Too Long; Didn't Play: Ultimate General: Gettysburg

Sponsored By: The Doubtingthomas Historical Society

Requested By: Jonman

Time Commanded: 51 minutes

Big Round Top Review

For the duration of this review, please imagine that I am accompanied by a melancholy violin score.

Little Round Top Review

June 1st, 1863
Dearest Martha,

I’ve been promoted! They have made me a general, in spite of the fact that I have no command experience nor a West Point education like all the others. It is quite an honour, and I hope to acquit myself in the coming campaign.

The commander in chief says I am to proceed to Pennsylvania. I will write again as soon as I am able.

How is your mother faring? I hope she is not too poorly.

Yours, Truly,

June 20th, 1863

My Dearest Martha,

Pennsylvania is hot as blazes in June, did you know? It is lovely country, though. After the war, I will send for you and we can use my pension to open a small inn, and perhaps sell small flags to travelers.

I was glad to hear that General Hooker sent his own physician to look in on your mother. I hope she fares well.

Ever yours,

June 30th, 1863

Martha Dearest,

I have arrived at Gettysburg. It is a mess here and no mistake. The armies are approaching each other from the wrong directions! Can you imagine? I suggested that we just keep going and besiege the enemy’s capital, but everybody seems to want to fight here. Apparently a number of correspondents have already received advances for books.

I have been put in charge of the entire battlefield, which is daunting, but I am certain I will rise to the occasion. A helpful sergeant instructed me in the basics of commanding the different units, but he left me to return to his division before explaining what something called “double clicking” was. I believe it has something to do with range finding. I shall ask the artillery commanders presently.

I have picked out a nice spot for our inn. It is a low hill near a copse of trees.

As ever, you are in my thoughts. Please accept my congratulations on becoming a sister once again. I always thought your father was a spry sort.

Yours, ever,

July 1st, 1863

Dearest Martha,

I have made a complete hash of things, but I'm beginning to wonder how much of it was truly my fault. My artillery batteries spent the entire day pointed away from the battle, and I could not compel them to fire no matter how many times I ordered a barrage. My sergeant did mention something about line of sight, but left before he explained how to determine whether I had it or not.

My infantry units fared better, but were unable to break the enemy lines without proper artillery support. As a result, my soldiers kept getting scattered by artillery barrages. Half of them just ran away and left the map.

Everyone’s very angry with me. Well, perhaps not everyone. The enemy generals seem jovial, according to my scouts.

The battle is not going well. My only solace lies with you. I have drawn up plans for our inn, which I have included in this letter.


July 2nd 1863

My Dear Martha,

I hope my last letter reaches you before this one, as nothing in this letter will make sense otherwise. The communication lines seem to be snarled.

I am starting to get the hang of troop movements. We staged a charge today, but it didn’t amount to much of anything. The troops ran toward each other yelling, milled around for a bit, then meandered back to their original lines. I’m sure we killed some of them, but I cannot confirm any numbers.

I still cannot seem to get my artillery placed somewhere they’re willing to shoot from. I move them into range, but they simply will not fire a shot. I’ve lost two artillery units to enemy artillery fire, but they are unable or unwilling to shoot back. I’m not sure how this is my doing, but as the commanding general, the blame must fall to me.

Send my regards to your mother and father. I was aggrieved to hear that they are currently not on speaking terms.

Yours, as ever,

July 3rd, 1863

Martha, my Dear,

I have been wounded in battle. After going to personally oversee why the artillery wasn’t able to fire, I was struck in the hand when one of our cannons fired a shell. I have lost my small finger, but am otherwise in good health.

I have been informed that the battle is over, but nobody will tell me who won. The only person who will speak to me at all is the surgeon, and he will only tell me to keep my bandage clean.

Regardless, I’m certain this means the war will soon be over, which means I shall be able to send for you soon. Your mother and father are welcome to come along if they desire. The change in climate might improve their moods.

Forever yours,

Will I Reenact the Battle?

I believe I will come back to Ultimate General: Gettysburg. The controls do seem fairly intuitive, and I’m sure the failings were completely mine. With perseverance, I can learn to actually win the battle. Or, at least, not fail at it so miserably.

Heck, it’s not like there isn’t a walkthrough for it.

Is it the Devil Daggers of strategy games?

That is a hard question for me to answer. I’ve never been any good at strategy games, be they turn-based, real-time or grand. For me, the entire strategy genre is the Devil Daggers of video games.

The field of battle is, fortunately, small and well known to me, as I’ve walked it many times with my father, so troop micromanagement becomes less of a concern than in, say, Warcraft 3 where the maps sprawl out every which way. Ultimate General: Gettysburg does not strike me as being particularly difficult, at least mechanically, but mechanics are only part of the story in a strategy game.

So that's a double answer this week. It is not the Devil Daggers of strategy games to, say, Sean Sands. It is, rather, my own personal Devil Daggers of video games.

That I feel happily willing to continue beating my head against it should speak volumes about its appeal. We'll see if that changes three months from now, when I've logged enough time to fight the actual battle but haven't been able to secure victory.


I'll be honest, I had this playing in the background while reading your article:

I have the same problem with artillery, and with those horse scouts. I desperately want to like this game, but I never feel like I'm in control of my units. How do I convince my cavalry to charge in melee??

Great review!

But I think it needs something more melancholy:

(From Ken Burns' "The Civil War," natch, which is on Netflix if you need a War Between the States fix.)

Enix wrote:

Great review!

But I think it needs something more melancholy:

(From Ken Burns' "The Civil War," natch, which is on Netflix if you need a War Between the States fix.)

The Burns documentary is precisely what I had in mind when I wrote this week's review.

Thanks for tuning in to May I May. Next week, Jazzpunk!

You guys were one off on the Ken Burns soundtrack: