1754 Conquest – The French Indian War is a Must Play! Board Game Review
1754 Conquest – The French Indian War Board Game Review. Publisher: Academy Games Game Designer: Beau Beckett and Jeph Stahl Price $70.00
Passed Inspection: Concise elegant rules, beautiful components, visually pleasing, easy to learn and play, approachable even by non-war gamers
Failed Basic: Flavor text on cards a little too small, not solitaire friendly
1754 Conquest – The French Indian War (hereinafter “1754”) is the newest game in Academy Games’ Birth of America series which includes 1775 Rebellion and 1812 The Invasion of Canada and, probably, should also include Academy Games’ Freedom: The Underground Railroad. All of these games have been reviewed on this website!
The French Indian War has been covered in games such as GMT’s Wilderness War and A Few Acres of Snow by Tree Frog Games (both reviewed on this site) and 1754 joins the ranks of these esteemed games!
The hefty game box features beautiful artwork by Steven Paschal and tons of beautiful components including a sturdy tray to let the components fit snuggly and safely for storage. The game includes a beautifully organized and concise 12 page rule book, a mounted 37” x 19” map, 5 sets of battle dice, 4 custom card decks broken down by faction (an Indian Alliance Card Deck is provided as an expansion and was used in this review) and 205 colored wooden faction cubes which represent armies. Also provided for this review is a mounted Truce Board which is an expansion and was also used in our review.
The rule book is simply beautiful. It starts with a two page spread showing how to set up the game and what various areas on the stunning map are used for. The rules are covered with full examples in only 8 pages making this game accessible to neophyte war gamers. Pages 9 to 12 cover a concise history of the French Indian War and is much appreciated by gamers wanting to put this game in historical context.
The game is playable by two to four players. Regrettably, there is no real way to play the game solo at this time. There are four factions – British Regular Troops and Navy, British Colonists, the French Regular Troops and Navy and the French Colonists. The Native American tribes are a fourth faction who can be neutral or pro-British or French and they are not directly controlled by the other factions unless they join the factions either through treaty or by being drafted in to the army’s forces.
The forces of the factions are represented by blocks. Red for the British Regulars; White for the British Colonial recruits; Purple for the French Regular Troops and Yellow for the French Colonial recruits. The green blocks are for the various Native American tribes.
Each of the four factions have cards which provide random events (with wonderful flavor text that create learning moments while playing the game) as well as providing information on how many armies can move and how far they can move if the card is played. My only complaint with the cards is that the flavor text is a little too small to easily read for “mature” gamers.
The game lasts from 3 rounds (for an introductory game) to 8 rounds for the full game. Although the scale for each round is not listed in the rules, it can be assumed that each round is a year. Each round is made up of the following phases – the reinforcement phase, the movement phase, the battle phase and the card draw phase.
During the reinforcement phase, the active faction can land troops at sea ports if they are British or French Regulars or muster troops if they are colonists. In addition, fled units are reconstituted at friendly territories.
During the move phase, the active side uses their event and move cards. Each player has cards that represent their faction and may play one move card or any number of event cards per round. The normal hand size is 3 cards for each player. When a card is used, it is normally discarded.
Any group of units in a territory can be moved as one army. A move card tells the player how many armies may move and how far they can move. French and British Regulars may move from port to port by way of their navies. The Great Lakes can be moved through with special event cards otherwise they are impassible.
Once two armies meet in a territory, they can battle. Combat is efficient and quickly determined by the use of Combat Dice. Each side has their own Combat Dice. The dice are different depending on the side. The British and French Regulars are more hard hitting and tend not to flee the battle as much as the colonists do. The results that each die gives range from a “hit” which removes one enemy unit, a “flee” which results in one of the attackers units fleeing and being removed from the board and being placed in the fled units area on the map and a blank side known as the “command side” which means that one of the rollers units can conduct a strategic withdraw to an adjacent, friendly territory. Forts help their owners by blocking some hits if the Fort Die reveals a good result. Retreating armies can burn down their forts which can greatly hinder their enemy’s ability to withstand a later counter attack.
After fighting, the players can either withdraw or keep fighting until one side controls the territory. Indian tribes cancel each other out on opposite sides until only one side has a tribe or tribes remaining. Event Cards can be played to help one side or the other. In our review game, the French attacked in the Pennsylvania area with a large army of united Indian tribes helping them but the British played the “William Johnson Indian Affairs” card which turned all the Indian Tribes in the territory against the French. The French forces were decimated and the British held control of the territory.
Each side has one Truce Card which can be played as a movement card. The Truce Card is then put on the Truce Tracker instead of being set aside. When all four factions have played Truce Cards, the Treaty of Paris comes in to affect which ends the war. Each side then counts up their controlled territories and the one with the most territories controlled is the winner and lays claim to East Coast and the Ohio River Valley of North America. In our review game, the British lost control of the East Coast but held some small territories in the Ohio River Valley. France held most of the ports and won the game.
The Indian Alliance Expansion adds cards for all the Indian Tribes in the territories. Each side draws a card which gives extra victory points or abilities based upon the tribe which is allied with the faction. A nice addition to a great game!
While not as complex as Wilderness War and A Few Acres of Snow, 1754 stands on its own as a very approachable game which is fast to play and easy to learn. Our review game lasted less than 2 hours and was a great way to spend an afternoon. One of the players in our review play did not really like traditional war games: she was more of a Eurogamer. She really got in to the game and ended up loving 1754.
Be aware that 1754 is not solo friendly but it is a wonderful way for 2 to 4 gamers to have a blast!
1754 Conquest – The French Indian War is another classic game from Academy Games. While not a down in the dust type of war game, its family friendly and easy to play. Academy Games has even put out teachers guides for using their Birth of America games in the class room! The future of the hobby needs more companies like Academy Games!
Armchair General Rating: 97 %
Solitaire Rating: 1 (1 to 5 with 1 being Poor and 5 being Perfect for Solo)
About the Author
A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!