Game of the Week - June 10 - 16

A new week brings us a new title in our Game of the Week promotion. This round we go back "across the pond" from our last title (Normandy '44) with Campaign Shenandoah from the Civil War Battles series. This title is on sale for 25% off now through Sunday, June 16th. 

This is a special title for us, as it was the last title Doug Strickler was able to contribute to before his untimely passing. He was the map maker for this, and other titles in this series, as well as the scenario designer for Campaign Gettysburg. Rich Walker, the designer of more than half the other titles in the series stepped in to bring this title to publication. Accordingly, this title was dedicated to Doug upon release.

From a historical perspective, this game also ties in to the anniversary, yesterday - June 9th, of the Battle of Port Republic which concluded the 1862 Valley Campaign and saw Confederate General Jackson's troops claim victory over Tyler's Union forces. This is just one of the battles covered in this title.

The Shenandoah Valley, a place of beauty and natural wonder. But during the Civil War years, a place of great military value and strategic importance. For the South, the valley became known as “the breadbasket of the Confederacy.” For the Union, it was a backdoor into the heart of an enemy. Now is your chance to step back in time and take up the call for battle. A time when “Stonewall” Jackson became a name to be feared, and where the Union capital was nearly captured, along with President Lincoln and his hopes to reunite a nation torn apart by civil war. Campaign Shenandoah provides the perfect opportunity to refight the great Valley battles of 1862 and 1864; Battles that decided the fate of this hallowed ground.

Here's a portion of the Design Notes for this title:

The Order of Battle(s) OOBs

As with all battle related games that attempt to be historically accurate, one of the most difficult aspects will be researching and creating of the army OOBs for the forces engaged. For Campaign Shenandoah, I took the same approach, as I did with Campaign Atlanta, to use as few individual OOBs as possible. And avoid a single OOB for each battle. This technique minimizes the risk for errors when playing the many campaign options, as mapping from one OOB to another can sometimes become more problematic than what is acceptable in a gaming environment.

However, there are issues with this technique. The most obvious is the fact that because of leader loses and vacancies for one reason or another, some leaders appear under several different command levels. Additionally, the same has occurred with individual regiments, and other unit types. They too can appear under more than one command structure. When this happens, it is necessary to map these leaders and units so that loses can be reflected accurately for campaign playing.

Overall, because the campaigns of 1862 and 1864 used army organizations that would be considered, relatively small, and also the fact the each campaign only lasted a few months, this methodology is sound.

Another enhancement regarding the OOBs, was the development of a standardized OOB. What does that mean? In the past, and due to the styles of the individual designers, units were sometimes described uses different nomenclature methods. So after some discussion on how to do this, we finally agreed on the best ways to describe each unit and leader in a “mostly” consistent manner. Sometimes, if a name was too long, exceptions were made. In the end, and after a final OOB was declared complete, John Ferry, with some technical assistance from David Freer, standardized all the OOBs for every game in the series. It was a monumental task that took many months to complete. After all, there were hundreds of OOBS for all the games. Well done!

Here is an overview of how I develop an OOB, a) consult the O.R., and b) consult a secondary source. Compare the two and make choices. Sometimes, they agree, and all is well. But sometimes not. But my first source is always the O.R., as this is the best primary source we have.. Even so, not every O.R. report can be accepted as 100% accurate. Some commander’s After Action Reports (AAR), take liberties with the truth. For example, most of the Union commanders were convinced that Confederate General Jubal Early was marching an army of over 30,000 men to attack Washington D.C. in July of 1864. In truth, Early had barely one third that number. Had it been true, Washington D.C. would almost certainly fallen to the Confederate army, and the war might have ended very differently.

Scenario Design

In years past, I have been asked about my philosophy with regards to how I design scenarios. For historical scenarios, it is important to recreate the circumstance in which the two opposing sides fought. Four basic features are then researched and applied; 1) the map, 2) OOB, 3) unit positioning, 4) and the conditions needed for victory. For what happens after that, I quote Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke: No plan survives contact with the enemy. With that in mind, I do not try to recreate an historical result, only the historical situation that existed before the battle begins. And once that battle has begun, anything can and should happen. Ideally, each side should have the ability to win the scenario, but having said that, not every
scenario is equally winnable by each side. You may consider that a challenge.

I especially enjoy designing hypothetical scenarios, known in the game as the What if scenario. These scenarios lift all inhibitions and restrictions. If historically, Confederate General Jubal Early’s army arrived near the outskirts of Washington D.C., tired from the heat and dust of the road, and with a large number of his men becoming stragglers, he can arrive on time or even early (no pun intended), and with more men, ready to assault that most hated Federal capital. The possibilities are endless! And with the editor program, anyone can create their own scenario, whether it be historical, or a What If situation.

You can read the balance of the Design Notes here, which include further details on the project, source material and a full listing of the scenarios included at the time of initial publication. There are 183 scenarios in the main folder and an additional 202 in the \Campaign directory.

In addition to the campaigns in the screen shot above, this title includes the following battles:
  • Kernstown
  • Front Royal
  • Winchester
  • Good's Farm
  • Cross Keys
  • Port Republic
  • New Market
  • Piedmont
  • Lynchburg
  • Monocacy
  • Fort Stevens
  • Heaton's Crossroads
  • Cool Springs
  • Rutherford's Farm
  • Folck's Mill
  • Moorefield
  • Guard Hill
  • Summit Point
  • Smithfield Crossing
  • Berryville
  • Fisher's Hill
  • Tom's Brook
  • Cedar Creek
This title includes many scenarios designed specifically for play against the AI. Additionally, the majority of the battles are small to medium sized engagements - which also lends itself to a more challenging experience when playing against the AI. Couple all of that with the recent enhancements to the AI's performance and we believe Solo players will be very happy with this title. Of course Head-to-Head has not been neglected, so there is something for everyone in this offering.
For video content we have one from SmartWargames which you can check out here.
And here are some recommended books to check out:
And since everyone can't buy all 128 volumes, here's the official records of the Civil War on DVD:
Ok, now for a few more screen shots. There are a variety of ways to view the game - both three 2D views and two 3D views. Additionally, for the 2D you can choose between gray counters for the Confederates or butternut, with the first having symbols for the formations and the second using silhouettes. We'll include a sampling of screen shots so you can see the various views to choose from. All of these are available in the stock game and are controlled by game settings.
(All images can be clicked for full size viewing.)
Ok, that brings us to the conclusion of our preview of this title. There's literally hundreds of hours of game play offered up in the stock game + editors are included to make custom content. Anyway you slice it this is an exceptional value at $29.95! So head on over to the Campaign Shenandoah product page and pick a copy up for yourself!
Oh, and if you wish to ask further questions before picking up a copy you can do so in the Civil War Battles section of the forums.


  • Glorioso Dave

    This looks great. Thanks! Will purchase!
    Dave Glorioso

  • Dion Ritter

    In my opinion, one of the better titles in the series.

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