This is a funny turn based war game about the American Civil War and an offshoot of the Belgian cartoon. Pick a side and try to win the war. At the beginning of a game of North & South you can choose the starting year of the game, the AI difficulty of the factions, and whether or not you want three simulation options: weather (which can prevent one of your armies from moving) and intervention by the British and by the Native Americans. The gameplay of North & South happens in three phases.
The Strategic Phase
You begin the game looking at a map of the United States with a handful of starting territories occupied by the Union and a handful by the Confederacy. You move your armies across the map to take control of territory and engage the enemy. Although all territory counts towards your reinforcements, the most important areas to take are railway stations. The more railway stations you control, the more maximum reinforcements you can receive at the end of your turn. You cannot get reinforcements without having at least two connected railway
The Tactical Phase
When two armies engage on the strategic map, a real-time battle ensues where the two forces are arranged on opposite sides of one of several battle maps. A normal army includes the following soldier types:
- Infantrymen: Your army begins with a group of six infantrymen. They are the only unit with complete full movement. They attack by shooting forward a small distance.
- Cavalry: Your army begins with a group of three cavalrymen. They are very fast, but once they start moving towards the opposite side of the map they cannot reverse direction until they reach the opposite side. They attack at close range by swinging their cavalry swords.
- Artillery: Your army begins with a single artillery piece. The artillery piece can move vertically on the tactical map to avoid getting hit, but it cannot advance. The artillery piece attacks by firing a cannon shot. You can control how far the shot goes. The artillery is the only unit in the game with variable shot range and has by far the longest attack range. The artillery automatically retreats from battle if it runs out of ammunition.
The battle ends when one of the forces is annihilated. The maps that the game provides have significant differences, but most of the maps revolve around control of two bridges that bridge a divide between the two armies. These bridges can be damaged by artillery fire. Control of these points leads to victory. Some items on the map, such as houses and often bridges can be damaged or destroyed by artillery fire. Combining two armies on the strategic map results in a single army able to enter this phase with twice as many troops.
The Attack Phase
There are two ways to conquer an enemy railway station in North & South. The first way is to conquer all of the surrounding territories, in which case the railway area automatically becomes yours. The other way is a head on attack. When you attack a railway station with one of your armies, the attack phase begins.
In the attack phase, the attacking player controls a single man from a 2-dimensional sidescrolling perspective. He must run across a fort area guarded by explosives, attack dogs and the opposing player before the time limit runs out. The attacking player can be hit unlimited times, but every time he is hit, he is momentarily stunned, losing time. The opposing player loses a man every time he is hit by the attacking player and will not be able to respawn his avatar if he is defeated six times during the sequence. The attacking player starts the sequence with a handful of throwing knives, which he can use to attack the defending player. The defending player also has knives, but they respawn every time he respawns. If the attacking player reaches the end of the fort, the railway station becomes his on the strategic map.
There is also a very similar sequence that begins if one of your armies intercepts one of the enemy's trains during their reinforcement. In that case the player must move his avatar across a moving train while the defending player is trying to knock him off it. Both the attack on a railway station or the moving train are slanted in favor of the attacker. Defending the train station can be very difficult.