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Sid Meyers Gettysburg
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Sid Meyer's Gettysburg
Brigades and Battle Lines:
Since your men gain extra morale when they have friendly troops to the sides or rear, the most important single concept to remember when giving orders to your troops is to keep unbroken battle lines whenever you can, on offense or on defense. This is particularly important given the effect of flanking fire - the farther around an enemy is to a regiment's flank, the more severe the damage taken by that regiment. Close up the spaces between your brigades as much as possible to keep your opponent from exploiting this advantage. The easiest way to keep the individual regiments supporting each other is to move them in brigade formations - the men automatically space themselves out to the optimum distance.
On the other hand, don't overlap your men, where some regiments are blocked from firing by units in front. Beginners often fall into the real-time strategy trap of throwing all their units in a big wad in the center of the action. This is the surest way for the enemy to concentrate fire on a few regiments at a time, routing your entire force within minutes.
Additionally, you'll want to avoid kinks and curves in your lines wherever possible. An angle in your line, known as a salient, exposes your men to fire from multiple angles, increasing the effect of enemy fusillades. There are times when creating a salient makes sense, such as when you want to defend a curving ridgeline; it's pretty hard to defend Little Round Top with a straight battle line! When a salient is called for, be sure to defend it with your toughest crack troops, or with a good reserve waiting just behind the line. When the men in the angle become severely stressed, have them fall back and rest while the fresh reserve plugs the gap. You can alternate brigades in this manner for a long time, as long as you don't let your men get too close to the breaking point and rout, forcing you to pull troops off other parts of the line.
Nathan Bedford Forrest's old adage that battles are won by the general that gets there "the firstest with the mostest" is very appropriate for Gettsyburg! When moving your troops, be sure to keep them in the fast column formation when not under fire from enemy regiments. Where possible, use brigade road formation to speed movement through broken terrain, and use brigade maneuver formation when marching cross-country. With a brigade on the move, a quick key combo of "M" and "B" puts your men in maneuver formation and tells them to assume a battle line once they reach their destination. Just be sure your men are in a battle line before they engage the enemy, or they face devastating casualties in a short period of time. And when moving, try to avoid going through wooded, rocky, or swamp terrain if possible, unless you want to remain undetected, as these features slow movement down to a maddening crawl.
There are two important commands to remember when moving troops, particularly when racing your opponent to occupy a crucial victory point site. One is "double-quick," which increases the speed of your men, although they will take battle stress from running in full combat gear. The other is "don't stop," which keeps your men moving even when under fire. Use these commands sparingly, as your men will be no good to you if they arrive at the objective too stressed to fight. The order to double-quick may be given to an entire brigade on the march by hitting the "Q" key, while the "G" key toggles the brigade into 'don't stop' mode.
Once you've reached your objective, the trick is to hold it against a determined enemy onslaught. As in all maneuvers once the battle is joined, try to keep your men in a solid, unbroken line. Also remember the need for a good-sized reserve to keep the enemy from exploiting a weakness or potential breakthrough. When deploying your men, exploit features like ridgelines and covered terrain (woods, rocky, etc.). If your regiment's flag is in the woods, then that whole regiment is considered to be in the woods, and the same applies for other terrain features. The ideal situation for troops in covered terrain is to be on the edge of cover, facing the enemy; your men are protected by the trees or rocks, while the enemy is in the open.
Once you are ensconced in a good position, your opponent essentially has two choices: punch a hole in your line or outflank the ends of your line. Hole-punching can be defended against by keeping a good-sized reserve near the pressure point, backed up by canister-range artillery just behind the main line. Keep an eye on your morale and have stressed regiments fall back to rest. Regiments in the thick of the battle should be put on "hold," to ensure they maintain position to the last possible moment. The more dangerous form of offense is the flank attack. Here, the enemy tries to work his way around the end of your line, concentrating fire on the exposed last regiment. That end regiment will rout quickly, and the enemy moves on to the next unit in line. With their morale lowered by having their supports withdraw in panic, the new flank regiment will also break and run.
The most common defense against the flank attack is called "refusing the line," where exposed regiments are pulled back, away from the attacking troops. This buys time, forcing the enemy to march even further around your line and giving you an opportunity to bring up reserves to contain the threat or threaten his flank. This move will create a salient, so be sure to guard against a new attack there. A quick and easy (and undocumented!) way to refuse the line with a brigade is to hit Shift-< (refuse left) or Shift-> (refuse right) when the brigade commander is selected.
As in any combat situation, intelligence regarding enemy troop movements is key. Keep a regiment of skirmishers deployed past the ends of your line to warn of an impending flank attack; these skirmishers will also slow down an attack long enough for you to refuse the line and bring up reserves.
