The Perfect General (Second Review)

Title           The Perfect General (Second Review)
Game Type       Strategy
Company         UBI SOFT (1991)
Players         1-2
Compatibility   Kickstart 1.2+ 1MB RAM
HD Installable  Yes
Features        supports modem and null-modem play
Submission      Thomas M. Beck,

The Perfect General is an award winning war strategy game based on an old
US tournament series.

The aim of the game is to capture the enemy's territory and cities in a
given number of game turns. Each city that is held at the end of a turn
grants victory points. The player who has the most points at the end wins,
no matter how many units have been destroyed.

The game comes with 12 game maps and 14 scenarios (two scenarios use the
same map). Some of them have a tutorial character, some are fictitious and
some scenarios have a World War II background. This may not sound too much
but there are lots of game options and many units to try and so the game
won't let you go for a long time.

Most scenarios are not balanced, i.e., the attacker or the defender has
advantages. Therefore, a complete game consists of two battles on the same
map - one played as attacker and one played as defender. Yes, this is one
of the rare games where it is sometimes unavoidable (at least when playing
against a human opponent) that you lose a battle. It's just a question of
how well or badly you lose, and how well you are able to compensate your
defeat with a great victory in the second  battle. The victory points of
the two battles are added up and the one who scores more points wins the
game. However, it is also possible to play a game that only consists of
one battle played as attacker or defender, just as you like.

Combat is mainly affected by a unit's armour, weapon range, distance to
target, weapon damage, weapon accuracy, terrain (affects movement, sight
and hit probability) and on some missions also weather (affects sight and
movement).  There are several tables in the manual that list the hit
probabilities, the damage a vehicle can take/cause, the weapon range, the
movement points for all vehicles and the close combat chances.

The game is limited to a certain number of game turns and can be played in
two ways: Standard or long game. However, if you start a standard game and
later decide that it would be fun to play some more turns, you are allowed
to continue, but without scoring. In most cases standard is okay, unless
you have lots of time. Because each game turn consists of several phases,
a battle usually lasts several hours. For example, a full game against a
human opponent on the 'Caught in the Middle' scenario (where every city
captured grants 10 reinforcements points every turn) can take about 10

Gameplay in The Pefect General is broken down into a series of phases;
each phase is divided into two parts. First the attacker gives his orders
then the defender.

The game starts with the 'buy and deploy units' phase. Usually, this phase
takes place at the beginning of a battle, however, in some scenarios it
occurs every turn or before predefined turns when certain areas have been
occupied in a given timeframe. (It can also take place for one side as soon
as the other side attacks a neutral area.) In this phase you have a
certain amount of credits that can be used to buy units. If all credits
are used, you can switch to the game map to deploy the units in the
permitted reinforcement areas. Don't forget to occupy the cities that are in
your area from the beginning.

The game features the following units (note that not all units are
available in all scenarios):

Mines - cost 3
If you are the defender, mines placed at crucial points like streets
through woods (it takes half the movement points of a unit to enter the
woods to bypass a mine) and before bridges (it's not allowed to lay a mine
on a bridge) can hamper the attacker a lot.

Infantry - cost 1 - movement 1 - armour 4
Only useful for being stationed in cities to get victory points. It has a
very low hit probability and causes very low damage on all other units and
is therefore pretty useless if it comes to combat.

Engineer - cost 5 - movement 1 - armour 4
Can lay or clear mines and can build or destroy bridges.

Bazooka - cost 3 - movement 1 - armour 4
Good defensive unit, best deployed in towns or woods for ambushes on light
enemy vehicles.

Mobile Artillery - cost 14 - movement 4 - armour 6
The only artillery that can target, fire and move in one turn. The
accuracy of its shots is low, though. It often hits up to 3 hex fields
away from the point you targeted, sometimes causing losses to friendly

Light Artillery - cost 9 - movement none (must be transported) - armour 1
Artillery that has a longer range and a better accuracy than the mobile
artillery. It can fire barrage but the barrage covers the hit hex field

Heavy Artillery - cost 20 - movement none (must be transported) - armour 1
Very powerful unit, that has a very long range and a better accuracy than
the mobile artillery. It destroys the enemy unit occupying the hit hex
field at once and blocks all units on all 6 fields around. Sometimes units
on the neighbouring fields are also damaged by artillery shrapnel or light
units  can be completely destroyed (this applies also to the other
artillery types). If firing barrage, the barrage covers the hit field and
all 6 fields around it for a full turn. No unit can enter the outer
barrage ring without being at least stopped for this turn, maybe damaged
or even destroyed. So entering a barrage is a very desperate move and
should be used only to (re)gain control over a city. Barrage also hinders
sight and can be used to sneak up to a city without being shot at by
defensive troops. The artillery can also be used to shoot the enemy out of
a city. This means, that the opponent has to withdraw one or several units
from another place to recapture the fallen city, because the artillery
hit destroyed the unit(s) in the city. Cities consisting of one or up to
three hex fields can be almost totally blocked by a single heavy artillery
unit when continuously firing barrage.

Both light and heavy artillery units select their targets in one turn and
fire the next. So you have to foresee your opponents next move. Apart from
the first turn, light and heavy artillery units can fire every turn if not

Armoured Car - cost 5 - movement 9 - armour 3
Very weak but fast unit to transport infantry type troops or light and
heavy artillery units. Only one unit can be loaded. The weak armoured car
is pretty useless if it comes to battle.

