Commanders, a wargame digest


American War of Independence

Saratoga - Published by GMT

This is a title from GMT’s Battles of the American Revolution series. In fact, it was published as the first game in the series. Having been reprinted twice, it now finds itself most recently in a third release, this time as part of the BAR special ‘tri-pack’ that includes two other reprints (Brandywine and Guildford), though this is something of a deluxe version, as each game gets a mounted map.

We played the campaign game last night, which uses the full 12 turns, in which the opening turns play out in a fairly predictable way, due to the very dense terrain and the British therefore approaching on the various roads and trails, though the weight of their attack can be made greater in one place than another, bringing a little variety to the opening engagements.

The photo shows one quarter of the map, with the Americans set up in their at-start positions. And they mostly stayed on the Heights throughout the game, defending against strong assaults in the closing turns, though managing to throw the first attack back. Freeman’s Farm area can just be seen on the bottom left of the map. 

A main feature of the game is an Army Morale Track and the marker for each side moves up and down that track depending on good or bad fortunes of battle. As morale is raised or lowered, the combat die roll, the initiative die roll and the rally die roll is modified. Once an army morale degrades and reaches the Wavering band, then a tipping point has generally been reached, recovery can be difficult and the gains made by the other side can be prosecuted with increased vigour.

It plays well as a game, but I find that the D10 based combat system that can have modifiers applied to the die roll produces wild swings and too often, the player can feel hostage to the fortune of the die roll.

Germantown by GMT

This is volume 7 in GMT's Battles of the American Revolution system.

I have put up a blog post that looks at the game and system and highlights some of the mechanics by way of an AAR. LINK

First Saratoga 1777

Part of the Musket and Saber series by Decision games.

This was their first AWI title in their mini folio series, with a sister game Germantown now also available. It is a small footprint game with a 17" x 11" map and just 40 counters.

Other games in the series cover napoleonic and American Civil War battles. There is a full AAR plus observational notes over on the blog LINK

Germantown 1777

This is the sister game to Saratoga (by Decision Games), they share the same system, with just a few extra scenario rules that apply to this battle (low ammunition for Colonials and turning Chew House into a bastion).

The situation is very interesting. The British start on high ground with their encampments. These are victory objectives, but so is Market Square in the middle of Germantown, which is located a few hexes away from the high ground.

This stretches the British defence, which comes under attack from multiple directions as the Colonials enter from off map positions. The game is tense throughout with much attacking and counter-attacking. It is surprising just how much game value can be had from a mini game with just 34 units and leaders in play. Full AAR and observational notes over on the blog LINK

Washington’s War by GMT

Mike and myself played the new edition last Friday. One of those games that is fun to play and can come off the shelves often, has been given a nice new larger board with some lovely graphics. 

I like new separate 'on board' graphic that shows the states as a sort of flow chart and chits are placed on top of each state, showing the individual  status of each state (American, British or Neutral), so at a glance players can see who is winning and where they need to focus some attention. It makes good use of the sea area, along with the other play aids.

Our game had a couple of tight moments that added tension to game, but despite French intervention, the British maintained the upper hand. The new edition seems to have a few new tweeks that that perhaps favour the British overall. Anyway, very enjoyable and always happy to return to this game.