(2013 – Academy Games)
Academy Games began its Birth of America series with the initial release of 1812: the Invasion of Canada in 2012, which went on to receive multiple nominations for various end of the year game awards; citing how easy the rules were to teach and learn, while still providing a deep and tactical wargame. 1812 marked the launching point of a series of games revolved around the historically accurate retelling of major events in early American history. Designers Beau Beckett and Jeph Stahl used a similar rule set as the one they designed for 1812, for their follow-up game in the Birth of America series, 1775: Rebellion, which chronicles the events of the American Revolution. This is soon to be followed by Freedom: the Underground Railroad, designed by Brain Mayer and revolves around the abolitionist movement and freeing of slaves during the Civil War.
In 1775: Rebellion, players take control of the various sides and factions involved in the American Revolutionary War. Historically based on many of the battles and figures surrounding the war between the British and the American Colonies, players command their armies on the board by way of movement and event cards in the attempt to control the various 13 original Colonies as well as Maine, Nova Scotia, and Quebec. The game concludes when a truce is called (the signing of the Treaty of Paris), with the side controlling the most colonies determined the winner.
– 1775 Game Board
– British Faction cards (British Regulars & Loyalist Militia)
– American Faction cards (Continental Army & Patriot Militia)
– Faction Turn markers
– Faction Unit cubes: British Regulars (red) Loyalist Militia (yellow), American Continental Army (blue), Patriot Militia (white), French Regulars (purple), German Hessians (orange), and Native Americans (green)
– Battle Dice
– Control tokens
– Round marker
– Draw Bag
A game of 1775: Rebellion can be played between 2-4 players. Factions are oriented depending on the number of players in the game. There are 4 Factions that players can take control of. On the British side of the war, player can control the British Regulars and/or the Loyalist Militia (those living in the American colonies, but still loyal to Great Britain). On the American side of the war, players can control the Continental Army and/or the Patriot Militia. If there are 4 players in the game, each player will take control of one of these four faction types, with the British Regulars and Loyalist Militia players cooperatively working together for the British side, and the Continental Army and Patriot Militia players cooperatively working together for the American side. If there are only 2 players, each player will control both Factions of their side, whereas in a 3 player game, one player will control both Factions of their side and the other 2 players will control an individual Faction of the opposing side and cooperatively work together.
Each Faction comes with a number of Units, Battle Dice, and Faction cards. Faction cards are numbered in the bottom right corner of the card, and cards numbered 1-12 are used in the regular 1775 scenario (there is an additional Siege of Quebec scenario included that uses the remaining cards). Each Faction receives the 12 Faction cards, the Faction’s Battle Dice, and Unit cubes that correspond to the particular Faction.
As seen above, Factions and their components have been separated between the British Regulars (red), Loyalist Militia (yellow), making up the British side of the War.
Then the Continental Army (blue) and Patriot Militia (white) making up the American side of the War.
As mentioned before, the map references the original 13 American Colonies and also includes Maine, Nova Scotia, and Quebec. These are the major Colonies involved in the American Revolution. Each Colony is split up into a number of sections. A Colony is considered “controlled” if sections of the Colony are held by either the British or American sides (but not both). A Colony can be controlled by a side even if there is a section within the Colony that has no Units, as long as the entire Colony only contains 1 side’s Units. For instance, either side inhabiting the Colony of Rhode Island would control that Colony since it contains only 1 single section. However, for a side to control Massachusetts, that side would need to hold any of the 3 sections and there be no Units in those sections from the opponent‘s side.
Each Colony has an easy-reference for initial setup by listing which type and quantity of Units start in each section of each Colony. Players will place these Units onto the board according to the reference to begin the game.
On the upper parts of the map (areas West of the Colonies), the map asks for the placement of green Units, which are Native American Units. I’ll explain how these work a bit later. All remaining Units left off of the board after this setup step, makes up a player’s Unit supply.
Any time that a Colony is considered controlled by a side of the War, a Control token is placed on the Colony to reference its ownership. Remember that at the end of the game, the side with the most Control tokens on the map is considered the winner. After the initial placement of Units according to the map reference, Control tokens will be initially placed in Connecticut and Rhode Island for the American side, and Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Delaware for the British side. All other Colonies begin the game under dual ownership and are not considered controlled by either side yet.
