second chance games

Search This Website of delight

Showing posts with label American Revolution. Show all posts

Preview of End of Empire: 1744-1782 by Compass Games  I took advantage of the 40% off sale at Compass Games and fin...

Preview of End Of Empire: 1744-1782 by Compass Games Preview of End Of Empire: 1744-1782 by Compass Games

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

American Revolution

Preview of End of Empire: 1744-1782


Compass Games

 I took advantage of the 40% off sale at Compass Games and finally picked this one up. It has the Colonial Wars between France and Britain, and the American Revolution rolled into one. Here is the blurb from Compass Games:

 "End of Empire: 1744-1783 is a two player game covering the three great conflicts fought on the North American continent between 1744 and 1783: King George’s War, the French and Indian War, and the American Revolutionary War. The game represents great value with 15 scenarios spanning these 3 wars."

This is the Northern Map

 This is what you get with the game:

Two 22 X 34 inch maps
Five countersheets (9/16” size) & Replacement Counters
One rulebook
One scenario book
Multiple reference cards

 The map is done very well and it is easy to read and figure out the terrain of each hex. The counters are excellent and have the picture of each general on their counter. The Rulebook and Scenario Book are in black and white, but the type is large and easy to read. The Rulebook is twenty-three pages long. The Scenario Book is twenty-seven pages long and is packed with the aforementioned fifteen scenarios. I was very pleased to see that Compass Games had added another scenario to the game 'Lord Dunmore's War 1744'.

 These are the scenarios:

Invasion of Canada 1775
Main French and Indian War
Full French and Indian War
The American Revolutionary War: 1775 Start
American Revolution 1776 Start
The British Invasion Scenario
American Revolution 1777 Start
The Saratoga Scenario
Burgoyne's Second Chance (What If)
The 1778 Scenario
The Southern scenario
The Final Year Scenario
The British Dream Scenario (What If)
King George's War
The war of Jenkin's Ear

 So with the added scenario that gives a player a whopping sixteen. The game pieces look excellent and it portrays some of my favorite periods to game. I cannot wait to get this on the table. Compass Games' sale continues until 4/5, so hurry up and get your order in. Thank you Compass Games for what looks to be another great gaming experience.


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

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

American Revolution

Freeman's Farm 1777


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:
 Freeman's Farm 1777 link:



With Musket & Tomahawk  Volume I The Saratoga Campaign and the Wilderness War of 1777 by Michael O. Logusz ...

With Musket & Tomahawk Volume I by Michael O. Logusz With Musket & Tomahawk Volume I by Michael O. Logusz

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

American Revolution

With Musket & Tomahawk  Volume I

The Saratoga Campaign and the Wilderness War of 1777


Michael O. Logusz

  Some campaigns just grab the military history reader. Whether it be because of content, or perhaps it is a geographical pull, meaning the area of the campaign is close to home. The Saratoga Campaign of the American Revolution hits both cylinders on my military history scale. Not only that, but it is really the turning point of the Revolution. After Saratoga, there was no way that the British were going to win. Before Saratoga, all of the large battles of the war were won by the British (Trenton actually had very few troops involved). The British had been able to cuff the American forces about the head and defeat them, albeit sometimes at great cost, at every turn. This was the first battle/campaign where an entire British army was defeated and almost all of it captured by the Americans. The shockwave of this victory cannot be underplayed. This is the reason that France entered the war, and without France there would be no Yorktown. So, needless to say, there are many books on the subject. Is this book just a rehash of everything that has been written or a great example of written military history? Let us see.

 One of the best parts of the book is that it explains in detail the British planning for 1777. Starting as a much smaller envisioned attack from Canada, it was turned into a war winning strike designed to separate New England from the rest of the rebelling colonies. The book goes into the fact that this idea did not spring out of 'Gentleman Johnny's' brain by any means. Many officers had been discussing the need of an attack from Canada. The biggest historical question about the campaign is answered unequivocally by the author, complete with written facts and not conjecture. Was General Howe ordered or even pushed to attack Albany to meet up and help Burgoyne with his attacks through New York? The author shows us that the answer is no. Even before Burgoyne had started his campaign, Howe had written to the British Crown and gotten approval for his campaign in Pennsylvania. Was this the best strategy? Absolutely not. There is more than a chance that had Howe struck toward Albany, the Colonials would have been unable to deal with both forces and Burgoyne would have been successful. Howe has been vilified for leaving Burgoyne in the lurch for many years. The book shows us that the British authorities made no attempt to try and concentrate both armies in central New York. This one point is enough to raise the book above the rest of the crowd.

 This book is what military history should be. It is factual without being too dry, and the pace goes along almost like a novel. The author has chosen to add a number of maps. The difference compared to some other books is also plain. Other than having maps that look like they came off a mimeograph machine that needed ink forty years ago, they are clear and concise, and allow the reader an excellent bird's eye view of the campaign and battles. The book also comes with the obligatory several pages of pictures. Some are sketches and the others are photos of re-enactors. Strangely there are no pictures of the main combatants such as Burgoyne, etc. These are not really needed, so no real loss there. 

 One of the biggest reasons to read about the campaign is to see in actuality what Benedict Arnold really was to the Revolution. Most Americans only associate him with treason and have no idea that if not for him, it is possible that 'Granny' Gates might have lost at Saratoga. So strange to say, our most vilified traitor is one of the main reasons we have our freedom now. It is a story that more Americans need to know.

 Thank you Casemate for allowing me to read this excellent first volume on the War in the North during the Revolution. I cannot wait to read the next volumes in the series.


