Command the armies of the British Redcoats, English Loyalists, German Hessians, American Regulars, Patriots, French Regulars and Native Americans to decide the fate of the Americas!
Revolutionary war tactical combat
Strongly based in historical context
Multiple scenarios available to play solo or against other players
September 29, 2016
Steam (Windows, OSX)
Developer: HexWar Games
Publisher: Academy Games
Genre: Strategy, Board Games
1775: Rebellion comes from Academy Games’ Birth of America trilogy. Included in this series are also 1812: The Invasion of Canada, and the upcoming 1754: Conquest—The French and Indian War. Academy Games has launched a long line of historically accurate, educational games that continue to prove Academy’s commitment to creative and consistent game design.
On the digital side of things, Hexwar is a game developing company that faithfully converts tactical board and war games into a digital counterpart. A quick glance through Hexwar’s catalog displays a number of games focused on a variety of historical encounters, from World War II, to combat between Roman Legionaries riding elephants into battle.
1775: Rebellion features combat between Native Americans, British soldiers, and American regulars, but all combat is through dice rolling. There is no blood animation or violent artwork on the cards.
I’ll admit up front, my understanding of American history and our secession from the British is lacking. I suppose my teenage and collegiate studies into key events, people, and issues is limited to dudes throwing crates of tea off a boat, and some guy riding a horse through Massachusetts, shouting, “The British are coming!”
One of the things I love about board gaming, and in this instance, a digital replication of it, is you can learn about various historical scenarios, all the while trouncing your foolish opponent into the ground for leaving Boston open to a naval assault.
1775: Rebellion opens up with a dramatic FMV, featuring a misty, forested countryside. Soon, troops from both sides of the war are aiming down their barrels, and firing off-screen. This sets the stage, albeit a little more dramatic than the actual gameplay.
1775: Rebellion plays up to four, with two teams, the British (red and yellow) and the Americans (blue and white). One can control both of their factions, or split up the work between two players a side. One can also choose between three different scenarios: the 1775 short game, the full 1775 game, and The Battle for Quebec (the advanced variant). Each has specific setup differences and slightly different rule changes and card additions to complete the gameplay experience.
The game board focuses on the new American colonies, and has a smattering of red, blue, white, and yellow figures all over it. The Americans have a strong hold on the New York and Boston coastline, while the British are slowly establishing themselves south of that, but completely dominating in Canada and the northern “states”. In addition there are Native Americans on the board, but later on, the French will assist the Americans, and German Hessians will come to the aid of the British. Lots of warfare. Lots of conflict. Better yet, these troops can pop up at various places you thought you had complete control of.
1775: Rebellion is played until all have played a truce card from their hands, or at the end of the last round. Turn order is decided randomly. Throughout your turn, you might be able to play special cards, based on what stage of turn you are on. With your hand of three cards, you must first place recruits and fled units onto cities you own. Then you must move a number of troops X spaces, all depending on your card.
You can only move your own colored armies, but you can pick up the troops of your teammate along the way. These movements typically will either help to reinforce key locations on the board, or more likely, initiate combat with an enemy you land on.
Combat is simple, with each color soldier having specific balance to the values on their individual dice. Some roll more kills, and some have more ability to retreat from combat, or reposition themselves to hold ground better. Each instance is last man standing, so ideally you brought enough men to the fight to mostly guarantee success.
Once you’ve controlled all zones located inside a colony, you are given a control chit. The team who has more control chits at the end of the game is declared the winner.
The 1775: Rebellion board game was one of my first Barnes & Noble red dot sale finds. I picked it up cheap because I thought I saw it somewhere high on the BGG top 200 games. Shortly after, my wife (who at the time only favored short card games) was chomping at the bit to play again and again. I don’t consider this a short game, and while simple in execution, not entirely easy to pick up for someone new to games, but she loved it just the same.
This digital translation is an impeccable production of the original tabletop game, even though I say that with a few caveats.
It changes no mechanics. It faithfully reproduces the aesthetic of the original game. Cubes are replaced with figurine soldiers who march hopefully around the battlefield. Cards can be examined more closely. The dice roll around, slowly clomp into each other, even precariously toppling onto a die face resulting in either heartbreak, or total domination. This hearkens back to the all-important dice roll in the film Jumanji, as you pray for the roll to destroy your last enemy before they have another chance to counter.
