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Subject: Rebellion: My dead Gram likes it and she's not even alive!!! rss

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Severus Snape
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Pascal said, "The eternal silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me."
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"The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of."--Pascal
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Introduction:

This review will be brief. It will assume that the reader is familiar with 1812: the Invasion of Canada, the older sibling to Rebellion. I will focus on likes and dislikes, pros and cons, as I see them, and key differences between the two games.

Components:

The board is every bit as good as that of 1812. You won't want to hang either upon a wall; for starters, they are too heavy, but mostly it is because neither doubles as game board and work of art. Nevertheless, with these two games, Academy Games can make a board that is clear, practical, and pleasing to the eye.

There is one aspect to the board which could be improved, and that is in the clarification of just how many areas exist in New York, Quebec and Virginia. Read the answers on BGG and all will be clear, even if the board is not at first glance.

The cubes are your standard fair: nothing much to see, nothing much to excite, but they, no doubt, keep down the cost, and are fully functional in every way imaginable for a small wooden cube. You can even stick them up a sleeping siblings nose, if you wish, at no additional cost, other than the broken bones that may ensue in the coming mayhem.

The rules are clear, colourful, and filled with examples. The use of different colours and fonts is an aid to comprehension and ease of understanding. They are perfectly clear to those who want them to be, and less so to those who actually read them. But, mostly, they are clear. There is also a history section not worth your time, or the time of the person(s) who penned it, so why bother? A set of design notes, where the designers actually discuss the design process, would be much appreciated. But even Joe Miranda's single page set of design notes in S&T does not amount to all that much. It seems that the designers are afraid that the unenlightened, of whom I number myself, might actually learn something and go and design our own games.

The battle cubes work and are as clear as a cartoonish image of a running man, a blank side, and a bulls-eye can possibly be. And, at no additional charge, they even roll if you use your hand and roll them. The turn markers await their turn, and are present and active for duty.

The cards, like those in 1812, make an effort to be colourful and clear, even if the artwork is more akin to a school classroom rather than a master artist. The cards are flimsy and need protective sleeves pronto. Those who praise them to the heavens apparently have yet to actually handle them; so you should handle them with care.

Scenarios:

There are three. One is a rinky-dink that can serve as a good introduction of the game to young players. Then there is the campaign scenario, and lastly there is the Quebec scenario, which contains some interesting event cards that can only be played in it. I would prefer to see a way of getting all the cards from the Quebec option into the full campaign game.

Some Key Differences between Rebellion and 1812:

1) Colony Control:

Instead of fighting for areas, as in 1812, you fight for total control of the 13 colonies, Maine, Quebec and Nova Scotia. To control a colony, you have to control all the areas in it, regardless of the number. Neutral Native Americans prevent control by either side.

In practice, this means that the largest colonies, such as New York and Virginal, will be, short of some sort of 18th century blitzkrieg, impossible to control. On the other hand, look for Delaware and Rhode Island to take on an importance completely out of touch with their historical realities.

This makes Rebellion neither better or worse than 1812, just different. However, the one-cube-conquers-all strategy that exists in 1812 begins to take on farcical proportions in Rebellion. You can have eight of the nine areas in New York, including New York City, but be denied control because of one enemy cube. If you like that sort of stuff, go for it. I think the idea begins to take on a parody of what should be a good strategy game.

2) Reinforcements:

They can be placed in any city (clarification: in any colony) you control. This makes perfect historical sense, and gives the game more random chaos. The logical lines of attack in 1812 could become stale. In Rebellion, you play like it is WWE; you don't know who is swinging the elbow, or from what direction.

3) Battles:

The defender fires first unless an event card says otherwise. Again, this makes perfect sense in this sort of conflict (and makes sense generally).

4) Event cards:

The same sort of "yah/meh/blah!" can be found here as in 1812, with some of the "good stuff" reserved for the Quebec scenario. I did begin to feel that Mark Herman hand his hand in the hand, because that's how dull the cards seem to be.

If you like more of the same, you'll like the cards here. If you are looking for expanded and creative ideas, you won't find much.

5) Native Americans:

Their existence is more along the lines of "the threat is more powerful than the execution." Overall, they are a disappointment. There is no player for them--the factions are reduced from five to four--and you won't get anything out of them if one group of NA's is involved in a battle against another group of NA's.

The design avoids any pretense of 18th century genocide. George Washington will not campaign to wipe you out, because his mere presence makes you his NABFF. This just makes me want to sigh.

My gaming group was united in feeling that the Native Americans are more like Lame Americans. And if a game comes down to being decided by a group of NA's, it will be a rare event. If I had paid for them, I would ask for my money back.

