Dave Moser and Richard Hamilton
Note: When this article was originally posted, it only
applied to the Battleground Series of Civil War games
put out by the now defunct company, Talonsoft. These games
(Battleground: Gettysburg, Shiloh, Bull Run, Antietam,
and Chickamauga) have since been released again by Matrix
Games. Many of Rich and Dave's tips also can be used in
playing HPS Simulations' Civil War Battles series. There
are some differences, which I will try to point out by
adding a brief note. -ST)
is being written with the novice in mind. As experienced
players will have already formed their own opinions regarding
the use of the various elements, and we would certainly
welcome others' thoughts on these matters, but we write
from the perspective of a somewhat experienced player and
hope the following comments will be useful to those of you
who are new to the BG Civil War series, and are looking
for ideas as to how to improve your play.
line of sight to your advantage. Try to conceal your intentions
by keeping as many of your troops out of sight for as long
as possible. If you have enough men, try using decoy units
to make your opponent think you will be attacking someplace
setting up a defense, always take the high ground with as
much cover as possible (i.e. trees, rocks, etc.) If there
is time,then build breastworks. Anything to help improve
your defensive rating. Also try to create overlapping fields
of fire. If at all possible you want to be able to hit your
opponent from multiple directions (with artillery preferably)
before he can do much damage to you!
are extremely important!!! This cannot be emphasized
enough! Units must be kept together with their Brigade commanders
at a minimum and preferably near their whole chain of command.
This is even more vital when playing as the Union since
the quality of that army makes a rout very likely, if not
sure to dismount your leaders when close to enemy units.
A mounted man makes a much better target! Additionally,
you need to use leaders for melee purposes. This will greatly
enhance your chances for a successful melee.
players, myself among them, also like to aggressively use
their corps and army leaders just behind the lines to both
hold the lines and to rally other troops behind the line.
respect to the infantry arm, there are only so many things
you can do, which would include movement, firing, and meleeing.
So we will look at each of these functions in turn. Since
every game and scenario is different, these concepts will
be examined in the generic sens here. and will look at specific
scenarios and battles later.
lowest level Civil War unit that is represented in the game
is the regiment. Unlike the Napoleonic series where skirmishers
can be deployed to protect your movement, the Civil War
series does not allow this. The regiment is limited to moving
in two ways; in line, and in column. They can change facing
during the movement phase as well.
are a few considerations regarding how you wish to move,
either in line or in column.
when you are in the vicinity of the enemy you should be
in line formation, since in the BG series, fire is not allowed
in column formation, although melee is. Movement is most
easily carried out in the 2-D normal view mode, as long
as you are familiar with the terrain, since this allows
you to most easily see the overall view of the battlefield,
and how your units relate to each other, specifically, how
they relate to other units of the same command. I find it
easiest to click on the "next unit" button and
then highlight the unit, and then using the command button
to find which other units of the same command are present,
and then move that command. This allows you to keep your
units under command control, which is very important in
determining whether they become disrupted, routed, or recover
from these conditions to a normal state. Be sure to check
the help file regarding command control ratings at the beginning
of the scenario to determine the ranges of your command
control, since they do vary.
your units in line formation you allow them to be in the
maximum condition to fight should they encounter unseen
foes. Remember to align your facing in the way you desire
before advancing into "unknown" areas since when
they encounter an enemy, their movement points are reduced
to zero,and you will not be able to change facing at that
here is probably appropriate regarding how the units are
aligned. One can use the "every other hex" method,
which is commonly employed, or the "contiguous line"
method of deployment. The advantage of the former is that
it allows you to establish a contiguous zone of control
along your line, while stacking your units in one hex, making
them less vulnerable to your opponents counterattacks, specifically
melee. This is very different from the Napoleonic consideration,
where units in line are all subject to opponents artillery
fire, while in the Civil War series, only one unit receives
the artillery fire in a given hex. The "contiguous
hex" method of deployment has the advantage that your
opponent must successfully defeat two hexes to create a
breech in your line, but since by deploying in this fashion,
it becomes easier for him to do so. In general, I would
recommend the "every other hex" method of deployment,
but there are times when the "contiguous hex"
method is best.
should try and keep reserves behind the front line to fill
any holes created by routs, but this is often hard to do,
as your opponent will generally try and stretch you line
as thin as possible. If you do have units behind the front
line, you should probably allow spaces in between them to
allow for routs to get through without disrupting your reserve
units, as a routing unit moving "through" your
reserve units will often disrupt them, making them less
useful in the "plugging the hole" function.
movement is best used along a road, or when it is required
to cross a bridge hexside.
many of the battles in the CW series are meeting engagements,
it may be best to send your smallest regiment ahead of the
line of troops moving in column along a road, since if they
run into unseen enemies, you may get your smallest unit
wasted, but at least the main body is forewarned, and can
adjust their movement accordingly. Infantry is fortunately
fairly cheap in the scheme of victory points, and if you
occasionally get a small regiment pounded on, it may save
you huge losses by moving the whole unit as a group along
the road. Many players move their units individually, so
this may not be a concern for those of you who do, but for
those like me who use the "accelerator" form of
movement (see the help file), it can save you many uncomfortable
moments to have a "skirmish" unit ahead of the
main body of troops.
only time that column movement should be used across the
"open fields" is when you need to get a body of
troops to a given point quickly, and don't have the time
to change their formation into line. Be forewarned, though,
that if you are caught in column formation by artillery
or counter attacking troops, that you will suffer significant
losses by defending in column formation.
the BG Civil War series is significantly more forgiving
than its Napoleonic counterpart, with regards to this issue.
