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Wilderness War takes two players into the French & Indian War, 1755-1760, the climactic struggle between France and Britain for control of North America. It uses strategy cards and a point-to-point map similar to GMT's award-winning For the People and Paths of Glory. Players maneuver and fight over a map stretching from Northern Virginia to Canada. As the leader or French or British forces in North America, you will need to defend your frontier, raid your enemy's frontier, build fortification networks through the harsh wilderness, recruit Indian allies, besiege forts and fortresses, and deal with events occurring in Europe that are above and beyond your control.
Wilderness War includes a deck of strategy cards for conducting campaigns and incorporating the many events and personalities of the war. The French player can recruit up to sixteen different Indian tribes as allies, secure a continental alliance in Europe against Great Britain, sortie his squadron at Louisbourg, force a ministerial crisis in London, and work toward draining support for the war from the provenciaal assemblies. The British player can recruit Mohawks and Cherokees, plan for and conduct amphibious operations, implement a global strategy via William Pitt, destroy the French fleet at Quiberon Bay, and expel the Acadians. Relive the history of this exciting time when the fate of Canada hung in the balance.
That is all I can do really. I have been playing this game on an irregular basis since it came out and everytime I feel like playing a wargame, I go back to this one. Being from Quebec makes the interest in the subject matter obvious for me. But it is more than that. This is simply put one of the best games of its genre, period. It even got me and a couple of friends hitting the books (although there aren't many on the subject).
I also got my father-in-law interested in the game and that is no small feat, believe me. All in all, a solid 5 stars for me.
This the wargame I have been waiting for my entire life. A triumph on all counts. The rules are the clearest I've read in 40 years of gaming (since I was 10, you do the math) for any substantially complex game and read like a historical novel.
This game is clearly the beneficiary of previous games in CDG systems but takes the WAR element of wargame in this system to a new level which is apparently outside the comfort zone for many of those who play games as opposed to war-games. This game is what I call (like Hannibal and most other CDGs) a game of Crisis Management and Damage Control rather than some more traditional formats which allow micromanagement and the search for the 'Perfect Plan'. Yes, there is a luck element in that one player can get a dream hand (or hand after hand) while the other gets dreck, but you could be playing Axis and Allies where your opponent rolls nothing but ones and you're tossing 6 after 6 after 6. The game is well balanced and a nail biter even when tilted toward one side or the other by a lucky streak of cards, war is like that, very uncertain and 'The best laid schemes o' mice and men gang aft a-gley'.
The other complaints I have encountered mostly concern the numerous unit types and the movement/combat/infiltration/interception matrix but that is a COMPLEXITY issue and not a game flaw. The historically reflective different unit strengths and weakness and the (advanced game) infiltration/interception rules are clearly explained but you must pay attention to the rules. Once you grasp the ingrained flow of logic the gameplay becomes highly intuitive. All that and GMT's typically gorgeous components make for a superb gaming experience every time.
Topping this year's list is a remarkably novel game that convincingly simulates the fluid, back-and-forth nature of the French and Indian War (1755-1760), on a map stretching from Virginia to Lower Canada. Simple but all-inclusive cards drive the movement, ranging from "William Pitt implements Global Strategy," to the vital "Battle of Quiberon Bay." These versatile cards form the heart and soul of this design: They can be discarded and used for their global effect in a game that transcends the local quarrel, or used several times to replenish troops. We salute Ruhnke for capturing the daunting nature of a late18th century war in the wilderness: vast distances to traverse, only a few key points to defend, and inexperienced generals faced with unfamiliar terrain.