Liberty or Death: The American Insurrection is a board game belonging to the well known and successful COIN Series from GMT Games that deals with the American Revolutionary War covering the period from 1775 to 1783. It uses the COIN Series system that was developed by Volko Ruhnke to cover modern insurgencies and changes it to suit this multi-faction conflict in the 18th century for the struggle over control of the rich and productive American Colonies. The COIN Series is perfectly suited to deal with not just the military focus of a war or rebellion but also includes the political and economic affairs of the time. In Liberty or Death, one to four players take on the roles of one or more Factions who will fight the war in their own particular way with very different end game victory conditions and different tools to use. These Factions include the powerful British who are attempting to suppress the growing anti-crown sentiment among the 13 American Colonies that lie thousands of miles away and take weeks by sea to reach; the under funded and cagey Patriots who are trying desperately to incite rebellion among their fellow colonists while also attempting to build a sizable army to clash with the British regulars over control of key Provinces and cities; their Indian rivals who are caught between a rock and hard place as they must attempt to cooperate with the British to hold down the expansion and growth of the Patriots as they encroach into their ancestral lands while working to create a network of villages to attract warriors to their cause; and finally the French who have waited to join the war against their bitter rivals England until the colonists have proven their mettle with key victories and growing support.
By issuing Commands and utilizing a Faction’s Special Activities and various events through the Card Assisted mechanic of the game, players will attempt to use their resources to build up armed forces and then position them around the board to influence and build up support within the general population of the Colonies, to make progress toward achieving their Faction’s Victory Conditions to be victorious
In this new COIN Workshop series, I want to cover each of the various Faction’s menu of Commands and Special Activities, which represent the methods and tricks that each Faction goes about using in an attempt to secure victory for their side in the conflict, and also show how they work mechanically with examples and pictures as well as some bits of strategy from my experience with the game. This game is very asymmetric and each of the Factions has their own tailored Commands and Special Activates that thematically depicts the motivations and goals of each. In this first entry in the series, I will cover the Indian Faction, which is one of the most overlooked Factions in the game, and show you how their menu of actions can carry them to victory. I didn’t say an easy victory mind you but I have found that most of the time the Patriots and French, as well as their own ally the British, just ignore and overlook the Indians allowing them to always be in the game at the end reckoning.
First off, the Indians are a minor Faction who are teamed with the British player. This doesn’t mean that they are not important but means that the real focus of the game is with the two major combatants, the Patriots versus the British and the Indians play a support role but have their own unique abilities and goals. Many of their Commands and Special Activities work directly with the British to move British Regulars (Scout) and gain resources (Trade) but they also have their own ability to wage guerilla warfare to affect Opposition (Raid), remove Colonial Regulars, Militia and Forts from the board (War Path) and steal resources from the Patriots (Plunder) with also the ability to directly effect Opposition to the British which is a shared victory condition.
First off, to understand each of the Factions, you must first understand their Victory Conditions. Each Faction will win alone, although they are friendly with at least one other Faction and need their assistance from time to time in meeting their goals. But it is important to remember that the Indians lose if the British meet their Victory Conditions and have a better score than they do. In order for the Indians to win, they must make sure that Opposition exceeds Support by at least 10 and their Villages found on the board less 3 is greater than Patriot Forts on the board. Now you might be saying what in the world kind of Victory Conditions are these? And I will answer that query with a thematic look at these Victory Conditions and then leave the decision up to you about whether these are realistic or not.
Opposition Exceeding Support
The concept behind the game is this idea that each space found on the board, including rural Provinces (Colonies and Indian Reserve) and urban Cities found in the American Colonies supported or opposed the British Government and their policies including the occupation of major cities such as New York and Boston, the presence of British troops and their unlawful (or justified?) taxation of the colony’s commerce to pay for the costs of the British Crown waging war over control of North America during the French & Indian War or Seven Years War as it was referred to in Europe. This Support or Opposition is shown on the board with markers under the name of each of the areas on the board. These areas do not just represent the individual 13 Colonies but sometimes combine smaller colonies together into one area such as is the case with Maryland and Delaware. I will call your attention to the two boxes or spaces here with one being named Uncontrolled and the other being Neutral. Each of the areas, with the exception of the 4 Indian Preserves, will be set at a specific level of Opposition or Support as a part of the setup for the various scenarios or campaign game that the players are choosing and these setups represent the progression of this important concept over the course of the war. Aside from affecting victory, the level of Opposition or Support can also effect various Commands and Special Activities.
