Strategic Command: American Civil War – Gameplay Mechanics Guide

Several fundamental gaming principles and pointers, especially for rookie Strategic Command game players.

Guide to Gameplay Mechanics

Basic Gameplay Mechanics and Tips

Compiled a list of basic “things you should know before you start playing” for a friend interested in this game, but new to the Strategic Command system. Posting it here in hopes other people will benefit too. Bolded a few I think are especially vital.

  • Supply is critically important. Every hex has a supply value from 1 to 10. Units in low supply hexes can’t move as far, will fight worse, can’t be reinforced, and in extreme cases will start taking attrition.
  • Supply is automatically generated by towns/cities with supply values decreasing with each hex you move away from a supply source. Supply values decrease more rapidly over rough terrain.
  • You can view current supply values by clicking on the supply button on the right side of the interface at the bottom of the screen. Clicking on the supply button a second time will show what the supply values will be *next* turn.
  • If a supply source takes damage through partisans, bombardment, an event, or being captured then its supply generation will decrease and will take some turns to recover.
  • Use the P key to toggle the partisan map mode on and off. There are both Confederate and Union partisan hexes depending on the state. You must keep a unit within one hex of any enemy partisan location or risk nearby supply sources being damaged or even enemy guerilla units being spawned.
  • Headquarter units automatically boost friendly supply values for all hexes in their vicinity.
  • Headquarter units can also boost combat effectiveness for nearby troops, but only if those troops are attached to the HQ. By default this is done automatically, but the AI isn’t the best at sorting attachments and you should change HQs to auto-assist or manual and manage attachments yourself (see game manual for details).
  • HQs with higher values give better bonuses and the number of units you can attach to an HQ and how many hexes away bonuses can be applied can be increased by research.
  • There is a limit to how much research you can have going at once and you should max that out as quickly as possible.
  • Technologies in the right column of the research screen are free bonuses automatically applied to all relevant units/values. Technologies in the left column of the research screen are upgrades you have to purchase for each individual unit once researched (although they may have an additional automatically applied bonus too).
  • Upgrade units by selecting them and then clicking on the upwards pointing arrow on the left side of the interface at the bottom of the screen.
  • You can’t upgrade a unit which is adjacent to an enemy unit.
  • Only one unit can occupy a hex at a time, but not all units are the same size. Strength 10 brigades are significantly weaker than strength 10 corps. Corps > Divisions > Brigades > Regiments
  • If two adjacent friendly units both have action points remaining, you can select one and click on the other while holding down the Shift key to have them switch places. This is critically important in allowing you to double the amount of attacks you can perform per frontline hex if you have reserve units.
  • It’s almost always better to concentrate attacks and destroy a single unit, rather than spreading damage over multiple enemies.
  • Land units gain experience through combat and lose experience when reinforced (green troops getting cycled in).  Once a unit has reached certain experience thresholds, you can spend experience and production points to increase unit strength above the normal 10 value.
  • Land units have a readiness value which modifies how well they fight.  Things like getting repeatedly attacked, force marching (double movement), and transporting by sea or rail reduces readiness. Readiness automatically increases if you let units rest.
  • Land units will automatically entrench if not moved, increasing their defensive values.
  • Land units get an offensive bonus with “prepared attacks”, i.e. attacking an enemy unit which they started the turn adjacent to prior to any movement.
  • Major rivers are *not* impassible. I assumed units couldn’t just march across the Mississippi River and got flanked. You can use river boats to block strategic hexes though.
  • If a land unit begins its turn on a hex with a rail line, you can pay production points (wagon wheel button in bottom interface) to move it to any city connected to that hex via friendly controlled rail lines.
  • If a land unit begins its turn in a port, you can pay production points to put it on transport ships (these will be automatically generated). Transport ships can only land in friendly territory.
  • If a land unit begins its turn in a port and you have amphibious warfare researched, you can pay production points to put it on amphibious transports (these will be automatically generated). Amphibious transports can land in enemy territory.
  • Each level of amphibious warfare technology increases the number of amphibious transports you can have active at any given time.
  • Supply is shipped automatically into friendly ports.  Capturing a port should be top priority in amphibious invasions. Conversely, denying your enemy ports should be top priority if defending against landings.
  • A town on the coast is not automatically a port, although non-port towns will still generate some local supply.
  • Naval units have a set amount of supply. Naval cruising (double movement), raiding, and combat reduces naval supply. A naval unit ending its turn in a friendly port automatically refills its supply value.
  • Naval units must begin their turn in a friendly port in order to be upgraded or repaired.
  • Raiding will automatically take place if a friendly naval unit in raiding mode (must be manually enabled) is on an enemy trade lane at the end of the enemy’s turn.
  • The side being raided will see a white question mark on the map at the approximate location of the raiding naval units, but this is often off by a hex or two.
  • Turning on soft build limits in the advanced options means that you can go over the historically based build limits on the various unit types by paying increasingly higher penalties per unit you are over the limit.  The AI struggles with this option turned on.  If you want to play with soft build limits, recommend turning it on for your own turn and then turning it off again before ending turn.
  • The AI in SCACW is serviceable, but where this game really shines is in multiplayer.  There is Play By EMail functionality built directly into the game. Find someone else wanting to play a multiplayer match either on Steam or the Matrix Games forums and the PBEM system will automatically pass the save game file back and forth between you at the end of the turn.

This list is far from exhaustive, but it should at least get you to the point of feeling like you know what you’re doing. The much more detailed game manual for SC: ACW is available for free download on the Slitherine Software sales page for this product and I highly recommend keeping it on hand for reference.

Egor Opleuha
About Egor Opleuha 6992 Articles
Egor Opleuha, also known as Juzzzie, is the Editor-in-Chief of Gameplay Tips. He is a writer with more than 12 years of experience in writing and editing online content. His favorite game was and still is the third part of the legendary Heroes of Might and Magic saga. He prefers to spend all his free time playing retro games and new indie games.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.