A friend and I played through a game of IWFNMF. I was the US player. I lost (pretty badly too). I had thought my enemy was going to follow the script and try to get south of the Yellowstone, then head for Canada. I rushed my troops to try to block the passes to the plains, and at first he tangled with some of my units trying to get past them. He then started looking at the victory condition rules very carefully. I should have known something was up with them sneaky Indians.
He then suddenly turned south and tried getting around the mountains, but I managed to jam the area with detachments. We had some battles, and then he broke off and went quickly back west. At first I thought it was a feint - but then he continued going west, and so I realized that he was just going to protect his lodges and win the game that way.
So I gave chase. The village unit was tough to get to, cause he kept putting covering warrior bands out in front of it. I did manage to get to his village twice and battle - but each time my troops were in too weak of a state to actually get to any of the lodges.
So I lost - didn't get a single lodge.
Some things I figured out on how to play the US player better:
There's alot of so-so US troops/volunteers/etc. And then there are some very good US troops, with high search ratings. I had thought a stack with search ratings around 9-12 would be good enough. But when the Indians make use of mountains and woods, it can be tough to find them. What I should do next time is create 2 or 3 fast attack columns with high search values (over 15), and send those out like hunters go after pheasants. And the other troops are to be used for blocking passes, blocking avenues of skedaddling, and to take up blocking positions further away - in case the Indians make a run for it and try to swing around out of range of my main forces. The left half of the map is quite mountainous and passes can be blocked pretty effectively.
The howitzer/gattling gun units looked awesome, and I dragged them around chasing Indians - but they are just too slow. They're only good for sitting in a blocking position somewhere.
The fact that the Indians don't "have" to go to Canada to win the game gives the Indians an advantage that helps keep the US player off balance.
And trying to meet the condition of being south of the Yellowstone, where there is alot more open terrain, means that the Indians will be at a disadvantage while in that area - and so its best to make a dash for that area (If the Indians want to go to Canada) at the last moment possible to avoid lingering there too long. Mountains are the Indians' friend. Open plains are deadly to Indians.
Even though it was our first game, and we had some hiccups in some of the setup rules for the tactical battles, we managed to finish the game in about 4 1/2 hours. The turns go by quickly, unless there's a tactical battle or two, but even then those tended to be over very quickly.