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Subject: Washington’s War—a quick review rss

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Jeff P
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Illinois
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Washington’s War—a quick review

A Caveat

By and large, I am not a war-gamer. My collection largely consists of middle-to-heavy EURO games, though obviously not exclusively. But my personal taste might be different than many people interested in this game.

Obviously, personal preferences differ but I think it is important to put this out there.

Components

The components are of decent quality. You will not mistake this game for a miniatures game or something put out by Days of Wonder. It is a GMT counter game with a mounted map. It is what you expect. It is not going to wow you with its components, but it ain’t ugly either. The real beauty is in the game. That said, the components are more than serviceable. The cards are of high quality, the counters are solid. The board is highly functional, but also pleasant to look at.

My only issue is that my board tore at the fold in something of a freak accident. A few pieces of duct tape on the back made it as good as new, but the fold could’ve been reinforced and is not.

Rules

I am not going to do a full rules overview. If you are interested in all of the rules they are available here: http://www.gmtgames.com/washwar/WW_Rules_Final2_low-res.pdf

Overall, I think the rules are fairly straight-forward. Most actions are either directly use OPs points from the cards or are events that just follow from the text on the cards. These actions are clearly laid out on reference sheets for each player which is nice (especially since they reference you to the relevant part of the rule book).
The battles are also very easy to figure out. Numbers are added based on the number of units, general ratings, and other modifiers. The dice are rolled and the winner is determined. The loser takes casualties (determined by another simple chart) and retreats. If the loser cannot retreat, they surrender. The winner then determines casualties in a very straight-forward way.

Very nice.

My main problem with the rules, is that there are subtle differences between the Americans and the British for almost everything. Most of the rules are designed to accurately reflect the Revolutionary War and they actually capture the details quite well, but they can be quite fiddly especially on a first play. The main problem is that the American and British rules are often quite similar, but different in very minor ways. It is easy to lose track of those.

Major Differences such as the American ability to retreat before a battle or the British ability to retreat by sea are easy to remember. The exact rules on placing of Political Control and checking for political isolation get more complicated.

However, the game gets a lot right. The overrun rule (allowing an automatic victory of a 4+ army over a single unit, which doesn’t prevent movement) prevents one player from just spreading out to slow down the advance.

The French status in the game is also a great mechanic. The Americans have to try for military success to get the French into the war. Meaning that the Americans can’t just sit on the defensive (though American losses in the Winter Attrition phase also do much the same).

The Goals of the Game

The goal of the game is where the real beauty lies. It is a war game, make no mistake. But, it is virtually impossible to win the game only on the field of battle. For that to happen, the Americans need to completely drive the British forces out of the 13 colonies or the British need to wipe the American forces off the map. Both are extremely difficult and I would be surprised if any more than 1 out of 20 games ended in such a way.

Rather, the ultimate goal of the game is to have political control of the colonies. If at the end of the game the Americans control 7 colonies while holding the British to control of less than 5 they win. If not, the British win. This is actually quite interesting because there are a total of 14 colonies relevant (Canada plus the 13). Meaning that the Americans need not only worry about controlling seven but als make sure that the British don’t get up there in control. Some colonies have many areas to open to control while others only have one. Whichever side has more control in a given colony controls that colony (except for Canada which has slightly different rules). This centralizes the fight for political fight for the smaller states of the Northeast (which is historically accurate).

This also leads to the brutal choices which make this game so interesting. Often, the American player will have to decide between to reinforces his depleted forces or trying to gain more political control. Military victories are good and even necessary in the scheme of things, but ignoring political control can lead to defeat.
The British have much the same horrible choice between activating their better generals and trying for political control. The player that can find the best balance between military action and political control will likely win.

What’s great about that is that military victories aren’t really necessary to winning the game. A military strategy of tactical losses can still propel you to victory if you play the politics right.
The game can also end fairly unexpectedly. There are several cards which are mandatory plays, which declare at which date the card ends. This adds uncertainty to the strategy… you can’t rely on a 7 turn strategy when the game might only last 5. Really ramps up the tension and the replayability.

So, What Do I Think

I would highly recommend this game, to just about anyone. But I would warn them that they need to spend some time getting to know the game before trying to play it. The rules really take a while to get to know, and both players need to be at about equal levels of understanding before you can really start. But if you are patient enough, the rewards are really worth it.

I am mostly a Euro-gamer and I loved it. I played with my friend Dave, who is mostly a war-gamer/Fantasy Flight/miniatures gamer and he loved it. I think this game has broad crossover appeal to multiple types of serious gamers. It is an excellent game.

If you are on the fence about this one, don’t be. Pick it up.
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Max Jamelli
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Chambersburg
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Wildcatfight wrote:


I am mostly a Euro-gamer and I loved it. I played with my friend Dave, who is mostly a war-gamer/Fantasy Flight/miniatures gamer and he loved it. I think this game has broad crossover appeal to multiple types of serious gamers. It is an excellent game.

If you are on the fence about this one, don’t be. Pick it up.


I am mostly a Eurogamer myself. I do enjoy 1960 and Twilight Struggle, so my dad was confident that I'd like this game. He was right - a very good game with great crossover appeal (I like that phrase).
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E J
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Great review my fellow Tucson gamer! Our group has this game and 2 of us really want to try this one out.
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suPUR DUEper
United States
Villa Hills
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Great game and nice review!

I agree with your rules comment, There are many little variations that are hard to remember and are not clearly summarized in the rules. The best job aide for a game EVER remedies this and it is found here:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/55000/major-sholtos-re...

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Great review, although one thing that I thought was funny:

Wildcatfight wrote:
It is not going to wow you with its components, but it ain’t ugly either.


"Wow" is exactly the first thing I said when pulling game components out of the box. This probably has something to do with expectations though, as all of the wargames I've played previously had lower quality components - the large, mounted map made an especially strong impression on me.

 
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