First Of Many? Ultimate General: Gettysburg Released

Ultimate General: Gettysburg is out. The historical real-time strategy game that got The Flare Path’s heart fluttering is now finished with Early Access and available in final form.

Unfortunately there is no launch trailer – the main video on the Steam store page is a revised, 30-second spot first released for the game’s Greenlight campaign – but it’s still worth watching this 22-minute after action report if you haven’t already. It’s commentary is offered via on-screen text and it walks through the tactical decisions that are made at each point, revealing a game both nuanced and accessible.

Ultimate General: Gettysburg is designed and developed by Nick Thomadis, better known as Darth, the creator of various DarthMods for various Total War games. Those mods are often credited with “fixing” various underlying balance problems with Creative Assembly’s grand strategy series, so it’ll be fascinating to find out whether his first standalone game is as canny as those.

It won’t be expensive to find out either, as the game’s accessibility stretches beyond the interface and control methods to include the price – it’s just $15/£11. That’s not much money for so many AI options. We’ll ask someone expert – who knows who – to let us know if it’s worth the cost sometime next week.


  1. daver4470 says:

    Yes. Yes it is.

    “Nuanced and accessible” is the perfect way to describe it. It’s easy to pick up and play (in the same way that Sid Meyer’s Gettysburg! was), but plays smarter than SMG. The dial-an-AI is really fun to play with. My current game is playing the Union against a Confederate AI that I set to be… well, cowardly, basically. (A Rebel McClelland, if you will.) And sure enough, that AI refuses to exploit potential advantages in favor of retrenching its lines and shoring up its flanks. (It still attacks, mind you — it just doesn’t thrust in ways that could overstretch its lines.)

    It’s like a smarter Total War in many ways (unsurprising, given the pedigree.)

    • battles_atlas says:

      I’m a little ambivalent about it. I can absolutely see how Civil War buffs would love it, the beautiful map of Gettysberg alone is probably worth the entrance fee if that’s you. For someone with no particular affinity for that scrap, this feels very slight. What is there I loved, but for me that ‘what’ was a single play through the three days of the battle as the Union – about 4 hours playtime. I started a game as the Confederates but it I felt like I was just repeating the process, except trying to charge instead of stay at range. If you’re obsessive enough about the battle that you’ll want to play through every variation in AI and strategic choice, you’ll get plenty out of it. Otherwise I’d wait for a sale.

  2. Stellar Duck says:

    Until the expert chimes in, I’ll say that this is worth a purchase.

    It’s not Scourge of War, of course, but it isn’t trying to. It’s a really slick wargame and it’s great for a quick battle or two when a 2 hour scenario is a bit much. Lots of AI options and that’s an area that has improved a lot over the development. I can’ still beat it quite handily on the hardest but not as handily as I used to. On occasion it’ll catch me off guard.

    The interface is probably the best part of it. It feels natural to draw arrows to move the brigades.

    My biggest complaints are lack of granularity but if they added that it would be a different game so they shouldn’t listen to me at all.

    It’s also fun in multiplayer for now, as there is no chat which is a huge deal for me.

  3. jpm224 says:

    Glad to see you guys covering this. This is literally the ONLY article I have seen anywhere mentioning this game’s official release.

    I have 60+ hours in Ultimate General so far, and am nowhere near getting bored with it. It really is the best $10 (I got it when it launched on early access) I think I’ve ever spent in gaming. These guys deserve all the support they can get, and for $15 you really cannot go wrong with this game if you enjoy strategy and/or history.

  4. Thurgret says:

    Just echoing the above sentiments: this is excellent. If you’re on the fence about a purchase, and you enjoy real time strategies, or wargames (and don’t mind a certain lack of depth), I’d encourage buying it.

  5. Gap Gen says:

    I really hope this sells well enough to convince Matrix to drop its wargame prices to human levels.

    • jpm224 says:

      Agreed. I’m extremely tempted by Pike and Shot, but no way I’m dropping $30-$40 on it until I hear a lot more positive feedback.

      Has anyone here played it yet? And if so, is it worth the entry price?

      • tormos says:

        I got it from *er* places because I’m a broke student and Matrix prices their games insanely. It’s quite good, very engaging, and quite different feeling from the (relatively few) other wargames I’ve played. The rules (with one major exception) are pretty straightforward but lend themselves well to recreating a set of tactics that is very different from other eras. Lastly, the sides feel very different, which is saying quite a bit given that I have almost no knowledge of the period. I quickly got on board with the differences between the French and their love for a dashing melee, the German reliance on gunlines and heavy cavalry, the Transylvanian style of mobs of light horse and Hussars, and those bastard Swedes with their devastatingly effective charges (and the support that they got from legions of light foot and mediocre but plentiful medium cav). I haven’t really gotten stuck in with the Historical Battles yet, but have very much enjoyed the few evenings of skirmishes I have played. All in all I would say that it is probably worth a go if you are less impecunious than I am (personally I plan to buy a copy once I am flush again)

        • Gothnak says:

          So you can afford an internet connection fast enough to download the game, but not the game itself. Yay..

