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Thread: Remember the Maine! - an 1898 tutorial AAR

  1. #1
    OT iconoclast StephenT's Avatar
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    Remember the Maine! - an 1898 tutorial AAR

    This is a tutorial AAR for the Spanish-American War campaign scenario of Pride of Nations. It’s a very short scenario – only ten turns long – and the economic, colonial and diplomatic aspects of the game are inactive. As such, it makes a good introduction to the combat.

    This is only the second time I’ve played the scenario – the first time, I won a minor victory on points but failed to achieve all my objectives. I’m going to try to do better this time! I’m playing as the Americans.

    As a historical background, Spain in the 1890s was facing rebellions in many of its remaining colonies, especially Cuba and the Philippines. The Spanish government introduced harsh measures to fight the rebels, including the notorious reconcentrados, or concentration camps, where over a hundred thousand civilians died of starvation and disease. The US press publicised these atrocities, deliberately encouraging pro-war sentiment. Then on 15 February 1898 the US battleship Maine, on a visit to Havana, blew up and sank for reasons still unknown today. The press, however, was united in blaming the explosion on Spanish saboteurs, and whipped up a public frenzy for military intervention. Ten weeks later, the United States was at war with Spain.




    Here we see the view you get when you start the scenario. There are military forces in Norfolk, Baltimore and Washington DC. Clicking on the force in Norfolk shows you this:



    The Porto Rico Expeditionary Force is the name of the stack, and that gives us a fairly good clue what to do with it. There are three units in the stack, called John R Brooke, I Corps Cavalry and Pack Train No.1. The tooltip from hovering over the stack gives more detailed information.

    BG (Brigadier General) John R Brooke is the commander of the stack, and he has 12 Command Points available. The stack he’s leading only requires 2 CP, so that’s no problem. (A stack that’s too large for a general to command, or which has no general at all, suffers significant penalties to combat and movement.)

    The three units in the stack are listed next. Brooke has three values listed, 4-2-1, which are his strategic, attack and defence ratings. He’s a fairly active commander, reasonably good on the attack and mediocre on defence. He also has a combat strength of 288 – not because he’s Superman, but because the unit includes a corps of militia as well as the general himself. The cavalry unit has a strength of 72, and the supply unit has no combat rating. Note that this combat rating is a guideline; actual combat involves many other factors. The strength is also heavily dependent on a unit’s cohesion and supply status, and so may rise or fall significantly from turn to turn.

    The stack has a Land Detect rating of 5 and a Hide rating of 1. These numbers are compared to those of the enemy – it’s entirely possible for two units to be in the same province without detecting each other, especially if one of them is composed of partisans or guerrillas with a high Hide rating. The stack also has a Weight of 56, which is the value checked to see if a transport fleet can carry it.

    If you click on the individual unit shown on the bottom of the screen, you get additional information about its composition, shown on the right. The unit called John R Brooke actually comprises the general himself, plus four regiments (‘elements’) of militia infantry and one of artillery. Clicking on the unit symbol in turn brings up an info box of detailed statistics – and also showing what the units’ uniforms look like.




    So that’s one army. What else do we have? The quickest way to find out is to go to the Roster screen in the ledger by pressing F2.



    We have 45 stacks of units, which is a lot. Let’s simplify things by pressing the Hide Locked Forces filter button (fourth from left), which hides 27 of those 45 stacks (which are locked in place until attacked in this scenario). We’ll also click on the US flag in the top right to hide the Cuban and Filipino rebel armies, to show just the US forces. Much easier to comprehend! You can also hide either the fleets or the armies.



    We have seven fleets – the Asiatic Squadron off the Pearl River Estuary (which is in China), the Atlantic Squadron off Cape Hatteras, the Flying Squadron in the Straits of Florida, and the Pacific Squadron in Imperial (San Diego in California); plus three transport squadrons – two in the Pacific, one in Tampa Bay in Florida.

    As for armies, we have three Expeditionary Forces - for Cuba, Porto Rico and the Philippines – plus the US Marine Corps and the War Department in Washington.

