Of all the battles fought in the American Revolution, Saratoga was the one that really gave the Patriots a belief that they could win—and convinced the outside world (starting with France) that the rebels were worth supporting. Take away the victory at Saratoga, and we can only wonder how much more time would have passed before the French alliance happened…if ever.

In Saratoga, game #13 in the Twenty Decisive Battles of the World Series from Turning Point Simulations, you can play scenarios covering both Freeman’s Farm (September 19, 1777) and Bemis Heights (October 8, 1777), as a growing storm of colonial militia and regulars, commanded by Gates but really led by Arnold, turned “Gentleman Johnny’s” adventure into a disaster.  As a simple hex-and-counter Wargame, with a rulebook totaling only 6 pages, this game is about the experience of battle and movement during the 16th century. The combat system is pretty straightforward with units assigned a combat value based on letters A-D and then using a combat fire priority system where A units fire first followed by B units, then C units, etc. The defender fires first as the attacker must position itself into an adjacent location in order to attack. This thematic battle system felt really thematic and was very enjoyable.

The Combat Results Table (CRT) is very straightforward and A units are the best, hitting on a modified die roll of 3-6, while D units fire last and hit on a modified 6. We found it very important to make sure stacks had a good mix of counters but it is vitally important to have at least some A units.

In our first play through, I controlled the British led by “Gentleman” Johnny Burgoyne who leads cracked trained professional troops (I say this as their morale tables are significantly better than the Patriots) against lesser trained troops who are on high ground and behind fortifications in Fort Nielsen.

In some of our first action, I was able to inflict several Step Loss Reductions on the Patriots while only suffering a few on my troops. This caused my opponent to choose to Retreat voluntarily to the higher ground from which they would gain a -1 DRM to my attacks due to the sloped terrain and an additianal -1 DRM due to their fortifications.

These battles are very good and we loved the combat priority system. Read our next Action Point where I will look at a forced Retreat due to broken morale. It was not a pretty situation for the Patriots!