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Subject: The First Remake of a Classic CDG rss

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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Washington's War is a remake of We the People, the game that started the Card Driven Strategic Wargame craze that we are still living in. While I'm not a big fan of We the People, I respect it because without it we would not have a whole score of classic games. I was excited to see Washington's War coming out from GMT, and joined in on the playtesting. I was even more exited after I played We the People and decided that it did need some fixing. As for Washington's War, I wrote some session reports, and was happy to see nearly all of the original problems fixed. It was a pleasant experience and the result is game that, while not a classic, is certainly great.

Gameplay (26 out of 28): Washington's War is played in a series of turns in which both sides alternate playing cards. Cards are divided into three general categories: OPS cards (which make up the bulk of the deck), events, and battle cards. The OPS cards run the game, from moving generals, with the Americans being particularly easy to mobilize, to the placement of political control markers. Battle and event cards come in two varieties: American and British events, but veterans of recent fare will notice that these events have no number value. Basically, you either play it for the event or you discard it, which can be done in battle or in the normal course of turn, which allows the player to place a political control marker or remove an opponent's. Regardless, the opponent can play an OPS card to retrieve the event, with the British being able to pay a cheaper price. The only events that cannot be discarded are mandatory ones, such as the Declaration of Independence or the fall of Lord North's government.

Cards:


Battle is settled through a series of modifiers that include a general's skill, his troops, militia support, British regulars, and battle cards. The side with the most modifiers rolls their die with a bonus. The winner takes one causality, but the loser can take up to 3. The best part is that the general's rating is variable. Howe has a 6 tactical rating, but on a roll of 1-3 he will have an off day (Bunker Hill?). I like this rule a lot since it illustrates a point often forgotten in this war: nearly every general had a great triumph and stunning defeat. Just think of the contrast between Washington in the New York and New Jersey campaigns.

Washington and Howe Face Off:


Battle is important, but only if it develops into political control, a point often lost on novice players in similar games, such as Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage and The Napoleonic Wars (Second Edition). Victory is decided when Lord North's government falls, which can be as late as 1783 or as early as 1779, just depending upon when the card is played. If the British control 6 or more colonies they win. Control is determined by having the most political control markers in one colony. If the only marker in Georgia is British then they control it. Now, for those of you who believe Washington's army was the proper target of the war, defeating and capturing Washington leads to the Americans losing their best general, some influence with France, and 5 political control markers, but be careful, as Americans are adept at avoiding battle and intercepting weaker British armies a la Trenton.

Last, but without a doubt not least, is diplomacy. The Americans can play certain event cards to move the track towards the French alliance, but they must also win victories. Once the track is complete, French regulars arrive and the vaunted navy of his most Christian majesty. Also, the threat of a European war will then hang over Britain's head. While French entry is not the death knell of Britain's hopes, the situation does get more complicated for the redcoats.

Strategic (5 out of 5): The combination of political and military concerns is superb in this game. If Mark Herman has done anything in his career, it has been wedding the political dimensions to the military ones, and while not the original to do this, he has certainly been among the most influential. The result here is a political control game featuring the military. In addition, the mechanic of keeping OPS and events separate puts things more in the players hands in that you are more prone to move armies around than you are to simply playing events. To put it another way I have never felt that this game is playing me or that I am simply carrying out a laundry list of historical events. My choices shape events and that is what I like.

Accessibility (4 out of 5): Mark Herman and developer Joel Toppen wanted a quick playing and accessible game and so far I'd say they have accomplished their mission. The rules are clear in presentation, easy to understand, and well organized. I don't think this game is as fast playing as people say, but maybe I'm just surrounded by people with AP? However, the asymmetrical nature of the military forces means that I caution using this as an introductory game.

Components (4 out of 5): I love the units and the generals, whose pictures are unique in a fashion similar to that found in Kutuzov. However, while the cards are good and the map is hard mounted, I would have preferred something more period style map. Still, it is a good map.

