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Subject: Victory conditions: What would YOU do? rss

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suPUR DUEper
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Hey All,

Okay, so congrats, you are now a designer. You have been tasked to design a wargame on The American Revolution. Taking a page from Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, you choose to begin with the end in mind. Please sketch out what you think each side would have to do to win the war.

For example you might say, the Brits could win if at any time a) Washington is captured b) the Continental Army is destroyed (or reduced to a certain point)and/or c) the largest city in each colony is occupied. The American wins if the British player has not achieved this feat by 1783 at which time the Brits tire of the war

Note, these are victory conditions to win the war not the game.

The reason I pose this question is an interesting debate going on in another thread regarding Washington's War's treatment of the Revolution. It got me to thinking, "What did the Brits have to do to win in real life"? What would victory look like?

Thanks in advance. If this goes well, I will add a thread for WWII and the ACW.
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Lucius Cornelius
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By hanging the leaders of terrorist groups.
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Enrico Viglino
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The brits win if they hold the colony until after WWII.
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Pete Belli
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An interesting mental exercise.

My first reaction: ditch the 1783 idea. This strikes me as artificial and contrived.

The loss of enthusiasm should be a gradual process. The breaking point could appear anytime, once things start getting ugly for King George.
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Steve Arthur
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Please excuse my ignorance of the topic but historically what would it have taken for the British to have been considered victorious?...
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Atraxrobustus wrote:
Please excuse my ignorance of the topic but historically what would it have taken for the British to have been considered victorious?...


That is what we are exploring in this thread!
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calandale wrote:
The brits win if they hold the colony until after WWII.


Hey now!!!! You are half the reason we have this thread.....
 
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Jim Bourke
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It's a tough question because the only way the British could really win would be if they gained a political victory on this side of the pond. That's hard to imagine.

Jim
 
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Michael Dorosh
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Atraxrobustus wrote:
Please excuse my ignorance of the topic but historically what would it have taken for the British to have been considered victorious?...


Stop the Americans from winning; it can be that simple, really.

What was at issue?

The British Crown was making money off the colonists through oppressive taxes and tariffs as I understand it. The colonists did not like this much, and rebelled. To win, the British could simply do something as simple as give in and stop taxing the colonists, but I presume we're going with the notion that open hostilities have already been declared - we're talking about a wargame here, yes?

How much diplomacy do you want to involve? Can you lobby for Germans and Frenchmen to join the fun? Seems to me that was crucial to the war, too. You'd have to decide the scope of the game. First thing to do is look at what other games have done, and ask what hasn't been covered, and why you want to cover the subject yourself - what do you bring to the table that is fresh. Can you practice diplomacy with the Indians and rally them to your cause? Will you model sickness and disease among your troops? Will you have alternating tactical and operational phases? Is this just a straight strategic level exercise to mirror the established historical timeline?

etc.
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Matt Ward
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The Revolutionary War is very similar to any insurrection. The insurrection can only continue as long as:

1. Sufficient domestic support for the rebellion exists. Two major items will support this - rebel field victories or the supression of economic and social life by the forces of the established government.

2. External rivals of the established government support the rebels either openly or clandestinely.

Without some significant base of support the rebellion will fade into a terror campaign which may ultimately win but whose scope would be beyond what could easily be simulated.

The Government has a similar issue, in this case exacerbated by the remote nature of the conflict (similarly in the Vietnam or Soviet/Afghanistan - or dare I say, the American/Iraqi/Afghanistan wars) of maintaining popular support of an expensive unseen war. Both funding and lives were seen as wasted on the Colonies in the latter stages of the conflict. The British, in particular, had a strong and jealous rival waiting to pounce on any indication of weakness and who revelled in their inability to bring the rebellion to a conclusion; something the French had the opportunity to rue after another decade.

The question is: How long can the established government (in this case the British) walk the tightrope between exerting sufficient force to put down the rebel armed forces and the urge to make the populace suffer for supporting the rebels, while maintaining the Treasury. Perhaps something arithmetic like the "misery index" of the Carter Presidency. Accumulated losses + colonist anger + accumulated financial cost, reaching a breaking point before the colonist will to resist runs out.

