Cossacks: European Wars is a real-time strategy computer game for Windows made by the Ukrainian developer GSC Game World. It was released on April 24, 2001. The game has an isometric view and is set in the 17th and 18th centuries of Europe. It features sixteen playable nations each with its own architectural styles, technologies and units.
Players must avoid famine and engage in army expansion, building construction and simple resource gathering. Mission scenarios range from conflicts such as Thirty Years' War to the War of the Austrian Succession, and renowned for the seemingly infinite number of units players may control. This ability set it apart from other games of the time such as Age of Empires and Empire Earth. Even today the only games that can come close to comparing to Cossacks in the area of unit count are found in the Total War series.
Cossacks is a game which allows the user to gain strategy skills and even pick up some relative history of that period by the inclusion of a comprehensive encyclopedia. This top selling title has won two awards and was positively favoured by a majority of reviewers.
There are 6 basic resources in the game that are crucial to the player's military victory. These are gold, wood, food, stone, iron and coal. Gold, iron and coal may only be acquired by constructing mines over a designated resource area and sending peasants into them whereas food is cultivated from mills and via the use of fishing boats. Wood and stone are gathered by conventional means and there are also specific areas where these may be collected. Depending on the type of unit or structure being built, the amount of resources needed to create a unit/structure would inflate quantitatively with each successive one built or trained. Depleted resources would result in an undesirable penalty for the player such as a lack of food will signify a famine for the state and the player's units will die from lack of supplies. Similarly, a lack of coal and iron means that shooters and cannons will cease to fire their weapons whereas a lack of gold will mean that units which require maintenance paid will commit mutiny against the state. The economic workforce consists of peasants who can multitask and also attack enemy soldiers. They can, however, also be captured by enemy troops and turned to the enemy's allegiance.
Cossacks depart from common RTS titles in that military actions may be conducted by assigning formations to soldiers or allowing them to attack solitarily without proper formations. Formations may be made by grouping exactly 15, 36, 72, 120 or 196 of a single unit type in the presence of a corresponding officer and drummer. 3 different types of formations may be assumed and used for different attacking strategies.
Units in formations may also be issued a 'stand ground' order where they would also be granted a defensive bonus as well as a morale improvement. Cavalry units may also be grouped into formations and function in a similar manner as would an infantry formation minus the officer and drummer units. Upgrades which affect weaponry and defensive stats can be researched in the barracks or the stables or the armories. An academy or a minaret (for various scientific research) is also needed to train officers and to build formations. There are various strategies of controlling an army developed by players during the continuous gaming online.
Artillery in the game are divided into mortars, cannons, multi-barrelled cannons and howitzers and all have distinct functions which are suitable in one situation but may not be appropriate in the next. Mortars are primarily used to bombard enemy buildings and ships from afar. The resulting shrapnel and debris upon impact on the building(s) would also kill nearby enemy units as well as the player's own if in the vicinity. Cannons are the staple of the artillery forces in Cossacks and possess good range (which can be improved with its corresponding research) and shot power but are not particularly powerful against buildings, especially after the buildings' upgrades have been researched. Cannons are also able to fire a grape shot to eradicate a cluster of enemies at short range whereas a multi-barrelled cannon (must be researched at the academy and is not available to all nations) also functions in a similar manner but reloads quicker than the cannon. Howitzers are the shortest ranged artillery but possess the best shot power. They fire in an arc which means that enemy walls will not block their ordnance. They are good against both soldiers and buildings but should be escorted by guards. All artillery units may be captured by enemy forces as are the peasant workforce. The main upgrades for artillery are the extended range, the accuracy and its build time and cost.
The player may also construct ships to wage naval battles and may build from a choice of yacht, galley, frigate or an 18th century battleship. Nations which are historically not well-developed are restricted in the building hierarchy to just galleys. Turkey may build xebecs which are technologically equivalent to the Western powers' frigates. Ships are used for naval domination or for shore bombardment. A player may also build ferry units to prepare for a naval assault over large bodies of water. Larger ships typically require gold for upkeep and its crew would mutiny against the owner if the resource has been depleted.