Book: With Musket & Tomahawk: Volume I The Saratoga and the Wilderness War of 1777
Author: Michael O. Lugosz
Publisher: Casemate Publishers

The American Revolution by Decision games       The American Revolution is a bit of a strange du...

The American Revolution by Decision Games The American Revolution by Decision Games

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

American Revolution



 The American Revolution is a bit of a strange duck when it comes to wargames concerning it. In the computer world it is hardly represented at all, however in the chit world it is well represented in both tactical and strategic games. 

 This game of the American Revolution is actually a reprint of the game that appeared in Strategy&Tactics #270. The map has been revised, and the rules have been redone. It also has had some optional rules added for more flavor. There is also an addition of a new scenario. The game now comes with a play-through and designer FAQ. The game rules are thirty-two pages long. It comes in the form of a zip-lock game from Decision Games. The map is a large one coming in at 34"x 22", and the game has 228 counters. The map is a mixture of point-to-point and area movement. The map is 75 miles to the inch. It is functional instead of a work of art. To be honest, it really doesn't matter if the components are beautiful or not if the game play isn't there. The pages of BoardGameGeek are bursting with beauties that are unplayable, and plain janes that are played so much that gamers are on their second copy, as the chits or map has been rubbed away. The map is large enough to accommodate the eastern part of the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, and Atlantic Ocean areas. The size of the area represented adds a lot to the strategic flavor of the game, especially if France and Spain enter the war. It is a two player game with the American player controlling the French and Spanish forces. Among the available forces available to each side are:

Naval Forces
Continental Army
German mercenaries

 Historically, the British won almost all of the large battles without ever coming close to winning the war. The American forces kept rising up like a Phoenix to force the British to play a losing game of whack-a-mole. In reality, because of the time period and the length of time and mileage, the British could never really win. Their only hope was for a negotiated peace based upon political incentives to bring the colonies back to the fold. I, for one, believe that General Howe and others thought that a few hard whacks would make the colonists see reason.When this didn't happen, they were at a loss of how to actually win. But I digress; back to the game. 

 The British player is presented with the most strategic choices. He can go for broke and try to subdue the colonies all at once, or like Clinton and Burgoyne, use the British anaconda to swallow one piece of them at a time. The American player is really only represented with the choice of attacking Canada other than that he mostly reacts to the British players' moves. The British player, at first or until France and Spain get involved, with his naval power can decide when and where he will descend on the colonies. He can bring overwhelming force to any point on the map he chooses at the beginning of the war.

 So what is the game play like?  

 Sequence of play:

 On the first turn the American player has the initiative; after that the player who commits the higher number of campaign markers has the initiative. On turn one, the British player also pays twice the normal amounts for mobilization and campaign markers.

 The second phase is the 'Political Phase'. Both sides add up their political points for the areas they occupy.

 The third phase is the 'Mobilization Phase'. The first player uses his political points from the last phase to build units or buy campaign markers, then it is the second players turn.

 The fourth phase is the 'Rabble Rousing' phase. Here you can commit markers to the three 'rabble rousing' tables: American revolutionary progress, colonial loyalty, and European balance of power.

 The fifth phase is the 'Campaign' phase. The campaign phase is in turn split into three parts: first, second, and third. The first phase is used for normal movement and then combat. The second and third phases are used for forced march movement and the combat that results from it.

 The six phase is the 'Supply' phase. This is split into two parts: forage and enlistment. In the forage phase the player that has the initiative checks his units for supply, and then rolls a die for each unit that cannot be supplied. On a roll of one to three the unit is eliminated. On a roll of four to six the unit survives.

 The seventh phase is the 'Victory' phase. You check for a sudden death victory, and if neither side gets one you continue to the next game turn.

 This is just a synopsis. There are rules for: militia expeditions, overrun, frontier warfare, massacre etc. The game turns are yearly so it is a fairly fast paced game, although each side does have many choices available for each turn. You can choose to play with the optional rules which would include the use of fortress, siege, and partisan markers.The game play is pretty free-wheeling, meaning that it is fairly easy to lose points and areas with a little bad luck. Your plan may make it look like you are on the verge of victory, and the next minute everything blows up in your face like an over charged musket. 

First turn setup

 As is stated in the 'designer's notes', the core of the game is the campaign markers. The random picking of the campaign markers means that you, as the player, might have to drop the plan you had in place, and rethink this year's turn all over. You also lose half of your campaign markers at the end of each turn. Again, as is stated, you may actually pull a campaign marker that can only be used by your opponent. You can choose these markers to be one of the ones you let go at the end of the turn, or you can keep it in order not to let your opponent use it. The campaign markers come in three flavors: action, rabble rousing, or tactics. 

 As I stated, it is a fast paced game, especially with its one year turns. The counter mix is small, so other than the map size the game's footprint isn't large. The game plays out quickly, and with the sudden death rules it could be over even quicker. The best bet, playing as the Americans, is to just remain alive and to work toward European intervention. The added troops and navies of the French and Spanish forces help to really put the British in the skillet with no idea of where to jump. The British player is naturally going to go for the opposite, and try and keep the other countries out of what he considers as his business. The plan for the British to slowly engulf the colonies bit by bit hasn't really been seen to be that effective. The game plays like a boxing match between a heavyweight and a middleweight. The middleweight can strike hard and often, but has to remember that one punch from the heavyweight can end it all. As the game goes on, the middleweight gains muscle and increases in size, and can also call two friends in to help him fell the giant.


Game: The American revolution
Publisher: Decision Games