Table for One: End of Empire (Compass Games) After-Action Report Part One

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End of Empire (Compass Games, 2014)
American Revolutionary War Campaign Report (1775 Start; no optionals)
Part One: Turns One through Six (Spring 1775 to Winter II 1776)

Overview

The full American Revolutionary War campaign in Compass GamesEnd of Empire stretches some 41 turns at two months to the turn. Both maps (68″ x 22″) are in play, stretching from Nova Scotia to New Orleans and the Atlantic seaboard to the Great Lakes.

To win, the Americans have a seemingly simple victory condition: eliminate at least 35 steps of British Regular units from the map; two-step units that have flipped do not count until they are completely eliminated. Failing that, simply surviving to the last turn having secured 20 eliminated steps without suffering economic collapse will also see victory.

The British, conversely, seem to have the harder row to hoe, needing either to reclaim all thirteen colonies (plus Vermont and Maine) by securing all supply locations within each simultaneously; or to control and/or raid enough port locations to collapse the American economy via die roll, the number of ports raided/controlled acting as modifier. Rolls close to the needed number will withdraw a large number of American troops.

The French enter play on the American side once the Americans have eliminated 20 British Regular steps, as counted above, and the Spanish enter nine turns after that, also opposed to the British.

If the Americans secure fewer than 20 eliminated British Regular steps but keep the British from their victory conditions, then the game ends in a draw.

Initial Siege of Boston in End of Empire

Siege of Boston, Turn 1

Initial Thoughts

For the Americans, the initial strategy focuses entirely on inflicting enough losses per combat that the British must fulfill them using Regular steps. As the defender picks the first step lost, the presence of any Loyalist or Provincial units will ensure a buffer for the Regulars, so when they’ve been removed, the Americans must continue to strike before they’re reconstituted. British troops hunkered down behind walls, afraid of step losses, are almost as good as eliminated in terms of keeping friendly control of American ports and supply locations.

The British, on the other hand, need to begin to mop up the locations whence the American reinforcements and replacements surge forth—as long as the Americans know they can replace all their losses, they will not hesitate to make poor odds attacks in hopes of picking off a Regular step. The longer term goal of controlling/raiding port locations to trigger economic collapse follows from this initial objective. Force preservation remains paramount, but a death by a thousand cuts awaits if the American manpower advantage cannot be tamed.

(Leader ratings given as combat modifier/rank/initiative. Combat results are attacker losses/defender losses. Phases with no significant actions are omitted.)


Turn 1 (Spring, 1775)

Reinforcements:

The lone British reinforcement, the Second Marine Regiment, only has four real options: Nova Scotia, Quebec, Boston, or St. Augustine. Spring Break in Florida sounds lovely, so down they go to Prevost’s command, where the plan is to march up the coast towards Savannah, Georgia, rolling up the rebellious subjects of King George as they go.

For the Americans, the Catawba rally to the cause of the fledgling nation, appearing near Augusta, Georgia. Ward, west of Boston, preemptively calls out the Massachusetts militia.

British Phase:

Prevost [0/17/3] thinks about how long the walk to Savannah will be and delays it for the time being [Initiative dr=5 fails].

Meanwhile, in Boston, Gage [0/2/3] contemplates the forces arrayed against him: potentially 25 regiments in two stacks that could react, plus rumors of a significant rabble of armed peasantry. No, the “Americans” will need to come to him.

American Phase:

Ward [0/2/3], his forces bolstered by the addition of the militia, marches boldly into Boston [Initiative dr=3 succeeds]. The British remain behind the fortifications, unwilling to come out, so he orders the attack. 14 regiments plus the militia against 12 British regiments. [41 attack strength against 35 defense strength for 1:1 odds, mods are -1 US reforms, -1 powder shortage, -1 no artillery, -1 fort for net -4. Combat dr=3, final dr=-1 for 3AR/0.] The attack, though high in enthusiasm, breaks against the walls, with unpleasant results. The militia scatters, realizing they’re little match for the Redcoats on this day.

Thomas [0/6/3], to the south-east of Boston, delegates a handful of regiments to stiffen Ward’s forces, but, perhaps having received word of the initial skirmish, they are not inclined to march this day [Initiative dr=5 fails].
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Table for One: End of Empire (Compass Games) Review

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Daring amphibious assaults, bitter city sieges, near-run coastal evacuations, major offensives cut short by poor winter planning, massive armies made up of multi-national forces fighting side-by-side, and…George Washington?

Compass GamesEnd of Empire: 1744-1782, a grand-operational level wargame covering the various British conflicts in North America, takes gamers beyond the traditional understanding of these wars. Far from a series of skirmishes and set-piece battles, the fight for North America was as much one of maneuver as manpower, of politics as powder, and William M. Marsh manages to bring it all home in an accessible, engaging, and well-mannered monster game.

Dedicated readers of this site will note that I have previously reviewed End of Empire, but with my recent ability to get larger games on my table, combined with a very solitaire-friendly game mechanic, I thought it a fine choice to revisit for the next review in the Table for One project.

Overview

End of Empire: 1744-1782
Compass Games, 2014
CPA 1024
Designed by William M. Marsh

End of Empire, Compass Games, 2014

End of Empire originally saw life as a magazine game in Command Issue 46 back in 1997. The Compass Games edition some seventeen years later builds on the original’s solid bones, coming boxed with four and a half countersheets (5/8″ counters), two standard-sized maps (running lengthwise, for 68″ x 22″ total dimensions), two black-and-white printed rules booklets, a few glossy charts, and a nondescript d6.

Of note, other than informational markers, each of the three main conflicts depicted—King George’s War, the French and Indian War, and the American Revolutionary War— has a separate counter set, with the ARW getting the lion’s share of the counters. There’s a lot of game here, fifteen scenarios in all, though many just provide a shorter version of the main three conflicts by moving the starting date back a year or so or tweaking some variables.

Counter examples from End of Empire

The counters themselves pack in a lot of information, all efficiently presented in the style one has come to expect from Brien J. Miller. The counter color scheme, though, leaves much to be desired. Crucial gameplay elements hinge on differentiating between British regular (burgundy) and provincial (russet brown) units. American forces suffer the same closeness between Continental Army (“darker” blue) and State (“medium” blue) units, with a similar need during play to tell them apart.

To make matters worse, the German mercenaries have three schemes that are close to each other and the Americans as well (navy blue, medium blue, medium green). Even in good light, these counter colors are not readily discernible at a glance, and some variations in printing lead to moments of second-guessing. I understand the desire to theme the units via color; context clues, plus some printed notes, make most of the units’ affiliations decipherable, but some other mnemonic needed to be employed, just for ease of use.

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