    The Strategic Map (F5) will also give an overview of where our forces are located. The Spanish forces we know about are also shown (in yellow), but of course they may have others hiding behind the fog of war.




    Finally, the Objectives Screen (F10) tells us we have to capture San Juan in Porto Rico, La Habana and Santiago in Cuba, and Manila in the Philippines to win the scenario. In fact, we can ignore La Habana since we score a sudden-death victory if we take the other three objectives.

    In the next post, I’ll start giving actual orders.

  2. #2
    OT iconoclast StephenT's Avatar
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    Turn 1 - Early May 1898



    Here’s the Cuba Expeditionary Force commanded by William Shafter (whom I struggle to resist calling William Shatner). More importantly, the stack also contains this guy, with his two regiments of cavalry:



    In the same place is the Gulf Transport Squadron, with its tab in blue lettering to show it’s a naval unit. To board the transports, click on the Cuba Expeditionary Force tab, drag it over the Gulf Transport Squadron tab and release. You’ll end up with a new combined unit called 1. Fleet.

    I’m going to send the expeditionary force to attack Santiago. I drag either the fleet itself or its tab (either works) to the sea area north of Cuba, then click the ‘Distant Unload’ button in the orders panel and finally click on the target province. It will take 44 days – three turns – to arrive. Notice that there’s already a Cuban rebel army, allied to me, in this province and it’s besieging the Spanish forces in Santiago.




    The Flying Squadron will cover the invasion in case the Spanish fleet tries to intervene. I set it to Aggressive posture (the orange button in the top row) so it will attack any enemy fleet moving past it, and also click the Intercept orders button, and send it to the Grand Bahamas Bank sea area.




    I only have one transport squadron in the Atlantic or Caribbean, so I can’t invade Porto Rico yet. The Atlantic Squadron, however, has a small cargo capacity of 12 points. That’s not enough to carry the Porto Rico Expeditionary Force(which if you remember my last post has a weight of 56) but coincidentally enough the USMC has a weight of exactly 12. So I select the Marines unit in Baltimore and drag it directly onto the sea area containing the Atlantic Squadron. The game automatically calculates a movement route via Philadelphia and tells me it will take 10 days to board the fleet. (Remember, each turn is 15 days.)

    Next, the Pacific. Load the Philippines Expeditionary Force onto the Pacific Transport Squadron the same way as the Cuban army, then try dragging the fleet onto Manila. Oops – you can’t. That’s because the 2nd Escort Division of ships contains two ‘Small Harbor Defense Boats’ which are not allowed to enter open ocean. So remove that unit from the fleet, either by dragging it onto an empty area of the province, or onto one of the other tabs to transfer the ship. To replace it, drag the three cruisers of the Pacific Squadron into the new combined fleet.




    Now the new fleet can reach the Philippines. A tip – with the fleet selected, click on the minimap to centre the map view on the Philippines, then drag the small tab of the unit onto the sea area Manila Bay. As you can see, it will take 14 days for the fleet to cross the Pacific. Click the ‘Remote Disembark’ button and order the troops to unload in the Manila province (where you’ll see that Emilio Aguinaldo and his Filipino rebels are already beseiging the Spanish troops).




    Finally, send the Asiatic Squadron under Commodore Dewey to Manila Bay, setting its orders to Intercept and its combat stance to Aggressive.



    And click End Turn!

  3. #3
    Second Lieutenant Akritas's Avatar
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    Very nice!
    Go Spain!
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  4. #4
    First Lieutenant Kronolog's Avatar
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    Thanks, this is very useful.

  5. #5
    OT iconoclast StephenT's Avatar
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    Glad to help... even the people who want me to lose.

  6. #6
    Field Marshal Stuyvesant's Avatar
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    Looking forward to see how this pans out. I've dabbled with Revolution Under Siege and I've read AARs about Rise Of Prussia, so it'll be interesting to see how the combat part of the game is similar and different.
    Hollow Little Reign - A brief Crusader Kings tale about family ties in Byzantium.

