DGS Games

GrogHeads Reviews Rebels & Redcoats

Rebels & Redcoats by Hunted Cow, for iOS/iPad

Review by Michael Eckenfels, 19 November 2014

Click images to enlarge

I’m no stranger to Hunted Cow’s games…in fact I wrote a review recently for GrogHeads that covered the game Ancient Battle: Hannibal. Hunted Cow games tend to be the same window with different curtains, and while some might think that is a negative view, it works very well if you like their games and stylization of combat. Simple move-and-fire interfaces (or move-and-close combat) and objectives make their games usually quick and easy to get into.

The title screen.

The title screen.

Is Rebels & Redcoats any different? The short answer is, no; no, it is not, with a few exceptions.

The ‘curtains’ here, of course, is the Revolutionary War, pitting the British Army against the fledgling American rebels. The game offers five scenarios for each side in two different campaigns (giving essentially twenty total scenarios to choose from), along with a string of tutorial missions that give you a feel for the game before you dive in and fight out a scenario.

Five scenarios in one of the two Campaigns – this one for the American side, but the scenarios are the same for the British.

Five scenarios in one of the two Campaigns – this one for the American side, but the scenarios are the same for the British.

The game itself is structured in a turn-based format, with the player selecting and moving their units, and firing when possible. Once all units are moved/fired (or all the units the player wants to move and fire, that is) for a turn, the player ends it and the AI takes over to move and fire their own units. This continues until a side wins by accomplishing certain objectives.

A description for one of the battles, to give a bit of historical flavor.

A description for one of the battles, to give a bit of historical flavor.

These units can be infantry, artillery, or cavalry, and each has their own strengths and weaknesses. That’s not to say this is a rock-scissors-paper type game, but there are some elements to that, such as the ability of infantry units to form squares to defend against cavalry attacks. I loved seeing that in this game. Infantry can also form a Column to facilitate fast movement but trading combat power for mobility, or Line formation, which is great for combat but slow for movement.

Guildford Courthouse hosts a piecemeal slaughter of Colonials.

Guildford Courthouse hosts a piecemeal slaughter of Colonials.

Units can also become ‘Unformed,’ which can result from taking fire and failing a morale check, or moving through difficult terrain (such as woods). When this happens, they can fight back, but their combat effectiveness is greatly reduced. They have to be reformed before they can dish out better punishment, but reforming takes up an entire turn, making them vulnerable to enemy attacks. If you leave them Unformed, they’re going to take even more losses from attacks, so it is best to reform them when possible.

Combat strength is not just related to formation type; it also is based on the strength points of the unit, which can range from one to 10 generally, though some units can be upwards of 18 depending on the scenario. The stronger a unit is, the more firepower it has, so weaker units tend to do less damage and are, of course, less likely to survive an enemy barrage. As units fire I see puffs of smoke, sound effects, and see formations stagger under the onslaught, and casualties are applied if the unit suffers them. While a defending unit’s strength points might decrease, the visual of the formation itself does not change, so if it started at 10 and goes down to 1, it still looks the same as it was. It would be nice to see a stronger unit with more soldiers in the ranks and weaker ones with less.

At start, each battle will show what must be done to win (or avoid losing).

At start, each battle will show what must be done to win (or avoid losing).

Strategy is somewhat limited in the game, with relatively simple choices (or lack thereof, depending on the terrain) to make, though those choices can be tough at times. For example, moving units through woods will make them much more susceptible to enemy combat, so moving a strong infantry unit could be their death sentence if they run across an enemy unit. Fog of war is very much in place, with player units able to spot across clear terrain to a long distance, whereas in woods they may only spot the adjacent hexes. This makes for some tense moments when I’m thinking I’m being clever by attempting to outflank the AI, only to run into some enemy and getting nearly wiped out.

The Battle of Stony Point, where historically American troops routed the English. This time, not so much.

The Battle of Stony Point, where historically American troops routed the English. This time, not so much.

Game objectives in Rebels & Redcoats revolve around two things: control points and casualties. For the former, sometimes the player will be faced with holding control points while taking others, or only faced with taking them (it depends on whether you’re on offense or defense). Casualties are best given to the enemy and as few as possible taken from the player’s side. Often there is a percentage threshold for losses, which is represented on the game screen, and shows how close one is to either losing or winning.

As battles are finished, the player is awarded a score and can obtain a ‘ranking’ of sorts depending on their performance. This ranking is in the form of three medals, with three being the maximum. The medals are actually coins for the American side, and medals for the English, which is a nice touch. There are no rewards or unlockables other than the satisfaction of scoring three out of three for each battle.

The map view can be zoomed out for a strategic overview.

The map view can be zoomed out for a strategic overview.

Unfortunately, as there are ‘only’ 20 scenarios (again, 10 for each side), you’d get an idea pretty quick of how to best play each one, and that might get boring rather quickly. There are no open-map random battle generators, which I think would add a ton of replayability to this game – not to mention justifying an increased price tag to boot, in my opinion. Also, there is no multiplayer action, but that’s true for most other games by these folks that I’ve played. It’s all you versus the AI, and while the AI is not particularly brilliant, the limited map space and unit choices, plus few objectives, doesn’t make things difficult for it. Unless you choose to play a battle at a higher or lower difficulty – which could give you a big difference in game experience – there’s nothing else to do other than player versus AI.

The interface will let you know if you have not moved all your troops. You will learn to despise this pop-up, but it can be turned off.

The interface will let you know if you have not moved all your troops. You will learn to despise this pop-up, but it can be turned off.

On a final note, I found it interesting that this is the first Hunted Cow Studios product I’ve played (and I’ve played a lot of them) that does not have game-related in-app purchases. Instead, there is a button that links the user to an in-game store where other games can be purchased (selecting one exits the game and takes me right to the App Store). I don’t necessarily have a problem with that – I’ve mentioned in a previous review that Hunted Cow Studios is the only app-maker that I’ve ever made in-app purchases for – so it makes me somewhat saddened that they do not currently have additional scenarios for purchase.

CONCLUSIONS
Rebels & Redcoats is another sturdy brick in the wall of Hunted Cow Studios (now in partnership with Decision Games, interestingly enough), which does not do anything particularly amazing or interesting other than a couple of things I mention in the review above. However, neither is it really remiss in anything (other than the random battle generator or multiplayer action, but neither are a deal-breaker for me as a purchaser). I think their game system is best suited for musket-era battles; indeed, the game has a great feel when watching infantry in line trading shot. This game certainly has a better feel than other titles in their library because of that, causing me to play each battle multiple times to reach that three-medal goal. For the price, once that is completed, I think you’ve gotten your money’s worth for this title.


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2 Responses to GrogHeads Reviews Rebels & Redcoats

  1. Mark D. says:

    Michael, Nice “hands-on” type of review, which is the best kind. I’ve only spent a small amount of time playing this game, but I enjoy it as well. I added link to the front page of http://www.grognard.com. Thanks for the write-up!

  2. […] well be the motto of Hunted Cow/Hexwar when it comes to these Tank Battle games. I’ve reviewed several of their games before, and done an AAR on one of their games, and all coming to similar […]

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