If you are a Revolutionary War buff who also likes games, you’ll love these Revolutionary War strategy games.
These games are based on the actual military strategies of the Revolutionary War. While there aren’t a whole lot of Revolutionary War-themed strategy games out there, the ones that do exist are considered excellent games.
The following list includes video games and board games. The games on this list are best-sellers in their category and have great reviews on sites like Amazon, BoardGameGeek.com and GamerPros.com:
(Disclaimer: Purchases made through the links in this article help support the History of Massachusetts Blog)
1. Birth of America
Released in 2006, Birth of America is a turn-based strategy video game by Ageod that covers two of the most important wars in colonial America: the French and Indian war and the American Revolution.
The game covers all of North America, from Florida to Quebec and from New England to Mississippi in over 700 accurately drawn provinces.
Players control the majority of the military action such as building forts, engaging in sieges and blockades, raiding enemy settlements and participating in battles on both land and sea.
Players are also involved in the political action as well since political power plays can affect the outcomes of various events of the war.
The game features 10 different scenarios covering both the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. Scenarios range in length from a few months to almost nine years.
Troops are controlled at the regimental level and can be arranged into various attachments, naval units are formed in squadrons and flotillas. Players also have their choice of over 100 historical leaders to lead their troops.
The game has good reviews from gaming websites such as Gamespot.com, which said the game is more accessible than other historical turn-based war games but still has the same struggles as those other types of games:
“Turn-based historical wargames have always occupied a special niche in PC gaming history, but they’re not known for their accessibility. Birth of America attempts to bridge that gap somewhat by focusing squarely on combat and eliminating much of the micromanagement that accompanies most wargames. It also takes place on a handsome hand-drawn map that painstakingly re-creates the geographical landscape of colonial America. Yet the game still suffers from the traditional drawbacks of the genre: meager production values and a steep learning curve that limits the enjoyment to veteran armchair generals.”
Armchair General Magazine gave the game a score of 92% and said it was a fun, easy-to-play historical game:
“Pros: A stunningly beautiful game which covers a period lacking much prior attention. Super AI and very challenging, yet also easy to jump right in and play. All the factors of warfare in the era (leadership, logistics, population control, and so forth) are included. If you have any interest at all in this time, buy it and prepare to write off all your spare time. It is that good!
Cons: Documentation needs work and lack of a decent soundtrack are the only weaknesses in an outstanding simulation.
Bottom Line: BOA reaffirms the fact that a couple of guys with a great idea and hard work can still create a game that enthralls, entertains, and educates. A must for any gamer who enjoys a solid historical game which will challenge him every single time.”
The game has a 6.8 rating on IGN.com and a 6.9 rating on gamespot.com.
2. Empire: Total War
Released in 2009, Empire: Total War is a turn-based strategy video game by Creative Assembly that focuses on the early modern period of the 18th century.
Players can choose which world power they want to play as. Their options include Great Britain, Prussia, Sweden, France, Poland-Lithuania, Spain, Austria, Russia, the United Dutch Provinces, Maratha Confederacy, the Ottoman Empire and the Mughal Empire.
Players try to win their campaign through military force, espionage, diplomacy and economics. Although the game is mostly turn-based, the battles are fought in real-time.
In addition to the standard campaign, a special campaign, titled “Road to Independence,” also follows the development of the United States from the time of the Jamestown settlement to the American Revolution.
The game has great reviews from critics, such as Gamespot’s review, which states that the game isn’t perfect but is addicting and fun:
“It’s impossible to condense an experience as broad and as rich as Empire: Total War to a few thousand words. Its complex amalgam of turn-based empire building and real-time skirmishing is exciting and involving, and it’s both fuller and more streamlined than its predecessors. But like those predecessors, it inspires that compulsion to accomplish just one last turn, even when your eyes are bleary and your body longs for sleep. Although some rough edges are in serious need of sanding, this is a complex and rewarding game that will keep strategy fanatics tied to their keyboards for months at a time.”
The IGN review said the game is thoroughly entertaining but that the American Revolution scenario in particular was especially fun and even a bit emotional at times:
“Though I’m strictly a grand campaign kind of player, I found a lot to love about the more directed experience of the Road to Independence campaign. First, the storytelling and overall presentation is excellent. The cutscenes establish a firm context for the battles, and makes them more than just isolated exercises in strategic thinking. There’s a considerable emotional element as well; that first shot of the American flags at Bunker Hill really got to me. Knowing how the battle turns out, it was especially motivating and helped to put me in the right mood when, with only one army and one city, I’m asked to secure the entire seaboard from Georgia to Maine.”
The game has a 8.5 rating on gamespot.com, very positive reviews on steam, a 9.5 rating from IGN and a three star rating on Amazon.
3. Liberty or Death
Released in 1992, Liberty or Death is a turn-based strategy video game by Koei that allows players to play as either the Americans or the British in the Revolutionary War.
Players can choose to control any of six historical commanders: George Washington, Artemas Ward, Charles Lee, Thomas Gage, Sir Henry Clinton or William Howe.
The specific strategy used to win the game is determined by which side you play. The American strategy, just like in the actual Revolutionary War, is to hold out against the British and gather their strength while the British strategy is to fortify their positions and take action against the Americans.
Each turn lasts two weeks, for a total of 24 turns per year.
The game received good reviews when it was released and was praised for being historically accurate but many reviewers noted that game’s excessive details and micromanagement makes it a bit trying at times.
PC Gamer said the game can be a bit complicated and hard to get into:
“Is it a good game though? Well, if you can get into it, so I’m told. Trying to approach it cold is like running head-first into a brick wall and wondering why it hurts so much, and that’s certainly not its fault. It doesn’t do a very good job of showing why you should want to keep doing it though, unless you’ve already brought your special grognard-hat to help deflect the blow, and there’s not a vast amount of reward for the phenomenal amount of time that it takes to get anything done. While much more trivial to the point of parody, I’ve gotta say that my favourite take on the American Revolution is still the end of Colonization, when you pull the trigger to declare independence and then have to weather the fury long enough to be taken seriously.”
Just Games Retro said the game involves a lot of micromanaging which is very true to actual war:
“Oh, make no mistake, this is pure strategy here, and true to form, chock-full of mind-numbing micromanagement that you’ll either find fascinating or ungodly annoying. Either way, the level of detail will give you a better understanding of what kind of mammoth clusterfuck conducting actual military operations can be.”
Game Pro magazine also noted the game’s complexity and said it isn’t for everyone:
“Despite the more familiar history, Liberty or Death is still probably foreign fere for most gamers. The huge amount of detail makes these absorbing simulations an acquired taste. But don’t dump this cart into the harbor; you might just find it a revolutionary change of pace.”
The game has a 7.3 rating from player reviews on gamespot.com and an 8.0 rating from IGN.
4. Sid Meier’s Civilization 4
Released in 2005, Sid Meier’s Civilization 4 is a turn-based strategy video game that allows players to build a civilization from scratch using limited resources. The game is not exclusively about the American Revolution but features an American Revolution scenario.
The game has five objectives to complete in order to win, which includes:
Conquering all other civilizations
Controlling a supermajority of the world’s land and population
Building and sending the first sleeper ship to the Alpha Centauri star system
Increasing the “Culture ratings” of at least three different cities to “legendary” levels
Winning a “World Leader” popularity contest by the United Nations
If the game’s time limit runs out and none of the main objectives have been fulfilled by any players the civilization with the highest total game score is the winner.
IGN reviewed the game and said the game is very original and is easier to play than other war games:
“It reenergizes the core concepts of the series, staying faithful to what fans expect while also creating a wholly original game. While the game hasn’t lost any depth or detail, every aspect of the design has been streamlined to make it easier for new players to jump in and less monotonous for veterans. Die-hard fans will definitely find that the game offers up so much more variety this time around. The shape of each game is quite different, from the ways you build up your empire to the ways you tear down the empires of others.”
