1775: Rebellion – The American Revolution – Boardgame Review
Passed Inspection: Fast to learn and easy to play. High-quality components. Game incorporates historical notes into play so each game is not just fun but educational.
Failed Basic: Low solitaire compatibility. Box art peels somewhat on one edge.
1775: Rebellion – The American Revolution is Academy Games’ newest release for its Birth of America series and while it may look a lot like 1812 The Invasion of Canada on the surface, the scope and rhythm of 1775 is very different but just as good!
1775’s box features a stunning painting of American Continental Army Regulars getting ready to ambush British Red Coats, and what the box contains is just as impressive as the picture. Upon opening the box, you are greeted with a note from Academy Game’s President Uwe Eickert, a beautifully illustrated rule and scenario book, a lush, full-color mounted map, cards, handouts, counters, dice, blocks, a storage bag and a storage tray. All the items are of the highest quality and very attractive. The only misgiving I have is with the box; the side artwork on mine is beginning to peel off the cardboard on one corner.
The mounted map features areas for game upkeep such as the turn chart and fled units area, as well as all 13 colonies plus individual territories within the colonies. It also features Maine, Quebec and Nova Scotia.
The game can be played with from 2 to 4 people. The British side includes British Regular troops (Red Coats) plus their allied Loyalist Militias of the Colonies. The British may also be supported by German Hessian Mercenaries. The American Colonists include the Continental Army forces plus Patriot Militias and French Regular Army forces. American Indians are a neutral force that will forge alliances on a tribe-by-tribe basis.
For each side there are cards that provide events and movement options as well as combat results dice, and cubes that are used to show the position of armies on the map board. The British Red Coats are represented by red-colored cubes (Imagine that!) and dice. The British Loyalists have yellow as their color. The Colonial Army is blue and its associated Patriot Militia is white. Hessians are orange, French purple and American Indian units are green.
The map board shows the forces that start in each area. For example, the British start a great deal of their forces in New York City and Boston while the Colonials have a great deal of starting forces in Hartford and New London, Connecticut, and in the rural areas of Massachusetts and New Jersey. Most of the colonies are contested right from the start of the game. The colonies are divided into territories that must be controlled. When all the forces in a colony are of the same faction (plus any Native Americans), the colony is controlled and counts towards victory points.
The players put their colored cubes in the starting areas shown on the map board. Each cube represents an abstract quantity of men. After adding reinforcements of the players’ choice to the map, the game begins.
Each player has a deck of cards specifically tailored to the forces: British Loyalists have Loyalist cards, Colonial Regulars have their own cards, etc. Each card either lists an event or how many armies (groups of cubes) can move a specified number of territories each turn. Each deck also has a Truce card, which can be used to end the game earlier than the scenario specifies. Each player can have a hand of three cards and can play up to two per turn. Cards are replenished back up to three every turn.
Four large cubes of the color of each faction are dropped into a very nice bag included in the game. Each turn, the players draw from the bag and line the cubes up in the order drawn on the map board. The players then proceed to take their turns in that order. This makes for some intense turns and no one is quite sure who is going to move and fight first, second, third or fourth.
Next the players place reinforcements and return any units in the fled unit section of the map board to the colonies.
Next the players move and fight. The results of the battle are controlled not by looking at tons of charts but by rolling the dice that are the same color as the player’s faction. The result is either a hit (which removes one cube per hit), a flee (the player rolling the die has to take one cube and move it into the fled units space on the map board) or a blank Command Decision, which means that the player rolling the die may move a unit out of the battle and into an adjacent controlled territory. The results of the dice are based upon the national characteristics of the faction. British Red Coats never flee and hit quite often because of their training and discipline. Continental Army Regulars hit half the time and flee one time out of six, with the remaining two sides of the die being Command Decision results. Event cards can control the outcome of the battles, such as when the British turn Benedict Arnold and he adds his forces to their side.
The last part of each turn is the Draw Cards phase in which the player draws up to three cards for the next turn.
The game ends either when one player controls all the colonies, when a truce falls into place or when the turns run out for the scenario played.
The game comes with three scenarios: the 1775 Campaign Game for the full war, the 1775 Introductory Scenario and the Siege of Quebec Advanced Difficulty Campaign.
Additionally, the designers have thoughtfully included a very concise history of the Revolutionary War.
The game plays very smoothly and the rules (of which there are only 6 pages) are never intrusive or obtuse. It does seem to me that some of the factions flee a little too, often such as the Patriot Militias, but this may be realistic based upon the lack of training that was inherent with some of the citizens-turned-soldiers.
Solitaire rules would also have been nice to include for when you just can’t get a player or two together, and as stated previously, the copy of the game I received has a defect on the box that caused the art to peel on one of its sides. I hope my box was just an aberration. (Academy Games responds that they regret the box art is peeling on the copy they sent for review but add this is only the second report they’ve received about peeling box art on 1775, and the damage could have occurred in shipping.—Editor)
Nonetheless, the game is a great educational game and much is to be learned just by reading the event cards and the history section of the rule book. It is also a great game for families to play on an afternoon. All ages can have a blast with this and I can see schools using it as a tool to make history fun.
Once again Academy Games has scored a victory and 1775 should go down as a classic game! Huzzah!
(1775: Rebellion won the Origins 2014 Historical Boardgame of the Year.—Editor)
Armchair General Rating: 95 %
Solitaire Rating (1 is low, 5 is high): 1
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 that came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!