Bruno L'Archeveque and I started this game pbem using ADC on August 1st, 1996. I took the Union.
It was my first game with a live opponent and it was Bruno's very first try at it.
We used the historical setup.
First quarter action: The Union I & XII Corps were active and started their attack through the North Woods and East Woods. Nicodemus Hill was overrun but Jackson's and Hood's Divisions stand and fought, leaving I Corps in control of North Woods but bled out. II Corps was likewise stopped at the edge of East Woods but controlling it and Miller's Cornfield as well. To be able to make that stand, Bruno had to bring McLaws' and Hood's Division in the area. I Corps was withdrawn by turn 4 and II Corps was summoned.
Second quarter action: XII Corps was still trying to push on West Wood when II Corps dashed towards the Sunken Road. A fierce showdown was underway when a Terrible Mishap happened in the Confederate line, leaving a gap at the edge of the Sunken Road (as it happened historically). Seeing the opening, II Corps took advantage of it and eventually managed to take the objective.
So far, the battle has been quite bloody for both sides. The Confeds have lost many brigades trying to stop the initial offensive. Union was less bloodied but most units lost at least 1 or 2 steps.
North Woods, Miller Conrnfield, East Woods and the Sunken Roads were controlled by the Union. Nicodemus Hill was retaken by the Confeds.
Third quarter action: VI Corps was committed into action and XII Corps was withdrawn. VI Corps reinforced XII Corps in it's push for Dunker Church and West Woods. The battle there raged until the very end. Dunker Church fell in the hands of VII Corps but the attack stopped there in front of great resistance.
Meanwhile, II Corps was withdrawn and IX Corps was committed. It crossed the fords near Harper's Ferry Road and finally went against Lower Bridge, which easily fell. 3 Brigades went towards Sharpsburg and Shepherdstown Road, crushing the couple of brigades guarding the area. A.P. Hill was still not available to the rescue. Hexes 2244 and 1943 were under Union control.
Fourth Quarter action: A Terrible Mishap occured again, this time in the Union's line. Dunker Church was thus abandoned to the Confeds and VI Corps retreated, holding the line between East Woods and Sunken Road. I Corps (or its remains) were committed for a second time, trying to secure Miller Cornfield.
A.P. Hill finally showed up, desperately trying to clear the IX Corps from the VP roads in the south. They managed to take 1943 back. Sharpsburg and Shepherdstown Road stayed definitively under Union control.
As a last-ditch effort, Bruno sent individual brigades behind the Union lines to contest objectives in the north, which he succeeded doing.
Final VP count was:
Union losses: -11 Confed Losses: +25 East Wood (partial): +1 Sunken Road: +4 2244: +4 Sharpsburg: +3 Shepherdstown Road: +6 Lower Bridge: +2 for a total of +34, meaning a Union Substantial victory.
ANALYSIS: I Corps attack in the north was unimaginative but perhaps because of XII joining in, Bruno over-reacted to it by sending lots of troops in the area and counterattack. This early game drive up north gave some points to Bruno although it was less productive than it could have been since he took some time to realize the full advantage of the Confeds +2 attack bonus so he did less attacks than he could have done.
This decision set the stage for a south push toward Sharpsburg and the high-VP road there. The lack of troops left in the area and the late coming of A.P.Hill made the job of IX Corps a lot easier.
In the center, Bruno has shown that the Confeds could stand and fight well. With the Union's restriction on Commitment, I never really was able to conduct a full-blown coordinated offensive.
In the end, it's really the south VP hexes which made the difference. Less troops in the north for the Confeds would have probably be able to stand but the south would have been more difficult.
The commitement and withdrawal mechanics are really important to understand. To take an objective with a Corps is fine, the problem is if there is still oposition in the area and you have to withdraw the Corps, you have to have another committed Corps to replace it on the frontline or risk losing the objective. This is what happened in the Dunker Church area where at some point I wanted to withdraw VI Corps but couldn't for fear of losing it. I ended up keeping VI Corps committed for defensive purposes only, which is quite a waste. Withdrawal forces a retreat at least 5 hexes away from the enemy.
Note that V Corps was never able to be committed in this game.
All in all, we did enjoy the game and we recommend it for PBEM. Things ran smoothly all the way. We might switch sides for a rematch. Personnally, I think play balance does favor the Union but not overwhelmingly. I do think the Confeds can make it by keeping a stronger reserve in Sharpsburg area and by using their move-last advantage to re-take objectives lightly held during the last turn.