6) French and Hessians:

These are a neat, and easy to implement, idea for reinforcements. They add colour, literally, and their own battle dice. I find it odd that the French can go toe-to-toe with the British regulars, given how the British went on to wipe French noses on the ground through the greater part of the conflict.

7) Water Movement:

The American side can take Halifax if you leave it unguarded. This is where the designers should consider turning some key areas, like Quebec City and Halifax, into fortresses. Just give them their own set of cubes and battle dice. Otherwise, it becomes that much harder to treat them game with historical respect. Remember that one Patriot cube, on a fishing boat, can bring down Halifax, while chanting "USA! USA! USA!"

What my gaming group thought, or the "group think," if you prefer:

1) We all like playing both games. We find both games fun.

2) The majority in my group like having five factions, as in 1812, rather than the four in Rebellion. It just allows more people, or teams, to be involved.

3) The Native Americans begin the game on the margins, literally and metaphorically, and seem to stay there for much of the game. Rather than an essential component to the design, as in 1812, they seem an afterthought. We were united in our disappointment.

4) We do not like the idea of having much of the struggle centre around those postage stamps known as Delaware and Rhode Island. It can easily just boil down to a tug-of-war for these two colonies. I think the design would have been better if no colony was less than two areas. This would cause the action to be spread out, more than likely.

5) Most of the group thinks 1812 is the better game. A minority prefer Rebellion because the battles are more random (if you discount the toing and froing of Delaware and Rhode Island), less predictable, and the sides are even from the get-go: 2 vs. 2. In 1812, the British side can end a round with its three factions going in a row. Ouch.

Conclusion:

Overall, I like Rebellion. It is a fun, easy to learn, light strategy game. There is not enough complexity or chrome for me to call it a wargame—the same is true for 1812--but there are those who will disagree with me. With the right group—and you really need a full house to bring out the most from it—it is a treat to play. The game is a great value for the money, that is for sure.

However, Academy Games is in danger of giving us a “one trick pony” of a design concept. There is not enough that is different to distinguish it from 1812 in its basic concepts. This is a plus and a minus for those who know and like 1812. I have heard that Academy Games is going to come out with one on the French & Indian/Seven Years War in North America. I hope it will be different beyond the map, and that the good ideas that began with 1812 will expand beyond what has become Rebellion.

goo

By way of an afterthought: One can really like a game design, but not like everything about a game design. Such is the case with Rebellion. I hope my criticisms, despite the satire and hyperbole, can be construed more along the lines of constructive criticism. I like constructive disagreement and lively differences bandied about over the games we love or hate.

What I do not understand is why it is that for some people, some games cannot be criticized. Ever. End of story. If there are those who hold that a game is beyond criticism, it seems to me to be evidence of a closed mind. If designers were not seeking to improve upon their predecessors, not just to sell games, but to create great games, where would we be? Back in the world of Tactics II and Afrika Korps (one of my favourites when I was younger).

One way to look at a game that has a historical theme is to bring the history to the table. Rebellion never pretends to be a simulation, or a historical wargame. But the theme is still present; and the questions are still relevant.

I would not expect many, or any, to know this, but 1812: Invasion of Canada is number nine in my top ten list of games. It has been there since I got the game and played it with my group after its release. You see, it is not all bad, is it? I play historical wargames more than anything else; but then 1812 has the cheekiness to come into my gaming life and nudge other worthy games out of the list.

Rebellion is not that kind of game, but it is still a very good game.

goo

A month or two after this review was written, 1812: Invasion of Canada fell out of my top ten list to make room for two superlative Market Garden games; 1812 is still a great game and I wish we had a top twenty list on our home pages.

goo



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Bill the Pill
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I enjoyed your review, good professor. I've only played twice; Delaware was important, but the fighting took place throughout the colonies, although smaller battles in the south.
I thought reinforcements could only be taken in cities in colonies you control. That makes screwing someone over with a cube into a colony even more important.
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Stephen Sanders
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DNA results:English, Dutch, Irish, German, French, Iberian Peninsula = 100% American!
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A seemingly insightful review, as I have only played 1812, but your comments made sense as to the utility of this game system with 1775, especially with respect to the Indians. Good job.
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Frank Hamrick
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DrFlanagan wrote:
I enjoyed your review, good professor. I've only played twice; Delaware was important, but the fighting took place throughout the colonies, although smaller battles in the south.
I thought reinforcements could only be taken in cities in colonies you control. That makes screwing someone over with a cube into a colony even more important.