Before the game begins, players have a chance to add some additional Reinforcement Units to the map. There are 4 blank Faction Turn markers that represent 1 of the 4 Faction colors. Players will place these 4 markers in the bag and randomly draw 1 of them. The side that this marker’s color belongs to can place 4 additional Units in an area already containing its own Units. This is done for both Factions of that particular side. After this is complete, the opposing side places 4 additional Units for both of its Factions.
For instance, the Blue marker is drawn from the bag. This means that the American side can place 4 Continental Army Units and 4 Patriot Militia Units into sections of the map that already contain their Units. After the American side has completed this action, the British side can now place 4 British Regular Units and 4 Loyalist Militia Units onto the board.
Each Faction card deck is shuffled and 3 cards are drawn from each deck. Note that if a player is controlling both Factions of their side, they must keep their 2 Faction decks separate, as they will still be taking separate turns for their Factions. Amongst the 12 cards in each deck, there are 8 Movement cards and 4 Event cards. A player is required to play 1 Movement card each turn, so if no Movement cards are drawn amongst the 3, the player must reshuffle the deck and draw 3 more cards until he has at least 1 Movement card.
Finally, the Round marker is placed onto the first space of the Round track and play begins. At the end of setup, the play area and board should look something like this:
1775: Rebellion is played over the course of a maximum of 8 Rounds (though the game can end earlier if certain end-game conditions are met). During a Round, each Faction has a turn to Reinforce their Units, Move their Units, and engage in Battle with the opposing side. Once that Faction has completed their turn, the Round continues with the next Faction until all Factions have completed a turn. Turn Order is determined by drawing 1 of the 4 Turn Markers out of the Draw Bag. Once a Turn Marker is drawn, it is placed on the designated Turn Order space on the game board in reference to the current active Faction. This player will fully complete this Faction’s turn before the next Turn Marker is drawn.
Player A (British) and Player B (Americans) are playing a 2-player game. The first Turn Marker drawn from the bag is Yellow. This means that Player A will complete a turn for the Loyalist Militia before the next Faction can take a turn. It is possible in this way that the Red Turn Marker (British Regulars) could be drawn next, thus allowing the British side to complete both of his Faction’s turns before the American player is able to take any turns.
Each turn of a Round consists of 4 major Phases: the Reinforcement Phase, the Movement Phase, the Battle Phase, and the Draw Phase. As mentioned above, each Faction will take their turn by completing these phases in order before the next Faction takes their turn.
1.) Reinforcement Phase – During this phase, the active Faction can place 4 Units from their Unit supply onto any section space containing a City of a Colony that the player’s side controls. Factions may also have Units that fled during previous Battles. These Units are located at the “Fled Units” section of the game board. I’ll explain how these Units arrive here during the explanation of the Battle Phase, but for now note that any Fled Units of the current active Faction can also be removed from this space and placed onto any section space containing a City of a Colony that the player’s side controls. If the player controls no Colonies during this phase, these Reinforcements and Fled Units can not be placed.
For instance, Player B (Americans) controls the Colony of North Carolina. It is currently the Patriot Militia (white) Faction’s turn. During the Reinforcement Phase he is able to place 4 new Patriot Militia Units from his supply into the City space of Wilmington, North Carolina.
He also has 2 Fled Patriot Militia Units from a previous turn, thus he chooses to place these Units into space directly north of Wilmington, NC.
Since he also controls the Colony of New Jersey, he could have chosen to place some or all of these Units into either Cities of Trenton and/or Prince Town, New Jersey.
2.) Movement Phase – During this Phase, the current Faction has to play 1 Movement Card from their Hand and take the appropriate Movement action on the card. This card is then discarded from play. Movement cards allow a Faction to move a particular amount of Armies a particular amount of spaces on the board.
If at any point, an army from one side comes upon a space with another side’s army, a Battle ensues (next Phase). Units that inhabit the same space on the game board are considered an Army. An Army can be made up of both Faction’s Units of a particular side, as well as Allied Units (French are allied with the Americans, German Hessians are allied with the British) and Native American Units. As long as at least 1 of the Units in an Army belongs to the current active Faction, that player can use the Army for movement purposes during his turn.
For instance, 3 British Regulars, 2 Loyalist Militia, and 2 German Hessians make up the northern area of Maine. Since it is the Loyalist Militia Faction’s turn, that player can choose to use his Movement card to move this army since it contains at least 1 Loyalist Militia Unit. Had it only contained British Regulars and German Hessians, this Army could only be moved during the British Regular Faction’s turn.