Look at the Pennsylvania Colony space. We don’t have markers on the board in this picture but you can clearly see the two spaces reserved for them with the Uncontrolled and Neutral Boxes. The Uncontrolled Box will gain a marker denoting who in the Province has the most units. If the number of units is tied, then no marker will be placed and the Province in considered Uncontrolled. The Neutral Box is where the Opposition or Support markers are placed showing the degree to which the inhabitants of the area feel about the British and their presence in the colonies. These markers show 2 level of Support or Opposition with Passive being the lowest value showing a x1 and Active being the highest value showing a x2. This x1 or x2 is used to calculate the Total Support or Total Opposition during the game, which is one of the Victory Conditions for every Faction. The x1 or x2 multiplier is simply multiplied against the population of that Province and added to the total. For example with Pennsylvania, if there was a x1 Passive Support or Passive Opposition marker there, this would add a total of 2 to the Total Opposition or Support or +4 if there is a x2 Active Support or Active Opposition marker. The Victory Condition for the Indians is to have Support exceed Opposition by more than 10. But keep in mind that this is just the requirement to earn an early game victory as Factions can win the game with much less than the amount called out in their Victory Conditions at the end of the game during the final Winter Quarters Round, even with a negative number if that negative number is less negative than other Factions.
This Victory Condition represents each sides goal in the game, that of winning the hearts and minds of the people to their cause. So for the Indians, they want the colonists to embrace their role as a colony of England and not want to become independent. This lien for the Indians is in response to the attitude of the crown toward westward expansion and interloping into the Indian homeland, namely that the crown didn’t want colonists going west. This is not because the Indians believe that the crown values them anymore than the colonists do. But, that they believe that the crown will not encroach on their land due to King George III’s Proclamation of 1763. I also feel that it represents a feeling by the colonists of their level of safety on the frontier and which side will better protect them from raiding and reprisals by the Indians for this encroachment. That is why a Command like Raid will erode Opposition because the settlers feel they are not being protected by the upstart colonists and need the crown forces to protect them and their homesteads. Does this make sense thematically? I think that it does but that is up to you as a student of history.
This Support or Opposition can be effected by a number of factors during play including Events from the cards, Commands and Special Activities or as the consequence of victory in battles.
Villages Exceeding Patriot Forts
The other part of the 2-part Victory Condition for the Indian player is the number of Villages they have on the board as compared to the Patriot Forts. This is not a straight numerical comparison of the 2 sides total but involves some math. Not hard math but math nonetheless. The Victory Condition is actually Indian Villages (the tan discs) less 3 is greater than Patriot Forts. So, let’s say the Indian player has 7 Villages on the board and the Patriot player has just 3 Forts. The mathematical formula would be 7 – 3 = 4 > 3. This would equate to this part of the Victory Condition being met for the Indians. But, the designer and development team made it so you don’t have to do math. There is no great need to calculate the “+3” mathematically since the Indian Villages and Patriot Forts tracks on the map do it for you visually. The Forts track is offset by 3 holding “boxes” (circles/stars) compared to the Villages track, so if the “lowest” (or “south-most”, or whatever you want to call it) empty Village circle on the Village track is “below” (or “south of”) the lowest empty Fort star on the Forts track the Indians are ahead in their victory condition.
On the surface, this Victory Condition seems simple. But, it is a bit deceiving as these Indian Villages are not easy to build, they actually take a multi-step process that will consume many rounds of turns to accomplish but it is mainly complex because you can only ever build 2 such Villages in any 1 Province. The protected Indian Preserves of Quebec, Florida, Southwest and Northwest can hold a total of 8 Villages for a total able to be somewhat safely built without great concern for attack and removal coming in at 8. The Indians have a total of 12 available Villages and generally start the game in most setups and scenarios with 0-6 Villages already built but this is cancelled out by an existing number of Patriot Forts being built on the board of between 4-7.
I like to think of this Victory Condition as a win for the Indians because they have removed enough Forts on the frontier to guarantee their safe passage through the wilderness and to remove the threat of nearby fortified encampments of frontiersmen and militia who could attack them or steal their game animals. Their Villages also represent gathering places, family homes as well as ancestral culture holds that serve the purpose of protecting their past and making way for its continuation and if they stand unopposed their way of life remains.
