Kevin Duke
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I received a “pre-production” version of 1754 and have used it to evaluate how the game compares to its two “sister” games.

I wrote an article like this on the difference between 1775 and 1812, that you can find here—

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/923365/comparing-1812-upcom...

I’m going to keep most of my focus on the difference between 1754 and 1775, because the two games are much more like each other than either is to 1812.

I am also not going to spend any time explaining the basic rules of this system. There are lots of other places for that.


This is a much shorter list than the 1812/1775 comparison but, let me say at the top something I could consider to be very important as a gamer—-while the mechanics are similar, the FEEL of the 75/54 games are very different. The goal is still about taking areas away from your opponent or contesting spots that are not controlled when the game begins, but how your strategy goes about doing this is a new challenge.

Before starting that short list, I want to mention there is one key point to 1754 that is more like 1812. In 1775, there is no “owned” territory. Every spot is up for grabs and there are no inherent places that are friendly to one side and not the other. 1812 and 1754 both have “mine” and “yours” land, colored lightly, to show that, if there are NO blocks present in the area, it is still owned by one of the players. But unlike 1812, there are significant parts of the map which are “neutral” (owned by the Native Americans). Some of them already have troops when the game starts and they will certainly become a battleground spot. Ownership is important when the “Command” die roll (blank) happens in battle as well. You can choose to move a block from the current battle to:
1. A home area
2. An area with friendly blocks (even if it’s a battle that has not yet started)
3. An open Native area.

So you cannot occupy new enemy space with a Command, nor can you move into a space containing only NAs to create an alliance.

Now back on track, and I’m going to shorthand “54” and “75” to talk about the two games.

Like 75, 54 handles 2,3, or 4 players, with a similar division where each side has one faction of “better troops who roll more deadly die but no more than 2 of them” and “not-so-good troops” who have up to 3 die but fewer hit results, plus the “fled” result. In this case for the French we have Regulars (presented in purple) and what amounts to militia with yellow blocks, but called “Canadiens.” (And that’s not a typo—We spell it “Canadians” in the US but they they are "Canadiens" after all and get to spell it like, well, Canadiens spell it.) The other side has the British regulars (red of course) and British Colonials with white blocks. We also see Native Americans on the board. These are handled very much like ’75, with a couple key differences.

Both sides’ Regulars have 3 hits and 3 blanks (Command), which leaves zero Fled results. Militia dice offer 2 hits, 2 blanks, and 2 Fled. NAs offer 2 hits, 3 Blanks, and just 1 Fled.

One big difference in 1754 is that you will find “anchors” on the map outside of ports. These are places units can occupy (and will want to!). You can access most places from the land side, but there is a direct link from X (water, anchor) to Y (area with a port/town). The spots are key for three reasons. First, the British and French Regulars reinforcements ONLY come into the game at anchors. And, they can enter the game at ANY anchor that is friendly to them OR unoccupied by enemy blocks. (That has key implications players will soon learn, if they don’t pick it up when they first hear about it.) Third, “water movement” is from Anchor to Anchor, with something different about that too.






Another difference between 54 and both the other games is that there are no “water” movement cards. In both the other games, these were cards that let you move your blocks from one place to another that was not connected by land, and could be decisive surprises or real pains to have if your only movement card was ‘water’ and you would rather make a land move right now. That never happens in 54. “Water” moves can happen, from anchor to anchor, and only when the “Regulars” of either side are active. So you can make all the water moves you want, for Red or Purple, or do none at all. Your army departs from one “anchor” spot and it costs one of your movement spaces to go “to” the open water and a second to reach a different anchor. If you have additional movement and that destination anchor is not occupied, you can move right on to the land area. With the other games, you could do a little “card counting” on whether or not you had seen the other factions do their limited number of water moves. Not here.





