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Grand Tactical Notes

Union Player:

Your strategy must be offensive. The Union Player begins the game with the- initiative and must maintain it in order to win. While you have a great advantage in strength, you must contend with the Union Movement Restriction and time limitations. Generally, it is best to open your attack on the Confederate left flank. There your units are already across the Antietam in force and you will be able to make the greatest use of your superiority in numbers and strength. An early move across the bridges should be a secondary effort because the South can generally contain these drives with relatively few troops. Elaborate outflanking moves, either across the lower fords or the fourth bridge (hex 1128) are also unattractive for this reason.

Instead, use a direct approach. Bring forward as many men as possible and keep hammering away at the Confederate line. Constant pressure should be maintained, particularly in the rough terrain area to the northeast of Sharpsburg. The town is the key; if you end the game with control of any or all of the Sharpsburg hexes, you stand an excellent chance of winning. Cutting the South off from Boteler's Ford (hex 0126) assures complete victory. However, it is almost impossible to accomplish because to reach the hex you have to go through the entire Confederate Army. Still, it is a victory condition which should be kept in mind should the chance arise.

Tactically, the Union Player should be willing to accept exchanges and should increase odds in order to achieve them. Of course, care should be taken to have the proper 'change' available. Pin as many Enemy units as possible, especially artillery. Without free artillery units the Confederate Player will be unable to make safe diversionary attacks. As units become engaged, i.e. begin the Game-Turn in an Enemy Zone of Control, move up as many units to the front as possible. The Parrott guns, your only artillery, should be used for diversionary attacks, increasing odds on existing attacks, and even attacking alone at odds of 3 to 1 or better. Essentially, in a straightforward, knock-down fight (which is what the battle historically was) the Union should come out on top.

One final note. No matter how well things are going, beware the pitter-patter of little feet in the distance. The feet belong to A. P. Hill, and he should be treated with respect, if not outright reverence. He is the strongest unit in the game and should be pinned by Zones of Control if at all possible. The last thing you want is to leave him free to pick and choose his attacks. Give him half a chance to turn the game around and he will.

Confederate Player:

You are forced to stand on the defensive for most of the game. Although the South is heavily outnumbered, it does have the advantages of freedom of movement and interior lines. These elements go hand in hand. The Southern Player must roll with the punches whenever possible. Avoid a direct strength on strength confrontation; a stagnant slugging match will emphasize the Union's strengths and minimize yours. Instead, shift forces rapidly between threatened areas, leaving a minimum of force to protect inactive areas. Delay. The Union Player begins the game at a 15 Point disadvantage due to Sharpsburg. He must attack to make it up. Let him come to you on your terms. Time is on your side. To a limited extent, you can trade space for time, a doubly effective tactic because it forces the Union to expend his limited number of moveable units. This is especially true since only Sharpsburg and Boteler's Ford have any bearing on Victory Conditions. All other terrain is essentially worthless and can be abandoned in a pinch. Guard the fords and bridges well, for if the North can get across them early and in force, you will be in trouble.

Counterattack when forced to and when opportunity presents itself. Attack when you can achieve odds of 3 to 1, or surround units, or simply make the Union fight over and over again for the same hex. Generally, keep as many units as possible out of Enemy Zones of Control. This is important in the case of the larger units, who must often play the role of fire brigades, moving back and forth to plug Up weak points. At all costs preserve your artillery units and keep them free to make diversionary attacks. They should be thrown into the front lines only as a last resort. Once locked in an Enemy Zone of Control, they lose the ability to bombard from a safe distance and are likely to be eliminated.

When attacking, make sure you are prepared to take an exchange. There is an immense difference between losing Strength Points on a one-per-one basis, and say, losing two 3-6's for a Union 4-6. It is a luxury you can't afford; And, needless to say, hold onto Sharpsburg. I f you lose possession of the town it will be extremely difficult to win. A. P. Hill, when he finally arrives, is particularly useful in assuring that Sharpsburg remains in Southern hands. In attacking with Hill, remember the possibility of an exchange. Losing a 16-6 for a 4-6 is inexcusable. As for crossing Antietam Creek, one word - DON'T. Releasing the Union hordes is the first step on the road to oblivion. And the road is an extremely short and painful one.

Tactical Notes:

The Combat Results Table for Antietam is, essentially, of a "surround" nature; that is, it is relatively bloodless and uncertain even at the higher odds columns. Consequently, most units in the game will be eliminated by being unable to retreat rather than as a direct result of combat. For this reason, the Players must sequence their attacks and advances after combat for the express purpose of trapping Enemy Units and forcing them to retreat when they have nowhere to go. Combat odds should always be voluntarily reduced to 3 to 1 when attacking units which are surrounded, since this ensures their destruction and minimizes the chances of an exchange.

One other effect of this system of advance and retreat is that it encourages the use of "island" rather than "line" tactics. In other words, it is usually better to alternate Friendly occupied hexes with vacant ones than to have a completely solid line of units. That way a front can be held by a minimum number of units without any danger of being surrounded when adjacent Friendly units retreat. Of course, this is not always possible or even desirable, since it does allow the enemy to achieve greater concentration in his attacks.

Because of the limitations of advance after combat, it is often best to advance a weaker, more expendable unit into an exposed position rather than a larger and more valuable one. This will still pin the Enemy units and force them to counterattack, without risking a serious loss. Again, there will be some instances when the strongest unit should be advanced.

Artillery should be used for low odds diversionary attacks which will allow the concentration of strength against other specific Enemy units. By the way, you may want to reduce such attacks to the lowest possible combat odds in order to prevent your "winning" the attack and forcing the Enemy unit to retreat out of a Friendly Zone of Control. Terrain should also be taken advantage of; particularly the doubling effect of rough terrain. (However, Antietam is a fairly "wide open" game as far as terrain is concerned because the battle occurred in a relatively civilized and cultivated farming district in Maryland. This was not true of many of the other Civil War battles.)

The use of the optional Attack Effectiveness rules generally favors the Southern Player because he is on the defensive and not under pressure to attack. Effectiveness forces both Players to choose their attacks more carefully, because the results of an Ar can be disastrous. However, since the Union has a surplus of units, it can almost always be certain to have enough effective ones lying around to be able to keep an attack going. Like most optional rules, Attack Effectiveness increases realism and complexity while decreasing playability. Players are encouraged to try it at least a few times, if only in order to find out which system they prefer.

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