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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Tue Dec 10, 2013 10:17 am 
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Posts: 1638
Location: USA
J. Ferry wrote:
Some states, like Arkansas and Tennessee, had tilted so far by the last year of the war that they were contributing major troops to the North and / or were legislating their way back into the Union independently, like Louisiana. Comment? Can you buy or conquer individual states to bring them back into the fold? I picture the game doing that until only South Carolina is left. And you know what they say about SC, even to this day: Too small to be a country, and too big to be an insane asylum :mrgreen:
J

I don't know a lot of the details of the political system. Every region has a loyalty parameter showing the percentage that support your side. It also has a control parameter which reflects your military control of the region. All this gets factored in to whether you can draw supplies and troops from the region, how well you can "see" what is going on the region (spot enemy troops), whether you can use railroads through the region, etc.

You also have Regional Events you can purchase to increase or decrease the loyalty, development, etc of the region. Some are ones you only do to enemy regions you don't expect to ever control like Plunder, Martial Law, and some others.

A lot of these are Black Box like things. It is difficult to tell if the return is worth the investment. You can quickly make one of the actions but it is hard to measure the result. So far some like Copperheads only works on regions in Kansas and Missouri. But I haven't played long enough to see of some of the Northern States would lose enough loyalty that you could raise partisans in them. Union has been able to raise some Partisans in the South.

In the old game taking all the regions in a state resulted in that State falling out of the other side's political control. They never started generating recruits though.

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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Tue Dec 10, 2013 3:48 pm 
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Historically, there was a real fear that Midwestern states, which depended on the Mississippi for commerce, might secede and form even a third country. Vallandigham tried to capitalize on that. It would have been an interesting development, but never came close to reality. Quite a few Tennessee and Arkansas troops, as well as other southern states, by the end of the war. If West Virginia had not seceded from Virginia it would have been just another state with troops on both sides.
War being an extension of politics, this game really illustrates that fact.
J

John Ferry
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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Tue Dec 10, 2013 4:04 pm 
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Since I am restarting the game for the second time I thought I would go back and review how to set up a PBEM game since it isn't altogether straight forward. AGEOD didn't do a good job of trying to keep a player from making a mistake. Worse, they did very little to flag an email game from any other type game.

First ACW is not a very good small scenario game. Best to do larger campaigns that require the managing of forces and economy. The short ones are good for learning the game but they only teach you how to move around.

To get started you execute the game from the menu or icon. It opens the first dialog box which has the "Play" button. Press it to load the main game.

Now you will get the main game menu with its choices of "New", "Load", "Resume", "Options", and "Quit".

The first thing you want to do is select "Options". Here you need to set up a couple of things to make the play better. For a play by email I recommend going to the "Game" tag and turning "Easy Supply" off. You may want to try you first solitaire game using this on but for real play turn it off.

Next you select the "New" menu to get a game started. This will open an icon list of the scenarios provided. These will expand with time because this game can be moded. Next select the scenario you want to play by clicking on it.

I usually pic the full game campaign (4/9 April Full 2 Theater Campaign) because this is what the game does best. At this point the game will let you select which side by clicking on of the two icons for the North or South. Now the "Play" button is activated so you can enter the game. Clicking it will open the game map and set you up for the side you picked.

Stop - The temptation is to start giving orders and getting you turn ready to email. But you need to stop and do some basic house keeping to make the game easier to play.

The second icon from the right in the upper right corner will return you to the main menu. Do this first.

Click on the "Load" menu icon. This will open a dialog that list all the games you currently have including the one you just started. Now you will see the problem. It has the same name as the scenario with only the turn label in it letting you know which one it is. If you started ten games without doing this step you would see ten icon all with almost the same name. This is confusing and can lead to some very bad errors when you use the wrong game.

Select the Scenario game you just started. Look in the upper right corner and you will see a couple of icons. One looks like a picture of an IC chip. Click on it and it will open additional icons that allow you to manage you files. The left one is the "Rename" so click on it. This will open a dialog showing the games current name. Hit the backspace key until you have deleted all of the name and enter the name you want to use to identify your game. Keep it simple but clear. Press the "check" icon when you finish typing and the "Load" screen will now show your renamed game.

Select the game and it will now display the icons for selecting the sides just like the "New" screen did. This is another nasty gotcha and why you need clear file names so you know what you are playing. You can choose either side still. No matter how far you are in the game the Load will always let you choose either side. An easy mistake to make especially when you have many games going.