Clearly this leads to some mechanics for supression of seditious and treasonous activity as well as a "normal" wargame, in addition to some "great power" shenanigans with separate but interrelated effects. If you design from the end point, some of the traditional measures of "victory" can become irrelevant.
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Enrico Viglino
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TedW wrote:
calandale wrote:
The brits win if they hold the colony until after WWII.


Hey now!!!! You are half the reason we have this thread.....


Figgered.

Still, this would be my criteria.
 
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Matt Ward
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Michael Dorosh wrote:
The British Crown was making money off the colonists through oppressive taxes and tariffs as I understand it. The colonists did not like this much, and rebelled.


Of course, as the British saw it, the reason that the colonists had the resources available to tax was that the British Army and Navy had fought a protracted global war against the French to protect the Colonies and had not asked the colonies to shoulder much of the cost of that effort until the years right before the revolution.

It wasn't that the taxes were necessarily unreasonable, it was that they were imposed by the home country without reference to the thoughts and desires of the colonists at all. It wasn't "No taxation" it was "No taxation without representation."
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TedW wrote:
"What did the Brits have to do to win in real life"? What would victory look like?


Victory would be some level of continued British political control over the Atlantic seaboard after the insurrection had ended. It may well have included changes in the political relationship between the 13 colonies and Parliament.

HOW to achieve that is more difficult. As others noted, it would have needed raising support among the (white) inhabitants of the colonists, and reduced support (domestic and foreign) for the insurgents. I suspect that would have taken some combination of military success and political maneuvering.

Fortunately for the independence-minded minority in North America, the British were singularly maladroit politically, which exacerbated their military problems.
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meward wrote:
Michael Dorosh wrote:
The British Crown was making money off the colonists through oppressive taxes and tariffs as I understand it. The colonists did not like this much, and rebelled.


Of course, as the British saw it, the reason that the colonists had the resources available to tax was that the British Army and Navy had fought a protracted global war against the French to protect the Colonies and had not asked the colonies to shoulder much of the cost of that effort until the years right before the revolution.

It wasn't that the taxes were necessarily unreasonable, it was that they were imposed by the home country without reference to the thoughts and desires of the colonists at all. It wasn't "No taxation" it was "No taxation without representation."


And THAT wasn't a big deal, until there weren't so many
French threatening them.
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I would first read The Glorious Cause by Middlekauf at least one more time and then read With Zeal and with Bayonets Only by Spring, the first chapter of which deals directly with what the British needed to accomplish in the war.

A British moral track could be useful. I know that one of the criticisms of the Washington's War around the release was that historically some of the British generals lost their desire to fight the colonists, and this is not modeled in the game. Not only could a British moral track be used to gauge the nation's general interest to continue the war, but at certain points some generals could become unavailable for use.

It might be that capturing Washington and the Congress would have expedited a British victory. If you accomplish both of these tasks in Washington's War, then you might be close to victory. Perhaps a Rebellion moral track could be used too?

Then again... perhaps just a victory point track, which moves based on various events occurring in-game. Move it toward your side, and basically the other side has lost the will to fight. The key to this method would be a good set of conditions which cause the VP counter to move. Military victories would be important of course, but perhaps more so for the Rebels, while the British would need to capture very specific locations or individuals to make progress.
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Lance McMillan
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TedW wrote:
Brits could win if at any time a) Washington is captured b) the Continental Army is destroyed (or reduced to a certain point)and/or c) the largest city in each colony is occupied. The American wins if the British player has not achieved this feat by 1783 at which time the Brits tire of the war

"What did the Brits have to do to win in real life"? What would victory look like?


The three conditions you list are not only artificial, they're not really related to the central issue of "winning." To paraphrase Clauswitz, war is politics conducted by violent means. For the British, winning meant finding a political solution to the political disagreements that were the underlying cause of Colonial unrest.

