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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.

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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 is how the initial concept looked like in a very early development build of the game:

Paper Map Concept Image

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:

Creating the Base Paper Map

– 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:

Creating the Base Paper Map

Most Respy,

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

Gen’l Wasel Arar
Chief Cartographer, &c.

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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.

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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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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.