The summer has officially begun and with it, Independence Day is right around the corner. There will be backyard barbeques and plenty of fireworks. And that same spirit can stay alive on your tabletop. Here are three awesome games about the formation and early history of these United States.
Hero of Weehawken
This solo title allows you to celebrate your independence from other players. In Hero of Weehawken, the young nation is confronted with the potentially traitorous Aaron Burr. He’s off in the near West doing … something. Is he plotting a government coup? Is he trying to motivate foreign interests to interfere with the nascent republic? Or is he just out there peacefully settling land and these rumors are just from his detractors still upset over the death of Alexander Hamilton?
The game takes place in two big phases. In the main phase, you have to discover what Burr is really doing out there. The game handles this by using a number of co-conspirator cards and, depending on who Burr is working with, the conspiracy changes. Finding those actors is critical – and doing so before Burr can implement his dastardly plan (whatever it may be) is necessary for victory. Once you stop him, though, you must put him on trial. Here, the game shifts and you use what you gained in the first phase to attempt a conviction.
History buffs will absolutely love Hero of Weehawken. The name itself comes from the moniker Hamilton supporters derisively gave Burr after Burr killed Hamilton in a duel in Weehawken, New Jersey. The events are all related to real historical concerns and it does a good job of masking Aaron Burr’s movements in rumor while you try to uncover the truth.
But before president Jefferson had to worry about the (potentially) treasonous Burr, state delegates decided to put aside the Articles of Confederation and draft a new Constitution for the young country. In Founding Fathers, the players try to do just that by voting on new amendments that support Federalist or Anti-Federalist leanings, as well as Big State or Small State concerns.
From the same designers who gave us 1960: The Making of a President, Founding Fathers is a 3 to 5 player affair about voting, alliances, and knowing when to reserve. The play is card driven and each card can be used either for a specific event, or to match various icons and put forward votes on constitutional articles. It sounds simple, and on paper it is, but the decisions you need to make can be very difficult. Each card’s event tends to be quite powerful, so trying to decide when to save it for a power, or use it to win votes, is very tricky.
Founding Fathers is highly enjoyable as you strive to craft the foundational document of the nation. Some votes will go your way, others will not. And when they don’t, you’ll have to caucus with your party to see how to come back from that get what you want next time. If you like political maneuvering and tense card play, then this is a perfect title to play on July Fourth.
But before they could hold a Constitutional Convention and argue over language, the States first had to win their independence. That’s where 1775: Rebellion comes in. This light war game allows two to four players to control the British, American Loyalists, Continental Army, and American Patriots, as they battle for control of the colonies and, ultimately, independence.
Each round takes place in just a few phases. Largely, troop movement is determined by cards that you can play to get around the board. After movement is completed, a battle phase begins. Unlike more difficult war games that come replete with charts, terrain, modifiers, and sundry results, Rebellion is much more straightforward. It uses it’s own set of custom dice that simply give you the results you’re looking for. You can kill, route the opposing forces, or end up fleeing yourself.
While definitely about the military conflict, the game isn’t an especially heavy one. Sure there are interesting tactical decisions and some great elements, but the rules are simple enough to make it very accessible. Think more Risk than Advanced Squad Leader. That accessibility, plus the accommodation of up to four players makes it an excellent choice for your Independence Day gaming.
What titles do you plan to play on the Fourth? Tell us about it in the comments.
Image Credits: Victory Point Games, Jolly Roger Games, and Academy Games
Featured Image Credit: Jolly Roger Games