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Subject: Game Excavator review rss

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Martin
United States
San Diego area
California
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This is part of a series of short, light reviews that were going to be submitted as a podcast segment. They're supposed to give a sense, in about 60 seconds of airtime, of how an older, little known game can be fun today.

"...War of 1812, originally released by Columbia Games in 1973. Older versions in very good condition are frequently auctioned online for less than $30, and a brand new edition is coming out this summer. This is one of the original block war games, and is as exciting and fast moving as you would expect from the genre.

The game takes place in the Great Lakes region, which was a bit of a surprise to those of us in Maryland, brought up thinking the war consisted of the British sacking the White House and Francis Scott Key writing a catchy tune. It's a great theater for a game setting, however, with three distinct routes for troops to cross the border and the additional excitement of naval battles and troop transport.

Turns are each a year long, and consist of 10 movement/battle phases plus a winter supply and scoring phase where a lead of more than 10 victory points, gained through control of lakes and enemy towns, results in a win. As with many war games, a lot of the tension comes from an unbalanced start that slowly shifts until both sides are on equal footing. In this case it's the Americans who begin with the advantage, but their forces are spread out and they have to balance the need to strike quickly with the need for consolidation.

Units in War of 1812 are almost all infantry, with each side having a mix of 4, 3, and 2 step blocks. This makes the few exceptions a lot of fun, especially the British block representing a Native American unit they can only use if they capture Detroit. I've now lost several games by either pursuing or defending this city when I should be minding the rest of the map.

The rules are short and tight, as they should be after 34 years of production, and it's a very easy game to teach. Because victory conditions are calculated during each winter phase, it can also be a very short one. I think this is a real plus for learning sessions, because no one is stuck in a losing situation while the other side mops up. For these reasons, plus a nice map, War of 1812 gets a Game Excavator rating of 3 stars."

(please see this Geeklist for an explanation of my four-star rating system: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/21189, and this one for an explanation of the Game Excavator: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/21187)
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Tom Hudson
United States
Vermilion
Ohio
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Good show.
 
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