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Prelude to Rebellion Mobilization & Unrest in Lower Canada 1834-1837 by Compass Games  Okay boys and girls,...

Prelude to Rebellion: Mobilization & Unrest in Lower Canada 1834-1837 by Compass Games Prelude to Rebellion: Mobilization & Unrest in Lower Canada 1834-1837 by Compass Games

Prelude to Rebellion: Mobilization & Unrest in Lower Canada 1834-1837 by Compass Games

Prelude to Rebellion: Mobilization & Unrest in Lower Canada 1834-1837 by Compass Games

Prelude to Rebellion

Mobilization & Unrest in Lower Canada 1834-1837


Compass Games

 Okay boys and girls, this is a bit of a strange one for me. In the 'Designer Notes' a section is titled 'The Wargame That Never Was', so why do I have this game in front of me? The other problem for me is that what I know about Canadian history could fit into a thimble. I know about French Canada and the time before the British conquest, but nothing after the American Revolution. I only knew that there has been a long standing feud between the French speaking Canadians and their English speaking counterparts. I have been to Canada once, through Montreal and up to Quebec. I was given the good advice to brush up on my almost non-existent French before going. It was very good advice. So it was kind of shocking to read in the Designer Notes and preamble to the game that Canada came close to having a Civil War in the 1830s. Not only that, but Martial Law was in effect from 1837 until 1841 in Canada. So naturally, I had to find as much as I could to read up on this blank page of history in my brain. I will try to put the history into a nutshell; here goes. The French speaking, essentially small farmers mostly, citizens were effectively a group of second class citizens to the English speaking citizens who actually ran the government. The government was supposed to be an elective parliamentary one, but it was really just run by the English Governor and the English upper class. This game is about the tensions that boiled forth during these years in Lower Canada. The victory conditions are a bit convoluted. Effectively, as the Patriote (French) player you are trying to roil the lid off the boiling pot. As the Loyal (British) player, you are trying to force the British government to send in the troops to crush the French speaking Republic in the bud, or play well enough to win politically. A Patriote victory politically really only seems to be the beginning of their fight for freedom. I don't see how it could have not ended in the troops being called in. Meaning that, the Patriotes would then have been forced to armed insurrection. 

 We will start with what you get with the game:

1 - 22" x34" mounted game board
3 green Patriote dice and 3 red loyal dice
4 custom Scoring dice
150 green Patriote Mobilization Cubes
125 red Loyal Mobilization Cubes
147 cards divided as such:
  8Key Event cards
  24 cards forming the 1834 Deck
  24 cards forming the 1835-36 Deck
  39 cards forming the 1837 Deck
  52 cards forming the Generic Deck
1 sheet of counters
1 dice and cube bag

 The components are all what I have come to regard as standard from Compass Games. What this entails is the usual high production values of Compass Games. The map is mounted, again mostly a standard with Compass games. It is not a piece of artwork, but a blueprint to play a political game on. Because you have to keep track of so many things during the game, you might even call it 'busy'. The rulebook is in full color and is twenty-four pages long. Believe it or not, the rules are only fourteen pages long. The rest is taken up by Designer Notes, card clarifications, and a four page 'Extend Example of Play'. The cards are also well done and easy to read. The card clarification section of the rulebook helps to clear up any ambiguities for the player. 

 This is the sequence of play:

Action Round - Choose Between:
 Play a card from your hand (You will have cards in your hand for your faction, neutral cards, and cards from the opposing faction).     
    1.If it is a card from your faction, choose between:
   A. Play the cards Event. The card is then discarded unless the Event states otherwise.
   B. Play the card for its AP (Action Points).The card is then discarded.                                                                     
  2. If a neutral card, choose between:                                              
   A. Play the cards Event. The card is then discarded.
   B. Play the card for it's AP and place it in the Opportunity Pool.
  3. If a card from the opposing faction:
   A. Play the card for its AP and,
   1. If the Event's prerequisite is met the Event happens(opponent makes all relevant decisions). The card is then discarded unless the Event states otherwise.
      2. If the Event's prerequisite is not met, place the card in the Opportunity Pool and your opponent receives half the cards AP value in Opportunity points. 
Play a card from the Opportunity Pool:
  1. Spend x Opportunity Points to play the Event from a card of your faction or a neutral card worth x AP from the Opportunity Pool. The Event's prerequisite has to be met.      The card is then discarded.
Pass - (only if you have no cards in hand)

