"I don't need your civil war," sang Axl Rose in his patented crushed-testicle whine.
He might not be a fan of Hunted Cow Studios's latest strategy game, but should you be?
The game puts you in a series of scenarios culled from the American Civil War of the 19th century, and tasks you with commanding your troops to victory.Let's talk tactics
This takes the form of a fairly basic top-down turn-based strategy sim. You have to move each unit - be it artillery, infantry, or cavalry - into position, establish formations, and launch attacks before ending your turn and allowing the enemy to respond.
There are a few variables at play that determine how each unit will react. Are they behind cover? Then they should be protected from cavalry charges. Are they inexperienced? Then there's a chance they'll turn and flee when charged.
This extra layer of tactical consideration on top of the basic move-attack-rearrange gameplay helps to hold your attention, but we have to admit to being a little unclear on exactly why some units acted - or reacted - the way they did in certain situations.
You can glean much of this information from delving into the help menus, but better explanations are needed.Surviving on rations
As you may have picked up already, Civil War: 1863 is quite a sparse game in a number of ways. For one thing it looks very basic, like some obscure German boardgame.
Structurally, it's a case of moving through all eight missions in each campaign in a linear fashion. The first two campaigns are free to play, while the third and fourth - which see you playing as the more experienced but numerically inferior South - are available through in-app purchases.
There's a good amount of gameplay on offer without spending any money, but the game doesn't truly open out until the end of the first campaign and into the beginning of the second.
Once all the elements have been introduced, the mission types are quite well varied. The best levels are the more open, large-scale battles. Here you really feel like and armchair general looking over his field map and directing the fight.
While the backs-to-the wall last stand missions provide their own challenges, they're just not as entertaining or deep.
That's Civil War: 1863 in a nutshell - intermittently entertaining, with a couple of nice ideas inconsistently applied.