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13: The Colonies in Revolt» Forums » Rules

Subject: Much to like in this old game but one issue arrises thus far. rss

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Lincoln Graves
United States
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I've only just gotten around to playing this old Berg gem. Only a few turns in on our first campaign we have found one fairly significant issue. We are wondering if anyone else has happened upon this potential exploit for the Americans?

A few diverse game realities come together to create what may be a hole that the American player can exploit. First, it costs operations points to do almost anything. The number of operations points available to each side per turn is variable. It can be very little up to quite a lot. So far so good. We like this Berg mechanic. Second, some combat results call for surrender. This only effects British and Hessian units. Once these units surrender they are gone for good. Again, no problem, makes sense too. Third, militia cost the American player nothing to raise. They come and go swiftly creating a chaotic situation for both sides, and especially for American planning. Despite the wristage involved in running the American militia mechanic, we just got organized and managed it fairly well. In fact we like it as we like everything described so far.

Here's the problem: on turns when the American player has the Operations Points to spare, and since he really can't count on the militia to stick around very long as part of some planned operation, why not just throw them at the British. The combat table is such that there is no minimum odds. In fact the lowest result is an attacker surrender where the the defender nevertheless loses one step. The worse the attack, the more likely is this result! Therefore it seems that the American player, with just a bit of luck, should be able to mercilessly attrition the British at no risk to themselves.

The only thing the Brits can do is try to place the British out of reach of newly mobilized militia. This cannot be achieved in controlled areas where militia will generally be fewer but able to set up anywhere. Prior to this, it is possible force militia units to come on too far away by controlling nearby towns with more expendable Tories. It could be that an aggressive British player that keeps the continental army and GW on the run will give the Americans less breathing space to use their Operations Points on pricking away at the margins. We are not really sure if this will prove to be as big a problem as we think.

It is really quite elegant how the whole situation is modeled in this old Berg game. I have long rated 1776 in my top ten favorite wargames but this game may supplant it because it is not only less abstract but creates strategic problems still more reminiscent of the war. Its a shame it doesn't get more play. This game mixed with the political factors that J. Miranda always includes would be really something! I foolishly did not pick up Miranda's The American Revolution: Decision in North America when it came out and now its quite pricey.

The one other aspect of the American Revolution I would like to see that none of the above games sufficiently simulates is the profound logistics problems on both sides that led to inertia and indecision. A game that shows just how difficult it is to gather and maintain, much less maneuver, large armies in the rustic colonies. This was an increasing problem on both sides as the war progressed often obscured by the strategic manpower problems of both sides. When, after helping to take Charleston Clinton leaves Cornwalis in the south with only 4000 regulars, there was good reason for it; even though most writers seem to see this as some kind of oversight. Not only did this force turn out to be larger than anything that could forage in this part of the colonies the British were hoping not to alienate the southern populace by such a burden. Despite overall victory the later half of the campaign finds Cornwalis seeking evacuation or forage and finding neither.

Would the British have been better received in the Carolinas, back in 1776? What could the British have done differently to supply a force and maintain security? Would Cornwalis' fate have been better had he returned to his base of supply and if so why, and for how long? Likely, this campaign was yet another impossible task considering the corruption and distances involved for British supply. But the Americans were in a similar situation especially after the first blush of revolution in New England. At many points the war could have gone the other way. Washington must have felt like the director of NASA. Sure the majority of Americans had a soft spot for the cause but most didn't think the investment was paying off.

Why did Howe descend upon New York? Why the New Jersey campaign? And why did Howe go the long way around to meet Burgoyne? Why didn't the British make a concerted effort to capture the Hudson Highlands the year before Burgoyne's campaign. The idea of cutting off the colonies by controlling the Hudson river valley must have felt like putting your hand inside a beehive that has no honey within to grab! The answer can be found in where Britain perceived its friends to be, and where they might find either forage or outright supply sources for there large force.

A game that makes it very difficult to maintain a large army beyond a realistic tether due to attrition should be the next step in design for this conflict.
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