A Movement card contains the number of Armies that can be moved and how many spaces each of these armies can move. These icons are listed on the bottom of the Movement card. Not all Units currently on a space need to be used during movement, but once an army is moved, it can not pick up or drop off Units along the way. Along with needed to stop if coming into contact the other sides Units in an area, Units must also stop movement if they come into contact with any Native American Units. Native American Units are considered neutral, however they will join forces with the Army that comes into contact with them.
Player B (Americans) is currently on the Continental Army turn. He plays a movement card that allows him to move 2 different armies up to 2 spaces each.
He decides to move his first Army from the area of New York that borders New Jersey. He currently has 4 Continental Army Units and 3 Patriot Militia Units on this space. He chooses to move 3 Continental Army Units and 2 Patriot Militia Units as part of the Army’s movement this turn, leaving behind 1 of each Unit on this space.
He moves these 5 Units into the New Jersey Colony containing the City of Prince Town for the first part of this Army’s movement, then again into Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to complete this Army’s movement. There he meets British and Loyalist Militia forces and a Battle ensues. Since he only moved 1 Army, he can still move another Army up to 2 spaces before the Movement card is complete.
While many of the Movement cards revolve around land movement, there are a couple that enable a Faction to move an Army by sea. The Warship movement card (found in the British Regular and Continental Army decks) allows 2 different Armies to move from 1 area adjoined by water to any other area adjoined by water. Whereas the Boat movement card (found in both Militia decks) is a little more limiting. It only allows 2 Armies of up to 3 Units each to move from areas adjacent to water to a singular area adjacent to water.
In addition to land and water movement, Truce cards are a specialized Movement card. These are probably the most influential cards since they can directly impact the end of a game. Truce cards are movement cards that allow up to 4 Armies to be moved up to 2 spaces each. However, once played, instead of discarding these movement cards, Truce cards are placed face up next to game board. Beginning with Round 3, at any point that a side has played both Faction’s Truce cards, the game ends at the conclusion of the Round.
3.) Battle Phase – At the end of the Movement Phase, players will resolve any Battles. Battles occur when a space occupies Units from the opposing sides. The side that initiated the attack is considered the attacker, while the opposing side is considered the defender. The defender will always go first during a Battle, then the attacker. Battles continue back and forth between defender and attacker until only 1 side remains in the contested area.
Each Faction has an individual set of Battle Dice that correspond to the color of the Faction. Depending on how they are rolled, these Dice can initiate 3 different types of actions: A hit, a flee, and a command decision. The target symbol on each dice represent a hit has been rolled, a running man icon represents that a flee action has been rolled, and a blank side of the dice represents that a command decision can be made. 1 type of Dice for each individual Unit is rolled as part of the Battle, up to the maximum number of Dice available. The game includes:
– 3 Loyalist Militia Dice (yellow)
– 2 German Hessian Dice (orange)
– For every target symbol that is rolled on a Dice, that player has taken out a Unit of the opposing forces. The opposing player may choose which of the Unit(s) to remove, and will then place these Unit(s) in their Reinforcement supply area.
– For every “running man” symbol that is rolled on a Dice, the player removes a Unit of that type and places it onto the Fled Unit space of the game board.
– For every blank side that is rolled on a Dice, the player can choose to make a Command Decision with that Unit. This means that the player can choose to remove 1 of the Units currently in the Battle and place it into an adjacent area as long as it is not solely controlled by the opposing side. This means that the Unit can be moved into another area containing both Units of both sides as well as into an area that contains only Native Americans. This Command Decision can be used as a retreat function as well as to help reinforce an upcoming Battle in an adjacent area.
Not all Dice in 1775: Rebellion are equal. Some contain more Hit icons than others, while others contain more Flee symbols. Some even contains no Flee symbols. Battle Dice sides are broken down in the following ways:
– British Regulars and French Regulars are skilled veterans in War and are taught to never Flee. They both include 3 sides of Hit facings and 3 sides of Command Decision (blank) facings, but no Flee symbols.
– The Continental Army, while well trained are still green around the edges. These dice include 3 Hit facings, 1 Flee facing, and 2 Command Decision facings.