  7. #7
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    be interesting to see how PoN works out and how different/same it is to earlier AGEOD games in terms of the mechanics. So I'll gladly read your unfolding tale of how the Yankee Imperialists lost ... or won .... or came to a narrow win on VPs
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  8. #8
    From my limited play through experience in scenarious, I have found casualty rates in wars much higher then any other age-engine game that whole stack can be destroyed easily. Though this can be superstitious I will also follow this aar, well done.

  9. #9
    OT iconoclast StephenT's Avatar
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    Turn 2 - Late May 1898

    As the turn processes, I get a combat report. Dewey’s Asiatic Squadron met the Spanish in Manila Bay, and sank six of their ships for a loss of one of its own – not as good a result as historically, but still a decisive victory.




    The turn report contains various bits of information, notably that many of my ships and units are suffering attrition damage. As a rule, it’s not a good idea to leave them out in the open unnecessarily. We also get various historical events – the ones in red text – which can be double-clicked on for details. Most of them are just for flavour, but we do get some new units by event in this scenario.

    The Atlantic Squadron now has Marines on board. I move it to the coast of Puerto Rico and once again use the Distant Unload order.



    My other expeditionary forces are still at sea. Next turn!


    Turn 3 - Early June 1898

    I was watching the game process the turn, and just as the Marines started landing on the beaches of Puerto Rico, the opening chords of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony came on the soundtrack...

    Here’s the situation in Cuba. Shafter’s army has landed, but notice how its combat strength is now only 703. It suffered cohesion hits from the amphibious invasion, but will recover given time unless it runs out of supply. The tooltip for the cooking pot tells me I’ve got 232 supply points and use 56 per turn, plus 25% of my stock will decay each turn (because I’m fighting in a tropical rainforest).




    The Spanish army in Santiago has a strength of 738 (you can see this by hovering the mouse over the tan-coloured box to the left of the city name). On the positive side, the city’s fortifications have been breached by the Cuban army already, so I should be able to assault once I’ve recovered my cohesion.




    The Marines in Puerto Rico have put the city under siege, but they’re badly outnumbered until reinforcements arrive. Let’s hope the Spanish commander failed his activation check...

    My transport fleet, after delivering the Cuban Expeditionary Force to Santiago, heads off for Norfolk, Virginia to collect Brooke’s Porto Rico Expeditionary Force, while the two combat fleets return to port to refuel and recover cohesion.



    In the Philippines, my American expeditionary force finally arrives, and puts the Spanish in Manila under siege. The Spanish, demoralised by their naval defeat in Manila Bay, promptly surrender. (I believe this is actually a scripted event, if you win the naval battle in Manila Bay.) That’s one out of three objectives captured!

    Next update - next turn.

  10. #10
    earl of whateverinster alvaro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StephenT View Post
    In the Philippines, my American expeditionary force finally arrives, and puts the Spanish in Manila under siege. The Spanish, demoralised by their naval defeat in Manila Bay, promptly surrender. (I believe this is actually a scripted event, if you win the naval battle in Manila Bay.) That’s one out of three objectives captured!

    Next update - next turn.
    I think you don't even have to win the battle. I played as Spain yesterday and moved my fleet to Guam. Then at some point Manila surrendered by itself without any lack of supply, food ot breaches in the walls.
    I must say that as an scenario is rather pointless.
    Dicen que en Portugal aun hay muchos comunistas
    pero lo que yo queria saber es donde hay señoritas

  11. #11
    OT iconoclast StephenT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alvaro View Post
    I think you don't even have to win the battle. I played as Spain yesterday and moved my fleet to Guam. Then at some point Manila surrendered by itself without any lack of supply, food ot breaches in the walls.
    On the other hand, on another playthrough after this one the Americans lost the battle of Manila Bay, and the event never fired - I had to beseige Manila the slow way. So maybe the deciding factor is he presnce of the Spanish fleet in the sea area?

