Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Initial observations of Quebec 1759 version 2.0

Quebec 1759 is one of the true classic wargames of all time. It's been continuously in print since 1972, which is probably the record for a wargame. The only other hobby game that I can think of that has been in print longer is Diplomacy, which is sometimes considered a category unto itself. With the demise of Avalon Hill for than a decade past, which had kept some classics such as Afrika Korps, D-Day and Midway in print for decades, I think the mantle for longevity may very well have passed to Quebec 1759.
And it's been a very stable design, with mostly cosmetic changes over most of that time. Some rules clarifications and component upgrades have occurred, but the game itself has changed very little. Even War of 1812 and Napoleon, two other original designs from Gamma Two Games days have seen more significant changes.
Until Quebec 1759 2.0 anyway. This latest version of the game makes some subtle changes that breathe some fresh air into the design and should prompt a new look from gamers who haven't played it in a while.

The first and most obvious change is a pair of new units, leaders. Inspired perhaps, by the leaders in the revised Napoleon, these new counters add the overall commanders for each side, generals Wolfe and Montcalm.

Each acts as a regular one CV infantry unit with two special abilities and one special disability. The special abilities are A) they always fire at double fire (two dice) in combat. The rules aren't entirely clear, but it doesn't appear to me that this is increased for any reason, such as against an amphibious attack. B) They can move one or two zone in a move. The disability is that if they roll doubles with their two attack dice they are eliminated, so use them with care as there is a 1/6 chance per firing of losing them. This draconian rule is because of the historical fact that both commanders were mortally wounded on the field of battle.

While a colorful addition to the game, a single pair of 1CV units is unlikely to drastically change the game.

What does change things significantly is the substitution of 1CV "Detachments" for the 0 CV "decoys" in all previous versions of the rules.

While this might seem like a minor change, it is not. These new detachments are much your useful and flexible than their predecessors. Under the old rules decoys could never move by themselves or be left by themselves, so all they could do is inflate the strength of a position. While the British actually had more decoys than the French it was hard to get much use out of them. They could even act as drag on British deployments, as one might have to leave a real unit on Ile d'Orlean to babysit them. About the only real good they did was reduce the effectiveness of Indian scouting missions a little.

Now they add an additional seven CV to the British, putting them that much further from the magic level of 19CV where the British automatically lose. They can act as scouts and are good for sending off to burn out French farms, too. Overall they seem a benefit to the British, although they are useful to the French as well.

As to how much they change strategy, I'll have to play a few more times to firm up my opinion, but they do seem to have a major impact based on the pair of games that Mark and I recently played. More on that later this week.

Overall it appears like an interesting change.

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