Battles of the American Revolution, specifically Germantown

Some years ago, Mark Franke introduced me to a then new GMT game on the Battle of Saratoga from the American Revolution. This was a rather simple game that captured very well the essence of 18th century linear warfare. GMT made this into a series of games with now 8 titles comprising the Battle of the American Revolution series, all using the same basic rules with only a few special cases needed for each individual game. We started a game of Germantown some weeks ago using the computer assist program called Vassal.

Vassal is a program that allows boardgames to be recreated as digital modules playable within the Vassal program. Often these modules use digitized artwork from the publisher. The program does not know the rules of the game nor does it provide an opponent. It is most literally a version of the board game on your screen. There are other similar programs that do the same function such as Aide de Camp II and Cyberboard and some others. Vassal is somewhat unique in that it allows for simultaneous online play. Players can log into a server and play the virtual version of the game as if they were playing a physical copy. Vassal also allows the games to be played sequentially where one player makes his moves and then sends an log file to his opponent. This is how Mark and I normally play our Vassal games. It is a remarkable program and provide opportunities to play games that might not be played otherwise.

Germantown recreates the 1777 battle that took place outside of Philadelphia. The Americans are attacking the British along a long front where the British have some nice terrain advantages. In our game, Mark's Americans had some initial success taking a few key spots. This precipitated a fighting withdrawal by my British, allowing him to keep attacking into terrain of my choosing. With only a few turns remaining, I have launched a counterattack on my left flank, sending Hessians forward. As it turns out, the troops on the American right were militia and not of very high quality, so in the time I have left I hope to be able to get the German troops into the American rear or at least cause him to withdraw his line past certain geographical objectives.

Germantown has been an excellent gaming experience. While the computer will never replace the face to face experience, this type of thing does allow games to be played when they otherwise would not.

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