          I do get annoyed at people seemingly thinking it is ok to download something because they can’t afford it, it’s a weird sense of entitlement which seems to be pervasive across younger generations growing up with seeing everything for free.

          Sorry for the minor rant, and for picking on you in particular, but working in the games industry it’s really annoying to see people being open about piracy being justifiable.

          • Lusketrollet says:

            I was waiting for some pissy fuckwit to throw down a menstrual rant about the piracy-statement.

            Gothnak did not disappoint. Please stop embarrassing yourself.

          • Gothnak says:

            I have ‘the rant’ and you use the words ‘pissy fuckwit’ and ‘menstrual’ too. Wow, male nerd rage to the extreme.

            I think that is the most unpleasant reply to anything I’ve said on Rock Paper Shotgun over the years, and all i said was that ‘Piracy is bad’, god forbid that i’m allowed to voice an opinion.

          • jrodman says:

            The secret to the response you got is in a substring of the name of the responder.

    • belgand says:

      Which is even worse in a way because paper wargames have long been equally expensive and, as seems to be a common element, are often labors of love from small, niche companies with the bare minimum of acceptable art and design. PC wargames ought to be able to help with that slightly as they no longer need to worry with printing thousands of copies of a game that will sell slowly to an enthusiast market and take up expensive warehouse space. But no, Matrix inevitably buys up the distribution and then prices them towards the heavens ensuring that the genre remains in the hands of the limited few who are so thoroughly devoted to wargames that they’ll spend those prices because it’s one of the few games that they play and they know they’ll actually get thousands of hours out of it.

  6. Humppakummitus says:

    I’d *love* to see the same kind of captioned video using any of the Total War games. “The player cunningly advances toward the left flank. In response, the AI decides to drool on itself.”

    • WiggumEsquilax says:

      “The player advances, as usual, with a massive veteran pike phalanx as his center.”

      “The A.I. responds by charging his limited light cavalry force into the aforementioned center, attempting to smash 11 rocks using 4 scissors.”

      “The player quits in disgust, and reinstalls the far more mod friendly Medieval 2: Total War.”

  7. Danny252 says:

    History buffs – what is the big earthen trench that follows the Chambersburg Road? I’ve seen it now in several games covering the American Civil War, but it doesn’t seem to be any sort of battle earthworks (and is far too large for a normal trench anyway).

  8. Easy says:

    Tim Stoooooooooooooooooone to the rescue?

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      We’re going to need someone qualified on the AN/TRN-45 Mobile Microwave Landing System, an AN/PRC-77 Portable Transceiver operator, and a well-stocked MKT-99 M103-A3 US military field kitchen. If you can start the generator, I’ll put the reconditioned Leigh Light into action to signal for Time Stone to approach.

      • Llewyn says:

        It’s Stone Time!

        (With apologies for the convoluted curling-based pun)

  9. Shiloh says:

    A Grand Watermelon Note for Mr Stone – Gen. Meade will see you now, sir.

  10. revan says:

    I’ve been waiting a long time for a worthy successor to Sid Meier’s Civil War. It’s finally here and it is even better than the aforementioned game. There are no saucy cutscenes and such fluff. No, sir! It’s all about gameplay. It’s accessible to anyone but don’t mistake it for simple. It’s incredibly nuanced game. AI actually reacts very well to your moves and exploits any mistakes you might make ruthlessly. And you will make mistakes, plenty of them. For while the game is easy to learn, it will take much work to master it. And AI will surprise you even when you do.

    It is just Gettysburg for now, hopefully, but it is divided into dozen or so battles. Great thing about the campaign is that it is fully dynamic. Everything you did and didn’t do in one battle carries over to the next. I’ve just played the opening battle on the Confederate side and achieved Minor Victory, by rushing to take Oak Ridge. I did that, but overextended myself and the AI surrounded me, cutting me off from my starting position on Herr’s Ridge, and even threatening to take that, because I committed all my forces to battle, leaving myself without any reserves. Rookie mistake, but I gambled and almost paid the price.

    In any event, I managed to defend that position with a couple of hastily placed artillery batteries and one battered regiment. Having done that, those batteries, coupled with several more I succeeded in bringing to Oak Ridge before being surrounded, proceeded to pound the hell out of Union Iron Brigade holding McPherson’s Hill and allowing me to link up my forces once again. That was the end of the battle. And while it was a victory, I now have a deep salient to defend with less than 5000 men against 19.000 Union men. At least until reinforcements arrive.

