Universal Military Simulator

Title		Universal Military Simulator
Game Type	Strategy
Company		Rainbird
Released	1988
Players		1 or 2
HD Installable  No
Compatibility	OCS/ECS/AGA
Submission	Nick Scott (HP_Lovecraft@hotmail.com)

UMS is easily the most complex game I  have ever played. As the title
suggests, the game is designed to simulate military battles. Not a new
concept, as there was a few simulators before UMS, like Empire. But the
main difference with UMS, is that most simulators focused on visual
realism, but UMS focused on technical realism.

I remember when I read the back of the box the day I bought the game. It
didn't seem complicated. I just built a battlefield, then build an army. I
then battle against another army, using superior military tactics and
strategy to win. Well, it definitely was not easy.

Setup: UMS consists of 3 modes: "Battle-field creator",  "Army-creator",
and "Battle-mode".

Constructing the battlefield is the easiest part of the process. If you
like, you can simply create a flat, empty field in a matter of seconds,
but that leads to boring battles. Instead, you can create landscapes
consisting of  mountains, hills and valleys. Terrain type (ie woods,
desert), and hundreds of other variables. Thankfully, the game comes with
a set of pre-made battlefields (ie Gettysburg, Waterloo, etc). Often, it
is easier to start with a pre-made field, then modify it to suit your

Once you have created a battlefield, you can create your army. This
process can take weeks! An army consists of a set of brigades, which
consists of  a set of battalions, which consists of a set of companies,
which consists of a set of platoons, etc. Within each structure, you need
to assign the number of units, the type of unit (infantry, mechanized,
artillery, etc), there fighting style (offensive, defensive), there
relative fighting ability, strength of weapons, speed of travel, and so
forth. There is an endless amount of variables to set, and no easy way to
automate the process.

The designers philosophy was that military simulator was useless, unless
it was accurate and highly detailed. UMS may be accurate, but is a major
pain to set up. It's designed to simulate any kind of non-nuclear battle
from ancient Greeks and Romans, to modern-day mechanized warfare. This is
an admirable goal, but building armies quickly becomes repetitive.
Usually, I would build a "generic" army, then modify it to meet certain
specifications when needed. As with the pre-loaded battlefields, the game
also comes pre-loaded with a whole series of Armies that originally fought
on those battle fields.

After the headache of building your battlefield and army, you can to have
an ACTUAL BATTLE. As before, there is an extensive amount of detail, but
fortunately, there is automation available for many of the steps.
Graphically, the battle scene is pretty low-tech. The battlefield is a
3D-vector grid in black, white and green. The armies are simply just
"points" on the grid, with icons floating above them with the name of the
unit. With huge armies, it's impossible to tell what is going on because
all the icons overlap each other. Fortunately, you can rotate the map in
any direction, and also zoom and pan to specific battles. This process can
be automated, it works fairly well.

As the game starts, you can battle another player, or have the computer
control one side, or even have the computer control both sides.
Controlling your armies works much like an RPG game. Each player takes
turns, and is allowed a specific number of moves and actions (such as
firing range-weapons). Each movement and attack shows up on the screen as
a red/green arrow. You can adjust the "intelligence" of the computer, to
make the game easier or harder.

For the sake of accuracy, this game is superb. I think I could accurately
simulate any modern battle in history, as long as I entered the data
correctly, then have the computer battle it out to see who is the winner.
One interesting detail is that the game comes with preloaded battles like
Gettysburg, Waterloo, and a few others. If you have the computer control
both armies, the "winners don't always win". For example, the south
sometimes wins the Gettysburg simulation because the computer does not
always use the same tactics. This gives the game a nice level of
randomness, and makes it harder to predict what the computer does.

Recommended for military buffs, but not for the shoot-em-up/arcade type.
This game requires TONS of patience, and attention to detail. I
eventually got bored with the game, and resorted to have the Spartans
fight Napoleons army, or having General Grants army fight an identical

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