Wilderness War, 4 Oct 2006
Jon and I sat down to tackle a game of Wilderness War yesterday. It was Jon's first game and my second face-to-face game. I've played three times previously via PBEM, but as I found out the face-to-face experience feels much more intense and dynamic due to the quick decisions you need to make. Jon took the French and I took the Brits for the Anno Mirabalis tournament scenario which lasts three years (1756-1759; six game turns), representing the core of the French-Indian War conflict. We spent close to an hour getting settled, going over the rules, and setting up, then jumped into what would be a roughly 3-hour game.
Jon quickly mastered the core concepts of the game and launched an extremely effective campaign of Indian raids up and down the colonies, virtually devastating the south. I think at one point he was up by +7 VP, and he only needed +11 for autovictory. I screwed up in royal fashion by allowing my British army to suffer attrition during the first winter, then Jon hit me with small pox as well. He then worked the politics of the game to turn the provincial assemblies to reluctant, removing a good portion of my colonial troops. Things were looking grim.
Luckily, fortune did swing my way halfway through the game. I was able to bring my best general, Wolfe, onto the board along with a big pile of angry Highlander troops ready to kick French butt. I marched my stack up the Hudson Valley, beating back the scrappy French general Montcalm and his rag-tag bunch of Indians, Marines, and guerillas all the way to Montreal. Jon played an excellent fighting retreat, making me burn tons of cards to keep him contained. He cut my supply numerous times when I became overly aggressive, and I had to backtrack to keep him in check, burning precious actions.
In the end, the Brits prevailed, but as is common on first plays, the game gets an asterix. I screwed up one rule that, though I don't think had a major effect, did help me. Amhearst, a +1 leader, outranks Wolfe, a +2 leader, so he actually should have been in command of my mega-stack. So, I should have taken only a +1 modifier on some key battles, which might have made the difference on this very closely fought game. This was totally my oversight, so I am going to concede the game to Jon.
Overall, I think the game is very tightly crafted and exciting. The different advantages and disadvantages of both sides seem well represented, and I do appreciate a game with this much meat being playable in 3 hours (or even less with familiarity). I look forward to future plays.