The Civil War regiment is far more capable of firing in
a 180 degree direction than its Napoleonic equivalent. The
main consideration here is when the line "bends"
at a certain point, creating a salient. In the hex where
the "bend" occurs you may wish to have units facing
both angles of the "bend" so that you do not expose
a flank to the enemy. As General Longstreet noted, you should
be "as sensitive about your flanks as a virgin".
NEVER, NEVER,NEVER, expose a flank to the enemy if you can
avoid it. If you choose to do so, you will likely pay a
significant price as your opponent will be more than happy
to exploit it..
only real "tactic" involved in most charges is
to bring pressure on a salient in the line. As most of you
know, it requires about a 3:1 superiority to crack a line,
and salients offer this most easily. Pay attention to these
points where your line bends, and make sure you have the
maximum number of troops that you can put there, and that
you do not expose a flank to the enemy. These areas are
the points of the line that are most easily broken.
to make every shot count! For example, if your in close
quarters and its your offensive fire, look for the disrupted
units in your enemies line and then concentrate on them.
This is especially effective against the Union army. By
doing this you will greatly increase the chances that some
(or all, hopefully) of his troop will route on the subsequent
defending a position and heavy artillery fire is expected,
have the regiments defend on the backside of a ridge, out
of line of sight of the artillery. This is mainly useful
in BGG on day 1 for the Union as they pull back to their
historical defensive position. This is still a good tactic
for holding a position and avoiding artillery fire. Also
supporting artillery units can be placed behind the infantry,
thus getting 2 or 3 hex range shots on any attacking infantry.
Very devastating for attacking units. The other advantage
of this defense is that the enemy doesn't know exactly your
position or strength. Another big rule is never leave artillery
without any infantry support. Artillery can't hold ground
against a melee attack. So if artillery is near the enemy's
front lines, within one turn move, provide some infantry
to protect them, either in the same hex or in front hopefully
not blocking LOS. Once again this is especially true for
Rebels in BGG.
is your defensive fire (referring
to phased play -ST) and you are in close quarters
try to pick out his best troops, both in quality and order.
If you are using extreme fog-of-war you will not know much
beyond weather they are disrupted or not, that is unless
you have played that army before and remember the troop
ratings. By doing this you stand a decent chance of disrupting
his units and preventing him from meleing you successfully.
are at a distance, try to let your artillery do most of
the damage. You can fire at your enemy with most troops
from a range of 5 hexes, but your chances of doing much
damage decrease with every hex.
Tom would also like to point out that in longer scenarios
you need to watch your ammo depletion. You might want to
rotate which units you fire each turn to ensure you have
ammo when you really need it!
other points need to be brought up in relation to artillery.
You can de-crew a battery if you are lucky. I recommend
when in close quarters, devote at least one unit to fire
at the opposing battery. You may get lucky and it will save
you a lot of troopers. Also it pays to melee artillery just
to disrupt it. Once disrupted, it seems to take a very long
time to reform, which subsequently effects its fire capacity
and movement allowance.
has two main functions for me:
Reconnaissance - I try to send out my smaller cavalry
units to the enemy's far flanks and to every high point
on the battle field. If you men can see the enemy, then
you, as the General, can see them! It costs more in victory
points when you loose these troops, but when properly handled,
the information gained can far outweigh the cost.
Rapid response - If you are trying to hold a long
front with minimal resources you can keep your cavalry in
reserve to help plug holes as they appear. They can cover
a battle field much quicker than infantry, as long as you
keep them mounted. Just remember, they can not fire in the
offensive fire round after there movement if they dismount,
so either dismount at a safe distance and move in next turn,
or melee if you think they can withstand your opponents
subsequent movement and fire turns.(this
mounting aspect is not part of non-phased play within the
HPS Civil War series -ST)
a note if you are approaching another cavalry force, remember
that they can move a long way, too, and if you do not have
your flanks and rear protected you can be surrounded very
easily and devastated, having no time to react. Particulary
noticeable in the Stuart Arrives! scenario (BGG
is difficult to say, as on the one hand if you place your
cannon on your defensive line you will make your oponent
pay dearly for the ground near it, and if they assault you.
The draw back is you loose a lot of victory points for cannons.
In some scenarios you have no choice but to do this, as
in Shiloh, where the terrain does not provide large open
areas for LOS. This has been my normal policy, but from
recent games I have learned the other method is probably
best. Place you art. at high elevations behind your line
so they can pick at the enemy as they move closer. If the
enemy breaches your line you have them in reserve and can
most likely wear the survivors out before they reach your
artillery. This works well in (Battleground) Gettysburg,
Bull Run, and Antietam.
your horse artillery carefully, they are a very valuable
asset as they can limber up, move, and unlimber all in the
same phase if not moved too far. They can also keep up with
your calvary units.
majority of the systems' artillery falls into two main types.
'N' for the12-pounder Napoleon and 'T' for the 3 inch rifled
cCannon. 'N' should primarliy be used against infantry,
they are very effective in this role, while 'T' should be
used primarily against enemy batteries. 'T' is also effective
against infantry, but not as much. The novice should be
wary of taking long range shots early in the scenario with
artillery though, as one tends to waste your ammon for minimal
effect when later in the scenario, you may have to pass
on close shots because you've used up too much. Check the
help files for artillery amunition rules.