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Ultimate General - Civil War


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This one has been out for a while but ive only just had a chance to play it. The gaming system is very similar to Gettysburg from the same Company. And thus far its proving utterly fiendish.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/502520/Ultimate_General_Civil_War/

 

Case in point, Antietam. Ive played this 3 times as the confederates, and its kicked my butt every time. Losing is easy, the hard bit is losing whilst keeping losses below 50 percent, or the game ends precipitately. The AI in this is very good. Certainly better than McClellan did. :)

 

It plays a lot like Total War, though you cannot zoom in as closely. But by and large it seems pretty accurate. Its got nearly ever major and a few minor weapons systems used in the civil war and you can with money, and experience, use them all eventually. The purchasing system is a little like the one in Steel Panthers, except there is political element where you can leverage political contacts for new weapons or Good generals.

 

Now if I can just finish bloody Antietam with my pride intact, Ill be a happy man. :D

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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Well you can choose obviously the 2 main sides in the war. Each of those have a series of campaigns you have to complete one after the other. The main choice you get in each different campaign (Manassas, whatever) is the order in which you do the battles. But if you do them in historical order you get an incremental effect on the enemy forces if you win. For example, complete one of the small battles like Harpers Ferry, you have a reduction of the enemies main force at Antietam. Or, by capturing a depot somewhere, you condemn the enemy fight fight with older weapons.

 

So you dont get a main map experience for strategic manoeuvre like you have with the Total War Series. Its more accurate to compare this to say steel panthers. Strangely it doesn't matter that much to me. As a corp or Divisional commander you might get relatively little choice on where you fight, but you would probably have more choice in how you fight and what with.

 

If you want a strategy game, there is always Civil War 2 by Ageod which looks pretty good.

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Their system is fine. I was just curious how it worked. There's basically nothing explaining it on the page or in the vids/screenshots.

 

Given the positive reviews and that replay they have up on their page this is one I'll definitely be picking up. Hell, maybe even before a sale.

 

[unrelated but Total War's strategic gameplay is pretty... weak. It's a shame they didn't try to expand and improve on it over the years. Instead, like so many companies out there, they had something that worked (enough) and just left it as is while pumping out game after game with the system.]

Edited by Skywalkre
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Ok just won Antietam as the Confederates. The trick is to hold the woods and the sunken lane. You do that, the rest of their assault is all out of kilter and you can defeat it piecemeal. Even so, I lost about 48 percent of my force. You have a defeat if you touch 50 percent...

 

Again lost nearly half my force at Fredericksburg. The union lost over half of their force. But then, pretty much all my force was equipped by rifles by that point. I find Richmonds and Enfields gives quite a good effect.

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After about a month playing it, Its good. If I have irritations, its that you cant mix weapons in Brigades. It would be nice to have a third of a brigade with musket, and the rest with Rifles. Sometimes the AI is pretty dumb, particularly when you have ravaged your opponents and he is still building up units. When he throws a lot of units at you, and you dont have great defensible terrain (read antietam) its very easy to get overrun however.

 

All that said, its about the best civil war wargame ive yet played. If it had a strategic element, it would be damn near perfect.

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This game is brutal (in a good way). I've played the first battle several times yet the bloodshed is always horrendous. The campaign actually seems the best way to learn as your forces are smaller and the objectives simpler.

 

What impresses me the most so far is that, even on my potato PC, the game is beautiful. They've done a great job of making it visually impressive while remaining functional. Before picking up this I was messing around with a game called Star Hammer which was neither. In the middle of battle, while being no more complex than Ultimate General, the game was visually a mess. It was hard to click on units, info was overlapping to the point of making things unreadable, and what should have been basic info was missing. Still amazes me that so many games have these 'first playthrough' issues that are glaringly obvious from the get-go.

Edited by Skywalkre
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It does look pretty good doesnt it? In truth, Id like to be able to zoom in ala Total War, but frankly it doesnt need it, and it allows you to have a shitload more soldiers on the battlefield than you would otherwise.