In my opinion, both of these Victory Conditions fit the narrative that I have in my own mind of the American Revolutionary War and the motivations of the Indians as a part of that movement. While we typically don’t include them in the conversation, they played a major role with such historical events as the Battle of Oriskany, the split of the Iroquois Confederacy, amongst others. Remember, that “In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson clearly described the role of American Indians in the American Revolution. In addition to his other oppressive acts, King George III had “endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.” Inscribed in the founding document of the United States, almost a sacred text, Jefferson’s words placed Indians on the wrong side of the struggle for liberty and the wrong side of history from the very beginning of the Revolution. Thus while Americans fought for their rights and freedoms, Jefferson argued that Native Americans fought against them, the vicious pawns of a tyrannical king” [The Indians’ War of Independence, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History] What do you think?
In general, the Faction attempting to execute a chosen Command will have to select the board spaces that will be involved or effected by the Command. This choice will most of the time boil down to the cost of these Commands and how many resources the player has available to them. Each space on the board can only be chosen once for a Command. The Faction executing the Command will get to choose the order of the chosen spaces in which the Command is resolved, the Enemy Faction pieces to be targeted and the friendly pieces to be placed, replaced, removed, or moved. It is important to remember that any actions affecting another Faction’s pieces do not require their permission but I always like to remind players that you should try to work together and consult each other on actions in order to keep up good relations.
But, remember that in the end you win alone so you must always keep that blade sharp and ready to stick in your ally’s backs when appropriate. Just remember, that there are consequences to betrayal. Let’s now take a look at each of the Indian Commands and also give you a summary of how they work. The Indian player will choose their Commands from between Gather, March, Scout and Raid.
The Gather Command is used by the Indians to either add new or recover exposed Indian forces. This can be in the form of placing new Indian War Parties represented by tan hexagonal embossed cylinders with an arrow head on top or gathering adjacent War Parties to the location to get them out of danger and return them to their Underground posture, which means they are protected from enemy attacks. This is one of the Indians most important Commands as it gives them the assets to move out and undermine Opposition and eliminate Patriot threats but also to build new Villages which is one of their Victory Conditions.
The process is pretty simple as the Indian player will choose any Provinces which are at Neutral, Passive Opposition or Passive Support (not Active Opposition or Active Support.) and then pay one of their available Resources per Province chosen. But, they do get a break with this Command as they can pay 0 for the first Indian Reserve Province chosen. There are 3 of these Indian Reserve Provinces on the board, with Quebec acting as one according to rule 1.3.4, with three being located in the northern colonies (Northwest, Southwest and Quebec) and one being in the southern colonies (Florida). Northwest and Southwest border several colonies including New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland/ Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia while Florida only shares a border with Georgia. This is key because this proximity allows the Indian War Bands to infiltrate these colonies to perform Raid, War Path and Plunder and directly affect the Patriot player by stealing resources, changing Opposition and removing Patriot forces.
Let’s go ahead and take a look at an example of Gather where the Indian player is trying to get additional War Parties on the board in order to begin building up a threat to the Patriots but also to get enough to begin building their Villages. In the picture below, the Indian player has decided to Gather new Indian War Parties in three Provinces including Quebec, Northwest and Southwest. It is important to take note that there are no existing Indian Villages in these three Provinces as their presence makes the Command a bit more powerful. So the Command will be used to place out a single Warband in Quebec and in Southwest but will be different in Northwest. Notice the 3 black pawns that have been placed in the target Provinces. These remind the player where they are taking this Command and are very helpful in keeping things clear on the board as it can get quite crowded with counters, pieces and markers. This Command will cost the Indian player 2 of their resources. The first Province they are activating for the Gather Command is Northwest, which is an Indian Reserve Province, and according to the rule for Command will cost 0 Resources. But, the remaining 2 Provinces will cost 1 Resource each, even though Southwest is also an Indian Reserve Province.
