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Offline zakblood

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Re: Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865)
« Reply #30 on: November 15, 2018, 07:37:59 PM »
yes they already said as much to me in steam, which after i enjoyed another RTS, albeit a slower pausable one mentioned above, i've now changed my mind somewhat on RTS, so there back on the board for me regarding testing and buying / playing etc.

so wish listed it on steam and will keep reading here as always and see what happens and what direction and progress is made and look forward to the release thanks

Offline Asid

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Re: Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865)
« Reply #31 on: January 18, 2019, 02:20:33 PM »
Pre-Alpha Battle Game Play: Perryville, Part I




Published on 17 Jan 2019
The 2nd game play video of Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865), showing battle mechanics including pre-battle deployment, entrenchments, weather, AI, and more. Part I of II.

Playing as the Confederate Army of the Mississippi in Perryville. A pre-alpha development build is used, and everything shown in the video is subject to changes and improvements.

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Offline Asid

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Re: Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865)
« Reply #32 on: January 24, 2019, 12:04:40 AM »
Full Steam Ahead - Navies in Campaign.





Gen’l,

When planning your strategy in Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865) grand campaign, armies are not your only military tools. Fleets, from the brown-water navy to blockading squadrons to transport fleets, will play an important role during the war. The Civil War saw great changes in naval technology and warfare, from sailing ships to mainly steam-powered warships, from wooden design to ironclads. Will Scott’s Great Snake be able to strangle the South, or will you see rebel ironclads crawl up the Potomac to bombard the Union capital?

Fleets and Admirals.

In Grand Tactician, you can utilize the naval power of your nation by building ships and assembling them into fleets. There are actually four kinds of fleets in the game:
- Navy Fleets, with large ocean going warships
- Brown-Water Navy, or the River Fleets, with gunboats and paddle-steamers
- Transport Fleets, that carry troops
- Trading Fleets, that can trade with foreign powers as well

Navy and river fleets are assembled under a navy officer, and will be moved on the campaign map just like armies. The river fleets can operate along major water-ways like Mississippi -river, but cannot move to open sea. Navy fleets navigate the salt-waters, but if small enough ships, especially double-enders are available, they too can go up a major river. The fleets can engage other fleets, bombard armies and fortifications, and take part in sieges. This allows joint operations, like those that took place in the West or maybe a naval maneuver like Peninsula campaign. Navy fleets can also be used to blockade enemy ports.

Transport fleets are maintained to move your armies over, or along water. Depending on the size of the transport fleet, troop concentrations can be conducted faster. Transport fleets also take care of supplying your armies over sea. When boarding the transport ships, troops reserve capacity from the transport fleet, and if out of capacity, movement becomes very slow, due to need of many back&forth voyages by the transports. When boarding the transports, the army on campaign map will be replaced with a ship, that is moved on water. The armies can land to siege enemy forts and to raid valuable targets deep in the enemy territory, but getting attacked by an enemy fleet could be disastrous.

Trading fleets operate from the ports, number of ships depending on the size of the ports. This is all automated, so player does not have to worry about it. Unless blockaded by the enemy, of course! As fleets blockade a port to intercept trade, the port trading capacity will go down, and prices up. This will hit the economy – a major target for either side. To counter this, player can try to attack the blockading fleets, or try to run the blockade. If player purchases blockade runners, more of the trade gets past the blockading fleet, but number of the blockade runners will be captured over time.

Regarding blockades, it’s not only an economy issue. It’s also political. In Europe, there’s big demand for cotton in the textile mills. But also the European superpowers use blockading as a strategy, and to keep this weapon in use, they also need to consider blockades, especially very strong ones, legit, which could prevent them from taking action, if otherwise seen appropriate?

From Timber to Iron Plating.

When the war started, the U.S. Navy was not very large, as was not the regular army. Technology in ship design had taken big leaps, and the wooden colossi of the high seas, ships-of-the-line, were already being rendered all but useless, in the face of steam powered ship that didn’t need the wind to maneuver, and the iron plating that could render a thundering broadside into base of percussion at best. But while these monsters are available, the player could try to utilize them to more than receiving new recruits in the ports?

In the game we have a broad range of ship types available. From the humble schooners to sloops and frigates, and of course the legendary paddle-steamers moving up and down the rivers. Over time, with the needed technology and industry in place, the ships can be upgraded, and new ones built, into steamers and various kinds of ironclads, from the case-mate rams to turreted Monitors.

While building the ships requires a level of industrialization and material, keeping the fleets going will also require something to burn: from coal to foodstuffs and ammunition. The fleets do not have infinite days at sea, but require ports to replenish and repair. In case the industrial potential is not there, maybe a bale of dollars could procure a state-of-the-art warship from the European friends? Or maybe someone is crazy enough to line a ship with cotton-bales for even some additional protection? And how about a ship that moves under water unseen?

Damn the Torpedoes.

In Grand Tactician, naval combat is resolved on the campaign map. In the battles the number, type and size of ships and guns is taken into account, as is the armor plating and close-up ramming. In the end, ships can change ownership multiple times during the campaign, and sometimes it’s better to scuttle a valuable ship than let it fall into enemy hands.

And then there’s chance. A lucky hit in the steam engine could end in a catastrophe, and while armor plating could withstand a seemingly endless amount of punishment, a lucky shot could disable a turret in a Monitor, rendering it next to useless in the battle.

And even if you as the north could dominate the southern fleets, if the big players from Europe feel the urge to intervene, they would most likely bring up the big guns with them!

Most Respy,

Gen’l. Ilja Varha,
Chief Designer, &c.

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Offline Asid

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Re: Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865)
« Reply #33 on: February 19, 2019, 05:05:39 PM »
What's in a Campaign Map?





Gen’l,

Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865) has been developed from the start with a real-time strategic campaign in mind. The aim of the game is not only to fight battles or to win the war as either side, but the tell the story of the Civil War. And in the heart of the campaign is of course the campaign map. The campaign map spans from Rio Grande to Maine and Dakota Territory to the Bahamas, so there’s plenty of room to plan and execute maneuvers with your armies and fleets. But there’s more to the map than meets the eye.