 

I THINK the PK is a bit high. If you read of Civil War battles and fight similar battles int he game, the carnage is about 50 percent higher than reality. Im not quite sure, whether that is so that you have a good reason to develop the medical support, or they have upped the lethality of rifles. But as far as the fluidity of the battles, it works really well.

 

You will find it will get rather easier as your units stack up skill. Against that, it gets very expensive to keep you top of the line units up together, so you find yourself making 3rd rate units with muskets as cannon fodder, before you can send your elite guard in to mop up.

 

A word of advice, dont throw ANY cannons away. Set up batteries between 6 and 12 guns, and make the most of the ones you capture. I find a mix of an artillery battery attached to Divisions, and an Artillery division attached to a corp is a good way to go. I wouldnt bother with sharpshooters, the ones you can detach as a light company are perfecty adequate. Cavalry, well maybe from time to time its very useful, but I wouldnt go mad with it. A division at most, and I wouldnt bother to attach them to Infantry Division.

.

 

Have fun with Antietam and Fredericksburg. :D

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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I THINK the PK is a bit high. If you read of Civil War battles and fight similar battles int he game, the carnage is about 50 percent higher than reality. Im not quite sure, whether that is so that you have a good reason to develop the medical support, or they have upped the lethality of rifles.

I was curious about that. I'm not a big Civil War buff so didn't know but it definitely felt overly punitive so far.

 

How often do you get to spend points in the various campaign leader parameters? When I first made a character I approached it more from an RP perspective and ended up with basically everything in training. This last go through I was more balanced and had about 4 areas with 3 points with medical being one of them. I'm starting to think whenever I get the chance I'll just keep throwing points into medical.

 

Speaking of parameters is there really any use to Recon?

Edited by Skywalkre
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Ive only just noticed it myself. Ive bought a few civil war books (to basically try and make myself better at it) and noticed its rather higher. There are mods that fix this however. It will probably make battles drag on forever though. :)

 

Nice thing, if you look at the stats, you see Muskets do more damage than rifles. Which historically seems to have been the case. Muskets had higher muzzle velocity, so at close range were actually at accurate as rifles, and had greater firepower. At longer range, Rifles were more accurate, but because they had a lower muzzle velocity they were harder to aim, and in the event, probably not much more accurate than muskets. That doesnt hold entirely true in the game. But at close range, muskets certainly do a hell of a lot of damage, and its perhaps wize to use those on cannon fodder units. Keep the rifles for the really decent formations you have maxed out on skill.

 

I go with the artillery training, and them I think as a congressman. You get more resources early on that way. I think what I do is max out the unit size till I get to 2000 men to a brigade (I think the maximum is about 2500-3000) and that way you can build units that can take hits. The only problem is, if your elite formation gets savaged, it will cost you an arm and a leg to buy in veterans to fill it out again. Which suggets using them sparingly, and perhaps only keep 2 or 3 units at elite at any one time. Try and keep cannon fodder or better equipped second rate units to do the heavy lifting.

 

Spend about 10-20 grand on maxing out the supply units. Keep your units well supplied, they are less likely to retreat, and in a good position, well stocked infantry or artillery units can do murderous execution.

 

Not much use to recon. It DOES tell you how many units the other side has, but your objective should be to max out as many units as you can anyway. Id do recon last personally.

 

 

 

If you compare it to Sid Meier's Gettysburg?

 

Ive not played it Stefan., but at least as far as play on the tactical map (there is no strategic map to speak of, which is perhaps not a hardship as you are a corp commander) the units handle a LOT like the Total war series. You just cant zoom in as far, but the actual movement of units, facing, attack, that is all very similar.

 

Its actually based on Game Labs 'Gettysburg' game, which is actually pretty decent, despite what the recent reviews have said.

