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Tactical Considerations in GBACW's Corinth


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The GBACW series holds interest 25 years on because the tactical situations are intriguing as they are diverse. The most popular games - TSS, Pea Ridge and Cedar Mountain - are wide open meeting engagements with both players entering the field. But Corinth offers a full attack on an enemy behind prepared defenses, with woods and terrain to help the defender.  Of course, the defender also has the handicap of getting their troops activated. How does it work out?

Here's a discussion of tactical and strategic considerations of Corinth

Russ Gifford writes:

"So, let's talk a bit about Corinth. In a recent game, you certainly cracked the blue bellies pretty convincingly. What do you think each side should do to win?

Greg Laubach writes:

"If I were to play the Union in Corinth, I would assign a brigade and artillery to each road and trade space for time. The VPs are such that killing units or taking 80% of the board really doesn't get the Confederates anywhere."

Russ Gifford writes:

"So true. I think the Confederate has to aim for a first day victory, and that means you have to wrack up points by wrecking (i.e., BCEing) brigades, capturing artillery and leaders. So the Union's goal has to be to keep his line intact, preventing encirclement. Then they have to hope they can alert their other troops in time!"

Greg Laubach writes:

"The Union activation rules are such that, if the Union does trade space for time, the Union units activate on the Confederate flanks. The rebels can't just go 'all in' in the center and expect to get away with it. The Confederates have to smash the active Union units on the board and guard the flanks against the units that might activate."

Russ Gifford writes:

"The only advantage the Rebels have is the ability to choose where they attack. This allows the Rebels to try for local superiority, to force a break in the Union line.

"A big goal in my mind is breaking that line. To be successful, you need to get behind the Union. Surrounded units lose the regiment, rather than a strength point in a retreat. This is a vital step.

"In my game, I did crack open my opponent's line, which allowed me to get a couple of regiments of the cavalry in the backfield. But his cavalry activated by then, and was able to keep me away from the big ticket victory points.

"(On a side note, that's another reason to like Corinth: there is a chance in this game that the cavalry can do what they were meant to do - infiltrate behind the lines, scouting for weak points, and harassing the enemy!)"

Greg Laubach writes:

"I think what you are saying is that the Union activated Mizner's cavalry early. Well that will squash any Confederate cavalry infiltration right there. And, as in the Cross Keys scenario of Jackson at the Crossroads, the Confederates can get in big trouble if the Union activates early. After all, the OB rosters in Corinth say that it is on the order of a 1 to 1 attack."

Russ Gifford writes:

"That neatly sums up the situation! There isn't much time for the Rebs! While I did well in my game, and fell only a couple of points shy of winning on day one, I think I lost it on the opening turns of attack. I was turned back at the original battle line by excellent Union shooting. But more importantly, I did a terrible job of keeping my troops from tangling up when I launched the attack."

"Again, another reason to like this game: the players experience more of the generalship issues like keeping your troops in order and your strategy in place when the opening goes wrong! Unlike the pell mell attacks in Pea Ridge or Cedar Mountain, the Confederates in the historical scenario come on in a rush, and you need to make certain they go where they need to be! As you've read in many of the histories of the Civil War, attacks can falter because of confusion in the ranks! I certainly found that out, and my opponent made me pay for my mistakes!"

Greg Laubach writes:

"By backing up towards Corinth, the Union maximizes the forces that the Confederates have to allocate to the flanks while, at the same time, minimizing the Confederate assault force by stripping brigades to guard the flanks. That's why I assigned Hebert to guard the left flank and Lovell to guard the right. Those divisions may be able to handle a 12 to 14 hex front. That leaves Maury for the push to Corinth and 14 hex flanks gets you about halfway there. Luckily, the Union decided to stand and fight so that all three divisions could beat up on the Union while moving toward their assigned defensive positions on the flank. By turn 9, all of the Union forces could have been activated and Hamilton would have been attacking a nearly full strength Hebert in a good defensive position, likewise Stanley would have been attacking a full strength Lovell, and there would have been Mizner to oppose Maury's division on the way to Corinth. No way out."

Russ Gifford writes:

"Your notes on the trap that the Union springs on the Rebels by falling back is a very apt point.  It also clearly defines what the Union has to do - keep enough units alive to maintain a coherent line.  A tough job, but they do have the benefit of the terrain working for them.

"I do think if players use the historical scenario, the mandatory setup restrictions greatly favor the defender. I think it is important for the Confederate player to have a free setup. That way the defender might hesitate before releasing some of his troops in the backfield. Still, there is a lot of life in both scenarios."

Greg Laubach writes:

"Yes, the historical setup greatly favors the defender. In fact I would choose the Union side for either the free setup or the historical scenario if given the choice. The terrain and the balance of forces say to me that it is the Union's battle to lose."

Russ Gifford writes:

"I agree. The victory conditions are such that the Confederate needs to make it happen on day one. But as I think Richard Berg stated, historical battles are often one sided affairs! The excitement in Corinth is trying to make it happen - breaking the Union's back before they activate everyone, or holding the wave of Confederates back despite their ability to mass forces on a lonely brigade.  The situation gives the game a different feel than the meeting engagements of the rest of the game series. While it is still a one map game, it has more action than Pea Ridge, thanks to the unit density. It can be played in a long day, or a weekend. All in all, I think Corinth has a lot to offer, since the higher unit count allows players to try radically different strategies which will result in a very different game when you play it out. It makes a rewarding puzzle!"

Special additional note from Greg Laubach:

"The only thing that I can think to add would be some illustrations showing the troop movements and the problem the Confederates have."

"This drawing shows the general paths of the divisions in the last Corinth game. It illustrates the Confederate left (Hebert) moving around the east side of the clearing instead of through it. It also shows brigades being dropped off on the left and right flanks as the flanks get longer. You can see that the center division (Maury) will run out of flank support long before the clearing around Corinth is reached.

"I added the blue dots to indicate hexes that I might target as objectives or that I would want to hold for a while. When playing the Union, perhaps they could be good places to park those extra batteries that you don't know what to do with."

Click here to see Greg's battle map of Corinth!

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This site was last updated 01/13/13