From: Out of the Silent Planet
I too found AGEOD's Civil War I a bit disconcerting. The map was too "busy", with too many little things on it, and it was too hard to see the big picture. Civil War II, however, is much better. Perhaps it is because I am now more familiar with AGEOD's Athena-engine games, having played BoA I & II, PoN and RUS. I prefer Civil War II's UI to GG's WBtS at this point:
1. It is "point and click" to move. You can see clearly whether a commander can make it to a point, and how many days it will take. Multi-turn (>15 days) moves are possible, and easy to enter.
2. It is "drag and drop" to build armies. Simple to make or disband formations.
The things I like far better about GG's WBtS are Leader Activations (6.5) and Leader Initiative (6.4). Years later, Gary's design remains the best at portraying the episodic nature of Civil War campaigns.
I liked Forge of Freedom as well. Its political system with the state governors was well done. I am very happy with Brother Against Brother as well. I would love to see a game with FoF's strategic level & BaB's tactical fights.
I played Blue vs. Gray when GMT re-published it as a professional-level release. (It was a DIY download originally.) It was a lot of fun! Simple, fast-paced. I still carry my copy around in my trunk when I drive out to the local game store. Unfortunately, I've never been able to get VASSAL to run on my computer. Tried it with ASL, Twilight Struggle & Blue vs. Gray. My computer literacy extends to opening the box and pushing the "on" button, so that's probably why.
I fully agree about the subjectivity in Civil War General ratings. There's a huge volume of information written about the war and its battles, and both the OR's and personal autobiographies written afterwards give ample reasons to rate anybody from 1-10 anywhere. I think the funniest game I ever saw was a foreign publication where the designer didn't understand English too well. He thought "beast" meant "divine, god-like". (As in, "That was a beastly score, dude!".)
So he rated Benjamin "Beast" Butler the best Union Commander of the war, equal to R.E Lee and better than Grant!