Comments 1


To-day we will reveal to you the contents of Map Pack #1, a collection of 10 new historical battle maps that have been created during the Early Access period. The maps will appear, when fighting at the appropriate locations on the campaign map. Some of them have already been included for some time, as we’ve been adding them when ready. The Map Pack is one of the six mile stones on our Early Access Road Map.

Cumberland Gap, Kentucky.

The first map is that of Cumberland Gap, a strategically important mountain pass allowing movement from Virginia and Tennessee to Kentucky. During the Civil War this Gap was first captured by the Confederates. In 1862 7th Division, under G.W. Morgan attacked through the gap, and this map is part of his return route along the Kentucky State Road during his attack from Kentucky to Tennessee.

Honey Springs, Indian Territory.

Located in modern day Oklahoma, Honey Springs was a Confederate depot in the Indian Territory, along the Texas Road running from Texas to Kansas. In July 17, 1863, the largest scale battle in Indian Territory was fought here between mainly Native American troops of the CSA, and USCT troops of the Union. In this battle the Union Army of the Frontier under J.G. Blunt, with some 3,000 men, defeated the approximately 6,000 Confederates under D.H. Cooper and captured their depot.

Olustee, Florida.

In February 20, 1864, the largest battle of the Civil War in Florida was fought here between Confederate general Joseph Finegan and Union general Truman Seymour. In the battle Finegan defeated Seymour’s army and forced it to withdraw. Seymour was attacking on his own initiative from Jacksonville towards Tallahassee along the Florida, Atlantic & Gulf Central Railroad. Finegan placed his defences along Seymour’s axis of attack at Olustee Station, a natural choke point with Ocean Pond covering his left and a large swamp his right flank. The Historic Battle of Olustee is already available in Grand Tactician!

Carnifex Ferry, West Virginia.

This map saw two battles in fall of 1861: The Battle of Kessler’s Cross Lanes on August 26, and that of Carnifex Ferry on September 10. The fighting was part of the early West Virginia campaigns. At Kessler’s Cross Lanes Confederate general John B. Floyd defeated Erastus Tyler’s 7th Ohio Infantry Regiment in a surprise attack. After the battle Floyd moved south to Carnifex Ferry, where, just north of the ferry site, he dug a defensive line, from which he fought against general Rosecrans’ three brigades. After initial success and inflicting higher casualties on the Federals, Rosecrans’ artillery proved problematic, and Floyd withdrew across the Gauley River towards Lewisburg. The image shows the ferry site, and Floyd’s defensive position just north of it on the plateau.

Honey Hill, South Carolina.

Honey Hill is a small high ground along the Grahamville Road. On November 30, 1864, during Sherman’s March to the Sea, Coastal Division under John P. Hatch fought a small battle here against G.W. Smith’s Georgia militia. In the battle the entrenched Confederates inflicted heavy losses on the Federals, forcing them to withdraw. Hatch’s movement to Grahamville to cut the nearby railroad failed.

Champion Hill, Mississippi.

On May 16, 1863, Union general U.S. Grant was moving south along the Mississippi river to take Vicksburg. In a cunning and brilliant move he bypassed the fortified city and emerged south of it to first attack and drive away general Johnston’s small force at Jackson, then turning west to engage John C. Pemberton’s army of some 22,000 strong with his own force of some 32,000 men. Grant’s Army of the Tennessee attacked along the three roads, Raymond Road, Middle Road and Clinton Road in three columns, and the main fighting took place on a high ground called Champion’s Hill, shown in the image, looking from the Champion House. Grant defeated Pemberton and continued to Vicksburg to eventually capture it in what would be one of the main turning points in the war, paving way to his promotion and the eventual Union victory.

Winchester, Virginia.

Located in the northern mouth of Shenandoah Valley, Winchester and the surrounding area saw a number of battles during the war, including 1st – 3rd Battles of Winchester and 1st and 2nd Kernstown. Winchester was of strategic importance, as it was positioned along the Shenandoah Valley Turnpike, the macadamized road running through the valley, and also the ending point of Winchester & Potomac Railroad. In the 1st Battle of Winchester “Stonewall” Jackson defeated Banks, while in the 3rd Battle Phil Sheridan defeated Jubal Early’s Army of the Valley after they had withdrawn from the gates of Washington D.C…

Fort Stevens, District of Columbia.

