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Newtown (and Oriskany): Great Battles of the American Revolution VIII




DESIGNER: Mark Miklos and Dan Hanle
MAP ART: Charles Kibler
COUNTER ART: Rodger B. MacGowan, Mike Lemick, and Mark Simonitch
PRODUCERS: Gene Billingsley, Tony Curtis, Andy Lewis, Rodger B. MacGowan, Mark Simonitch
The Great Battles of the American Revolution series comes with two rulesbooks. One of these is the main series rules which every player should read or already know - this includes the expanded or advanced rules. Once you know the GBotAR basics then introducing the specific scenario/battle changes is never a problem.
The second Rules Book has the two scenarios/battles which this game expansion covers, those being at Newtown and the ambush at Oriskany in Western New York. There is one reference sheet/player guide for each battle, one per player would have been better, though they are black & white so easy to photocopy.
The game has a 2-sided hex overlaid map sheet, one map for each battle and a minimal number of army counters - one A4 sheet split into two halves, one half with the counters for each different battle. Counters are infantry or artillery (cannon) with the Infantry being valued at 100 Strength points per counter and the Cannon at 2 Strength points per. The map is not particularly colourful, minimalistic almost, but it has a fair number of quick reference boxes around the edges.
There are Opportunity (Action) cards that may help to push the battle towards the Americans. They, like the Indians, begin with one card, but unlike the Indians who may only have one more card in the entire battle, they (the Americans) can have as many cards as they can obtain (by spending momentum chits). These cards are in 3 separate mini decks, for the Native Americans, for the Americans plus there are Tactics cards. Cards are not powerful game winners per se but they are good for turning round the results of single conflicts.
Newtown was a series of battles and raids led by the American Army under the command of Major General John Sullivan, who, under direct orders from General George Washington was sent to destroy the Irroquois Indians who had sided with the British. The Indians fought hard to protect their villages and the Allied supply lines but they were eventually broken and set on the run. Of course they retaliated swiftly against their brother Indians, the Oneida, who had aided the Americans. When the dust settled all Indian Tribes lost out as the land was transferred from the British to the Americans with total disregard for the Native American Indians no matter which side they had assisted - the rest, as they say, is history!
The main Newtown Campaign is played over 12 Turns which takes into account the 8am start through to the 7pm conclusion whereas the shorter Historical  games begins near the end of Turn 5 and ends after Turn 10; the shorter game also has slightly different Victory points scoring conditions.
Having some knowledge of the period is very helpful as you can then understand the type of fighting men both sides were. The Indians had the backing of Butler's Rangers (aka the 8th Regiment of Foot) plus a contingent of Mohawk militia and other allied troops, but they took their orders from the Irriquois Chief known as "Cornplanter" which at times led to split decisions and possible cross purposes.
The game has a Unit scale of Battalions and Regiments and is not suitable for solo play. It is also likely according to the box to take an hour per Turn to play - that's 12 hours for the Campaign and around 6 hours for the Historical game. Of course, as we have discovered, Victory can come earlier and the cards can help, but like the die rolls they are not the be-all and end-all of the game, personal tactics are also very important.
From the box cover:
Volume VIII introduces several new features to the core series rules in order to portray the unique aspects of Indian combat in the 18th century.

Newtown includes a three-tiered movement system that simulates the individual nature of Indian warfare. Small war parties often acted according to their own will rather than following orders from "commanding officers."

The games includes two decks of opportunity cards. Each player starts the game with one card, and, while the Indian player can earn one more by actions taken in the game, the American player may use momentum topurchase additional cards throughout the game.

Pre-game Indian Enhancement and limited American intelligence help provide play balance to an outnumbered Indian army. Optional Indian reinforcements are also available. Newtown also includes rules for Indian honor, resolve under artillery fire, ferocity, and evasion.

In Oriskany, the British player's secret pre-game selection of the ambush hex and the American player's turn-by-turn choice for Herkimer's rate of march will have a profound effect on the course of play. Proximity to Ft. Stanwix is not the only thing that must be taken into account. If the column is ambushed while moving at an accelerated rate, the ambushing Indians receive advantages. On the other hand, if Herkimer approaches cautiously he can better defend against an ambush but risks losing army morale for progressing too slowly with the rescue effort.

Herkimer's Tryon County Militia is made up of special 2-step, 1-strength point units permitting each unit to take a step loss and continue to fight. This expedient is used to reflect the intensity of the fighting that occurred between the two forces. Militia at Oriskany fought like veteran line units, giving and asking no quarter, for nearly six straight hours.

Oriskany also includes pre- and post-ambush Sequences of Play and rules for laagering and limbering the American supply wagons, looting, detaching American garrison artillery, and the possibility of storms.

This is a period of warfare which was played as much in the mind as in the number of casualties. If your side could inflict mental anguish and instill thoughts of self preservation into the opposing force then this was as good as killing hundreds. Morale was the main key to a successful campaign; in fact it has been suggested that had Red Jacket not turned away when he did the result could have been different. The rules are designed to reflect what occurred whilst allowing you the freedom to make personal tactical and strategic alterations. You can change history by keeping morale high and not putting your units in positions where they can easily be sent scurrying. For my money (in this case $65.00 rrp US or £49.99 UK) that's what an historical wargame is about - trying to create something close enough to the truth but also challenging using the same resources as provided by history.
Quick View
This is a 2 player game using pre-existing rules plus scenario specific modifications. As each counter has a high value there are only a relative few counters in play - in comparison with some (many) wargames - so counter removal is the exception rather than the norm; it is morale that suffers most.
The box reckons 1 hour per Turn for playing but experienced hex based wargames players can speed this up without losing any of the game's subtleties - players also experienced in this series of GMT games will progress even quicker, again without loss of enjoyment or historical values.
From a personal point of view my eyes aren't as good as they used to be so it was pleasureable that the text on the counters is bold for the important information that needs to be seen and taken in at a glance. I also found it very interesting (I really hate using that word in a review but I couldn't think of a better one at the time of writing - ie now) to have an American v American contest with only a little outside interference (the 8th) and neither side being Blue or Grey.
© Chris Baylis 2011-2015