American Revolution #1, 2nd Edition
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In all the spectacle of war there has seldom been a sight the equal of British General Burgoyne's campaign of 1777. The float and march south from Canada had almost a surreal quality juxtaposed against the Adirondack wilderness. Hundreds of vessels making up an immense inland navy on Lake Champlain transported nearly 9,000 combatants together with 138 cannon. Burgoyne's objective was Fort Ticonderoga and from there, Albany, and a rendezvous with British forces coming from New York City. The strategic purpose of the campaign was nothing short of an end to the American Rebellion.
The intrigue on the American side lay in the cult of personality. Saratoga was to be Benedict Arnold's greatest victory in a string of successes which rank him among the finest field commanders of the era. Known to all Americans as the great traitor, it is ironic to discover that twice he salvaged the Revolution from certain collapse. It was Arnold's conspicuous gallantry and bold leadership which assured America victory at Saratoga and, by extension, its independence.
The fighting at Freeman's Farm would be savage. Here no farmer's militia, but rather Continental Regulars (anxious to redeem a recent reputation for retreat), stood toe to toe with Europe's finest. The sanguinary nature of the fighting was summed up best by American Brigadier General John Glover who said, "Both sides seemed determined to conquer or die."
It's the 19th of September, 1777. Do you, as the British, attempt to storm the prepared American positions on the high ground at Bemis Heights in order to open up the River Road and the most direct route to Albany? Or do you attempt to turn the American left where intelligence reports the American defenses are incomplete and the ground favors your approach? How will you employ the large number of Hessian mercenaries in your army? Will their performance match their reputation?
As the Americans do you wait on Bemis Heights for the approach of the enemy as General Gates preferred, or do you sortie and meet the approach of the British in the forests where their artillery will be of little value? Will Generals Gates and Arnold cooperate, or will their feud spell disaster for the American cause? And what of the fog on this chilly autumn morning? Will it be an ally to the Americans by impeding the progress of the enemy?
These are only a few of the challenges facing you as you relive one of history's most decisive battles and the turning point of the American Revolution.
- GAME COMPLEXITY: 3/9
- SOLITAIRE SUITABILITY: 6/9
- TIME SCALE: 1 hours per turn
- MAP SCALE: 200 yards per hex
- UNIT SCALE: Regimental
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 1-2
- 88 full-color 5/8 inch counters
- One 22x34 inch full-color mapsheet
- One 10-sided die
- 20-page Rule Book
- Two Player Aid Cards
Average Rating: 5 in 1 review
SARATOGA is one of those rare designs that combines everything that I look for in a wargame: smooth play, balance, historical detail, great graphics, well-developed rules, tense action, and a reasonable playing time.
Thanks to the outstanding efforts of the designer and GMT's staff, SARATOGA is an easy game to get into. It also will keep veterans or newbies coming back again-and-again. Counter density is low, and once familiar with the mechanics, a wide variety of strategy and tactics will open up to you.
I really like the Tactical Chit method where players mentally maneuver to gain battle advantages (i.e., die roll modifiers) over each other. Say you're being attacked at 2-1; should you Withdraw and try to avoid combat? Or perhaps Stand Fast and hope for the best? But what if your opponent engages in a Turn Flank or Frontal Assault tactic? Choose wisely, and the chances of prevailing increase. Choose poorly, and disaster looms.
Plenty of chrome is included like Morgan's Rifles, Leaders, Momentum, Artillery fire, American Garrison requirements, and so much more.
SARATOGA is a deceptive game--its relatively small size, simplicity, and few units only hint at the tremendous gaming experience that awaits you. I've played it ftf 5 times now, and each contest has been thoroughly enjoyable.
Easily one of the best wargames of the past few years, SARATOGA is a Top Ten favorite. Check out the next title (BRANDYWINE) in this series for some more wide-open American Revolution fun. Highly recommended for the historical gamer.