Spending AP - You can split your AP between different actions:
Mobilization -  Urban - 2 AP, Rural -1 AP
Creating Organizations:
  Perform a Mobilization check. Target number = Targeted county's MV (Mobilization Value) + x AP spent (minimum 2) + Rural Organization bonus (1/2 if associated Urban County's MV is 6-10/11+)
Call for Composure:
 Prevent the Rebellious Spirit from increasing at the end of the Turn.
 Costs 2 AP in 1834, 4 AP in 1835-36 and 6 AP in 1837                   
Volunteer Corps Recruitment (Rebellious Spirit at 8+)
 Perform a Mobilization Check:  
 Target number = Targeted County's Mobilization Value + AP spent (minimum 2).
La Tete a Papineau/Governor's Privileges:
 Maximum once/Turn, each Special Action once/game - Spend the special Action cost in AP to perform it.

 As you can see, the above is quite a mouthful, and I really just set out the outline.

 I could regurgitate the game's play for you, but this blurb from the game does it much better than I could:

 "Prelude to Rebellion" depicts this conflict of ideas as a card-driven game using key events from 1834 to 1837. In CDG-typical hand management, you will be torn between using each card’s activity points or event while doing your best to defuse your opponent’s cards. The gist of the game is that you will strive to mobilize the people of the various counties of Lower Canada and rally them to your point of view. In addition to Montréal and Québec (considered urban counties), 24 rural counties, each biased towards a faction, are represented on the board. Every county has a number of mobilization boxes, each costing a number of activity points to put a cube in it. Whoever has the most cubes in a county is said to control it.

After building up a sufficient amount of support in a county, you will try to create organizations (a grouping of leaders) in them. The more cubes in the county and the more activity points you dedicate to this action, the greater your chance of success. A fixed amount of opportunity points per turn allow you to mitigate the whims of the dice but also allow you to purchase helpful events from the 'Opportunity pool', where a few cards as well as key events of the conflict are put into at the start of every turn. Spend too many points to 'shave' a die roll and you might not be able to purchase a helpful card from the pool. Likewise, spend all your points to purchase cards and your next die rolls will be all the more stressful."

 The above captures playing the game to a tee. It is not just an ad blurb that is meant to sway you to buy the game. 

 I had to do a lot of work on this game before even playing it. I always want to know the history behind the games that I play. I think that any game that can make someone open a book to find out the how, why, and where of any situation is already a winner. You could play the game without having any background at all in the actual history. The rules are done well enough to have two people playing in a relatively short period of time. Political games seem to have more of the element of chance in them more than straight wargames, or at least it seems that way to me. For people who already like games such as Twilight Struggle or its ilk, this game purchase is a no-brainer. For those of us who are a little more afraid of that end of the gaming pool, go ahead and put on your flotation device and dive in. Unlike most of the other political games, you do not start out with both sides already fully developed and have a complete organization for each player to work with. This is a game where you have citizens that are like-minded, but have no real political organization as of yet. It is up to you to build your political party from the ground up. Besides the vagaries of chance, at each turn the player has to think through so many different choices and what could be the end result of each of them. In a traditional wargame your objectives are almost always clear cut. For instance, take these victory hexes or cut through the enemy to re-establish a supply line etc. Prelude to Rebellion is more like playing chess on a three dimensional board setup. The other interesting, and great piece of PTR, is that in most games you can figure out a strategy to win at least x amount of times. In this game, the player at times doesn't even know what he should do at any given moment. I am not saying that the game is completely up to chance; that would make it quite unenjoyable. What I am saying is that the choices in this game reflect the 'Butterfly Effect' much better than any game I have played. Thank you Compass Games for allowing me to review this excellent game, and broaden my history knowledge. After all, isn't that why we spend our days like hermits at times with these damn games? There is already a Vassal module for download on the games web site.

Prelude to Rebellion link:

Rulebook link: