Now you can recreate this day in the safety of your own home and on the security of your own computer!
Sid Meier and Firaxis Games present the battle of Antietam, named after the small creek in Maryland that separated the forces at the start of the conflict, here in all its blood and glory for you to enjoy. Time has been rolled back to September 17, 1862 in rural Maryland. The Army of the Potomac (Union) commanded by General McClellan and the Army of Northern Virginia (Confederate) marching with the legendary General Robert E. Lee face off in this epic battle of the American Civil War, and you can take control of either side!
Historically, at the end of this day Lee had held onto his slim grip in Maryland by the slightest of margins and 23,000 Americans lay dead on the field. How will YOUR battle turn out? Will McClellan outsmart Lee and finish the Army of Northern Virginia for good (the Union plan) or will history repeat itself, allowing Lee and his army to escape during the night to wreck havoc for another three years?
This is the second installment in the popular Great Battles Series that began with the critically acclaimed Sid Meier’s Gettysburg. Sid Meier’s Gettysburg was considered a groundbreaker for many of the ideas that made their way into that game. Sid Meier’s Antietam continues this pattern of ease of play and realism that has become a hallmark of the Great Battles Series and Sid Meier’s games in general.
Sid Meier’s Antietam is a regimental level real time tactical wargame. Each soldier on the screen represents roughly 40 men and the soldiers representing a given regiment will move and fight as one unit. This unit can change to a number of different battle formations, line, double line, column, road and skirmish, as per your instructions, during their movement.
To move the units you only have to click on them and then click on the destination, if you want to change formation you issue those orders at this time. The road formation will have the units follow a road as much as possible during its movement. Other formations will follow the terrain of least resistance as much as possible. A little planning is required here as a group of regiments ordered to go from one side of an obstacle, say orchard, to the other will not arrive at their destination at the same time. Some will go through the orchard (very slow movement) and others will skirt the orchard, which is considerably quicker. This can become a problem if the leader reaches the other side first and there are enemy troops within firing range of him! To move several regiments together, you only have to click on the higher-level commander and tell him where to move and those units under him, and within his area of control, will follow to the new position.
Moving your units and having them go where you want them to, is integral to success in this game. As such, a drill option is included so that you may experiment with the controls in a non-battle scenario to get the feeling of the interface. This quite effectively and quite quickly will get you ready to take command of the troops under your control. Ok, you now understand the mechanics of game play. What next?
You are not thrown directly into the full day battle from the start, unless, of course you want to be! A series of non-linked scenarios (unlike its predecessor Gettysburg’s linked scenarios) serve the dual purpose of focusing on particular interesting phases of the battle and slowly introducing the player into the game world of Sid Meier’s Antietam. The smaller scenarios (for 30 minutes to several hours duration) lead to the larger scenarios, which eventually leave you fully prepared to tackle the full battle campaign scenario. In addition there are several "what if" scenarios provided that should prove quite interesting, especially to the Civil War buffs out there! Anyone want to play the scenario where McClellan actually committed the V Corps to the battle? Additionally there is a random scenario generator for those that just want to play with the units and the game system! Variety does not stop there either. There is the option for multiplayer game play for up to eight folk (you use teams on each side) at once via LAN or the Internet.
Realism seems to have been a major focus of the development team. Everything from the terrain over which this epic battle was fought (which is very well rendered and accurate as well) to the colors used by the individual units historically involved in the battle (someone spent a lot of time researching in this area) are depicted in Sid Meier’s Antietam. There are eight different types of cannon shown in the game, as one Civil War artillery battery seldom had the same type of cannon as the others in the same army. This game shows them all. Smooth bore and rifled and any that are capable, have the option to load canister for those devastating close up shots on approaching infantry! You will get the full flavor of a Civil War battle while playing this game.
Combat is handled a bit differently from other games of this type. Gone are the neat little clouds of smoke from the artillery or muskets. In their place is a cone that starts at the firing unit (regiment or cannon) and ends at the target unit. The wider and brighter this cone is the more firepower is being brought to bear on the target units(s). Each regiment is rated for experience and morale with experience affecting the regiment’s firepower and morale affecting how reliable they will be in a serious fight.
A joy to play and a joy to just look at, that is Sid Meier’s Antietam. This exceptionally well done game has earned four and half Gin Gems, from this reviewer, and has me anxiously anticipating which battle they will do next in the series. Come on Chickamaugua!