    Even though it was a hard battle, with AI embarrassing me on several occasions, it was great fun. I just hope we see more battles in the near future, maybe even some from Europe. It’s not like we lack wars to reenact. :)

  11. teije says:

    How fast paced is this? I’m not a usually a fan of RTS, being a slow-fingered old guy, but I love good war games and this has piqued my interest.

    Asked another way, is there time for thought and pausing (like Paradox games, for instance), or it is a frantic click-fest?

    • GoodKnight says:

      I assume it’s like total war? Where you can press space to pause the game. But I do not know :( can anyone confirm?

    • Dude (Darloc) says:

      It is slower pace than total war, usually you have time to react before your troop routs by itself, it is all about the big picture, placement and management of your brigade, condition and morale are the big variable here.

  12. RanDomino says:

    Darth didn’t “fix” TW’s battle AI. He performed brain surgery on it. Which is to say he inserted one.

  13. varangian says:

    Recently I wrote a fair but ultimately negative review on Steam of Shogun 2 and UG:G was in part responsible for some of my negative views on Shogun because it vividly highlights the main reason why the TW games fail to satisfy. Unlike TW, where your units are basically puppets (or maybe dummies is a better word) that you have to arrange and re-arrange on the battlefield the brigades that you control in UG behave in a dynamic and – within limits – intelligent fashion. Set up a defensive line on one side of the map and then head off to the other side of the battlefield for a bit and when you come back you may find the line has been pushed back or curved around by enemy attacks. What you won’t find is that the enemy AI has been able to march forces around behind them and attack from the rear while your guys just stood there like idiots.

    The ability of units in UG to react sensibly (and most of the time you’d find it a realistic response) to what’s going on around them makes the your job as their all-seeing supervisor far more interesting. Instead of spending time making sure your guys are facing the right way you can step back a bit. As most scenarios in the battle can last a while you need to manage your forces to have reserves ready to relieve units that get tired and lose morale whilst at the same time accumulating sufficient force to prosecute an attack or counter-attack.

    In the early access version winning as either side was not difficult but – unless I’ve been merely unlucky or incompetent in the few games I’ve played since the 1.0 release – the opposing force AI will now give you a good run for your money. Winning as Union is still pretty straightforward, as you’d expect for historical reasons, but to reverse history and win for the Confederacy now seems pretty tricky, a minor victory is the best I’ve done so far.

    Look forward to reading the RPS view in due course but in my view this is a steal at the price, I got Shogun in a sale for a few quid but even though it’s a game with a much larger scope in terms of value for money UG beats it handily.

  14. Gothnak says:

    My fundamental problem with this is that i don’t really understand and therefore don’t really like ranked gunshot battles.

    I understand WW2 squad based combat, i understand ancient battles and i understand ship combat or even space combat. But Rank and file rifles?

    Don’t both sides just slowly walk towards each other until everyone is dead?

    I can usually look at a battlefield and think ‘oh, there is an opening on the left flank’ but considering everyone has a large range of fire and a decent range, it just all looks confusing.

    • Dude (Darloc) says:

      It’s all about to know when to push and when to hold, higher ground is key and so is cover.
      When on higher ground you have a bonus to range and efficiency of your range attack, in cover you lose less condition when under fire and take less casualty. Artillery also plays a big role, you can repel attacks by concentrating fire and assaulting a position under heavy art fire is doomed to fail.
      Soften where you want to push using art, then starting pushing and try to flank, use troop than are fresh (with good condition) otherwise they might break before the push is finished.
      All of this make this game very subtle. Another factor is that some brigade have more experience and better morale/leader than other. The iron brigade managed to repel two confederate brigade in one of my battle because there were setup properly and are very though, an other brigade broke back but they stayed put and manage to repel 2 or 3 assault before I withdrew then to rest.

    • Lusketrollet says:

      Don’t both sides just slowly walk towards each other until everyone is dead?

      What a violently stupid thing to say.

      You are aware that such an extremely, fucking ignorant question could have referred to every single tactical period in human existence, right?

      • Stellar Duck says:

        You seem like a pleasure to be around.

      • VonTed says:

        Perhaps, as he mentioned – he doesn’t understand why they fought the way they did?

        My (limited) understanding basically boils down this, at this time period we are seeing the “end of the beginning” of gun wielding armies. The rifles were relatively inaccurate and slow to reload. The answer to this was to mass men (aka rifles) closely together and fire in volley to maximize the amount of lead thrown at a particular unit. It was all about the attempt to bring as much fire to bear as possible.