Our second blog post of the day brings you a preview of our next game - Musket & Pike: Great Northern War.
We mentioned this title back in the Fall of '22 and the team has been hard at work since testing and polishing, bringing all the needed pieces together. We believe that we are bringing you an excellent piece of wargaming goodness with this offering, which is slated to be released on Friday April 14th, 2023.
In addition to a preview of the game we'll be looking at the extensive list of enhancements that have been made to the engine and that will be ported to the two existing titles - Renaissance and Seven Years War - about a month after GNW releases.
(All images can be clicked for full size.)
Before we get too far into that however, I want to take a few moments and make you aware of the special promotion that will be accompanying the release of the game. We have partnered with Helion & Company for this release. What that means is for every person who purchases a copy of GNW within the first 30 days they will receive a discount code to be used on the Helion website to receive a 20% discount on any size order. For those who aren't aware, Helion publishes a wide variety of quality historical books that would make fine additions to any library.
Below are just four of the series they publish:
From Retinue to Regiment 1453-1618
Century of the Soldier 1618-1721
From Reason to Revolution 1721-1815
From Musket to Maxim 1815-1914
** This coupon will be delivered via email to qualifying customers.
Ok, on with our preview...
At the start of the 18th Century, Sweden was the undisputed power in the Baltic region and a dominant force in Northern Europe. However, the Swedish empire was in the way of the regional ambitions of Russia, Saxony and Denmark – who had several scores to settle with the Swedes.
With the accession of the boy King Charles XII to the Swedish throne in 1700, Russia, Denmark and Saxony saw an opportunity. They formed an alliance and struck at Swedish territories hoping for a swift and decisive victory. However, they had seriously miscalculated the strength of the Swedish military and the resolve of their new monarch and by 1701 all had been defeated. Their attack launched a grueling 21 year war which would drag other countries into the conflict.
The Great Northern War highlighted the military genius of Charles XII and the resilience of the Swedish military who held off defeat for 21 years. It also saw the rise of Tsar Peter I who reformed the Russian military and adapted tactics and strategy to play to Russian strengths which would ultimately defeat an exhausted Sweden.
The Great Northern War includes 69 Scenarios – covering all sizes and situations, including a solo tutorial scenario plus specialized versions for both head to head play and vs. the computer AI. There are also 5 Campaigns included with the game. A sampling of the battles includes:
A range of maps are included covering all the significant locations fought over during the Great Northern War and some of lesser known locations.
The order of battle files cover the various forces that participated in the campaign with other formations added in for hypothetical situations.
There are extensive 3d unit graphics covering all of the major armies involved.
If you would like to read the designers notes you can do so here.
For those of you who have been following the Napoleonic Battles series of games over the last couple of years, many of the changes you will see here will be familiar to you. In fact, with the release of GNW the Musket & Pike series will be in synch with the Napoleonic series with all appropriate changes through 4.06 - which is on the release schedule for May. If you would like to read through the changelog you can do so here.
The list of changes, all 5 pages of it (!) is too numerous to cover in great detail. We will cover some high points today though as we move along. Many of them have been covered in previous blog post such as 4.05 here, 4.03 here and 4.02 here.
Always important, but some times controversial are the optional rules for the game. A total of 6 new ones have been added for this title:
- Automatic Defensive Fire
- Column Movement Restriction
- Optional Melee Resolution
- Mixed Organization Penalty
- Night Movement Fatigue
- Strict Line of Sight
The Default Optional Rules are now:
We feel this gives the best historical flavor while also allowing game play to move along at a good pace. As the name implies, these are all optional and can be changed at the beginning of every scenario.
While four of these originated in the Civil War Battles series, the two that are completely new are:
Column Movement Restriction - with this rule selected infantry in Column formation will become Disordered when entering obstructed terrain - i.e. forest, town, marsh, etc. If they are low fatigue and in Command they will recover quickly.
Strict Line of Sight - we received some complaints when the change was made to the Napoleonic engine that prevented checking line of sight from unoccupied hexes, so this rule is our compromise. It is On by default, and with it selected you must have a combat unit or leader in a hex in order to check LOS from any given hex.
We are by no means making any claims that this is now a "stellar" opponent against the computer. It is an absolutely monumental task to program a situationally aware computer A/I that can conduct itself in a period appropriate manner on large battlefields. Realistically, we still have a long road ahead of us! However, attention has been paid to the gaming experience you will get if playing against the computer. Some items that have been worked on include:
- Added new random number generator for better combat calculations.
- Added new path-finding algorithm. (significant improvement)
- Adjustments to A/I firing logics.
- Adjustments to how the A/I handles cavalry during charges.
- Adjusted A/I targeting priorities.
- Adjustments to A/I Cavalry handling and Creek crossing logics.
- Added main.ai file to the \Data folder providing base values for the A/I’s operation. Specifics documented in the Scenario Editor manual.
User Interface and Experience
As you can tell from the screen shots we have implemented the new Toolbar style with customizable button sizes and groupings. There is also a "Static All" option that some may prefer.
Folder reorganization has also been implemented giving distinct folders to each type of file - OOB's, Maps, Scenarios...and of course Saves for in process games.
Some of the other changes, from new tools to new optional settings include:
- Added new Range Check tool. Shift + left click to have the distance from the current hotspot displayed in the clicked hex. Display will disappear when the mouse button is released.
- Added Unit Strength Display – press Tab key. Press again to remove.
- Adjusted Show Organization Dialog to now scroll and center on the Leader for the selected organization and highlight him in the Hex Info Area. Also, the dialog box is now larger, and interaction with the map is possible while it is open.
- Added/reworked keyboard shortcuts and some menus to match NB style.
- Adjusted Status Bar, now weather effects/modifiers are displayed for current weather conditions.
- All three 2D Symbol sets are now accessible in-game from the Unit Symbols selection under the Settings Menu.
- Implemented Settings > Cursor > Small/Standard/Large.
- Implemented Settings> Alternative Highlight Color
- Added “Reachable Hexes” shading. Press the “H” key to activate this shading.
The list goes on as you will see from the Changelog, but we think you will find that the play environment is easier to navigate and customize with all these options.
Extensive changes have been made to how movement orders can be issued. Our goal is to give players options and to minimize mouse clicks as much as possible. Attack Movement and Travel Movement has been covered in this blog post, and all of that has been ported to this engine. But a new option that will make it's first appearance with the release of GNW is "Auto-Move".
To execute simply select a unit and right-click on a destination - the unit will move as far as possible. This is a modified version of the "drag-n-drop" method, and with the new Path Finding code that has been implemented it is a much improved option at this point.
Note how the unit stayed on the road to get to it's destination, not traveling through the back alleys and becoming disordered.
This concludes our preview for today. Baring any unforeseen circumstances GNW will hit the streets a week from today! And remember, if the Helion books are of any interest to you get your game order in within the first 30 days in order to get your discount code!
And be sure to see our other blog post from today, covering the CWB & EAW series as well as the Menu Program update.