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Hands On Preview – Birth of America

February 6th, 2006 by Troy Goodfellow · 6 Comments · Uncategorized

(Full disclosure: After conducting this interview with game developer Philippe Thibaut, I was approached to proofread and edit the English language manual for Birth of America. There was no financial compensation for this, nor was any expected.)

At first glance, Birth of America is nothing at all like either of Thibaut’s other PC games. Where both Pax Romana and Great Invasions were overwhelming in the amount of things you can do, BoA isn’t. Here you only have a war to fight. You raise armies, you kill armies, you win (or squelch) independence.

So this is more of a war game than a strategy game. You don’t build armies, they arrive as reinforcements. You build forts, but not cities. You don’t worry about your economy since you don’t have one. So, this is as pure a war game as you can imagine.

The preview build enclosed four brief scenarios and a tutorial with quite short time limits. No full campaign mode was available. The tutorial seemed to move along whether I followed instructions correctly or not – something that I hope got cleaned up in the gold release. The scenario objectives are noted on the map with stars, which is good because there are a lot of cities to look for.

Fortunately, the game is pretty intuitive. It uses a grab and drop interface to make moving your armies a piece of cake. The various map modes allow you to quickly get the larger strategic sense of things.

The map itself is huge. The American colonies are divided into a number of quite small bits with even tiny states being made up of multiple territories. The terrain is very clearly marked out – probably the most efficient use of scraggly trees and bumps on a game in some time.

So how does it play? Quickly. The scenarios available are pretty short – one starts in 1759 with Wolfe’s army already on ship and on its way to Quebec – but give a sense of game that will require careful movement of your troops. You need to know the quickest routes to your own vulnerable cities as well as the roads to your targets. Supply issues can become very serious in the winter and it appears that commander skill matters, though it is unclear to what extent.

The game is very stable – much more than either of Thibaut’s ancient themed games. I experienced zero crashes, and the only technical problem was some slow scrolling over the map in some modes.

Birth of America has gone gold and should be available from AgeOD by the end of the month.


6 Comments so far ↓

  • Casey

    Is it real-time or turn-based? (Why doesn’t anybody ever think that information is important?)

  • Troy Goodfellow


    Sometimes I forget that not everyone knows the names of all these games.

    Birth of America is simultaneous turns. Each side enters their turns and they are resolved together.

  • rsh

    With simo turns, do you ever have the problem of being unable to track down an amry and trying to guess where they end up? Or does the supply situation prevent the old problem of a single army running rampant through your territory?

    Enjoy your blog. Grew up on old strategy games and have taken some time off but I’m getting back into the genre, albeit somewhat limited.

  • Troy Goodfellow

    “With simo turns, do you ever have the problem of being unable to track down an amry and trying to guess where they end up?”

    To some extent. Movement takes place in one month turns, so it is entirely possible that by the time you get to a new province, the army you are trying to catch has moved on.

    But the fog of war is pretty flexible, based on how many sympathizers you have in a given territory and the intelligence level of your officers in a region. I’ll have more on the specific mechanics and how well they work when I get a chance to play a full campaign.

    Glad you enjoy the blog, rsh.

  • Pocus

    You can also give an intercept order, which sorta solve the problem of targeting the enemy (if you are at least as fast as him, dont expect to catch indians in the wild)