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Gen’l,

While the Grand Tactician’s Early Access is coming to an end, and the game will be released in Full on September 24, 2021, the game’s development will not stop there. During the Early Access a lot of new feature ideas arose, and we want to improve the game further, adding many of these new features in the game, for free!

Once released in Full, we will of course continue supporting the game with steady flow of bug fixing patches. But in addition we have already decided to add new features in the game, that will further expand the game play experience. Here are the first planned features:

Rare Weapons.

The Civil War saw a number of innovative new weapon types entering service, though in limited numbers. While their use did not change the course of the war in any way, these rare weapon types paved the way for further innovations in weapons technology. The weapon types that will be added are Gatling and Coffee Mill Gun, which were early machineguns, and a small caliber, fast firing Confederate 1-pounder Williams Gun. A few other weapon types may be added to this list later.

Building Options.

Players will be allowed to construct their government subsidized buildings on the campaign map. This allows more control over the location of these industries. In addition new building types will become available, among these a hospital, which will allow better treatment of the wounded soldiers, decreasing mortality rates, and a Prisoners of War (POW) camp, which allows sending captured soldiers to be held prisoners instead of paroling them on the spot, with many returning to their former units to fight another day.

New Maps.

What can be said? There’s never enough new maps!

Avatar & Commander Update.

One of the most requested features has been the ability to add oneself in the game as a commander. We will create an avatar system, where players can add themselves as commanders in the game, using their own photo, and assigning the commander attributes of their choosing. This commander will then appear in the campaign game and can be managed just like any other commander, maybe gaining unheard of fame and achieving great victories, or maybe feuding with the superiors and getting killed in a desperate charge against the enemy’s works.

In addition, some further commander related features will be added, among these the ability to randomize commanders’ attributes at the start of the scenario. This way one will see different commanders than historically rise to fame and fortune.

Visual Improvements.

The game was never created with spectacular looks in mind, but there is a lot of room for improvements here. Especially in the way we handle the soldiers in battles. Improved visuals will increase immersion for sure, but we will also improve troop customization options further. For this reason further changes in the current customization system will not be added. Instead, we overhaul it. These upgrades may also bring performance improvements, like the new smoke engine did earlier.

We will release more information about each new feature when we start creating them in the game.

Most Respy,

Gen’l. Ilja Varha,
Chief Designer, &c.,
The Grand Tactician -Team

Posted
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Author

Gen’l,

While the Grand Tactician’s Early Access Road map has been stopped in front of Petersburg for the summer, preparations on other fronts have been ongoing and the game has seen many major updates. In this Dev Blog we’ll take a look at some of the new features. We’ll also give you an update about the next steps on our Early Access campaign path.

More Maps!
Map Pack #2 is ready.

Randomly Picked Maps.

In Grand Tactician you will fight huge real time battles across America. When armies engage on the campaign map, and you choose to fight the battle manually, if a historical battle field is located nearby, the forces will clash there. In case no historical maps are found, then the game will use nearest Randomly Picked Map Set. These sets are distributed across the campaign map, depending on terrain type. There are multiple maps in each Set, so outcome of fighting in the same area may be a different map each time.

The Randomly Picked Maps are designed and drawn by our historical map artist Wasel Arar. The maps are:

  1. Midland Railroad
  2. Swampy Creek
  3. Danville
  4. Midwest & Eastern Railroad
  5. Springfield
  6. Copperton
  7. Western Plains
  8. Buffalo Plains
  9. Cobb Town
  10. Soggy Bottom
  11. Willow Garden
  12. Deweyville

More Maps!
The destroyed railroad bridge and pontoon bridge sites near Danville.

In addition to the Randomly Picked Maps, two more historical maps have been added lately, both with a historical battle available as well.

The map of Appomattox covers Appomattox Station and Appomattox Court House, where the Army of Northern Virginia fought its last battles in 1865, before surrendering to Grant. In the historical battle Union cavalry under general Custer has reached the Appomattox Station and is threatening Lee’s retreat route Westwards, where he plans on linking up with Joseph E. Johnston’s army. If Lee cannot repel Union attacks and keep the road open, the exhausted and depleted army has no other choice but to surrender.