In simple terms, the American revolution was a political struggle, and the military aspects of the campaign were only secondary in the final outcome. The Colonists wanted more voice in how they were governed and the British were unwilling to compromise and meet any of the Colonial demands. Killing/capturing Washington, defeating the Continental Army in the field, and/or occupying the main cities merely deals with the immediate problem of the armed "conventional" insurgency and fails to deal with the underlying causes of the conflict.

Washington dead/captive? So what -- there are other military leaders who could assume command of the Continental Army (perhaps less capable leaders, but still experienced officers who could continue to lead the fight). The Continental Army defeated? Again, so what -- the bulk of the conflict was borne on the shoulders of the Colonial militia, from which another "professional army" could be formed to continue the fight. Major cities occupied? Big deal, the struggle would still continue in the countryside and wilderness, and the expense of maintaining the large occupation force to continue to garrison those cities would have been calamitous for Britain in the long run.

The problem is that once resitance to British rule had escalated to the point where there were large formations of Continental troops in the field, the British had to first defeat those forces as a PRECONDITION to finding the political solution needed to "win" the war -- it's a means to an end, not the other way around. And even then, that presupposes that the British have not hardened their position to compromise with the Colonists (unlikely, given that wars tend to make people less willing to accept differing viewpoints rather than the other way around).

So, what do the British need to do to "win?" How about this:
(1) Undermine and/or discredit the validity of the fledgling Rebel government (Continental Congress). Not merely force them to flee from city to city or go underground, but convince a majority of the Colonial population that their demands are unreasonable and their programs either unrealistic or corrupt. Game terms: win the "hearts and minds" of the Colonists.

(2) Clearly demonstrate that the Rebel forces (both Colonial militia and Continental Army) are not just incapable of resisting "the established authority," but are actually ill-disciplined brigands who pose more of a threat/burden to the local populace than do British forces. One of the keys here is that "established authority" means shifting the onus of prosecuting the war away from the "outsider/foreign" British army and more onto "local" Loyalist/Tory forces. Game terms: "Vietnamization" of the war -- draw down the British and beef up the Tories.

(3) Enact meansures to firmly align the principle leadership elements in Colonial society (the political/religious/merchantile/cultural hierarchy) with the Royal cause. The bulk of the Rebel leaders came from this defacto "aristocracy," and most of them were alienated from Britain because they were deliberately excluded from having any influence in the "real" Royal government. Britain could have easily "bought off" a significant number of these key individuals by giving the Colonies representation by offering up a handful of seats in Parliament, bestowing a few knighthoods or lesser peerages (the Baron of Boston?), or even going to the extreme of establishing a semi-autonomous "American Parliament" to handle domestic rule in the Colonies. Game terms: share the wealth.

The reality, however, is that the chances of the British undertaking any these measures was between slim and none. In game terms, the British player never bothered to read the Victory Conditions and got increasingly frustrated as his point total kept declining while the game went on. Eventually, he just quit and went home.
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red black wrote:
Lancer4321 wrote:
The reality, however, is that the chances of the British undertaking any these measures was between slim and none. In game terms, the British player never bothered to read the Victory Conditions and got increasingly frustrated as his point total kept declining while the game went on. Eventually, he just quit and went home.


Have you had a chance to play Joseph Miranda's The American Revolution: Decision in North America? What did you think of it?


I liked it!
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Atraxrobustus wrote:
Please excuse my ignorance of the topic but historically what would it have taken for the British to have been considered victorious?...


To have defused the situation from a purely military one and convinced the Americans (or the King's subjects in America) to accept a political resolution that allowed the King's authority to remain.

The authoritarian response to war to enforce the King's demands doomed the crown to defeat from the beginning. This was before the age of realpolitik with regards to guerilla warfare and anti colonial uprisings. It was even before the French Revoltion for god sake! Crowned heads had no idea their will could be flouted in this way. The Kings response was doomed to failure given the geographic and strategic realities of the time.

Perhaps a more nuanced and subtle policy would have kept America within the empire for a bit longer but that was obviously beyond the mentality of the ruling classes at the time. Otherwise they would not have provoked the war of independence in the first place.
 