– The Loyalist and Patriot Militias were made up of locals and colonial citizens, thus they were as likely to flee as they were to fight. These dice include 2 Hit facings, 2 Flee facings, and 2 Command Decision facings.
– The German Hessians were hired mercenaries used by the British forces in the American Revolutionary War. Their dice include 3 Hit facings, 1 Flee facing, and 2 Command Decision facings.
– Finally, the Native American forces, while neutral, can be recruited by either side. Their dice include 2 Hit facings, 1 Flee facing, and 3 Command Decision facings.
Using the previous example, the British player (the defender in this battle) rolls the 4 Battle Dice (consisting of 2 red dice, 1 yellow dice, and 1 orange dice) resulting in 2 Hits, a Loyalist Militia Flee, and a Command Decision. The American player gets to choose which 2 Units are removed in order to resolve the Hits, and chooses 2 of his Patriot Militia Units. He places these 2 Units into his Reinforcement supply.
Next, the British player must remove the Loyalist Militia Unit and place him in the Fled Unit space on the game board, since the Loyalist Militia Battle Die rolled a Flee symbol.
Remember that though this Unit has fled the battle, it is possible for it to return to the map during the Reinforcement Phase.
The final Die facing that must be resolved is the Command Decision. The British player could choose to move 1 of his British Regulars to an adjacent area such as back into Philadelphia. He however decides to keep this Unit in the current battle. After resolving all Die facings, the American player can now roll his dice and attack the British Units.
4.) Draw Phase – At the end of the Faction’s turn, the controlling player will draw cards from the Faction’s deck to bring the Faction’s hand of cards back up to 3 total. Remember that a Movement card will be played by each Faction every turn, however Event cards can also be played from a player’s hand during a turn. After the player has drawn these cards, the next Turn Marker is drawn from the bag and the next Faction’s turn takes place.
Each Faction’s deck includes 4 different Event cards that contain historical events and figures involved in the American Revolution. These Event cards can be played during certain phases of the game as listed on the card. While I won’t cover every Event card in the game, let’s take a look at a few.
Sons of Liberty (Patriot Militia Event)
– Played during the Movement Phase, this event card allows the player to double the amount of Armies moved according to the played Movement card. So if the Movement card allows for 2 Armies to be moved, playing the Sons of Liberty Event will allow the player to move 4 Armies.
Benedict Arnold (British Regulars Event)
Benjamin Franklin (Continental Army Event)
– Benjamin Franklin, being an Ambassador to France, was a major influence on the alliance between the French and Americans during the War of Independence. A player can use this Event card during the Reinforcement Phase to add 4 French Units to the City of Savannah, Georgia.
As mentioned above, each Faction’s deck consists of 8 Movement Cards and 4 Event Cards. Since 1 Movement Card must be played each turn, there will never be more than 8 Rounds in a game. The Treaty of Paris card is a specialized Movement card amongst the 8 in each deck. Once both Factions of a side has played its Treaty of Paris cards, the current Round is considered the final Round of the game. All phases of the Round are completed and then the game ends.
The side that controls the most Colonies at the end of the this Round is the winner. It is possible for the game to end in a tie if both sides control the same amount of Colonies.
While a wargame at heart, 1775: Rebellion is designed in a way that simplifies the rules and mechanics, but does so without interfering with the game’s wide amount of depth. Matching types of dice to the Units in a Battle is intuitive and easy for new players to navigate through, however experts will use the variations in die facings to their advantage when pre-planning movement and battles.
Thematically, 1775 does a brilliant job of capturing the events and battles surrounding the American Revolution. The map itself is a wonderful representation of the 13 Colonies during the late 1700’s, with included listings of places and Cities of importance during the War. The merging of references into the game mechanics such as the fact that British Regulars would never flee a battle, thus giving their dice no flee facing, help to capture the nuances between the various factions. Event cards specific to each faction help to separate the characteristics and history revolved around those particular groups of soldiers. And a 3-page historical overview of the major points leading up to and following through the War of Independence is also included in the rule book.
1775: Rebellion doesn’t simply mask an American Revolution theme over a pre-mechanically built wargame. The mechanics found in the game were designed from the ground up to thematically support the time period in American history between the uprising of 1775 to the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783. The combination of simplistic and intuitive mechanics mixed with the allowance for deep strategy is one that many games strive for. 1775: Rebellion does so, while also instilling a bit of historical knowledge along the way.