Cossacks – European Wars is a mixture of real-time wargame and construction simulator from CDV Software Entertainment and GSC Game World.
But what is really behind it now? What did the company pay more attention to? Since the beginning, advertising has emphasized the different types of buildings that play an important role in Cossacks.
First of all, I can say that Cossacks is clearly a real-time wargame. Although the developers have successfully blended the two genre types, each scenario ends in a decisive battle. There is not much of “make love not war” to be felt here … Diplomacy centers and marketplaces do not bring the opponents a little closer, but mainly serve to gain resources in order to give the opponents a knack.
But let’s return briefly to the intro video and the entry-level menus. The intro is “mega cool” and really gets you in the mood. An equestrian attack rushes towards a fortified hill. Guns roar, a swing at the defenders, the battle reaches its climax. Everyone should take the time to enjoy the intro in peace. Possibly, even repeat. It is wonderful! The menu offers the possibility to play a campaign, single missions or random maps. The multiplayer mode is also available. Deathmatch option brings exciting battles over the network. An encyclopedia gives the historical background about the battles of the 17th and 18th centuries.
The most interesting variant is the campaign. Cossacks has 5 complete campaigns. A tutorial is intended to provide initial help in learning the game. The campaign “Caribbean Pirates” puts you in the role of an English officer who has no easy standing in the Caribbean. There he has to fight against pirates, Spaniards and Dutch and cannot really count on much support from home. “War of Independence” mediates the liberation struggles of the Ukrainians against Turks and Poles. “Serving the Cardinal” takes place in the turmoil of the Thirty Years’ War. As a French officer you get into the bloodmills of two beliefs in: “A Window to Europe”.
Fighting takes place on land and water, depending on the battle site. You get an exact target in the scenario. Similar to an RPG, additional missions occasionally come up to you. For example, you have to fight your fleet through the whole map to colonize an island. On the way through the waters, pirates and other unfriendly contemporaries attack their own fleet. Then it can happen that you meet a pirate hunter who asks you to take down the pirate captain Bluebeard, or a merchant ship has to be escorted. As soon as you have passed these adventures and reached the island, you have to quickly establish a colony, on which, of course, the readiness for defense must be established immediately. If you have passed such a mission, you go on a privateer trip and try to hijack Spanish ships. A treasure map can even fall into your hands. Another time the governor demands the conquest of another city etc. etc. As you can see: boredom rarely arises!
But units are required for all actions. In the campaign mentioned above, the fleet is the main power. You can build small yachts, galleys, frigates and battleships. But you need a certain level of development for certain types of ships. I will report on this development in detail later. The ships differed in speed, stamina, (both visibility and range) and number of cannons. The number of cannons is reflected in the rate of fire. While the yacht is having a small pause between two volleys of fire, the battleship shoots one volley at a time. It is arguably the unrestricted ruler at sea. But again it uses so much resource that you can only maintain a battleship with a well-running economy. Mutiny is not an empty phrase here either, because if payment is not made, the battleship is lost because the crew mutinied.
Different laws apply on land. At the beginning you need certain buildings to train soldiers. A distinction is made between infantry, cavalry and artillery. In addition to the well-known pikemen, there are special forms of certain countries, such as the Roundshiers of the Austrian armed forces. A soldier with a sword and a shield, but his fighting power is very low. The musketeers are much more important. They are the backbone of the army, can fight the enemy from a great distance, but they need protection from enemy rider attacks, which is why the pikemen already mentioned exist. Arab armed forces also have archers in their own ranks, whose range is less, but the higher firing rate should make up for this. Even with musketeers there are country-specific varieties or simply improvements in penetration, range or firing order through research.
The management of these units corresponds to conventional real-time wargames such as C&C or Sudden Strike. You can choose specific units and assign numbers to them to activate them faster. But it wasn’t just the uniform that distinguished troops from then to today’s soldiers. Discipline was an important part, if not the most important, of warfare at the time. So the soldiers marched in line towards the enemy and fired one shot after the other. In Cossacks you need an officer and a drummer. These 2 units allow the formation of formations of certain branches of arms. For example a musketeer formation with 36, 72, 96, 120 or even 196 units. This formation then proceeds in the desired formation. The following formations are available:
“Row and line” – The soldiers stand in rows of two.
“Column formation” – A narrow block with high shot power
“Square formation” – A hollow square for all-round defense.
It should be noted that a unit made up of 72 soldiers has considerable combat strength. Now imagine a combat group with 196 soldiers. Great battles can be fought in this way. Imagine a musketeer formation firing at advancing infantry when suddenly an enemy horseback attack gallops on the right flank. If the musketeers had no helping pikemen formation that quickly forms a protective square around the musketeers, they would be slaughtered within a few moments.
That brings us to the cavalry who play all the pieces. You can find “normal” cavalry, which is more like knights, cuirassiers (the further development), dragoon (musketeers on horseback), hussars, cossacks, croats, tatars and much more. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses.
The third component is artillery. You have cannons with a long range, quick firing sequence and medium action, howitzers with a short range, low firing sequence but high impact and mortars that can be described as a weak long-range weapon. A special form is the multi-barrel cannon, which has a deadly effect in close combat. Cannons of all kinds can be captured by the enemy if they are unguarded and are not destroyed in time. (Which, incidentally, also applies to buildings!) Here too, similar to the infantry, formations can be formed which are called batteries.
Now we come to the economic part of the game. Cossacks is structured in such a way that not only do you need resources to create units, but you also have to pay for their maintenance and operation. There are the following resources: wood, stone, coal, iron, gold and food (grain / fishing). Farmers must collect / harvest these. Windmills, mines, quarries and forests provide the resources. But to produce units you have to have other buildings built by farmers. Barracks, stables, artillery depots or diplomatic centers for the hire of mercenaries. There are also shipyards, blacksmiths, houses and churches. Priests can be trained in catherdrals to heal soldiers of the field army. An academy is an important part of a city, because research is promoted there. Resource extraction can be made more efficient and the armed forces improved at sometimes considerable costs. Large combat ships, e.g. Battleships can only be built if you finance certain developments. But you have to weigh up exactly which development you need, then these very often have outrageously high prices.
Last but not least, there are various fortifications. From the wooden fence to the stone wall, you can build as you like. Towers are important when building the fortifications. These ceaselessly fire on any squad or ship that dares to get too close. These must always have priority in the destruction, because they tear gaps in their own ranks. You roll up your artillery and fire until the first clouds of smoke from the windows. As mentioned above, one shot of a howitzer can take out the unwanted enemy. But it is questionable whether the howitzer comes so close to the tower. Skill is required here. If a cannon stands on a height (hill) its shooting power increases. Therefore, you should also familiarize yourself with the landscape.
If you have completed a mission, you can continue on to new adventures. Unfortunately, I am missing short film sequences for the reward for the hard work. The programmers must have invested all their strength in the intro.
Cossacks from CDV has certainly set a new standard in terms of “historical battle games”. Simply great how you first have to put together a battle order. Secure flanks, artillery shoots in sequence, which looks very spectacular. The pikemen advance towards the enemy with lowered lances, followed by the musketeers who open the volley-fire. You can see the soldiers falling in the ranks of the enemy. More and more gaps arise in the formations. The cavalry keeps track of the enemy’s last remains. HOORAY!!!! The battle is won.
Cossacks is an excitingly programmed real-time war game with exactly the right dose of construction simulation and a hint of role play. The graphics are really successful because all troops and buildings are adapted to their country of origin. This creates a wealth of new graphic impressions. The level of difficulty could be a little bit reduced because it is really hard work. But it will also guarantee the long gaming fun to the pros.