MacWorld said the game is complex and offers a lot of scenarios so you never get bored:
“Civilization IV is a complex game that has many different types of single-player and multiplayer options, including support for LAN, Internet and Play-By-Email (PBEM) multiplayer capabilities. These options are cross-platform, meaning you can take on your PC-using friends in a prolonged battle to the death. In addition, Civilization IV also has scenarios (such as various World War II simulations) that can you can tackle should you want to try something a bit different from regular gameplay. Civilization IV will take you dozens of hours before you’ve explored all the possible facets to this incredible game.”
Gamezone said it is the perfect game for strategy players:
“Civilization IV is a strategy player’s dream. It is huge, deep and engrossing. It can be played over and over again for a new experience each time. Will it be diplomacy, war or technology that will advance your civilization ahead of all others? Within these long-range goals, there are myriads of choices for units, technical research branches, and settlement placements.”
The game has a 9.4 rating on gamespot.com, a 9.4 rating on IGN.com, a score of 94 on metacritic.com and a 3.4 rating on Amazon.
Released in 1974, 1776 is a two-player strategy board game by the Avalon Hill Game Co and is one of the best-selling Revolutionary War strategy board games on Amazon. The game allows players to reenact six Revolutionary war battles with multiple scenarios.
The game includes four scenarios:
Scenario One: The Invasion of Canada – 1775-1776
Scenario Two: The Saratoga Campaign – 1777
Scenario Three: Greene’s Southern Campaign 1780-1781
Scenario Four: The Yorktown Campaign – 1781
A 16” x 44” four-section, full color mapboard depicting colonial America from Quebec to Georgia
Two sets of die-cut troop counters representing over 400 units of British, Continentals, British Regulars, Rebel and Tory Militia, French Regulars, Indians and naval units of the British and French fleets
One terrain effects chart
Two sets (8 per set) of Tactical Combat Cards, one set of scenaario, CRT and play charts
A 32 page Rules & Designers Notes Manual
The game has a 6.4 rating on Boardgamegeek.com, where it is ranked 650 in the war games category and has a five star rating on amazon.
The game is designed for ages 12 and up and has a 120 minute playing time.
2. Liberty: The American Revolution 1775-83
Released in 2003, Liberty: The American Revolution 1775-83 is a two-player block war game by Columbia Games that covers the entire span of the war from 1775-1783 and allows players to play as either the British, Americans or the French. The role of the Native Americans in the war is also depicted.
50 wooden blocks (20mm)
11 x 34 map of Colonial America
The game has a 7.2 rating on Boardgamegeek.com, where it is ranked 250 in the war games category and has a five star rating on Amazon. One Amazon reviewer praised it as a great strategy game:
“This game simulates the American Revolution at the strategic level all but flawlessly. Dice determine weather conditions and when/whether the French enter the war. Differing conditions of victory for the British/Loyalist/Indians versus the Americans/French force the two sides to develop completely different strategies. Battles are easy to resolve and with five turns per year, time passes quickly. Deploy your troops wisely and never get caught out of range of your supplies in winter. British units fight better than the American militia, but the Patriots don’t have to defeat them – they only have to last until 1783. My favorite feature is the inclusion of familiar names with the units – Howe, Washington, Gates, Cornwallis, Marion, Tarleton, Morgan, Lee, and more. The whole game can be completed in less than two hours and no two games will ever be alike. Match wits for hours with your favorite gaming partner and experience the headaches that both commanders felt.”
The game is designed for ages 12 and up and has a 120 minute playing time.
3. We the People
Released in 1994, We the People is a two-player strategy board game by Avalon Hill Co that was one of the first card-driven war games. The game uses a deck of battle cards to resolve conflicts between troops instead of dice.
The overall progression of the game is determined by a deck of strategy cards, which mark certain historical events during the Revolutionary War, and each card has multiple purposes depending on which side (American or British) is attempting to use it.