After picking your side you can now press the "Play" from the "Load" screen and return to your game. Now you can enter your orders. When you have finished, since this is a new game, you must use the icon in the upper right to "Save" your game.

Don't complete the turn by pressing the third button. Another gotcha AGEOD doesn't ever do anything about. If you hit the turn completion button the AI will step in and play for you opponent. Your opponent will not be happy. Luckily if you ever do this there is a way to step the game backwards from the "Load" screen. But its messy.

Now you can email the files. And if you are running Windows 7 or 8, you realize you don't have a clue where they are. Something Microsoft did to make everything more screwed up than necessary. It is stored under the user name you installed the game under. For me it is "Kennon" and here is where you find it:

"c:\Users\Kennon\My Documents\My Games\Civil War II\CW2\Saves"

Easy as falling off a cliff.

In the "Saves" folder you will find another folder with the name you gave your game. Inside that folder are two files you must email your opponent. They have the same name as the game for one file with a ".hst" extension. The other file has the same name but with "~USA.ord" or "~CSA.ord" appended on. You will send the file that corresponds to your sides name along with the ".hst" file to you opponent.

Note the ".hst" file is over 3 MB long so I highly recommend you zip the two files and mail them.

I have not verified the opponents steps since I haven't done them. They should find their game's save file and create a folder with the same name as you gave the game. Then unzip the two files you sent into the folder. When they go to their "Load" screen it should show the new game with the first turn in the icon for it. They then select it. Select their side (again they can still select either) and press the "Play".

Now they can enter there orders for this first turn of the game.

To be continued....

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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 9:29 pm 
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Continued...

After the opponent has gotten their file system straightened out and has called up the game on the Load screen it will still be displayed as on the "Early April" turn. The two boxes on the Load screen for selecting side will show the other players Side with an icon in the lower right of the select button indicating there is an orders file for that Side.

The player selects the button for his side in the game and the "Play" button is activated. Pressing it will open the game screen and you can now enter your orders for this first turn.

Always verify when the game screen opens that it is your side. The game does nothing to prevent you from opening the other players side. It is played strictly on honesty.

When you have entered your orders for the turn you can complete the turn by pressing the "Execute turn" button in the set of three buttons in the upper right of the screen. Be careful with these three buttons. They have "Execute", "Main Menu" and "Save" all crowded together and their is no confirmation dialog for the "Execute".

You have now completed the first turn for "Early April". Now you get a bonus that a WEGO system gives. You can enter the orders for the next turn, "Late April". Just don't forget and execute it after entering the orders. Once you have done all the orders for your side you are ready to send the two files back to the other player. Be sure to "Save" the game before exiting so the ".ord" file is up to date.

Again the two files are the ".hst" and ".ord" (for your side) files. You should zip them. The ".hst" file is quite large and vulnerable to being corrupted by mailing. You will find that this time there is only one ".ord" file and will have your sides letters (USA/CSA) in it. That is because the execute you did on "Early April" automatically deleted your opponent's ".ord" file.

From now on both sides will have this sequence:

1. When you receive an email zip file you will unzip the two files into your game's "Save" folder under the folder name corresponding to the game.

2. You will start ACW II and use the "Load" screen to select the game, pick your side's selection button, and the press "Play". Always use the "Load" command not the "Resume".

3. You will enter your orders for the turn then execute the turn.

4. You will enter your orders for the next turn then "Save" the game.

5. You will then go to the game folder, zip the two files, and email them.

The WEGO system allows you to complete two turns with a single mailing so the game actually moves along rather quickly.

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Chatham Grays
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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 12:01 pm 
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Sitting in a hotel room in Clovis NM this Sunday, I had time to read most of this post. A brilliant job of explaining the nuances of the new edition, KW! :P

The complexity of the game seems to demand a steep learning curve. I find that I enjoy the board games "For The People" or A House Divided" for the overall strategic play of the war. I also own "The Civil War" but have never made it through.

Here are the links for the 3 board games

http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2081/the-civil-war

http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/701/a-house-divided

http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/833/for-the-people

Do you recommend any other computer strategy game that you like, with ease of play being a factor?

Lt. Gen Elkin
XVIth Corp Commandeer
AotT

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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 10:26 pm 
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Regarding other Strategic war games out there, there are some good ones that use a simpler system. I just find that to play a game that covers the whole war requires a complex handling. You just lose so much trying to simplify the game that while you may have an easier game to play it doesn't adequately handle the difficulties the two sides had in fighting across such vast areas. I have most of the games but it has been to long since I have played them to compare them and show what the simplifications are.