A new element that is interesting, if not decisive, is the inclusion of “Forts.” The game map has some fort symbols in friendly areas, and “frontier outpost” symbols which are also capable of containing fort. Each side places 3 of these at the beginning of the game, and each side has a card for setting up another. The Forts are not enormous. If you are attacked in an area with a Fort, there is a 50-50 die roll for whether the Fort can absorb one of the enemy hits each round of combat. This effect is the same whether we are talking about a wilderness stockade or something as massive as Ft. William Henry or the Louisburg fortress. I expect some will struggle with this, but keep in mind it’s possible that battles are taking place in the territory outside the Fort. One final element on Forts is that, if you are defending and your LAST blocks are leaving the area with a “blank” result on the die, you can choose to ‘destroy’ the Fort so that your opponent cannot use it. If you don’t, or if your defenders are merely killed, the enemy can use the Fort.

Native Americans (NAs) start out neutral and work exactly like they do in 75. Get one of your blocks into their area and that group are suddenly your allies. They have their own 2 dice to roll in combat (and of course take terrible losses in a big battle!). Like 75, NAs do not like fighting each other, so if both sides have some Green blocks in a battle, the smaller number all leave for the Fled area and an equal number from the other side go there. Like 75, there are cards for releasing the Fled Green blocks and bringing them into your side.

And, like 75 the NAs are ‘fickle” and if you are in combat and lose all your faction blocks (like due to a Fled result) and the enemy still has blocks there, poof, the NAs have new allies!

The new thing here in 54 is that there is a Green blank die as part of the mix for “Whose turn is it?” The Green blank could come out in any of the 5 positions, and where it comes out impacts the arrival of additional Green blocks. There are Tribal symbols (think of them as “brands”) of 5 kinds, each with 2 areas, and 3 Green blocks set up in both of the areas that match the symbol of when the Green blank comes out of the bag. If there are blocks of any faction in that area, they gain new NA allies, and yes, some players might choose to occupy an area to prepare for this happening.

(There is some sort of expansion/variant that gives even more dimension to the NAs but I have not seen that nor found out how it works.)

Another interesting difference is how the “militia” for each side gets its reinforcements. There are two “Muster” site counters for each side. One is placed in a historical location, the other spot is selected by the player (any town controlled at the start of the game). Muster spots allow for 2 blocks per turn, but can be improved to 3 blocks by a Special card. If the enemy is occupying a muster area, you lose the men.

Like the other games, each faction has 12 cards, with 8 of those being “Movement” and 4 being “Event.” The Event cards are clear on when they can be played, and about ½ of them have a virtual ‘mirror’ card on the other side, so there is some balance included.

Victory goes to the side who has placed more Control markers on Victory areas (shown with a star) when the game “ends,’ and “ends” is like the other two games. The end is not about who controls more victory point areas on the map (the French actually have a couple more to begin with) but who has GAINED more new VP areas.

And that’s it.

I know it’s a short list, but the question many will ask is, “Do I want this if I have 1812/1775?” And my answer is, “If you like those games, you will like this one (a lot).”

While you won’t have to spend much time learning new rules, you will find that the map and the game circumstances present a whole new set of challenges. The interaction of water, land, and Forts is very different from the other two games, while the combat is just as exciting as ever. In our games we have seen the gamut of possibilities, from big battles with 12 or more blocks on each side, to lots of smaller battles, where 2-4 blocks attack one or two and hope they get lucky. There is lots of die rolling and that means the potential for those amazing swings of luck—like rolling 7 for 7 hits in one turn, or rolling 5-7 dice and getting zero hits (and a bunch of Fled results). It’s very possible to be doing well in one part of the map and losing the game in another.






The “pace” of the game is also a bit different, in an interesting way. Neither Regulars faction has any possible Fled results, which is good in battle, but means they will never bring in more than 4 blocks in a turn. The Militia factions cannot get more than 5 blocks per turn (they can upgrade one Muster site) but they can recover Fled units at the same time, which means, depending on how bad their battles were in the recent past, they might bring in a significant chunk of blocks. But mostly they will not. Militia units can come in at just the two Muster areas, while Regulars can come in at ANY friendly or unoccupied Anchor point, meaning you could bring them in 4 different spots if you wanted to (and if there were at least 4 Anchors available). Again, the pacing feels different, and in a good way.

One other visual difference is that the map geography—the look and feel of it—is very different from the other games. The layout of where familiar areas is takes an adjustment—it is not just that N.America has been skewed a bit to fit onto the map shape but that the areas reflect a real Old World view of the New. We see familiar towns—Boston, New York, Williamsburg—but not in the context of “states” but more as a general part of the territories each side controls.