Talking of Early nearly taking Washington, D.C., here is the map where he was stopped. The Union capital was the most fortified city in the world during the Civil War. But when the fortifications were tested in July, 1864, they were manned by green troops. Early moved down the Shenandoah Valley, defeated the Union defenders in the Battle of Monocacy, and then marched down towards Washington D.C. along the 7th Street Turnpike. Along this pike was Fort Stevens, and its entrenched defensive line. On July 11 Early was facing only a hodge-podge Emergency Division, but Grant’s reinforcements, the VI Corps and a detachment from the XIX Corps arrived on time to engage the overstretched and exhausted Confederates. Even President Lincoln was observing the battle at Fort Stevens.

New Market, Virginia.

Probably the most requested map, New Market is located in the Shenandoah Valley, south of Winchester along the Valley Turnpike. A sleepy small town, but made famous due to the Battle of New Market on May 15, 1864. In that battle, Franz Sigel’s army moved up the Valley to Staunton to take the important supply hub and to threaten Lee’s flank in concert with Grant’s Overland Campaign. Confederate general Breckinridge moved in to meet Sigel, and the engagement took place at New Market, where the approximately 5,500 Confederates forced Sigel’s 10,000 men to turn and withdraw. In this battle, the Virginia Militia Institute Cadet Corps was Breckinridge’s reserve, and he committed the young boys to attack Federal positions at Bushong Farm. The rest is stuff of legend.

Mine Creek, Kansas.

August 1864, general Sterling Price launched his raid from southern Arkansas to Missouri. His force wreaked havoc during September and most of October. When moving south from Kansas City he was pursued by Union cavalry from general Samuel R. Curtis’ army. A battle took place at Mine Creek, Kansas, where Marmaduke’s cavalry fought against Benteen’s. Union emerged victorious and Confederacy lost approximately 1,200 men versus Union’s 100. The battle was one of the largest ones between two opposing mounted forces.

Most Respy,

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

Comments 9


Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865) was released in Early Access two months ago. On August 21 we marched straight into the Wilderness, and have been fighting ever since. After desperate fighting and even some repulses, the advance continues. The game is being improved all along, and recently we have started adding content that has been requested by the Early Access players!

Into the Wilderness.

After August 21, things have advanced with Grand Tactician. During the first weeks after the release we have been dealing with major bugs, crashing, corrupted save files and even a nasty memory leak. But we’re happy these major issues are already behind us, and even as there is still a lot to do, the game is stabilizing. Plugging the memory leak was one of the more tedious projects so far, but now we have been able to focus on game play, AI and balancing, and producing additional content – on our way towards the full release of the game.

We have received a huge amount of bug reports, save files and logs, as well as feature requests from our Early Access players along the way. We have logged and prioritized them and are working through the list to constantly improve the game. Development patches have come out every 2-3 days, while official patches have been released weekly, on average. While first patches were focused on technical issues and stability, lately the point of main effort has been in campaign and battle game play.

While the team uses 90% of available effort in bug fixing and balancing the game, we have also added in playable content. Early on the 1863 summer campaign scenario was added, with a bonus summer 1861 scenario released a bit later, and just now we also added one more historic battle in the mix – the 1864 Battle of Olustee in Florida. This is the second regimental level battle, along with Wilson’s Creek, and the battle preferences have also been re-balanced in these two battles to improve playability and AI performance.

At the same time we have started adding more maps in the game, integrating them in the campaign map as well. The recently added maps are the before mentioned Olustee (FL), along with Cumberland Gap (KY) and Honey Springs (Indian Territory, modern OK). More maps are in the making, and will be sneakily added in the game with the coming patches. And while I have been adding the maps with our paper map artist Wasel, Peter has added more commander portraits and soldier images. Though, it does not help in his task that more commanders have also been added, the number now standing at 1591.

