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Alex Drazen
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My copy of 1812 finally arrived from Amazon this weekend, so my girlfriend (who played the introductory scenario with me at Unity) and I got to play a couple sessions yesterday afternoon/evening (one before we went out, and one after we got home).

We played the full 1812 campaign both times. The first time, I took on the role of Canada, and scored a quick 4-0 victory on Turn 3. I had stocked up on troops in the western front, and ended up taking Detroit, Buffalo, Ft. Niagara, and Ogdensburg. The Americans fought bravely, often holding Queenston/Ft. Erie, but the Native Americans teamed up with the Canadian Militia to finally drive them out for good. Most of her other moves were defense, and the Americans stood little chance. She was stuck with Warship and 2 special cards for the American Regulars on one turn, who found themselves routed on the wrong side of an ambush in Prescott (but she had little else of use to do with them).

The second game, after dinner, was an epic back-and-forth affair, going the full 8 turns. We swapped sides, and I played the USA for the first time. Amusingly, we BOTH thought the other side was much stronger!! She decided to go heavy in a push for Detroit, but I was able to retreat my troops to Frenchtown in a command decision, and eventually retook it - and claimed Amherstburg - a couple turns later. The initial British push was to Fort Niagara and Buffalo, which they held for most of the game with very light forces, until a Native American blockade was demolished. The Americans began to dominate the west while building up steadily in the east. Meanwhile, despite the Americans constantly fleeing and scoring few hits, the Canadians had very weak forces eveywhere except Montreal. The final three turns resulted in a British surge, and they took over Sackett's Harbor, Rome, Plattsburg, and Ogdnesburg, putting the USA down 4-1 on turn 6. Thankfully, they did not have all of their truce cards! By now, the Redcoats had literally been wiped off the western front, which was guarded by a few Canadian militia and very sparsely distributed Native Americans.

Now there was also an enormous force of Redcoats between Caldwell and Rome, poised to march to Albany. But the Americans pushed back, using every special ability left in the deck (double militia hits and moving to fight a second battle). The USA reclaimed Rome and had enough defenses for Turn 8, when the Canadians were left with very weak movement cards and could not mount a counterattack. But the USA was still down 3-1. What to do? Well, during all of this, an ENORMOUS force of American Militia (seriously, like, 12 or 15 of them) and a couple American regulars marched from Pittsburgh to Erie. With just a Warship card left, they sailed across the lake and humiliated the remaining Native Americans in Ft. Erie/Queenstown, who simply took one look at the invading force and ran away, deciding today was in fact NOT a good day to die on behalf of those meddlesome Redcoats!

Final score, a tie: 3-3. Yep... we played to a three-hour TIE (might have been two hours with less analysis paralysis on both sides, about 2x as much for her than me... also, we had a cat running around, and had to deal with him at times).

Still, Canada had this one most of the way... the USA did have leads of 1-0 and 3-1 early on, but Canada led from about turn three through eight. The USA could have won this one with some better dice rolls, especially in the battle for Plattsburgh (I had to roll for "apply only Flees" and didn't flee, but then got a bunch of flees on the SECOND roll, the one to start the battle as normal; and the British came in with an "apply only hits" before a battle card which wiped me out in another area before I could fire a shot).

Honestly, I think if Canada is very aggressive and just a little lucky, they should win. Win close, but win. I would have preferred that the USA regulars be equal to the British, with no Flee chance. I guess that is not historically accurate. Or even if the British had a "flee" roll that went to an adjacent territory, rather than never moving out on anything other than Command Decisions.

I also think Canada should have won the second game -- thankfully, she was more worried about defending gains and winning every battle than pushing onward to claim territory. With my lines free to move as I saw fit, it was JUST enough to hold on to the tie.
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Bob Bergeron
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Re: A Three Hour Tie! ...after an overwhelming Canadian victory.
Nice session report. I too played 1812 at Unity and our game came down to the nearly final die roll. In our case, the Six Nations came up big to help the Brits and co. win 1-0.

There's a variant where the Americans get 4 cards vs 3. I haven't tried it but I'm curious to the impact.

 
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Alex Drazen
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Re: A Three Hour Tie! ...after an overwhelming Canadian victory.
I don't like the Truce Card rules. I just played again last night (first time as co-op with 5 people), and Canada won 1-0.

