Civil War Game Review: Campaign Overland by John Tiller Software

Campaign Overland

John Tiller Software

Campaign Overland by John Tiller SoftwareJohn Tiller is a respected name in PC war games.  His Civil War gaming system is well established and enjoyed by many.  New from John Tiller Software is a true giant of a game on the Overland Campaign.  The main game covers May to June 1864, with all the battles and difficulties Grant and Lee face.  Secondary games cover a “what if” for Mine run, Bermuda Hundred and the Shenandoah Valley.

The sheer size of the game is staggering.  The main map is over a million hexes, 980 x 1088, covering the area from the Rapidan River to the James River.  Working with the game scale, the map is 66.8 x 74.2 miles.  This is 4,955 square mile to maneuver in and/or fight over.  Supplementing the main map are maps for Mine Run, New Market, Bermuda Hundred, Piedmont and Cloyd’s Mountain.

In the full campaign game, about 250,000 men are on the field representing the Army of Northern Virginia, the Army of the Potomac, the Department of Richmond, the Army of the James and George Crook and Franz Sigel armies.  These formations fight in 105 scenarios or 5 campaigns.  The true monster scenario is the complete campaign of 1,390 turns fought on the full map.

As with each addition to the Campaign Series, we have new rules.  Regiments can dig entrenchments just as they did in 1864.  Bridges can be repaired, an important consideration in a 2-month campaign.  Mixing commands has never been advisable.  The major drawback is that disorganized or routed units are harder to rally.  Campaign Overland keeps this and adds a minus one to moral for all mixed formations.  This puts real teeth into an important element of military thinking during the Civil War.

The following is for anyone never playing one of the Civil War Campaign series of games.

Game scale is set to the pace and command abilities of the 19th Century. Turns are about twenty minutes during the day and one hour at night, a hex is about 120 yards. Units are regiments (very large regiments can be two counters), artillery batteries, leaders and supply wagons.

Formations are critical and leaders exist starting at brigade level. Brigade leaders benefit by being in the command range of their division leader, who benefit by being in the command range of their corps commander. Line, column, limbered, unlimbered, mounted or dismounted enhance movement or combat and require planning and preparation. Having a regiment in the wrong formation will mean you cannot fire, take more casualties or move slowly.

Movement starts at about two miles an hour for an infantry regiment. Terrain, roads and formation increase or decrease this rate.

Combat results in losses and fatigue. Fatigue makes units susceptible to disorganization or route. Disorganized units are less effective and more likely to route. Routed units run from battle and will not fight until rallied. Leaders can rally units and have the best chance of doing so within their command.

The game play is turns comprised of phases.  During a phase, one or the other player can rally, resupply, fire defensively or offensively, initiate melee or rout.  This may sound complicated but the computer prompts you and maintains turn count and phase.  After a few turns, you will have few problems keep track of where you are.  The AI could be better.  It is fair to average in medium size battles and can surprise you in a smaller one.  Large battles stress the AI but they are playable.

They update the older games often keeping them “up to date”.

This is as close to leading an army in the Civil War as you can come!

The game is available at


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