The second map & battle is that of Glorieta Pass. Here, in spring 1862, Confederate New Mexico campaign was effectively stopped by Union reinforcements from Colorado territory. While successful at Pigeon’s Ranch, the Confederate Army of New Mexico was forced to withdraw when its supply train was ambushed by a Union flanking force.

New Battles!
Confederate Army of New Mexico engaging Union reinforcements along Santa Fe Trail, near Pigeon’s Ranch.

Improved Information & the Field Book.

To help players understand how the game works, we have included a bunch of new information within the game. First of all the in game quick guide, Field Book, has been completely overhauled and is now also expanded to cover battle game play. In addition we have expanded information in the game’s UI. For example information about armies’ supply situation and battle morale has been added in the UI panels and tooltips.

Tutorial Videos have been delayed so far due to the game constantly evolving. The videos would become obsolete after a few patches. For this reason we decided to wait a bit longer before creating them. Hopefully the Field Book and the improved in-game information helps players in the meanwhile!

Field Book Updated!
The in-game quick guide, Field Book, has been updated to cover most of the game’s main controls and mechanics in both campaigns and battles.

Remaining Road map Leg.

As can be seen in the Early Access Road map, the march is nearing its final leg. The work on the game’s overall balance and AI in both battles and campaigns has been ongoing from the start of the Early Access, and while not yet finished, we’re happy to see that the Early Access players have noticed the increased challenge the game’s AI provides.

Most recent balancing topics have been the game’s economy system and morale in battles (version 0.92 -branch). As the economic system now works better than before, weapons production has finally picked up and is working as intended. In battles morale will be much more fragile during the early war, when commanders and troops alike are green. With experience and proper leadership, the units will resist morale shocks and casualties better. Skirmishers on the other hand will no longer bear high casualties at all, but will return to parent unit after only light casualties.

Information and help provided to the player was enhanced with the Field Book, but there are still more work in progress in this department.

Morale Updates.
Morale information and loss resilience is now shown in the unit panel. Skirmishers, especially early in the war, will tolerate only very light casualties before falling back to their parent unit.

Next Steps.

August 21, 2021, marks a full year of Early Access to Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865). On that date we will have an important announcement to make. But, like before, the game continues to receive new updates in a steady flow.

Most Respy,

Gen’l. Ilja Varha,
Chief Designer, &c.,
The Grand Tactician -Team

Posted
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Author

Gen’l,

The recent patches has been big ones, and the Early Access period will come to an end soon. There are still a couple of larger features we’re working on, in addition to the road map topics and the constantly ongoing bug fixes. Let’s take a look at the main campaign feature still in development.

Readiness Overhauled.

One of the main issues we’ve had with the campaign game play has been the tempo of the game. The movement of units has been quite realistic for quite some time now, but the armies have been able to conduct too many operations and too fast. So far the units’ ability to operate has been restrained by morale only. If a unit was defeated in a battle, it would retreat or withdraw, and during this movement it con not receive new orders. But once stopped, it would, again, receive orders and be ready for basically anything, even if low morale or poor supply situation meant it was losing manpower to desertion and movement speed was slower.

In addition we had the Readiness rating. Basically, readiness has so far been used to modify the units’ command and control ranges, order delays and in case of engagement readiness determined the size of the deployment zones for both sides. But these mechanics proved to be insufficient to properly simulate the preparations, planning, logistical arrangements, training, and everything else the armies needed to get ready before they could be used for operations, especially offensive ones into enemy territory.

In the new concept readiness describes the units’ ability to operate in general. And it has have a very strong link to commander personalities. The new readiness is two-fold: all operations consume it, and it recovers when the unit is not carrying out operations. Consumption is higher during the early war, with cautious commanders, when operating in enemy territory and in poor weather. Readiness recovery takes into account a host of conditions, from commanders to supplies, to weather, morale, training… When readiness goes down, the amount of actions the units can perform are reduced. If readiness is very low, the unit cannot be used for offensives, and all delays will be higher. As readiness improves, more options will become available: offensives, forced marches, army orders, &c.

Readiness will also take a hit when recruiting new units into armies, as this requires a lot of re-organization, planning, orders, training… And if you go ahead and change the commander of an army, the new commander will require some time to have the army functioning in the way he wants it, and ready for grand offensives.


The new readiness feature is shown in the unit panel and the NATO unit symbols on map.

