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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.

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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.

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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.

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Gen’l,

It’s 2021, happy New Year everyone! It has been some time since the last look into the latest new features in Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865), so here’s a quick summary of what has happened during the holidays and what is currently being worked on.

More Information.

While under the hood, there has always been a lot happening, the cause and effect -chains have not been always clear to the player. For example, why is national morale dropping, why are the units moving so slowly, or what is happening during naval engagements? Here we have introduced a lot of new information for the player in a few different ways:
-Improved tooltips. On strategy panel the tooltip now shows, for example, all effects on national morale. Perk tooltips explain the effects more accurately, including what needs to be done to level up the perk. Army supplies are now explained with more detail in the unit panel.
-Rolling texts. These texts appear on the campaign map to inform player of certain events and effects. For example, there’s information given about automatically resolved battles, sieges, troop movements including rear guard action and pursuit after battle, inflicting further casualties. While all the described effects have been there, now hopefully the player will also have the information in a timely fashion.

Re-enforcements Arriving!

One of the often requested feature has been control over reinforcements in campaign battles. Previously the system worked so, that offensive armies were to automatically reinforce, while defensive would not march to the sound of guns. We have now improved the engagement interface with further information about the engaging armies and the available reinforcements — and we now allow the player to choose which available units he would like to order to join the battle, regardless of their stance.

Navy has also received improved functionality in the form of raiding-order. Under these orders, the fleet in question will launch surprise raids against blockading fleets, engaging only a small part of the fleet. This allows numerically inferior fleets to engage and possibly sink a few ships, and then to disengage. With successful raiding the CSA can try to wage a war of attrition along the coast against the much larger Union blockading squadrons.

Currently we are working on improved retreating mechanism on the campaign map, including better retreat path-finding, retreating to forts, and disintegration of units that have no-where safe to retreat to. This is in addition to already implemented much shorter retreat routes, more orderly withdrawal, and additional capital city defensive moves by the AI.

Oh, that's what's taking all the time!

Balancing.

A constantly ongoing work has been the game balance, including AI improvements, in both campaigns and battles. This line of operation, so to say, contains working on the already implemented features to make the game play experience smoother, more challenging and fun. Here are just a few examples from this work:

Battles:
-Fatigue and morale effects balancing,
-AI now acts more directly and aggressively, if it encounters a force with considerable numerical inferiority,
-Couriers now move faster, reducing order delays a bit, while unit movement speeds have also been readjusted,
-Reworked objective placement in historic battles,
-Defensive battles are being improved to allow the defender larger deployment area and objectives that are already held.

Campaigns:
-Policies: implementation times have been adjusted, and researching multiple policies or acts will make the progress slower,
-Recruitment numbers have been revised, so that acts will have bigger effect on available recruits, recruitment subsidies will have bigger effect, over longer period of time, and drafts can be used to reinforce depleted volunteer units. This happens without support loss, unlike recruiting full draft units,
-Commanders getting wounded or captured may return during the campaign, but their attributes are affected,
-Commander attributes are now correctly affected by their experience, and experience will drop accordingly when appointed to higher command. Also if within range from the higher HQ, the commander will influence his subordinates’ attributes. For example an aggressive commander will feed aggression in his subordinates, and vice versa,
-Intervention armies are more of a threat now, at least that’s what the troops of V Corps, told me when visited by the Army of Canada.

More than just Fremantle this time, eh...

The Next Steps.

Work continues as planned, with focus now on finalizing added features, bug-fixing and general improvements. New content is being worked on, with the 1864 campaign database being implemented, and already adding the historic battle of New Market. Our map guru Wasel is working on the generic “random” maps, Peter has been adding commander portraits and improving the visuals here and there, and our friend History Guy Gaming is producing more Tutorial Videos as we speak — you may check out the ready ones from our YouTube playlist, HERE.

All in all the start of the year 2021 looks busy, but also the full release is slowly getting closer and closer.

Most Respy,

Gen’l. Ilja Varha,
Chief Designer.

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Gen’l,

Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865) was launched in Early Access on Steam on Aug 21, 2020. Early Access means the game is not yet in its final, intended form. Instead, we want to improve it further before calling it “ready”. By purchasing the Early Access version (for a discounted price), the player can already play the game, but for a more complete and polished experience, it is recommended to wait for the full release. If you’re marching with us with the Early Access release, the going will not be smooth and there will be many hardships along the way. But, instead of turning back when facing adversity, the march will continue until the final victory – the full release of the game – is achieved!

During the Early Access period, we will follow the Road Map shown above. The Road Map steps are not in order of priority, but represent the order in which the missing features and content are finished. We will tackle the bugs and main feature improvements from the start.

During this time the other team members will be adding the content, which did not make it in the Early Access version. This includes, among other things, more commander portraits from Peter, further improvements in the campaign map, game balancing, maps, scenarios, and so on. The main steps on our march to victory, the final release, are listed below:

Load & Save for Battles – Victory Achieved on Nov 20, 2020!
One of the most important and requested features. As the battles take a long time to play, it is only fair that the player can save the progress to continue playing later. This feature has been added to the game along with unlimited saving for campaigns.

Map Pack #1 – Victory Achieved on Dec 23, 2020!
This package includes 10 new historical battlefields, that are available for fighting battles during the campaign. Included are maps of Cumberland Gap, Honey Springs, Honey Hill, Winchester, New Market, Carnifex Ferry, Mine Creek, Champion Hill, Fort Stevens and Olustee. Olustee also came with a historic battle. For more info, See here.

1864 Campaign – Victory Achieved on Jan 28, 2021!
The late war campaign scenario starts in May, 1864. Union armies are preparing to launch decisive campaigns to defeat the Confederate armies. Union commanding general Ulysses S. Grant is leading armies in the East to invade Virginia, to defeat Lee’s famed Army of the Northern Virginia, while his trusted lieutenant William Tecumseh Sherman is to move with his armies to defeat Johnston and take Atlanta, Georgia. The odds are heavily favoring the Union, but with the presidential elections closing, severe setbacks in Lincoln’s war effort may demoralize the people. If Lincoln is not re-elected, the Confederacy has a chance to enter peace negotiations, eventually preventing the nation from being overran by the northern armies. The campaign also includes new historic battles – Olustee, Wilderness and New Market.

Tutorial Videos:
As the game is very complex, it can be easy to lose oneself in all the details and different functionalities. We have started adding tutorial videos, produced by the one and only History Guy Gaming! First videos can already be found in the game, and more will follow.

Find the tutorial videos also on YouTube, here:

Tutorial Video Playlist.

Map Pack #2:
This package will include a number of maps that will be randomly picked when fighting in regions where historical battle maps are not present. The functionality of the feature is already in, tested and it works, but the number of maps will be expanded to allow more diverse battle fields across the continent.

Campaign AI & Balancing:
This work is already underway, with each patch in beta also addressing these issues, but we are determined to improve the campaign AI and campaign experience a lot further. The campaign is what our game is all about, and we really want to make it the best we can!

After the Early Access release, we will keep the players and followers up to date about our progress by updating the Road Map. After the final step, the march will be over, and the final version of the game released. We welcome you to join us on this march! With the updating Road Map it should be easy to see the progress!

Cheers,

The Grand Tactician Team