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CSA Antietam on Hard difficulty


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I need some help on Antietam as the CSA. I've played and lost it three times in a row now on the hard difficulty after trying a few different strategies. I'm afraid I've mismanaged my army beforehand and I'm screwed, but I'd like to hear from some other people how they win at Antietam. I know I could pull back to Sharpsburg and play for the draw (easily) but I like winning.

Attached is my army composition after Cedar Mountain and prior to the major battle itself. I've got one career point to burn which I plan to use on logistics because I inevitably run out of ammo by the third phase of the battle. The last couple attempts I've bought rifles for all my remaining musket units, then used those extra muskets to equip new brigades. I still run out of guns before I run out of money. Last attempt the scaling put me at 40k vs 90k. Even though I get units racking up anywhere from 1000 to 4000 kills in the course of the battle, I can't hold off the AI's numbers in the last phase.

My second corps only has a couple mounted skirmishers and one infantry brigade in it. 

For the record, I've got 100plus hours in this game and I've watched/read the guides and the FAQ so I'm not a total noob. 

20170305182420_1.jpg

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First thing I would mention is that you shouldn't plan on stacking 2500 soldiers in a single squad immediately; it requires having a ready supply of generals to not suffer efficiency penalties at unit sizes that large. You can hover over the efficiency tooltip to see if you are suffering any penalties due to lack of a high enough command stat.

Not to mention, three squads of 2000, 2000, 1000 is a lot more maneuverable than two 2500 man squads. Maneuverability is the thing you must use when you're fighting an enemy that severely outnumbers you; essentially throwing out detached skirmishers to bait the enemy into charging, or otherwise turning when your main line is still shooting them.

Hard to hold the line on Antietam when you don't at least have two full corps, because you don't have enough squads to cover all of Dunker Church and the Sunken Road.

 

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Yeah, bumping up my army org to 7 and then filling my brigades out is the mistake I think I made after Chantilly. Also I'm an idiot and stated this is my screen after Cedar Mountain when its actually after Harper's Ferry. 

With 20k recruits I have enough to make another full corps, which I've done in the last few attempts. I move some of my veterans brigade down from the 1st corps to balance them out. I will follow your advice to make smaller brigades, which is also what I was thinking. 

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I suspect your army just has severe structural issues that are finally showing themselves at Antietam.

1) You only have a very thin line of veteran brigades, with arguably too much experience tied up in them. Even with combine division cheese, you just don't have enough reliable troops to hold all of the terrain you need to across the battlefield.

2) You appear not to have too many/any veteran artillery brigades. Similarly to the above, you don't have enough high quality artillery to help repulse charges and take a toll when the AI wants to just sit outside firing range for extended periods of time. You also appear to have missed out by not having any units with 24pdrs.

3) You appear to have only a minimal amount of cavalry of either flavor, based on your comments. Shock cavalry is one of your countercharge tools and is also useful for picking off the lone Union brigades that will leak over on the far NW of the map, which you can then use to start rolling over that flank. Ranged cavalry in plentiful numbers can get a lot of damage out on the flanks as well.

Antietam comfortably takes 2-2.5 Corps to hold as Confederates at the main line. You need a fully stocked strong Corps to hold the north, you need 2-3 Divisions at Sunken Road and you need 1-2 Divisions at Stone bridge. So long as you survived the first phase vaguely intact the rest of the battle is doable, you just may need to be paradoxically aggressive in the north to prevent their late reinforcements from having an effect while doing whatever it takes to hold the south and east bridges to avoid being flanked.

If you can't figure out how to manage it traditionally, you could try to defend only at Sharpsburg except for a large cavalry wing hiding in the NW, then use them to ninja the VPs right at the end.

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As CSA, I successfully baited enemy troops in the NW with a single brigade + skirmishers + artillery in the thin tree line close to the Potomac (by the way that's where Stuart was historically). I also had a long range artillery (Tredegar) to pound the enemy troop on the open ground. I was often close to being overwhelmed but I grinded many enemy brigades this way and also released some pressure on the West Wood until reinforcements arrived. Being able to stand in West Wood and Dunker Church, I think that diverted troops from Sunken Road where there was no really threatening attack. So I could send some troops/guns from there towards Antietam Creek. I think that was a kind of spillover effect/virtuous circle.

