Once again, I'm reviewing a war game from publisher Matrix Games - this isn't a bad thing - but my last few have been from Matrix! This time, the title is published in conjunction with developer AGEod:American Civil War — Blue and the Grey. I have to confess that my first thought was, "Oh, no not another war game!" I'm a bit worn out on war games at the moment, but my editor asked nicely and the lure of American history that was the Civil War between 1861–1865 helped.
For those not familiar with this era - those not from the US - the Northern states fought the Southern states to ensure that there would be no separation of the country. This was a bloody war fought between fathers and sons and brother against brother and was over an ideology to free the slaves, along with the Southern states feeling they had a right to secede from the union due to the North meddling in their affairs.
Back to the game of interest. Some of the features of which make this game stand out are beautiful graphics, complex strategy and playing pieces that bring the history right to your eye. The map is simple yet rendered in a style that presents the cities and towns in vibrant colors. This is indicative of AGEod's development - to please the gamer with eye candy yet make a strong game that will stand up to hours of fun.
As I said, the playing pieces represent the troops and generals that participated in the war. From grouped armies down to individual brigades, each stands out in a picturesque feeling. For me, playing pieces make or break a game. I've played games that could have been so much more appealing if the graphics had made half the attempt that this game achieves.
American Civil War is unique in that troop movement is broken down by area instead of hexagon-based. The map is divided into areas and regions which include towns, cities and fortifications. Railways, roads and rivers make up the way troops can move but don't clutter the map's landscape. Everything is drag and drop with some additional clicking on each piece that will bring further information that helps making crucial decisions in gameplay.
Elements that make up the game include, politics, supply and demand, reinforcements, and replacements. Victory conditions are dependent on a national morale system; points are awarded for capturing cities and winning battles. Troops can gain experience through battles and fight better; their morale also is influenced by experience. Supply lines will affect the battles as well. Reinforcements and replacements are bought dependent on supply stocks, which are influenced by production from controlled cities.
If you're wondering about bugs, I didn't experience any. My only issues revolved around the merging of troops. I would have liked an easier way to merge and group the playing pieces so you didn't have to constantly ungroup and regroup into new corps or armies. Transportation by water was rough in my opinion; for some reason, I never was able to get the troops to travel by boat even though they were unlocked so you could merge them.
Altogether, American Civil War — Blue and the Grey is a very solid game that was great to play, from the scenario to grand campaign. As with any war game, you have to decide your playing style. I'm ambivalent regarding most styles, and if you're new to 2D wargames, you may find yourself uncomfortable with this style of game. This game is for the intermediate player; though I think a beginner to war gaming can handle this one with a bit of practice. With its attractive graphics, solid gameplay and easy interface, AGEod has another winning grand strategic war game on its list of game products.
My knowledge of the industry mostly evolves around beta testing games, such as Earth & Beyond from EA, Saga of Ryzom, and companies like MSN and Acolade. Self taught web design is another interest I have. Family life is entertaining at times. It also can get weird as well, after you have been married 31 years.