Of course, if your foe beats you to the objective, then you have the task of relieving him of his prize. You have the same two choices: punching through or flanking the line. It is generally advisable to try for flanking maneuvers wherever possible. However, if time is short and you need to make a hole quickly, or you spot a portion of his line that seems particularly weak, then look for a salient or gap in the opponent's line and concentrate as much firepower as possible on the exposed troops. Once you have pounded away for a bit and can see by the target's waving flag that he has been hit hard by your volleys, then consider charging with your biggest and best regiments. If the charge succeeds, be ready to rush men in to exploit the breakthrough. Sometimes it takes repeated charges to scare off an entrenched regiment, so don't despair!
The more common and more successful attacks are flanking maneuvers, because it is easier to break an enemy when he has fewer supports, and because you can readily exploit momentum once you have routed the anchor of his line. A good flanking maneuver brings your men around the end of his line undetected, so your opponent has less time to react before his defenses crumble. Where possible, keep your men hidden behind terrain features or ridgelines, taking care not to send them into forests or swamps that impede movement. Above all, don't forget the element of time. Flanking maneuvers that swing far wide of the main action risk ending the scenario with your men still scrambling through the bush, with the battle already lost. Again, once you've beat up on the flank troops for a bit, consider a good charge to break the back of the line.
With both these types of attacks, don't forget to keep the pressure up on other parts of the line, to prevent the enemy from sending reinforcements. When executing these diversionary actions, don't get your men too close to the enemy, where more casualties are taken - no point wasting your men in an action that's only designed to pin down possible reserves. If he pulls reinforcements out from that section of the line, the pin may be converted to an all-out attack!
Put the "Art" in "Artillery":
Effective artillery use can be devastating - nothing causes higher casualties than a well-positioned battery at canister range. Most of the time, you'll want your cannon in one of two places: high ground that affords a large field of fire, or right at the front of your line, supporting the infantry. Artillery placed on good high ground can bombard the enemy at long distance, perhaps even taking a regiment or two out of the fray before it gets within rifle range of your lines. When choosing your site, remember that the same rules apply for cannon as for troops - shooting at the flanks of the bad guys ("enfilade fire"), from as high and as close as you can, maximizes the power of your big guns. But no matter what you do, don't leave your cannon unsupported by infantry, or they risk becoming some very expensive casualty points for the other side at the end of a scenario. At worst, your guns can be captured and turned on you!
When the action really gets heated, there is no better position for your big guns than right behind the front lines. This close range allows your battery commanders to fire canister shot at the enemy, causing tremendous casualties in a short period of time. Be careful not to move your guns in front of your line, which exposes them to enemy infantry fire. You may need to zoom in to maximum level and rotate the map a few times to be sure the artillery is properly positioned. If you need to pull back your line, limber your artillery before moving so they won't be left behind when the infantry falls back. There's nothing worse than having the enemy capture your guns and turn their canister fire on you. Even when on the front lines, you should target your artillery so they hit the enemy with enfilade fire when possible. Many experienced generals prefer to position batteries near the flanks of the line, to get flanking bonuses when firing at attackers in the center.
One final word about artillery: don't neglect the impact of counterbattery fire. Targeting the enemy artillery with your cannon slows the rate of fire of the bad guys, perhaps allowing your regiments some relief from canister fire during a long march or close combat.
A Good Time:
From time to time, each side has some mounted troopers to play with. These guys can't stand up to infantry, but they can galavant behind the enemy lines, scouting for reinforcements, driving away enemy artillery, and generally wreaking havoc. Cavalry also works well as skirmishers to slow down your opponent's advance, so long as you pull them back after forcing the enemy into a slow-moving line formation. Cavalry troopers are the most effective type of skirmishers, as they don't take battle stress when moving in skirmish formation, and they have an extended sighting radius.
Each cavalry casualty is worth two points when the hourglass runs out, so don't expose them to infantry fire for long periods, unless delaying the enemy is worth the cost. In these cases, you are trading points for time, so evaluate whether the tradeoff is worth it.
Commanders are perhaps your most versatile resource, given the number of tasks they can perform. Of course, each brigade commander can issue orders to his brigade, which helps to maintain cohesion in the ranks. Commanders are also useful to rally troops, act as scouts, and increase the morale of the men on the line.
Troops that have routed or have high battle stress regain their morale more quickly when a brigade, division, or corps commander is nearby. These bonuses are cumulative, so having a regiment's brigade and division commander nearby allows for fast morale recovery. Remember that troops need to be far away from the fighting in order to speedily recuperate, which will take a rallying commander far from important combat roles. An easy way to call all routed troops to the commander's location is the "Rally" command. Your generals also have an extended sighting radius that makes them useful as scouts. Be careful when sending them out on their own, however - if they stumble across an enemy ambush in covered terrain, they can easily be wounded, rendering them useless for the rest of the scenario except to issue orders.
