Sunday, October 11, 2015

Wilderness Empires

I backed Worthington Games' Wilderness Empires as a kickstarter and the game finally arrived last week. I was keen to have a FIW game that was less complex than Wilderness Wars and Bruce had already picked up A Few Acres of Snow.

Overall, decent components. One small map error (Indian tribe name) and the game needs to have blocks to represent armies (as having a dozen units on one location makes the map hard to see) but otherwise I'm satisfied. You win by acquiring 10 more victory points than the other guy and the French can also win by denying the British victory at game end.

Movement is point-to-point and the map is worth a careful review before play. There are basically five paths by which the sides can get at each other: One on each flank (although the French have only a single opportunity to attack from Louisburg to Halifax) and three in the middle. Lack of manpower and (as, I found out, reinforcements) means each side has to be cautious in picking battles and developing a strategy.

I played the game solo to get the rules figured out before taking to Bruce's this coming Tuesday. My American plan was to block in the middle, ignore Louisburg and try to flank in the west. This worked poorly! The west is a long slog with few benefits and it put my troops too far from the east-coast cities to help out when the French pushed south.

My French plan was to fortify Louisburg (affects French reinforcements) and then push down the centre--raiding with the Indians if the British didn't hold the west. The French got some lucky rolls and cards.

Cards are interesting. Each side gets five per year and can play four (1 each in spring and fall and two in summer). The cards add colour and unexpected events (including reinforcements) but aren't overwhelming.

There is an interesting dynamic with the cards whereby the turn sequence gives the British the initiative but the opportunity cost of play a card (and then being unable to block French reinforcements) is high. This creates hard choices, at least for the British player!

In the end, poor British choices and bad dice left the colonies unable to stop the French juggernaut from rolling south and bagging the east coast. I suspect this is unlikely to happen with two experienced players but was fun to watch.

Up next: Some more Wilderness Empires, some 1/72-scale British paratroops and a 33mm Star Wars painting commission is underway.


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  3. Dropped it from a 4 to a 1 because I discovered it to be a re-tread of a 2013 game (Struggle for New France), something that was not disclosed on the kickstarter.

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