We just played a couple games to get the flow and had a mix of “played 12/75 a couple times” and “played 12/75 a lot.” Both types of players made a similar comment... that they somehow felt like 1754 was a little bit more “wargame” and a little less “Euro.” I’m not sure what to make of that exactly. I know those terms get discussed at length and the lines between are sometimes hazy. I only mention it to reinforce what I said above. While the differences in rules are not that significant, the game play really is. If you like 1812 and 1775, I think you will really like 1754. If you were marginal on the two earlier games, you might like 1754 even more.

Time will tell. I expect to give it some time to find out.


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Randall Monk
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Thanks for the clear and interesting comparison.
"Canadiens" is the French spelling of Canadians.
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Bill Buchanan
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I need this NOW.
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Kevin Duke
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Quote:
"Canadiens" is the French spelling of Canadians.



I said it was not a typo. But I'll make it more clear.
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Bob James
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i have yet to find out if in the basic game one can cu across the Great Lakes with a move card like it was land. I know that in the Native alliance cards there is one. Anyone know about this? Got my copy yesterday and drove 30 min in snow to play and love it and lost 3-8 to English.
 
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Kevin Duke
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Bob, the water movement rules specifically speak of moving from one anchor to another.

That should cover the question for the basic game.

I have not seen any of the Native Alliance cards.
 
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Pepe Carrillo
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Thanks for the review, looking forward to my incoming 1754! I own 1775/1812 and I'm so used to Brits in red and yellow that I might just use the white cubes for the Canadiens and yellow for Brit colonials (assuming the cube counts are equal). IMO purple and white look better together anyway.
 
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Rich Radgoski
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Great summary - I found that the presence of the 'anchors' really changed the tenor of the game. These ports are so important - especially when territory you thought yours and safe (and a muster site) is now in the hands of the enemy. What a wonderful challenge!

As for the Native Alliance Cards...

Each card will either give the card holder a target territory that if you hold it at the end of the game, will provide a Victory Point OR the card gives a bonus effect in game. (I think it is a one time use, but don't hold me to that). The cards are played face up, so everyone knows who your "allies" are.

Overall, I'm very excited for this game even after owning 12 & 75.
 
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Eric Amick
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Arkobla Conn wrote:
Great summary - I found that the presence of the 'anchors' really changed the tenor of the game. These ports are so important - especially when territory you thought yours and safe (and a muster site) is now in the hands of the enemy. What a wonderful challenge!

As for the Native Alliance Cards...

Each card will either give the card holder a target territory that if you hold it at the end of the game, will provide a Victory Point OR the card gives a bonus effect in game. (I think it is a one time use, but don't hold me to that). The cards are played face up, so everyone knows who your "allies" are.

Overall, I'm very excited for this game even after owning 12 & 75.


The Native Alliance cards that specify a territory give you an extra control marker if the occupying army includes Native units. The other cards give bonus effects to armies with Native units during your turn, and the effects are available throughout the game.
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Michael Loogman
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1754 would be so cool for me to have, I also have "A Few Acres Of Snow" and I would find it very interesting to have two totally different games based on the exact same war.
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B Clarke
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This past weekend I played my new copy of 1775 against a couple of other folks. I also own 1754, and have played a few games of 1812.

They're all very fun, and if you enjoy one of these, there's enough differences between them that you won't regret buying one of the others. That said, I think 1812 is the weakest by a slight margin. The other two games just shake up things enough to give them a bit more variety and appeal.

Of the other two, it's hard to pick one, but I'd have to say I give a slight edge to 1775. I didn't think I would like the fact that the various factions start off mixed together with no traditional 'home territories' to guard, but that doesn't enter into my feelings for the game.

The one aspect that makes me favor 1775 is the asymmetrical deployment zones. To deploy somewhere, your troops have to have control over the entire colony. This makes gaining control over some of the colonies (Delaware, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New Jersey) much easier - but easier for both sides, so these tend to swap back and forth unless you pile in a lot of units to protect it. That means of course that you don't have the troops to try to take over other colonies, so you need to strike a balance and really put a lot of thought into how you will handle future deployments.

That said, all three are great games. I look forward to more of these games from Academy.
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