Regiments have increased morale when an unwounded commander is nearby. They are also able to carry out "desperate orders," so be sure to weigh the consequences before pulling a general out of a pitched battle to perform other tasks. You can put a regiment on "hold" while the commander is nearby and then pull the commander back; the men will stay on "hold." They will lose the morale command "chunk," so measure the tradeoffs.
Quickstart: Morning Encounter:
In this scenario, the Confederates begin with Archer's strong brigade and several batteries of artillery against the Union's dismounted cavalry. Cavalry can't stand up to determined infantry assaults, so all the Confederates need to do is keep moving forward. If the Union cavalry stays in skirmish formation, the Confederate player can use the No Stop command ("G" key) when advancing to force the men back. If the Union troopers stop and form a battle line, the Confederates can charge the formation to break the cavalry.
The Union goal is simply to trade ground for time -- the Confederates must take the Herr Tavern quickly, before Union reinforcements can come up. Use skirmishers on Fall Back to slow the enemy while you set up prepared positions. When the skirmishers are close to being overrun, have them retreat to the prepared positions. Repeat the process until time runs out. Finally, remember that the cavalry can use their horses to move quickly when in column formation.
First Contact: McPherson's Hill
As in the Morning Encounter, the Union troops are no match for the Confederates at the beginning of the scenario, and it falls to the Federal cavalry to fight a delaying action until reinforcements come up. The Confederate player has a choice to make: take McPherson's Hill as soon as possible then hold against the Union counterattack, or wait until all reinforcements are up and attack the hill with a numerical superiority, but with tight time limits. If you intend to take the hill quickly, use the aggressive tactics described in "Quickstart: Morning Encounter" to roll over the cavalry, then hang on until your own reinforcements arrive. If you wait for all your troops to deploy before attacking, pick a flank and hammer it with repeated charges so you set the Yankees to running before the scenario ends.
The Union player is trying to slow down any initial Confederate advances until Reynolds' infantry can come up. Properly deployed, your cavalry should be sufficient for this job. Once the infantry is deployed on McPherson's Hill, rest your cavalry for a bit, then use their mobility to hit the enemy's flank or bolster weak points in your line. Alternatively, the cavalry can ride behind the enemy lines, slowing down reinforcements and chasing away the pesky artillery.
Golden Opportunity: Will's Woods:
When playing as the Confederates, avoid the mistake of sending your brigades in piecemeal. Await the arrival of one or two reinforcement brigades before you begin the big push. Additionally, position your artillery where it does the most good: on the open ridge between Oak Hill and Will's Woods. Remember that Daniel is your best brigade, so use him for making your breakthroughs. Find the weak points in the Union line and hammer away!
As the Union, your troops are also away from the action when the scenario begins. You'll want to position Baxter on the east edge of Will's Woods, where his veteran regiments can make the most of the covering terrain. Schimmelfennig should be sufficient to hold the right flank, and Stone can be used as a mobile reserve to match the Confederate actions. Later, Paul can be used to shore up whatever section of your line has had to stand up under Daniel's pounding.
Howard's Predicament: Barlow's Knoll:
Historically, this is where the Union troops got caught out of position, with no cohesive lines. Howard's predicament now becomes your predicament when playing the Union: do you hold the high ground at the Knoll, or pull back your troops to hold the Alms House? The Alms House is the more important of the two V.P. sites in the scenario, but the Knoll is easier to defend, since it's the highest ground around. If you intend to hold both sites, go ahead and take your reserves; however, remember that you then must hold both sites to make the cost worthwhile.
The Union has an advantage in its numerous artillery units available. Find a good place for these guys, preferably on the plain west of the knoll. When the Confederates come out of the woods, they'll be exposed to some nasty enfilade fire. Keep a good Napoleon battery on the hill, preferably Dilger's large and experienced cannoneers, for good canister fire as the Confederates try to take the hill.
The Confederate player again has to resist the temptation to rush in until at least a couple of brigades are in position. Don't let Gordon's troops be slowed down by skirmishers-again, repeated use of the "Don't Stop" key should move them on their way. If the Union abandons the Knoll, set your artillery on this commanding position to soften up the Federal lines as you put your brigades in position for the assault on the County Alms House. When attacking either V.P site, remember that you have excellent brigades for charging-large and well-trained. Press your advantage along the weaker points of the Union line, and keep a good reserve to exploit breakthroughs quickly.
Turning Point: Little Round Top:
Little Round Top, historically, was the most decisive and hardest-fought engagement of the battle. Your mission as the Union is to hold off the attacking Confederates as long as possible in the Devil's Den and in the Peach Orchard, while your reinforcements get situated on Little Round Top. Eventually, you are probably going to lose Devil's Den, so the question is how to make the Confederates pay the highest price for the ground traded. Here at Firaxis we like to shift Ward's brigade to the south, onto Big Round Top. This way, they can slow the Confederate progress on the trail that goes up the hill. Ward's infantry also takes less damage when protected by the woods and rocks. Move the artillery back to supporting positions on the hillocks, and make sure they don't get overrun after Ward's men are pushed back. After these guys are engaged, they should always be on "Fall Back", to avoid getting trampled by the large, experienced regiments of Law and Robertson. Once Vincent's brigade appears, immediately move him onto Little Round Top where he can dig in as Ward trades ground for time. Keep Ward's withdrawal orderly, as you'll want those guys later on in the scenario to plug gaps.
When playing as the Confederates, the trick is obviously to keep on plowing through the Union lines in the race for Little Round Top. If the Yankees try to hold Devil's Den, outflank them and set up a screening force while the rest of your army slips on by. It can be a slow and difficult process to advance up the Big Round Top, through all the woods and rocks, but it does give you covering fire from Union artillery and the advantage of stealth. If he moves onto the Round Top, exploit the gap created in his lines at the Devil's Den and push through on the other side. Once you get to Little Round Top, work your way around the flanks and hammer away. Keep a couple of regiments in reserve to deal with the small Union reinforcements (Cross and Kelly) that activate later on; also, if you can delay DeTrobriand with a few skirmishers, you'll have an easier time with Vincent.
Sickles' Folly: The Peach Orchard:
The Confederate strategy in this scenario is pretty straightforward: use your numerical and qualitative superiority to grind up the overextended Union line in the Peach Orchard. Barksdale has the best regiments, so use him to punch a hole in the center while your other troops move around the flank. Be sure to deal quickly with the row of Federal artillery to the south of the orchard, before he has a chance to move troops up to protect the batteries. Once the Orchard is secure, move on to the Rose Wheatfield, using the rocky, wooded terrain to the south as cover. Remember that you can't see unmoving troops in the wheat, so watch out for ambushes. Hanging on to these objectives should be a big enough job until the end of the scenario, but if you're feeling lucky and have scored big wins in your push to the Wheatfield, then see if you can take Weikert's Hill.
It's pretty hard to hold the Peach Orchard when playing as the Union, so a common strategy is to use one of the forward brigades (Carr or Graham) to slow the Confederate advance while you set up a second line of defense that runs from the woods between Weikert's Hill and the Orchard to the wooded west side of the Wheatfield. This strategy forfeits the Orchard, but the combined 1800 Victory Points for Weiket's Hill and the Wheatfield should be more than enough to guarantee a win - if you can hold them against the rebel steamroller. Don't let your forward brigade get too chewed up while they buy time; you're going to need them later, when they can act as a mobile reserve to plug the gaps. One final note: don't get tangled up with G.T. Anderson's black flag troops south of the Wheatfield. If they activate, you are facing a much more difficult challenge.
High Water Mark: Pickett's Charge:
In the public perception, Pickett's Charge was a doomed undertaking from the start. In actuality, the Confederates probably had a viable chance to break the Union lines if the plan outlined by General Lee had been properly executed. As the Confederates, the Pickett's Charge scenario is your big chance to support the attack as planned, rushing up reserve brigades to exploit breakthroughs and moving your artillery with the troops to reply to the Federal batteries that maul your men as they press forward. This scenario is difficult to win as the south, but it can be done if you organize the attack properly. The key is to have your reserve brigades following closely behind your forward troops, so that once a breakthrough is made, you can pour lots of men through the gap, splitting the Union line in two and rolling up the line on both sides. Also, don't forget to bring up your big guns, to help blast holes in the defenses. We also tend to leave some artillery behind, which we use for counterbattery fire to keep our troops from the devastating effects of close-range canister barrages.
As the Union, you pretty much get to sit there and watch the pretty graphics for the first half-hour of game time. When the Confederates approach, don't forget to pull back your batteries positioned to the southwest of Cemetery Hill. Also, it's often a good idea to go on down the line, placing each entrenched regiment on "Hold". After that, be sure to keep plenty of reserves on hand to contain the inevitable breakthroughs.
Pickett's Charge also has the opportunity for some Union skulduggery. The center of the Union position is flanked by "black flag" troops that you don't have under your command. If the enemy attacks these units in force, the brigades will activate for free, giving you some much-needed muscle which can enfilade the entire Confederate assault. Enemy troops can often be lured into range of these "black flag" guys with tempting artillery units in flanking positions. The enemy may come after these well-positioned guns, and then hopefully get tangled up with the flanking reserves. Even if the enemy does not come after your artillery, then you have your big guns in a wonderful position to rake the oncoming Confederate lines.
Sid Meyers Gettysburg
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