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Ultimate General Gettysburg and the magic of tactical imbalance


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First of all, I recommend this game to anyone with steam or an iPad. I think its fascinating to play and a good fit for anyone with an interest in history, real-time strategy, or combat simulation.

The game, in a nutshell, is positioning. There are objectives, based on historical importance, that are worth victory points, but how you attempt to capture them (or even if you attempt to capture them) are up to you. Through a very simple UI you control a few different kinds of Civil War military units in a constant back and forth of act-and-react.

In particular I think I latched onto this game because it embodies a difficult thing for many strategy games--counter play. Any movement your enemy makes (or doesn't make!) represents a variety of risks and opportunities. Likewise, any decisions you make carry weight and risk. Unlike many other games in the genre, however, I find this game interesting because it manages to preserve the tactical importance of counterplay with intentional imbalance.

This intentional imbalance is something I rarely see used in games, and even more seldom see done well. In UGG, each leg of the battle starts out with numerical, positional, and reinforcement advantages heavily skewed, which force the player to make choices either to press their advantages or shore up their weaknesses. The power of choice is incredible-with lesser numbers and low morale, perhaps you intentionally hit and run to abandon your highpoint value target to assault more easily defensible areas worth less on the board. Or maybe you pull a few units around to the side to fire into the enemy's flank as they advance on an indefensible position. Or maybe you use the extra regiment you have over the enemy to charge their artillery, knowing that their position and number or batteries will shred your front lines.

Are there other games that effectively balance gameplay without all factors and options being equal between players? Have any thoughts on this game or others like it?

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