From Messy Game Room! Dave writes about his experiences with 1812: The Invasion of Canada(h).
Last Saturday we played 1812: The Invasion of Canada and I thought I’d post a short review of the game. I’ve played it 3 times so far and I found it really fun even though I know almost nothing about the period.
The game features two opposing sides divided into 5 factions. The British consist of the British Regulars (Red), Canadian Militia (Yellow), and the Indians (Green). The Americans consist of American Regulars (Blue) and American Militia (White). The game supports 2-5 players. In our games, I played Red and Yellow. Jed played Green. Greg played Blue and White.
Each faction has little colored cubes to represent its troops and a deck of 8 movement cards and 4 special cards. One of the movement cards is called the Truce card. The game turn sequence lasts a maximum of 8 rounds. Each round has 5 faction turns. The turn order is determined by randomly drawing a larger colored block from a cloth bag (included) as each turn ends.
Each faction starts with 3 cards in their hand. You have to play at least 1 Movement card at the start of your turn and up to 2 Special cards. The Special cards have historical flavor and allow you to do things like raise extra troops, get extra movement, etc. If you don’t have at least 1 Movement card, you have to reshuffle and draw a new hand.
So you have 1 Movement card in your deck per Game Round. If a faction plays its Truce Movement card, then that card is placed face up where everyone can see it for the rest of the game. After the 3rd Round, once the American or British side has played all of the Truce cards for their side’s factions, the game will end at the end of the current Game Round. So you’re never quite sure when the game might end. You might do this because:
1) You have no choice because your Truce card might be the only Movement card in your hand.
2) Your Truce card is the best Movement card in your hand. They’re usually good.
3) Or you want to get a VP lead and then try to end the game.
The active faction then musters new recruit units in its muster territories and places any faction units that are in the fled unit area into muster areas. The cowards crept back to the colors.
An army consists of all the unit cubes in a single territory. You can move any army that has at least one unit which belongs to the active faction. If a territory has 9 red cubes, 6 yellow cubes, and 1 green cube, the Green Player (Indian) could then move the entire army as if they all belonged to him. Some Movement cards allow naval movement and canoe movement across the lakes and rivers. A Movement card allows you to do things like: “Move 2 armies up to 3 territories each.”
When opposing armies end up in the same space after movement, they fight a battle. Each faction has its own colored dice. You roll the number of dice up to the number of similarly colored units you have in the battle. The number of dice in the game is limited to 2 per color for Red and Blue (Regulars) and 3 per color for Red, Yellow and Green.
Spaces are blue or red depending on whether they are in the US or Canada. The side whose home territory it is rolls their dice first. The sides then alternate until only one side remains in the space.
The dice have 3 types of facing:
The bullseye face kills an enemy unit of your enemy’s choice.
The fleeing face means one of YOUR units of that die color flees and is placed in the Fled Units pool. Fled unit suck.
The blank face means “Command Decision”. You can select one of your units of that die’s color and place them in an adjacent friendly space. Green Indian blocks can be placed in any unoccupied adjacent space. This allows the Indian green units to infiltrate and ravage empty enemy spaces.
The different dice have different sides based on their color. Red dice (British regulars) have more bullseyes and no Fled sides. Blue dice have more Fled sides. Green Indian dice are slightly worse. Militia dice (Yellow and White) are much more likely to have Fled results and thus run away.
So if 3 Blue and 2 Whites attack 1 Green, 3 Reds, and 2 Yellows in a British Red territory, the British player would roll 1 Green die, 2 Red dice (max) and 2 Yellow dice first. If the American side lost a White and Blue unit from two British bullseyes, the American player would then roll 2 blue dice and 1 white die back. And so on until only one side’s unit cubes are in the territory.
When the ending Game Round is completed and the game is over, you then add up the captured victory objectives and whichever side has more is the winner.
We played two games and each of them took less than an hour.
The American side lost both times. In the first game, the Indians rampaged through the un-garrisoned American spaces and captured some valuable territory. By the time the Americans drove them out, we were able to capture some border territories and win a close British victory. In the second game, I was able to use the British Fife and Drum card to move an extra space and seize Albany, a major American muster area. This proved too difficult for the Americans to overcome and the British raced to end the game while we held the advantage.
This is a photo of the end of our first game. The pizza is there for scale:
And a photo of the end of our second game. I swear, I didn’t stage these games! These are authentic pictures of actual games. You can see the red/yellow/green army in Albany in the top left corner.:
The game offers a lot of decisions and it’s cool that you can save Special cards for your next turn if you want to. However, if you do that, you only draw back up to 3 cards at the end of your turn, so you run the risk that your only Movement card you draw will be your Truce card.
Greg hasn’t had much luck with the Americans, but I think if the American player is more careful with garrisoning his territories, he might have more luck.
It’s also important to keep your armies mixed as much as possible so multiple factions can move them.