The Command functions a bit differently in Northwest other than just the cost difference. In Northwest, there are 2 existing Indian War Parties. This means we have an opportunity to place a Village out. To do this, we simply replace the 2 War Parties there by returning them to the Available Indian Forces Box and placing out one Village. Why is this important? Getting Villages out on the board is vital for the Indian player because it is one of their Victory Conditions, Villages less 3 is greater than Patriot Forts, but also because it gives them the ability to create multiple units to send out to take the other Commands and Special Activities in their repertoire. Also getting a Village increases the recruiting power of the Indian player as we will take a look at next.
If a Province already has at least 1 Village located there at the time of the Command, the Indian player may instead decide to do something different with Gather. They can choose to either place a number of available War Parties up to the number of Villages there plus 1 or can Move any War Parties from any adjacent spaces to the chosen Province and then flip all War Parties there Underground, whether those War Parties moved there or were already there. This is very important for the Indian player to preserve their War Parties as they move out into the Colonies to Raid, Scout, Plunder and War Path. Doing these Commands and Special Activities will expose these hidden units and open them up to reprisal attacks from the Patriots. If you can move the War Parties to safety, and also return them to their Underground status.
In the pictures below, the Indian player takes the Gather Command and decides to Move their exposed War Parties back to Northwest from Pennsylvania, Maryland/Delaware and Virginia where they have just completed Raid Commands the turn before to great effect. This action will get them out of harms way by flipping them over to their Underground side and gather them all together in Northwest for future endeavors.
One final comment about the Gather Command. If the Indian player has the option of taking both a Command and Special Activity together during their turn because the Eligibility Track and the current Event Card allows them, Gather must always be partnered with either the Trade or War Path Special Activity. This is easily remembered because it is printed on the player aid to the right of the title of the Command. You will also notice that some of the Commands and Special Activities even limit the action to a maximum of one time. This also is written clearly on the player aid.
The March Command is used by the Indian player to simply move War Parties from one Province to an adjacent Province. The only limit on this Command is that you must pay 1 Resource for each Province into which you are moving War Parties. So you can literally spread out your forces and get into several adjacent Provinces, if you have enough resources and are not just taking a Limited Command. All War Parties can only move once so you cannot keep spending Resources to move a single War Party 3 Provinces away. It is limited to one adjacent Province but all War Parties in the originating space do not have to move to the same space unless they are taking a Limited Command.
The process is very simple as the Indian player will select any Provinces as destinations for the moving War Parties. War Parties are not allowed to choose Cities as destinations for obvious reasons. The player then pays 1 Resource per destination Province but remember that they will pay 0 for the first destination where all of the Marching War Parties are originating from an Indian Reserve Province. War Parties moving from one Province to another move as a single group. The only risk to this March Command is that the Marching War Parties will be exposed (flipped from their Underground status to active) if the War Parties destination Province is Rebellion Controlled and the moving pieces plus Rebellion Militia in that Province exceed 3. Did you get that distinction? If moving into a Province that is Rebellion Controlled, meaning the Rebellion pieces there are more than the British/Indian pieces there, these moving War Parties will be flipped if the moving pieces plus the Rebellion Militia (specifically the blue colored hexagonal embossed cylinders with a star on top) equal 3. I just don’t want you to think that the moving War Parties are always flipped or exposed due to moving.
In the pictures below, the Indian player will have to pay 2 Resources (even though they are moving to 3 adjacent Provinces but they are moving from an Indian Reserve Province which means the first March is free) to March the 5 War Parties in Northwest to 3 different adjacent Provinces of Pennsylvania, Maryland/Delaware and Virginia. Because both Pennsylvania and Maryland/Delaware are not Rebellion Controlled, we don’t have to worry about these moving pieces being uncovered. But in the case of Virginia, the Colony is Rebellion Controlled but the 2 Rebellion Militia plus the one moving War Party will not cause the moving War Party to be uncovered and flipped to its exposed side. If this March is done near the end of a turn near the Winter Quarters Card, all cylinders on the board can be returned to their Underground status as a part of that end round process if the Indians pay Resources so they can then be used in the future without worry of losing them. This can be problematic for the Indians though as they typically have few Resources and spending them to uncover 1 War Party is very cost ineffective. Otherwise the War Parties are forced to move to the nearest Village space for the Winter Quarters in order to flipped over to their Underground side.