Shooters (such as the musketeer and the strelets units) take time to reload their weapons after a volley and are vulnerable to a melee counter-attack. Ranged units also require a fair distance to be able to shoot at targets and will often retreat backwards to acquire the required distance. Different shooters possess different ranges while shooting and mounted dragoons do more damage than the regulars. Significant upgrades can be conducted to raise the level of damage possible and certain upgrades can also be purchased to halve the cost of producing shooters.
Grenadier units can destroy buildings with their grenades as well as engage enemies in both melee and ranged attacks. Military production buildings (e.g. barracks and stables) may only be destroyed by artillery and/or grenadier units whereas civilian buildings may be captured as per the usual means.
In Cossacks there is a multitude of playable, randomly generated maps in addition to five long campaigns which are considered extremely difficult to beat. These campaigns are historically accurate, and often pit the player against impossible odds.
- Austria - The Austrians are one of the most diverse states in the game, having unique units in both the 17th and 18th centuries. Austria produces the 17th century Musketeers (Jäger) with the most damage, regular Roundshiers, Pandurs, and Croat cavalry. Austrian 17th century musketeers have a disadvantage in the fact that they take the longest time to produce - so they can only be massed in great numbers if the Austrian player is deploying from a well-defended area or an island, or if the player has enabled peace mode. Historically, Roundshiers were fielded when the enemy paused to reload his guns; in Cossacks, Roundshiers are used for cannon fodder and for early rush tactics. They can also be used to overwhelm the enemy in conjunction with mercenary Roundshiers late game. Pandurs are long range attackers, and are best used in conjunction with regular 18th century infantry to provide cover fire, as Pandurs are not equipped with bayonets. Croats, like hussars, are used as raiders. They have a short creation time, and can also be used as reconnaissance cavalry.
- Algeria - The Algerians, like the other Islamic nation, Turkey, cannot advance into the 18th century. They instead rely on cheap, quick-producing units and horde tactics to overwhelm their enemies. Their navy, like Turkey's, also cannot produce frigates like the Europeans, instead their shipyards build Xebecs, which match the European's 17th century battleships. Algerians may not produce the 18th century ship-of-the-line. The Algerian unique are the regular Archer and the Mameluke. Players playing against Algeria should be wary of early archer rushes - as the Algerian archers have no need of upgrades and are capable of destroying buildings. They are also effective against formations, but are ineffective against staggered masses of infantry or cavalry. Mamelukes are lancer cavalry, and are effective mainly against infantry. Units they share with Turkey include the Ottoman pikeman, the regular Light Infantryman, the Muslim officer and the Muslim drummer.
- England - English troops are all unique in the fact that they are readier quicker than all the other nations. English upgrades are distinctly different because they give a higher attack value earlier at IVth upgrade followed by a series of +1's, as opposed to the other nation's prime bonuses at VIIth upgrade. The English unique units are the Highlander and the Bagpiper. The highlander is a long-ranged unit with no bayonet, and is built from the 18th century barracks. The bagpiper is used to form 18th century formations together with the 18th century officer. The English Cuirassier also has a stronger attack power than other Cuirassiers, by 1.
- France - The French specialize in musket-armed cavalry, as two of their unique units, the King's Musketeer and the 18th Century Dragoon fall under this classification. The third French unique unit is the Chasseur, a long-ranged infantry unit without bayonets. Players playing against France should be prepared for a French charge of 18th Century Dragoons. The French dragoon is unique because it produces faster than regular dragoons, but sacrifices its firepower. The French more than make up for this with the King's Musketeer and it's shot power of 100. Cavalry production speed can be increased with the development of harnesses. Chasseurs are to be used in conjunction with regular infantry for covering fire purposes.
- Netherlands - Players facing the Dutch must be prepared to be rushed by Dutch 17th century Musketeers (Harquebusier), as they are the fastest-producing units of their type. This is the only Dutch unique unit. They have lesser attack than normal Musketeers, but require no iron to produce.
- Piedmont - The Piedmontese produce Padres, the best healers in the game. They also have a 17th century musketeer which is readier faster on its IId upgrade. A few Padres used with Piedmontese regular infantry is hard to take down with units that deal below 10 damage.
- Poland - Poland has four unique units, the 17th century Musketeer, the 17th century Pikeman, the Winged Hussar and the Light Rider. Polish cavalry is often said to be superb - while taking down a group of say, English hussars with grenadiers ought to be easy, sending the same sized group of grenadiers to attack a group of Winged Hussars would be downright foolhardy. It has the highest attack rating of the light cavalry class, and is effective against both infantry and cavalry. Polish Light Riders have higher HP than regular Hussars but have an attack rating of 8 compared to the regular hussar's 11. Polish musketeers take the longest to produce, but are the cheapest and have an attack equivalent to their Austrian counterpart's. Polish 17th century pikemen are weak, but are produced very quickly.
- Portugal - The Portuguese have no unique units, but they do, however, possess a unique building. The Portuguese Shipyard works like a tower in the fact that it may fire cannons as a defensive measure and can upgrade the number of its guns, just like a tower. Portugal has the advantage in water games where cannons, towers and walls are turned off, as its shipyard acts as a defense all by itself.
- Prussia - Prussians are normal early game, but become more powerful in the 18th century. The Prussian unique units are the 18th century Musketeer (Fusilier) and the Prussian Hussar. The Prussian Musketeer deals a shot damage of 55 (with all the upgrades - 106) and a bayonet damage of 24. However, it is very expensive to produce at 95 food, 45 iron and 240 gold. This problem can be decreased with the flintlock upgrade, which reduces that cost to half. It is rarely seen that a force of 196 Prussian musketeers can be bested by any other infantry unit of the same number. The second Prussian unique unit, the Hussar, is a fast-building, rapid response cavalry unit. It can be used on reconnaissance missions and on cavalry raids. Unfortunately, it is the same price as regular hussars and has less attack. Its production speed can be increased with the development of harnesses.
- Russia - The land of the czars has the most number of unique units in the game at six. However, all its unique units are produced in the 17th century, and disappointingly, its 18th century units are all normal. Russians can produce Spearmen, special 17th century Drummers, Commanders (instead of 17th century officers), Don Cossacks, Vityazes, and Strelets. Russian spearmen are, without a doubt, the best in the game. It is impossible for any kind of pikeman from any other nation to engage one-on-one with a fully upgraded Russian spearman and win. Russian drummers give the best range of view in the game, and Russian commanders are the cheapest 17th century European officers. Don Cossacks are lancer cavalry, used to mow down infantry. They have an attack rating of 12, but less HP than a hussar. Vityazes have high HP (380) and are effective against infantry and light cavalry. However, they take a very long time to produce. Strelets are slow-producing but powerful 17th century Musketeers, and are only effective if combined with spearmen, because they are not equipped with bayonets. Strangely, the Strelets model holds a large battle ax in his other hand, but never uses it.
- Saxony - Saxon players have access to the one of the most effective 18th century Musketeers of the game. Sadly, it is also the one with the greatest production time. Its attack damage of 22 is deceiving, but it makes up for this with its range. The Saxons can also produce a special Grenadier, which is more powerful than regular grenadiers but with 10% less life. The latter is not effective in formations, due to the high casualties it will receive during maneuvers. Saxon players also have the Cavalry Guard, a fast-to-create, heavy hitting, armored cavalry unit.
- Spain - The Spanish have only one unique unit, but it is readily available upon building the 17th century Barracks. The Spanish 17th century Musketeer (Conquistador) is the only armored infantry shooter in the whole game. A company of 120 Spanish musketeers will receive relatively few casualties on something as dangerous as say, a shore landing. It has the same amount of HP as a Strelets, and the same attack power as an ordinary 17th century musketeer. For players who enjoy using cannon grapeshot, beware - the Spanish musketeer has a defense rating of 255 vs. grapeshot, and a good sized company of them will be able to easily overwhelm a defensive position supported by cannon. However, because of its slow creation time, it cannot be used too early in the game. Rather, players may choose to build up to the 18th century while waiting for their 120 musketeers to be trained. The Spanish musketeer also does not come equipped with a bayonet, and will retreat if enemy units come too close.
- Sweden - The army of King Gustavus Adolphus is typified by its two unique units - the Swedish rider (knekt), and the Swedish 18th century pikeman. The rider is unique in the fact that it has a high defense against grapeshot - less than the Spanish musketeer's (255), but nonetheless significant (115). The Swedish pikeman is an oddity - a little more expensive than the normal pikeman (by 1 food and 1 gold), and an additional attack and defense bonus of 1.
- Turkey - Turks specialize in infantry, cavalry and naval units, but cannot advance into the 18th century, like the other Islamic nation, Algeria. Their unique units are the Janissary, the Spakh, the Tatar and the Turkish yacht. Turkey also produces gunpowder infantry - the Janissaries. They fire from long range, and are effective when combined with light infantry or Ottoman pikemen. Turkey is forced to use their Janissaries against the more developed European troops in late game, because of their problem with century advancement. They have 55 HP, but are made at a low cost - requiring no gold, and deal higher damage than Strelets. They are also produced relatively quickly, like an ordinary 17th century musketeer. The Spakh is the Turkish cousin to the Algerian Mameluke - same purpose - good against infantry, but different stats. The Spakh is built faster than the Mameluke, but not by a large margin; and has a lesser amount of HP and weaker attack. Tatars are like Algerian archers, but are mounted instead of on foot. They also have a higher amount of HP. In the Turkish navy, Xebecs as well as Turkish yachts are produced. The Turkish yacht is basically the ideal pirate ship - very fast, and quick firing. Its disadvantage lies in its HP - comparatively low to that of a frigate or ship-of-the-line, but much cheaper and faster to produce. 50 Turkish yachts could be made in the same time as one English frigate.
- Ukraine - Ukrainians produce five unique units - the Ukrainian Peasant, Serdiuk (shooter), and Cossack units. Ukrainian players do not worry about their peasants being captured - the peasants themselves have more HP than regular peasants (except the peasants of German-speaking countries), and may actually be used as combat units because of this. The Serdiuks are the only type of infantry that the Ukrainians can produce other than mercenaries. Ukraine is also unable to advance into the next century, much like the Muslim nations. Ukrainian Serdiuks are supposedly mercenaries themselves under the command of the Cossack Hetman, but ironically, it is the Hetman that requires gold upkeep. The other two Ukrainian unique units are the regular Sich and Register Cossacks. Sich Cossacks are the fastest cavalry units in the game, and are best used for harassing the enemy and raids. Register Cossacks are designed to mow down infantry, and are created fairly quickly. Hetman commanders are expensive and, as mentioned earlier, require a gold upkeep of .625. However, hetmen have very good attack parameters (300) and the highest HP of any cavalry unit in the game at 450.
- Venice - The Venetians are a sea power. New players who are trying out Venice for the first time should always remember that a landlocked Venetian is a dead Venetian. There is nothing noteworthy of the Venetian land army - however, Venice's one unique unit - the galleass, is a testimony to the might of its navy. When a fleet of galleasses approaches a frigate fleet of the same size, the frigates will most definitely be sent to the bottom. The galleass has two types of weapons - the cannon, fired broadside from the ship, and the ship's mortars, which have a plunging fire attack of 100. The galleass is intended for the shelling of fortresses from the sea, but is a jack-of-all-trades nonetheless.