I caught that also - you can't put reinforcements in a city you control unless you also control the entire colony. Makes a big difference. Also makes it tougher to get battles going in the south, and as the reviewer indicated, seems to keep the action centered on Deleware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts. Eventually our battles spread to New York - but no further. NO fighting below the Mason-Dixon line. One reason for that - the Warships never came out and the game ended by turn 4.
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Kevin Duke
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As two people have spotted, you've missed a key part of the rules, and also missed the beauty of how the Natives work.

Lets not complain about weak history if limiting the story to Monty python facts.
Quote:

I find it odd that the French can go toe-to-toe with the British regulars, given how the British went on to wipe French noses on the ground through the greater part of the conflict.


Really? Where would that nose wiping be taking place "through the greater part of the conflict," especially since French troops were not really involved until 1779. And did just fine.

I'm glad you enjoy the game you played. It's even better with the right rules. And if you want more contrast with 1812, check out a post from last January, with a title that is not clever, but does actually identify the content.
 
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Severus Snape
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Pascal said, "The eternal silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me."
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"The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of."--Pascal
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kduke wrote:
As two people have spotted, you've missed a key part of the rules, and also missed the beauty of how the Natives work.

Lets not complain about weak history if limiting the story to Monty python facts.
Quote:

I find it odd that the French can go toe-to-toe with the British regulars, given how the British went on to wipe French noses on the ground through the greater part of the conflict.


Really? Where would that nose wiping be taking place "through the greater part of the conflict," especially since French troops were not really involved until 1779. And did just fine.

I'm glad you enjoy the game you played. It's even better with the right rules. And if you want more contrast with 1812, check out a post from last January, with a title that is not clever, but does actually identify the content.


I understand the reinforcement rule and the placement of units. I should have clarified in the original piece. Thanks to Dr. Bill and the other good folks who pointed this out, and called me out.

Most games do work with the right rules. Rebellion has the advantage of not being a chrome laden, complex beast that needs a forest of errata to make it work. That is part of its appeal.

As we know, there was a quasi-world war happening during the American Revolution. The British were able to defeat the French fairly consistently, on land and at sea, during the greater conflict. It is to that which I refer through the use of hyperbole.

I read your description of the differences between the two games and found it helpful, as a whole. My "clever" title is just a shot across the bow at some of the other goings on around these rebellious parts. Many pairs of lips have been applied to the beautiful Rebellion box; mine aren't among them.

I can see how the play of Native Americans could swing victory, or snatch it away to force a draw. One has to decide how much effort will be made through those precious movement cards to enlist their help. But the potential impact of NA's seems no different than that of any other enemy unit. This is the part of the fun and challenge of the game. I think my group just felt let down because the Native American's are not major players in Rebellion. One person's beauty is another person's letdown.

And now for something completely different:

Quote:
Lets not complain about weak history if limiting the story to Monty python facts.


If you had a better understanding of satire, a sense of humour, and a healthy dose of perspective, you would get it. But you don't.

goo
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Moe45673
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I disagree with your thoughts on the French. While the Brits did beat them quite consistently, the French assistance in the Independence War did help til the balance in favor of the Americans, plus they were better trained soldiers than the Rebels. This is reflected abstractly in the dice.
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Severus Snape
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Pascal said, "The eternal silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me."
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"The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of."--Pascal
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Moe45673 wrote:
I disagree with your thoughts on the French. While the Brits did beat them quite consistently, the French assistance in the Independence War did help til the balance in favor of the Americans, plus they were better trained soldiers than the Rebels. This is reflected abstractly in the dice.


If it is reflected in the dice, abstractly, as you say, then the French dice should not be equal to the British. But I ask too much of a fun game that is not meant to portray history.

goo
 
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Mark Mitchell
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bentlarsen wrote:
Moe45673 wrote:
I disagree with your thoughts on the French. While the Brits did beat them quite consistently, the French assistance in the Independence War did help til the balance in favor of the Americans, plus they were better trained soldiers than the Rebels. This is reflected abstractly in the dice.


If it is reflected in the dice, abstractly, as you say, then the French dice should not be equal to the British. But I ask too much of a fun game that is not meant to portray history.

goo


What? There is no flee result on the French dice!? What madness is this?
 
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Mark Mitchell
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Also he didnt mention his dead gram....what's that all about?
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Severus Snape
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Pascal said, "The eternal silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me."
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"The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of."--Pascal
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gamecat_uk wrote:
Also he didnt mention his dead gram....what's that all about?


I think she fled with the French, and is likely the kind of target they can always hit.

goo
 
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