One final comment about the March Command as with the Gather Command. If the Indian player has the option of taking both a Command and Special Activity together during their turn because the Eligibility Track and the current Event Card allows them, March must always be partnered with either the Trade or War Path Special Activity. This is easily remembered because it is printed on the player aid to the right of the title of the Command. You will also notice that some of the Commands and Special Activities even limit the action to a maximum of one time. This also is written clearly on the player aid.
One of my favorite of the Indian Commands is Scout and I like to try and use it as much as possible because it really gives the Indians a huge advantage in infiltrating enemy held Colonies or Provinces with minimal risk because the War Parties are protected by their “friends” the British. The Scout Command is used to allow War Parties to guide British cubes into an adjacent Province and then to Skirmish there using the British cubes against Patriot pieces there.
The process is a bit more involved as compared to the 2 Commands we have previously covered but isn’t really difficult. In any 1 Province where there is at least 1 War Party together with British Regulars (red cubes), a War Party there will simply pay 1 Resource along with the British also paying 1 Resource to move to an adjacent Province. If the British do not have 1 Resource to pay, the Command cannot be taken.
All moving War Parties will be activated as they lose their advantage of being hidden and at least 1 British Regular, along with Tories (green cubes) up to the number of British Regulars may, move with the War Parties. This decision is not up to the British player and is at the discretion of the Indian player. As the Scout Command group enters the Province, all Patriot Militia units there will have to be activated. The Indians then use the British Regulars to execute a Skirmish Command, which is not a Command that the Indians have but is a British Command. Skirmish has a couple of options for removing enemy pieces. The Command can eliminate just 1 Patriot Continental (blue cubes) piece or Militia or the Indian player can decided to remove one of the British Regulars to remove 2 Patriot pieces. This is always a tough decision because you can weaken the Patriots by only removing 1 piece or take a loss for the British to remove 2 pieces. This decision will always be difficult and cause controversy as the British player doesn’t want to lose their hard earned Regulars nor increase their Cumulative British Casualties number.
In the pictures below, we will take a closer look at the process of Scout as well as some of the outcomes from the Command. In Maryland/Delaware, the already active Indian War Party will move into the Virginia Colony and decides to take along the 3 British Regulars and the 1 Tory there to Skirmish. As a part of the Command, all Militia units found in the target space will be Activated and flipped from their Underground side to be exposed. This represents the alarm being sounded as enemy troops are on the move and the Militia coming out from their farms, taverns and shops and grabbing their muskets and powder horns to fight the British.
The Indian player gets to make the decision about how many Regulars fight and are lost so they decide to make a big splash as they would like to weaken the defending Patriots in an effort to destroy that pesky Fort in the future by having 2 British Cubes fight resulting in the removal of 2 Patriot Militia units or Continentals (blue cubes) while sacrificing one Regular. These units are removed from the board and will be placed into the Casualties Box where they will remain until the Reset Phase of the next Winter Quarters Round. There is no dice rolling. No CRT’s to consult with Skirmish and the cubes are simply removed 1 British Regular for 2 Patriot Continentals.
This Skirmish now calls into question the Control of the Province, which was previously Rebellion Controlled. Now that the British cubes have been moved in by the Indians, their total pieces (2 British Regulars, 1 Tory and 2 War Parties) equal the total pieces of the Patriots (2 Militia, 2 Continental Cubes and 1 Fort) and the Control marker will be removed and the Province is considered Uncontrolled.
I really love this dynamic between the Indians and the British who are allied but who each have different conditions. The Indians don’t necessarily have the military prowess or means to take on large forces of Patriots so they have to utilize the Scout Command to get some extra firepower from the British. The British also appreciate this assist as they now are in a position to do battle with the Patriots as you cannot generally March and Battle in the same Command. This Command offers a benefit to both sides and I love to see it used by a cagey Indian player.
As has been mentioned in the previous Commands, if the Indian player has the option of taking both a Scout Command and Special Activity together during their turn because the Eligibility Track and the current Event Card allows them, Scout must always be partnered with either the Trade or War Path Special Activity. This is easily remembered because it is printed on the player aid to the right of the title of the Command. You will also notice that here is an example of a Command that can oly be taken in a maximum of one space.