Units:


Originality (1 out of 2): Being a reimplementation, and coming after a long lune of similar games, this title does have a particularly original feel and nor does it want one. However, it is different enough from We the People, in terms of combat and diplomacy in particular, that I can say this is a very different game.

Historical Quality (4 out of 5): As far as I can tell this is the most accurate strategic Revolutionary Wargame. I already noted the ways politics are considered, but I must also note that the best part is the rules for American forces at year's end. Let's just say unless you are Washington in winter quarters, then a lot of your boys are going home. This prevents the Americans from massing large hordes of stable soldiers, something that was simply not the case in reality. This creates asymmetrical gameplay, which is an aspect I like in nearly all wargames, and here it is accurate to history. Leaders are mostly well done, and none of the ratings really bother me, although I would have been kinder to Arnold and Clinton. I like that the British are tactically a little better, but the Americans are more mobile in general, being cheaper to active and more prone to retreating. What I do have a problem with is that, for politics being so well integrated into the victory conditions and gameplay, it is wholly absent from the use of generals. Lee and Lincoln are so bad there is no reason to use them, while Howe, who resigned in 1778, will never leave the game. So politics, which played in part in the rotation of officers, is absent, but it can be found in For the People. Honestly, this is the only change to the game I lobbied for that did not come to pass; I guess it was not a popular criticism. Either way, the leaders in this regard are broken the same way they are in The Civil War and in both games I can look beyond this small mistake.

Well, I guess someone decided to use Charles Lee:


Overall (44 out of 50): Washington's War is a superb game. My problems are all rather minor, because this one plays fast, tight, and the historical feeling is just right. If you are a wargamer get this game, but I would caution using it as an introductory game for eurogamers and their ilk. The asymmetry of the gameplay might be a serious turn-off, so consider the audience. Otherwise, crack this one open as soon as possible.

On a side note, I just realized this is the first retread of a CDG. Maybe we'll get others that are as successful as this one?

The VASSAL Module Rocks:
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Jon
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Re: It Has Arrived
Great review (as always).

...and I would crack it open if I could, but two weeks into the P500 mailing and I still have not received even a shipping notice.

cry
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Joel Toppen
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Re: It Has Arrived
Quote:
The VASSAL Module Rocks:


Thanks!

-Joel


P.S. Thanks for the review. Glad you like the game.
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Re: It Has Arrived
Quote:
Great review (as always).

...and I would crack it open if I could, but two weeks into the P500 mailing and I still have not received even a shipping notice.

cry


I truly feel your pain and then some. I did not confirm my preorder so it will be sometime. I've resorted to VASSAL, but I'll get this one as soon as the finances improve.
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Re: It Has Arrived
Looking forward to my first play...
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Michael Lavoie
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Re: The First CDG Retread
Capt_S wrote:
Great review (as always).

...and I would crack it open if I could, but two weeks into the P500 mailing and I still have not received even a shipping notice.

cry


I am in the same situation. I am not concerned about the lack of a shipping notice, as I almost never receive one on a P500 shipment. From comments made on CSW, I am pretty sure that my game shipped early last week. It does take a long time to get a package from California to New Hampshire, so I am waiting patiently ...
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Re: The First CDG Retread
I am generally pretty patient, but I think that the cacophony of images, threads, etc. about WWR here on BGG has worn me down.

Ce la vie. I will take Sean's advice and tinker with the VASSAL module in the meantime.

I like that he mentioned the asymmetrical positions in the review; that is something that really grabbed my attention as I too like that in games. A lot in fact. Oh, and the relatively short playing time is another plus as I need a few more of those in my collection.

There is nothing better than pondering potential strategy while away from the gaming table and I am actually doing that for a game that I do not even have in my hands. Nifty.
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Karl Schmit
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Re: The First CDG Retread
gittes wrote:
Quote:
Great review (as always).

