Recommend
22 
 Thumb up
 Hide
12 Posts

The American Revolution 1775-1783» Forums » Reviews

Subject: American Revolution -- The Wargame rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Johnny Big Bird
United States
Manassas
Virginia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I have played American Revolution about 20 times.
First Edition, 1972.

Box
No artwork on the orignial version. It was just a very plain white box with a two-inch wide sticker wrapped around it that says: Simulations Series Game American Revolution 1775-1783 on the front. The back and sides of the box do not indicate what is inside. Well one side says” AR American Revolution (which is on the sticker). No nice artwork like later editions and no inside sleeve to describe the game either. When you open up the box you are greeted with lots of white cardboard. The only writing is HOW TO USE THIS PACKAGE. I cut a slit in the box to uncover two additional trays to hold units, next the hole for the die. Without a tool, the die doesn’t come out, unless you turn the game upside down. Once you get past these issues, the box is actually quite functional to hold the map, rules, errata, and to keep many different kinds of pieces separate without resorting to plastic bags.

Counters
The pieces are standard SPI for the early 1970s, that is three color die cut counters with non-slick finish. The land units have numbers and drawings on them to represent the military forces and militia. One number represents its strength and a letter whether it is Regular forces or Militia. French forces indicate whether they are regular forces or seasonal. All pieces are easy to read and understand. The fleet counters also have drawings on them. Also included are fortified, besieging, Tory depletion markers, and a game turn marker.

Map
Art is basic with only a few colors used, but the layout and clarity of the presentation is great. It is an area map. All of the areas are named and coded for easy play-by-mail or for easy re-set if you have to put the game away in mid-war. What is fantastic about this game map is all charts and player aids are on the map and facing one direction. This game is a solitaire player's dream. Once you know the rules, you only need to map, pieces and the die to play.

Rules
The rules create a very unique game and set of issues for players to deal with in the war. I will cover that briefing under game play. Unfortunately they are not always clear. The eight pages of rules and the errata did not clear up all of the questions I had with how to play some parts of the game, namely the rules on fortifications. I understand the rules on control and return of militia, but movement, but they were so different from other typical wargames of the day that they were not easily grasped immediately.

The Fort Rules!
Here are some of the many problems with the fortification rules.
If you are in a fort you are tripled. If you besiege enemy units in a fort you place a besieged marker on their fort. Your besieged marker prevents the enemy from leaving the fort unless they attack you. If they attack you, your defense strength is doubled, unless they also attack you with units not being besieged. You are only allowed one fort in an area. If you besiege an enemy fort, your besieged marker is considered a fort, so you cannot build a regular triple defense factor fort in the area. Presumably you could build a regular fort in the area instead of besieging. Rules say besieged markers cannot be constructed without an enemy fort to besiege. What happens if all enemy units are killed or they leave their fort? Does your besieged “fort” become a regular fort or disappear? It is also not clear if you can destroy your own fort except by moving all units out of it. After combat, you may want to pull units out of forts, regular or siege works, to control an area – units in these forts do not count for the British as the required number of troops that need to garrison an area for control. If you just destroyed the last militia in an American fort you were besieging – and the last militia in the region – that may give you control of the region – if you had enough British troops to garrison the region that were not in forts, but if all of your forces were in the fort besieging the continental forces left in the fort you do not control the region. This is a bit bizarre that British units cannot control an area when in a fort. I guess the idea is that they need to be out on patrols and not just holed up in a fort or the militia will start to get active.
Another problem with the fort rules is units entering an area can simply join a fort under attack. If an American fort with one unit in it is facing 30 British Regulars, can four more American forces really slip into this fort without a battle? The rules also say that the one unit in the fort or any number for that matter can simply leave the area as well without fighting – unless they are under siege, then they have to fight their way out. The rules do not say though that a fort under siege cannot get reinforcements. These reinforcement can simply join the fort without fighting their way into the fort. OK enough about forts!