 

http://store.steampowered.com/app/306660/Ultimate_General_Gettysburg/

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Looks a lot like an updated version of Sid Meier's Gettysburg.

I found a few comparison reviews, basically adding up to: "Ultimate General: Gettysburg" was not as good as "Sid Meier's Gettysburg", but "Ultimate General: Civil War" has closed (and surpassed?) that gap.

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Its fun. Im not playing it currently, simply because I got back into playing DCS, but as far as a rifle era strategy game, ive not yet found better.

 

Im hoping they will consider adding a strategy element, because I think availablity of rifles would have a major impact on how well this plays. We shall have to wait and see if they do another title based on it, there seemed to be hints on the forum of perhaps one based on the Napoleonic era. Which Napoleon remains a question though.

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Nice thing, if you look at the stats, you see Muskets do more damage than rifles. Which historically seems to have been the case. Muskets had higher muzzle velocity, so at close range were actually at accurate as rifles, and had greater firepower. At longer range, Rifles were more accurate, but because they had a lower muzzle velocity they were harder to aim, and in the event, probably not much more accurate than muskets. That doesnt hold entirely true in the game. But at close range, muskets certainly do a hell of a lot of damage, and its perhaps wize to use those on cannon fodder units. Keep the rifles for the really decent formations you have maxed out on skill.

I saw that in the manual and it surprised me. They mentioned muskets did more in melee and I was curious if they were basing this off of battlefield archaeological work that showed Civil War deaths in melee were apparently more likely due from blunt force trauma than wounds typical of bayonet use. Apparently when things got close soldiers were more likely to use their rifles as clubs than use the bayonet. I wondered if this is what they were modeling (a bigger, heavier club in a musket vs a rifle), something else like you mention, or maybe neither and they just got lucky?

 

I've always thought the measure of a good game wasn't just being enjoyable to play but also making me want to go out and read more about the subject. This game is starting to pique my interest in the Civil War.

 

 

I go with the artillery training, and them I think as a congressman. You get more resources early on that way. I think what I do is max out the unit size till I get to 2000 men to a brigade (I think the maximum is about 2500-3000) and that way you can build units that can take hits. The only problem is, if your elite formation gets savaged, it will cost you an arm and a leg to buy in veterans to fill it out again. Which suggets using them sparingly, and perhaps only keep 2 or 3 units at elite at any one time. Try and keep cannon fodder or better equipped second rate units to do the heavy lifting.

 

Spend about 10-20 grand on maxing out the supply units. Keep your units well supplied, they are less likely to retreat, and in a good position, well stocked infantry or artillery units can do murderous execution.

 

Not much use to recon. It DOES tell you how many units the other side has, but your objective should be to max out as many units as you can anyway. Id do recon last personally.

I think I did Logistician/Artillery/Army. It gave me 3 points in Training and Logistics and 2 in Medicine and Organization.

 

Recon definitely seems worthless. You have to spend 2 points just to get basic info like how many soldiers and guns the enemy starts the fight with. In the larger, historical battles you often have reinforcements coming in at various stages throughout so enemy starting strength does you little good.

 

As a Union player, messing around with the camp function and after rushing through the first few battles, it would seem throwing points in Politics and Organization seem the most optimal. Those two reinforce the advantages I have on this side (more money, men, and the ability to field a bigger army). I'm not as concerned with Medicine after playing a few battles because your return for point spent is so low. If I were Confederate it would seem worthwhile along with Training to make the most of the better troops you get.

 

Economy seems like it can wait since there simply aren't enough of the modern weapons available to outfit a brigade.

 

The supply bit is so vague and the manual doesn't help. How much supply does a single, 1k-man-strong infantry brigade consume? Is 1k in my supply wagon enough? 10k?

 

Reinforcing Infantry brigades in camps is interesting. You can't mix weapons like you mentioned above but you can mix vet/rookie replacements and as you add the latter you can see how much it's dropping performance. Gamey, but one way to maintain strength in the formation without losing performance (though you will slow the rate you get to the next level).

