Back in 1994-95 two very influential board games came out on the market. In Europe, Klaus Teuber designed Settlers of Catan and in the United States, Mark Herman designed We the People for Avalon Hill.
I think everyone here on F:AT knows the influence of Settlers of Catan. It started on the downers, which were a hell of a lot better than the uppers because it was a nervous wreck. But one led to two, two led to four, four led to eight, until at the end it was about 85 a day. Oh, wait that was Corey Haim life not Euros. No, in Euroland, Settlers lead to Carcassonne, lead to El Grande, lead to Puerto Rico, lead to Princes of Florence, lead to Caylus, lead to Goa, lead to Agicola , lead to Dominion, lead to Endeavor or some other crap.
Meanwhile over the last 15 years, We the People lead to For the People, Hannibal, Wilderness War, Path of Glory, Here I Stand, Twilight Struggle and 1960 and a few other games.
Over the last 15 years Settlers of Catan was able to come out with a number of different additions, expansions and versions. Unfortunately, for Mark Herman Avalon Hill had gone out of business so he wasn't able to come out with 27 different variants of We the People. Instead over the last 15 years Mark Herman was probably able to pay for his kids college by selling left over copies of We the People for $200 a pop on ebay.
Mark Herman making $200 a pop selling excess copies of We the People.
Over the last 5 years or so, we saw a number of prints or remakes of great games from the 1980s and 1990s. FFG took the approach of completely remaking games like Warrior Knights, but only made slight changes to Talisman and Cosmic Encounters. Valley Games decided to reprint games like Hannibal and Republic of Rome with upgraded components and graphics. Meanwhile in Euroland there was lawsuits over Age of Steam. Unfortunately, Dune will probably never get remade with the license for legal reasons. Luckily, for the fans of Card Driven Games GMT and Mark Herman were able to get together to remake We the People as Washington's War.
As I mentioned earlier We the People started the card driven war game revolution. Before this time people played war games on boards with hexes, and players were able to move every fracking tiny piece of fricking cardboard board every turn. Each turn in game like Third Reich took about 12 hours. In 1995 Mark Hermon comes along and now each player can only move 1 piece at a time and players have to make important decisions whether to move armies to attack, build armies or use ops points for political gain.
So now what's the difference between We the People and Washington's War? Actually, there isn't a huge difference. The main differences is in the combat system. We the People used Battle Cards similar to Hannibal, while Washington War uses dice. In a typical battle each side will roll the dice twice and compare results to see who the winner is. In the designer notes Mark Hermon talks about streamlining the game and using the dice rolls rather than battle cards to reduce the game time. As he mentioned, each battle used to take over 5 minutes. With an average of 14 battles per game this adds up to 70 minutes of battle time. By switching to the quick dice system a 3 hour game of We the People can be reduced to 90 minutes of Washington'a War. Card Driven Board games are also very popular by email on Vasaal. Before We the People would take months to play by email. Now Washington's War will take only a couple of weeks to play by email.
Now all this said, I have the feeling streamlining We the People to Washington's War is like watching the Super Bowl with Tivo. Back before Tivo the Super Bowl would take 4 hours to watch. Now with Tivo it only takes 2 hours. Once I started using Tivo, I'll never go back to taking 4 hours to watch a Super Bowl, but the real question is am I enjoying the game any better now than I did 5 years ago? This same question can be asked about We the People and Washington's War. I don't think I'll ever play the original version of We the People now that this new version has come out. But I'm still not sure whether my enjoyment is any greater now than it would have been 10 years ago with the longer version.
Ok, my rants is over, now onto my mini review:
KingPut is either constipated and taking a shit or he's trying to figure out how to get General Howe to attack George Washington.
Component wise Washington's War looks great and it has great components. This game is a bargain at $40 even without the comparison against We the People at $150. The cards are so thick they're hard to shuffle.
Washington's War is the perfect game for people new to card driven war games. It is probably one of the easiest and quickest of the card driven war games. I'd recommend it to anyone who's played Twilight Struggle or 1960 and wants to move onto more of a war game. Politics and events play a very important role in Washington's War, so don't expect a dicefest. The game also seems pretty balanced, although I'm expecting many posts on BGG about how one side has an advantage by people who have played twice and the British have won both times. I think the design team has done a pretty good job play testing Washington's War.
Overall, Washington's War is a good game, but not a great game. The greatness has been stripped from We the People, but at the same time it hits a specific niche perfectly. Washington's War is an engaging card driven war game that can be played in 90 minutes and is designed to be played on the internet. So Washington's War will see a hell of a lot of play time over the next few years.
All that all said, who's ready to play some Washington's War on Vasaal?