Noble Knight Games
After a weekend of social obligations and then another weekend of blizzard conditions, Harvey Mossman and I were
finally able to get back to this face-to-face contest. This is our 3rd session.
This session begins with Game Turn 6 (Summer-1 1862) and ends with Game Turn 8. This week the Union forces were once
again ably commanded by Harvey, and I controlled the Confederates. As mentioned in the last article,
the finally Victory Point tally at the end of our last session was 16 VP for the Union, and 0 VP for the Confederacy.
The formula for Automatic Victory is to subtract the Confederate VPs from the Union VPs
and then compare that result to the Benchmark Number listed on the game turn track for the turn just ending. If the net
VP difference is at least 12 greater than the Benchmark Number, the Union wins an Automatic Victory. If it is at least 12 less
than the Benchmark number, the Confederate wins an Auto Victory. Any other result, and the game continues. In our game, the
net VP difference of 16 was compared against the Benchmark Number of 12 yielding only a +4 surplus for the Union which
is insufficient for an Automatic Victory, and so the game continues.
I have been unable to mount even a serious raid into the north, let alone an invasion. Every time I have attempted it, my forces
have been intercepted and stomped. In a "far from historical" show of force, Harvey has been able to perform a giant "Clear & Secure"
operation that spans the width of Virginia from the Shenandoah Mountains in the west all the way to the Potomac River and Chesapeake
Bay in the east. Very frustrating for the South. Without a few successful forays into the north and the associated Victory Points, the
Confederacy really has little chance of surviving very long. Fredericksburg and Richmond, capital of the Confederacy, have fallen, and West
Virginia is securely in Union hands. My Confederates still have one sizable force in the east, under Robert E. Lee, and I'm hoping that
he may be able to re-take Richmond and hold a line something like Richmond-Lynchburg.
At the end of the last session, the Tennessee had also been pretty well penetrated by U.S. Grant and his army. I sent Hardee
and Morgan to circle around behind Grant and re-take Nashville, threatening the Union supply line.
(Note: We have been playing incorrectly in that we thought that a force, other than cavalry, had to spend an additional
movement point to *clear* an enemy control marker. This is incorrect; only cavalry need to spend an extra point to remove
enemy control. Infantry forces clear it automatically as they pass through without spending any extra MPs. It's that type
of game, though, and constant references to the rule book are necessary)
In any event, the Union forces are moving through Tennessee like a hot knife through butter and the doorway to Georgia and,
beyond that, the path to the sea is wide open. (see the
maps in the last article for force dispositions at the end of Game Turn 5)
Situation in the Eastern Theater at the end of this session (Game Turn 8)
Game Turns 6, 7 and 8 (Summer-1, Summer-2 and Fall of 1862)
The Eastern Theater
There was no (Confederate) joy in the Eastern theater during this session. Harvey continued the inexorable "Clear & Secure" operation,
squeezing Virginia's defenders tighter and tighter. Union reinforcements continue to pour in directly from the north and also
from amphibious operations along the James and Pamunkey rivers. Petersburg has fallen, following by Lynchburg. Burnside is *still*
blitzkrieging, and is advancing on Greensboro, NC. Bobby Lee still maintains a large force, but he is now fighting on the
outskirts of Weldon, NC, rather than in his home state of Virginia. The fort at Norfolk, with its solitary SP, is still holding on
(but only because it has not been attacked!).
The only bright side, from the Confederate perspective, is that I have been able to re-capture most of West Virginia. This may
draw a few of his units northward to prevent me from taking a serious slap at Pennsylvania. But, more than likely, his new
reinforcements will be sufficient to shut down that move.
You'd never know it from looking at the map, but during the 3 turns of this session, Bobby Lee has inflicted several defeats
on various Union forces. But it's just too little, too late. It may take another full turn for the Union to muster a sufficient
force to drive Lee from Weldon, but by that time, Burnside will be setting up HQ in Columbia SC!
The Southeast at the end of Game Turn 8
The very first amphibious assault outside of the northeast corridor has taken place at Georgetown, SC, and the invading
units have pressed inland, unopposed, to take Florence, SC. I expect a tidal wave of amphibious assaults coming in the
following turns, and I am helpless stop them. If I sound depressed, it's because I am...
The Western Theater: Tennessee/Kentucky
The Western Theater/Tennessee and Kentucky at the end of Game Turn 8
If you're looking for good Confederate news here, you'll be disappointed. Tennessee is infested with Yankees from Memphis to Knoxville!