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Alan Sutton
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calandale wrote:
The brits win if they hold the colony until after WWII.


That is way too ambitious and an impossible victory condition. As a Brit I would settle for after WWI, which was the point in history that the balance of power shifted and England became a debtor nation to the US.

It is often forgotten that WWI finished the Empire as a world power - it didn't really last until WWII. See my earlier thread for some discussion of this: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/582320/british-abstentio...
 
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The British faced a similar problem to that of the United States in Vietnam. Overwhelming tactical superiority (at least initially) against a determined enemy that had numbers and time on their side. IMO once the rebellion had gathered sufficient momentum there was no chance for the British to put down the insurrection. Having said that I think that Washington's War does a reasonably good job at modeling the conflict to the extent that it is a very playable game either side can win.
 
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Moruya23 wrote:
calandale wrote:
The brits win if they hold the colony until after WWII.


That is way too ambitious and an impossible victory condition. As a Brit I would settle for after WWI, which was the point in history that the balance of power shifted and England became a debtor nation to the US.



They only lasted until 1867 in Canada (when Confederation gave Canada its own government), with British military garrisons leaving Canadian shores, as I recall it, just after the turn of the 20th century. If this represents "independence" is arguable - the Statute of Westminster seems to fit your timeline best, granting political autonomy in 1922, and the right to conduct foreign affairs.
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Home Rule for the 13 colonies. Make the Continental Congress a Continental Parliament, King (or Viceroy, if need be due to distance from England) remains.

Not a wargame, though.
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Michael Dorosh wrote:
Moruya23 wrote:
calandale wrote:
The brits win if they hold the colony until after WWII.


That is way too ambitious and an impossible victory condition. As a Brit I would settle for after WWI, which was the point in history that the balance of power shifted and England became a debtor nation to the US.



They only lasted until 1867 in Canada (when Confederation gave Canada its own government), with British military garrisons leaving Canadian shores, as I recall it, just after the turn of the 20th century. If this represents "independence" is arguable - the Statute of Westminster seems to fit your timeline best, granting political autonomy in 1922, and the right to conduct foreign affairs.


Certainly, that kind of compromise would eventually have been necessary.
I'll relax my criteria to 'remain in the commonwealth'.
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Jayne Starlancer wrote:
I would first read The Glorious Cause by Middlekauf at least one more time and then read With Zeal and with Bayonets Only by Spring, the first chapter of which deals directly with what the British needed to accomplish in the war.

A British moral track could be useful. I know that one of the criticisms of the Washington's War around the release was that historically some of the British generals lost their desire to fight the colonists, and this is not modeled in the game. Not only could a British moral track be used to gauge the nation's general interest to continue the war, but at certain points some generals could become unavailable for use.

It might be that capturing Washington and the Congress would have expedited a British victory. If you accomplish both of these tasks in Washington's War, then you might be close to victory. Perhaps a Rebellion moral track could be used too?

Then again... perhaps just a victory point track, which moves based on various events occurring in-game. Move it toward your side, and basically the other side has lost the will to fight. The key to this method would be a good set of conditions which cause the VP counter to move. Military victories would be important of course, but perhaps more so for the Rebels, while the British would need to capture very specific locations or individuals to make progress.


No there's an interesting idea (not really relating to the thread)... key leader availability based on a political will track. You'd probably need to periodically draw leaders from a pool (every spring, maybe?), then tweak the composition of the pool based on will.
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Moruya23 wrote:

...

The authoritarian response to war to enforce the King's demands doomed the crown to defeat from the beginning. This was before the age of realpolitik with regards to guerilla warfare and anti colonial uprisings. It was even before the French Revoltion for god sake! Crowned heads had no idea their will could be flouted in this way. The Kings response was doomed to failure given the geographic and strategic realities of the time.

...


There are a lot of assumptions in there that could be debated. You can make a very good case that the insurrection could have died somewhere between the fall of 1776 and the spring of 1777. Guerilla wars were certainly not unheard of, and you could look to the Dutch Revolution as an example of remote provinces successfully flouting the will of the crown.
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