PC4War (french magazine) n°15 - February / March 2005
Translation by Fred and Lars
HistWar : Les Grognards Napoleonic wargame that simulates engagements at Great-Tactical level from 1805 to 1814. Using 3D (No hexagon) and real time, it could be played solo or multi-players (LAN or Internet up to 6 gamers) or through e-mail. It manages up to one hundred units by opponent, i.e. around 50 000 animated figures. Only with multi-players option, a “mini-campaign” modulus introduces notions of operational scale such as operating lines. The heart of the concept is to place you in situation of an army leader to define, in some clicks, a precise plan of battle and to let the artificial intelligence carry it out. It is then possible to interfere on lower hierarchical levels (Corps – Division – Regiment) for closer management of orders implementation. To allow those 3 levels of command, HistWar benefits a graphic engine integrating 4 levels of display and customizable IA.
The gamer disposes of 4 display modes: 2D view “ordnance map”, 3D symbolic, 3D outlook with subjective or “helicopter” view. With 3D outlook, every battalion is represented by 70 figures showing Major, eagle-bearer, sapper, skirmisher, grenadier and fusilier. Every gun is surrounded by 5 or 6 gunners and its team of 2 to 6 horses.
AI includes 3 basic hierarchical levels: Great-Tactical (GT), Corps and Regimental AI. In solo mode, gamer and GT-AI create their tactical plan and set their troops using 5 general orders. Link order allows associating Corps in order to compose independent armies, guaranteeing the maneuvers coordination. The other orders (Deployment, Diversion, Defense and March) are used to define occupation zones.
The intermediate level is for Chiefs of Corps or Divisions driven by the Tactical AI (T-AI). Always active, T-AI translates the chief of army’s orders into carrying out orders such as troop’s concentration, displaying in battle formation following the given instructions (Hour, arrangement, reserve! ), rallying of units running away and use of reserves. The gamer can constantly take control. In Multi-Play mode, the gamers in charge of Corps are partly taking place of T-AI.
Finally, the “regimental” IA takes care of the life of every regiment. For example, driving infantry AI automatically sends a battalion towards a threatened flank or command the Square formation in presence of enemy cavalry. Such multiple rules are coming from real historical engagements; they all are customizable through the doctrine editor.
The fate has little place in this simulator. All the losses are calculated from models taking into account the geometrical arrangement of the fighters, their training, their value, their fatigue, their morale. This last one aggregates numerous parameters such as leader of Army presence (how not try to shine when the boss looks at you), nearness of friendly units, fatigue, meteorology, percentage of losses, etc…
Besides the numerous options to modulate the game conditions of (season, weather report, realism), Les Grognards integrates the delay of transmission and realization of orders. They can never be delivered to addressee (interception of the aide-de-camp by opponent) or be delivered too late to be effective.
Three editors complete the game :
Map Editor to create 4 size of map, from small 6×4.5 km to Huge 30×22.5 km ;
Order of Battle Editor, associated to several data bases: more than 4000 commanders’ names (from General-in chief to Colonel), more than 1150 regiments from about fifteen countries in this first release, more than 550 uniforms modulated by distinctive colors;
Doctrine Editor to manage the behavior of regiments controlled by AI.
The first 2 Editors integrate the automatic creation of maps or well-balanced battle orders. Besides the dozen prestigious battles supplied with Les Grognards (Austerlitz, Friedland, Wagram, the campaign of Ratisbonne in 1809, Moscowa, Borodino) the users have the possibility to create a multitude of historical or virtual commitments.
These three Editors are now ended. The human-machine interface was totally rethought since the ancestor LGAA. It remains now to grind the engine so that Les Grognards finally fight.
Considering Les Grognards release, nothing has been clearly defined. A usual “publisher” of wargamers could take charge of this product’s distribution worldwide.