Saturday, March 31, 2012

Boardgame Night: War of 1812

One of the fellows at the local boardgames club brought something new this week, The War of 1812: Invasion of Canada by Academy Games.

I had seen mention of this, including a brief demo video, via the ConsimL twitter feed some time back and had thought, "wow, that looks cool." It is cool. 1812 is a little more complicated than the classic block game by Columbia, but similarly fun and playable. The map ranges from Detroit in the west to Montreal in the east and is divided into areas which can be contest by up to five players on two sides.

There are two types of Americans: Regulars and Militia, and three types of British: Regulars, Canadian Militia, and Indians. Each of these five types gets its own move during a turn, but in random order. Movement is card driven, and a few special cards allow movement options such as lake movement, allowing you to land forces behind enemy lines. Other cards confer special advantages in combat. Each side has several movement cards which are also called treaty cards, and when three treaty cards in a row are played by either side, the game ends. While the US players have better cards, the British player gets to move more often in a turn.

Combat is by a clever system of bespoke dice which generates several results: Kill, Run Away, and Decision (you get to stay and fight or move to a friendly or uncontrolled adjacent area). The distribution of these results varies by troop type. British regulars almost always kill their opponents and never run away, US regulars are almost as good but can sometimes run away, Canadian and US militia run away a lot, and Indians can kill and get a lot of Decision results, which means that you can use a battle to scatter them, guerilla like, in the areas adjacent to that battle. This technique is really annoying for the US.

The cards are have some really fine artwork, the production values are high, and the game mechanics are interesting and clever. The randomized sequence of the play would give some good solitaire replayability, while playing it in teams of 3 vs 2, as we did Thursday night, is a lot of fun as well.

War of 1812: Invasion of Canada gets the Mad Padre Blessing and is highly recommended. The only down side, for me, is that it has now planted a seed in my brain, that a few 28mm miniatures for War of 1812 skirmish gaming might be a lot of fun. Sharpe Practice would be the perfect set of rules. Agghhh! Stop thinking that! Noooo!


  1. Sounds like a cool game. You want to be careful with that thinking about a few 28's, usually ends up costing lots!!

  2. Padre, Padre.... I had hopes to see a stronger will in you... or it might be that you've been infected by the most extended form of the wargamers virus

  3. Thanks for the cautions, chaps. I have always wanted to do Napoleonics during my lifetime, and have been pondering 6mm as an affordable way to get into the period. But a brief crazy thought has been flitting around my poor brain that 1812 in 28mm might almost be doable. Or maybe in 15mm???
    I must hope that thought eventually goes away.

  4. Sounds like an interesting game, what is the length of a game? I have been interested in getting to some of the old hex based board games when I finally have time for it again, but this looks like something that might work for the moment

  5. Hey Bernard! So glad you're checking into my games blog. That's great.
    There were five us playing, all for the first time, and we finished it within three hours tops. It might have gone a bit faster if there were fewer of us, as we did a lot of huddling in our teams.
    The turn sequence would lend itself to solitaire play as well, I think.

    1. I would love to be playing more board war games, but they are so hard to buy these days and many of the old ones took too long to play.

      I bought a second copy of Third Reich and discovered how limited that game was. Squad Leader - there are simply too many rules. I remember having to consult over and over again through multiple rule books to be certain of what was happening. My complaint with them, either too complex and too long, or overly "simplistic" which is really all I refer to 3rd Reich as even though it was not really a simple game.

      How did it work with five of you? Who was running units/forces? Does it tend to play out the same way all the time?

  6. Great blog, Padre. And good post, too. I think I can see my house almost on one of those maps!


  7. Thanks for a really interesting post!

    I don't know if you've ever heard of a game called Victoria, but it's an RTS where you control a country from 1837 to 1935, and can play out some really interesting alternate realities. This post reminded me of a recent game where the Trent Affair led to a UK/CSA vs. USA war, and the US won, invading northwards into Canada... only to be ousted by the Russians invading through Alaska... only for a nationalist revolt to overthrow the Russians again! Huzzah!

    Great post and great blog!

    1. Col S: Many thanks for visiting and for your kind comments. Are you referring to the Paradox computer game called Victoria? If so, I don't know about it, but I am familiar with the same company's Hearts of Iron series. A bit complex for me, as I am not very clever with things economic, but it does look interesting.

      I really like what I've seen of your blog. I am a closet W40K fan at heart with a fondness for the Imp. Gd. Cheers, Mike

    2. Yes it is the computer game, sorry should have been a bit more specific. Also a Hearts of Iron fan as well, but I'll admit that the economics is all a bit beyond me...

  8. @ Bernard: It really depends on what srt of gaming experience you are looking for. Squad Leader has become something for the gaming equivalent of Talmudic scholars, but most of us don't have that inclination. I find that the larger, more complex board games of yore have morphed into computer games that are quite easy to play. Check out the website for Matrix Games to see examples. The rule book for 1812 appeared to be less than ten pages, and it was explained to me by the owner in twenty minutes or less. The five of us played controlling the five different factions, and had a finished game in two hours. It was a very abstract game but playable and well suited to a games night at the club.

    1. I think I may go out and get the game - it should suit myself and the boys


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