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