hold Kentucky, even Bowling Green, it produces those super-brigades. Coupled with a defense of ports, production hums along just fine.

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Fri Jun 19, 2015 11:43 pm

Going for the throat - the opponents capital - is the probably the most effective strategy. But I can't bring myself to do that every game, I have a hard time using the same strategy twice in a row, it is not very fun. I tend to like games that have the Virginia line lock up and see most of the action out west. Games that have action all across the board are more fun than capital blitzes.

Regardless of the objective, I am always aggressive in the early game as the CSA. They have a lot of perks in the first year and they seem feed off of momentum that can be hard to stop. (Why do the 2 INF, 1 SS brigades take the Union 90 days to build, but only 30 for the CSA?) I just can't get behind this idea that a good Union player can stop the CSA from doing anything, so you shouldn't even try. Maybe I am too optimistic in thinking that my human opponents will make mistakes at some point.

In a few of games I have been told, 'I see you wasting resources in the West, I'll make you pay in the East.' After a turn or two of my opponents watching their Western county side burn, they almost always respond in kind. What they should say is, 'I see you devoting resources to the West. I should ignore it, but human nature compels me to stop you. I will now divert resources to the West.'

Players who are capable of watching entire states burn without flinching are the ones you really need to look out for and identify quickly. It generally means that they have an unalterable master plan to sack your capital.

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BattleVonWar
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Sat Jun 20, 2015 3:57 am

I won my first game by taking D.C. along with Baltimore, against Athena. The CSA does have a large army but I doubt that a great human player will just let this happen. Also the Union has natural river defenses and if she takes the heights in Harpers/Leesburg you will have to fight up hill to flank that tiny little bit of territory in Maryland into Union Key Cities...

I think that you have to know when to give Kentucky/Missouri and inevitably a good deal of Tennessee/Missippi... The point is that the CSA has always 2/3rds what the Union has as the game progresses. In the West I find in the middle section the Union starts with a lot more resources and the CSA starts with enough to just hold.

If you're doing better ... by taking Missouri/Kentucky all the way/and Own all the Heights in Virginia.. You're probably going to win ... that's too many objectives at once. I would like to see more flexible CSA strategies, she seems blocked by her need to watch too much of her precious drawn out High End Real Estate. Meanwhile the Union has everything of value behind a nice Wall... St. Louis being the only really truly exposed region.. Gold Territory a close second.. If you do not include her Capitol

Cardinal Ape wrote:Going for the throat - the opponents capital - is the probably the most effective strategy. But I can't bring myself to do that every game, I have a hard time using the same strategy twice in a row, it is not very fun. I tend to like games that have the Virginia line lock up and see most of the action out west. Games that have action all across the board are more fun than capital blitzes.

Regardless of the objective, I am always aggressive in the early game as the CSA. They have a lot of perks in the first year and they seem feed off of momentum that can be hard to stop. (Why do the 2 INF, 1 SS brigades take the Union 90 days to build, but only 30 for the CSA?) I just can't get behind this idea that a good Union player can stop the CSA from doing anything, so you shouldn't even try. Maybe I am too optimistic in thinking that my human opponents will make mistakes at some point.

In a few of games I have been told, 'I see you wasting resources in the West, I'll make you pay in the East.' After a turn or two of my opponents watching their Western county side burn, they almost always respond in kind. What they should say is, 'I see you devoting resources to the West. I should ignore it, but human nature compels me to stop you. I will now divert resources to the West.'

Players who are capable of watching entire states burn without flinching are the ones you really need to look out for and identify quickly. It generally means that they have an unalterable master plan to sack your capital.
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