A traditional hex-grid turn-based war game, Battleground 4: Shiloh uses the award winning Battleground play system to recreate one of the most momentous and bloody conflicts of the American Civil War. Considered to be the first step on the road toward disaster for the Confederate Army, this decisive battle covers the days of April 6 and 7, 1862, when the Confederates launched a surprise attack on the Union Army (commanded by Ulysses S. Grant). Players engage in battle through multiple scenarios to relive or change course of history. Miniatures represent troops and equipment, and brief sound and video clips help add to the feel of the game. Gameplay is handled on a turn-based manner during single and multiplayer games, with each side given a round to take actions before the other gets a chance to respond.
Talonsoft's fourth installment to the Battleground series is a superior entry in the crowded Civil War gaming market. Battleground: Shiloh builds on the strengths of its predecessors while adding some welcome new features.
Talonsoft presents the "first major battle of the American Civil War" in commendable detail. The game offers you a variety of ways to view the action - you can choose from both 2-D and 3-D views of the conflict, quickly grasping the tactical situation using the 2-D perspective, then switching to 3-D as the action intensifies. The SVGA graphics reveal remarkable touches - the faces of the commanders, the unique uniforms of the regiments, even the individual buildings that dot the battlefield. The included video footage of reenactments heightens the drama. The sound effects, while quite good, are limited in scope. As with the rest of the Battleground series, Talonsoft put great emphasis on making the game playable while retaining historical accuracy. Players can choose from several levels of control. If you'd rather give orders than execute them, simply choose Commander Control. The action commences in a phase-and-turn format. Shiloh also includes an advantage slider that allows the odds to be tipped (or toppled) toward one side or the other. Even on the standard setting, the AI provides an adequate opponent. The Wilson's Creek and Prairie Grove scenarios, for instance, can be quite challenging to even the most experienced grognard. If multiplayer games are more your style, the v1.10 update offers Internet play and improved modem play.
The latest update fixes several minor flaws in the game. One welcome improvement would be the reporting of individual casualties - killed, wounded, and missing. The game currently lists casualties in 25-man increments, leading to questionable all-or-nothing skirmishes. Other than this, Battleground: Shiloh gets outstanding marks for both its content and style. If you like wargames, you'll like this. If you like Civil War games, you'll love it.
Ï'm not sure exactly what's happening, but each time I get a new game in the Battleground series from TalonSoft, I like it better; perhaps I'm just getting more familiar with the user interface, more familiar with the conflicts, or perhaps the games themselves are just getting better, but I have to say their latest, Battleground: Shiloh, is my favorite to date. The game primarily covers the title American Civil War battle of Shiloh, Tennessee (6-7 April, 1862) but also (in a first for the Battleground series) covers two smaller battles: Wilson's Creek, Missouri (10 August, 1861) and Prairie Grove, Arkansas (7 December, 1862).
Functionally, the game is very close to Battleground: Gettysburg; the "extras" like skirmishers, extended lines, larger hex scales, etc, added to the system for Battleground: Waterloo were primarily there to support gaming of Napoleonic warfare, and have now been removed. New, however, to Gettysburg players are enhanced multiplayer options (hot-seat play with fog-of-war and PBEM), a play balancing feature, varied reinforcement schedules, and a battle recorder feature (I wish they'd added the ability to stop the replay at any point and start playing the game from that point). A feature added specifically for Shiloh is waterborne support, in the form of two gunboats for some of the Shiloh scenarios. A suggestion to TalonSoft: future releases should have a section in the documentation labeled "What's new for Battleground: X" so owners of your previous games don't have to read through all the documentation to find the features new or unique to the particular game.
The documentation includes a decent 48 page manual and a mix of on-line help and data; I particularly approve of the way they handled historical backgrounding, with information leading up to the battles included in the paper manual and the results of the actual battles on-line. This lets gamers who want to play a battle they aren't familiar with catch up on its history without spoiling the "fog-of-war" by detailing unit placements, reinforcements, and tactics used historically. TalonSoft is also justifiably proud of the music provided by Bobby Horton (I have the game loaded in the background just so I can listen).
While I've played several of the actual Shiloh scenarios, my litmus test of the game was to try out the two smaller battles: Wilson's Creek, which I've studied recently, and Prairie Grove, which I'd never heard of. Playing Union in Wilson's Creek, I whupped the AI opponent (historically, it was a Confederate victory), but I was able to use my knowledge of the battle to my advantage (for more discussion of this part of Shiloh, as well as some for-fun grognard grumblings, see this month's Command Post). Again, playing the Union at Prairie Grove, however, the computer whupped me (in part, however, because of the timely recapture of a Confederate objective by one of their reinforcing supply wagons...!). It turned out my actions almost exactly duplicated the historical Union actions at Prairie Grove (at first I though the AI was being too cautious, but read later that it acted much like the Confederates did); the reason I lost was because the AI didn't crumble, and I also recklessly endangered too many of my troops. It says something about Shiloh that both approaches to play were a lot of fun.
The AI, in general, is improved over that in Gettysburg. I still think it's much better on the defensive than on the offensive, but at least now it does a pretty good job of forming its troops into lines of battle. As in Gettysburg, it remains blithely unaware of objectives - I can often penetrate a lone unit into the AI's rear areas (or even into the midst of a batch of units), capture an objective, get routed or destroyed, and still remain in control of that objective for the rest of the game) - and it seems a bit gun-shy (I've seen it retreat a lot when it should be advancing, even from something as weak as a unitless leader; of course, now at least it does its retreat in very good order).
While the full Shiloh scenario (and some of the longer subsets, and alternate history scenarios) are still huge, they're not quite as long as either Gettysburg or Waterloo, and don't seem as quite as overwhelming (for example, in the full Shiloh campaign I have underway, I'm not getting the feeling of "counter-pushing" I had with the earlier games; perhaps this just means I'm learning!). Despite this, I like the shorter games, and therefore praise TalonSoft for including the two smaller battles; you can now complete an entire battle in an evening easily, something this busy gamer really appreciates.
People who downloaded Battleground 4: Shiloh have also downloaded:
Battleground 7: Bull Run, Battleground 2: Gettysburg, Battleground 3: Waterloo , Battleground 6: Napoleon in Russia, Battleground: Ardennes, American Civil War: Take Command - Second Manassas, Civil War Generals 2, Austerlitz: Napoleon's Greatest Victory
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