One 16” x 22” map
50 round playing pieces
14 rectangular playing pieces
66 hexagonal playing pieces
2 square playing pieces
One 8 1/2” x 11” player reference card
One rules booklet
One historical commentary booklet
96 strategy cards
64 battle cards
12 plastic general stands
One 6-sided die
The game is designed for ages 12 and up and has a playing time of 120 minutes.
The game has a 7.3 rating on Boardgamegeek.com, where it is ranked 98 in the war games category, and has a four star rating on Amazon.
One reviewer on Boardgamegeek.com noted that although the game isn’t perfect, it’s a fun, historically-accurate game that is simpler and easier to play than most war games:
“A relic that I will not part with easily. While not every part of this game is perfect, it still plays remarkably well and genuinely gives both sides excellent avenues for victory. It somewhat realistically balances out the militaristic and political aspects of the American Revolution, and the game play is just easy enough to teach without getting bogged down into too many details.”
4. Washington’s War
Released in 2010, Washington’s War is a two-player strategy board game by GMT games. It is a card-driven game with a dice-driven combat system.
The game pits King George III against the American colonists in a fight for their independence. Players can play as either King George III, as he tries to gain back control of the colonies while also dealing with a global war against old enemies looking for revenge for the Seven Years War, or they can play as the Continental Congress, as they wage war against Britain while trying to drum up support from their fellow countrymen.
2 double-thick counter sheets
Mounted 22” x 34” map
110 event cards
2 6-sided dice
2 player aid cards
The gaming gang reviewed the game and said it’s great for newbies as well as old school gamers:
“By this point I’m sure you’ve correctly come to the conclusion that Washington’s War is an excellent game where the tide turns at any moment and the tension remains high throughout. I can honestly say both the Americans and British have the opportunity to win the war with a competent player at the helm and once you finish playing as one side you’ll be chomping at the bit to see how the other half lives. In the end, Mark Herman has done wonders with his reimagining of We the People and GMT has once again released a high quality addition to your collection regardless if you’re an old school grognard or new to the genre looking for an introduction to wargaming!”
The Junto praised the game for its accuracy and educational value:
“From a purely gaming point-of-view, the resolution of the game can be a bit frustrating. If the war ends early, the British have a good chance of winning; if the war drags out, then it’s pretty hard to prevent the American side from prevailing. Of course, that means the game is a pretty accurate simulation of the mechanics of the war. And the uncertainty of the key turning points of the war is invaluable as a teaching tool. At the end of the class, students commented on how little they had appreciated the difficulties of coordinating a war effort. It drove home the importance of the French naval blockade; American inability to stop British coastal mobility was a key factor in British triumphs. And it also helped bring home how fickle political allegiance could be, i.e., that while there was a natural advantage for the Americans in the control for “hearts and minds,” that advantage was fragile and had the potential to be swiftly overturned.”
The game is designed for ages 12 and up and has a 90 minute playing time.
The game has a 7.7 rating on Boardgamegeek.com, where it is ranked 33 in the war games category, and has a five star rating on Amazon.
5. End of Empire: 1744-1782
Released in 2014, End of Empire: 1744-1782 is a two-player strategy board game that covers three conflicts in North America between 1744-1782: King George’s War, the French and Indian War and Revolutionary War.
An additional bonus scenario covers the War of Jenkin’s Ear between Spanish Florida and British Georgia.
Each turn represents two months. Each year consists of one spring turn, two summer turns, one fall turn, and two winter turns. The game features two maps of eastern North America and each hex is approximately 20 miles across.
Two 22 x 34 inch maps
Four and ½ countersheets
One scenario book
Multiple reference cards
The game is designed for ages 12 and up and has a playing time of 360 minutes.
The game has a 7.6 rating on boardgamegeek, where it is ranked 1,449 in the war games category, and has a five star rating on Amazon.
In addition to the games listed here, another type of Revolutionary War strategy game is AWI wargaming with AWI miniatures.
For a list of American Revolution games that aren’t strategy-based, check out the following article on the Best American Revolution Games.
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