Save the Nation!

After resolving the major crashing issues we have slightly diverted from our Early Access Roadmap due to player requests. We have already added a number of player requests, like moving Headquarters units only, saving of filter settings and most recently unlimited campaign saving option and (optional) reworked battle objective system. More subtle changes have also been made according to feedback, like some changes in the campaign map, some font changes, pause default settings or game balancing.

As per our EA Roadmap, the steps described are already being taken not one by one, but simultaneously. While the first new maps, along with bonus battles have been already added, the work on the 1864 campaign is also ongoing, as is the work on allowing mid-battle saving and loading. We are also happy to announce that the first tutorial videos are being worked on by a renown history enthusiast and wargame YouTuber. The manual is also being planned with an American author and editor, who is a huge Civil War enthusiast. Like said, while more content is being created, the main focus is still in bug fixing, balancing, AI and performance improvements.

There are a number of larger topics that the community has requested so far, like scalable UI, hotkeys, or further game play options. These we have stored on our list and will start implementing them once we have advanced further with bug fixing and adding playable content.

We believe it’s a good idea to work with the community this way, even if it means the full release of the game may move further into the future this way – the Early Access players have been very encouraging and patient towards us, providing great feedback and cool new ideas. At this point we want to thank all the Early Access buyers for the continued support! The march to victory continues, even if there has been some setbacks along the way.

Most Respy,

Gen’l. Ilja Varha,
Chief Designer.

Comments 10


The Civil War saw the use of many novel technologies, one being photography. Thanks to Mathew Brady and other photographers of the time, we can see snapshots of the war, and of the people who lived and fought through it. To-day re-enactors bring the battle-fields of the Civil War alive in grand Living History spectacles around the U.S. And to-day’s Mathew Bradys are there to film it and to produce amazing footage to be used in news stories, documentaries… and even video games!

Let us introduce to you Kevin R. Hershberger of LionHeart FilmWorks, LLC, the Man behind the camera of the combat footage in Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865)!

The Man Behind the Camera.

Kevin shares a love for history with the rest of the Grand Tactician -team. Film-making has been his other love for as long as he remembers:

“Of course, it’s a cliche to say it, but I grew up watching movies like the original Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark and I always thought that I wanted to work with model building and special effects. In school I wasn’t great with math and science, so perhaps that wasn’t my destiny.”

Kevin is a re-enactor since the giant 125th anniversary series of events in 1987, even choosing to attend Virginia Military Institute (V.M.I.) after High School because of the Cadet Corps involvement in the Civil War battle of New Market. It would be the combination of re-enactment enthusiasm and interest in film-making, that would make him known for his first feature film, award-winning Wicked Spring (2002), telling a story of Confederate and Union soldiers, trapped between the lines, during the Battle of Wilderness in 1864.

But before that, there would be working behind the scenes of other productions and 8 years of service in the U.S. Army as a Military Intelligence Officer – making him the other member of Grand Tactician -Team with a military background. During his time at V.M.I. Kevin started writing feature film screenplays and seriously learning the how-to of film-making. This included working on the set of the movie Gettysburg, filmed in Maryland where Kevin grew up. This was the summer of 1992. The next year, Kevin worked in a Showtime TV movie set at West Point in the 1880s, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Sam Waterston, which was filming at V.M.I. Talking his way through to working for the production as “Cadet Wrangler” – organizing and training the cadet extras – he also got a speaking part on camera. Working one-on-one with the director and production team for several weeks on location got Kevin hooked. And the pay wasn’t bad either!

“I didn’t want to jump out of Helicopters in the Army anymore, I wanted to stay on set and make movies… about Soldiers jumping out of helicopters!”

After serving in the U.S. Army, Kevin dove head-first into learning the craft of screenwriting: “…by writing many bad scripts and learning from each one and getting better, page after page.” His first project to direct was a short film titled The Nest (1999), shot on location in Pennsylvania, on 16mm film. The Nest premiered in New York City, in September 1999, in a film festival. It was only four months later Kevin found himself on set directing Wicked Spring, with a hefty $500K budget! The film would win ‘Best Action Film’ at New York International Film and TV Festival in 2002.

