The American Revolution Board Game Review
The American Revolution: Decisions in North America 1775 to 82 Board Game Review. Publisher: Decision Games Game Designer: Joseph Miranda Price $35.00
Passed Inspection: Great value for the money. Engaging activation system for units. Seems realistic. Easy way to track political points and alliances. Nice graphics. Rules have FAQ and Designer’s Notes. Easy to play solitaire.
Failed Basic: Rules are not laid out in an easy to read manner. Typos in the rules. Needs an index. Needs more play aids. Incorrect rule reference numbers in some sections. Needed an extra editorial review before release.
Decision Games, publisher of Strategy and Tactics, has released games of various degrees of complexity on a variety of subjects. In addition, they have reprinted previously published games. The American Revolution: Decisions in North America 1775 to 82 is a zip lock bag game designed by multiple award winning game designer and editor of Strategy and Tactics Joseph Miranda. It is an updated version of the game which originally appeared in Strategy and Tactics issue 270.
The game components feature a beautiful and functional 34” x 22” full color map, 228 full color double sided counters and a 32 page rule booklet. The map is marked out by territory and not only contains the Eastern and MidAtlantic states but also Florida, Louisiana, Canada and the Caribbean. Each inch on the map is 75 miles and each unit is a brigade (approximately 1500 to 4000 men), a force of raiders, a fleet of ships, a fortress or a leader and his followers. Examples of forces included are Regulars, Fleets, Grenadiers and Indian Tribes. Aside for the British and the Colonists, the French, Spanish and Hessians are also represented.
Each turn is one year (from 1775 to 1782) with multiple phases in each turn as follows :
3) Mobilization of units (purchase units)
4) Rabble Rousing
A) First Campaign Phase – move and combat
B) Second Campaign Phase – move via forced march and combat
C) Third Campaign Phase – move via forced march and combat
6) Supply Phase – foraging for supplies and checking to see if units are disbanded owing to their enlistment being up
7) Point and Marker Adjustment Phase and return ½ of the players’ campaign markers in to the Campaign Cup
8) Victory Check
Players get Political Points for the areas on the map that they occupy which also do not have either Rebels or Torries disrupting the area. These points are used to purchase (mobilize) units or to bid on the Political Track.
The Political Track displays the status of different areas of the map, for example, is New England in favor of the British or the Colonists and to what extent will that area support a war?
On the map, there is also a display showing how far towards independence the American colonies are. After the Declaration of Independence is ratified, the war gets easier for the Colonies and more difficult for the British.
Depending on how well the Colonies are doing in their war against the British, the French and Spanish forces enter the battle to help out against their old enemy, England.
Campaign Markers are drawn from a cup or plastic bag and allow each side to perform certain specific actions or allow them to either activate new leaders or keep the other side’s leaders from participating in the action. The Campaign Markers are a great concept for helping or hindering each side. A savy player will keep some markers in his “hand” in order to deny the other side from using them in the near future. But, at the end of every turn, ½ of the marker which are not used have to be put back in to the cup. The strategy of playing or holding these markers adds dramatically to the tension of the game. Some examples of these markers are : Bait the Redcoats, Indians, Engineers, Debate in Parliament and Mutiny and Treason. Rabble Rousing markers can be used to shift the political allegiance of a specific region either pro-British or Pro-Colonials.
Movement is by region and there is some terrain effect based upon the areas but the terrain effects are not listed on the map’s terrain chart and have to be looked up in the rule book. This was a bad editorial decision as there is clearly room on the map’s terrain chart to add terrain effects.
Combat is handled simply and effectively. Leaders modify a unit’s combat value. To fight, you determine initiative and then conduct first round attacks by rolling one die for each combat factor of the attacker plus one additional die for any “tactics markers” possessed by the attacking side. Each time a player rolls a “6”, an enemy is destroyed. Each time a player rolls a “5” a unit is flipped over to its disrupted side. If a disrupted unit is disrupted a second time, it is destroyed.
Fleets can either provide supporting fire for landing forces to take a port or a town or can engage each other in combat. In fact, in the last game I played, two French fleets forced a British fleet to retreat to Halifax for repairs after combat. Then the two French fleets bottled up the British fleet in Halifax effectively keeping it from its mission supporting British forces near Boston and landing fresh British troops from its transports. In fact, this bottling up of the British fleet helped end the game in favor of the Colonies in 1779.
The game plays beautifully and really seems to capture the feel of both the combat and politics of the time period.
The American Revolution is rated as being for two players but it also provides a wonderfully engaging solitaire experience. The Campaign Markers allow for the solo player to activate the other side according to the markers which are drawn from the cup and then attempt to facilitate their most effective use. This allows for a great degree of replay ability as the actions the sides can accomplish vary from turn to turn and game to game.
Optional rules are included for sieges, partisans, Indian sovereignty, foraging, massacres and many more items which greatly add to the atmosphere of the game.
Designer’s notes and FAQs are also thoughtfully included.
The biggest fault with the game is the rule booklet, itself. I didn’t find reading the rules to be particularly engaging. The main rules felt somewhat dry and lifeless. The rules needed more examples of play attached to each rule section even though a detailed walk through is included later in the book itself. In addition, there are a few references to rules sections that have moved, possibly due to the inclusion of new rule sections without the references being updated to reflect the changes. This was distracting and made for a great deal of page flipping to find the rule in question.
In addition to the frustration of just reading the basic rules, the book is somewhat deficient on the steps needed to set up the game for play. For example, I followed the unit set ups and just as I was getting ready to play the game, the rules indicated that I would have to photocopy some tables to mark up during game play. Wait a minute! I just set up everything now I have to run out to a photocopier in order to begin play! Why didn’t the rules state that requirement right at the beginning of set up?
Also the rules need a complete index for ease of play.
I believe that one or two more edit passes would have brought the rules in to a more playable form and helped greatly with the playing experience. In fact, with a better rule book, my review would have raised from an overall 83 % to a 93%.
But, as it is, The American Revolution is a good game which provides a wonderful gaming experience if you can get past the rule book and, at that price, it is a great value.
Armchair General Rating: 83 %
Solitaire Rating: 4
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)