...and I would crack it open if I could, but two weeks into the P500 mailing and I still have not received even a shipping notice.

cry


I truly feel your pain and then some. I did not confirm my preorder so it will be sometime. I've resorted to VASSAL, but I'll get this one as soon as the finances improve.

So is your review based on only VASSAL play or have you played the physical game as well?
 
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Re: The First CDG Retread
Quote:
So is your review based on only VASSAL play or have you played the physical game as well?


Sadly, only VASSAL at this point. I know I've praised the components without looking at them, but the pictures speak for themselves and GMT has yet to disappoint in this regard.
 
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Mark Herman
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Re: The First CDG Retread
gittes wrote:
Washington's War is a remake of We the People, the game that started the Card Driven Strategic Wargame craze that we are still living in. While I'm not a big fan of We the People, I respect it because without it we would not have a whole score of classic games. I was excited to see Washington's War coming out from GMT, and joined in on the playtesting. I was even more exited after I played We the People and decided that it did need some fixing. As for Washington's War, I wrote some session reports, and was happy to see nearly all of the original problems fixed. It was a pleasant experience and the result is game that, while not a classic, is certainly great.

Gameplay (26 out of 28): Washington's War is played in a series of turns in which both sides alternate playing cards. Cards are divided into three general categories: OPS cards (which make up the bulk of the deck), events, and battle cards. The OPS cards run the game, from moving generals, with the Americans being particularly easy to mobilize, to the placement of political control markers. Battle and event cards come in two varieties: American and British events, but veterans of recent fare will notice that these events have no number value. Basically, you either play it for the event or you discard it, which can be done in battle or in the normal course of turn, which allows the player to place a political control marker or remove an opponent's. Regardless, the opponent can play an OPS card to retrieve the event, with the British being able to pay a cheaper price. The only events that cannot be discarded are mandatory ones, such as the Declaration of Independence or the fall of Lord North's government.

Cards:


Battle is settled through a series of modifiers that include a general's skill, his troops, militia support, British regulars, and battle cards. The side with the most modifiers rolls their die with a bonus. The winner takes one causality, but the loser can take up to 3. The best part is that the general's rating is variable. Howe has a 6 tactical rating, but on a roll of 1-3 he will have an off day (Bunker Hill?). I like this rule a lot since it illustrates a point often forgotten in this war: nearly every general had a great triumph and stunning defeat. Just think of the contrast between Washington in the New York and New Jersey campaigns.

Washington and Howe Face Off:


Battle is important, but only if it develops into political control, a point often lost on novice players in similar games, such as Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage and The Napoleonic Wars (Second Edition). Victory is decided when Lord North's government falls, which can be as late as 1783 or as early as 1779, just depending upon when the card is played. If the British control 6 or more colonies they win. Control is determined by having the most political control markers in one colony. If the only marker in Georgia is British then they control it. Now, for those of you who believe Washington's army was the proper target of the war, defeating and capturing Washington leads to the Americans losing their best general, some influence with France, and 5 political control markers, but be careful, as Americans are adept at avoiding battle and intercepting weaker British armies a la Trenton.

Last, but without a doubt not least, is diplomacy. The Americans can play certain event cards to move the track towards the French alliance, but they must also win victories. Once the track is complete, French regulars arrive and the vaunted navy of his most Christian majesty. Also, the threat of a European war will then hang over Britain's head. While French entry is not the death knell of Britain's hopes, the situation does get more complicated for the redcoats.

Strategic (5 out of 5): The combination of political and military concerns is superb in this game. If Mark Herman has done anything in his career, it has been wedding the political dimensions to the military ones, and while not the original to do this, he has certainly been among the most influential. The result here is a political control game featuring the military. In addition, the mechanic of keeping OPS and events separate puts things more in the players hands in that you are more prone to move armies around than you are to simply playing events. To put it another way I have never felt that this game is playing me or that I am simply carrying out a laundry list of historical events. My choices shape events and that is what I like.

