1775 Rebellion Review
Both sides start off with a focus on New England.
At first glance, 1775 Rebellion doesn’t look like a war game. The Academy Games release comes with a bright map, suspiciously Eurogame looking cubes, and a fairly simple rule set. But make no mistake, behind the candy-colored facade lies a war game with solid decision making and deep play.
Opening the box reveals a bright, clear map of the 13 American Colonies and Eastern Canada. The game map is slanted, reminiscent of Avalon Hill’s 1776. Colonies are colored to show which regions lie within each colony. Armies are represented by colored cubes. Each of the four main factions (British, American, and their respective militias) come with a deck of cards that determine their actions each round. Each group, along with possible allies (Natives, French, and Hessian) come with custom dice to represent the outcomes of battles. This is a nice touch since the British and French are deadlier and more steadfast, than their battlefield counterparts. Overall, the components are top-notch, some of the best I’ve seen in a wargame.
Rounds follow a simple order of reinforce, play card, move, fight, and draw. Order for each round is random and is done by blind draw by pulling colored cubes. From there, your cards give you options to move a certain number of armies a certain number of regions, or armies could move by boat. Event cards add flavor by allowing Benedict Arnold to have an American army defect to the British side or the Declaration of Independence to inspire the Americans to stand their ground. The goal of the game is to control a colony by having only your allies in the colony (not necessarily in every region). One of the unique aspects of the game is the dice system. As I mentioned, British and French troops are deadly accurate and strong willed. Meanwhile, militia troops are more likely to run off to live to fight another day. This perceived disadvantage can actually be beneficial when you realize your 6 American militia that ran off last turn suddenly show back up along with your usual pool of reinforcements. It’s a simple way to showcase the warfare of the conflict. The game can be decided anywhere from the end of round 3 on by the play of truce cards. When one side plays all their truce cards, the war ends and the victory is the one that controls the most provinces.
In the review game, Yorktown was replaced by Portsmouth as a combined American and French force defeated the British. The war appeared to be over, but there was one turn left…
At first glance, the strategy appears simple. The Americans are strong in Massachusetts and the South. The British control the North. Solidifying forces and pushing from the South (American) or North (British) seems obvious, but cards can change all that. In the review game, the Americans nearly turned the tide of the war by drawing a sea invasion card that allowed them to land in Maine and Nova Scotia. The British got their last colonial point by pushing into Maryland. The cards and dice ensure the different games will allow different strategies to appear. The quick game play also allows it to get to the table more often.
I’ve played this game against people and solo. In none of my games have I had the winning side ahead by more than 2 colonies. In the solo game I played to do this review, the game came down to the final turn of the final round. The British start off with more colonies, but the Americans have formidable forces in particular areas. The game is very well-balanced.
Needing to take one American province, the British finally left the safety of New York City to attack Connecticut. The British win gave the Loyalists a narrow 6-5 win.
This may not give you the hardcore mental exercise of a GMT or Multiman wargame, but this is a fun game to play in one sitting. It’s well-balanced, very strategic, and great to look at on the table. If you have any interesting in the American Revolution or simply want a lighter war game that packs a punch in a smaller time frame, you’ll be well served to pick this game up.