One of the major parts of the American Revolution was the internal fight for the control or influencing of the hearts and minds of the colonists. Remember, most colonists of the time saw themselves as subjects of the crown first and Americans second. There were many difficulties in people turning their backs on their mother country. But, as unrest grew, along with dissatisfaction surrounding unfair taxation without representation, the American side began to win out. But this is one of the major conflicts in the game and the Indian player must strive to effect the level of Opposition to the British rule as mentioned as a part of their Victory Conditions. This is accomplished through the use of the Raid Command.
The Raid Command’s primary purpose is to shift Opposition in up to 3 Provinces one level toward Neutral while also placing Raid markers that will hinder future Patriot efforts to influence the Province. The process is to first select up to 3 Provinces with an already existing Undergound War Party or adjacent to Provinces with at least one Underground War Party. The main qualifying part of this Command is that the target Provinces have to be at Opposition. The Command will cost 1 Indian Resource per Province selected. Once the single War Party is moved into the 3 target Provinces, the player must Activate 1 Underground War Party, either one just moved into the Province or one already there, to place a Raid marker and shift the Opposition 1 level toward Neutral. There are a total of 12 Raid markers and if all of them are deployed to the board, no more can be placed but this doesn’t effect the use of the Command. Once the Opposition is shifted, the players should adjust the Total Opposition on the score track. This helps players to keep the value current and not get behind. One of the really great things about the game and its focus on the history in its mechanics is that the 12 Raid markers each have a different Indian tribe named on the back of the marker. This has no game effect and there is no requirement to use a proper marker for the tribes common in the target spaces but is a nice touch to keep the theme there with the Raids. I actually like to use the appropriate markers. For example, I will use the Mohawk tribe Raid marker with Raids into New York or Massachusetts.
In the pictures below, we will take a closer look at the process of Raid as well as some of the outcomes from the Command. At the outset of the Raid Command, the Indian player targets 3 Provinces adjacent to an Underground War Party which are also at some level of Opposition and pays a total of 3 Resources (1 Resource for each target Province). They choose to Raid into North Carolina (at Active Opposition), Virginia (at Passive Opposition) and Pennsylvania (a Passive Opposition). The Indian player skipped Maryland/Delaware because this Province is currently Neutral. 1 Underground War Party will be moved from Southwest into North Carolina, 1 Underground War Party from Southwest into Virginia and 1 Underground War Party from Northwest into Pennsylvania. Now you may notice that there were already existing Underground War Parties in both Virginia and Pennsylvania but moving in these additional War Parties will allow for at least 1 Underground War Party to be used for a later Special Activity such as Plunder to steal resources from the Patriot player or War Path to remove their units there. You will also notice that this Raid now leads to a change in the Control status of the Province, which was previously Rebellion Controlled. Now that the Indian War Party has been been moved into Virginia, their total pieces (2 British Regulars, 1 Tory and 2 War Parties) equal the total pieces of the Patriots (2 Militia, 2 Continental Cubes and 1 Fort) and the Control marker will be removed and the Province is considered Uncontrolled.
Now, the Indian player will activate one of the War Parties in the target Province to place a Raid marker out and also reduce Opposition by one level toward Neutral. In this specific picture, the Passive Opposition x1 marker will be removed in both Pennsylvania and Virginia while the Active Opposition x2 marker will be reduced to a Passive Opposition x1 marker. This Raid effectively reduced the Total Opposition by 6 points. Remember, that Total Opposition in each Province is figured by multiplying the level of Opposition (either x1 or x2) by the Population of the Province. In removing the Passive Opposition x1 marker in Pennsylvania and Virginia, which each have a Population of 2, this reduced Total Opposition by 4 points. The reduction of the Active Opposition x2 marker to Passive Opposition x1 reduced the Total Opposition by 2 points. 4 + 2 = 6.
The five colonies of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland/Delaware and Pennsylvania are fruitful fields for the Indian player to perform Raid Commands as there is a lot of potential for reducing Opposition in these 5 colonies as each has a Population of 2.
As has been mentioned in the previous Commands, if the Indian player has the option of taking both a Raid Command and Special Activity together during their turn because the Eligibility Track and the current Event Card allows them, Raid has the most flexibility as it can be paired with any of the 3 Special Activities (Trade, War Path or Plunder). I personally like to pair Raid with Plunder and War Path as this can be a way to get rid of those pesky Patriot pieces and allow for future Villages to be built.
Now that we have covered the Commands, let’s move to taking a look at the Special Activities.
