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

HPS Campaign Chickamauga Review

By Mike Tomlin

As well as the historic battles, there are numerous what if versions to add variety and interest, and these vary from changed reinforcement times and initial set ups up to inclusion of additional forces, such as the presence of Longstreet at Chattanooga, and Kirby Smith at Perryville. This is very welcome, but the weather and winter variants of so many mean that the game has far less variety than might first appear from examining the list of scenarios available.

While the games are always hugely detailed and excellent when played against a human opponent, it is accepted by the developers that the AI will not offer a real challenge to anyone beyond the novice. The AI tends to offer more of a challenge when attacking due to the options being easier to program than defensive ones where the unpredictability of the human player shows to greater effect. To this end, six special small scenarios, plus weather variants, have been added with beefed up AI to provide a greater challenge when played from a certain side. The designers also recommend experimentation with the adjustable "advantage bar" at setup to increase the effectiveness of the AI.


There are four basic campaigns, plus each has a weather option version. The first campaign covers the four main battles of Perryville, Murfreesboro, Chickamauga and Chattanooga. Each side has a limited choice from just two options, and if the Union player suffers a major defeat in either of the first two battles the campaign finishes there with a victory to the Confederacy. Any other result moves on to the next battle with the choice of options. Any level of defeat for the Rebels at Chickamauga will close the campaign without a fight at Chattanooga. The second campaign has a similar structure but with only one available option to each player. The third campaign offers more variety including as it does all the seven major engagements listed above with a wider variety of resulting branches depending on battle results – e.g. Union defeat at Perryville can result in a Confederate advance on Frankfort followed by retreat to Murfreesboro, then advance to Mill Springs then back to Chattanooga, depending on results. This is by far the best and most interesting campaign even though player options are again limited to one option. The final campaign comprises a sequence of 13 smaller engagements, each taken from part of one of the four main battles, options again being limited to one.

As will be seen, the campaigns are all far more linear in content with only one offering true variety of branching, and options being limited to a maximum of two, and indeed in most the word option is not actually appropriate there being no choice of action. Players of earlier games in the series may well be disappointed in this aspect which clearly will reduce replayability, and the inclusion of weather, and winter variants for stand alone scenarios, in no way makes up for this lack of variety. To be fair, most of this is undoubtedly down to the nature of the historic campaigns themselves, but it would have been preferable to see an additional varied campaign along the lines of the third one which has more branching and more hypothetical encounters. Some players may be happy to be limited mainly to historic battles with what if variations, but others may welcome the addition of imaginary battles for increased playability.

Those who are devotees of the series will undoubtedly wish to acquire this and will enjoy it. It completes the western theatre series and is well worth the money. Those who are new to it but have an interest in the American Civil war will certainly find it interesting, as it offers an excellent representation of the difficulties and peculiarities of warfare of the period, but may find that purchasing one of the earlier games such as Gettysburg or Shiloh might offer slightly more variety before returning to this one.



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