Accessibility (4 out of 5): Mark Herman and developer Joel Toppen wanted a quick playing and accessible game and so far I'd say they have accomplished their mission. The rules are clear in presentation, easy to understand, and well organized. I don't think this game is as fast playing as people say, but maybe I'm just surrounded by people with AP? However, the asymmetrical nature of the military forces means that I caution using this as an introductory game.

Components (4 out of 5): I love the units and the generals, whose pictures are unique in a fashion similar to that found in Kutuzov. However, while the cards are good and the map is hard mounted, I would have preferred something more period style map. Still, it is a good map.

Units:


Originality (1 out of 2): Being a reimplementation, and coming after a long lune of similar games, this title does have a particularly original feel and nor does it want one. However, it is different enough from We the People, in terms of combat and diplomacy in particular, that I can say this is a very different game.

Historical Quality (4 out of 5): As far as I can tell this is the most accurate strategic Revolutionary Wargame. I already noted the ways politics are considered, but I must also note that the best part is the rules for American forces at year's end. Let's just say unless you are Washington in winter quarters, then a lot of your boys are going home. This prevents the Americans from massing large hordes of stable soldiers, something that was simply not the case in reality. This creates asymmetrical gameplay, which is an aspect I like in nearly all wargames, and here it is accurate to history. Leaders are mostly well done, and none of the ratings really bother me, although I would have been kinder to Arnold and Clinton. I like that the British are tactically a little better, but the Americans are more mobile in general, being cheaper to active and more prone to retreating. What I do have a problem with is that, for politics being so well integrated into the victory conditions and gameplay, it is wholly absent from the use of generals. Lee and Lincoln are so bad there is no reason to use them, while Howe, who resigned in 1778, will never leave the game. So politics, which played in part in the rotation of officers, is absent, but it can be found in For the People. Honestly, this is the only change to the game I lobbied for that did not come to pass; I guess it was not a popular criticism. Either way, the leaders in this regard are broken the same way they are in The Civil War and in both games I can look beyond this small mistake.

Well, I guess someone decided to use Charles Lee:


Overall (44 out of 50): Washington's War is a superb game. My problems are all rather minor, because this one plays fast, tight, and the historical feeling is just right. If you are a wargamer get this game, but I would caution using it as an introductory game for eurogamers and their ilk. The asymmetry of the gameplay might be a serious turn-off, so consider the audience. Otherwise, crack this one open as soon as possible.

On a side note, I just realized this is the first retread of a CDG. Maybe we'll get others that are as successful as this one?

The VASSAL Module Rocks:


Thanks for your help with the playtesting. I am glad you liked the final product. By the way I note your thoughts on playing time. It is a very hard thing to calibrate, but I do have recent data with real people. The Chitkickers of NYC fame played three games in 5 hours. I timed the first game and it took 87 minutes. This is not to say that you and others will not experience longer sessions, but it should not vary by that much.

Thanks for taking the time to post such a thoughtful review.

Mark
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Piero
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Re: The First CDG Retread
I'm not a big fan of the American Revolution period, but this looks like a hell of a good game!

87 minutes you said? That is certainly a big bonus for me. laugh
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As usual, a great Gittes review.
 
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Re: The First CDG Retread
Brilliant review. Alas, I did not pre-order it from GMT as this is outside my normal radar. However, I did order it from Cool Stuff Inc. so I'll be getting mine as soon as they make it to normal distribution channels. I'm figuring April which is fine as I really don't have the free time anyway.
 
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Outstanding Review Sean!

This is a fantastic game! One thing, I would also highly recommend that you play the game with this soundtrack I found on Amazon. It adds the perfect ambiance to a perfect game!

http://www.amazon.com/Plymouth-Fife-Drum-Corps/dp/B001TOL69U...

Music is performed by the Plymouth Fife & Drum Corps


 
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Quote:
Thanks for your help with the playtesting. I am glad you liked the final product. By the way I note your thoughts on playing time. It is a very hard thing to calibrate, but I do have recent data with real people. The Chitkickers of NYC fame played three games in 5 hours. I timed the first game and it took 87 minutes. This is not to say that you and others will not experience longer sessions, but it should not vary by that much.

