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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 automanage 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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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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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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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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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.