Even the game box sits up in the corner of the screen, as if you just gathered around the table with some friends to simulate historical rebellion together. Visually, HexWar has flawlessly implemented the feel of 1775: Rebellion. Even including sound effects of gunfire, marching, and special abilities. These are the stars of 1775.
One wonderful addition to the 1775 gameplay is saving your game. It is easy to drop a game, save, and come back later to finish it. Games will play quick against AI, so it’s up to you to remember unit placement, and what strategy you were implementing.
As a beta tester for 1775, I saw great things, and strange things. First of all, I rather preferred the original score for the game. It has since been replaced with a very MIDI-sounding orchestral bit that doesn’t do the game justice. In all reality, one would feel more atmospheric if they played Revolutionary War tunes from Spotify and muted the in-game music. It just feels forced and strange.
Hexwar has made great strides to simplify the combat presentation, and help players to better understand where to click on the UI and how to initiate combat and movement. Combat plays out with units in the middle of the screen, surrounded by dialog boxes detailing how many of each unit are in the fight. When you need to roll or decide where to lose units, it is evident where to click, and when you need to. I appreciate this UI, and while I think it is a little messy, it does a fine job.
Choosing where to group your armies is weird. You grab giant, chunky squares to decide how many stay and how many leave. It feels mostly responsive, but is still a tad clunky.
When an AI plays a card, I’m not ever sure whether I need to click on their card to demonstrate to the computer that I’ve seen their card. I suppose that is better than blowing up the card for three measly seconds, and then losing it immediately before I have a chance to read more than the first sentence. It just doesn’t seem readily apparent how I should respond as the player.
Like I mentioned, most of these are nitpicky, but my least favorite function in this game is the camera movement. I don’t need silky smooth zoom and pans, but when an enemy moves their units around, the camera jumps to and fro, like a puppy towards the ball that two kids are tossing back and forth. It’s disorienting. I know the goal of this camera move is to focus the player on where the opponent is positioning, but it sometimes ends up more confusing as certain spaces light up, yet I’m still confused why the camera moved where it did.
Another nitpick on the camera concerns how jumpy it feels while you navigate the map. Luckily, it’s not a huge board, and you generally want a bird’s-eye view anyway. Simple clicks can pop the map around a bit, so I suppose it feels sensitive, especially on higher sensitivity mouse settings.
One other note is this: either I don’t grasp the strategy to 1775, or the AI really isn’t very smart. I don’t understand the appeal to placing 14 yellow units on one space, only to never move them the entirety of the game. Of course, it didn’t matter because they max at three dice a combat roll, but I moved in with 7 dice to roll per engagement. They melted, and partly to my own good die rolls, but I can’t help but wonder why the AI turtles at times.
If you are looking for multiplayer, it is here, and works fine. Some will love play-by-email, but I’m too impatient for such a thing. By creating a Hexwar account, you will be notified when your opponent finishes their turn. I would rather have a live-hosted game where I can communicate quickly back and forth with my opponent, trash-talking and what not.
Technical strangeness aside, I find this digital adaptation of one of my favorite historical games to be good and interesting. Yes, there are some odd things about the execution, but the pristine gameplay and attention to aesthetic detail excuse those things for me. One of these being the high price point. I’m not sure $24.99 is a reasonable cost for the game, especially if someone is looking into this digital version to consider the tabletop version. The game is currently discounted to $19.99 at the time of this writing, but I think $9.99 is manageable and respectable.
I praise the developer for refusing long and drawn out battle cutscenes to lengthen the game. This is yet another testament to the replication of what makes 1775: Rebellion as good as it is, which is: a shorter area control game, with lots of cool hand management, and plenty of balance to keep the game even for all sides. I look forward to more engagements on the field of rebellion.
I was a beta tester for 1775: Rebellion, I have the tabletop game, and now own the Steam version.
I played on both Mac and Windows computers. I had some crashing issues on Mac, and a few with saved games.
+ AI games play quickly
+ Interesting integration of animation and presentation of figures on the board
+ Absolutely faithful adaptation of the board game presentation and mechanics
- High price point
- Slightly clunky UI and camera
- AI makes questionable strategic decisions
- Play by email isn’t the most ideal multiplayer solution