D. Ezra Sidran, PhD is a computer scientist and an award-winning and bestselling wargame designer. His research in tactical artificial intelligence (AI) has been supported in part by DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). General Staff is the first commercial implementation of this research.
The General Staff Wargame is a computer wargame designed to simulate any land battle from the 17th, 18th or 19th century using the TIGER/MATE AI system (papers describing the underlying principles and algorithms of this AI can be downloaded here and here). Later versions of General Staff will cover the 'Ancients' and 'Modern' periods.
The General Staff Wargaming System is an easy to use wargame construction set. It consists of a suite of modules for creating armies, maps and scenarios. The 30 most popular (as voted by our fans) battles are included free for Kickstarter backers.
The Kickstarter backer package (Aide de Camp, General, Field Marshal and l'Empereur pledge levels) includes:
- The General Staff Wargame
- The General Staff Army Editor
- The General Staff Map Editor
- The General Staff Scenario Editor
- 30 Famous Battles
The General Staff Wargame and Wargaming System run on Windows 7, 8 and 10 operating systems with a minimum of 1 GB of memory. Minimum screen resolution is 1440 x 900.
All backers of this Kickstarter campaign will have the opportunity to participate as beta testers for the General Staff Wargame and General Staff Wargaming System.
General Staff utilizes a IGOWEGO system. You give your orders in secret, the AI gives its orders in secret and then units are moved simultaneously, combat is resolved and units appear and dissappear from direct line of sight. The length of each turn is set in the Scenario Editor (see below).
General Staff has two gameplay modes: Simulation and Kriegsspiel.
Simulation mode is what you would expect from the designer of the UMS: Universal Military Simulator series: it is a detailed military simulation that is historically accurate and utilizes individual unit strength, leadership, morale, experience and unit formation.
All orders are given by you (as the highest HQ) via courier to your subordinate commanders and from there they are relayed to their subordinate units. For example:
Communications from units in the fight are also sent back up the chain of command via courier. General Staff also employs state of the art 3D Line of Sight algorithms. As the general you can only see what is visible from your own HQ. Other than that, you are dependent on reports arriving by courier:
Units that are no longer directly visible from your HQ slowly fade away indicating their last known position:
A moderately complex General Staff Wargame in simulation mode will take 1-2 hours to play.
Kriegsspiel mode is designed to be a fun 'beer and skittles' type force-on-force' wargame. There are no HQ units and, consequently, all orders are given directly to the units.
Kriegsspiel games can take as little as 30 minutes to play.
The Artificial Intelligence
The AI for General Staff is literally state of the art and unparalleled for a commercial computer wargame. Dr. Sidran's doctoral thesis detailed the successful completion of an unsupervised learning AI that is unique in commercial computer wargames.
To view an unclassified DARPA briefing about the AI click on these links:
- Waterloo June 18, 1815
- Gettysburg - Little Round Top July 2, 1863
- Gettysburg - Culp’s Hill July 2, 1863
- Borodino September 7, 1812
- Austerlitz December 2, 1805
- Saratoga September 19, 1777
- Saratoga October 7, 1777
- Gravelotte - Saint Privat August 18, 1870
- Antietam - Burnside’s Bridge September 17, 1862
- Little Bighorn June 25, 1876
- Little Bighorn with Gatling Guns June 25, 1876
- Isandlwana January 22, 1879
- Talavera July 27-28 1809
- Blenheim August 13, 1704
- Shiloh April 6, 1862
- Shiloh April 7, 1862
- Eylau February 8, 1807
- Leuthen December 5, 1757
- Sedan September 2, 1870
- Alma September 20, 1854
- Wagram July 5, 1809
- Wagram July 6, 1809
- 2nd Bull Run August 29, 1862
- 2nd Bull Run August 30, 1862
- Chancellorsville May 1, 1863
- Chancellorsville May 2, 1863
- Tell El Kebir September 13, 1882
- Jena–Auerstedt 14 October 14 1806
- Original Kriegsspiel Map! Circa 1892
- Centerville Sample Map
The General Staff Wargaming System
The General Staff Army Design Module allows the user to create new armies and edit existing Order of Battle Tables for use with the General Staff Wargaming System. It has an intuitive and easy to use interface.
For more information about the General Staff Army Design Module click on these links.
The General Staff Map Design Module comes with in-game video tutorials. Use the General Staff Map Design Module to easily create new maps or import famous historic battle maps:
It is also easy to create quick sketch maps of battles:
The General Staff Scenario Design Module allows the user to combine any two armies previously created in the General Staff Army Design Module with a map created in the General Staff Map Design Module, position troops, specify unit speeds, combat tables, game length and victory conditions and save it as a new scenario (battle) that can be loaded into the General Staff Wargame.
You have complete control over unit speeds, terrain and formation modifiers, combat tables, game length, turn times, reinforcements and victory conditions. Below is a video describing how to set unit speed and turn time and how they effect each other:
General Staff Mugs
We couldn't decide between these two 19th century Kriegsspiel engravings so we will send you both!
$7,500 - Play by eMail (PBEM) REACHED!
$10,000 - AI Adjutant REACHED!
Click on "Ask the Adjutant" to get the AI's take on your situation. Links to stable web resources. "Your line is at risk of envelopment. This did not turn out well for Scipio Africanus at Cannae." Optional graphic display of calculations, geometry, hierarchical classification system, etc. This was suggested by Rob Hansen, an old friend from grad school - and I think this is brilliant.
$75,000 - Play head to head online
The General Staff Development Blog
For behind the scenes information and more details about the General Staff Wargame and Wargaming System check out the development blog here.
Risks and challenges
There are always risks and challenges with the development of any major software project. However, these have been largely mitigated because General Staff has been under development for over two and a half years by D. Ezra Sidran who has successfully authored over 25 commercial computer games.
In all candor, we should mention that Dr. Sidran had some major health issues in 2013-4 but he has recovered and is now considered to be in complete remission.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (35 days)