What this means is that you cannot simply throw your units into offensives regardless of their situation. No, sir! You may run into situation, where Gen’l. McClellan simply refuses to attack before HE thinks he’s ready. The readiness consumption/recovery system also means that if you decide to make the largest amphibious landing in American history, the armies will not simply disembark and blitz Richmond. Instead, the units will first need to recover from the transportation, establish a secure beach-head and base of supplies, do the reconnaissance, and so on. In short, armies can do less in short periods of time and will need to recover from operations to be ready for further orders. Oh, and fleets too!

Most Respy,

Gen’l. Ilja Varha,
Chief Designer.

Posted
Comments 4
Author

Gen’l,

The recent patches has been big ones, and the Early Access period will come to an end soon. There are still a couple of larger features we’re working on, in addition to the road map topics and the constantly ongoing bug fixes. Let’s take a look at the main battle feature still in development.

Defensive Battle AI.

The AI deployment and defensive behavior, including entrenchments, has been on our list from day one, but it requires quite an overhaul. But right now Oliver is finalizing the feature. What this will do is make the AI a lot tougher nut to crack when it has deployed to defend. This will make maneuvers and flanking moves much more important on the campaign map as well.

The AI is taught to pick good defensive positions on the maps, when it has defensive stance on the campaign map. It will also construct proper lines of entrenchments and man them, and stick to them if not completely outflanked or having lost the objectives. Previously it was mostly bad luck if you as the player found the enemy defending a strategic choke-point. Now you will more often! At the same go the AI will be more competent during the deployment phase between battle days.

Another nice feature is that the enemy entrenchments are not visible on the map if fog of war is on and your units do not see them.

This feature will be in the next public patch, but it requires overhauling all the battle maps. So you may see the improved defensive AI in some maps at first, but not all — yet. The rest will be added as we march on.


Look what the AI did there. Attack head on, or try to outflank it?

The Other Work.

Another large overhaul will concern unit readiness on campaign map. This feature will change the game pace a lot, with armies requiring a lot more time between operations to prepare themselves. And also the commanders will play a big role: did someone mention McClellan should move? We will take a closer look at this feature in a very short time, in the next blog.

The described features above are the last major overhauls during the Early Access period. In addition to working on those, we are also improving other aspects of the game and adding more playable content:

  • Two new historical battles: Appomattox 1865 and Glorieta Pass 1862. The first one is a real challenge for the CSA side, as Lee’s army is exhausted, fragile and being cut off. To win the CSA player will need to fight a desperate battle against Grant’s armies. If the way to Lynchburg is lost, there will soon be no other options than to surrender. In Glorieta Pass the smallest units are companies and batteries.
  • The randomly picked battle maps. Currently 9 are already included in the most recent patches, but more will be added along the way. These maps appear outside the range of historical battle fields, depending on terrain type, and they are non-historical.
  • Manual, overhauled field book & tutorial videos. As a lot has changed recently, we’ve put the videos on hold to wait till the features are consolidated.
  • Some more this and that: more battle flags, commander portraits, etc.
  • And constant bug fixing. Currently the two main bugs we’re working on are “dead sprites lag” in battles and “renewed naval battles ending the war” in campaign. Of course there’s a host of others, but we keep chipping them away, especially after the 2 main features are completed.

Most Respy,

Gen’l. Ilja Varha,
Chief Designer.

Posted
Comments 11
Author

Gen’l,

February -21 brings more player requested features, as the recruitment system is upgraded with an option for faster creation of units, and policies are overhauled. Since January, the 1864 campaign was added along with performance improvements and a lot of other changes, big and small. Let’s take a look at the most important ones!


Faster Recruitment Options Available.

Quality of Life — Recruitment

Many in the community have requested speeding up the flow of recruitment. Especially when starting a new campaign, it takes time to get the recruitment going, getting weapons upgraded, and so on. To make life easier, we have added a speed recruitment option in the army management panel.

The functionality is quite simple. First you select the Headquarters you wish to add the new units to. Then in the quick recruitment options select the number of units per type to be recruited. You can also change the initial strength of the units, from 50% to 75% to full 100%. The smaller units will start growing in strength later with additional reinforcements. Once happy, click to recruit, and the units appear under the selected HQ. The recruitment state is chosen with fastest arrival time (recruitment delay & movement to join the army) in mind.

You can also upgrade weapons for the best types available by simply clicking on the Headquarters in question, and then upgrade.

