The battle planner is a brand new feature of Civil War II. It should appeal to anyone wanting a bit of control on the battlefield, while being light enough that you won't spend your afternoon reenacting each battle. For people not wanting the feature, there is an option to disable it also.
Battle planner looks and feels is deceptively simple, at first glance. But that's the possible interactions between your plan and the one of the enemy which makes a great deal of its interest. Before a battle happens, you'll be shown a window with a few 'deployments cards'. These are the possible deployments your army can take before starting the fight. These deployments are not always the same, by far, as they depend of the skills of your general, of the terrain and of the overall posture of your army. The most talented generals will have broader choices, and depending if your general is an expert in defence or offence, some deployments will be proposed and not others.
What you see of the enemy also depends of the skills of your general. If your general is more talented, then you'll know about the deployment of the enemy (this is possible because the battle planner only works for solo games, so the AI can tell you its choice as soon as you open the planner window). On the contrary, if your general is bested by the opponent, then you are shooting blind. Knows though (and this is quite reassuring) that the AI will not make its choice based on your, so you still have some opportunities to get the upper hand.
Once you have chosen your deployment (one card among up to five), then you get access to the actual battle plans (the ones who makes sense with your deployment): if you deploy with most of your cavalry in the front, then a battle plan can be 'Massive cavalry charge'. If on the contrary your deployment is 'fighting withdrawal', then one of your deployment will be 'Cavalry cover', and so on. If you are entitled to know the deployment of the AI, then you get the list of possible plans it can choose from, with a color coding to tell you which ones of your plans would be a good idea, if the AI takes plan A, B or C.
Once these steps are done, the battle unrolls as usual. A note though: the planner don't trigger for each battle, as this would become rapidly a chore, but only if you have a two or three stars general and if both sides have some significant troops. As you may know, battles in Civil War II are played in rounds, and each round the battle engine will check if your plan succeed or is countered by the enemy plan. Plans can have a tremendous effects on battles, for example a successful cavalry charge can cripple an enemy plan based on artillery duel, and in this case the artillery can be attacked by your units, even if normally artilleries can't as long as you have infantry holding the line. There is a great variety of effects, ranging from a modifier to a rating, to a special morale check to being able to attack support units...
As with most of the features of our games, you can also mod battle plans. We hope that you'll see all the potential of the planner, because we are really thrilled about it. We plan (sic!) to propose even more on this subject, should you enjoy it... Why not imagine for example that some deployments or plans are favored by some leaders, because historically they often used them (General Forrest is fighting your army, beware he will probably try to flank you!).
forwarning: the stats of the leaders shown may appear weird to some of you: that's because they are taken from a game played by a beta with the 'extreme randomization' option on generals stats