A lot of the apparent complexity of AGEOD's game come from the lack of a detail manual. You have many choices but nothing to give you an idea of how to make those choices. I hope to touch on some of these in the coming discussions.

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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 10:37 pm 
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Now for a short regression.

I couldn't tell in the last game why the Union lost the war when I took Washington. From the CSA point of view Washington was worth only 5 NM points which isn't much. But when I restarted the game as the USA player it became obvious.

For the CSA player the Washington is worth only 5 NM so taking it only added 5 NM to their National Morale giving little chance even with the points added for capturing the defenders were added in of going over the maximum NM required for immediate victory. But Richmond is worth 50 NM to the CSA player but they already hold it. If they lose Richmond they immediately suffer a -50 NM which is substantial.

For the USA player it is the reverse. Richmond is worth 5 NM and Washington is worth 50 NM. When the Rebels took Washington the Union morale immediately took a -50 NM hit with additional negative hits for losing the battles and capture of their army. There morale was around 93 before the attack. The loss of Washington reduced it immediately to 43. Additional Morale hits for losing the four battles for Washington and the surrender of some 30,000 men brought it down another 14 NM to 29. The 29 was well below the automatic victory minimum level for 40 triggering the CSA Major Victory.

Morale of the story is don't lose your capital. The game does have a political decision you can make at a lower NM cost to move your capital before it is taken. I don't know if there are restrictions on when you can use this to avoid the capture. I suspect you can use it any turn before the turn of capture.

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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2013 11:23 am 
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Union - the First Year - 1861

Differences from the CSA:

Playing the Union side was quite an eye opener. One of the most significant differences was it typically takes 50 days for newly purchased regiment to become active compared to the South's 30 days. This means than the South can raise its forces much quicker than the Union can. This is why last game Cbt ratios (relative force sizes) went from 1:1.28 to 1:1.08 between July 1 and Jan 1, 1862 in my other game. It wasn't that the Union was building fewer troops. It was just taking longer for them to become active.

A major problem for the Union is Kentucky. In Early August the Union is allowed to enter the North Eastern part of Kentucky without triggering loss of neutrality. They can occupy the key cities of Louisville and Lexington but not Bowling Green. The Union problem is that when Kentucky Intervention becomes possible in Late September it also come with a significant cost, 5 NM and 25 VP. Both sides get this option but the South should never use it. Kentucky is the ideal "Great Wall". You don't need troops to even occupy it. So a major decision for the Union is when and whether to invade Kentucky. The last update to the game did add a chance that Kentucky will decide to join the Union starting in March 1862 (25% odds each turn). But this is rather late and gives the South plenty of time to get their forces ready.

The Union also takes a big NM hit for not taking Richmond by September. Looked like about 10 NM points but I didn't realize it was coming so didn't have the before and after numbers.

My Union Results for 1861:

Playing the Union against the AI isn't really much of a challenge so you can't learn much from the tactics. But it does illustrate some things the South must do and some things the Union must at least be able to threaten to do to keep them honest.

First is the South should never, ever invade Kentucky. Besides taking the 5 NM hit it solves a major problem for the North. The AI kindly decided to violate Kentucky neutrality in Late October. I had used Grant to take the regions on the west side of the Mississippi and was letting him rest in preparation for invading Kentucky in November. The AI moved a couple of cavalry units into Kentucky. Grant crossed the river easily taking Columbus. McClellan moved toward Bowling Green but was slowed by having to rebuild the rail road as well as depots. Winter was setting in limiting McClellan's ability to supply his small army. By end of year all of Kentucky was occupied.

One of the reasons the AI has such problems as the defender (South) is it has no way to determine how much force it needs for garrisons or which regions need garrisons. So I loaded up my transports with a make shift force under Banks and set out for New Orleans. They got pass the two forts with minor hits and landed on the Ibernia region. Next turn they took New Orleans. But in spite of the AI having nothing there but the default militia garrisons it was close. All I had were two brigade and two wagons to keep them in supply. They still almost starved before they got an activation to make the attack.

Morale of the story is that the Union has the capacity to strike anywhere along the Southern coast line which is extensive. Being successful requires careful planning and sufficient force. And, while the AI let me get away with it, a player will have a full division in New Orleans waiting for you. Sometimes you will have to try amphibious invasions that you know shouldn't work just to keep the other side honest. If they strip their coastal defenses you want to make them pay for it. The problem is how to determine they are doing that? Landing in New Orleans if it is properly defended will result in the loss of the whole force that did it.

