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Mr Madison’s War
 
 
GMTs challenge to the players is to recreate, in their own way, the entire incredible war of 1812 in one playing. Instead of fighting through the most popular single battles this game presents the war on all fronts - naval and ground - at the same time.
 
Ask most Brits about the War of 1812 and they will almost all think of the conflict in Europe, the Napoleonic Wars. While Napoleon was heading towards Russia the Americans under the Presidency of James Madison decided to annex Canada. 
 
There were astounding battles with victories for both sides. Some of these saw thousands of men on both sides facing up to each other yet when the dust had settled and the battle won or lost only a few hundred overall had died. In other similar battles thousands lost their lives.
 
Mr Madison’s War, is, as I said, the entire war in one game. It does not have the battles broken down into scenarios but it does have shortened versions whereby you can play through 1813-1814 or just 1814 by using the specific, separate annual card decks. In the full game the exhausting of a deck signifies the ending of a year.
 
This is a card driven game played on a map accurate to the time period with Leaders and Units (classified A, B or C) represented by small card counters - in my opinion a hard map board would have been better than a folding paper map. The map shows the roads, routes and strategic towns, the latter shown by name and counter holding squares.
 
There are two types of combat, Naval and Ground. Naval battles are resolved with a single die roll (with possible added modifiers) cross referenced on the Naval Combat Results Table and Ground combat is resolved similarly but with the rolling of two dice and (of course) using the Land CRT.
 
 
The rules are all in a 24 page, well instructed, booklet; a whole war in just a few pages. The incredible war is claimed as a Victory by both the Americans and the Canadians whereas the British barely consider it as anything other than a sideshow of the main European campaign.
 
One of the better known (epitomised in song) battles, that of New Orleans, of this war happened a fair way from the Canadian border (not visible on the map board) and thus is not included in this game.
 
Full games can be played in under 4 hours and are generally tight. Cards and dice help determine results but player strategies can affect and determine card play and die rolling.
 
Following WW and FTP,  MMW can become a classic in its own right.
 
Historical Footnote: The Star Spangled Banner, America’s National Flag, was first flown in Baltimore in 1812
 
The author of the game, Gilbert Collins says “The system is Mark Herman's tried and true CDG game system but catered to 1812. Movement is slightly more complex than Washinton's War (WW) but less complex than For The People (FTP). By that I mean roads, trails, major invasion routes all add or detract from movement, unlike WW where the point to point movement is rather generic. “
 
© Chris Baylis 2011-2021