HPS Simulations Civil War Wargames

HPS Simulations

The HPS Civil War Campaign game line provides players with a chance to lead an army during a Civil War campaign or battle.  These games have hit the “sweet spot” between realism and playability.  The player is not over loaded with rules but the feel and major considerations of leadership is preserved.

The basic unit is the regiment or artillery battery organized into brigades.  Each brigade has a commander and units do better when under command.  This simple rule means that formations become important.  Good game play keeps the units in a brigade with their commander.  Brigade commanders do better when under the Division commander’s control.  Division commanders are better if they are under the control of their Corps commander and it is always nice to have the army commander available.  Fighting or moving, you need to keep your army’s organization intact.  Failing to do so, will not create an instant catastrophic problem but you will be less efficient.

Regiments fight.  This basic building block of your army is not a generic unit.  At the start of each game, every unit has its’ historical manpower and level of training.  You can count on the Stonewall Brigade, the Iron Brigade or the Fighting Fifth to be an accurate historical unit.  You can count on “Black Jack” Logan, Robert Rhodes or Lew Wallace to be an accurately depicted as a leader.  This saddles a player with the historic problems the commander faced and you cannot replace them or strip them of units within the game.  Leaders become causalities, triggering promotions until a generic colonel assumes command of the brigade.

Combat is line of sight firefights.  Proper positioning of artillery, securing flanks and taking advantage of terrain cause good results.  Violate the rules and your causalities increase until your line breaks.  Losing is more a function of attrition than a thunderbolt attack.  Cavalry charges or large infantry attacks seldom produce more than massive causalities.  Fire and maneuver produce results on the game map just as they did in real life.  Push to hard or forget to rotate units out of the firing line and a brigade will break and run.  Fire at any and everything in range and run out of ammunition, supply wagons need to be properly positioned.

Fog of War is a reality in these games.  You “see” the enemy when he moves into your line of sight.  You need skirmishers and you need to maintain march discipline.   Blundering into a masked battery or a well-executed ambush is painful.  Shiloh and Chickamauga are nightmares with no line of sight and close combat in dense woods.

Each game is based on a historical campaign.  In addition to the historical battles, variations involving additional troops or possible battles are included.  Playing these games, I have come to understand what Longstreet faced moving two divisions to the right flank at Gettysburg.  The problems in a corps front attack at Shiloh and the loss of command control this caused.  I have faced the great charge at Franklin and been on both sides of Pickett’s Charge.  Along the way, I have had an attack break on Bloody Hill and beaten back attacks at Pea Ridge.  Johnston has fought me trying to get to Atlanta and on the Peninsula trying to get to Richmond.  I have suffered with the large green regiments in 1861 & 1862.  I enjoy working with the veterans of 1863 & 1864 even if the regiments are small.

The artificial intelligence is fair to good in small battles and fair to poor in large campaigns.  The www is full of play by email (PBEM) opponents.  These people tend to be good to outstanding.  HPS maintains these games and issues free updates to the game and documentation.  HPS is going through a full update cycle, bringing all the games to the same level of programming.

The current titles are:

  • Ozark covering 1861 & 1862
  • Shiloh covering Grant’s battles to April 1862
  • Corinth
  • Peninsula
  • Antietam includes both battles of Bull Run
  • Chancellorsville
  • Gettysburg
  • Vicksburg
  • Chickamauga
  • Atlanta
  • Franklin


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