Promising New Civil War Computer Game from the Makers of Forge of Freedom

by Brett Schulte on April 28, 2010 · 0 comments

I was very interested to learn over the weekend that Gil Renberg and his team at Western Civilization Software, the makers of the excellent Civil War grand strategy game Forge of Freedom, will be creating a new regimental level Civil War tactical game based in part on a greatly enhanced tactical engine from that game.  Even more exciting is the fact that this game, tentatively entitled Brother against Brother: The Drawing of the Sword, will feature the Battles of First Bull Run, Wilson’s Creek, Mill Springs, and Williamsburg.  I’m especially interested in the Battle of Williamsburg, which I can’t recall ever being included in a stock release of a tactical level Civil War computer game.  The Drawing of the Sword is the first in a planned series of tactical games at the regimental level, with a large, famous battle being packaged with several smaller and lesser known affairs.  Gil Renberg is already very active in the game’s official forum at Matrix Games, writing the following in regards to the game’s orders of battle, always a favorite topic of mine:

Over time I will share some details about BAB. It seems like a good place to start would be OOB’s. In FOF, which is set at the brigade level, we just have infantry, cavalry and artillery, with abstracted “brigade attributes” such as sharpshooters, brigade artillery and zouaves sometimes part of those. Now that we have redone the engine and taken it down to the regimental level we have as “containers” armies, corps, divisions, infantry brigades, cavalry brigades, and artillery battalions, and within these can be infantry regiments, cavalry regiments, artillery batteries (usually 4-6 guns), sharpshooting regiments, sharpshooting companies, infantry companies, cavalry companies, and horse artillery.

The OOB’s themselves are extremely accurate, and always rely on multiple sources. (Multiple good sources.) Whenever there is uncertainty about something we include a note in the data file, so that players who want to take the time to read these can see why we did things as we did, what our sources were, what the gaps in our (collective) knowledge are, etc. That way, instead of fudging things and hoping no one notices, we let you know the state of information on a given matter, if that is of interest.

The OOB files contain a lot of basic things that you would expect – names of containers and units, which side they are on, etc. – but also a number of columns tied in to important elements of the game. Some examples:
* In addition to having commanders for “containers” from the brigade level on up, for every unit we have up to three officers – colonel, lieutenant-colonel and major for infantry and cavalry, captain and two lieutenants for artillery batteries and independent companies – and wherever it has been possible we are providing their names and historical ratings. (The former is usually easier than the latter.) So whereas in FOF you had up to 1000 generals in the database, now we are going to grow that database rather significantly.
* For each regiment or infantry/cavalry battalion we provide the number of companies, which dictates how many abstracted captains there are. When units take casualties, in addition to the possibility of losing one of the top three officers there is a chance of one or more captains becoming casualties, and their loss can hurt unit cohesion and effectiveness.
* When possible we go with actual strength numbers, otherwise estimated strength numbers, and we make it clear which we have used by having separate columns.
* Units can begin a battle in “encamp” mode, which means that they cannot become activated until 1) the time they really did become active or 2) they are attacked. Since a few battles – most famously Chancellorsville but also both Wilson’s Creek and Mill Springs in this release – began with encamped units being attacked, this was an obvious feature to add.
* Reinforcements arrive at historically accurate (or approximate) times.
* The chance that units will become fatigued can be affected by setting them to be “fresh” or not “fresh” (or fatigued), and they can also be identified as “fatigue prone” (e.g., if a unit enters a scenario after a long march, or has been fighting for several hours already).
* The number of “special abilities” a unit can have has now gone up to three, though only the very best units will get those. As with the “Legendary Units” in FOF, all special abilities assigned to units are based on some aspect of their performance in that battle.
* Each unit can now have two types of weapons, with damage being calculated based on both weapons’ stats and what the relative percentages of the two are.
* In addition to the rather obvious “healthy,” “wounded” or “killed” for generals and officers, we have an “away from unit” status that indicates that someone was not present at the battle (and there will usually be a note in the data file explaining if he was sick, on leave, under arrest, etc.)
* Oh yeah, I almost forgot: we’ll have the bios.

So, that’s a not very brief overview that should give you a pretty good idea of the level of detail we are aiming at here. Feel free to ask any questions.

I’d love to include screenshots…but those are still several weeks away.  🙂  I suspect you’ll be seeing much, much more about Brother Against Brother and any and all sequels in this promising new series at TOCWOC – A Civil War Blog.


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