Guest Blog: Philippe Thibaut.

Comments 24


In this devblog we have a very special guest writer. So far we have not shown the game to outsiders of the development team, except in the official updates like these dev blogs. But when a renown strategy game designer Philippe Thibaut asks to have a look at the game… Well, you show the game! You may know Philippe as the author and designer of the original board-game and PC-title Europe Universalis, or the founder and lead designer of AGEOD, including titles like Birth of America, Civil War, and the gigantic Civil War II, the most comprehensive strategy game of the American Civil War to date!

So, let Philippe himself describe his first impressions after having a look at Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865) alpha-version, the campaign and battle game-play, behind the scenes.

– Ilja Varha, Designer, The Grand Tactician -Team.

Meylan, France, May 12, 2020, 9 p.m.

Tonight, I was very lucky and had the honor to have a personal presentation of the brand-new game Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865) directly by its lead designer and author Ilja Varha.

First impression? Well, I am missing words…may be “Woahh…!!” is looking most appropriate.

I have been in video games for the last 22 years, worked on Europa Universalis and all the AGEOD titles, and many more other games, like the one I am doing now with my new venture Avalon Digital. I have played many monster games, including the Total War saga… but I must say that I am baffled!

This is, in my opinion and based on what I just saw, probably the best grand strategy game I have seen so far.

It has everything you can desire and dream of in such a venture. The level of details and the clarity and precision of the content is stunning. I thought we had done a lot in AGEOD’s American Civil War, but these guys did better… the content is impressive. No wonder it took so much time to design and produce, this is a treasure chest for any Civil War historian.

But even better, the game is exactly what a grand strategy game should be: you are not controlling everything, far from it, but you find yourself playing with two main levels of personification.

Player can steer his nation via different policies and Acts, like introducing conscription or, like here, investing in industrialization.

First, at the grand strategic level, you are a key member of your nation’s War Cabinet. You intervene on a lot of fields, from domestic politics and trade acts to foreign diplomacy or industrial conduct of the war effort. You are immersed in the huge task of creating your army from scratch (I saw the early 1862 Union side). And you also decide where to conscript, which units to raise, which commanders to appoint – The game has an encyclopedic list of over 1,300 commanders to assign to the various commands, both on land and at sea.

Fortunately, for the non-micromanagement fans (like me), a lot can be delegated to the AI (like running the economy) and that’s better like this. Speaking of economy, remember we are in the land of free enterprise, so the show is run by private businesses and it’s both realistic and ideal (no burden of choosing which little stupid building to build here or there)…

Second, you also get in command on the operational and semi-tactical levels: you have a wide range of realistic options and orders at your disposal as the Army’s High Command, and you shall have to decide on many issues and choices such as training troops, choosing deployments postures or trans-theater transfers. Preparing to battle is almost as important (if not more) as running the fight itself. Knowing (well, actually learning, like most commanders of the time) how to dispose and disperse your corps and divisions, how to make sure they can march to the sound of guns in good order, how to dispatch your orders so that they can be reached – and executed – in time, etc… the list is as long as a real Civil War general agenda… all beautifully displayed in a great art style.

And last, but not least, even for a grand-strategy only amateur like me, the part where you jump into the fray, finding yourself on the battlefield is even better thought. You enjoy – if I could say so – the torment of General Meade trying to guess where the Rebs are on this day of July 1863, and more generally trying to sort out reports in the midst of a very well rendered fog of war, weather constraints, fatigue and disorganization… you really feel you are there, and it is almost disturbingly real.

We also took a staff ride around one of the historic battles.

We spent 3 hours on this game, I had the impression it lasted 10 minutes so big was my astonishment and marvel at such a vast game. I would even dare say a masterpiece.

I even wonder if I should take the risk of playing that game… it would capture my mind and soul and I could not leave it. I wish I had the means, knowledge and tools to have done something like that before (but my game was 13 years ago, an eternity…)

Bravo guys, keep up the good work, you just did immensely great and I expect a huge success for your game.

Chapeau Bas Messieurs!

Philippe Thibaut

CEO, Avalon Digital,
Head of Development and Lead Designer, SGS,
AGEOD : Founder and lead designer,
Europa Universalis: Game Author and Designer, &c.


  1. I am so looking forward to this game.

  2. Sounds and looks great! I can’t wait!! Do you have a release date yet?

  3. Great, can’t wait…thank you Philippe for this confirmation.

  4. Cocorico !

  5. Superb preview from someone who knows how to make games great. It is very complimentary to the quality of this incoming game. Very interested to see what it will be like myself.

  6. With regards to tactical battles-if,in a situation like an army attacking a heavily defended city like Richmond-would the defending forces have on map defences or enhanced engineering points?

  7. I am so stoked about this game coming out!!! I already told my wife not to get me anything for Fathers Day because I want this when it comes out!!! Lets go!!!

  8. I have been waiting for so long for this type of game! As a Civil War Historian, I am sure this game is going to get me in all kinds of trouble with the wife at 2:20 am.

  9. Is there going to be multiplayer in which one player plays as the south and the other player plays as the north?

  10. The more I see the more questions I have. Like starting with the policies you can select before starting the game. I see the old dominion and slaves to the west. All I can do is speculate but I’m really interested to see what each one will do. And how it changes up the start

  11. (Author)


    We don’t have an exact release date yet. But during the summer.

    We don’t have on map forts, but the defender have trenches.

  12. (Author)

    Also, the game is single-player, so no multiplayer option.

  13. I have been studying this period of American history for decades and I am looking forward to, what seems to be an extensive study sim of the civil war…

  14. Ciao from Italia
    release in summe, but ideally when? End of June, July, August or beginning of September?

  15. Getting praise from someone like Phil Thibaut is a big plus (I still play Civil War II). The features and mechanics of GT appear to not just be window dressing or empty promises. Really looking forward to release time.

  16. How long will it take you guys to finish your game if it’s an alpha

  17. What do the blue and red lines mean on the politics tree and in the game how do you retreat from a battle in the game

  18. (Author)

    Some answers:

    In the policies panel red lines are policy branches and blue lines links to acts. Policies come in multiple levels, and acts require certain policies/acts.

    You retreat from battle either by leaving the map by manually exiting units via entry-points, or by ordering “retreat”, which will end the battle after a delay. The delay depends on number of units in your army engaged with the enemy. Units that are engaged when the retreat begins, will suffer extra losses due to desertion and captured.

    We are planning on releasing the game during the summer.

  19. Is it summer yet !?!?!

  20. PLEASE – let us know a release date! ;-) This game could be a 28 year gaming dream come true!
    /Søren, Denmark

  21. Hello there boys!
    Happy to see that Philippe give you that sort of praise – it speaks highly of the design :)
    Cheers and good luck!

  22. Hi guys, really looking forward to the game!! Seems like the culmination of the Civil War game experience I have been looking for since North & South, Empire’s Civil War, From Sumter to Appomattax, etc.
    Let me ask a diff’t question re: release: When is the game moving into Beta? Thanks!

  23. Dear developers, I sincerely hope you put as much effort in the tuning of the AI as you have already put in the historical research, graphics etc. (Everything’s fantastic so far). But there are already too many simulations on the market where you spend much time to find the best generals, develop the economy, just to realise it‘s not necessary. You win anyway and stop playing. Can‘t wait for the release!
    Und viele liebe Grüße aus Deutschland!

  24. We are now in early July… any hint as to a release date?

Add a comment

Enter your comment below. Fields marked * are required. You must preview your comment before submitting it.