My attempt to cut Union supply by re-taking Nashville was a total disaster. Hardee and Morgan barely escaped with their lives. Kentucky,
with the exception of a stray Confederate control marker in Bowling Green is firmly in Union hands. Move along, folks. Nothing more to see here...
The Western Theater: Alabama/Georgia
The Western Theater/Alabama and Georgia at the end of Game Turn 8
After cleaning house in Tennessee and northern Alabama, Grant and Sherman have destroyed Atlanta, GA.
Grant is now heading west, back into Alabama with a full head of steam.
Sherman appears to be making his historical "March to the Sea" (the only "historical" thing that has happened thus far). Having taken Macon, GA,
he seems to be set to bump off Milledgeville and then proceed to Savannah. Again, I have nothing but Breckenridge and a single SP to stop him with.
'Nuff said about Alabama and Georgia.
The Western Theater: Mississippi
The Western Theater/Mississippi at the end of Game Turn 8
Hardee (after his narrow escape from Nashville) commands one of two sizable Confederate forces in the Western Theater and I've tasked
him to "stand or die" at Holly Springs, MS! The other decent sized force in Vicksburg, under Kirby Smith's command, must hold that
fortress city as long as possible, to prevent the Union from reaping the 3 Victory Point bonus for controlling the Mississippi river
from end to end (as well as the 2 VP for the city itself).
New Orleans and Fort St. Philip & Fort Jackson have minimal garrisons and are prepared to protect the southern end of the Mississippi river.
These forces will probably hold up better than the forces in the East...
The Trans-Mississippi Theater
The Trans-Mississippi Theater at the end of Game Turn 8
Looks like Harvey may be planning to surround and lay seige to Little Rock. I'll hate to have to leave my comfy F3 Fort and attack, but it
may come to that. I want to hold this position as long as possible to keep the Yanks off of Arkansas Post. The most important position
in the Trans-Mississippi is just southeast of Arkansas Post, AR. That F1 fort is secondary insurance that the Union will not be able
to control the Mississippi from top to bottom. I can't build it up any stronger because it is not located in a Resource hex, but the F1 is
sufficient to block a Type 2 navigable river.
The Trans-Mississippi is the only theater where Rebs outnumber Yanks. But, when all is said and done, the Union receives 2 SPs reinforcement
in the Trans-Mississippi to my 1SP, and those odds will tell. Let's hope this theater remains the backwater its been since Game Turn 3...
The Gulf Coast
Once again, I added this final image for completeness. New Orleans and some of the other important Resource hexes have minimal
garrisons and are entrenched. If time permits, I'll see if I can enhance them to Forts. There's not much else I can do down there
except brace for the coming storm...
The central Gulf coast area at the end of Game Turn 8
After 8 turns of play (through Fall 1862), the Union has accumulated 31 Victory Points. The Confederacy still has 0 VPs.
The Benchmark Number for Game Turn 8 is 21, so the Union has +10 VPs beyond the Benchmark number. Two more VPs and
the game would have been over instantly.
We evaluated the situation and tried to make a few predictions about upcoming Game Turn 9. The Benchmark number for Turn 9
will be 24, so Harvey will need +12 beyond that for a total of 36 VPs. It's not likely that I'll be able to capture
and hold any Objective hexes in the north, so Harvey's magic number is +5 more VPs needed next turn.
There's absolutely nothing I can do to stop:
- Grant from taking Montgomery, Selma and Demopolis, AL (total 5 VPs).
- Sherman from taking Milledgeville and Augusta, GA (total 5 VPs due to the Arsenals).
- Rosecrans from taking Greensboro, Salisbury and Charlotte, NC (total 3 VPs)
That's a total of 13 VPs. And that's just the low-hanging fruit. It will likely be a lot worse. Armed with this somber
knowledge, I reluctantly conceded the game. Playing the South in this game is no picnic. Nearly every decision you make
must be the right one, or you'll pay dearly for it. A few large setbacks and it will surely be an early night.
However, I can say with certainty that the Confederacy can win, because it happened in another game I was involved in
on Vassal over the last few weeks (the Confederate player was Dan Berger,
designer of Caesar's Gallic War). In that game I was a model Union player. I was McClellan and Halleck rolled into one. Just couldn't get
relaxed enough to make my armies move away from the Potomac River until it was too late; I didn't keep up at all with
the Benchmark numbers...
The general concensus among all my gaming buddies who have played this game, however, is still that the Confederates are toast by 1863
the latest. Harvey is preparing some thoughts of his own on the game, and I'll get them published when he's ready. We both started off
pretty negatively disposed toward this game, but agreed to give it a fair evaluation. I guess I'm kind of getting hooked on it, because
I'm anxious to give it another try. We'll see how things go...