1775: Rebellion Board Game Review

1775: Rebellion lets you take part in one of history’s defining wars — the American Revolution. Pick your side and command the American Continental Army or the British Regulars and their allies. Will history take its course or will Britain keep the colonies — fight your way to the Treaty of Paris and find out!

1775: Rebellion
  • 1775 is an area control game that is great for head-to-head or up...
  • 1775 Rebellion is the second title in the Birth of America series...
  • The perfect introduction to historical and strategy boardgames!

Brief Overview of 1775: Rebellion

1775: Rebellion Board Game Box and Cards

Designed by Beau Beckett and Jeph Stahl, 1775: Rebellion is a war game based on the American Revolution, with four sides fighting for supremacy over the colonies. 

The game can be played by 24 players, but the best games are played with an even number of players, with an average playing time between 1-2 hours. On the difficulty spectrum, 1775: Rebellion falls on the lighter side as an easy-to-learn but hard-to-master game.

Players take control of the following factions: Continental Army, Patriot Militia, and French Regulars on the American side, and British Regulars, German Hessians, and Loyalist Militia on the British side. Native Americans can be used as allies by either side. 

Published in 2013 by Academy Games, 1775: Rebellion was the winner of the 2013 Golden Geek Best Wargame and 2014 Origins Awards Best Historical Board Game categories. It’s a game best suited for the fans that prefer less technical board games and are big fans of the theme.

Unboxing 1775: Rebellion

1775 Rebellion Board Game Board, Cards, and Dice

Inside the box you’ll find the following components:

  • 2 Reference Sheets
  • 1 Round Pawn
  • 16 Control Flags
  • Draw Bag
  • 4 Turn Markers
  • 54 Faction Cards
  • 205 Unit Cubes
  • 16 Battle Dice

With the top cover out of the way, the first thing to catch your eye will be the oversized dice. There are 2 or 3 per faction, and they have the same custom markings to represent values. 

The rulebook is printed on glossy paper in full color. The rules and illustrations are well-positioned and make learning and later searching for a specific rule much easier. 

The inclusion of a 4-page overview of the American Revolution in the rulebook is a very nice addition. It does a great job of explaining the cause and course of the war and the factions represented through the game. 

You’ll need a large table to unpack the massive 3×2 board, effectively 6 times the size of the box. Every great tactician has been portrayed with a large map in front of them, and 1775: Rebellion certainly captures that scene. The color palette is even reminiscent of the vintage geography maps, adding to the theme. 

Throughout the game, you’ll use cubes as unit tokens. There’s a total of 205 unit cubes divided into 7 colors, and they’re as basic as it gets. At the bottom of the box, there’s a plastic storage container separated into sections you can easily store and get the cubes when you need them. 

The cards feature artwork inspired by the time period on a yellowish paper background. The text is very readable and some cards have small lore bits written at the bottom. The backside is determined by the faction. Aside from the cards, there are also some punch-out American and British tokens.

All things considered, 1775: Rebellion ticks all the boxes for a good board game. Components seem sturdy, the art style is appropriate for the theme, the rulebook is well-written and organized, and smaller components can be stored without risk of damage. I’d prefer more elaborate unit cubes, but the cubes provided will suffice.

How to Play 1775: Rebellion

1775 Rebellion Board Game Board Setup

1775: Rebellion is not a difficult game to learn and through the following sections I’ll show you the basics so you can see whether it suits your taste. 

Game Setup

The first step is for each player to select a faction and take the resources of the corresponding color. There are four factions to choose from:

  • Loyalist Militia
  • Patriot Militia
  • British Regulars
  • Continental Army

Factions that were not chosen go to the reinforcement stockpile but are kept separate from the Hessian, French, and Native American pieces. To complete the setup, you’ll organize the game board by following the rulebook and distribute territories between armies. 

Player Count

1775: Rebellion plays differently depending on the number of players. A four-player game is divided into two teams, and players can discuss strategies and show faction cards to their allies. 

In a three-player game, one side will have two players leading one army each, while on the other side the third player will command both armies. Two-player games have both players control two armies each. This means that all factions have to be played regardless of the number of players.

Game Rounds 

During each round, every faction takes its turn in random order. To decide the turn order, you’ll place the turn cubes into the bag and take one out to determine the first faction. Once the drawn faction has completed its turn, pick the next one, until all the factions complete their turns. 

Turn Breakdown

Active faction performs four turn phases in order:

  1. Reinforcements phase.
  2. Movement phase.
  3. Battle phase.
  4. Draw cards phase.

Reinforcements phase 

The reinforcement phase allows you to distribute 4 units from the stockpile into city areas, but only if your side controls the entire colony. If you do not have a single colony in your control, you will not be able to place reinforcements. 

Movement phase 

During the movement phase, you get to play a movement card that determines the number of armies and the distance they can cross. Picking up and dropping off units is not allowed, and entering an area occupied by the enemy immediately stops the movement action. 

Battle phase

Battles happen when opposing armies meet in the same area. The army moving into the area is deemed an attacker, while the situated army defends. 

Both sides get the number of dice equal to the number of units per army, up to a maximum number of dice they have. For example, an army consisting of 1 British unit and 4 Loyalist units gets 1 red dice and a maximum of 3 yellow dice.

The defender rolls first, followed by the attacker. Results are tallied as soon as the dice are rolled, giving the defender an advantage. The battle continues until one or both sides have no presence in the area.

The dice results are as follows:

  1. Flee result – place one unit of the dice color in the fled units space.
  2. Hit result – your opponent chooses a unit and returns it to their stockpile.
  3. Command result – gives you an option to move your units away from the combat, to either retreat or reinforce an upcoming battle. 