But the South can't be every where. Look for difficult to defend coastal regions for landing to probe their defenses. A good Southern player won't defend everywhere. They will usually form a quick reaction army under someone like Beauregard. Here is where for the Southern player they need to build up there rail capacity so they can move entire armies to threats.

Some things I tested just to see what would happen included attacking Manassas. I assume a random event every once in a while activates McDowell so he can make the attack. I made on in Late July just to see what would happen. McDowell got defeated but only with minor loses. This is a change from the old game. In it if McDowell attacked he usually took a severe beating. I think they watered it down by just causing the lack of divisions to make everyone just not fight.

Later in the game the AI for some reason decided to withdraw from Manassas so I promptly moved in and took it. The only thing I can figure is the AI decided it couldn't keep the army in supply so drew it back closer to Richmond. Winter had set in so supply lines were being strained everywhere. But it left Joe in Harpers Ferry. Once the Union occupies Manassas Harpers Ferry has no supply line. It will take a few turns to see what this results in.

The AGEOD game is one of the few that simulate the effects of Winter realistically. All kinds of things start happening as the different Regions get hit by winter storms, freezes, etc. Supply lines are constrained, diseases increase, etc. To reduce the effects forces have to seek shelter by withdrawing to larger cities and going into winter quarters. Attempts at campaigns in winter can be deadly if not properly supported.

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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Sun Dec 22, 2013 4:22 pm 
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Supply

This game revolves around supply. The surest way to lose an Army is to not pay enough attention to keeping it well supplied.

The game uses a push/pull system of distributing supply. Cities push supply out onto the roads and railroads. Depots will both pull supplies from the supply network and push it further down the network. Supply Wagons act as sinks attracting (pulling) supplies from the network. But just because New York City has enough supplies to maintain the largest armies fielded by the Union doesn't mean it gets to those armies. The game moves supplies from sources like the large cities in the North to units in the field taking into account not just the quantity at the source but the length and capacity of the transportation system.

If to much is moving over the same railroads the system will bottleneck the flow. If the length of those lines are two long it will further bottleneck the flow. The supply system works like a water distribution pipe system. As the lines get longer the resistance to flow increases. As the lines get smaller the flow is throttled down. Depots act as pumps giving a boost to the flow of supplies along the pipes. The game manual recommends that Depots be placed every 3-5 regions to insure the flow of supplies.

For the Army out in the field their wagons are their first source of supply. If desperate enough they can draw on the region they are in but how much they can get depends on the level of development of that region and the size of its cities. The wagons in turn draw supply from the network. For the Union their best methods of distributing supply are Ocean ports since they control the sea, Rivers if they control them, Railroads, and if nothing else roads. This makes the expected path of the large invading Union armies rather predictable. If these armies through caution to the wind and try to be Sherman, they best hope their is only militia out there.

The old game had a nice map display that showed how the supply levels were by color shading the various regions. This gave you a quick way to find bottlenecks. Haven't found anything equivalent in the new version.

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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Wed Dec 25, 2013 4:26 pm 
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So--a region. Are regions all of about the same size? I presume there is no hex pattern as we know it. How big is a region usually?
I look forward to the day when we fight across terrain, without the hex pattern, in even small tactical games.
We are in Texas until Sunday, enjoying Houston's milder weather. May I wish you all a happy New Year as the Eve approaches.
John

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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Thu Dec 26, 2013 8:16 am 
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Kennon, there is a map overlay that will show Supply levels. Click on the little globe above the terrain picture in the lower left and you can find it. Wife got this game for me for Christmas and I've been slowly working my way through it. Had the original but for some reason my serial number wouldn't work on my new computer. To me this version just looks better visually then the old one did and I do think they've improved on it. Wanting to dig through the manual some more and since I'm forced to work today and tomorrow on what are bound to be terribly slow days I think I'll have the opportunity.

John, the regions are all fairly close in size but they are made to fit existing geographical features so that regions between two rivers are going to be smaller then ones that aren't and I'll have to check but I think the regions in the west may be a bit bigger.

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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Thu Dec 26, 2013 10:19 am 
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Thanks for tip on supply overlay. You will find the manual only covers the very basics of how to select things. Very little on why you would want to do something with what you selected. The AGEOD forum for ACW II is the best place for information but it isn't well organized. Pretty soon I hope to have time to start picking a single topic and search through for more details.

