Sinclair User

By Cases Computer Simulations
Spectrum 48K

Published in Sinclair User #63


This is the latest title from CCS, which seems to have given up publishing anything except wargames. As a dedicated wargamer, that's fine by me.

Yankee is two games in one - Gettysburg on Side A of the tape, Chickamauga on Side B. Both use the same game mechanics - the only differences are the map layouts and the names and strengths of the forces involved.

The brace of engagements you can refight are both famous names from the American Civil War. At Gettysburg, the North smashed the South's last hopes of capturing Washington and getting a quick victory. Chickamauga was much the same, only the other way round - the Confederates wiped the floor with the Federals, and the war dragged on for a couple of years longer. In both battles you control the side that won historically, so you're the Union in Gettysburg and the Rebels in Chickamauga. The computer will play the other side - and it's a tough and very dangerous opponent.

The maps are fairly attractive, if a bit garish to anyone who hates clashing wallpaper. The usual sort of standard wargames terrain features are marked on - towns, woods, hills, rough ground, rivers etc.

The units are large squares, about four characters to a side. The Yankees are blue, the rebels are yellow (damn right!) and each counter has a silhouette showing what type of unit it is in black - the different sorts are infantry, cavalry and artillery. Also marked on the counters is the unit's corps designation - three or four counters make up a corps, and you can give orders to the whole lot by telling the corps headquarters unit, marked with a 'C', what to do.

To give units orders, you move the cursor over them and choose what you want them to do from a menu. This menu varies according to the troop type and whether or not the unit you are ordering is in command of a corps or not.

You can find out information about your units by moving the cursor over them and asking for details. You get told how many men they have and what their morale level is. If a unit's morale gets too low, then it will run away - not much use!

Combat is simple: units which are adjacent to enemy counters attack and are attacked by them: the more men your unit has. and the better its morale is, the more enemy it will kill. Losses are taken in multiples of 500. Artillery can kill people at a distance.

Both game variants work well and are challenging. The immediate feel you get, controlling the destiny of thousands of men, is one of absolute desperation - especially as the game uses hidden movement, so half the time you don't know where the enemy's units are until they come charging out of the nearest wood. You actually begin to sweat wondering just where the computer's forces are. While the movement system is a bit of a bore at times, and takes quite a while, combat is quick and bloody which makes up for it.

An exciting touch is the way your corps commanders will send you messages mostly to tell you they can't hold out much longer and can they retreat?

They effectively say 'to hell with this for a game of soldiers, I'm off home' if you don't look after them properly - it happened to me a lot.

Great fun, and even educational (sorry about that) CCS is to be applauded for this one - even if the computer did chop me up into very fine pieces and fricassee the results. I will be back into the fray - once I recover from the last one.

Overall Summary

Great fun but needs some brainwork. Good graphics, effective game mechanics and it's good value.

Gary Rook

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