Draw cards phase

First, discard played movement card and any event cards played. Refill your hand back to 3 faction cards. If you end up with 3 event cards, show them to the other players, shuffle them back into your draw deck and draw a new set of cards.

Event cards are special powerups that can bolster your army, provide additional movement range, and give your armies additional abilities during combat. Each faction has four unique event cards, and as long as you meet the requirements, you can play any number during your turn.

Game End

One of the win conditions is controlling most colonies at the end of the eighth round. However, starting with the end of the third round, check if either side has played both truce cards. If that’s the case, stop the game and count the colonies to declare the winner.

Truce cards are the same as movement cards, except when they’re left face-up on the board after being played. There’s 1 for each faction, and as there’s a total of 8 movement cards, that’s the reason why the game has to end in round 8. Truce cards are not a loose condition, they’re simply there to randomize the duration of the game and prevent meta strategies.

Your First Game of 1775: Rebellion

1775 Rebellion Board Game Treaty Board, Box, and Cards

1775: Rebellion may seem like a complicated game, but when you sit down to play it, it’s actually not that daunting, and in fact may remind you of another game — Risk. If you can make any connection with Risk, it will be a lot easier to grasp 1775: Rebellion. 

The game is all about making the right decisions and carefully picking your battles. Command result of the dice may seem like a dud roll, but it actually provides a lot of flexibility — you can continue to fight, reinforce the upcoming battle, or retreat and save your units from a certain defeat. 

If you take into account that the defender rolls first, when the attacking force is overwhelming, aside from the flee roll, both hit and combat roll will be very useful. 

The game comes with an introductory scenario in the rulebook, and I would recommend playing it. The rules are the same as for the standard game, but the setup is slightly altered to make the game more manageable for a new player.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Excellent rulebook
  • A great introduction to war games
  • Strong theme

It may seem odd for a rulebook to make it on the list of reasons to buy the game, but the one written 1775: Rebellion deserves it. You can take a look at the digital copy online and see just how well it’s organized. 

Each section is well defined and each rule is written so there’s no chance of misinterpretation. There’s a lot of referencing to other points in the rulebook so you can quickly brush up on what you’ve previously read without having to search for it. The 4 pages on the history of the American Revolution are an added bonus. 

The Risk-like mechanics are something any board game enthusiast is familiar with, so the learning process can be quite easy and makes 1775: Rebellion a great introduction to war games. There’s plenty of room to improve your skills and the replay value is definitely there. 

The theme solidifies 1775: Rebellion as a great all-around game, with already good components and mechanics. Massive game board, use of prominent historical figures, and the art style all combine into a well-executed theme that never fades into the background as min-maxing takes over. 

You won’t forget who you’re fighting for, and the locations where battles take place — it even sparks some passion in players involved!

Cons:

  • Light mechanics
  • Dice rolls

I couldn’t find any real flaws with 1775: Rebellion. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s a game for everyone — which is going to be the main theme of the cons section. 

1775: Rebellion is a fairly light board game, even more so in the war game genre. There’s no economy to run or supplies to think about — just a clear focus on conquering territories through battle and mustering allies. 

Rolling the dice for combat is a great way to bring some uncertainty and tension to each battle. 1775: Rebellion has a great system in place that minimizes huge luck swings, so even if you’re not a fan of dice-based combat, you might find this game enjoyable.

1775: Rebellion Review (TL;DR)

1775: Rebellion is a light war game with a gameplay reminiscent of Risk, but far better executed. If you’re looking for an introduction to war games or you’re a huge history buff, this will be a great pick. 

The components are well-made, the theme is present through every gameplay, and the gameplay is relatively fast and exciting. The dedicated 2v2 team mode is a nice addition as most games in the genre opt for the alliance & betrayal style of teaming up. Overall, 1775: Rebellion is a safe pick, and as long as you like the theme, you can’t go wrong with it.

Conclusion: Verdict?

The American Revolution wasn’t really my thing, but 1775: Rebellion has sparked a new interest in this period and how it all unfolded. The theme never falls into the background in favor of gameplay — as I said before, you’ll never forget what side you’re on, and why you’re fighting with the other side. 

In terms of gameplay, I couldn’t quite pinpoint it until I remembered its similarities with Risk. You gather troops, move them, and roll the dice to see who gets the territory. 

My experience with Risk was nothing but a series of frustrating games with unbalanced gameplay and capitalizing on the weakest play, but 1775: Rebellion proved to be quite the opposite.

Even though dice rolling is a luck-based mechanic, the way it works in Rebellion has more to do with strategy than luck. Flee roll sucks, hit roll is great, but most of the time you’re getting the command roll, and that’s where the strategy comes into play. 

  • Should I retreat or should I stay and fight? 
  • What about the upcoming battle upstate? If I send reinforcements there, I’ll have a better chance of winning that battle, but I’ll certainly lose this territory. 

These decisions are what make 1775: Rebellion a lot of fun, and why it gets my full recommendation!

1775: Rebellion
  • 1775 is an area control game that is great for head-to-head or up...
  • 1775 Rebellion is the second title in the Birth of America series...
  • The perfect introduction to historical and strategy boardgames!

We hope you enjoyed our 1775: Rebellion review. Have you tried this historical war game or any others from Academy Games? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Drop a comment below!

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Stats at a glance

Players: 2-4

Ages: 10 +

Medium

60-120 Mins

Publisher: Academy Games

Published: 2013