Regions do vary in size and shape with some large ones out West and a few pseudo regions represented by boxes for the West Coast. But most are drawn around geographically important objectives or choke points. This does a good job of channeling campaigns along historic paths. In the game you can see why taking Corinth renders Memphis un-defendable. It is one of the advantages of the scale they used in ACW that gives it advantages over the other strategic games with fewer regions. You have enough regions in states like Virginia to consider multiple approaches. Their Corps system allows a defender to spread out enough to cover three adjacent regions so river lines like the Rappahannock become very important.

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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Thu Dec 26, 2013 10:52 am 
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So Christmas has come and gone and I am still AGEOD-deprived. I did have a few shekels come my way though, so we'll see.
Is there a way to become involved tactically in a battle, or does the computer handle all that? I have long had a scheme in my head on how I would design a game like this. I wonder if there would be enough interest, with others giving their input so that a thread would be more than just my initial rambling. In other words, as good as it is, could there be more, or could it be better?
The regions west of the Mississippi had scarce transportation assets, which is why armies out there tended to be much smaller than those east. Supply, again, being the factor. I presume with this excellent design that that is reflected in the game.
Headed back to Pennsy tomorrow. Have not yet studied the weather like we did for the drive down. Keeping our fingers crossed.
John

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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 10:37 am 
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When playing against the AI you do have the option to choose the overall battle tactics to use but it isn't available in the person to person games since it is interactive requiring both side to make choices about how to defend and attack.

I believe Forge of Freedom was the other strategic game that also allowed the player to resolve major battles in Tactical Mode. It actually transferred you to a tactical sub game with a random map using the forces you committed to the battle on the strategic engine. If I remember right the map was squares rather than hexagons and unit scale was brigade. I had heard rumors they were going to actually flesh out that tactical game and publish it as a separate game. It had a lot of interesting features in it. Just wasn't practical on a strategic scale. A year of the war might last a decade of real time.

Then there is Larry's Fight the War undertaking which has been on hold for some time. I heard from him the other day but he sounded very busy with real life. He and a group of helpers acted as Dungeon Masters for a strategic game but once a battle occurred they created a custom HPS scenario for it based on the troops you had committed to it.

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 Post subject: Re: AGEOD's ACW II
PostPosted: Mon Dec 30, 2013 6:58 pm 
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Money, Recruits, and War Supplies

These are the three basic building blocks of your armies. Depending on what kind of military machine you plan to build you have to keep these in balance. For example, your basic infantry regiment takes about a 2:1 ratio of money to recruits plus a little War Supplies. If you decide to go with heavy equipment like war ships, iron clads, artillery, etc. the important components are Money and War Supplies.

For the South, with shortages of all three, it takes some long range planning to build up a balanced economy and war machine. This is where the industrial structures you can build come in. There are also two other components which are a bit harder to track because they aren't centralized. General Supplies (what your troops eat) and Ammunition Supplies. We also get into some confusion between what the manual says and what the in game notes says.

Industrial Structures include regional improvements you can buy for a lot of money and quite a bit of War Supplies. But you have to start them early to get the maximum return from having them. For the South these are some hard decisions. Get the army you need now or buy the infrastructure for the army in your future. Here we also have the confusion. The Manual says that some of these produce more Ammo and Money but not War Supplies. The notes on the items when you buy them says they will all produce War Supplies. So far it looks like the Manual is correct. Here are some of the things you can produce:

Powder Mills, Armories, Arsenals - These obviously produce ammo and will increase your money income.

Iron Works - These definitely will increase your per turn War Supplies as well as money.

The trouble for the South is that Iron Works tend to be very expensive, $300,000+ range. You can make a lot of regiments for that cost. The other problem for the South is you have to watch where these improvements are built. You don't want to invest a lot in infrastructure of states you might lose early like Tennessee.

For the North these decisions aren't as difficult. There is some question as to whether you need to even bother. If you are planning to raise a very large navy or saturate your brigades with artillery then you might need to invest some. Iron clads and Blockade Fleets require very large amounts of War Supplies.

Regional Improvements

Regional improvements is another area that is difficult to judge the usefulness of. Every region has a development point level depending on its if undeveloped or highly industrialized. The level of these points affect the ability of armies to move and forage in those regions. So the game gives you a number of Regional Decisions like Clearing, Open Trails, Build Roads, Build Telegraph Lines, etc. that will increase the regions number of Development points plus other effects.

Some like Roads can change how the Region affects movement. They also increase loyalty(10%) in the region and give you Victory Points (3). Sometimes this might be of strategic importance but at a cost of $75,000 per region a bit expensive. So far I haven't seen anyone post an example of how these can be used effectively.

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