“Things moved fast between 1999-2000, but everything was much harder after that! By 2004 I was officially self-employed, without a safety-net and have been able to stay self-employed and growing since then. No plans to go back to a ‘real job’!”

LionHeart FilmWorks.

Few years later, in 2006, Kevin refocused his attention back to his greatest interest, which was the filming, now on Digital video, of historical recreations of historical events. This started his series of re-enactment documentaries: In 2010 Kevin began producing a long series of multi-part docu-series about American history subjects.

My channel is a hybrid of both a showcase of all of my original historical film and documentary work, along with a celebration and curation of other historical films and documentaries that I most admire or were most influenced by. It’s really a curated collection of some of the best and most interesting history-related content I can find and if anyone wanted to see what I’m most interested in or what influenced my work – this is the place to go!”

And it’s not just any YouTube channel. By now it has 165,000 subscribers and 35 million views. The content found there is a true treasure chest to anyone interested in American history and wishing to keep current with the past. The channel is growing steadily, adding three videos per week. And while he is running the channel, let’s hope new ideas for films of his own will spring.

“Hopefully, I’ll be turning back to feature film-making of some sort in the 2020s…”

Even if playing a major role in video game development with his involvement in Grand Tactician, when talking about his experience in video games, Kevin admits he’s a bit late to the game. “If someone were to ask me what video games I play, my answer would probably be Atari and Nintendo 64!” Kevin does have a PlayStation, which allows him to return to the world he left behind, playing historical and military games like the older Call of Duty sort that are set in World War 2.

“I’m extremely pleased and excited to be part of this new Grand Tactician: The Civil War game, and I hope that the players find a new passion to study this history and I am proud to be able to play a small part. I hope fellow history buffs playing this game check out my YouTube channel and subscribe and learn even more about this part of American history – as well as the entirely of the American experience since 1607.”

We couldn’t be happier to have Kevin’s talent and epic footage onboard in our humble project!

Most Respy,

Gen’l. Ilja Varha,
The Grand Tactician -Team

Comments 11


As Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865) release is getting close, it’s time to take a look behind the scenes of the game’s development, and to introduce the core team of people behind the project. It’s safe to say, that the development of this game has been very different compared to the game dev industry norm. And it will continue to be so.

From Eager Amateurs to Determined Veterans.

In 2016, two men in Austria were thinking to themselves, that the strategy game niche was missing a game. The American Civil War is a very interesting topic to read about, and to learn about, but no-one had made a comprehensive game about the whole war. Of course there are the great titles like Sid Meier’s Gettysburg, AGEOD’s Civil War II, and more recent Ultimate General, and so on. But one title to grasp the story and the operational level of the conflict was still missing. There and then a decision was made to create one.

Oliver Keppelmüller, a 40 years old treasury banker from Austria, had already tried his wings in game development. He created a strategy game called The Seven Years War (1756-1763), alone, from scratch, releasing in late 2015. This game received 2 DLCs during 2016, expanding the battle game-play and adding a Swedish themed campaign of the Pomeranian War.

TSYW, as it’s called among friends, already included the elements that would be the cornerstones of Grand Tactician: strategic campaign layer with simulation of economy and military management, and a tactical battle layer where battles are fought when armies meet on the campaign map. The game also includes historic battles from the war, and a custom battle generator. Though, the dream was always to make a game about the American Civil War. (“I tried to create a Civil War strategy game since the mid 90’s in different coding languages and engines, but never finished… until NOW.”)

Ilja Varha, now a 36 years old Finnish Army officer and a military history buff, ran into Oliver’s game while working for a gaming magazine as a freelance writer. While the game was rough around the edges, it was very intriguing, as it did many things right, that other games usually ignored. Ilja, with a history of modding, wargaming and simulators, both entertainment and military use, got involved in Oliver’s project and designed the Pomeranian War DLC. It was after the release of this DLC that the seed for Grand Tactician was planted.

