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Three Moves Ahead Episode 62: Gettysburg – Scourge of War

April 27th, 2010 by Troy Goodfellow · 12 Comments · Civil War, Interview, Podcast, Three Moves Ahead, Wargames


Another wargame show! Troy, Julian and Rob are joined by NorbSoft’s Norb Timpko and Jim Weaver to talk about Gettysburg: Scourge of War. Learn more than you ever wanted to know about how to make a civil war game. Why is the AI so recalcitrant? What are the lessons of leadership here? How do you make a map like this? And where do history and gameplay collide when the AI hasn’t read the books you have?

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Scourge of War: Gettysburg
The Maps of Gettysburg : An Atlas of the Gettysburg Campaign, June 3 – July 13, 1863
Buy Take Command 2nd Manassas


12 Comments so far ↓

  • Joseph Crook

    Absolutely loved Take Command: 2nd Manassas! Can’t wait to get Scourge of War. Eventually, I will be able to plunk down the 45 bucks for the full game. Damn bills.

    Played the demo today, oh man this is gonna eat hours of my life away. That’s ok I don’t mind. Kudos to Norbsoft for improving an already great system. I have yet to try the multiplayer part of the demo though.

    You wouldn’t happen to be working on a review for this are you Troy? If not, maybe you’d consider doing an unofficial one here on FOS? Also, I think this game would make an excellent “Tom Vs. Bruce” piece.

  • Ian Bowes (spelk)

    Thoroughly enjoyed this podcast, I’m currently surfing on the wave of an American Civil War vibe (which is odd for a Brit), listening to the Killer Angels audiobook, watching Gettysburg the movie, playing Scourge of War. Its one of the most rewarding Civil War wargames thats played on a more tactical level. Most Civil War games touted around the strategy arena tend to be Grand Strategy Abstractions, and they often leave me cold. TC2M presented a glimmer of hope which has now been fully realised in SoW.

    I’ve still yet to become proficient at the game, but just being there, soaked in the history and seeing these units move and respond at a considered pace, where you can take in the spectacle of the battle. Where you can put thought rather than reaction skills into your combat decisions and then watch them play out for good or for ill is just exactly where I want a Civil War game to be.

    I haven’t dabbled in the multiplayer at all, but the idea of being able to co-ordinate (or not) a group of friends to take part in a battle against the AI sounds enthralling. If only I had the organisation skills to get enough people to buy the game and play a scenario co-operatively..

    I even like the sprites over a 3d rendering because they are so well presented. They add to the look and feel of authenticity in the battle. I think Strength and Honour 2 does a similar style with 2d sprites, but its tactical game pales into insignificance compared to SoW.

    I could have listened to Norb and Jim for another hour on the topic. For the future I wondered if this slow paced considered approach using the SOW engine could be evolved into presenting Ancient Warfare to such a high level? It seems most “historical” games nowadays all want to aim high for the immediacy of games like the Total War series, or stay clear of tactical battles and run the numbers or “surf the spreadsheet” at the Grand Strategic level. Failing that they abstract down to hexes and go with something like Field of Glory. Where you can get your tactical hit, but its very much a streamlined compromised effort.

    Top work on SoW folks, may you have the success you deserve and keep producing historically soaked tactical games with so much uniqueness and personality in the future.

  • James Allen

    SOW is a great game for the hardcore tactical strategist. Multiplayer is a killer app for it. It’ also significantly better enough than TC2M that owners of that game should feel good about upgrading to it.

    Next week topic suggestion: Frozen Synapse, the game I have been playing far too extensively over the past couple of weeks. Turn-based tactical with quick games (5 to 10 5-second turns) and PBEM hosted on a central server so you can play multiple games at the same time, in almost real-time or over a longer period.
    Try it, you’ll like it! (that’s a Yo Gabba Gabba! reference for all of the parents out there)

  • Troy

    Already on it James.

  • Rob Zacny

    Does anyone else feel that Gettysburg gets progressively less interesting (from a gamer’s perspective) as it unfolds?

    I’m playing SoW and SMG right now, and I always love the July 1 scenarios. It’s an exciting, quickly evolving meeting-engagement. But on July 2, the Federals are holding formidable terrain and the Rebels are stuck launching major assaults against increasingly formidable positions. And then on July 3, you’ve got Pickett’s Charge which really doesn’t leave either side with a whole lot of decisions to make.

    Anyways, I think it’s impossible to look at the TC / SoW systems without imagining the possibilities for other conflicts. I’m not sure how it would be for ancients, but the idea of an Austerlitz or Waterloo with this system is tantalizing.

    The Total War system can never quite overcome the fact that a) it is unrealistic and clumsy as hell and b) the biggest TW battles are skirmishes compared to the actual battles of the era. TC / SoW are some of the only wargames that really reproduce the size and scope of 19th century battles. There are scenarios in those games that leave me feeling something akin to vertigo when I realize what a huge task I’ve just been handed.

  • Doug

    Been waiting for you guys to do this game, loved it. When you did the pod cast for achtung panzer I remember some one saying that combat mission’s feel didn’t really nail it for them. For me it was playing 2nd Manassas where I really came to appreciate the feel of combat mission because the two game felt so similar. Sure, the ranges are much longer for ww2, but in both you got that wonderful feeling of trying to impose your will on a system designed to thwart you at every turn. Anyway, keep up the great work guys.

  • James Allen

    Well, when Norb Timpko was at BreakAway Games they used the Sid Meier’s Gettysburg! engine for Waterloo: Napoleon’s Last Battle, which was later morphed into Austerlitz: Napoleon’s Greatest Victory. Played either of those?

  • Rob Zacny

    Sadly, no. And now that I’m looking at Tom’s GameSpot review of Austerlitz, I want to know where I can find them.

  • skshrews

    Great show

    The “Take Command” system works best when you accept less than total control. When the commanders around you or under you are making ridiculous decisons, you should just accept their actions and keep playing.

    When played like this, the game is relatively simple to play. But it also becomes an interesting balance of pursuing your own strategy against the enemy, while adjusting your plans to the, at times, inexplicable actions of your peers.

  • Steve

    Couldn’t find the full game, but demo here, Rob:


    Other than the hyper-fast scrolling, it played fine on my 1-month old Windows 7 box. Graphics and sound seemed like downgrades from the parent game which I played a week ago, but there were interface improvements too.

  • Dauntless_Dad

    Troy, you and your cast of Flashers just cost me another $10. As if I need more unplayed games on my hard drive…

  • Jon F

    Great show. I just listened to both the Achtung Panzer show and this one today, and on more wargamey games in general. Fun stuff, lets get a Field of Glory show!

    I haven’t got a chance to play Scourge of War yet but Take Command was really an eye opening experience for me. It was the first tactical wargame I had played that evoked that feeling of just being a cog in the machine, like you get from playing a small nation in Europa Universalis or something similar. Obviously on a much more immediate level in TC. Add that in with Gettysburg itself having such strong geographic images burned in people’s heads and I imagine it’s a pretty epic experience.

    Definitely purchasing this one.