Also, a cavalry brigade was able to disturb/damage a few enemy artillery units. Enemy troops were too close (and their reinforcements waves also), so I didn't destroyed them for fear of being seriously mauled. But all the time you disturb enemy artillery, they don't shoot on your troops and they stop their advance to the front trying to target you (run in circles to avoid it). I think that single cavalry brigade saved me many hundred troops and also morale damage that could have made my front fall back/collapse at crucial moments. I admit I was somewhat lucky these horsemen survived many near death experiences.

battle-of-antietam-map.jpg

Edited by Nicolas I
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Antitiem is where my first real campaign attempt died.  I had an army similar to yours and after a failure at Antietem creek (Burnside and Porter both pushed through)  I concluded I just did not have the troops to hold on without extreme luck.  I am not sure if it can be done with just two Corps.

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What these guys said. Managing your army between is the only way to win.... be prepared to take 40% casualties. That said, don't be afraid to retreat back knowing you will counter attack. For example, loosing dunker church in the last stage is fine when trying to draw the union into the open where arty and flanks can devestate them. Union also has a tendency to shift troops from burnsides bridge upwards towards sunken road.... just be aware ;)

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I'll only chime in with one thing, that is 3-star brigade are expensive and overkill. The 1-star bonus give 5 efficiency, and the 2-star bonus give a hoard of firearms bonus are very efficient, but by the time you get to 3 star, it's highly likely that your stats are high enough that the bonus will be just overkill (getting over 100 firearms for example) or the relative increase is not that worth.

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Skirmisher and Artillery made the job for me. I played it really offensive in the first part. I placed a strong infantrie line in the western woods with a sniper squad (500 best sniper rifle with scopes) and took position at the cornfield with flanking line infantries in the woods with massive artillery behind them. 2 cheap skirmisher units to the west and than to the north to attack the enemy artillery or rear flanking line infantrie from the woods.  

The Sniper are used to kill the enemy elite units (a few 1000 kills without a loss). Place reinforcement in second line or replace front lines with massive losses (the one in the fortification gets a lot of fire but its the center of the defence and you can flank a lot of enemy infantrie lines which are shooting at this position Just make sure to place a 2500 Man squad with cheap weapons and 1 star with good moral there and place 2 star with good weapons behind them on flank (they will do all the kills while the front unit takes all the damage).

I have at least 4 lines of cheap Infantrie for taking the damage and do "suicide" charges while my good units are doing the damage if possible. Replacing 2000 rookies with springfields is much more cheaper than 500 veterans with 3 stars and enfields.

Artillery is really strong in defence, if 5 units of artillery are shooting grapes or canister in a enemy line if will cause massive moral damage. I have stopped many charges that way and this is how you can do massive damage, enemy charge stopped direct in front of your line and than rout and got another volley in the back. and his second line cant fire because of block by his own troops.

BUT you have to retreat this position if his main force is attacking from the west. I used skirmisher and one cheap infantrie line in the woods to hold the line until my artillery and strong line infantrie builded ab a line in the wood at the church. Often the union marched towards sunken road than. If he nearly reaches your defence there you can push into his flank from the church position.

How to secure the river - 2 Artillery and 3 Line Infantrie will kill everything that tries to cross the river at the bridge. (Be carefull there is always a cavallary unit that tries to flank you there.)

After that the Main attack continued on sunken road and it will maybe fall, but with the troops from the church position you can flank the enemy and do massive damage to them (long range skirmisher)

 

Fazit: Start with a string defensive line, open the trail to sunken road if his main army arrives and than flank him massiv

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21 hours ago, Hitorishizuka said:

I suspect your army just has severe structural issues that are finally showing themselves at Antietam.

