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Grand Tactician: Strategic, Operational & tactical ACW game

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I am generally sceptical of this kind of attempts at doing a vertical slice of a conflict as complex as the American Civil War, but I found the most recent video interesting

They do have quite few covering battle scenarios as well. One of the developers has a noble attempt at dealing with the Seven Years War on Steam, this looks like some lessons were learnt (at least when it comes to presentation).

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This is very interesting.  After WW2, ACW has been a favorite subject for me.  Not sure why I never got into the European theater wars of the 18th and 19th centuries.  Perhaps I know more about the ACW, the leaders, some of the challenges, politics etc.  I think Grigsby did some good ACW games but that was many years ago now.  And before that I enjoyed playing many ACW cardboard games - ACW works best at the operational-strategic levels.

My Gold standard for this sort of Operational/Strategic game is the original ROME: TOTAL WAR.  I loved that game and would still enjoy playing it more than its newer incarnations.  As with this new ACW effort, Rome featured leaders and advisers with important personal characteristics as well as a detailed economic game.  

This new ACW game is far more detailed and "realistic" but I worry that it may be too complex in terms of the economy sub-game.  (I recall there was a similar game set in Europe that I could not get into due to that economic game complexity.  Not sure if this is the same developer.)

Rome was fun as one made strategic/operational decision and then could fight out the battles in 3D environment.  Am not sure if this new ACW game will feature a 3D environment.  I really liked the 3D battles in Rome as they started very small with a few units and later in the game one would have all sorts of new units and the battles became large.  ie:  There was a lot of variety since advancements over decades and hundreds of years were depicted.

Since the ACW is only 5 years, and weapons and units didn't change significantly not having a 3D battle feature may not be important.  I found that after playing a few dozen battles on Minuteman's ACW tactical level games they all started to feel the same and I got quickly bored with those tactical-level ACW games.

So long as the player doesn't have to get bogged down in too much minutiae (ie the AI can handle most of the economics... as much as the player does not want to control) I would buy this game.

Edited by Erwin

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This is the same dev as Seven Years War, which came out a few years back. I never did pull the trigger on it because I was never convinced it was finished, and maybe by the time it was my attention was elsewhere. It had a lot of good ideas though.

I feel much more convinced about this Civil War game. A sandbox approach is highly appealing. In my view these sorts of games are often too tightly tied to history, which is understandable. I prefer more of a what-if generator. I know what happened historically and don't need to recreate it. I'd rather it be left to me to say "well, what if Grant deployed here instead?", ya know? It's one of the things that appeals about Europa Universalis IV, a game which I have put in nearly 2600 hours over the past 7 years. The game begins in a historical stance, but what plays out from there is far from historical. No two runs ever play quite the same, and the player is left to forge his own path. Beyond that, the machinations of the various nations combine to always create something interesting, compelling and unpredictable. Of course a Civil War game is two factions only, so the scope of divergent history is limited.

But if we have the ability to proceed without being tethered to historical realities and recreation, I think this game has the potential to be really good, and I've had my eye on it. The fact that the dev has Seven Years War under his belt bodes well, and I have high hopes.

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On 2/20/2020 at 5:03 AM, Erwin said:

This new ACW game is far more detailed and "realistic" but I worry that it may be too complex in terms of the economy sub-game.  (I recall there was a similar game set in Europe that I could not get into due to that economic game complexity.  Not sure if this is the same developer.)

I tend to agree with that @Erwin: strategic wargaming does require some sort of economic simulation (even Axis and Allies does), and usually is where things get wild. On the AGEOD Civil War II game I remember literally steamrolling the Confederacy in mid 1863 after mobilizing the Union economy in a way that would have made green with envy Roosevelt's advisors. 

Yet

On 2/22/2020 at 5:22 AM, landser said:

But if we have the ability to proceed without being tethered to historical realities and recreation, I think this game has the potential to be really good, and I've had my eye on it.

this is mainly the reason I come back to these kind of games. I certainly prefer Paradox organic approach to generate historical chaos, in contrast with half baked economic minigames that you can minmax easily. It is a bit like knowing that I am just punching through a flimsy fame mechanic steals the fun from coming up with a weird, bemusing alt history situation. EU IV is indeed great for that.

 

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8 hours ago, BletchleyGeek said:

this is mainly the reason I come back to these kind of games.

