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Shenandoah Campaign by John Tiller Software & Wargame Design Studio  I am not really a student of ...

Shenandoah Campaign by John Tiller Software & Wargame Design Studio Shenandoah Campaign by John Tiller Software & Wargame Design Studio

Shenandoah Campaign by John Tiller Software & Wargame Design Studio

Shenandoah Campaign by John Tiller Software & Wargame Design Studio

Shenandoah Campaign


John Tiller Software


Wargame Design Studio

 I am not really a student of 'Stonewall' Jackson's Valley Campaign at all. I have read some things about it, but was never really enthralled as I am with the history of the Army of Northern Virginia's Campaigns. I am also somewhat familiar with the 1864 Valley Campaign, but not enough to consider myself versed in it. Jackson himself remains an enigma to me and many others. His Valley Campaign of 1862 is considered the height of military science by some, even though he really did not face the cream of the crop as far as Union Generals and troops. The Union Generals during the campaign resemble the Three Stooges more than competent commanders. Jackson's subsequent almost uselessness during the Seven Days Battles has been excused by a lot of authors. Still, I do not know where he fits in the scheme of things. Was he the best of the Southern Generals or just great because of the opposition he faced? Sorry for the digression, now back to the pertinent subject.

 So, the game gives you two diverse campaigns separated by two years and thousands of dead on both sides. Both do have one striking similarity, and that is both were fought by Southern Generals to take pressure off the Army of Northern Virginia. In 1862, Jackson succeeded marvelously. In 1864, Jubal Early succeeded early (sorry) in the campaign, but was inevitably broken by the Union preponderance of strength in the end. Jubal Early is also an enigma as a commander. Quite possibly he lost Gettysburg for the South by whispering in Ewell's ear. Then again, in 1864 he was able to put a scare into Washington, which had a much greater effect than it should have. Early was described as his "bad old man" by Robert E. Lee even though he wasn't that old at all. His hair and stooped figure made him seem much older than he was. He was also the only person we know of that had a plate smashed over his head as a cadet at West Point. Brigadier General Lewis Armistead, of Gettysburg fame, was the plate wielder.

3D extreme zoom in of the Kernstown Scenario

 So what exactly is in this game. We know that it spans two different years of the Civil War, but what is behind door #2?
Here is the list:

"174 scenarios are included, and all can be played as either side, against the A/I or other human challengers.
Each major battle has three versions, 1) the standard, for playing head to head, especially PBEM and Hotseat. 2) Weather, for playing when Mother Nature is unpredictable, and 3) A/I, for playing against the computer. NOTE; all scenarios can be played against the A/I, but these scenarios are designed specifically for, and will provide a greater challenge for those familiar with this game system.
Most scenarios can be played against the A/I in a single day, yet others may take several days to complete, or even weeks. Just save, and continue later at your own pace.
For more fun, challenge another human, and play either face to face, or PBEM (Play by email)
Battles include: Kernstown, McDowell, Winchester, Cross Keys, Port Republic, New Market, Piedmont, Lynchburg, Monocacy, the siege of Fort Stevens, Cool Springs, Berryville, and the climactic battle of Cedar Creek.
4 campaigns are included. Each can be played with or without the added hardships of weather. Weather can be anything from a mild mist and fog, to muddy roads and torrential thunderstorms."

2D version of the same screen

 The games is classic John Tiller Software with a large dose of Wargame Design Studio mixed in. The visuals, like almost all of the John Tiller stable, are now much clearer and look nothing like when the other Campaign Games were released years ago. The speed at which they have been releasing games has now been put into overdrive. Where we used to wait all year for one or two releases we have seen four new games in the last few months. The enhanced games are still easy to get into if you haven't played one of the series for awhile. The amount of playtesting that goes into the games is probably the most for any computer game. The fact that now the AI is so much better than it was is also laudable. Some will argue that point, but most of us do not play one game to death so that we find all of the AIs weaknesses. I know I flitter through the games following whatever I am reading at the time. One thing that I have not mentioned is the excellent tie in the games have for reading history. For those books who have little to no maps on a battle, here it is in almost life size. You can follow along with the book through the different placement of troops and the important geographical points around the different battlefields. Because it is a game, you can then decide to try and do better than the historical Generals did when they had control. These are some of the enhancements that you get now-a-days from these games:

"A total graphics package:
3D hand drawn maps, 3D units, with individualized regimental flags.
Colorized leaders and unit files.
Traditional B/W unit, and leaders are also an option.
Improved 2D road graphics.
Scenario and Campaign editor: Build new, or improve existing battles and campaigns.
Many “What If” battles and maps, both large and small. Including the massive Shenandoah Master map.
Extreme Fog of War optional rule.
Objective hexes are now awarded points for each side. The number of points that can be earned are determined by length of time controlled, and its strategic importance for each combatant. Therefore, earned points are not equally distributed.
A true, large (4X) 2D map view."

Extreme zoom out of the same screen

 I will say that the opening paragraph notwithstanding, I have come to appreciate Jackson's ability in these battles somewhat differently. That leads me to another incredibly laudable point of the entire John Tiller stable. You can actually learn history, or at least grasp it that much more by playing these games. I have tried to play as many of the different scenarios as I could, but with 174 it is a lost cause. The Shenandoah Master Map is exactly as described: 'massive'. I will say that while I enjoy zooming in to the 3D to look at the graphics, I do spend most of my time playing on the 2D Map. I have done a fair number of reviews of the different Campaign Series games, and I am still impressed by the depth and sheer size of what you get for the price of a cheap dinner for two. I really cannot say enough about the gaming you will get for a mere $39.95. The Campaign/Scenario Editor is so large that you can get lost in it and never actually play the game. I will have some links at the bottom of other John Tiller Software/Wargame Design Studio games I have reviewed. I am sure I will have forgotten to mention some part of the game that you receive with your purchase, so the other reviews will help you to understand the breadth of just one of these games.

 So in recap, you get 174 scenarios, historical/and what if, that can all be played on either side against the AI. You also get at least one, sometimes a few, version(s) of each scenario that is meant to be played from the ground up against the AI. My favorite one so far is the Kernstown Battle from 1862. Thank you John Tiller Software/Wargame Design Studio for allowing me to review this, as usual, excellent package of history, posing itself as a game.

Campaign Shenandoah:
Campaign Eylau-Friedland:

Campaign Petersburg:

Japan '46: