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 methods.
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 in the same manner as the peasant workforce. The main upgrades for artillery are the extended range, the accuracy and its build time and cost.