Peter Lebek, a 41 years old Control Room Operator in the Chemical Industry in Germany, joined the team in 2017 plugging a gaping hole in the team’s line. Now we had a full-time artist to improve the game’s visuals, especially the UI. Peter was previously involved in the Europa Barbarorum II mod for Total War, creating units and coding.

There was but one problem: none of us was a professional game developer within the industry, making a living developing games. This was, and still is, a caveat in a way: making the game would not make a living, so the development would need to take place during spare time, after the workdays and while supporting the families – Oliver and Ilja both had their first child right after the development started, who are now 3 years old, while Peter’s son is a few years older. Also during the development Ilja was accepted to General Staff studies in the Finnish Defence University, spending 2 years studying the art of war while developing the game… Even if this means time for development is always limited – and believe us when we say the boundaries have been pushed on many occasions – it also gave a freedom which professional game developers do not always have: as the game was not the livelihood, we were free to do whatever and however we wanted, without any outside pressure to make things one way or another, or by a certain date.

While inexperience made certain things difficult at first, during the years we’ve learned more than a few things while creating the game. But the most important lesson is that with the freedom we’ve enjoyed, we’ve been able to develop the game our way. And from the feedback we’ve received from the followers of the project and the game’s volunteer testing team, we’ve managed to do emphasize the things we wanted in the game design, from the historic looks and atmosphere to the realistic mechanisms that run under the hood.

The Underdogs with Future Plans.

The release of Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865) is approaching fast. But the release of the game is not meant to set the game in stone, only to be patched later on with a DLC or two released later. Instead, as the project is a true fruit of passion for us, we are determined to keep it alive, and improving it along the way.

For a gigantic project like this with the limited development time, and basically without any resources, it’s clear, that every feature we planned in 2016 is not yet included or polished. We plan on finalizing our vision by supporting the game for years to come, adding the missing features in the upgrades and patches – for free – while improving the game. At the same time we’ll keep expanding the existing content, like the number of battle-fields players can encounter in the campaign.

Post-release, the players will also have their say in the direction the project will steer from thereon. While Grand Tactician is planned to become a series of strategy games, we’re not in a hurry to go onwards with a new title, even if a few interesting ones are already discussed. Hopefully after the release we can also make the game more moddable, so fans can adjust it to their liking.

And we’re not in this alone. The Volunteers, from freelance artists to history buffs helping in research, have helped us immensely, increasing the game’s quality and atmosphere from the soundtrack recorded just for this game to the video cut-scenes and historical map drawing styles – none of this was planned in 2016. We’re humbled by the talent and morale of the volunteers, as well as the impact their work have had had on our small, but ambitious project!

So, as you can see, Grand Tactician is a true underdog in the game development industry. With full freedom of maneuver we are going to keep the project alive, improving it along the way, as we believe it could be the American Civil War strategy game for years to come.

Most Respy,

The Grand Tactician -Team:

The Grand Tactician -Team

Oliver Keppelmüller, 40, Austria, treasury banker.
“I think in 0s and 1s, hardly sleep and the 100k lines of code chase me in my dreams.”

Ilja Varha, 36, Finland, officer, FDF.
“Still got some great ideas to improve the game, though Oliver said he would die of old age before finishing my list…”

Peter Lebek, 41, Germany, Control Room Operator.
“Years ago: do you know a way how to adjust 50 black & white commander photos in one shape? Last week: we have now 1400 commanders in the database and some 1000 will have a colored portrait…”

Comments 48


During the mid-19th Century, the United States was a world power, challenging the status of the more traditional European empires of the time. According to the Monroe Doctrine (1823), the United States would oppose any European interference in the Americas. But things have changed, with the Union dissolved, and a Civil War raging between the North and South.

European Empires.

In Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865) there are three European Empires, that could play a role in the Civil War. While Spain has lost many colonies in the early 19th Century, they still hold Cuba (or do they with 100% certainty?), and have the mindset of an Empire. The more prominent British and French empires are stronger, but exhausted by the Crimean War fought between 1853-1856 against the Russian Empire. In that war, where the Americans sent their own observers like one Captain George B. McClellan, warfare saw the emergence of iron plated ships and rifled muskets. The war also revealed some real problems with the traditional European military organization and tactics, usually associated with the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Battle of Balaclava.

The British, the former colonial masters and opponents in the War of 1812 still hold the Province of Canada north of the Great Lakes. During the Crimean War the regular troops from Canada were shipped to Europe, and have not returned. Instead, the province’s defenses rely on militia, with numbers and training being questionable at best. When the Civil War erupted, the British military took a neutral stance, observing the situation as it developed. This neutral stance took a sharp turn with the Trent Affair, where, in November 1861, a U.S. ship stopped and boarded British vessel Trent, taking Confederate diplomats into custody. This caused a great diplomatic uproar and the British started making plans for a possible intervention in North America, strengthening the forces in Canada and preparing an Expeditionary Force in Europe. While the British had some sympathy for the Southern cause, they remained neutral throughout the War. The existence of slavery in the South was seen as a moral issue, but cotton was direly needed in the British textile mills – a fact the Confederacy could try to take advantage of.

The French under Emperor Napoleon III had their own continental issues with Prussia, which made their intervention unlikely. While more sympathetic to the Confederacy, the French did not either officially recognize the Confederacy. But with the Civil War creating a power vacuum in North America, the French, along with British and Spanish see their opportunity to intervene in Middle American affairs. Mexico, still recovering from the stinging defeat in the war against United States between 1846-48, where they lost large part of their land, owes money to the Europeans. With the United States unable to intervene, a European expeditionary force is sent to Mexico to force President Juárez to pay. While the intervention begins as a joint European effort, it soon becomes clear that the French have far larger ambitions. The British and Spanish forces eventually withdraw, with the French pushing inland to conquer Mexico.

The French operation in Mexico is a large one, with troops numbers exceeding 30 000, almost one fifth of the French Army at the time. If the French are successful, it could be that the Confederacy would have a sympathetic southern neighbor, with interest to become the leading European cotton importer via Texas. And what if the Confederacy would be in position to directly support the French operation, allowing a stunning victory, and freeing up the French Expeditionary Force to other operations?


In the game it’s possible to try to influence the foreign relations with Europe. This is done by investing dollars in diplomacy, and also following policies that are appealing to the European nations. At that time, as Europe was exhausted by the Crimean War, feeding the citizen was a problem. The United States with their vast farmlands expanding to mid-West was a solution, and the Northern player could make the Union a true breadbasket of the world. Who would bite the feeding hand?

The Confederacy also holds an advantage, which is the majority of the world’s cotton production – at least for the time being. With industrial revolution, the textile mills in Europe need to be fed with cotton from the South. It is widely believed in Southern States that the King Cotton would be the decisive force, preventing a war with the North and bringing the Europeans to their aid if needed.

As the player you must weight the different political possibilities carefully, as you cannot be strong in all areas. During the game the possibility of an European intervention will change. And in case the Europeans are convinced that the Confederacy has a fighting chance, maybe a sympathetic nation would see their opportunity to grow their influence in North America, by siding with the South? The British position in Canada is not strong, but that direction offers a possibility to strike the Union’s heartlands from behind. A movement via Mexico would also be possible for the French, if the Mexican resistance is crushed.

The forces we use for the Europeans are such as they could have been during the Civil War. The capability to move huge armies to North America was limited, and the Europeans really understood the value of converting their fleets to ironclad ships after observing the Civil War naval operations. But they will not be a pushover, as the soldiers will be experienced and well drilled. In the image above you see some of the historical European commanders, operating in the American Theater at the time of the Civil War. If you play your cards right, you could see some of them on your side. And in the worst case, you may see some of them joining forces with the enemy! How many of them do you recognize?

Most Respy,

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

P.S. After a request from a follower, we made the interventions optional. In options menu you may choose to have the Europeans remain neutral no matter what.