John Tiller’s Battleground: Civil War

By Scott Parrino 22 May 2008 0
"It is well that war is so terrible?we should grow too fond of it" ―Confederate General Robert E. Lee

Many grognards, especially those who enjoy Civil War simulations, will already be quite familiar with John Tiller?s Civil War titles. Originally released in the late 1990s for a 16-bit system, the Battleground series of Civil War games became huge hits and included nine major campaigns. Because this latest release constitutes a compilation of five of Tiller?s most famous Civil War releases, many readers will likely know everything I will end up covering. For those grognards, my recommendation would be to get this game if you do not have the individual titles already. From what I?ve experienced with this game thus far, it?s simply amazing. The level of detail demands that Civil War buffs to drop what their doing and get this title, even if they already own three or four of these titles. With that being said, newcomers to John Tiller and/or his Civil War series should continue while the rest of the Civil War community is out purchasing this title. Hopefully that will ease the load on Matrix Game?s website?

"That old man?had my division massacred at Gettysburg!" ―Confederate General George Pickett to Union General John Mosby regarding Robert E. Lee?s order to charge at Gettysburg?

John Tiller began making games in 1995, and over the past 12 years has created over 50 commercial wargames. Talonsoft, HPS Simulations, and Matrix Games dominate the list of Tiller?s publishers. His games range from the American Revolution to modern operations, including naval, land, and air campaigns. Truly, Tiller?s resume is wide-ranging and boasts a very robust mind behind the magic of his games. In fact, there?s whole convention devoted to Tiller?s games! (see Jim Cobb?s coverage of TillerCon)

?"Well, it made you famous" ―Mosby's reply to Pickett


Battleground: Civil War is comprised of five of Tiller?s famous Civil War simulations: Antietam, Bull Run, Chickamauga, Gettysburg, and Shiloh. Each of these major Civil War battles can be played in either large or small chunks, accompanied by numerous ?what-if? scenarios?every grognard?s favorite. As such, Battleground: Civil War will appeal to those who are interested in the Civil War at the operational and/or tactical levels, and that is certainly a large crowd. However, that?s the great part of this game; it will appeal to those who are interested in learning more as well as those who are already highly knowledgeable. Anybody know if Shelby Foote was familiar with John Tiller?s creations? I certainly wouldn?t be surprised if he was?.

"By some strange operation of magic I seem to have become the power of the land" ―Union General George McClellan

Installation went without a hitch. Battleground: Civil War comes in both digital download and CD formats and requires the usual CD key. For this title, I have the digital download, and getting the file from Matrix?s website went smoothly. The installation file weighs in at 562 megabytes, small enough to fit on a single CD for those gamers who enjoy having a hard copy in their libraries. Once installed, the game itself will require around 1.2 GB of hard disk space. Nothing really surprising here?

"Boys, he's not much for looks, but if we'd had him we wouldn't be caught in this trap" ―A captured Union soldier describing Confederate General Stonewall Jackson

The game manual comes in two forms: printer-friendly and the ?EBook.? In the case of Battleground: Civil War, the two versions carry the exact same content. The only different between the two manuals is the textured background of the pages in the EBook. The blank white backgrounds in the printer friendly version lend to its name. The manual covers all the basics of gameplay. Personally, I like having a manual that tells me just about everything, so the manuals for Battleground: Civil War left me wishing for a little more information regarding the algorithms of Tiller?s system. Had I orchestrated the manuals, I might have aimed for more in-depth EBook manual and shortened the printer friendly version into more of a quick-reference guide. However, I?m sure that Talonsoft and Matrix Games thought it best to compose and format the manuals in this fashion, so I differ to their better judgment in this matter, especially considering that this game is a compilation vice a brand new game.

Unfortunately, during the course of perusing the manual, I noticed several discrepancies between sections of the manual. Included among the typos are information on the phases of the game, unit quality ratings, and map scales.



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