The demo festival was light on strategy content. A desperate reviewer had to take would he could, whenever he could. So while American Civil War isn’t my exact cup of tea, I did give
Victory at Sea Ironclad (yes, the devs hate colons) demo a spin.
Once battle is joined in Victory at Sea Ironclad, you get to control whatever ships you have at hand. The demo fleet offered a variety of hulls and propulsion systems, though it didn’t matter much when shooting blockade runner steamers to shit. You don’t have to play with speeds and headings yourself – just set the destination and the ship will try to do its best to arrive there in an orderly fashion.
But you’re not just trying to achieve a victory at sea for its own sake. No, you’re fighting in the American civil war, which means attacking naval facilities, intercepting trade, and facilitating transportation of goods between cities. So there’s a certain tinge of Port Royale in your boat war sim.
Going back to the battles, Victory at Sea Ironclad marks your ships’ firing arc in green. You can discharge the guns yourself with the left mouse button. Do not do that when your flotilla is sailing line abreast because it can lead to friendly fire. Learn from my experience.
Even if you don’t bring down any of your ships, you will want to increase the size of your navy. There’s plenty of boat designs to choose from, as long as your budget and the local facilities permit. I’m sure that confederate players will have to get crafty.
As Victory at Sea Ironclad seems as its meant to be played in campaign mode, you’ll be able to track your progress with reports like these. Try to sink as many grey-uniformed racists as you can.
Of course, it’s not all about shooting spherical cows on flat seas. Shore operations also have to conducted. Your ships will sail perilously close to the land. Here, I have to complain: neither the shore, nor the objects on the shore feel like they’re in scale with the ships, which hurts verisimilitude.
Once you have directed enough fire at the shore, you’ll be able to offload troops. Currently, it’s a sorry sight, with ships crowding the landing zone, and the shore still looking out of scale. Hopefully, there will be improvements before the release.