Cossacks:European Wars was developed in Ukraine by GSC Game World. The game has been noted for artistic qualities and great graphics, in particular the special effects which were once described as "second to none". Another remarkable feat, is the technology tree having more than 300 upgrades.
Desires to create the game Cossacks began in 1997, when Age of Empires was published, and development started in 1998. 17-18 century was selected because the most obvious continuation of Age of Empires would be medieval Europe and Cossacks was its logical successor, not a competitor. First of Cossacks was supposed to be the confrontation in Ukraine and Russia and the nations would be 4: Ukraine, Russia, Europe and Turkey. The game would be sold in the domestic market. After the exhibition MILIA in Cannes, where a demo version of Cossacks had received good reviews from reputable people associated with the creation and publishing house of computer games, it was decided to increase the number of nations to 16 and sell the game around the world. In order to be able to play on the map of thousands of units, 2D graphics were selected.
The number of people who developed the game was increased from 4 in 1998 to 12 in 2000, when the project went out to the finish line. At different stages of the work, authors of maps and testers joined the development. In March 2001, Cossacks: European Wars appeared in stores.
Cossacks: Art of War
The Art of War is the first standalone expansion pack. Like the original Cossacks, the game is set in the 17th and 18th centuries, and 8000 units can be controlled. Cossacks: Art of War adds 5 new campaigns, 2 new nations (namely Denmark and Bavaria), a map editor, and 16 times larger maps with new terrains. Both new nations possess a 18th century Musketeer unit, which have different attributes.
Cossacks: Back to War
Back to War is the second expansion pack, but it can be played as a standalone. Cossacks: Back to War adds two new nations (Switzerland and Hungary) to the choices from Cossacks: European Wars and Cossacks: Art of War because of their influence on European history. There are also new maps, a tutorial campaign and a map-editor. It adds several units to various countries, new cannon types and alters some parameters such as building time, upgrade and building costs.
Cossacks: Back to War comes with a mod on the CD called Mod1 or Baddog's mod, developed by Shaun Fletcher. There are other mods but they have to be downloaded online.
Sea units may be altered after a land balance has been achieved. Base shotpower has increased for units with all units now having between 26 to 42 base shotpower. Formations now give much greater attack and defence bonus. This encourages formation use. They have a different appearance as well, being based on companies of 72 for foot and 40 for horse. One notable formation difference is that the 17thC Imperial nations(Spain, Austria, Bavaria and Piedmont) square formations are now Tercio skirts which fits perfectly around the next size down column formation. Grenadiers now take pride of place on the field, much tougher and the fastest foot troops along with light troops. As mentioned earlier these light troops now carry rifles with longer range and reload rates. Also the production speed is now homogenised so that all cavalry produce at roughly the same rate. Dragoons are now much reduced in effect but still have their uses. Houses now are more expensive but house more people, thus take up less room on the map. Depots are more expensive with an increasing cost per depot, thus it is difficult to get too many of them. Limits for most artillery is reduced per depot, except cannons. Eighteenth C cannons only available in the 18th C. A totally new nation has been added, Scotland, with almost a complete new troop type base. More importantly a totally new AI making full use of the new unit types available and increasing up and beyond the original AI. Trading has been overhauled. Aimed at reducing the effects of reverse trading. The Mod has also reduced the 'worth' of stone trading. Together these two changes have been aimed at encouraging the greater need for mining thus increasing the strategical need to control the whole map, rather than encouraging purely 1 strategy of concentrated build up. At its outset the OC Mod aimed to redress some slight balance issues based on both individual units within a type and imbalanced nation strengths. Since those simple ideals the Mod has grown far in excess of its original intent.