Indian Special Activities
When Factions execute a Command this generally makes them eligible to also take a Special Activity except in the case of Limited Operation having to be chosen on the Eligibility Track. For all intents and purposes, Special Activities are the same as Commands, and operate in the same manner with the active Faction choosing the spaces and pieces affected. The one important thing to remember and consider with Special Activities and Commands is that you can take them in any order. Sometimes players may not have the resources to take Commands but have a Special Activity (such as Trade in the case of the Indians) that can generate Resources to then use on subsequent Commands. Special Activities have a limitation that they can only be taken in a single chosen space on the board. Events sometimes also generate a free Special Activity for the player to use. The Indian player will choose their Special Activities from between Trade, War Path and Plunder.
The Trade Special Activity is used to gain Resources for the Indian player. The act of Trading does expose the Indian War Parties because they are going about performing mercantile type activities such as transporting goods, food and skins to markets to trade with the British and in some cases colonists for things like guns, gunpowder, rations, liquor and other needed military supplies. This part of the action is very thematic and does feel right.
Trade may occur in any one chosen Province which has at least 1 Underground War Party and a Village. This Special Activity may be chosen along with any of the Indian Commands and in fact will have to be used quite often to gather the needed Resources to fund the various Commands. It does have a bit of a tricky part as the Indian and British player will start this process by negotiating. You see, the British player gets to choose an amount of Resources to transfer to the Indians but they can choose 0. In my experience, the British player very rarely will give up these Resources without a guarantee of some favor from the Indian player. Most of the times, this favor is in the form of a Scout Command, that allows the Indian player to move British cubes from one adjacent Province to another to allow them to wage open warfare against Patriot targets in a later round, or in exchange for a promise to Plunder or War Path against Patriot areas. If the British player chooses an amount greater than 0, then the Special Activity simply directs players to transfer that amount from the British to the Indians and then as a cost to Activate 1 Underground War Party in that selected Province. If the amount given by the British is 0, then the Indian player has to still Activate 1 Underground War Party in the selected Province and gets to add one Resource to their total but not transfer from the British. I like to think of this as the British were not feeling giving or needed their Resources for their own operations and have said no leading the Indians to sell their wares to Patriot merchants or smuggles.
In the following picture, you can see that the Indian player has decided to take the Trade Special Activity in Northwest which is on the frontier and at the present time free of any Patriot or French forces. The requirement to take the Special Activity is to have an Underground War Party present in the same Province as a Village. In this instance, there are 2 Underground War Parties and 2 Villages, but the Special Activity can still only be taken once.
The Indian player pleads with the British player who is feeling gracious on this day and agrees to transfer 2 Resources from their total to the Indians. The British marker which was at 8 Resources is now reduced from 8 to 6 and these 2 Resources are transferred to the Indian player whose marker is currently at 1 Resource and increased by 2 to 3 Resources.
The final piece of this Special Activity is that the Indian player must now Activate one of their 2 Underground War Parties. The great thing about this process is that a Special Activity can be taken prior to a Command. So in this case, if the Indian player was wanting to do a Raid for example into North Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania, they would need 3 Resources to take this Command and didn’t have it prior to the Special Activity being taken. But they now have the needed 3 Resources thanks to the generosity of the British and can do the Command as desired. This might be one of the things that is discussed and negotiated prior to the Trade being undertaken. I really like this dynamic in the game. Between the Trade and Plunder Special Activity and active Indian player should have no problem staying flush with Resources and can be a real source of difficulty for the Patriot player.
War Path is a small guerilla style strike on Rebellion pieces in one chosen space. The space must include Rebellion pieces as the targets and at least 1 Underground War Party. It is best to take the War Path Special Activity when there are multiple Underground War Parties in the chosen space but it can be used with just 1 War Party for lesser effect. It may also be used in conjunction with any of the available Commands but is particularly effective with Commands such as March, Scout and Raid as you can really inflict greater losses on the Patriots or French with these complimentary pairings.
The process is straightforward and involves the Indian player choosing a space that has at least 1 Underground War Party (as mentioned earlier multiple Underground War Parties is better) along with Rebellion pieces, which can includes cubes, cylinders or Forts. As a result of the Special Activity the removed cubes and Forts will be placed into the Casualties Box and will be unavailable until the end of the next Winter Quarters Phase.