Game Play
This is a great game because of the unusual game mechanics. I already talked about the problems with the fort rules. When you work these out though they add to the game play. The use of forts by the Americans is critical delaying tactic, tying up large numbers of British troops.

The game is one of movement and maneuver by both sides and one of control of for the British (and trying to delay or break that control as the American player. The British have all sorts of regular forces coming in throughout the game in varying amounts. The British must decide where to fight and which regions to try to control. The Americans get various continental forces in different regions, if the regions are not in British control. Tory and Militia forces pop up when the British first arrive. Tory forces do not pop up again, but if the British eliminate the Militia forces in a region and then lose control of that region later, the entire Militia strength returns! Likewise if British forces never control a region and leave it and return, the full Militia returns. This is a very clever game mechanic and it works. Oh, and the British must garrison any areas taken. This reduces their forces as they move to other areas, but it also reduces American reinforcements. Winter attrition kills the Americans literally, but winter can also be dangerous to the British since only the Americans can move and fight in the winter. The Americans move faster through the wilderness. Movement is different than the standard SPI games. There are no zones of control, but to move through enemy forces in one area and continue on to another, a covering force must be left behind. British forces also must roll a die for each force that wants to make a move, for every single space moved. With a movement allowance of five, a British force would have to roll the die successfully five times to move five spaces. A one or two on the die roll and movement is over for that force.

The British have complete control of the seas until the French intervene so one force can attempt to move by sea each turn.

There are rules for supply which affect the British player.

The Americans get French intervention only by achieving a major success in an attack. They must kill at least 5 British regular forces in a defender eliminated or ½ defender eliminated result. If 15 or more are killed there is a partial British withdrawal. After a second major success the British must have a certain number of areas controlled or they lose the game automatically. If the Americans achieve three major successes the game is over and the Americans have won.

The British win by controlling areas totaling a certain number of points at the end of a game turn. The Americans win if they avoid this or if they meet victory conditions based on Major Successes. In the original game the British player needed to control regions worth 51 points to win. Here are victory point totals of regions:
12 points: Potomac Valley;
10 points: Canada and New York;
8 points: Virginia, New Jersey, and Mass. Bay Colony;
6 points: Georgia;
5 points: South Carolina and Lower New England;
4 points: North Carolina and Roanoke Valley;
2 points: Susquehanna Valley and Hudson Highlands;
1 point: Cumberland Mountains, Ohio Valley, Delaware Highlands, Mohawk Valley, Lake Champlain, Green Mountains, Upper Mass., and Nova Scotia.
Total possible points = 92.

There are also 12 Variable Forces Options which change the reinforcement numbers for a variety of what if scenarios. The victory point totals change depending on the Variable Options used. Many of these can be combined so there are dozens of possible orders of battle and victory conditions. The more the changes in reinforcement favor the Americans, the less victory points the British need to win (to provide play balance.) The lowest victory total for the British would be 30, Option f with a stronger American Central Government which gives the colonists two to three times the number of Continental soldiers in the game. The highest victory total for the British would be 62 points, Option A with additional British Mercenaries.

Combat
This game has a very unique system. Combat is optional when units are in the same area. Units must fight though if they want to leave a besieged fort. The British also must fight to take control of regions. The American must fight occasionally to try to get a major success and trigger French intervention. Combat is also very bloody and heavily favors the attacker. The combat results table (CRT) has combat losses on EVERY roll. Minimum odds to attack are 1-1. The attacker never loses. That’s right, the worst the attacker can get is a ½ exchange where the defender removes ½ his basic strength points and the attacker must match him. The attacker will never remove more strength points then the defender. It appears it always then makes sense to attack with all available forces to get as many enemy losses as possible. Not so since piling up to attack can take you out of great defensive positions and set you up for defeat on the opponents turn. This system causes lots of action and keeps the interest up every turn.