Other recruitment related improvements are the availability of volunteers via militia, and other, acts. Also the recruitment delays are slightly increased. These combined mean that it will be slower to recruit large armies early on in the campaign.


New Looks & Revised Effects & Research Times. And a New Act!

Policies Overhauled.

Another requested feature has been the policies and how they work. We also thought that the policies are not well balanced enough, and that it was too easy to activate the maximum amount, as research took quite little time. Instead of minor changes here & there, the whole system, along with policy effects, was revised. This is part of the campaign balancing, which has been ongoing, and will continue till the game is released in full.

First change is in the pre-war policies, which are chosen when the campaign is started. These policies included many weak ones and a few overpowered ones, making the choice — for those who wish to change them from the historical ones — rather simple. Now the policy effects are more balanced, so the choice should be more interesting. As an example, some of the pre-war policies are required during the campaign to proceed past certain policies: pre-war industrialization is required for industrialization III-IV policies, and so on.

Also the policies <-> subsidies link is changed. Previously they made too little difference, as without any policies you could invest up to a million to each subsidy, and policies would eventually increase this by 50% at most. In the revised system, without a policy there are no subsidies available at all, and the subsequent policy levels increase the investment cap with increasing steps. The level IV policies for industrialization, agriculture and military will also include a bonus to nation’s morale, support or military experience.

With the changes in place, the policies and acts will become more powerful and interesting to use. The previous updates, which made the research speed depend on national support, and multiple simultaneously researched policies slower, adds to this. Now the player needs to think a few steps ahead.


The Confederacy is Cut in Half, but not Giving Up!

1864 Campaign.

The late war campaign, that was added in January, kicks off right before the Overland Campaign and Atlanta Campaigns commenced. Lt.Gen. Grant, now in command of the Union armies, has the task to end the war, preferably before the presidential elections of 1864 in November. Previous summer Lee was defeated at Gettysburg and Grant captured Vicksburg. But this does not mean the Confederacy is beaten. Already the Red River Campaign by Banks has failed to capture Shreveport.

The main forces in this campaign are those of Grant, Lee, Sherman, Johnston, Banks, Kirby Smith and Butler. And the fighting ahead would be the bloodiest during the war.

With the new campaign, we have also updated the campaign map and the number of commanders available within the game files has been bolstered to more than 1700!


Terrain Blocking Command & Combat Radii: Lee’s Army Cannot Reinforce Battles in the Shenandoah Valley.

Other Changes.

Common:

  • Performance increase, with +10 FPS on average,
  • First steps with scalable UI,
  • Some UI improvements with very high resolution screens,
  • Fog of War calculation changed to instant when loading a campaign/battle,
  • Fix for the blurry screen after a fresh install, when using high refresh rates.

Battles:

  • Battle type improvement, with defensive/offensive operations changing the initial deployment,
  • Rebalanced skirmishers’ effectiveness in general,
  • AI use of cavalry improved,
  • Rebalanced unit routing and army retreats, that should lead into less casualties per battle, especially early in the campaign when units are green.

Campaigns:

  • Terrain now blocking combat and command radii of armies, mountain ranges now block arrival or reinforcements,
  • Rebalanced autoresolved battles, sieges,
  • Added rolling text information on the map informing about casualties from skirmishing, rear guard action, movement speed changes,
  • Changed raiding functionality so, that raiding armies no longer capture terrain, infrastructure is burned only within the combat radius of the unit, and raiding armies will skirmish with all enemies within their combat radii,
  • Improved AI defensive operations near capital city,
  • Before Military II -policy only early armies can be formed, and after the policy grand armies with multiple corps can be formed, grand armies made more flexible with rebalancing of command radii of armies,
  • Rebalanced intelligence gathering by armies, making scouting and use of cavalry much more effective in spotting enemy movement,
  • Added a large number of Grand Herald news from the Civil War, and around the world, for further immersion.

…and many more improvements and bug fixes, that can be found in the patch release notes.

The Next Steps.

The work continues to get the game ready. With recent feature updates, focus is back in fixing bugs reported by the community. In the background we are writing a proper game manual, creating more battle maps, preparing new tutorial videos and improving the game play experience with fixes to most requested topics, such as campaign & battle retreat routes, and melees & surrendering in battles.

Most Respy,

Gen’l. Ilja Varha,
Chief Designer.