The Indian player has a choice with this Special Activity which involves how many War Parties they wish to Activate to inflict either 1 or 2 losses on Patriot pieces. The process involves Activating 1 or 2 Underground War Parties and removing either 1 or 2 Rebellion units. If the player Activates 2 Underground War Parties, they will have to remove one of the 2 Activated War Parties and then can remove 2 Rebellion units. If there are no Rebellion units including cubes or cylinders in the space, the Special Activity allows the removal of 1 Patriot Fort. Removing Forts is very challenging and also remember that Villages less 3 more than Patriot Forts is a Victory Condition.
In the following pictures, the Indian player has a total of 3 War Parties located in North Carolina, with 2 of those being Underground. They decide this is the perfect opportunity to get rid of the 2 Patriot pieces there allowing them to potentially build a Village here in a future turn or as a part of a Command/Special Activity combo this turn to get closer to 1 of their Victory Conditions. They decide to Activate the 2 Underground War Parties and also remove 1 of those to inflict a total of 2 losses on the Patriots forcing them to remove their Continental cube and Activated Militia from the board. The Militia unit will return to their Available Box, as Militia are never counted as Casualties but the Continental cube is placed in the Casualties Box increasing the Total Rebellion Casualties by 1.
War Path is a very powerful tool in the Indian toolbox and can really help them to get to where they want to be with limited exposure and damage to their War Parties. Trading 1 War Party for 2 Rebellion pieces is always a trade I am willing to make in the game as the Indians.
Plunder is a simple Special Activity that is 1 of the 3 ways that the Indians can gain Resources in game, including Trade and Passing their Eligibility. The action is very thematic and is typically paired with the Raid Command as one of the requirements is that a Raid Command marker has to be present in the chosen space. It is better though than just gaining Resources as it actually takes those Resources from the Patriots denying them their use to perform Commands and Special Activities. One of the other requirements is that the Special Activity may only occur where War Parties exceed Rebellion pieces.
The process for the Plunder Special Activity requires the presence of a Raid Command marker and War Parties exceeding Rebellion pieces. The cost is free in Resources but the Indian player must remove a War Party from the space and then transfer Resources equal to that Province’s Population from the Patriots and then add that number of Resources to the Indians.
In the following picture, the Indian player plans to follow up a successful Raid Command, as evidenced by the Raid marker found in the space, with a Plunder Special Activity. The requirements include a Raid Command marker being in the chosen space as well as Indian War Parties outnumbering the Patriot pieces in the space. In this instance, there are a total of 4 War Parties (3 Activated and 1 Underground) as compared to just 3 Patriot pieces (1 Activated Militia, 1 Continental and 1 Fort).
Once the requirements to take the Special Activity are met, the Indian player must remove one of the War Parties in the space in order to Plunder the Population Value of the Province in Resources from the Patriot player. In this instance, that will be a total of 2 Resources because Virginia has a Population of 2.
The Plunder Special Activity is a really painful one to the Patriots and when used on me in the past always makes me grumpy. But I really like the thematic choice in how it works and also with what Command it is typically paired with.
I hope that my walking through the mechanics of the Indian Commands and Special Activities helped you to understand their function and how they are best used in game. I also tried to give some hints at strategy and how you should go about reaching your Victory Conditions as the Indians. I do hope that I was able to share with you the bits of history and theme that the designer Harold Buchanan carefully ensured to include in the game to represent this undervalued Faction in the American Revolutionary War. The Indians are a fun and interesting to play and I always am eager to take up the tomahawk to attempt to carve out their place in this changing colonial landscape.
In our next entry in this series, we will examine the Commands and Special Activities of the British.
If you are interested, I wrote a fairly lengthy and in-depth review of Liberty or Death and you can read that at the following link: https://theplayersaid.com/2017/03/01/turning-the-wargaming-world-upside-down-a-review-of-liberty-or-death-the-american-insurrection-by-gmt-games/
That is a true, detailed workshop on COIN!
Fun to write and fun to play. I love this entry in the COIN Series and will play it at anytime.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Wow, what an amazing post! One day, I will get this game to the table
LikeLiked by 2 people
As a Canadian, I was less interested in the theme for this one. However, I have become a major COIN fan over the last year, and now, I really want to give this one a try. Hopefully soon!
LikeLiked by 1 person
It is very good.