The War of 1812 was another moment in this country's past which most of us are likely to recall from history class.
The war was one fought between the United States and the British Empire. With what was to become Canada still under British rule in 1812, and the United States directly south battles were inevitable, and both land and naval battles were fought on the frontier, which ran along the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence River.
It is those battles which brings us to this week's game, The War of 1812, from Columbia Games, an effort I see as a sister game to Quebec 1759 reviewed here last week, since the two games come from the same company, utilize the same mechanics, and focus on battles with a Canadian connection.
There is a lot to like with The War of 1812 including a fine period-feel map.
Troop movement is conducted via a simple to understand point-to-point system.
The game comes with handfuls of blocks to represent units on both sides of the conflict.
As in Quebec 1759, it is the block system, familiar to many Columbia Games, which make this relatively simple approach to a wargame both interesting and re-playable. Rather than using traditional counters to represent units on the map the game uses wooden blocks that stand upright with unit details only shown on one side.
The result is basically secret troop deployment which is reflective of the reality on a battlefield. Not knowing what the opponent is doing strategically gives this game a feel of realism using a rather simple mechanic.
The fact the blocks are wood is aesthetically pleasing, and the stickers apply easily, adds to the component value.
The blocks can also be rotated so the current strength is the top number. Most war games have some type of mechanism which tracks troop unit strength, but blocks with four sides do allow some added detail potential.
Simply put Columbia's block system adds depth to a game without a lot of bookkeeping keeping game time manageable.
The ruleset is well laid out, and you can be re-enacting the War of 1812 in very little time once you crack the cellophane on this game.
The game may lack the detail craved by some wargamers, but casual fans of the genre will love it.
The fact few Canadian battles are chronicled in games at all make The War of 1812 a near must have.
Check it out at www.columbiagames.com
Past reviews are collected online at calsboardgamemusings.blogspot.com
-- This review was originally published in Yorkton This Week newspaper in Yorkton, Sask. Canada
Some people say that it is either/or between this and Quebec 1759. I agree that they are sister games in the sense they are by the same company using the same mechanic in a similar area, but I think it is not redundant to own them both. I have both and like them for different reasons. Mainly are you interested in fighting a campaign or an entire war. War of 1812 is not the entire war, but it is the significant theatre of the conflict.