Play Balance
There is a strategy the British can follow which leads them to victory in a vast majority of the games. For an American player to counter the strategy and win requires some bad die rolls for the British which is possible and/or a couple of risky moves by the British (that could lead) to French intervention early enough to make a difference. I am not going to talk strategies in this review, but will in a strategy article if you want to know details. Because of this problem, SPI put out an errata which changed the victory conditions to 41 points if achieved in 1775 or 1776, going up to 51 points for 1777 or 1778 and going up to 61 points in 1779-1783. This change helped balance the original game slightly, although I believe it still highly favors the British. The problem with the change it is messed up royally some of the Variable Forces Options. For example, with the strongest American order of battle, Option F, the British player can now win the game on Turn 1, the spring of 1775 turn. I will not tell you here and spoil the scenario. Read my strategy article if you really want to know.
If you have never played this game, go buy it and play it before you read my strategy article. So DO NOT READ MY ARTICLE ON STRATEGY. You will have more fun trying to figure out the best strategies. When I played the British lost about five of the first six games because the best strategies were not known by the players. Since these were figured out the British have won about seven of the next eight games. This is still a fun game even if unbalanced. The Americans can win. It’s just tough, but winning a tough fight makes it all the better to savor such a victory. If you have played the game at least ten times or think you have figured out the best strategies, then go read my strategy piece.

Realism
There is enough to get the feel for the American Revolution at the strategic and to some extent the operational level. The need to the British to quell the rebellion and garrison areas to keep Militia in check is well done. The requirement for the American forces to defeat the British in a major battle to bring in the French is well represented in the game. The British control of the seas is here. The impact of the possible French intervention and of the fleet is accounted for as well. The impact of winter is done well. The raising of continental forces is random but works well in the game and is reasonable. Militia strengths may be a bit too strong in New England and in Massachusetts. At the beginning of the game, the British cannot even attack the militias in Lower New England and Massachusetts. I doubt that the British Army in 1775 was really afraid of the American revolutionaries. This is my major beef with the realism of the simulation. A major British effort in the northeast (which actually occurred) is greatly inhibited by the rules. Canada is handled well. The Americans can take it, but it is hard to hold with few if any sympathizers with the revolutionaries.

Complexity
Intermediate with nine pages of rules and a bit of complexity trying to figure out a unique game system with a few rule issues.

Set Up Time
3 minutes

Playing Time
2-3 hours

Critical Pieces?
No, any of the counters could be duplicated and used.

Solitaire
One of the best for solitaire with all of the game charts, tables, and playing aids on the map and facing in one direction. Thank you Redmond Simonsen.

Can a First Time Player Beat an Experienced Player?
Doubtful, unless they read the strategy reviews and take the British side and minimize their blunders.

Replayability
Absolutely. I played it about 20 times. There are many different attack strategies to use as the British. Even when you figure out the “best” one it is still fun to try to implement it with random command control issues for the British and random reinforcements coming in for the Americans.

How Does it Compare to We the People and Washington’s War?
Sorry but beyond the scope of the review to go into detail about that. I will say that I have played all three and love them all. We the People and Washington’s War are obviously similar since the latter is a remake of the former. If you like battles, you will like American Revolution better. This is more of a wargame with significant battles most turns. Political control is key to all three games, but must be fought for in American Revolution – while the other two allow control by simply putting down control markers. There are no event cards in American Revolution and those do add nice touches to the other games, giving the player the feel for the importance of various activities. A plus for American Revolution is the much lower price to acquire it.

Rating and Should you Buy/Play it
7.8. Yes you should play it if you have it gathering dust and should go buy it if you do not own it. It is different and fun with lots of actions and critical decisions to make for each side every turn. No turn is boring for either player. It can frustrating for the British player to keep rolling low die rolls stopping his forces from moving, but guess what, that tends to make turns move very quickly. Critical mistakes may not end all hope for the American player. One may not for the British player either, but it might. The point is the game is somewhat forgiving of blunders.

23 
 Thumb up
4.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kim Meints
United States
Waterloo
Iowa
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Very nice review!