Thanks for taking the time to post such a thoughtful review.

Mark


Not a problem Mark, and thank you for the game. It may very well be seen as your masterpiece.
 
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Quote:
Outstanding Review Sean!

This is a fantastic game! One thing, I would also highly recommend that you play the game with this soundtrack I found on Amazon. It adds the perfect ambiance to a perfect game!

http://www.amazon.com/Plymouth-Fife-Drum-Corps/dp/B001TOL69U......

Music is performed by the Plymouth Fife & Drum Corps


This is a good idea. Actually this weekend I was in a 5 player session of The Napoleonic Wars (Second Edition) and the british player brought the soundtracks for Last of the Mochians, Sharpe, Master and Commander, and British military music. If I host a Revolutionary or Napoleonic game at my house I sometimes play Beethoven and some period military music.
 
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One of the ways in which the leadership issue could be addressed would be to institute a house rule that no leader who has been captured may return to the game until all other generals (either not yet in play or previously captured) have been returned to the game.

So, if there are two American generals in the reinforcement box when Gates is captured, those generals must be activated and placed on-board before Gates will be permitted to return. If, in the meantime, Arnold is captured, he must wait for the first two generals, then Gates, before he can come back.

Such delays would simulate the negotiations and logistics in getting generals back into battle after release.

Brien
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Brien, you highlight the chief use of generals Lee and Lincoln, the generals who put the "L" in Loser. When a better general is in the captured box and you have no other options, that's when you recruit these guys.

Another use: Here's the situation: The Congress is dispersed so you cannot use OPS to place PC markers. How do you block the Brits? Recruit of course. But what if these two jokers are the only chums in the Recruit box? Well, there you go!

-Joel
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Great review of a great game.

One nit- The winner _may_ take one casualty. There is a maximum 2/3 chance of the winner losing one combat unit. (Usually it is 33%-50%)
 
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"Leaders are mostly well done, and none of the ratings really bother me,
although I would have been kinder to Arnold and Clinton."

Agreed--especially about Arnold who was an excellent commander. Say what you will about him, he was probably the top US commander in the war.

Great review, thank you.
 
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bentlarsen wrote:
Once again, the emperor has no clothes, while the march of the sycophants continues.


Looking forward to reading your review of the game.
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Once again, the emperor has no clothes, while the march of the sycophants continues. whistle

goo


Not sure how to respond to this. For a man who wants detailed criticism in geek comments (such as this excellent geeklist: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/24505/berg-bashing-at-...), you certainly have not provided any here. Nor have you responded to earlier questions regarding this post: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/407950/dare-to-compare-t.... What happened Snape? Why the bitterness?

As far as sycophants go, I have been critical in my reviews of some Berg, Raicer, Zucker and Herman games, so I am not one to simply bow at the altar.
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It looks like this excellent thread seems to have terminated with a brief skirmish, which is unfortunate.

One of the thoughts raised was the strategic valueof the various generals, such as Lee and Lincoln, and the historic withdrawal of Howe. I will address the second first. I remember when this suggestion came up and my personal preference would have been to add the extra bit of complexity to allow for the forced withdrawal of Howe or more appropriately some political connection between generals, the board situation, and politics ala For the People. Later on I thought to tie it into an event card and I toyed with forcing the withdrawal of a general if the British lost a 3CU battle. In the end I decided that the addition of the French track was a far as I wanted to push my complexity budget for this game, so it ended up on the cutting room floor. But a reasonable suggestion nevertheless.

As far as the value of Lee and Lincoln goes here is a link to another thread where I speak briefly on the value of Lee and Lincoln in WWR which was not the case in WTP.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/4790417#4790417

Mark
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Thanks for dropping in Mark. I suspected that Howe's removal by event was on the table, but understandably dropped for the sake of complexity. I'll probably post a little variant myself featuring the removal of Howe.
 
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