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Civil War Generals 2

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs




Copyright 1997, Impressions

Civil War Generals 2 is a superb sequel to Impressions’ 1996 Robert E. Lee: Civil War General. The game features beautiful artwork by Mort K?nstler, addictive gameplay, excellent multiplayer support, and even a versatile terrain editor. The Games Domain review says it all:

“This turn-based, hex-based wargame has over 40 scenarios, not counting four or five alternate scenarios for each of the major battles fought during the Civil War. The player can play either side, but the computer can not play itself. There are more than 15 campaigns: one covers the whole war, one covers only major battles fought in the East, one covers every battle fought in the East, one covers the Valley Campaign, and so on. A map editor lets you design your own battles on maps as large as 100×100 hexes. Each unit represents either a brigade or a regiment, depending on the scale of the battle. For example, in the Gettysburg scenario, units are brigades, which helps to prevent the brainlock that can result from trying to manage too many units. Each unit is rated with respect to organization, health, morale, experience and quality, and those numbers can be modified by leaders. A firepower number summarizes the overall strength of the unit. Units don’t have a facing, but when they are attacked from opposite sides during the same move, they take heavier losses. As a result, I did not miss the lack of unit facing. Units have two formations, one for combat and one for movement. Unit statistics carry from scenario to scenario in the campaign, and can improve or degrade depending on casualties, leadership and experience.

There are various play options: at the easiest level, you can see everything on the map and shoot through hills, and at the most advanced, you can see units only if they are not blocked by terrain and you can shoot at them only if you have a clear line of sight, unless you are using cannons that have indirect fire capability.

Leaders play a very important role in this game. They are rated according to influence, organization, loyalty and health, and each of those numbers have a significant effect on units within their leadership radius. There are three kinds of leaders: Corps commanders have their own icons on the map, and when they are deployed, they have more influence than when they are mounted. Division commanders temporarily replace the commander of any brigade, and influence all the brigades of their division within their command radius. Brigade commanders influence only their own brigades. Leaders can add modifiers to the numbers of units under their command radius, so that a unit with an organization of say, 65 could have that number raised to 75 by a well-organized leader (it could be lowered too!…). Needless to say, leader influence encourages keeping brigades from the same division together, which makes the game more realistic. A nearby Division commander like Longstreet can turn the tide of battle.

Every action of a unit reduces its effectiveness. The effective size of a unit can be significantly less than its full size. For example, a brigade with a full strength of 2000 men could be reduced to 1800 men by losses due to combat, but its effective strength due to poor organization, morale, health and experience might be only 350 men. During a battle, a unit with an effective strength of half its men is in pretty good shape. A unit with poor organization can be reduced to an almost useless level by too much movement, which means that players must think before they run all over the map with a unit (unless it is commanded by Stonewall Jackson). This process of losing effectiveness reduces the problem of the “massacre” effect in Civil war games, where both sides fight until they are almost wiped out, resulting in unrealistically high casualties. When a brigade is attacked, it will usually suffer casualties between 5 and 50 men, so it is practically impossible to wipe out a unit by combat attrition.

Despite its flaws, this is one of the best wargames of all time, and in my opinion, the best Civil War game available. No Civil War gamer will want to skip this game.” If you are a wargamer, this is one wargame you wouldn’t want to miss. Two thumbs up, way up!

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