Sunday, 4 March 2012

First Look: 1812 - The Invasion of Canada

In my search for a light, family friendly entry board wargame, recently picked up a copy of 1812: The Invasion of Canada from Academy Games.  Perhaps somewhat unsurprisingly the game is based around the US invasion of Canada in 1812.

This is a relatively recent release and having read some early reviews it looked like a good candidate to introduce certain wargame-phobic members of the family to a game themed around a historic conflict (I have had mixed success in this area previously with Shogun (the Queen Games version), Friedrich and Wars of the Roses).

1812 is an area control game which can be played with between 2 and 5 players.  It is essentially a team game with the US regulars and US militia facing up against the British regulars, Canadian militia and Native Americans.  The units are represented by wooden cubes and each faction has their own deck of movement and special cards which drive the game.

The board is a map of the US/Canadian border, the former in blue and the latter red, with each broken into the various regions.  The objective of the game is to capture the key areas on the opponent's side of the board.
Turn order is randomly determined by drawing from a bag.  Movement is governed by the cards and combat through special dice for each faction.  The faces of the dice are printed with either a target (a hit), a running man (meaning the unit flees) or a blank (a command decision - allowing withdrawal to a friendly region).  The faction dice differ to reflect the nature of the forces, for example the British regular dice have no running men.

During a turn a player musters new troops, recovers troops which have fled from previous combats, plays a movement card and, if they wish up to two special cards, fights any ensuing combats and then refills their hand.  The movement cards show how many units can be moved and how far either by land or by water (across the lakes).  The special cards provide various advantages, based on history and differ from faction to faction.

As you can see the basic mechanisms are very straightforward.  The challenge is in the decisions which have to be made which are different for each side.  The British muster their regular units at Montreal on the East side of the board but have a number of key regions in the centre whilst the US have their muster locations more evenly distributed but have farther to go to reach the border.

The game comes with three scenarios, the short introductory one and full 1812 and 1813 campaigns.  I have only played the introductory scenario so far but I am really keen to try the full blown campaigns.


  1. I'd heard a bit about this game, and it does seem interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hhmm? Looks like this could be a great game!!

  3. It certainly looks good - hopefully easily accessible but with enough depth for me. I suspect the US side will have the harder time though so I may have to play them.