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Posted on Aug 5, 2007 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

HPS Campaign Chickamauga Review

By Mike Tomlin

Passed Inspection: Excellent gameplay and feel for period warfare; good documentation and research.

Failed Basic: More complex campaigns required; needs more different scenarios rather than just weather/winter variants.

In the late days of September 1863, Confederate General Braxton Bragg, reinforced with one corps from the legendary Army of Northern Virginia, attacked the Union army of General William Rosecrans along the Chickamauga Creek in northern Georgia. In a bloody and vicious two day battle the Confederates achieved their only major victory in the West. The Union forces retreated back to Chattanooga where they were effectively under siege and the situation looked desperate with supplies and morale running low. For one brief moment it looked as though the South would be resurgent, but time passed, the Union reacted with reinforcements and new generals, and the opportunity was lost for ever. This is the core of HPS’ new game in their American Civil War series, Campaign Chickamauga.

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This is the ninth game in the series and builds strongly upon the well established and popular John Tiller game engine. With this game, HPS have effectively covered all of the war west of the Appalachians, having previously released the Corinth, Ozark, Franklin, Shiloh and Atlanta campaigns. Those who have played and enjoyed any of the earlier games will wish to acquire this new addition.

This is a tactical wargaming system that seeks as accurately as possible to reflect the tactics and difficulties of warfare of the period, and embodies considerable research and user feedback. The game is hex and turn based, with simple graphics and both two and three dimensional views and play takes place through a series of phases. One player carries out movement and firing/combat – this can either be integral to the movement phase or treated as a separate one – then the other player, which completes a turn. Each battle/scenario has a defined setup and a specified number of turns. Combat continues until the completion of the specified number of turns or earlier agreement between the players to finish. Play can be either between a human and the AI, or between two humans over a network/the internet, via email, or hot seating at the same computer.

All the expected units are present: cavalry, infantry, artillery, supply wagons and named leaders, and each has different and appropriate movement and combat characteristics. Resolution of combat and movement is determined by a large number of parameter tables, which are both available to view and well documented, and some of which can be changed at start up by selecting from a large number of options. Leaders and organisations are critical to successful play and brigades, divisions, etc… need to be manoeuvred and fought as far as possible as cohesive units if they are to survive the rigours of combat. Fatigue, morale, recovery and routing depend to a very large extent on the presence of unit leaders within appropriate distances and this needs careful management. Also critical is the careful usage of resources and forces – pointless repeated attacking will achieve nothing but defeat.

A turn is usually 20 minutes, except for night turns that represent an hour. Normally, infantry and cavalry units represent regiments, and artillery are in batteries. Differing formations are available for movement and combat and skirmishers can be deployed by infantry and cavalry units. Line of sight is a critical aspect not only for firing, but also seeing the opposition when playing in fog of war mode, and the terrain, including varying tree heights, are carefully represented. Victory is assessed by the computer based on points derived from losses inflicted and suffered and the possession of critical objective hexes.

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