Universal Military Simulator (UMS) is a wargame simulator unlike any other. It was also Rainbird’s most complex release, with a whole host of options that allow the player to create whatever ground-based war scenario they want. More on that aspect of the simulator later!
UMS offers the player a choice of pre-defined battle scenarios including Arbela (331 BC), Hastings (1066 AD), Marston Moor (1644 AD), Waterloo (1815 AD) and Gettysburg (1863 AD). Selecting a secnario launches the game straight onto the relevant battlefield, displayed in wire-frame 3D. This can be viewed from any angle and zoomed in and out as required to show the various skirmishes at close quarters. UMS also features an 'automatic zoom' mode that zooms in on battles on the player's behalf.
The actual battles are played out during two game phases; 'Command' and 'Movement/Battle'. The Command phase allows you to issue orders to the troops, whilst the Movement / Battle phase executes those commands and moves or engages the troops in battle as required.
If the player's opponent is computer controlled, the player can force the enemy to attack or defend via the Battle Logic menu. They can also just leave the computer to make its own decisions!
Troop movement is achieved via the Command box, where the player specifies the direction and distance of the movement. The number of moves allocated to troops per turn differs from unit to unit, as does the speed at which they can move (partially based on the terrain they are encountering at the time). Each troop unit has to be moved individually; there is no facility for giving mass unit commands in tandem.
The battles aren't animated on the 3D battlefield, but the game does report the casualties for each 'turn'. Once all of the troops have moved or fought, it's time for the next 'Command' phase again.
The above description barely does UMS justice in regards to the options available to the player. However, UMS goes a few steps further by allowing players to create their own scenarios, their own maps and their own armies. The game was designed to allow extra scenarios to be loaded in from disk, thus allowing for future 'scenario disks' to be released. Some UMS fans also released their own scenarios into the 'public domain'.