Canada was winning that game 4-0, but the USA got stuck with only Truce cards for movement. So they did get to attack the four regions and reclaim them to make it 0-0, but the Native Americans had the final move and were able to seize Buffalo for the win.

The problem for the USA was that they could not get to the 2 VP area on this turn because they needed to reclaim both Buffalo and Fort Niagara, and they had already played the special card that let one of their armies move to another area after a battle on previous turn (they played their special cards for 2x militia hits and picking which of our units were destroyed).

Of course, had they not been so cocky to say (on previous turns) that they could take back the land our Native Americans were holding with a single cube "any time they wanted," perhaps it would have been a tie or even a 1-0 USA victory on this turn.

The USA had horrible dice rolls. Canada was able to hold Detroit for the entire game. The USA did get a fishing boat to seize the First Nations muster area, but the Redcoats brought along a huge force of Canadian Militia from York to wipe them out fairly easily (and the Canadian militia who fled later mustered in Montreal). There were two or three battles where all 3 American Militia dice were a "flee" (resulting in some HUGE armies coming up from the rear! Multiple armies of 12-18 cubes!) Meanwhile, the Canadian Militia were unusually strong in this game, scoring hit after hit. The British were about what you'd expect from the law of averages: 50% hits, 50% command decisions.

USA also got fairly close to Montreal, holding either Cornwall or Prescott in the midgame, but again, got squeezed out by the Canadians on both sides.

The Lacolle/Plattsburgh line had NO fights, which was a first! There were huge armies on both sides of the border, but nobody wanted to run into an opponents' attack roll. The USA force was larger but the British one got full dice (thanks to the "put 4 Native Americans wherever" rule at the start of the 1812 campaign scenario -- we had a Native American in Lacolle and would alternately muster the "+1" bonus muster either on the Detroit front or the Lacolle front).

The Native Americans actually were INCREDIBLY valuable because they also seized Fort Stephenson via the Canoe card on either Turn 1 or Turn 2, which cut off any reinforcements from immediately marching north from Pittsburgh and attacking western Canada. They fought bravely, wiping out half of the American reinforcements, and then retreating via Command Decision deeper into the USA, which made the USA waste precious movement to mobilize.

I suspect the best USA strategy is to amass an enormous Pittsburgh army and then use the American Regular warship to invade western Canada, then declare a truce before Canada can reclaim the land...

ETA for Uwe: I had fun. Of the others, all new to the game, three gave it a "meh" and one gave it an "I hate this." Sorry. I like it a lot, although I will likely design some variants regarding movement card hands. For example, it is very odd that ONE side can FORCE a truce.
 
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uwe eickert
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Re: A Three Hour Tie! ...after an overwhelming Canadian victory.
Hmmmm... but did you have fun?!
It sounds like there was plenty of smack talk! LOL.
 
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Alex Drazen
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Re: A Three Hour Tie! ...after an overwhelming Canadian victory.
Tried out the 1813 scenario last night. Only got through two turns, when the USA was forced to play its truce cards and lost 3-2. They should have tied, but had a ridiculously horrible roll in the battle to retake Detroit: four flees and a Command Decision.

On the first turn, the Native Americans liberated York from the Yankees, followed by the Canadian Militia taking a fishing boat to Fort George - with a little help from a Redcoat unit. The American Militia overran Frenchtown with ease, wiping out the other side with the opening shot. Queenstown and Fort Erie were evacuated during an invasion of American Regulars, who liberated Ogdensburg. Finally, the British launched a quick counterattack, reclaiming Queenstown/Fort Erie with the help of most of the army in Fort George.

The final turn order was Canadian Militia, British Redcoats, American Militia, Native Americans, and American Regulars. It was mostly skirmishing and troop movements -- Canada was thin on forces, and busy amassing a colossal army in Lacolle. There were minor skirmishes in Cornwall and Prescott as well.

Canada only won because the Native Americans were able to seize Williamsburg via Command Decision in the final battle, rather than be annihilated in Buffalo, and the Americans didn't have a special card to reclaim it.

The USA finished holding Cornwall and Prescott with very light forces; Canada finished holding Detroit, Fort Niagara, and Ogdensburg. Once again, Lacolle/Plattsburgh was a stalemate -- although I had an enormous mixed force ready to march south.

