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Freeman's Farm 1777 by Worthington Publishing      This is a game about the battle that sealed the fate of Br...

Freeman's Farm 1777 by Worthington Publishing Freeman's Farm 1777 by Worthington Publishing

Freeman's Farm 1777 by Worthington Publishing

Freeman's Farm 1777 by Worthington Publishing




Freeman's Farm 1777

by

Worthington Publishing






 
  This is a game about the battle that sealed the fate of Britain in the American Revolution. After this battle, Burgoyne's surrender was pretty much a done deal. There would be more fighting for sure, but this battle was his last gasp to break through to Albany. The plan to attack from Canada was not a bad one, it would just need much more resources than was allotted to it. For some unknown reason, the people who should have known that dragging an army across this wilderness was next to impossible were unable to sway 'Gentleman Johnny'. The fact that Burgoyne not only made it this far and had taken Fort Ticonderoga is only a tribute to the British and German soldiers' ability to deal with adversity. Unfortunately for Burgoyne, his slow progress allowed the Patriots to build a large army, indeed larger than his own. This battle is also the high point in Benedict Arnold's career as a Patriot (though there seems to be a large rift between historians on Arnold's actual whereabouts during the battle). If not for his insubordination to 'Granny' Gates, the battle could have been lost. So we are placed in the unenviable situation of either winning the Revolution, or breaking through a larger Patriot army, and cutting New England off from the other states. So let us see what the designer and Worthington Publishing has given us to recreate this titanic battle. This is part of the description of the game:


"An innovative card driven board game on the Battle of Freeman's Farm.  1 - 2 players.  Playable in 1 hour.
Freeman's Farm: 1777 is the first game in our new Battle Formations game series. These games are a new game system  centered around battle formations and have been designed for solitaire and two players .  In solitaire mode players can play as either the American or the British against the solitaire player game engine.   
Players decide which formations to activate and how far to push it once it begins attacking. Push it just enough and they can win the day.  Push it too much and failing a morale test will break it." 



 This is what comes with the game:


  • Large Mounted Game Board
  • American and British Formation Cards 
  • American and British Activation Cards
  • Tactic Cards
  • Rules
  • Player Aid Cards
  • Game Markers
  • American Blue Wooden Formation Markers
  • British Red Wooden Formation Markers
  • Hessian Green Wooden Formation Markers
  • 8 Dice




 The components are all very well done, and very easy to read. As you can see, the map looks almost like a period piece or one from a book about the battle. The first thing that should catch your eye is the absence of hexes or areas for movement. The Battle Formation Games have set places where you or your opponent can move his forces. These are all places of the battlefield where action did actually take place. The rulebook is only twelve pages long and the rules themselves take up less than nine of them. The last pages are a Historical Summary and Designer Notes. There are two Player Aid Cards; one side is for a two-player game, and the other is for playing solitaire. It is nice to see so many publishers and designers adding solo play to their games. The Formation Cards are large and simple to understand. The units for each player are just wooden rectangles and cubes, but they fit very well with the look and feel of the game. The Activation and Tactics Cards are simple looking, but are extremely easy to read for even the most myopic of us grognards.  The components easily pass muster. Now onto game play.



This is the sequence of play:

 Each Player's Turn has the Same Phases:

1. Play Activation Card
   1.A Option  - Countermand Activation with General
2. Pay Activation Cost
3. Optional: Play Tactics Cards
4. If Combat is Selected as a Command, Roll Combat Dice
   4.A Optional: Maintain Momentum
5. Apply Results
6. Optional: Purchase Tactics Cards
7. Draw Activation Card

 
The British Player takes the first turn in a round.
Then the American Player takes their turn in a round.
The British Player then begins the second turn.
 Play continues until all Activation cards have been played, ending the game.






 In the Designer Notes, the designer states that what he felt most missing in games was the struggle of generals with keeping command and control of their own forces. He then goes on to state the pedigree of the game, and how he developed a few concepts from many different games to design it. The other two large concepts in the game are morale and momentum. Every time you activate a formation, you must lower its morale by one, or remove a formation marker (wooden rectangle representing your troops). You can use a General Card to countermand the activation, and some Tactics Cards have effects that forego the penalty to morale. Once a formation gets to a morale of five or lower, it incurs a morale test. This is done by rolling a six sided die and comparing it to the morale of the formation. A higher number than the formations morale means that a formation is 'broken'.  Momentum Cubes for each formation are gained by playing the Activation Cards for that formation. Each card has a number of momentum cubes that the player receives (from one to three). One nice touch is that if the player receives the same amount of Momentum Cubes on three Activation Cards in a row, he receives an extra two Momentum Cubes. Momentum Cubes can be used for rerolls, or to purchase Tactic Cards. Skirmishers, which were a large part of the battle, can be used by both sides.  You can download and check out the rules yourself via a link I will post at the end of the review.







 
  The rules seem simple at a glance, but are very nuanced. The designer has succeeded in creating a game where the flow of battle is as changing as a see-saw. I believe he has captured the sword of Damocles that is hanging over every general's head. Do you push your formations one more time and try for victory, only to have the formation collapse in front of your eyes? You will not win the game by 'playing it safe'. That will only allow your opponent to pick and choose exactly what he wants to do. Playing as the British, this is it; you really have this one chance to breakthrough the Americans. Historically, the American Player just needs to pull out a tie to win strategically. The games actual victory conditions show this. The game lasts up to fifteen rounds (fifteen activations by each side). If the British Player has not won by then, it is an American victory. The game ends automatically if either side breaks or destroys  three or more enemy formations. As I have mentioned before, we are now in the 'real Golden Age' of wargaming (gaming in general, but Euro games, eww!). The earlier golden age had more games sold, but nowhere near the innovation that designers are showing us now.   The added touch of an actual fully functioning solitaire mode is a godsend. It is possible to actually play almost every game solo, but it is a very good thing that more companies are adding actual solo forms of play. Thank you very much Worthington Publishing for letting me review this very innovative and great game. It does help that this is one of my favorite battles, and the one that I have spent the most time wandering around the actual ground it was fought on.







 I found this treat going through discussions about the game. If you like what you have read so far, you will really like this. It seems that Worthington Publishing is going to Kickstarter a game about Chancellorsville. It will have most of the same rules, but will also have some new neat twists, such as hidden movement. Here is the link to the preview page:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1040417273/2785622?ref=bggforums&token=b117acc9
 Freeman's Farm 1777 link:

Rules:

Robert











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