The Campaign Map.

The campaign map is designed to include all the most important theaters of the American Civil War, and to allow utilizing historical strategies, like Scott’s Great Snake, to win the war. The campaign will be dynamic, and will not force the player to follow any certain path to victory, so there is enough space to devise your own plan as well.

The map itself is an open 3D terrain, just like the battle maps. Same tools as in the battle layer are used to make the armies and fleets interact with the map and terrain. This means that dense forests, swamps, mountain ranges and wide rivers will have a real effect on troop movements. The road network is more scarce in the west, with distances being longer in general there, limiting campaigning with large armies considerably – as the armies will need to be supplied. While on one hand the great rivers will be an obstacle, on the other hand they will provide movement options, if steamers and gunboats are available, and if the enemy fortifications along the waterways can be captured.

To get the campaign map right, we’ve used real elevation data in making the heightmap. On this terrain, we have built and incorporated data such as climate map, forest map, maps of rail-lines and road networks and most important infrastructure like cities, towns, ports, bridges, ferries, etc. – with the scale of the map taken into account. For the states and cities we use historical population data from the censuses. All in all, the map will include a wealth of researched information, and this will allow us to bring the map alive later in the development, with production, dynamic economy, trade, and more.

In addition to the 3D map itself, be sure that our map-specialist, Wasel, is working on a hand-drawn, period-inspired paper map, like the ones you’ve seen in the battles.

Borders. States. Border States. Fronts.

Before, and during, the Civil War the political map of The United States changed numerous times. Territories were re-drawn and eventually incorporated as new states and the 19th century saw mass movement of immigrants to the west, seeking better fortunes – and gold. While the white man moved west, the native tribes were pushed aside, eliminated or confined. By 1850s the area depicted in the campaign map had seen the forced relocations of native tribes, the Trail of Tears, to west of the Mississippi, to modern day Oklahoma. While most changes were in the mid-west and west, the war saw also changes in the east, the biggest being the partition of Virginia.

For this reason we incorporated a border system in the game, where the political map of the Civil War can change during the campaign. While the changes will be historically driven, like admission of Kansas from a territory to a state, it will not be set in stone, whether the people of the brand new state will follow the call of the Union.

Ownership of the states will not be a either-or. Especially the border states can have much (or little) sympathy to both sides of the conflict, and the actual “front line” will not strictly follow the state borders. A state can therefore provide recruits to both sides, depending on the local support. And the support of the states could well change during the campaign. And of course there will be tools to prop (or lose) the support in the states. For example, appointing local political figures to lead your armies in the field may ensure state loyalty in the short run. But can they provide the leadership required, without personal clashes with others? High casualties among troops recruited from the state, drafting and raiding, among other things, can demoralize the population and even force them to abandon the cause.

And while the native Americans have been pushed aside for decades, the new strife could see both sides trying to win their support.

The campaign map will not cover the whole North America, let alone the World, but the map is not isolated from the rest of the world. Both sides of the war can interact (via politics) and trade (via trade nodes) with other nations. And trails, like the Oregon Trail lead west, where there is much to trade. And of course, this trade, or prevention of it, could be a key element in your campaign strategy.

Weather & Weather Fronts.

One of the quite unique features in The Civil War (1861-1865) campaign map, and campaign itself, is the weather. While in battles weather plays a role, as explained in the previous game-play video, on the campaign map weather may well ruin your otherwise brilliantly planned military campaign, or save you from a disaster. The weather of course cannot be planned, and even forecasting is very difficult. The end result could easily be another mud march, with the movement snail-paced, the men being miserable, and increasing amount of troops falling sick or deserting.

To achieve a realistic weather simulation, we incorporated information such as annual averages for temperatures, humidity, chance of rain and snow coverage on the campaign map. Then our coder, Oliver, taught himself a thing or two about meteorology. The end result is fully dynamic weather system across the whole campaign map, where weather fronts are created and move according to real-world data. There will not be any kind of universal weather, or pre-defined weather zones. Instead, the rain and thunder storms gather, move around and scatter dynamically during the campaign, adding to the excitement, as you will never know what to expect. Except if you know a thing or two about meteorology, then you can make educated guesses. And it’s not all about rain and misery either, temperature plays a role as well, including the chance of snow during winter time.

So, in the end, when moving your armies and fleets around the map, you may hit a weather front that makes life miserable, and when engaging in a field-battle, the information is carried over to the battle weather system. In the above image you see the dynamic weather system in action: the rain and thunder storm clouds are shown over the landscape. Also drawn are the political borders – but from what year (and could this be a hint of some sort)?

The Focus is in the Campaign.

So far we have discussed mostly the battles in the game, and mentioned the campaign mostly in sidenotes. Many followers have approached us, asking, whether the campaign will be simply a continuation of battles according to outcomes, or a rigid system that runs as the history did. Can the player recruit troops and appoint commanders as he wants? Hopefully the above description sheds some light on this topic.

As I am writing, the basic map functions, discussed above, have been implemented and we are populating the map with terrain features like rivers, forests and swamps, and game objects like cities, towns, and infrastructure. Next steps will be to make the campaign game-play come to life, by adding the UI, economic model, politics, and so on. We will visit these topics in later dev blogs!

Most Respy,

Gen’l. Ilja Varha,
Chief Designer, &c.


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Offline Asid

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Re: Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865)
« Reply #34 on: April 27, 2019, 11:36:09 AM »
Keeping Armies Supplied - Economy: Part I
Posted Mar 28

Author iv





Gen’l,

When telling the story of the American Civil War, one cannot ignore economy. From Scott’s Great Snake to King Cotton, and from making Georgia howl to burning down the Shenandoah Valley, the war saw the importance of economy as a weapon of war, and as a target. In the end, the northern armies were victorious, but not before the southern economy had collapsed, making it impossible to resist.

In Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865) we are building a complex economy model that will work in the background of the game. The idea is to allow player utilizing the industrial power of his/her nation, and targeting the enemy economy. For example railroads allow fast movement of troops and supplies across the states. This means destroying the enemy’s rail network will hamper his mobility and flexibility in troop concentration. Rail lines can of course be repaired, so maybe it’s more important, in the long run, to make it impossible to maintain the rail network? When the gears of economy stall, it will become impossible to keep up momentum in the military operations as well.

Lessons Learned.

Here we take into account the feedback from players of Oliver’s previous strategy game The Seven Years War (1756-1763). In the title, the economy model works well, but it’s not very intuitive for most players. Many players felt that the model needed too much micromanagement from the player, making the campaign game play burdensome, especially to players who wished to run military matters only.

For this reason, the economy model has been redesigned and made more automatic, working in the background, even without much input from the player. The Grand Tactician can therefore concentrate more in the military matters at hand, thinking about the big picture, instead of worrying about lack of available building materials being delivered to a new building site in time, for example…

To make things work smoothly, we let the markets run the show, allowing the player to influence the system with more macro-level controls. For example, you have your domestic production, trade and import/export. While supply and demand determine what is being produced, and where it is being sold to, the player can manipulate the system by government sponsoring and trade policies. As a historical example, playing as the south, cotton is the main source of income and the exports can cover costs of importing other goods needed to run the nation. But what if you’re blockaded and cannot produce the weapons and ammunition needed?

In the end, instead of TSYW-like interaction with economy, production and markets, things should feel a lot different, even if the mechanics working in the background are somewhat similar. Instead of player building up industries, managing upgrades and workforce, prices and minimum stock level, this time around an industry will expand, upgrade, hire or even shut down depending on markets, available workforce amount & type, and of course profitability.

Another change is the way goods are moved around. In TSYW, state sponsored traders move the goods, “item” at a time from A to B. The amount of traders is limited by market size in the province in question. Depending on prices, supply and demand, and player’s priorities, certain goods are moved first, while the others wait for available traders. This often results in high-profit goods, that maybe are irrelevant to player’s ongoing war effort, being prioritized, and local shortages being created. Player is able to manipulate and optimize the system, but it required understanding and micromanagement, like setting up minimum supply levels and manual prioritization – and this per province. Sometimes adding too many building projects could stall any development for a time. And do I need to mention Prussian loam to any TSYW-veteran? This is where many players became frustrated.

We sacked the traders to give the economy more flow – literally! So, instead, a flow of supplies is created from point of supply to point of demand. The flow utilizes the road, rail and river networks, along with sea trade. So goods will always be moved where needed, but the amount (goods per time unit) depends on infrastructure, distance and demand. The flow happens via hubs we call important infrastructure points, or IIPs, like cities, towns, ports, ferries, crossroads, and so on. Think of it a bit like in The Settlers 1 or 2, the IIPs being the flags, but the goods moving without a worker carrying one at a time from IIP to IIP…

But you’re more interested about the link to war, from the military commander’s point of view?

Economy Concept Example – Supplying an Army.

In the above concept image, let’s have a look at what it takes to keep an army supplied. In the game, armies are supplied from supply depots. The supplies carried in the armies’ supply trains won’t last forever. Lack of supplies will lead to regulation, which will lead to increased sickness and desertion, and foraging the countryside, which will affect the population’s support and readiness of the armies, and so on… In short, you want to keep the armies well supplied (and enemy’s not so). When setting up a camp or entrenching, the army will be replenished from the appointed depot. Range to base of supplies is of importance, and this will mean that sending armies deep into enemy territory like in many other strategy games, without proper means of supplying them, will end up in a disaster.

An army needs a wide range of supplies. Arms, ammunition, horses, food for men and the beast alike, uniforms. These need to be produced or imported, and here economy and industries will play a key role. For example, to produce the needed artillery in an iron works, you need iron, wrought iron or bronze, that are produced in a foundry, that need the raw materials from mines, and so on. In the concept image, you see some of the industry types in the game.

If you’re familiar with Civil War history, you know that the south had many shortages in available goods, and the north tried to further increase the effect by attacking the production. Salt is a good example. It was mined, or produced in saltworks, and was important for food preservation and curing leather. Virginian saltworks in Saltville were attacked by Union in 1st and 2nd Battles of Saltville. Sherman is noted saying “salt is eminently contraband”. In Grand Tactician, targeting production capability, like salt, works like it did during the war: if the nation runs out of salt, prices skyrocket, and soon there will be severe hiccups in food and leather production. This will affect the armies, and their capability to maintain effective operations, as provisions are no longer available. To fix the situation, the targeted nation will need to divert funds to restore salt production or to import salt. Funds, that would be direly needed to pay the troops or repair the raided rail network, etc.

So the production facilities and trading infrastructure are important targets to military actions, such as raiding and blockades. But the transportation network, in form of IIPs and railroads, can also be targeted, in any point of the shown chart (the arrows). If attacking the supply depot itself is out of the question, cutting the supply route carries the same effect. Pushing into enemy territory, for example capturing choke-points in the road network, means the flow of goods will stop, or need to be diverted. And taking this a step further, you can see how the historic strategies, such as controlling the Mississippi to cut the Confederacy in half, along with strong blockade, can be implemented in Grand Tactician to achieve the goals of Scott’s Great Snake.

Money Isn’t Everything, but Everything Needs Money.

“I went into the army worth a million and a half dollars, and came out a beggar.”

Before the Civil War, Confederate Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest made a fortune as a slave trader, a planter, and by investing in real estate. Forrest spent his own money to help his men acquire supplies.
– 501 Civil War Quotes And Notes.