If you think Canada is overpowered, I highly recommend the 1813 scenario. I felt like Canada had a host of problems to overcome and with a slightly different turn order, and a longer campaign, the USA easily could have won -- mainly by overrunning western Canada.

Huge differences in 1813 campaign: no Native American help in Montreal/Lacolle; light, sparse British presence in the west; the desperate need to recapture the York muster area but only limited forces available to do so; and I felt like most of the troops started on the board, rather than in the force pool, especially for the USA.
 
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uwe eickert
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Re: A Three Hour Tie! ...after an overwhelming Canadian victory.
Alex, do you leave a unit behind in an area when you move out an army? Usually a key tactic.
 
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Alex Drazen
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Re: A Three Hour Tie! ...after an overwhelming Canadian victory.
Quote:
Alex, do you leave a unit behind in an area when you move out an army? Usually a key tactic.


Yes. Often, I will leave two or three, especially in homeland areas - typically, a "rainbow" for the Brits (RYG) or a strong force for USA (BBW). Williamsburg was only open because my opponent wanted those cubes originally to attack at Queenston/Fort Erie, but given that it was only the second turn (Turn Marker position #4 in 1813 campagin), she never had a chance to reinforce it.

I also use Command Decisions to make "speed bumps" to prevent my opponent from steamrolling key areas via land - if I am winning a fight, I'll move out a cube to an empty friendly territory, or to an adjoining battle that hasn't begun, or to shore up a key home territory.

So far I feel like the key to playing as Canada is to slow down USA troop movement and harass them with Native Americans; whereas the key to playing as USA is to make sure your invading forces are extremely large (10-20), make sure you have adequate back rank defense, and try to avoid fighting any British forces who roll 8 dice, because they will crush you.
 
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Jeph Stahl
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Re: A Three Hour Tie! ...after an overwhelming Canadian victory.
Hi Alex,
If you have the spare movement, a very small US force attacking a large British Force in Canadian land can be a very good move.
This causes the British sided units to roll first and potentially flee Native Americans and Canadian Milita from the area.
It's a suicide mission, but you'd be surprised how often it shakes things up.
Jeph
 
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Alex Drazen
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Re: A Three Hour Tie! ...after an overwhelming Canadian victory.
Jeph, I feel like the Americans flee more than the British, at least as a percentage of the troops. Let's look at the math:

Native Americans flee 1/6.
Canadian Militia flee 1/3.
British Regulars do not flee.

American militia flee 1/3.
American Regulars flee 1/6.

So any time there are British Regulars in a Canadian army, battling an American army of equal or lesser size, the Canadian army will flee a smaller PERCENTAGE of its army, on average.

The single "suicide cube" looks like it would be most valuable against a force with 2-4 Canadian Militia, and few other units.

I've actually used that suicide attack strategy in reverse: send in a small Canadian army of only Canadian Militia and Native Americans to try to make the American Militia free along a critical border crossing (usually Queenston). It can soften up an invading force just enough so that even if they take a position, it can be reclaimed more easily later in the same turn by your other factions.

Plus, in that case, the Native Americans can seize territory the Americans were careless about defending, or at least make a speed bump to slow down a large army and buy you some time.
 
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Alex Drazen
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Re: A Three Hour Tie! ...after an overwhelming Canadian victory.
Gave another shot to the 1813 scenario last night, trading places. I took on the Americans while my girlfriend gleefully seized control of the British troops.

This one was all Canada, all the way, up until the final turn. This time it was my turn to have four of my five troops flee the battle to retake Detroit (seriously, are the dice loaded?? What are the odds of a roll of 4 flee, 1 CD twice in a row in the same battle for the American forces?). Wave after wave of Americans whittled them down to just one cube each in Detroit and Frenchtown, but they could never be reclaimed.

The USA made its boat moves on Lake Erie, with a fishing boat seizing Morgantown (Moraviantown?) and an enormous fleet of militia overrunning Queenston/Fort Erie.

Canada made most of its moves in the east, at one point claiming Fort Niagara, Sackett's Harbor, Ogdensburg (which switched sides a lot), Plattsburg, and even marching as far as Fort Ticonderoga. I believe a small force also briefly held Buffalo. York was recaptured almost immediately, although the Canadian Militia did not get to muster there for one or two turns (they went first).

With the western front a stalemate, and the USA out of naval moves, the British abandoned Amherstburg by warship, retaking Queenston easily. Once again, the cowardly Americans ran away and couldn't seem to hit the broad side of a barn.

The USA got stuck with only Truce cards, but made the most of it. On Turn 6 (technically the fourth turn as 1813 starts at Turn 3), the American Militia made strong moves out west, setting up a large strike force. Another wave mustered in Albany for the final push.

The Native Americans used a canoe on the penultimate turn-order track on Turn 8, but got routed by a tiny band of U.S. troops... the opening shot was a hit and then all the natives fled! That good fortune saved Erie, and the tie, for the USA.

The final turn was the USA regulars, who played the Truce card (4 armies 2 squares), plus 2 special cards: one to fight an extra battle in another zone (Ogdensburg to Kingston), and another to add 2 movement to an army (to get it there from Albany). There had been a big American Regular muster in Rome on Turn 6, too, so that army retook Ticonderoga. Another regular army retook Queenston/Fort Erie, which the natives foolishly left unprotected in their bid to win outright. The other two armies raced across the border between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, I think. At that point it was a quest for VPs and just a matter of what could be moved (no American Regulars left in the west).

Final score, 4-4. End position:

Canada held: Plattsburg, Sackett's Harbor, Detroit, Frenchtown.
USA held: Queenston & Fort Erie (2), Prescott, and Fort George.

Probably a good thing it ended when it did for the USA; Canada had huge British/Militia forces in Lacolle and Plattsburg which would have activated on the next turn.

Mistake for the USA: not using the ships to invade First Nations. While the natives did not get into USA territory much, they did whittle down forces quite a bit.

Mistake for Canada: too passive with Montreal armies. The USA had a weak eastern presence, but Canada hung back too much. If they had come in harder, they would have won 6-3 by my guess.
 
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Alex Drazen
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Once More Unto the Breach!
Finally got to get this one to the table last night. This one ended up being a short one; I don't think my girlfriend is very good at playing the USA. But I still can't beat her when she plays Canada (usually I tie or lose by one).

This time, the USA suffered from some significant tactical errors as well as some exceptionally bad luck with the dice.

The first turn was rather quiet, with just light skirmishes. The USA got the first two turns and made some inroads into Canadian territory, but it was reclaimed by the end of Turn One.

On Turn Two, despite a buildup on the border, the Redcoats decided to sail down the Hudson at the end of Turn 2 in an attempt to take Albany:

End of Turn Two:


Thanks to the Canadian Militia card that allows a free opening shot before a battle (resolve hits but not flees), Albany fell to the British by the end of Turn 3. It was a pretty epic battle, and very evenly matched, with at least 7 or 8 rolls per player, and it really could have gone either way. Those blue "flees" really hurt the USA.

The USA made perhaps its most significant error here, playing the American Militia Truce Card very early.

End of Turn 3:


Turn Four resulted in some horrible luck for the USA. The First Nations took some territory by canoe, and the USA got the second and third spots in the turn order. Unfortunately, the only Movement card for the American Regulars was their Truce card. They made a desperate push, going after the 2-VP territory of Queenston/Ft. Erie and claiming it, as well as trying to move into Amherstburg on the western line, where the Canadians wiped out the entire five-unit American army on the first shot (ouch!!). The USA also could not dislodge the Native American units holding Frenchtown, with only Flee and Command Decision rolls. Meanwhile, the Canadians simply used Command Decisions to retreat from Queenston to First Nations, and then brought back an enormous army to retake it afterwards.

A quick Fishing Boat trip after the Americans' debacle at Amhertsburg, plus a seizure of vacated Plattsburg, and steamrolling a couple cubes in Fort Niagara sealed a 4-0 shutout victory for the Cancuks.

End of Turn 4, End of Game:


Lessons from this game?

The US side didn't play well, but had some really horrible rolls. It's really weird, but, every single game we play, something horrible happens to the USA on the western front. And it usually costs them the game.

