Saturday, July 22, 2017

Gettysburg: The Tide Turns

It certainly looks pretty
After seeing a lot of buzz online about it, I decided to give Slitherine's new ACW game, Gettysburg: The Tide Turns a try. The ACW is one of my first loves in terms of history and wargaming. I've taken vacations centered around visiting ACW battlefields. The game itself has a very Kriegsspiel like look. At a mere $9.99, what's not to like?

It certainly doesn't play like it looks.
Well, nearly everything, it turns out. To begin with, the game is just buggy as hell. It just completely stopped playing during one AI phase of the game I tried, with no means of recovery. The map scrolls very oddly. Unit automatic lines and formations are...questionable. I don't mind the chit draw mechanic for unit activation, though I think the unit size for that activation should be consistent. It's kind of silly to be activating USA corps but CSA divisions, while actual units are brigades and batteries.

But worse than that, the combat bears no resemblance to ACW combat. Artillery is completely overpowered. It actually makes sense in this game to essentially charge with artillery! An artillery battery alone, with zero infantry support, absolutely destroyed two experienced brigades that attacked it. On the other hand, cavalry can't charge and take guns because it's prohibited from moving adjacent to enemy units! Cavalry is also prone to bugging out, making the Union defense of McPherson's Ridge effectively impossible.

Reinforcement timing versus movement rates are so off as to be laughable. There is nowhere near enough time to get Union troops west of the town before CSA troops are pouring down off of Oak Hill. It feels like the developers of this game watched the Gettysburg episode of  Ken Burns' The Civil War while distracted on a phone call to their mom, and then vomited some generic wargame code on top of a great looking map.

Slitherine needs to bury the corpse of Shenandoah Studios and move on. Shenandoah's games never were that great unless you were trapped playing on your phone. There's a reason they went bankrupt. This mess doesn't argue for a successful return. I'm just glad I didn't get rooked by the Kickstarter.

In my entire life, I've refunded one other game purchased on Steam. This is my second one. Don't even bother with this one, particularly if you're an ACW fan. Grab Scourge of War or one of Tiller's ACW games, and actually have a good time.