 

Going back a bit further about what you said cavalry definitely feels... weak. (This is one of those things where I'm interested in reading up now to know what and how they were used for.) Sharpshooters have me curious. Later on when you can equip an entire unit with the best rifles will they become formidable?

Edited by Skywalkre
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It was actually realised at the time. I bought a book that Rick recommended called 'The Bloody Crucible of Courage' and some officers on both sides reckoned that close to Muskets might have had an edge. I mean if you think about it, it makes sense. Rifles take slightly longer to reload, and the muzzle velocity of muskets was higher because they were smoothbores. In relatively inexperienced hands, there could be little difference in effect between Rifles and Muskets, except perhaps at the beginning of the engagement, maybe in ambush, when there was no smoke to obscure what was being shot at.

 

It would be a gory thing to research, and clearly it would depend on battlefield recovery of victims, but it would be an interesting thing to study and try and validate.

 

Yes, it piqued my interest too. It took me 3 days of attempts to win Antietam as the Confederates, so I went and bought the Osprey book. Turned out I was not doing appreciably worse than the Confederates did the first time. They got slaughtered too.

 

Ive not played the union yet, im leaving that till my Confederates have been played through a campaign. I will say, you begin to note by 1863 how damn hard it is to keep units up to strength.

 

The supply is approximated. The more you add to the supply stockpile for that corp you have (you can have up to 4 or 5 stockpiles, one for each Corp IIRC). The more you put in, the more the supply wagon is stocked. I guess it automatically calculates how many units are in its footprint, how big the stockpile is, and what the firing rate is. I agree, its not well described.

 

Cavalry is best used like Air Cavalry. Gallop them to a defensible area, dismount them and put them in a nice defensive position, and they can do well. There are negatives. You cant have more than 700, which is dwarfed by Infantry Brigades. Many of the weapons they have are, frankly, crap, though the Enfield and the later Sharps do quite well. Its best to try and use them to grab defensible terrain or cover a brook or something, then they can get the hell out of dodge fast when they start taking serious losses. You dont want to take too many losses with them, they are bloody expensive to replace, particularly veterans.

 

Rule of thumb for me, elite brigades, replace to about 2000 (dont do 2500 you will go bankrupt). Second rate, replace to about 1500 with veterans, perhaps make a balance with greens if you wish (they will still will gain experience slowly doing that). And the cannon fodder (Shawshank Penal Brigades?) just fill them out with greens. Its worth using veterans for Artillery as much as you can, they only have about 300 men in a 12 gun battery, so they dont cost much.

 

I think medicine might be worth doing early on, so you can start to bank up recruits to expand. But in truth, in many early battles, your casualties are so bad, you will be lucky to break even anyway sometimes.

 

Sharpshooters can be formidable. But you need something like a whitworth gun, and they are not cheap. They might be worth giving a punt if you capture some. Dont bother to raise them with Sharps, the damn things only have a good rate of fire, and your boys will be exposed inside enemy rifle range. The main issue with Sharpshooters, they are taking up a slot you could fill out with a 2500 man brigade, which an itself detach skirmishers anyway. Its up to you, I find sharpshooters fun, but not worth losing the slot to something I could but a brigade or a gun battery into.

 

Nice touches are, if you win a battle decisively, you sometimes get reward units. I did well at one big battle and I got a cavalry Brigade with a famous general. If you do REALLY well you are able to recruit famous commanders like Stuart or Lee from the academy, assuming you have the funds. Lee kicks ass as a corp commander. :D

 

There are some excellent guides in the Steam community thread, not least on how to win Antietam actually. But happy to help with any questions. It certainly is a fun game.

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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Civil War cavalry was used pretty much like Stuart said. If there was a strategic level you'd want to send them on raids against rail lines and supply depots but since that's not modeled fight them dismounted and mostly think of them as highly mobile infantry. There's a nice three volume set called The Union Cavalry in the Civil War By Stephen Z. Starr if you want to take a deep dive.