Our plan is to make the economy an important tool in the Grand Tactician’s toolbox of strategies. But at the same time we want to keep economy in the background, without the player needing a degree in economics, or forcing him/her to micromanage the details – especially when the player most likely will like to concentrate on matters of sword instead of the plough. When executed military operations produce believable and foreseeable effects in the enemy’s system, including economy, we believe we can better grasp the essence of the American Civil War.

Most Respy,

Gen’l. Ilja Varha,
Chief Designer, &c.

I stand against Racism, Bigotry and Bullying

Offline Asid

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Re: Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865)
« Reply #35 on: May 01, 2019, 12:58:50 PM »
Drawing the Maps.
Posted Apr 17, 02:37 pm

Author iv

Gen’l,

The beautiful maps have drawn a lot of attention from followers of the project. To-day we discuss shortly the steps that are required in creating one of these maps, from research to drawing table, all the way to the game. We also take a quick look at how the map has evolved from a concept to what it is to-day.

In Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865) we want to immerse the player in the Civil War, and one of the ways of doing so is audio-visual style. When designing the game, one of the ideas for battles was not to use a mini-map for situational awareness, like many other games do. Instead, we created what we now call the “Paper Map”: zoom out in-game far enough, and the 3D terrain is changed into a map, that is drawn using 19th century drawing style and technique. On this map we show the battle (and later campaign) situation in a quite unique and informative way – and style.

From Concept to Reality.

The concept for the Paper Map was created very early in the project. At first the idea was to add a full, drawn image to be used as a map. Soon we realized that this would not be sufficient, as any minor change in the map would require re-drawing also the Paper Map. At this point Oliver came up with the idea to include Paper Map graphics for each of the map 3D elements, such as roads, buildings, fences, and so on. This basically allowed editing the map as much as we wanted later on, with the Paper Map also being updated accordingly.





This was basically Ilja’s handy-work, and the style was just a test. But the idea is already visible: the map should be functional and should show enough terrain information to allow the player to give commands to his/her units, just like in the 3D terrain.

Later, when artist Wasel joined the project, we started refining the map style. Wasel’s hobbies include historic maps and drawing styles, so we decided to try a more historic approach by applying similar drawing styles and visualization of map information, as the real Civil War maps had.

Base-Work.

There are quite a few steps required to create a Paper Map. It starts from historical research. Ilja’s job is to gather the information about the battle-field, and turn it into a reference map. The reference map is used by the artists to create the needed elements (layers) that eventually make up the Paper Map:

- The topography for the map is compiled from old topographical maps. Though ready heightmaps would be available from the battle locations, the problem with these is the fact that from mid-20th century, the topography has changed a lot in most battle locations. The topography is turned into a heightmap, drawing by hand, and the heightmap is used for both reference for drawing the elevation on the Paper Map, as well as creating the 3D terrain mesh.
- The landscape, including the infrastructure, is drawn according to historic maps, battle descriptions and available research. Here one must admit, that the level of research differs depending on battle-field. While Gettysburg and Antietam are well researched (see Bradley M. Gottfried’s books), some others require a lot more compiling of information from multiple sources, and in the end also educated guesswork. The landscape reference map is used to draw the terrain types on the Paper Map, as well as drawing the infrastructure, such as roads, creeks, buildings, fences, &c., on the 3D map.

The Art of Mapmaking.

After the reference maps are drawn, Ilja continues with the 3D terrain creation, while Wasel works on the actual Paper Map. Let the man himself explain the steps required:

“To start with I had to make a lot of design choices how to produce these maps. By far the most tedious part would be elevation and terrain textures. To be able to maintain production schedules I tried out many different automated methods of producing the various terrain types including Illustrator, CorelDraw, Photoshop, even Macromedia Freehand and various scripting and programming methods, with a lot of filters and effects on top. None of them were very convincing.

To create convincing battle maps I ended up producing them the same way they were made during the civil war—drawing by hand. As nice as it would be to draw the maps the way they used to be done, to accommodate production schedules I decided to use a digital drawing pad instead so everything would not only appear to be hand-drawn—they actually are—though digitally. Every detail was meticulously studied and compared to originals. To speed up working on various terrain types, I created hand drawn textures that were layered to avoid repeating patterns. While elevation nowadays is indicated with contours, during the Civil War it was less exact. It would be the engineers drawing the map according to what they see when surveying the terrain. They didn’t have heightmaps, so elevation data was also more relative than accurate. Instead of elevation contours, the more common style of today’s maps, hachures (i.e. line haching) were used to highlight elevations.

I start a map with the most tedious part: drawing the hachures. I begin by studying the black&white heightmap and comparing it to various historical battle maps of the area to decide what tactical elevations to highlight and what to leave out while keeping the end result geographically correct. Maintaining the look of original maps is a tedious job, since period maps were not very detailed and they were drawn by many different people in a multitude of styles and accuracy.

Next step is to draw the terrain types: water, forests, swamps, fields and orchards, that dotted the countryside. In the historical maps these were often colored to stand out, and I decided to do so. I went with a greenish light blue for water, and green for forest vegetation taking according to period examples which vary across different maps as much as any other detail.

For the infrastructure I created a set of hand-drawn icons and patterns researched and modeled according to historical sources, to be placed in-game. When zooming out on the 3D map, the 3D objects are changed into these icons on the Paper Map. For example, the road pattern is repeated and curved to follow the exact path of the 3D road mesh, which ensures that all elements are placed 100% correctly in both the 3D map as well as the Paper Map.

In addition to the actual graphics, an important part of any map is typography. To depict the hand drawn texts I painstakingly designed fonts replicating hand written examples in extant Civil War maps. The font was also distressed and various exchangeable letter-forms were designed to to achieve a hand written look.

Since the finished map is to contain a multitude of moving icons and other in-game elements depending on game progress, the completed map is constructed in-game from various layers containing paper texture, elevation, terrain patterns, text and various grime layers to make it look like a battle worn item.