  12. #12
    earl of whateverinster alvaro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StephenT View Post
    On the other hand, on another playthrough after this one the Americans lost the battle of Manila Bay, and the event never fired - I had to beseige Manila the slow way. So maybe the deciding factor is he presnce of the Spanish fleet in the sea area?
    that makes sense, yes. unfortunately I am much of a shameless coward
    No, but, dunno, it's a weird scenario. I was able to bomb the east coast up to New York and plunder US trade at will with my fleet. No opposition found at all.
    Dicen que en Portugal aun hay muchos comunistas
    pero lo que yo queria saber es donde hay señoritas

  13. #13
    Thank you very much for this AAR. Hopefully it will inspire other PoN ones. A small nitpick, its "Puerto Rico", not "Porto", which would be the name if it was in Portuguese.
    Last edited by Panchito; 08-06-2011 at 22:41.

  14. #14
    victim of bad ideas henkalv's Avatar
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    A very good AAR indeed. Personally I am struggling with trade in this game, but getting to know how combat works is also very valuable

  15. #15
    Crazy Cat Person. Meow! Moderator Qorten's Avatar
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    Nice seeing the first PoN-AAR already. I just bought the game a few minutes ago. From the look of this AAR the learning curve is again completely through the roof compared with most Paradox Sweden-games.


    When I use this color I am speaking as a Moderator.

  16. #16
    OT iconoclast StephenT's Avatar
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    Turn 4 - Late June 1898

    General Shafter’s army has recovered its cohesion, and now has a strength of 1028 compared to the Spanish 698. However, my Cuban ally General García failed his activation check – the brown envelope to the left of his counter shows that he’s dithering about like an amateur, and his troops will suffer combat and movement penalties this turn. Also, more importantly, I can’t issue them with an ‘Assault Fortress' command. I decide to wait and let the Spanish forces in Santiago suffer attrition for a while.




    In the Philippines, the American expeditionary force sets off for Legazpi province in south Luzon where there is still a Spanish outpost. San Juan in Puerto Rico is still under siege.

    Still no sign of the main Spanish Navy. The Atlantic and Flying Squadrons head for Savannah GA to refuel.


    Turn 5 - Early July 1898

    This turn, both Shafter and García make their activation checks. I order them to assault the breached fortress by clicking the red ‘Assault’ posture icon. This is necessary because on the orange ‘Aggressive’ setting, my units would attack enemies out in the open but not those inside structures. Remember that I’ve already broken down the walls of Santiago so the Spanish will get no benefit from its fortifications.



    The Transport Squadron reaches Norfolk. Here we find not only the original Porto Rico Expeditionary Force but two brigades of reinforcements – the famous ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ of African-American troops, specially organised for this campaign (as explained in one of those red-text historical events).



    I combine the reinforcements with the expeditionary corps, load them onto the ships and send them to Puerto Rico. It’ll take them 34 days (3 turns) to get there; since it’s now turn 5, it’s cutting it fine before the scenario ends.

    Then I click 'next turn', and wait to see the result of the attack on Santiago…

  17. #17
    Field Marshal Stuyvesant's Avatar
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    Well, let's see how Santiago de Cuba fares under your assault!

    It sounds like there is not a lot of time to accomplish things in this scenario. I don't know if you've played ahead already, but if you did, were you able to gain some goals? Is it dependent on your actual performance, or are there more (seemingly) scripted surrenders, as in the Phillipines?
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  18. #18
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    it does sound that with you limited transport capacity there is a need for real precision in how you allocate your forces to your goals ... are the Spanish largely passive though?
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  19. #19
    OT iconoclast StephenT's Avatar
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    I've finished the scenario itself long ago: what takes time is writing up the AAR and editing/uploading the screenshots. The Spanish do seem pretty passive, it's true; the main problem in the scenario is definitely that you have very little time to achieve all your goals. You need to plan carefully and not waste any time at all; you also have to take risks. In a campaign with no deadline, for example, I might not bother assaulting Santiago but simply besiege them until they surrender. Here, though, I have to capture the city within ten turns, or lose.

  20. #20
    Join date April 2002 Kayapo's Avatar
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    Thank you for the AAR.

    How did the attack go?

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