Freeman’s Farm 1777 is a new card driven introductory level wargame from Worthington Publishing that is kicking off their new Battle Formations Game Series. The object of the game is to break three of the formations of the opposing side by the time all 15 of each side’s Activation Cards are played. Players will activate their formations and choose the best actions for it to undertake given the state of the battlefield. These actions include attacking, moving into various positions, reinforcing other formations and activating artillery.
In Action Point 1, we looked at the very interesting board that represents the locations and roles of both sides’ formations as well as their relative positions on the battlefield. In Action Point 2, we examined the Formation Cards and how the Activation Cards are used to command each as well as how Morale Tests work and effect the game. In this Action Point, we will look at the economy of the Momentum Cubes and how they are used to purchase the all important Tactics Cards. We will also take a look at some of the more interesting Tactics Cards that will cement your understanding of their importance.
The designer of the game Maurice Suckling mentioned in the Design Notes found at the back of the rule book that he felt one of the more important aspects of the historical Battle of Saratoga was the concept of momentum. He felt that momentum swung back and forth between the sides and was articulately important at the fighting around Coulter Farm and Freeman’s Farm.
He saw potential in Momentum being used as a type of currency in the game to allow players to use it to perform various things that were not normally allowed to simulate the concept. This Momentum currency allows the player to perform re-rolls of combat dice and also to purchase special Tactics Cards that offer abilities or one time bonuses to the side that holds the card. In this way Maurice created an extra decision point that players had to consider, namely when to spend these resources and whether to conserve them to gain larger advantages later at critical moments.
How do players generate Momentum in the game? When Activation Cards are played by a player to activate one of their formations there are a number of Momentum icons located at the bottom of each of these cards between 1-3. The Momentum icons represent the amount of Momentum Cubes this Activation Card will generate when played. These generated Momentum Cubes are then added to the player’s store to be used at a later time.
Additionally, if the just played Activation Card matches the same number of Momentum icons as the previous two consecutive Activation Cards played by the same player, then the player will receive a bonus +2 cubes this turn. You will only get this bonus for the same set of cards once and will have to start a new run of matching Momentum icons to gain bonus cubes.
You will also notice on the right of each Formation Card is a series of icons that represent the number of Momentum Cubes each of this formation’s Activation Cards will generate. For example in the picture above you will see that the Phillips Formation has 2 Activation Cards and one will generate only 1 Momentum Cube while the other will generate 2 Momentum Cubes. Further the Poor Formation has 4 Activation Cards and one will generate only 1 Momentum Cube, two will generate 2 Momentum Cubes and one will generate 3 Momentum Cubes.
Now that you know how Momentum Cubes are generated let’s cover how they are spent. Players can do two things with these Momentum Cubes, either they can spend them to Maintain Momentum or purchase Tactics Cards.
Maintaining Momentum is simply spending three Momentum Cubes to re-roll any or all of your combat dice. This is a very important use of these resources as your rolls can be very bad for you if you roll a lot of 1’s and 2’s as these represent hits and morale hits for the attacking formation.
In addition to re-rolling your combat dice the player can purchase one face-up Tactics Card at the end of each turn. The Tactics Cards are available in a 3-card lineup that can be seen by each player to allow them to plan and save up cubes for the cards they want. Each of the Tactics Cards has a cost shown on the card with the number at the center of a large black square that represents the Momentum Cubes needed to purchase. Each time that a Tactics Card is purchased it is replaced by drawing a new card from the top of the deck and placing in the location of the purchased card.
The Tactics Cards have a variety of uses but are typically of two kinds either a one time ability or bonus to a die roll or some type of lingering ability or effect. Here are a few examples of these Tactics Cards.
Resilience – this is an example of the die manipulation cards in the deck as the player can play this card and re-roll any single die. The die has to be a die that was rolled in combat and not for something else such as a Morale Test roll.
Faltering – this is also a die associated card but it simply effects your opponents rolls. When played the opponent will remove any dice that were rolled as 3’s. Removing 3’s is important as it will cut off your opponents ability to get Momentum Cubes for those rolls and will also remove the chance of them re-rolling those dice to cause more hits.
Light Infantry – this card allows the player to re-roll all 1’s and 2’s for this turn. This is an important card as 1’s and 2’s are hits and morale hits for the attacking player. This card can be very valuable in attacking with a formation that has lost several blocks or has low morale at the time of the attacks.
Scouts – this is a nice die manipulation card as you will force your opponent to re-roll any one die. This can give you a chance to eliminate any form of hit or morale hit and can keep you in the game.
Hindered Route – a nice card to have for the Americans as Philips being in the Philips #2 position enforces a -1 Die on the combat rolls of several American formations. This is a card that simply is ongoing if played by the American player and can only be removed by a Tactics Card that allows a removal of a card.
Rumors of Death – one of the coolest and most powerful cards in the deck and the price of 5 Momentum Cubes represents that. This card simply causes each of the opponent’s formations to suffer an immediate reduction of -1 Morale. This might not seem like much but when played during the late game this can be a deciding factor as all formations will be below or near the Morale Test level of 5 potentially causing several formations to take a Morale Test and possibly breaking them ending the game.
I hope that you have gained an understanding of the very interesting concept that Momentum represents in the design. It’s addition has created a mini economy that players must manage to be effective in either taking re-rolls to improve the results of combat or to give them an advantage on the battlefield with the purchase of Tactics Cards.
In Action Point 4, which is the final entry in the series, we will take a look at several examples of combat and discuss the way the dice are used.