 

Exactly. It's the chaos, as you put it, that makes the games worth coming back to. With many games, once you have 'worked it out', the challenge is mostly gone. You've worked out the correct way to play to achieve the best outcome. But with games like EU IV, Crusader Kings and the like, there's no perfect path, and that is in large part due to what happens with everything you don't control. So it remains compelling because you always need to be able to read the tea leaves, reacting to and trying to predict what happens.

For example in this Grand Tactician game, if the enemy is always deploying in the same places, with the same forces, sooner or later you'll work out a strategy to defeat it. But if you first find a position heavily defended, and the next time completely unoccupied, then the game takes on an element of unpredictability (chaos? which can be defined as behavior so unpredictable as to appear random, owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions). This is the thing that gives it nearly unlimited replayability. I wouldn't have mentioned my ridiculous time investment in EU IV other than to show that the randomness of it, as opposed to a much more strict adherence to history, leads to it becoming a game you return to again and again, instead of 'beating it' and moving on, since you would just beat it the same way the next time. And that's not engaging long term.

Frankly, I'd love for Combat Mission to have some of this.

 

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4 hours ago, landser said:

But if you first find a position heavily defended, and the next time completely unoccupied, then the game takes on an element of unpredictability (chaos? which can be defined as behavior so unpredictable as to appear random, owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions). This is the thing that gives it nearly unlimited replayability. I wouldn't have mentioned my ridiculous time investment in EU IV other than to show that the randomness of it, as opposed to a much more strict adherence to history, leads to it becoming a game you return to again and again, instead of 'beating it' and moving on, since you would just beat it the same way the next time. And that's not engaging long term.

Frankly, I'd love for Combat Mission to have some of this.

With a buddy acting as the umpire, you could do something like that now. I think it was @MOS:96B2P or @Badger73 (?) who came up with a relatively simple system where two players sent to a third person (the umpire) their QB purchases, and this person then constructed an scenario, rolling some factors from a table to pick up a map time and environmental conditions. This umpire could also set some of the players forces as reinforcements, to represent staggered arrivals etc.

I don't know how feasible this is though, as you need some critical mass of players to get enough people to do the umpiring (and do a good job generally so the games are enjoyable). There seems to be a decent number of people hanging out at the Few Good Men Discord server, so that could be a relatively close knit group of CM players where such a system could prove popular.

It would be great too that it was actual gameplay offered by the game itself, rather than meta-gameplay the players concoct around the game.

Edited by BletchleyGeek

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15 hours ago, BletchleyGeek said:

It would be great too that it was actual gameplay offered by the game itself, rather than meta-gameplay the players concoct around the game.

For certain. I recall back in the day playing Electronic Arts' NHL '93 on Sega. I loved that game (and NHL '94 even more).  The main issue I had with NHL '93 was the fact that it did not have any sort of season mode. It was single games only. But I really wanted to play a season, and have stats leaders, standings and playoffs, and a Stanley Cup champion.

So I simulated it. Using the actual season schedule and copies of The Hockey News I simulated each and every game that the team I was playing, the Flyers, were not involved in. And then played out each of the Flyers games. I had notebooks where I would track stats and standings, all by hand. It was a massive project, and took a hell of a lot of time.

But that was a long time ago, back when I had the enthusiasm for such endeavors. I've changed, and the gaming industry has too. Season mode is a staple in games now. Hell, in most you can play endless careers, season after season, while the software tracks the damn stats for me. There's zero chance I would attempt a similar thing now.

It's the same with Combat Mission. I desperately want a new campaign system that introduces the chaos we talked about, that provides compelling replayability. While I admire the attempts creative players make to fill the gaps they find --like folks who use other games to simulate the operational side, and then play the battles out in CM -- this isn't the way forward for me. We will see if Grand Tactician offers up this sort of thing, or in the end, it's a static rock-paper-scissors game dressed up in Civil War period costumes.

And in case anyone wonders, The Penguins won the Stanley Cup and Dougie Gilmour won the scoring title :)

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21 hours ago, BletchleyGeek said:

With a buddy acting as the umpire, you could do something like that now. I think it was @MOS:96B2P or @Badger73 (?) who came up with a relatively simple system . . .

Not me but thanks for thinking so . . 😎

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22 hours ago, BletchleyGeek said:

With a buddy acting as the umpire, you could do something like that now. I think it was @MOS:96B2P or @Badger73 (?) who came up with a relatively simple system where two players sent to a third person (the umpire) their QB purchases,

 

54 minutes ago, Badger73 said:

Not me but thanks for thinking so . . 😎

Not me either.  :)  I do remember reading about it on the forum.     

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