Designed by Beau Beckett and Jeph Stahl
Academy Games, 2013
Area Control, Lite War Game
Image courtesy of amazon.com
When it comes to historical wargames, and historical games in general, there are only a few which capture the feeling of the events of what the game is about. 1775: Rebellion is one of those games which truly encapsulates the theme and tension of a conflict such as the American Revolution. This game is the second in the Birth of Freedom line which is published by Academy Games, a company known for their attention to detail and attention to historicity while at the same time continuing to make the game fun and engaging.
So what makes this game so much fun and historical? There are multiple mechanics which aid in the theming of the game. The first is the map itself. The map showcases what many of the maps during the American Revolution looked like laying on the table in a war room or a map hanging in some of the halls I have seen in Williamsburg and Valley Forge. Not only was the game board surrounding the colonies but even stretched into Canada, which did have some combat during the Revolution. The second is the four player aspect of the game. Many other games on the American Revolution usually deal with just a British player and an American player. But here, in 1775, we see a player for the Continental Army, the Militia, British Redcoats and the Loyalists. The turn order is different for every round by pulling blank dice with the color of your troops from a bag. This gives the feel of randomness to the turn order which keeps the tension high. This mechanic also gives the players a chance to strategize in the moment instead of planning as other wargames usually do. For example, the loyalists could be the last player to go, but the first player to go in the next turn. The components of the game are different but are completely thematic to the time of the war. There are five colors of cubes used for troops: red for the redcoats, yellow for the loyalists, white for the militia, blue for the Continental Army and green for the Native Americans. In order to use the natives, you have to be in control of the territory and the colony but they are useful in every way. There are also two other colors which can be brought into play with cards but once eliminated are gone and cannot be brought back in for reinforcements. They are purple for the French and orange for the Hessians. These reinforcements for the colonists and the British give the game more theme added to a game with a heavy theme already.
One of the things which I really enjoyed with this game was the simplicity of combat. There are certain wargames which use charts upon charts to figure out if there is even a line of sight for combat. But here in this game, it is a simple roll of the dice. That does give the game a feeling of chance, but there are also strategic maneuvers which have to be performed in order to gain the territories of the map. Troops move around the board through a card system which is also a way in which the game can end. Each deck has a Treaty card in it and the game can end when all four players play their treaty card. The game can also end on round 8 and the winner is decided by how many colonies and areas of Canada are controlled by what player.
I have introduced this game to many gamers and historians who could not stop praising this game. I believe this game should be used in the classroom when teaching the American Revolution not only in the public school level but the university level as well. Once again, Academy Games has proven that they can produce a game which is both enjoyable and educational.