Here you can see the work-steps so far, in a single image, from left to right:



– On topmost layer you see the scale grid.
– On the extreme left, you can see the topographical map used for elevation reference. Moving right, you can next see the black & white heightmap, which I use to visualize and mark all the most important formations and then draw the actual hachures.
– After the hachures are finished, I use the terrain reference map, in this case drawn according to Gottfried’s book The Maps of Gettysburg, to place the terrain patterns accordingly.
– After the terrain is ready, I create a new layer for the map texts, where I use custom-made fonts that match the ones used in the historical examples.”

From Layers to Complete Map.

The rest happens within the game engine. After the 3D terrain is drawn, the Paper Map is automatically assembled from Wasel’s paper background, adding the terrain map (elevation, terrain types). On top of this, the engine automatically draws the roads, creeks, etc. from the hand-drawn icons. Then the map text is added on top. This allows overlapping elements on multiple layers, making it appear like it’s drawn as one. Placed on top of this base, the unit symbols move according to their positioning in the 3D terrain. To finalize the look of the map, we use a “dirt-layer”, drawn by Wasel, which makes the map look slightly worn and vivid – just like one would look, after folding it open on the wooden table of the commander-in-chief.

Here you can see the end result from all this work:




Most Respy,

Gen’l. Ilja Varha
Chief Designer, Chief Topographer, &c.

Gen’l Wasel Arar
Chief Cartographer, &c.

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Offline Asid

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Re: Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865)
« Reply #36 on: June 20, 2019, 03:11:38 PM »
Managing Your Armies.
Posted May 13, 04:47 pm

Author iv



Gen’l,

One of the most important things the player will be doing, is army management: from recruiting troops to appointing commanders to lead them, and to organizing the troops into units and effective armies. Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865) also allows a number of ways for the player to customize the units he commands.

Volunteers Needed!

War! War! War! The beginning of the Civil War saw both sides mustering volunteers to fight for their cause. When the war was said to last ninety days tops, there was no lack of men willing to join the ranks. The initial recruitment system was not designed for a long war. As the war dragged on and number of casualties kept rising, the fervor died with the brave volunteer soldiers. Soon both sides would struggle to fill their ranks.

During the campaign of Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865), player will need to manage the armies carefully to keep on fighting. Here, support and morale play a key role. Each state is tracked for support for both sides of the war, and the morale of the population. With high morale, or war fervor, you will find volunteers to fight for the side they support, especially if the contract time is short. Some states will end up supplying troops for both sides. But as the war drags on and list of casualties within the state grows longer, the willingness to join up will diminish. While volunteers could be difficult to lead at times, especially when the end of the contract period is near, drafting could cause opposition among the public and increased rate in desertion.

This means, population is the key. And there are ways to influence the population, from policies to economy and to immigration, to having armies foraging up all the food in the countryside or even raiding and burning the crops to deny support for the other side. With mismanagement of the population, you could end up with no-one left willing to join the ranks, and many of the service men reported being away without leave.

Getting Organized.

In addition to recruiting new units, infantry, cavalry and artillery, player has the tools to manage the organization of the armies. Single brigades can be formed into divisions and corps, and placed under armies, or garrisoned in fortifications. This is done in the army management view (as seen in the image above), by dragging and dropping units inside the order of battle. While changes within an army will happen fast, transferring unit to another theater will take time.

Whenever a new unit is created, player has the ability to appoint the commander he wishes. Managing the commanders is important, and here too player has some options. There are three types of commanders available: professional soldiers (mostly Westpointers), volunteers and high ranking political figures, and each type has its own characteristics. The professionals are trained for warfare, and come with a special experience in one of the four main “branches” in the U.S. military of the time: infantry, cavalry, artillery or engineer. Even though most are captains, as the U.S. army is merely 16,000 men prior to the Civil War, they can be trusted with command responsibility wherever needed. The volunteers are from the recruiting state, and usually have no experience of military matters. They too can rise in rank, but require combat experience. A political strongman, assigned in high command within your army, could bring in the support of his state, but could also create personal issues within the leadership, and be hard to get rid of without a political backlash.

In commander management, the personalities matter, as will seniority and fame, and political influence. Not always you can put the best man in command of the largest armies. And in case of defeat, even the best commander could lose the trust of his men and the population, and needs to be replaced to avoid a drop in support.

Unit Customization.

When recruiting, player has the first opportunity to customize the new unit (though this is not necessary, if the player does not want to). The color of the uniform can be changed for the unit to stand out, or the main weapon changed. In case of weapons, most important weapon types of the Civil War will be available, but being able to use them requires money, industry, or import. A mix of obsolete weapons like flintlock muskets for infantry or shotguns for troopers will always be available, and the more standardized weapon types will cost a lot less money and time to produce in numbers. So, while equipping all of your army with repeating rifles or breech-loaders could sound tempting, it won’t be possible for your armories to produce the more complex weapon types fast enough in required numbers.

When the volunteer (or forced via conscription) greenhorns are formed into brigades and ordered to join an army, they are not much of soldiers. Drilling them will do some good, but only with combat experience, “seeing the elephant”, will they become an effective fighting force, especially if well led by a competent officer.

When a unit gains experience and stands out from the rest, it’s possible that they get specialized training (a ka an attribute, a perk), that makes them more effective in certain way of fighting, or allows them to carry out feats others cannot. The unit could become known for its fearsome charge (“Texans always move them!”) or sheer discipline (“They must be made of iron!”), or it could have specially trained sharpshooters for effective long range engagements, or engineers to build pontoon bridges. The number of these perks will be limited, making the specialized units really stand out. With enough experience, or a heroic feat in a battle, they will get better in their trait, and even become an elite unit, in which case player can rename the unit (yes, it does make a difference whether a unit is called “1st Brigade” or “Iron Brigade”, doesn’t it?) and give them a unique flag they will carry proudly in battle. Armies and fleets can also receive custom attributes to make them more effective: a balloon corps would help in intelligence gathering while rigorous forced marches could earn fame as a “foot cavalry”. To mention a few…

The unit customization options are historical, and hopefully will make you care more about your units and the fate of the men serving in them. They will not make super-soldiers out of your troops, but the public will love great stories about the famous units, and in a desperate fight, the arrival of an elite unit could rally wavering men to stand their ground instead of turning and running.

