Mosby’s Confederacy: Release Impressions

By Kieron Gillen on November 22nd, 2008 at 12:21 pm.

Mosby's men's ability to levitate pistols with their mind drew gasps of fear from their opposition.

The latest in Tilted Mill‘s attempt to release forty-two games this month continued with the release of Mosby’s Confederacy their skirmish-level Civil-War Guerrilla-’em-up. I didn’t post about it when it hit Steam, as there’s no demo so we’d have a content-light post for a game we hadn’t played. What if it was rubbish? What if it deleted your hard-drive when it looked at it? What if it featured too much non-period mauve uniforms? I had to play and find out. I’ve found out. The answers are “It’s not”, “It doesn’t” and “None seen in the hour or so I’ve played of it”. It’s $20 on steam if you fancy throwing down cash on a whim, and you can find some more initial impressions beneath the cut.

Clearly, it’s too early for me to make a recommendation or not, but in its light tactical way, it’s grown on me across the hour and I certainly plan to come back to it. Its best thought of a cross between Commandos and X-Com. You alternate between a strategic level map where you choose missions, improve your standings with the towns in the area and improve your characters, and a tactical level
map where you run around shooting people with muskets. As is Civil War fighters wont.

The actual skirmishes are where the Commandos reference comes in – by looking at your map, you’re able to work out where your target is. You manouvere your troops to get there and do the job you want – take supplies, horses, kidnap officers and so on. So you’re trying to spot enemies before they spot you, and decide whether you want to engage or run. This is enhanced by the strategic level, where each soldier under your command gains traits which modify their abilities as you progress. In other words, you try and cultivate your soldiers. Neatly, they’re not actually one universal group – each set is based in a village, and is only able to go to missions in the nearby locale. Oh – and you can upgrade each town to do things like increase their support (thus the area they’ll send troops off too) and so on.

Problems? While its got better documentation than Hinterland, its still a little vague on key points. I mean, I presume being behind a wall or in forest gives you a cover/camoflage bonus, but it doesn’t appear to say it anywhere. Some of the icons are a little counter-intuitve – you’re able to switch between sabres, pistols and rifles, but no matter what mode you’re in a pistol flashes above their head when they’re in combat. Which, in UI terms, made me think my men were always using the old six-shooters, despite their animation matching up. Equally, there’s something odd in terms of ordering troops – occasionally people won’t go into stealth even though they think they are. It may just be me wrestling with the controls, of course.

Oh – and its perhaps a little easy to start with, but Tilted Mill stress that the Union troops get increasingly brutal as you progress. I can believe that – just because of certain elements in other parts of the design. Towards the end of my hour, I realised that I had actually manouvered myself into a possible-lose situation. The primary part of the resource system is munitions, which you gain by scavenging or going on a successful mission. Now, you’re limited by how many men that Mosby can command – which you increase via RPG talents – but you’re also limited by the fact taking any soldier on a mission requires spending munitions, with fancier fighters requiring more. I’d pretty much emptied my supplies, and was only able to send four men on a raid to a dump to try and replenish my supplies. This lead to even more skirting around the edges of the enemy positions than usual and only commiting to the supply dump battle, before riding off – agreeably, you can retreat from any encounter when you’ve decided you’ve done enough, in true guerrilla warfare style.

So, the fact the design was fine with me manouvering myself into a terrible position implies that it’s less solely casual than it may initially appear, and I look forward to tromping out into the woods with only my musket and bearded men for company.

Anyone else played it more? Any thoughts?

, .

12 Comments »

  1. Ginger Yellow says:

    Thanks for the info. It sounds a lot more squad based (for want of a better word) than I was expecting. I was expecting more of a real time wargame. So how fun are the missions, and is the AI any good?

  2. Hi, I are commenting on ur post lol says:

    I haven’t bought it yet, unfortunately. I have to admit I don’t think this is the right season to launch smaller games in, as I’m too busy playing the big-name things to have time for stuff like this atm.

    But I’d certainly be interested in hearing if TM themselves believe their new strategy (releasing smaller games with interesting/unique premises) has been successful or not, and if they’re planning on continuing along the same line.

  3. Andrew says:

    I like the concept of this one a lot. I’ll give it a look, I think.

  4. Morberis says:

    Without a demo this is a no go for me, I bought Hinterland out of the gate from them and that was nothing but fail (could have been great but was mediocre or at least not quite what I was lead to believe). So without actually playing this I can’t be sure its not going to be the same thing, with me reading and hearing things and building up an image of the game that just isn’t true.

  5. Al3xand3r says:

    As above, I had high hopes for Hinterland but it seems to be a lackluster title after all. What’s really sad is that the concepts of these games are good so perhaps if they had focused on just a single title they would have ended up with some fantastic indie games a la Mount & Blade in the long run. Why did they decide to spread their development team so thin, was it all just to make a quick buck by hyping their oh so indie titles to the serious PC gamer crowd or what? I’ll be very wary of all their releases until they prove their dedication and customer support.

  6. Jim Rossignol says:

    Yeah, Hinterland was a little empty. The idea was top notch, the execution less so.

  7. Dizet Sma says:

    The use of the pistol icon might be a reference to the fact that the real Raiders pretty much exclusively relied on pistols for weapons – sabres were much too noisy for their operations and muskets were practically impossible to use on horseback.

  8. Al3xand3r says:

    Eh, so why would it have the pistol icon when you order them (and they do so) to use their rifles, or sabres? As Kieron said, it’s just their attack icon, which should either change to reflect their weapon of choice, or be a neutral icon that doesn’t refer to a particular weapon you are able to use, but chose not to. But that kind of thing is the least of my worries. From reading various impressions online, the game seems much too shallow, both in the available combat tactics and the stuff in the map screen. Another good concept mired by bad execution like Hinterland I suppose… Too bad, you’d think as the developers of the Nile games they could provide some pretty in depth experiences.

  9. cliffski says:

    how can anyone release a new IP on a low budget at this time of year without a demo?

  10. ACardboardRobot says:

    Gonna get this, don’t know when, but it will be soon enough.

    Yes Hinterland was empty at the start but they’ve released 2 updates, content, not just bug fixes in two months, hope they do that with Mosby’s

  11. Freelance Historian says:

    Well, while I’d have personally held the game back for more polish and fleshing out of features, I am hoping that we see TM add to the game a la Hinterland. I actually make a living of a sort transcribing and selling original Civil War documents, so the premise of the game is naturally appealing. And, despite the unfinished feeling of the game (“This is a test” in the Help window) I am spending far too much time late at night in the game.

    Kieron is absolutely correct, in that if you don’t pay attention and build up your support and soldiers in the early “grace period” before the Union troops start getting better led and more alert, you’re going to get behind a curve that will be very difficult to overcome.

    (Note to Kieron: Go for the skill early that has the green recruits bring their own guns. Yes, they are poor quality, but is saves a bunch of munitions.)

    Had I paid more than $20 for this, I’d be upset, but I believe I’m getting my money’s worth out of it at that price, and hope to see some updates (especially to the documentation and help system.)

  12. kaylee says:

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    kaylee

    http://www.thinkpadonline.info