Fourth of July Remembrance: American Revolution Wargames

Published on 7/3/2011 by Wargamer Staff.

July 4th is a time that we light up the bar-b-que, crack open the coolers and watch fireworks explode in the night sky. American flags are adorned at every possible fixture, from flagpoles in our front yards to the little plastic ones that fly from our car?s antennas. Americans celebrate this holiday because in 1776 our founding fathers wrote the Declaration of Independence, separating the colonies from Great Britain. The war of American Independence was already underway earlier in the year, but would see the war start to heat up when the British returned and landed in New York in July, eventually pushing General Washington?s Continental Army out in August.

Evident today, the colonies won the War of Independence and formed the United States. Each year since the Declaration of Independence, on July 4th, there has been a celebration (except in 1779 when July 4th fell on a Sunday, so it was celebrated the next day) to honor not only those who fought for America?s birth but to those who have served and continue to serve to keep the country free from tyranny and evil.

Lloyd Sabin and myself have taken it upon us to find some wargames that you readers would like to check out to put yourself in the mood for this holiday. Our suggestions vary from turn-based to real-time to even Risk-style. Generally you can find these easily on the PC but we have also found one some might be interested in if they are owners of an Apple iPad.

First up is Lloyd?s suggestion of Empire: Total War: Road to Independence campaign. No surprise as Lloyd is a fevered fan of the Total War series, which should also carry weight with his suggestion:

With the July 4th holiday being celebrated across the United States this weekend, the Wargamer wanted to highlight some of the more memorable games out there that capture at least a bit of the patriotic spirit of the holiday. After downing your twelfth hot dog, saluting the flag and firing off your last Roman Candle after dark, why not head inside to your air conditioned game room and cozy up with a great PC strategy game? Yeah, we knew you would like that.

Empire Total War: Road to Independence Campaign

The Total War series has meant a lot of things to a lot of players over the years. For many it has been a time machine, taking strategy players to their favorite eras in ancient, classical, medieval, Renaissance and imperial history. For July 4th, Empire: Total War?s Road to Independence campaign can transport players in the red, white and blue mood back to the North American colonies? struggle against the might of the British Empire circa 1775.

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Although some parts of the campaign are scripted, the major bulk of it is more open ended and is enjoyable. Road to Independence opens in the early 17th century with a scripted battle between British colonists and natives at Jamestown. Intended as a tutorial on troop movement, experienced players won?t have to be a tactical genius at all and should be able to overpower the Indians without much problem.

The campaign then moves forward in time to the mid-18th century and the French and Indian War. Here the player is allied still with the British and some friendly native tribes against French regular forces and their own set of allied Indians. While less scripted and a bit more open than the Jamestown tutorial, this second part of the campaign still does not require a strategic genius and if the player sticks with the games assigned objectives, success will be within reach after a short time.

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The third part of the campaign is what players reading this have been waiting for: a progression to 1775 and the very early opening battle of the American Revolution, the Battle of Bunker Hill. The campaign difficulty ramps up significantly here with the player?s pell-mell collection of militia attempting to take on the British Army just within reach of Boston. Whether the player wins or loses the Battle of Bunker Hill, the campaign then truly opens up as the War for Independence spreads from the Canadian border in the north to the stagnant swamps of Florida in the south.

Of course, this also means that the player will engage in cinematic set piece battles if they choose. The smoke and thunder of muskets and cannon will evoke the chaos of 18th-century infantry and artillery combat and should complement the roar of fireworks just outside your window. Try to concentrate: the endgame of Road to Independence is infinitely more difficult than the early phases and it?s all too easy to become overconfident and find yourself crushed unexpectedly by multiple British armies. 

Players will be presented with the same strategic problems that colonial American commanders had. Should New York be protected at all costs against a British seaborne onslaught? Will the British presence in Canada be a major thorn in your side? Does preserving the tiny but tenacious American Army take precedence over holding territory? These and many more strategic decisions will be in the hands of the Road to Independence player as the campaign unfolds, missions and strategic objectives are introduced and the game takes the player into a struggle for survival against the greatest military power of the time. The American Revolution done Total War style may not be absolutely perfect, but it will transport the player and illicit a sense of respect at how miraculous an accomplishment the American victory was.

As for myself (Parrino), I tackled two other titles, one for the iPad and one for the PC. Granted we are used to sitting at our PCs to play our strategy games but more and more are heading to portable decides.

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Now, wondering what Apple iPad game the Wargamer would recommend? Howabout Musket & Artillery: American Revolutionary War by EASY Inc.? This Risk­-style turn-based wargame is easy to pick up and play and features a cards system to either increase your troops, add defensive or offensive benefits or even bombard your enemy with cannon. Just like Risk, you move your troops into territories to increase your income while engaging the enemy in 5 v 5 dice-roll combat. While not incredibly deep (or accurate, it uses all 48 states in the US as territories to fight in) as a strategy game, Musket & Artillery easily provides quick and easy fun to pass the time. At $0.99 for the full version, it might be up your alley. The touch sensitivity is bit too high and there is no confirmation of ending your turn, which will lead to some frustrating situations, but this is usually a problem on the smaller screens of the iPod and iPhone.

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My next suggestion would be Birth of America II: Wars in America. A solid turn-based strategy in its own right, Birth of America II improves upon the original in adding new leaders, new orders, new scenarios, and the works. Covering the years 1750-1815, players can experience the build-up and even the War of 1812. An added benefit is to play against an opponent via PBEM for a human challenge.

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The strategic map contains a wide variety of terrain with multitudes of territories, bringing a degree of strategic and tactical strategy needed to win. While daunting at first sight, those that stick with Birth of America II will be rewarded with experiencing one of AGEOD?s popular and deep titles. Granted, Birth of America II can make any grognard drool with the political and strategic options they can control. Another great feature is the turn-by-turn replay to see where you went right (or wrong). For the somewhat serious wargamer looking for an American Revolutionary War title to get them in the mood of the holiday, Birth of America II can be right up your alley.

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Lloyd and I both hope that these titles will itch that Revolutionary War wargame sensation that some of you wargamers have this time of the year for the Fourth of the July. As always, have a safe and fun Fourth, and be safe with firecrackers as well as the fire sauce on your burgers and hotdogs!

Article written by: Lloyd Sabin, Staff Writer

                                Scott Parrino, Editor in Chief


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