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Others have used them kind of like skirmishers. Park them on a flank of a brigade, plink it, get them to turn, and your other unit gives them a broadside down the line, and they break and run. I cant say ive much success like that personally. Ive had some success having 2 or 3 cav brigades grouped and using them on horseback with carbines against other cavalry. But tbh, if you are going to put them in a placed on horseback they are going to take hits, and its going to be very expensive to put them right. I like them to scout, to take out skirmishers, occasionally to take guns (if they are faced in another direction, nobody wants to be the next Lord Lucan) and taking decisive ground (not least objectives) and hold till the B team get there. Anything else seems a bit of a waste, so they are useful, if a bit limited.

 

The think I love about this game, its about making decisions to make the best tactical formation you can. I daresay you could build a Cavalry Corp, but whilst it would look glorious, I dont think it would be very practical. :D

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Civil War cavalry was used pretty much like Stuart said. If there was a strategic level you'd want to send them on raids against rail lines and supply depots but since that's not modeled fight them dismounted and mostly think of them as highly mobile infantry. There's a nice three volume set called The Union Cavalry in the Civil War By Stephen Z. Starr if you want to take a deep dive.

Didn't they play a key role at Gettysburg doing that? I seem to vaguely remember they seized some key terrain at the start and held it til the main body could arrive and relieve them. I could be way off. As mentioned the Civil War has never been an interest of mine (though thanks for the book recommendation, I've added it to my list).

 

This would make a strategic element added all the more interesting because you'd have reason to add cavalry to your force. Right now they just don't seem worth it.

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Well ive had occasions when the timer was running down, I was a good couple of miles away from an objective, and I got the cavalry go run and take it. So they do have uses. OTOH, In many occasions you can just get a 2500 man brigade to run. They will be absolutely knacked by the time they get there, but the point is, they have more chance of holding onto it. Also, by being small in numbers, cavalry get chewed up so damn quick, its hard for them build up a skillbase.

 

Next time round as the Union, Ill probably go with more cavalry. But for the most part that is because it would probably be easier to keep troop levels higher, so slots are of less consequence.

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They are not cheap, though. My saved game is back at the first camp and here are the starting prices/men used for each brigade:

 

Inf - $5550/1000

Art - $3154/100 (4 guns)

Cav - $10,585/250 (carbine)

Skir - $4420/150 (using a carbine, it's over $10k if using the available rifle)

 

Ouch.

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Kind of realistic, mounts and tack were expensive, then you had the cost of training the men to use and care for everything. Despite the world being horse powered at the time, a surprisingly large number of recruits didn't actually know how to ride or care for a horse. Keeping the cavalry supplied with horses was a never ending battle, more horses died due to disease, inadequate feeding and poor care than in battles.

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One thing in favor of skirmishers/cavalry (the latter appear to, game mechanically, operate the same as the former when dismounted... no idea if historical or not) is that while they, at least in the early part of the war as simulated in the game, can't really do a lot of damage they seem to have a remarkable ability to shape the battlefield.

 

I've been repeatedly playing around with the second battle in the Union campaign where your forces start out outnumbered. You have a few skirmisher units and one carbine cav unit and I've had amazing success using them to slow down major Confederate approaches. In that battle there's a two-pronged push from the north from the Confederates. The western push is along a road and I've been placing skirmishers right along it with the cav further back in the forest. When regular inf push against the skirmishers they naturally displace and then I have the cav, dismounted, push in on the flank. A combined force of 400 men has been easily able to slow down a force 3-5x their size along that approach. Buys me time to move in my reinforcements.

 

I don't know the historical applicability of this approach but game-wise maybe I need to stop looking through the WoT-lense where everything is measured in damage. In some of the battles I've messed around with simply slowing down an enemy column before it gets to the battle can be huge.

Edited by Skywalkre
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