Hey there gamers, sit back and enjoy the first of hopefully many guest contributions to our blog. Don’t be fooled though, he really isn’t all that grumpy. Check out the rest of his family blog at C. Jane Reid.
Grumpy Old Gamer Reviews: 1775: Rebellion and 1812:The Invasion of Canada (and a micro Edo review)
Grumpy Old Gamer reviews
War Games for Gamers Who Hate War Gaming
It’s time to be a bit honest. And a bit (more) grumpy.
I have a love/hate relationship with war games. I want to be a old, grumpy war gamer, but I can’t. And it isn’t for a lack of trying or investment. It just that most traditional war games are too long and complicated for me.
Case in point:
One year for my wife’s birthday, I wanted to surprise her with a board game that reflected her personal interests and would be a game she would want to play with me. She always had a great deal of interest in World War I and wrote her thesis on poets from that time period. It was also the year the movie “Warhorse” came out, so I figured a board game based on World War I would be a perfect gift we could both enjoy. Thus, after much researching, I bought Paths of Glory.
It was a great game.
And we only played once with the introductory set up.
Now, don’t get me wrong here. Paths of Glory is a fantastic simulation of the Great War, complete with starting the Russian Revolution, and all the historical flavor and events that transpired. But the game takes almost an entire day to play.
And the rules… Oh sweet mercy…
If I am going to play a game that takes all day, I would rather play Twilight Imperium 3rd ed., with a group of 8 players. We still have yet to play Path of Glory all the way through. It’s on my bucket list and I will do it some day, but finding time to play that long of a game with my wife is not going to happen anytime soon.
Thus began my quest for a fast, fun, and quick war game. I searched for years, found some really cool war games along the way (like Rex and A Game of Thrones), but it wasn’t until I found a copy of 1812: The Invasion of Canada sitting alone in a corner of a board game store that my quest came to an end.
|1812: The Invasion of Canada|
And I can tell you that 1812, and its sequel 1775: Rebellion are the best introductory war games I have had the pleasure of playing.
There are several reasons why. First is that they are fun. Both games are designed to be played as teams with over 2 players. This insures that there is little to no downtime between turns as you are engaged by strategizing and rolling your armies dice between turns in a round. The teamwork these games produce is amazing.
|1775 pieces and board. Looks like America is holding on to Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, but the British have New Jersey (the mind boggles).|
|1812 pieces and board. The British are coming!|
Second is the simplicity of the rules. Battles are brilliantly abstracted to dice rolls that accommodate retreating, fleeing, and hitting. There are no charts to consult on dice rolls as in most war games. Play a movement card, move an army in, and let the massacre begin. You win the game by controlling the most areas/colonies, which is triggered by treaty cards. And finally, both games are surprisingly educational. Each faction has special cards that contains some historical facts and flavor.
I have played both games with a different number of players and a wide range of ages, and each game has been a rousing success. My daughter and her cousin both destroyed me as the a British in 1812. One game of 1775 came down one die roll to who would win the game. Personally, I can’t wait for my daughter to study American history in school when we play again.
Here is what some of my fellow board gamers have said during the game.
‘This is a much better version of Risk’
‘This game is really fun’
‘I like making super armies’
‘Let’s take down these ungrateful colonists’
‘Time for a tea party.’
‘Run away! Run away!’
“If we move here we won’t entirely lose the game.” 1775 Gameplay
“Warships. We need warships.” 1812 Gameplay
So here is the bottom line from a grumpy gamer: If you enjoy marching armies to their doom, like rolling dice, and want a game that could get pretty rowdy as you watch your opponent’s plan fall apart because your army rolls hits while the opposing army rolls flees, these are the games for you. If I had to decide between the two, I think 1775 is a slightly more refined game, but 1812 handles five players really well.
A Note from the Blogmistress:
I love games with strategy, so naturally war board games are some of my favorite. But I must agree, most of them require more time then we can pull together. So it is nice to have a couple of lighter war games to get a bit of a strategy fix and still manage to pull together dinner before heading off to work.
1812 and 1775 are fun. The event cards are interesting, the boards are gorgeous, and the themes are decently represented given the basic game play. My daughter is quite invested in whoever is playing the Native Americans, so she likes to watch us play. She also demands the super armies, which look neat all in a group swooping in to try to take over an area, but in reality, you only roll as many dice as you have, so super armies are more like a handful of soldiers with a whole bunch in reserve. Which works in your favor, usually, but that’s quite a commitment of resources in one area.
But she’s nine and she just likes to see all the cubes ganging up together. The finer strategies will come later.
I also agree that of the two, 1775 is the more refined. And I’d like to add that the game coming down to a die roll . . . yeah, that was me and yeah, I won.
Bonus mini grumpy review:
This is a pretty cool worker placement/area control game. It has a really neat planning phase with tiles that are hidden from your opponents, and the artwork on the board is gorgeous.
If I have a samurai on the board that I am feeding with rice, and I am paying money to move, that damn thing better be able to go across the board and kick some major ass and wreak some havoc for me. All this jerk does is supervise erecting buildings in a city and gather wood and stones and more rice? This is what my bad ass warrior does? Harvest wood? Seriously? WOOD?
Maybe an expansion will let me use all that wood to make spears that will rain death and destruction upon my foes instead of making a trading post.
I am going to have to play this one again sometime. I never let a first play taint my opinion of a game, and I am intrigued with the scoring mechanic.
I just had to rant about my useless samurai.
Oh yea… A big thank you to Cloud Cap Games! Great store, great gamers, great fun! If you are ever curious about any game I review, go check them out. They can demo almost any game for you, and there are weekly game nights that have some of the best people to board game with in the Portland, OR/SW Washington area. Go check em out!