This is the second game in what is now a series, called Ulitmate General.
The first game dealt only with Gettysburg, it had a series of battles that got affected by how you did, like if the union held on the first day, the battle would be different from how history recorded the second day of Gettysburg.
The game was fun, nice to look it, and the selling point was the ease of control and the AI
Now this second game, will let you play the entire civil war! (when it's done, as it's in early access, and the game ends after Antietam)
You start with creating your general, through a sort of "light RPG" character creating screen, You create a general, You choose which studies you had at West Point and so get various points.
Here we meet the first problem, the nr 1 skill you have to put points in is; Army Organisation. This skill is needed to get; more brigades, bigger brigades, and more corps. You just have to dump your skill points as much as possible into it. This kinda defeats the purpose of having a choice in your character creation. The second skill you need to dump stuff into is reconnaissance, so you'll be able to see at least some info on enemy strength. The other skills seem much less important and you simply fill up some of them after getting as high as possible in Army Organisation.
The first screen in General creation process.
You then do small battle, where you have to take a town with a few thousand men at your disposal. Then hold the town against a counter attack. After this you'll start to build your army!
After you win the battle you get a new skill point(which goes straight into army organization.
And you get; money, manpower, and reputation. Money is spent on creating brigades and buying weapons, manpower is how many recruits you have available. And reputation is a sort of political currency. It can buy used to "buy" more men, weapons or generals. But it's also your life-line, if you loose to much reputation you will be fired!
To start your army you'll have whatever is left after the first battle. You'll need to add brigades and divisions as soon as possible. It's relatively cheap to make a new brigade, as long as you have enough weapons in your armory. However adding veteran reinforcements to brigades you already have is extremely expensive. When I neared the battle of Antietam, it cost me some 50 000 to add 500 veteran reinforcements to my best brigades. Because you do get best brigades. Not only can you buy better weapons to them, But they level up, a Level 3(the max) Brigade is a monster compared to a level 0 brigade. If you got a level 3 brigade with 2500 men(the biggest you can get a brigade) You can count on them standing under extreme pressure.
But as I said it's extremely expensive to reinforce them(you can reinforce them with rookies, but then the quality of the brigade goes down)
You move your brigades by simply dragging the mouse from the unit to where you want to go.
You have 4 types of "brigades" Brigades in this game is a sort of generic term. First and most important is the infantry brigade which is a proper brigade. They can be up to 2500 men strong.
You also have Cavalry brigade, which can be up to 750 strong. You have artillery brigade that can be from a small battery in size(4 guns) to 24 guns. And finally you have skirmishers, that ca be up to 500 men.
Each brigade is added to a division, in the start you can only have 3-4 brigades pr. division, but when you have upgraded your army organization you can have 6 brigades per. division and 4 divisions per corps.
For my first proper game, I mostly had 4-5 infantry per division and a battery. Some of my divisions had cavalry and some had Skirmishers. But at Antietam where I had 65 brigades, I only had 3 cavalry units, 3 skirmish units, The rest was regular infantry and artillery.
While you only spend 20% of the game in the Army Organisation screen, I'll make the claim it's actually 40% of the game, A badly made army will make it impossible to win. You'll spend a lot of time taking care of your army. You'll need to find officers for your units, you'll see both officers and units level up(promoted for officers) You'll spend a lot of time finding the right weapons for them. You have many weapons to choose from, but availability is a pain. Not only do you need the money for the guns, But there might not be enough guns to supply your brigade.
And the guns got stats of course, very broadly speaking, the short range smoothbore have higher melè, while the rifled-muskets have better range and accuracy. Why exactly a musket is better in melè then a rifled-musket I do not know, But it's a game.
But it dosen't help having super fancy guns if you can't resupply them after a battle. So often you end up using weapons you captured after a battle.
You also have supply you need to look after, Each corps have a supply wagon, that resupplies your army in a battle. It will run out! You can max have 25000 supply. If you got 30-40 guns going off and a 20 000 soldiers firing of their weapons, those 25000 will go in minutes! You can capture the enemy supply wagons, these can be used in the battle, but if you don't use them up in that battle the remaining supplies will be added to yours after the battle.