Most Respy,
Gen’l. Ilja Varha
Chief Designer, &c.

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Re: Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865)
« Reply #37 on: July 26, 2019, 12:14:18 AM »
Summer Campaign In Motion.
Posted Jul 25, 12:42 pm





Gen’l,

While news have been scarce during the summer, the Grand Tactician -team has been pushing full steam ahead on multiple fronts.

Fleets are Being Constructed.

Construction of ships and creating fleets under naval officers is possible. Depending on capacity in your ports, you can build ship types depending on available technology and resources. With certain policies, you could also import new ship types from Europe. Assembling a fleet is as easy as managing the armies: simply drag and drop ships from ports (“pool”) to the fleets. You can even do this if the ships are not yet finished. They will join the fleet once ready. Moving single ships between ports and fleets has a delay depending on travel speed and distance to cover.

There are 26 different ship types available to build, from simple gunboat steamers (mainly civilian ships with some armament) to ocean going ironclads. Each one has different attributes, for example the number of days they can spend at sea. As these numbers will be different within a fleet, to reduce micromanagement, we have added automatic ship rotation within fleets. This means the fleet itself will always be where you ordered it to be, for example blockading enemy ports or patrolling, but single ships will autonomously return to port for supplies, repairs, and upgrades, then return to the fleet. If you add a monitor class ironclad to a fleet with sailing sloops-of-war, it means the sloops can stay out a lot longer, and the monitor will need to resupply about every 20 days…

Campaign Map Gets Populated.

Work on an epic campaign map has been ongoing from producing the tools to populating the map with cities, towns, roads, railroads, and so on. This includes a ton of historical research, and sites like bridgehunter.com have become real useful in finding out which bridges and ferries have existed at what time, and when they were built. As we allow expanding the railroad network during the game, we will also have the correct railroads ready and available depending on campaign starting date: years before the war the rail network started expanding rapidly, and work continued throughout the war.

With an infrastructure network concept implemented, the map, including economy and logistics, will interact with the armies. Armies will be able to block trade and supply flows through towns, bridges, mountain passes, rivers, canals, etc. This allows real nice maneuvering to cut enemy supply lines by taking choke-points or raiding railroads. Taking hold of Mississippi river alone, for example, will be possible without the need to control whole states in south.

This will take some time, though, as the map is huge. Once ready, the map looks will be improved by the artists, and this will include also the beautiful paper map as seen in previous blogs.

Bolstering the Armies.

By adding customizable attributes to armies and fleets player can make his experienced units more effective. For example an army could become more effective in intelligence gathering in multiple ways. Using a balloon is slow, but with experience, the aeronauts could maybe direct artillery fire, making the army slightly more effective in sieges? Or an intelligence bureau would improve accuracy of information about unseen enemy movements and the information delay? Or maybe organize hand picked cavalry scouts to work behind enemy lines, like Wade Hampton’s iron scouts? The amount of attributes for armies will be limited in numbers, so you better choose wisely. And yes, here too we aim for historical accuracy instead of gamey superpowers.

We also added a little feature called “history” for commanders and units. This means the game will track what your armies and officers are doing during the game – listing dates of promotions, battles fought, and such. Additional information about, for example, pre-campaign history can be added manually. This allows the player to better keep track on who’s who in his military.

Armies and fleets already roam the campaign map, and the campaign-to-battle-to-campaign -link is established. Though a lot of work is still ahead on this side, including combat models for sieges, naval battle and so on, it’s encouraging to see the main ideas behind the game come to life.

Bolstering the Story.

As you can see, a lot has happened in Grand Tactician during the summer. We also are finalizing the original soundtrack recordings, and starting the work on the campaign videos, using LionHeart FilmWorks’ beautiful footage, with a professional TV producer. All this will allow better immersion into the Civil War world of Grand Tactician!

Have a great summer! Most Respy,

Gen’l. Ilja Varha,
Chief Designer, &c.



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Re: Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865)
« Reply #38 on: September 01, 2019, 03:53:53 PM »
Operations.
Posted Aug 31, 10:39 pm




Gen’l,

The Grand Tactician is an operational level strategy game. This means the main thing the player is supposed to do, is to muster, supply and command his/her armies and fleets in order to meet the strategic goals of the nation. While we have discussed and shown in videos how commanding armies functions in battles, this time let’s take a quick look at what’s in store on the campaign side.

Your Orders, Sir?

Like on battles, we use order delays on campaign as well. Here, too, the delays depend on initiative of commanders and distance between units within an army. But when commanding the armies themselves, you are able to utilize telegraph infrastructure. Telegraph stations within range of one another are considered in contact, which allows a chain from the capital city to the armies. When on campaign, the player can use the army to construct new telegraph stations. But these stations can be captured or burned down by the enemy, which will mean the loss of communications and much slower delivery of orders. Other military infrastructure the player’s armies can erect in the game are supply depots and forts. But we’ll cover those later!

Like in battles, the movement order can be given as timed orders. This will better allow coordinating movements of multiple corps within an army, for example, to make sure they can support one another during the movement too. You can also direct the army to use, or not to use transportation via railroads, rivers, or sea. Depending on the route, and available transportation equipment, the army will then take the quickest route and transportation combination to ordered destination. This will allow amphibious movement and river expeditions. If a forced march is ordered, the unit will move faster, but rate of attrition will go up, and condition of men down, while also readiness suffers.



