Mosby’s Confederacy Impressions

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The mascot of Stonewall Jackson Senior High in Manasas, VA is the Raider. While I was going to school there I had no idea why they’d chosen the name they’d chosen, but a month or so ago (when Tilted Mill announced Mosby’s Confederacy) I had a nice little ‘a-ha!’ moment. The Raider, as it turned out, wasn’t as arbitrary a choice as I’d supposed. John Singleton Mosby, best known as a Colonel in the Confederate army in the Civil War, had bushwacked, evaded, stole from, assassinated and generally terrorized a much-larger Union force all over northern Virginia, at the then-backwoods doorstep of the Union’s capital. Faquier and Loudoun counties, the center of his activity, were only a few miles away from where I lived at the time. As it turned out, the planners guilty of building my high school were paying tribute to Mosby and his band. And now Tilted Mill has paid a special tribute of their own to the renowned Confederate guerilla, in their recently-released Mosby’s Confederacy.

I haven’t had much time to play but as it turns out the gist of the game isn’t that difficult to nail down. The action plays out in two places- on a strategic map where you, as Mosby, can raise support, build arms caches, and plan your next mission. Missions are done in real-time on a 3d map with soldiers you’ve recruited and equipped, and they involve rustling horses, seizing munitions dumps, kidnapping Union officers or simply slaughtering Union troops.

The problem with this game isn’t the concept, which is cool as hell and totally novel. There need to be more games about guerillas, I think we can all agree. The problem is the execution. This game was only announced a couple of months ago, and the longest possible time Tilted Mill could have conceivably been working on it isn’t above four months. Is that time enough to turn around a robust game? No, not really. And, surprise surprise, even though Mosby’s is only $20, it’s barely worth the purchase price. The maps are barren, enemy troops have poor AI, graphics are bad, and, most damningly, the tactical options you as a commander have access to are severely limited. I think, in retrospect, that a lot of these same complaints can be applied to Tilted Mill’s Hinterland, the other game they’ve released so far on this breakneck production schedule. There simply needs to be more in the game- more of everything. More tactics, more varied terrain, more missions and more trees (seriously, a lot more trees).

Tilted Mill is to be lauded for even trying to break the mold with these games, and doubly so because they’re doing it as independent developers. They’re paving the way for others, I hope. But they need to leave these games a bit more time to grow into fully-fledged products. I’m going to be a lot warier of their next release, I think.

 

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