Professional, Originally Released On Cassette Only
Game Type : Strategy; War-Game
Author : M. C. Lothlorien
Standalone Release(s) : 1984: JOHNNY REB, Lothlorien, £9.99
Compilation Release(s) : None
Stated compatibility : Electron/BBC Dual Version
Actual compatibility : Electron, BBC B, B+ and Master 128
Supplier : M.C. LOTHLORIEN, 56A Park Lane, Poynton, STOCKPORT SK12 1RE
Disc compatibility : CDFS E00, DFS E00
The game is set during the American Civil War and represents skirmish around a river crossing between Union and Confederate forces. The objective of the game is to either capture the enemy's flag or to achieve the more dominant tactical position within the time period which you allow yourself.
1. The first decision is whether the game is for two different players, using the computer as the impartial umpire, or as a game for one player where the computer will take the role of player 2.
2. Choosing sides - Player 1 must enter which army he wishes to be, either c (confederate) or u (union). In all subsequent actions, player 1 will always move first, and in the one player game you will always be player 1, having the black pieces on the right hand side of the screen.
3. Setting a time limit - if you wish to play the game through to a conclusion, then enter "n" and the battle will continue until one flag has been captured. If you enter "y" a time limit will be imposed of a given number of game turns.
4. Choosing your troops - This is always done first by player 1 who has a maximum limit of twenty pieces of each unit (infantry, cavalry and artillery). You must now either input "y" if you wish to fight with the combination or "n" which will enable you to re-select the force. It is now the turn of either the computer or player 2 to select their forces. He has to construct his force to a value no greater than the points total of player 1.
1. The Battlefield
Your troops will be placed randomly on your own side of the screen.
2. Movement Commands
In each game turn, player 1 must give commands for all his units, after which the results of any artillery fire are calculated before player 2 is able to make any of his moves. After player 2 has made all his moves, then it is at this stage that the results of any direct attacks on any units are calculated. Your units must be moved in the sequence in which they change colour. The input of "q" enables you to pass over the remaining moves for all your units who have not already received a movement command and therefore passes thw move to the other player. Pressing <RETURN> will enable you to bypass an individual unit.
a) Move (m) - You can move in one of 8 directions: n, s, e, w, ne, se, sw, nw. All movement commands must contain three elements, the move command (m), the direction using the above compass points and the number of squares moved.
b) Fire (f) - A valid input has three elements, the fire command (f), direction using the eight compass points and range (number of squares)
c) Crossing the river (cross) - To cross the river, your unit must be directly adjacent to it and you must input the command "cross" when a movement is requested.
d) Limits of moves - Where an invalid request is made for a movement or the unit reaches an impenetrable square then the movement will stop and a message will be reported.
e) Saving the game (save).
a) Artillery fire - your initial supply of ammunition is limited but you may receive occasional re-supply during the game.
b) Attacking an enemy unit - More than one unit can attack a single enemy unit.
c) Unit strength - each unit is shown against a background colour which indicates its strength. (The lighter the colour, the stronger the unit)
d) Completion of the game - the final action before the start of the next game turn is for the computer to check the new position of each unit and these will flash in turn as the check is made.
1. Expire time period - the higher points total is the victor.
2. Capture of enemy flag - to capture a flag, you must order your unit to move onto the square occupied by the enemy flag.
3. No result - it is possible to so deplete each other's force that neither side can reach a winning position.
Instructions' Source : JOHNNY REB (Lothlorien) Inner Inlay
Review (Electron User)
Having never before tried a war game (is this the right term?) it was with some trepidation and not a little interest that I loaded Johnny Reb. However I think I could quite easily get addicted now!
The object is to select an army of your own devising and, by out-manoeuvring a second player, or the Electron, capture the enemy army's flag a predetermined number of times. The scenario is a confrontation at a river crossing during the American Civil War. The program, which is recorded on both sides of the cassette, loads in two parts. The first plays 'Dixie', displays the Confederate flag and loads in the main program.
You are then given various options - one or two player game, whether you want to be the Johnny Rebs or the Bluebellies, what units you want in your army, if you want a time limit and if so, what? You can choose to play a friend or, by choosing the one player option, the computer. Your army can consist of up to twenty units of each of cavalry, infantry or artillery. If you are playing the computer it can choose a force numerically equal to yours but not necessarily consisting of the same number in each unit.
When you have made your choices, the battleground is displayed. This display and the placement of troops on it, is random. But I noticed a tendency for the Electron's army to keep being slightly more favourably placed than mine!
Each army in turn makes a move for each of its pieces. After one complete move by each army, the battleground is scanned and updated. The first army to capture the enemy army's flag a certain number of times - or alternatively to destroy the enemy - wins.
So what is it like to play? Well, it's like playing a cross between toy soldiers and chess. If it seems that the enemy will get you, you can always give them a blast from a cannon.
I found I liked to play with the maximum number of pieces (60), without a time limit.
If you are called down for tea there is a save-game facility. Enclosed with the program is a cassette-sized leaflet containing seven pages of rules. But I found the program very user-friendly, causing only occasional reference to the instructions.
Some things I didn't like. My major complaint is that the more I played it, the slower it seemed to get. After completely exterminating the enemy army (my one and only time) it took about half a minute while the computer scanned the enemy battlefield for troops and then again for score-checks for it to announce that I had won.
Another thing that I'd like to see changed is the method of calling the save game routine. I found myself calling it up several times by inputting "S" (Save) when I had meant to input "M" (Move), <RETURN>, "S" (South). Perhaps if you had to type in SAVE this problem wouldn't arise. The error-trapping on the BREAK key didn't seem to be quite right, but that probably serves me right for messing about with it.
Overall, a little on the slow side. Nevertheless it's a compulsive game that will keep your interest longer than the average arcade game. And it will still be going strong when you have solved that latest adventure. Good value for money.
Merlin, ELECTRON USER 1. 9