Armies can be ordered to take offensive or defensive stance. When offensive, the units will engage enemy units, siege enemy forts and reinforce battles that take place within their range, or the range of their parent army, if they are within range of the army commander. Offensive units will encamp when movement is finished, but will not start to dig in to allow quick reaction to further movement orders. When encamped, units will be resupplied, and the men can rest. If encamped during the winter, the army will go to winter quarters, which will protect them from the cold, but will increase order delays. Defensive units will not engage enemies within range, but will instead stop and dig in. If two opposing defensive units meet, they will both entrench and the end result could be Petersburg kind of trench warfare stalemate situation. Offensive and defensive orders will allow you to block terrain and enemy movements, create reserves, and so on, with ease.

Cavalry during the Civil War was a versatile branch of arms, with the effects taking place also outside field battles. For this reason player can order the way he wants his cavalry to act within his armies. During the early war, guarding was the most usual task. The cavalry would patrol the close proximity of the armies, secure lines of communications and be deployed as a screen behind the main line to stop stragglers and deserters. In this role the cavalry units will not fight in the battles, but on campaign game-play, the readiness and security of the army is improved, and desertion lower. When raiding, the cavalry will attack enemy infrastructure, skirmish with enemy units, and forage the countryside. This allows burning down the Shenandoah Valley, and similar operations, which will also hurt the support of the civilian population. The third special order for cavalry is to scout. Scouting cavalry will improve readiness and intelligence gathering of the army immensely, will skirmish with enemies within range, but will not appear in battles, except in case of a cavalry corps. If on a scouting mission, a cavalry corps will join field battles, but could arrive a bit late due to the need to concentrate beforehand. Think Stuart at Gettysburg. With no special orders, the cavalry will fight in field battles with the rest of the army.




Any Signs of the Enemy, Sir?

While the above orders allow flexibility in your use of the armies and planning of operations, one problem you have is the information about your enemy. Many times during the Civil War, the information about enemy movements was quite vague. While it probably was known if an enemy army was on the move, the exact location and status was not. And this made operations tricky.

To simulate this effect, we have created a different kind of fog-of-war mechanic for our campaign map – we call it the intelligence map. In battles, you basically see the enemy units when your units spot them in the terrain. On the campaign map the same is true, but information about unspotted enemies will also be available. This information is gathered via spies, scouts, local loyal population and from the local news – even those of the enemy. The less sources of information you have from an area, the less accurate the intelligence from there will be.

We simulate this intelligence by showing approximate information about the enemy, hidden in the fog-of-war: for example you may learn that Jackson’s Corps was sighted near a town three days ago. Most likely the corps has since then moved on… but where to? When intelligence about the same unit pops up from elsewhere, you are able to track the approximate movement of the enemy. But there are a couple of twists there: depending on the cunning of the commander in question, the intel delay is further increased. Also the number of men within the army will be just an estimate. And depending on your commanders, they may interpret and assess the received intelligence with errors. So, with this mechanic, it will be possible that the 500,000 rebels reported by McClellan being dug in around Richmond could actually be quite a lot less in numbers, and maybe attacking the right flank as we speak!

To help the player to understand what kind of intelligence to expect and from where, we’ve added an information layer on the campaign map. With this layer we can easily visualize on the map the intelligence coverage. With the same system we are able to show a lot of other information later on, like the dynamic front lines (depending on positions of armies, ownership of towns, etc.), population density, support, and so on.

Most Respy,

Gen’l. Ilja Varha,
Chief Designer, &c.




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Re: Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865)
« Reply #39 on: September 28, 2019, 01:37:16 PM »
Sinews of War - Economy: Part II
Posted Sep 28





Gen’l,

Today we take a look at the economy of Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865). Although there were many hints from the community to not overdo the economic part of the game we thought that this was an important factor of this war. Therefore we are currently adding all the nice features to the game, but taking care of not forcing the player to micromanage too much.

Most of the economy in Grand Tactician is run by the AI, for example companies are established automatically near towns depending on the available workforce, connected infrastructure, corporate tax and the local availability of pre-goods and demand for the finished product. These companies produce more than 30 goods which are circulating through the trade system, all produced to feed and arm your economy, population, military units and fleets. Supply depots are building up stocks in weapons, ammunition and provisions to supply nearby armies. Although supply depots can be captured or constructed by the player, you will always need to take care about your supply lines as trade and supply routes can be cut off to reduce the condition and morale of the affected units. If a unit operates far from its supply base the supply trains take longer to reach it, resulting in lower supply rates. If you overstretch your supply lines you may use means like Sherman on his march through Georgia in 1864: raiding and foraging. But who knows the outcome of such operations? The economy in the affected region would suffer, people would starve and maybe more men are rushing into the enemy ranks.


Land of the Free, but Not for All.

A very controversial and sensitive topic for us was the representation of slavery in our game. As slavery was the main cause of the war we decided not to abandon it to play safe, sanitizing the evils of men – as that would desecrate the integrity of the historical story we’re attempting to portray. From an economic perspective the use of slaves on the southern farms led to a plunge in production costs of agricultural products, thus leading to a huge competitive advantage. A southern farmer could have returns of 20% on his investment, much more than the average return on industrial investments. In reality the northern states had nearly 10 times the industrial output than the southern states while 84% of the southern economy was related to agriculture – especially “King Cotton”. These effects are accurately simulated in our game. But we will also add a pre-war campaign scenario, which allows the player to push the economic development into another direction by using certain political means. So maybe in 1861 the South has industrial dominance and blocks northern harbors while the North needs to buy blockade runners from Britain?

Looking back into history, the US pre-war economy was closely linked to Europe. Especially Great Britain and France were depending on “colonial goods” like cotton and tobacco. The player will need to negotiate trade treaties and secure his export routes, while there will also be option to import products from Europe, weapons or modern battleships for example. The latter was mostly an option used by the Confederacy as money was better available than production sites. Although we allow European nations to intervene in the war, Britain or France will weight what to gain and what to loose: so blocking southern harbors to push up cotton prices may not force Britain to react if the country is more depending on Union wheat deliveries, which was an important topic as well, due to the higher demand since the Crimean War. But maybe the Confederate player increases the pain further by adopting an export ban on cotton? As the Old World superpowers used blockade as a legal means for their own warfare, a blockade tight enough may prevent intervention as well.