Following classic scheme of Cossacks and its development, Imperia goes through 3 centuries, adding after 17th and 18th century the 19th, the epoch of Napoleonic wars with its uniforms and troops. When going through centuries (from 17th to 18th and from 18th to 19th) outdated troops can not be built anymore and their place is taken by the troops of the proper epoch. So in the 17th century you can build the armoured pikeman, while in the 18th century its place is taken by pikeman of the 18th century and it will start coming out queued instead of armoured pikeman, whilst in the 19th century the pikeman will be an outdated unit and will stop being created. Psychology, strategy and tactics of the PC (AI) is fully processed and reworked to a whole new level. Now there are 5 levels of AI opponent. The AI is now a merciless opponent, which ably attacks, pitilessly occupies your domains now, and then systematically destroys them. AI on imperial level (on PT 10-15 min or even without PT) can successfully resist veteran players which on the internet have a rank of a “count” or “marquis”. Thus Imperia allows with equal interest to fight not only on the internet with a deserving opponent, but also against the computer, what was not possible in the original game, where the Ai was frankly weak. Functions of DIP (Diplomatic center) were extensively reworked.
|Metacritic||74 out of 100|
|Eurogamer||8 out of 10|
|GameSpot||7.1 out of 10|
|IGN||7.5 out of 10|
|PC Zone||8.9 out of 10|
|ESC Magazine||9 out of 10|
Cossacks: European Wars has received praise ranging from fair to decent. Latest counts place the total copies sold at more than 4 million for this title, making it one of the best-selling games for the computer. [Cossacks: European Wars has received a ]PC Zone award for excellence and the Strategy Player Game of the Month award.
Reviewers often liked the detail and accuracy during gameplay and felt the cut scenes and opening video were impressive. A Gamespot review noted how the game followed the traditional formula of the RTS genre, exhibiting significant similarities to Age of Empires II but that the diverse types of factions and military units added to the playability. Another conclusion was that some of the larger scenarios can be quite daunting due to having to manage many resources and a large fighting force. A review in ESC Magazine described it as a complex game with lots of mouse clicks and fast artificial intelligence for computer opponents.
A review by IGN staff concluded that games depth, potential and lasting appeal were its strong points but poor design decisions detracted from its playability. They also thought the artificial intelligence was below par, as the variable defensive abilities of their forces resulted in significant imbalances. The PC Zone review described the games detailed graphics as impressive and liked the historical accuracy, smooth unit movement and 3D landscapes.
The official game sequel is Cossacks II: Napoleonic Wars. There is a spin-off of Cossacks from GSC Game World using the same engine, American Conquest series. GSC Game World created Alexander, a less successful strategy game for the pc. Also to be noted is the RTS-RPG, Sci-fi Fantasy crossover Heroes of Annihilated Empires released in 2006: which owing to poor AI became a less successful project.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 PC Review: Cossacks: European Wars (2001-08-13). Retrieved on 2008-09-01.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 IGN: Cossacks: European Wars Review. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved on 2008-08-31.
- ↑ New Cossacks: European Wars Screenshots. Gamespot. CNET Networks (2000-10-12). Retrieved on 2008-09-18.
- ↑ Cossacks: European Wars - PC. CNET Networks. Retrieved on 2008-08-31.
- ↑ Cossacks: European Wars (pc 2001):Reviews. Retrieved on 2008-08-31.
- ↑ Cossacks: European Wars for Windows. Retrieved on 2008-09-01.
- ↑ Cossacks: European Wars. Eurogamer. Retrieved on 2008-08-31.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Cossacks: European Wars for PC Review. CNET Networks. Retrieved on 2008-08-31.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 Garret Romaine (2001-09-05). Cossacks: European Wars - ESCMag Review. ESC Magazine. Retrieved on 2008-09-18.
- ↑ Three Centuries of War at gameplasma.com
- Cossacks.ru, the official Russian website of Cossacks: European Wars and Cossacks: Art of War
- Gsc-game.com, the developer's websiteda:Cossacks: European Warsfr:Cossacks: European Wars