I managed to cajole my lovely and accomodating girlfriend (triscuit) into playing War of 1812 -- recently acquired off of eBay -- this weekend: I played the righteous and dignified English and she the hot-headed Americans. An overview of the major events of the conflict according to Sir George Prevost, Governor and Military Commander, follows:
The Americans have an advantage of two blocks in the initial draw of forces -- 12 blocks to England's 10 -- and as it turns out she drew quite a few of the available strength-4 blocks from the American pool. Forced by the setup rules to spread out her forces, she started with 2-block concentrations in Sackett's Harbor and Detroit.
Apparently due to the reverses being suffered at Napoleon's hands, England was stingy with her troops and only three 4-strength troops were provided to the Canadian theater, two of which were stationed between the lakes in Fort George, and the third in Amherstburg, joined by a 3-strength block and the dragoons.
Campaign Year 1812:
General Brock had hoped the Americans would be arrogant enough under General Hull to again attack from Detroit, but instead the American navy launches from Sackett's Harbor to control Lake Ontario, while simultaneously two 4-strength block march on the English shipyard in Kingston. After an initial exchange of shots, the 3-strength regiment stationed there -- now reduced to 2 and with the American forces unscathed -- elects to retreat east to Prescott, eluding American pursuit fire. Meanwhile the English naval unit left behind manages to escape from harbor, only to be fallen upon by the waiting American navy and soundly defeated before retreating in disorder to Fort George for the rest of the game. The English would never again control Kingston, nor its navy the waves of Lake Ontario.
America continues to press her advantage as another American 4-strength unit under General Dearborn from Ogdensburg attacks the veteran Canadian unit taking refuge in Prescott; again the veterans suffer a hit before escaping to make a stand in lightly-garrisoned Montreal.
Dearborn continues his pursuit into Montreal, where the French Canadian militia fumble their rifles and are cut down under withering American fire. Outclassed again, the desperate Canadian veterans retreat to lightly-garrisoned Lacolle in an attempt to draw American forces away from an equally poorly-defended Quebec.
Meanwhile a push is made from Fort George to distract American attention from the Eastern theatre: this is clearly the weak point in the American line as the American navy is sunk and American forces are harried around Lake Erie from Buffalo to Sandusky, from whence their dragoons are finally forced to take refuge in Detroit.
America will not be distracted, however: a strong unit from Plattsburg moves on Lacolle, defeating the forces there and causing the British fleet to flee out onto Lake Champlain where it is promptly sunk by the American navy; the victorious American regulars joyfully move on to occupy Montreal, while Dearborn continues to Quebec where he makes short work of the militia there.
Meanwhile, General Hull is goaded into an unwise attack on Amherstburg; his dragoons steadfastly refuse to leave American soil, however, and Hull's forces are subsequently defeated at Brock's hands and thrown back across the river in disarray, with Brock's army and dragoons in hot pursuit. With Sandusky occupied, the American dragoons with the remnants of Hull's forces put up a brave fight in Detroit, but their fate is sealed by a sudden native uprising in the area, and control of the city is ultimately relinquished to General Brock.
The last action before winter witnesses the handing over of Pittsburgh after a desultory battle to the victorious English.
Winter 1812 results:
America controls the eastern theatre, including Kingston, Montreal and Quebec, Lakes Ontario and Champlain, for 24 points
England holds sway from Buffalo westward, including Lake Erie, Detroit and Pittsburgh, for 19 points
Campaign Year 1813:
The Americans start the year with the advantage, and use it to reinforce Quebec from Montreal against oncoming English reinforcements. Professionally-trained English reinforcements under Governor Prevost arrive; and although lightly inferior in number to the defender (7 to 8), manage to wrest Quebec from Dearborn's grasp at little loss to themselves, subsequently pursuing the demoralized Americans who retreat through Montreal and Lacolle to regroup finally in Plattsburg once again.
As a growing American relieving force from Albany marches up through Ogdensburg and Malone in the East, in the West the strength of the English occupiers of Pittsburgh is augmented by that of allied indian tribes in preparation for the arrival of eventual American reinforcements. These are of poor quality when they finally do arrive, however, and on their approach through the wilderness they are cut off from retreat and massacred by Tecumseh and his warriors.
Meanwhile both sides are building navies to vie for supremacy on American-controlled Lake Champlain. Two English fleets emerge onto the lake from Lacolle, while a small land-incursion of Canadian militia into Plattsburg manages to burn a fleet under construction at the shipyards there. When the American relieving force under Generals Hampton and Wilkinson arrives from Malone, however, the raiders melt into the trees and regain Prevost's field HQ in Lacolle. Pursuing the Canadians to Lacolle, Wilkinson is abandoned by Hampton's men and despite giving as good as they get, the two forces are subsequently defeated piecemeal by the superior English army as the end of the year approaches.
End of Year Results
With the West still firmly in English hands, American power in the East broken and the occupations of Montreal and Quebec relieved, New England in revolt and the impending arrival of massive English reinforcement due to the end of Napoleon's war in Europe, the game was called at this point in favor of the English.
This session report was made possible entirely due to the kind acquiescence of my long-suffering partner triscuit (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/user/triscuit), who will occasionally brave the rigors of unfriendly dice in pursuit of... well, she may not be entirely sure of what! Surely such devotion merits her a stray GeekGold or two, no?
(Note: optional leader and artillery variants were not used in this initial play of the game; the names of leaders mentioned above are simply my poor attempt to add historical color to the narrative)