That warship move down the Hudson is very powerful! The USA only lost one turn of American Regulars in Albany, but it was enough to leave them very weak on the eastern front.

Command Decisions are your friend. If someone is bringing a huge army to bear on you, and you roll CD's, don't stay and fight to whittle down their army. It's often better to back off and fight again later when it is more advantageous to you (Girlfriend does NOT like Command Decisions and only ever uses them to move out of a winning battle to reinforce another battle, or as "nuisance" Indians).

The USA tried to steamroll Lacolle after the warship move, with Montreal in its sights, but I just used a CD to the empty space west of Montreal -- that slowed them down long enough to bring in reinforcements and keep them from occupying Montreal.

Initial placement matters. Canada went with a balanced reinforcement (get Indians east, British west, and hold the line between the lakes). USA went with an unbalanced strategy of placing large armies right near the front lines (Buffalo and Rome, I think).

Interesting that the British must have sank their warship during their invasion of Albany. I mean, really, the USA couldn't seize it and sail it back up the Hudson? The British supply line to that battle must have come by helicopter? Heh.
 
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Alex Drazen
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The Americans Victorious!
Once again got 1812 back to the table... this time it turned out to be a 5 turn affair. I played the USA, and the long-suffering love of my life took Canada. We did the regular game, although I think in the future we may stick to the 1813 campaign -- it's a bit shorter, but not as basic as the introductory game.

Canada went with a wide deployment of forces for their 12 cubes, whereas the USA went light in the west and amassed a large force in Ogdensburg. Hey, it is the INVASION of Canada, right??

The USA took first blood and went up 1-0, but Canada soon raced out to an early 3-0 lead by the end of Turn One, aided by the USA's unfortunate opening (American Regulars followed by American Militia).

Turns two and three involved minor tactical skirmishes. Canada had seized Plattsburg, Detroit, and Erie (via well-timed canoe). They were also threatening a major invasion from Lacolle, but the clever American militia left single units strewn throughout the region, preventing a major advance towards Albany. Waves of fled units mustered in Albany and moved up to Fort Ticonderoga, with another large army remaining behind in case the Redcoats decided to sail down the Hudson.

Canada got two Truce cards out early (Militia and Regulars) but didn't have the Native American one. The US regulars played one early as well, despite being behind, and the Militia having 2 special cards. This was a risk that paid off, as the USA was able to mobilize enormous armies.

Turn four was the equalizer, with the USA recapturing Detroit and Fort Meigs from the Indians, thanks to the William Harrison special move; they also took back Fort Niagara and Plattsburg, making the game 0-0 heading into Round Five.

The Canadians made a major blunder on their final turn, playing their Native American truce card early on, thinking they would come out ahead. But the tide had already turned in favor of the Americans, who drew the third (Militia) and fifth (Regular) cubes in this round. The Canadian Militia were hobbled by poor cards and merely fortified their defenses, although the Natives managed to retake Fort Niagara once more.

The US militia then seized the 2 VP area using a large army that had been moved adjacent to Buffalo on the last turn. With only the British remaining -- and only a Warship movement card -- Canada desperately abandoned the western front in the hopes for a tie, but it wasn't enough. The U.S. held on, and the Regulars cleaned up, taking over Amhertsburg (for free) and retaking Fort Niagara for a 3-0 shutout victory.

Still, this game could have gone either way: the USA was barely able to retake Detroit (the Kentucky Militia kept fleeing) and rolled two 4-hit blows in battles for Fort Niagara, as well as a 3-hit roll in the 2VP area.

The strategy of using spare blocks to impede an opponent's army proved useful; the British never penetrated more than 2 squares deep into USA territory by land (and only once by water, to Erie by canoe). Meanwhile, the USA just tried to pick off weak spots on the border.

If there was a mistake for the USA, I think it was not seeing the writing on the wall about Fort Niagara on one turn -- I could easily have shut down the York muster area and potentially mounted an attack from Canada's rear flank, but did something else with the fishing boat instead (probably something dull, because I can't even remember).

At least this time I felt like the USA and Canada were evenly matched -- had the Native Americans not blundered with the final, overconfident Truce card, I had figured it was going to be a very close finish. Of course, I was also holding the U.S. warship card in reserve for just such an occasion, with large armies on the western lake.

Shot of final position:








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