From the first battle asUnion
I will tell you, you will be attached to your units. For simplicity's sake, I made each of my divisions "state divisions" So my first division was a New York division. With 1st New york Brigade, 2nd New York Brigade, 1st New York Artillery etc. My Second was a Maine division.
I also had Rhoad Island, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio etc.
Two units I did get very attached to was 1st New York Brigade and 1st Maine Brigade.
1st New york, had been with me since the first battle. And my 1st Maine was my Killer Angles and had been with me since my second battle. After Antietam, they had like 12000 kills after over a year of campaigning, I almost lost them twice, at Shiloh they were down to 350 men and at Gains Mill they were down to 240 men, At Antietam, they lost 1300 men.
The screen you get after winning the first battle.
When you've finished playing in the army organization screen it's time to do battle. Before each major battle(1st Manassas, Shiloh etc.) you have optional battles, smaller actions that will let you get experience, money, and manpower.
The battles play out mostly like the first game, they have improved stuff, making it easier to create cohesive battle lines. They have also made artillery much easier to handle, no need to micro them, simply put them some place, and the rest is automatic, the guns unlimber and they also choose the ammo them self. So they automatically go for canister at close range.
But the battles are also the biggest problem so far in the game. They are not dynamic.
So if I loose 20 000 men in a battle, I'll need to reinforce my army with whatever resources I have. This does not apply to the ai. You can almost wipe the ai army of the face of the planet, and the next battle it's at full strength. It's a shame, it would be very cool if you could win the game by simply destroy the enemy army in a giant battle. But you can't and I guess they won't add it, As the campaign will be many hours long, but if you win after 4 major battles the campaign will be 4 hours long not 25 hours long.
My Army early in the game.
A little later, with a 2nd corps added.
And the second big problem with the battle is the scripting.
One of the more dramatic examples of this is at Shiloh, At the start of the battle, you need to hold Shiloh Church and the Hornet's nest. And I did, I held them both. Yet in day 2 my entire army gets magically transported to Pitsburg landing. And I have to retake both these places. I had by the 2nd day almost destroyed the CSA army, I had probebly a 5:1 advantage in forces. So I why would I pull back?
Other then these problems, there are just some bugs here and there(again not a finished game)
The rebs throw them self at my lines, you see all those brown/grey corpes in the stream? Yeah a dozen 12 pdr Napoleons will do that over a few hours.
After doing two smaller actions, I have only 1st Bull Run left, and I need to do it, to continue on.
There is also the problem with the difficulty, I played my first proper campaign as Union on easy, I won every single battle( you aren't suppose to win all battles) While I was challenged in the battles and needed to keep on my toes. I still won them all. I'm going to try now on Normal, But I'm afraid Normal will be too hard and I'll never reach Antietam. Because I played on easy I had 25% more manpower and money. So I could have 5 brigades I always filled with veteran reinforcements. This gives me an edge.
How it looked before Antietam.
The game is extremely fun, I spent almost 15 hours on this first campaign, so a full one with all the battles will last at least 20 maybe close to 30 hours. I have laid out the things I'm not a fan of, I doubt most of them will be changed. As I said, it's a bit frustrating destroying an enemy army just to see it complete and intact the next battle but if you don't do it, it's perfectly possible you'll never see half the battles as you destroyed the enemy army early in the game. I mean I lost 18 000 men at Antietam, the south lost 24 000 out of 46 000. I still would have over 60 000 against their 22 000, So I would most likely have won the war after the next battle.
Now again I played on easy, this would be much harder on normal or hard, but then some people are much better than me at this, and so even on hard some players would destroy the enemy early on. The one thing I hope they do change is the scripting of the battles. We might not get a dynamic campaign, but dynamic battles would have been nice.
I recommend the game as it is now, without hesitation , but if you want to wait a few months, you can do that, the game is on early accsess, but the game is quite complete, so it won't be years and yeasrs in early accsess hell.
The game is out on steam now, and when done will also come to Ipad.
The Death of the confederacy? Kemper with his back to the river getting shot up by 30 canon and thousands of soldiers.