Light Tank - cost 6 - movement 6 - armour 6
This tank is best used for scouting. It's not very suitable for battle or
even close combat. But if you already have taken out the major defenses of
a city, it's good to capture it with a light tank.

Medium Tank - cost 8 - movement 5 - armour 8
This is an all purpose tank. It has a good mix of movement range and
defensive and offensive capabilities.

Heavy Tank - cost 12 - movement 4 - armour 15
It takes quite some effort to stop and destroy it. The easiest way to kill
it is to score a direct artillery hit on it. Unfortunately, it's a bit
slow and it should keep to the roads whenever possible. Therefore,
destroying the roads with artillery is also a good choice when playing as

Note that the given movements are doubled when a unit is on a road, so
it's always best for all units to use the roads whenever possible.

The next phase is the 'select targets for mobile artillery' phase.

Then comes the 'indirect fire' phase.
In this phase mobile, light and heavy artillery units can, but need not,

In the 'select target of light and heavy artillery' phase these artillery
types select the targets to fire at during the next turn.

After that comes the 'direct fire' phase.
Every unit that has not yet fired can fire before moving. If an enemy has
not fired yet, it can return fire on any target in range. Unlike a hit in
the 'indirect fire' phase, an artillery hit in this phase is not always
fatal. It causes damage like a heavy tank.

Then the 'movement' phase takes place.
Every unit that is not blocked by barrage can move. All vehicles can
transport infantry and light and heavy artillery type units that have
neither fired (or selected a target) nor moved this turn. Enemy units that
have not fired yet are allowed to shoot at moving units. A moving unit is
not allowed to return fire. Therefore, it's a good choice to shoot at
moving units and try to destroy them before they stop. In some scenarios
movement and sight are hindered during some turns by the weather. In the
case of heavy rain, all units that don't move on a road need double the
the usual movement points. In the night or in case of fog, sight is very

Finally at the end of a turn it's time for the 'direct fire' phase. All
units that still haven't fired this turn are allowed to fire or return

A game turn ends with an evaluation of the conflict so far before the next
turn is started. The game continues turn by turn until the chosen turn
limit is reached. Then you are presented with some statistics, regarding
the scored hits, achieved hit probabilities, losses and damage assessment.
After the battle(s) your skill is classified. Obviously you want to become
'the perfect general' but this is very, very difficult. Finally, your
scores are entered into the commander history and if you were good enough
on that scenario also into the scenario history.

You can play fun games (e.g., try to win a battle only with bazookas and
armoured cars) or serious games with all realistic levels enabled.

To make the game more or less realistic, there are lots of game options
that can change your tactics massively. You can enable 'full view' instead
of 'limit to LOS', so that all units on a map can be seen at once.
Otherwise units stay camouflaged until they shoot, enter open terrain or
are detected when an enemy moves on to an adjacent hex field. In addition
you can turn 'random hit' off and switch to 'always hit' to disable any
luck and force a chess type of game. You can turn 'partial kill' off and
switch 'full kill' on. Then a cheap bazooka can kill a heavy tank with a
single shot. When playing against a computer opponent, 3 difficulty levels
can be selected. If the most difficult level is still too easy for you,
you can play with a handicap. That means that you get less buying points
in the 'buy and deploy units phase'.

Apart from the tips already given above, the following tactics can be used
in a realistic game.

First of all, the game map should be searched for cities and areas that
grant more victory points or even reinforcement points. These are the
primary objectives.

Then it's important to find the best places for your light and heavy
artillery. The best place is a position where it can reach lots of targets
with no need to be transported later and a position where it cannot be
reached and shot at easily. If it ever comes to close combat, your
artillery is most of the time lost with a 95% chance even if attacked by
just an armoured car. A good position is deep in the woods or high on
mountains. Keep in mind though that, if the artillery is placed in the
woods, it needs another unit as its eyes. At least one of your units must
have line of sight to a target so that it can be targeted by your

At the beginning of the game frontline cities should not be occupied by
just an infantry or a bazooka unit, but by a heavy unit that cannot simply
be overrun by an attacking armoured car. Infantry units can be used to
occupy cities behind the frontlines, so that you save your buying points
for better units at the front.

For the defender it's sometimes better to first try to destroy a bridge or
street with a direct artillery hit before firing at the attacking units.

If you are the attacker with lots of units and encounter a mine, it's
faster and might be better to sacrifice two weak units instead of
attempting to bypass the mine or waiting until an engineer, if you have
one to hand, clears the mine. Two units intentionally driving on a mine
clear the mine and your offensive can go on. Mines can also be cleared by
artillery hits, but crossing the bomb-crater afterwards also costs lots of
movement points.

If you are the defender hiding a bazooka unit in a city it's not a good
idea to shoot at an armoured car that stops two or more hex fields away
from you. When you shoot, the bazooka will be visible at once to all other
units in the area and a heavy tank, for example, might shoot you out of
the city immediately.

If your opponent possesses lots of artillery units it's good advice to
position your units with two hex fields space between them. In that case,
fewer units will be killed or blocked by an artillery hit.

If you possess lots of artillery units and want to increase the chances
that a crucial target is hit, target it with two or three artillery units.

... and I could go on.

Some final words about playability. When played against a level 3 computer
opponent, a faster Amiga (030/25MHz or above) is a good choice. If played
against a human opponent a stock A500 should do. I remember doing some
null-modem games from a stock A500 to an A2000 030/25MHz and it worked

To sum it up, this is one of the most detailed war strategy games for the
Amiga and everyone that is interested in this genre should take a look at

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