Military Focus Maintained.

A further aspect of the war was the change of the means of transports. Canals and later railroads not only affected troop movements but also trade routes. The railroad network can be expanded to further strengthen infrastructure. This will be an important issue especially in pre-war scenarios. Trade flows much faster along major rivers like Mississippi, the many canals leading west, and railroads, making them priority targets for military operations. Especially raiding tactics could disturb or even cut trade and supply routes, resulting in lower production, more expensive supplies and less corporate development. This is directly connected to the morale of the public, which is the key factor that allows waging the war to a decisive conclusion.

As you can see the economy works very detailed in the background, but grand tacticians don’t need to be afraid: the player will only need to take a few major decisions to influence the economic state of his nation, either by using certain policies or determining the economic framework on a macro scale. Also the economic system is not as vulnerable as in my previous game The Seven Years War (1756-1763), where each industry building could produce only one type of goods. Now, a single iron works can produce rifles, artillery pieces and ammunition depending on demand and expertise. So there would not be a total lack needed goods, but as the production suffers, prices will skyrocket and this will hurt the whole nation.

Your Most Obedient Servant,

Gen’l. Oliver Keppelmüller,
Chief of Engineers, &c.



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Re: Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865)
« Reply #40 on: October 09, 2019, 06:39:43 AM »
The game looks like it's coming along nicely.  Any word if they need more testers ?  I got some time available for alpha testing.

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Re: Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865)
« Reply #41 on: November 08, 2019, 09:57:46 PM »
The Final Winter Quarters
Posted Nov 8
Author iv








Gen’l,

As 2019 draws close to end, it’s time to take a look at where the Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865) stands. While a lot has been achieved so far – and it would be possible to march the game as an inexperienced greenhorn to the field – we have decided to continue drilling in winter quarters to make sure the game is ready to face the odds. While the delay to summer 2020 may come as a disappointment to the troops in the field, there will be plenty to do while preparing for the decisive summer campaign. And this time, let’s have a look at some of the remaining features in the game, and the time line to finish them – this will also answer some of the questions raised by the community recently.

From Economy to Politics.

The economic concept of the game has been described already in recent blogs Economy – Part I and Part II. Currently we are finalizing the economy with government funding controls, with 19th century references. The economy was very different back then, with most of the U.S. Government funding to cover administration costs and military upkeep coming from tariffs, excise taxes, loans and land sales. In 1860, the annual budget was a bit over $60 million. Mustering the great armies and fleets of the Civil War, more money was needed, with U.S. defence spending alone hitting its peak of nearly $1,200 million in 1865. This of course requires new ways of government funding. Here politics come in.

In the game, player can steer the direction of his nation with policies. The policies will be divided into different categories, one being the economic branch. Here player can choose to push for new means of collecting revenue, like the revenue act of 1862, introducing the first federal income tax. With this policy in place, player has access to income tax control to increase the amount of tax. While more money is collected, this will affect the wealth of the population – which they use to set up new industries and to buy goods. While the collected taxes and tariffs will not be sufficient to cover the cost of a prolonged war, issuing bonds and borrowing money will allow keeping the wheels of war turning. With problems to cover the interests, credit rating will slowly plummet and prices rise, so a strong economy is needed to fight on. Player can also step back and let the AI auto-manage the economy.

Policies are also used to drive military innovations and reforms, as well as expansion and diplomacy. By issuing government funding in form of subsidies (from the collected revenue), player can influence the policy makers. Player can for example expand the pool of recruits by introducing conscription, inspire western expansion, or improve relations with the European powers, allowing weapon imports and even purchase of modern warships.

Freedom of Action.

In Grand Tactician campaign you are free to choose your strategy and design your own operations. As the AI enemy will be doing to the same, it’s highly unlikely Your Civil War will follow the War’s historic path. This is of course a problem for me, the game and map designer, as at the same time we want historically accurate, detailed battlefields and on the other hand the battles could happen where in reality they did not.

Creating the historical battlefields and maps has already been discussed in our previous log entry. These maps will be used in the campaign. We’ve added on our campaign map, with a ton of other information, so called “battlefield markers” that control where the battlefields are located. So, if two armies clash near Manassas, then the battle will take place on this historic battlefield. The maneuvering of the units according to campaign map disposition is taken into account, so reinforcements and troop movement directions are assigned accordingly.

We’ve also added “random map markers” as well. These markers manage a number of sets of non-historic battlefields. These battlefields will also be manually created to allow the same level of detail as the historic maps. The sets are compiled according to terrain in different parts of the United States, so you would not get same randomly chosen map in Texas and Vermont. There is also an upside to not having procedural random maps: the level of detail in the maps and the game-play aspect. Even maps generated randomly for simple hex based terrain engines (Steel Panthers is a prime example) tend to produce quite good maps, but also very bad ones. And while getting your campaign randomly produce you an impossible terrain to fight in would be fairly realistic, it would certainly kill some of the fun – especially if this was the battle that would decide the fate of your nation.

And while the initial release will see a certain number of battle maps available, with the described mechanic in place, we can later on expand the number of maps and the size of the randomly picked map sets. Basically any later created map can be very easily integrated in the main campaign map, expanding the game as post-release development goes on.

The Time Line.

We are driving on, as planned previously, to include all the main features by the end of the year. With these implemented, we will have an alpha version in our hands, and will start proper testing of the game engine(s) to fix bugs and balance the game play. While alpha testing is ongoing, we will have time to polish the game, including adding campaign cut scenes using LionHeart FilmWorks’ epic footage directed by professional producer and director Matti Veekamo. A beta version should be available around March, and from there we would march on to summer 2020 release.

But before the end of the year, we are planning on releasing more info and footage from the campaign game play. So stay close to nearest telegraph station to hear the news as they appear!

Your Most Obedient Servant,

Gen’l. Ilja Varha
Chief Designer, &c.


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