Campaign Gettysburg is a very large title with hundreds of scenarios to choose from. The main Battle of Gettysburg, while somewhat flawed in my opinion in regards to supplies, remains one of the most popular titles in the Club and is still a lot of fun to play again and again. While I could have reviewed all of the other hundreds of scenarios on this title - I didn't see any need. Campaign Gettysburg is a poorly designed title where the developers seemingly tossed random scenarios onto it without any attempt to organize them or make them even make organizational sense. While some alternate scenarios might be good, many are just extremely repetitive in design and lack any real appeal. It just wasn't worth my time to review the "sideshows" when everyone is really here for the main attraction - Gettysburg. So here is everything you will ever want to know about that scenario.
!HISTORICAL 1. The Battle of Gettysburg - July 1 - 3, 1863
Why Should You Play This Scenario?
The Battle of Gettysburg is easily the most played scenario in the ACWGC. This classic meeting engagement-style battle is endlessly entertaining and challenging for both sides. It is much more complex than most scenarios and requires much more thought and attention than it is frequently given. The battle is easy to play - until it isn't. More on that as we progress in this review.
Through the years there has been a lot of back and forth between the two sides about which infantry force is superior at Gettysburg. Usually both sides will argue that the other side has an advantage. The Rebels because of the numerical superiority of the Federals, and the Federals because of the higher quality of the Rebels.
But as you can see, the numerical difference is not extreme and the quality difference is not extreme. The difference in the numbers and qualities seems just about right to offset any real advantage for one side over the other. The Rebels do have slightly larger regiments on average, but the Federals have 90 additional total units. The Federals also have 14 additional brigades which will give them greater tactical maneuverability on the battlefield. But the Rebels have larger brigades and divisions which give them more striking power when moved as a singular force. There is a lot of back and forth in all this.
Therefore, I have to conclude that there is no advantage here for one side or the other in terms of infantry. The forces are simply well-matched.
The Union cavalry is very dangerous at the Battle of Gettysburg. Everything about them makes them dangerous. They have lots of units, good quality, excellent short-range weapons, and plenty of horse artillery. And that's even taking into consideration that they outnumber us by 4,500 men.
Whether it is on paper or on a battlefield, the Union cavalry force is simply superior at the Battle of Gettysburg.
There are a ton of artillery pieces in this battle for both sides. The Federals have 81 additional pieces and 31 additional batteries (sections) to move around the battlefield. Couple this with their extremely high number of shells, and the Rebel player is going to be facing a screaming barrage of enemy gunfire for all three days.
Much more will be said about this later. But for now, let's just say the Federals have more ammo and therefore have an advantage.
The ANV high command fought their worst battle at Gettysburg and it is reflected in these numbers. I will have to say this category is a draw.
The map and information below shows the approximate arrival locations and times of the major units arriving on the battlefield of Gettysburg. This is a classic meeting engagement and the two sides will build up quickly on days one and two.
As this is a Meeting Engagement, the "setup" doesn't really apply very much here. It is unfortunate for the Rebel Cause that Heth was not more aggressive and perhaps attacked Buford an hour or two earlier, increasing our chances of taking Gettysburg and Cemetery Hill.
As you can see, in my opinion, we have no real advantages here at the Battle of Gettysburg. While we have somewhat superior infantry, the Federals have enough extra men to make up for it. The cavalry forces, artillery, and supplies, all favor the Federals. And the setup itself does not favor one side or the other.
What Really Makes Gettysburg Difficult
To begin with, the map and the road network favors the Federals south of Gettysburg. The "fishhook" is real. It is exceedingly easy for them to reinforce the ends of their line using these interior roads. For the Rebel player to move forces from opposite Culp's Hill, to opposite Little Round Top, takes a very long time and can be observed by the Federals every step of the way.
What can potentially make this battle a real nightmare though is the supply situation.
The Federals have 11,335 artillery rounds to fire at our army. If they average just one-man killed per cannonball, they can wipe out two full divisions! They can do all that without ever necessarily having to fire a musket ball.
Speaking of musket balls, this issue, more than anything else, is what makes this scenario so difficult. Neither side has a ton of ammunition and should treat their wagons like gold. But the Federals, because they have a larger army and more wagons, do at least have an advantage here. And as the turns roll past that advantage becomes greater and greater.
An intelligent Union player will know that the Confederate army has a limited amount of small arms ammo and will fight the battle like a marathon. If they can make it to day three then they know it is likely your army will begin to run low on supplies to continue the fight. More than once I have heard players tell of completely running out of ammo in the battle and having to fight with the bayonet as the last resort.
The Federal goal here is (or should be) to outlast the Rebels and win on day three. For the Rebels, the goal is to win as decisively as possible on day one (or two) and convince the Federals that they have no chance to even win on day three.
1) Be Aggressive at the Start
Because it is in your best interest to destroy the enemy's will to fight as fast as possible, it is advisable to be more aggressive than usual on day one. Attack the Yankees as hard as you can and make their lives miserable.
2) Aim for the Cavalry
You can rack up a lot of points if the enemy foolishly keeps Buford on the front lines for too long. If they make the mistake of using Buford as dismounted infantry then you need to make them pay for it.
3) Don't Be Stupid
Wins and losses are determined by points in these games. If you gain a victory status in the scenario then you don't have to keep attacking. If you can take away the Union's ability to sit on their butts on the high ground by gaining enough points to force them to attack - well done! Most Union players will continue to defend the high ground even if they are losing in points because they think the game is determined by who holds Cemetery Hill. Let them waste all the time possible while you reposition and entrench. Play smart and keep a close eye on the victory points.
This is a tough battle for the Rebels the longer it goes. Play it hard at the start but keep in mind the battle is a marathon. If you don't knock them out on day one, prepare for a long game. Also, keep an eye on the objective hexes here, they are worth a lot of points.