 

 

Thanks for the advice. Reading/watching Koro's walkthroughs he recommended sticking with 1 corps as long as possible which is what I was doing. After the shock cav nerf I'm guessing you're still of the opinion they are worth the investment? 

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I found filling my brigade/corps slots for each battle is quite optimal. You may not get all of your forces at first because one or two corps are in reserve, but you get more numerous, smaller brigades. These can cover more ground, making flanking moves easier, and I even heard that they could rotate more swiftly. They also take less casualties from volleys. Also, I wouldn't bet on it, but i'm pretty sure AI numbers scale not only on your total army size, but also scale locally on whatever you have immediately available to meet them (that is, with your huge I Corps on the left, I think the AI numbers on that first wave will be bigger). Finally, having the maximum number of brigades allows you to train many officers. Without seeing any action, a major will take 2-3 battles to level up to lt-colonel. So even if your extra brigades do not fight they will provide you with a nice pool of cheap lt-colonels.

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To crush the hopes and dreams of @Draluigi, the scaling only takes into account the total number of brigades you have, and how many men you have in them. Not a matter of how many you have at the given time (this is taken into account by the 'initial size' of the squads before scaling, not as a matter of the scaling multiplier).

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2 hours ago, barrydylan said:

Thanks for the advice. Reading/watching Koro's walkthroughs he recommended sticking with 1 corps as long as possible which is what I was doing. After the shock cav nerf I'm guessing you're still of the opinion they are worth the investment? 

It is very hard to hold Antietam with only 1 Corps, you just don't have map coverage with the troops that you're bringing. Honestly, even Gaines Hill and Malvern you kinda want 3+2 Divisions.

As for shock cavalry, it only affected their forest performance, so they still have a lot of value, you just have to be more careful with how you use them.

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1 hour ago, Wandering1 said:

To crush the hopes and dreams of @Draluigi, the scaling only takes into account the total number of brigades you have, and how many men you have in them. Not a matter of how many you have at the given time (this is taken into account by the 'initial size' of the squads before scaling, not as a matter of the scaling multiplier).

Rgr. In any case I just like my five corps ^^. I'm at fredericksburg right now, I have a few 1500 + brigades that I use for small battles, and the rest are 500 - 800 for the most part. I didnt fill all the brigade slots for fredericksburg (that would mean having 24 brigades in each corps), but I have 3 corps that are full of brigades and like 12 brigades each for the last two corps

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 7/3/2017 at 2:43 AM, Wandering1 said:

To crush the hopes and dreams of @Draluigi, the scaling only takes into account the total number of brigades you have, and how many men you have in them. Not a matter of how many you have at the given time (this is taken into account by the 'initial size' of the squads before scaling, not as a matter of the scaling multiplier).

This is not correct. Scaling is affected by the number of men in the brigades, not the number of brigades. 

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8 hours ago, Koro said:

This is not correct. Scaling is affected by the number of men in the brigades, not the number of brigades. 

See the following example from the log files, if you're curious:

North Milroy c: 0.7821705 =aiAverage/playerAverage*aiArmyBonus 2018/(1720*1.5) Cdiff:2.458333 aiTotal/playerTotal: 59/24 kindDiff: 2.0625 aiKindTotal/playerKindTotal: 33/16
North Update Milroy HP:2739 adapted:2739 to 2950 coeff:1 diff:1.25 crossEffect:-0.07 rand:0.2395332 Clamp01(average*(countDiff+kindDiff*2)/3): 0.7821705*(2.458333+2.0625*2)/3=1
North Update Milroy initial eff:19.2 st:19.6 mo:19.1 me:20.5 f:20.5
North Update Milroy attributes coeff:0.6690562 bonus:1.873249 eff:53.75689 st:54.87682 mo:53.4769 me:57.39668 f:57.39668
North Weapon update Milroy rifle_US_1855_58_RF|31 new:rifle_US_1855_58_RF|31 coeff:1.761364

You'll see the variables 'aiTotal' and 'playerTotal'. This refers to the total number of brigades in either side's armies. This particular example is from 2nd Bull Run, Legendary.

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