American Revolution wasn't a game I cared for when I first got it back in the 70's(got it when it was first published with the plastic flat tray w/coversheet).Maybe it was the Area movement that put me off from it(I wasn't that fond of Area movement games back then).I was favoring more AH's 1776.

But as time went by and TSR released Richard Berg's- 13:The Colonies in Revolt in S&T #104 that I pulled the game back out again and found I was staring to like it a little more.

Today I try to play it at least once a year(every two years at the most). The old girl grows on you after awhile
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bill Eldard
United States
Burke
Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the very thorugh review, Bird.

I still have my flat tray-box copy, though I haven't played it in a while. I agree with your comments.

Regarding its area movement, it was indeed a turn-off to many wargamers at the time because the design doctrine was to start with a hex grid and draw something. Area movement (and also point-to-point movement) makes much more sense for wars of that period, and this game does are rather good treatment of both the medium and the subject.

I'll have to pull it out again soon.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Benjamin
United States
Los Alamos
New Mexico
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Played a couple of times with my (then) teenage son. It looked like the British could not lose with a fairly obvious strategy. This could be good for bring in new gamers but the topic and ancient graphical presentation would never entice them to give it a play.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
flag msg tools
"Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My word's but a whisper, your deafness a shout."
badge
"If I were to hang my head, I'd miss all the rainbows. And I'd drown in raindrops instead."
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I really enjoyed this game when it was new and I played it solo. I don't know what became of my original copy, but the memory stuck with me for years. Just recently I bought a replacement copy, and I look forward to trying it again someday soon.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Edward Pundyk
Canada
Ontario
flag msg tools
I ordered this one from SPI as soon as it was published. My high school buddy would come over to my place every Sunday night for some war gaming. If we managed to finish the main event early enough we'd squeeze in a game of AmRev before he went home. It became our official "post-game game" and remained so for several years. Great game. Excellent review.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gilbert Collins
Canada
Ottawa
Ontario
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
Excellent review of a game that I have loved for years. Certainly one that never got the attention that it deserves. Thank you.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Herman
United States
New York
Unspecified
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Nice review. I play this one regularly as it is a great solo game. In fact it is on my table as I write this. You seem to be having far more trouble with the fort rules than I have experienced. The fort rules seem to focus on the situations that prevailed initially at Boston and for most of the war in New York and Newport. Basically the British are in a fort and the Americans besiege them to prevent them moving inland without fighting the Americans on the 1-1 CRT column otherwise standing is more or less suicide.

Mark
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Johnny Big Bird
United States
Manassas
Virginia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Mark,
It is great solo. I wonder if Jim D. has one of your games on the table now . As soon as taxes angry are done I am planning to hit the table with one of your oldies, even if Jim does not -- The Great Battles of Alexander from GMT.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Dockter
United States
Minnesota
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for doing the review; I've always wanted to get a copy of this game (I've played it a few times). I will now redouble my efforts!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Span
Australia
Sydney
NSW
flag msg tools
The coverage of fortifications in this review seems to either misrepresent the rules or counter a reasonable interpretation of "besieging".

(1) Forts and siege works are both fortifications, but the rules distingish between the two, which has implications for other points raised in the review; (2) a fort is a fort - there is no distinction beteween a 'regular fort' and some other type of fort; (3) British units can enter a besieged fort in a coastal area by sea movement (presumably the fort is around the port) - the rules do no not say units can enter a besieged fort in other curcumstances and it seems reasonable to conclude that they cannot rather than assume they can.

Maybe the rules can be tightened, but just because there is no rule that says not-x does not therefore mean x applies (in that case the converse is just as logical). Better to follow the intention and a reasonable interpretation.

One aspect of the rules I would change is that British units in forts should count towards control unless they are besieged.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kim Meints
United States
Waterloo
Iowa
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I agree with Mr Herman and Span on the Fort issue and how I ruled on the issue.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.