As faithful readers of this blog know, I like to play strategic level games recreating past conflicts. One game that I am looking forward to is GMT Games’ Liberty or Death: The American Insurrection. Part of the COIN series of recreations of asymmetric counter-insurgency struggles throughout history, it uses counters and cards to recreate the Revolutionary War with the following sides, each of which have differing abilities and goals:
As the British, you have to deal with an Insurrection across a massive region. With control of the seas (at least until the French arrive), you have extreme flexibility and can move across the coast and cities at will. You will muster Tories to support your efforts. They will march with you to battle, but they need your cover. You can control any space you choose, but you cannot answer every threat on the map. The Indians will work with you but, like the Tories, will need you to coordinate and protect them when the Patriots become aggressive. With the leadership of Gage, Howe, and then Clinton, you will be able to strike a potentially decisive Brilliant Stroke if the stars align. Each leader brings something new to the war effort. If you can strike the decisive blow and Win the Day you will be able to build Support and reduce Opposition in short order. If the option to Battle the French in the Colonies presents itself, it will be hard to pass up!
As the Patriots, you initially aren’t powerful enough to counteract the British Army. You will need to pick your battles and initially spread the Militia to key areas. Over time you can train a force of Continentals to take on the British Regulars. Until then, Rabble-rouse and work with the French to challenge British dominance. Skirmish with the British in small numbers to make their stay expensive. Will the French be there when you need them? Persuade the local population to give you resources to keep the heat up. Watch the Indians on the Frontier because if they develop their forces unanswered you won’t be able to win the game regardless of what happens with the British.
As the Indian player, you have selected the lesser of two evils in aligning with the British. You will work with them to lower Opposition using Raids but you will be developing your footprint by Gathering forces and building villages. The British can help you to protect them from the Patriots and in return you can assist the British in controlling the region. War Chief Joseph Brant and later War Chief Cornplanter give you the ability to mount a decisive attack with your War Parties but will it be worth exposing your villages to Patriot attack?
As the French, you have the ability to be the thorn in the side of the British in North America. With the Hortalez Rodrigue et Cie Company, formed to feed the Patriots resources, you can fund the Insurrection. Your agents can rally assistance in and around Quebec and you can facilitate privateers to steal resources from the British. When you sign the Treaty of Alliance with the Patriots, you can bring French Regulars to America to March and Battle. You can also increase French Naval Intervention, Blockade Cities, move Regulars by sea and Skirmish with the British.
Go here to read the rest and for links to the rule book and a game book with designer notes and examples of play.
The game could easily have had a fifth faction, the Loyalists/Tories. One of the fascinating features of the War is the number of sides and how different they were.
The British possessed control of the seas and an Army that could usually win in stand up fights. Their weaknesses were that they simply did not have the troops to garrison every town in the 13 colonies and the fact that the British government was not going to engage in a never ending war against the colonists and that the War had to be won prior to British patience running out.
The Americans possessed an inspired commander in George Washington who understood that his ragtag force could win simply by outlasting the British. Backed up by militia his Continentals could prevent the British from dispersing and seeking to impose British rule all over the colonies. The main American weakness was economic collapse caused by the interruption in trade with Great Britain and a lack of patience among Americans who would not stay under arms forever in their effort to free themselves from British rule.
The Loyalists, representing perhaps a fifth of the American people, constituted a potent potential force. During the War the British enlisted many Loyalist regiments. The weakness of the Loyalists was a seeming inability to control areas politically unless they were supported by British bayonets.
The Indians had a golden opportunity during the War to ally themselves with the British and slow, if not stop, the westward march of the Colonists. The weaknesses for the Indians were divisions among and within the tribes and lack of coordination between themselves and the British.
The French, eager to revenge themselves on their hereditary enemy, needed little convincing to clandestinely support the American revolt. Actually going to War required an expectation that the Americans were in earnest, which Germantown and Saratoga provided. The French fleet provided the hope that the French could achieve local command of the seas for a time off some portion of the American seaboard and the French army would fortify the Continentals. Complicating the alliance was that the French had other goals than to establish American independence, and therefore French support was something the Americans found it hard to fit into their plans, since it was often diverted for other theaters of conflict with the British.
I trust that this new game will do justice to one of the more complicated conflicts in American history.