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The Seven Years World War

a brief review of the game included in issue 221 of Strategy & Tactics


by Lawrence Hung


Great game system that tries to capture a war undertaken on a world scale.  Yes, the game does have a map on the whole world, believe it or not.  It takes the Seven Years War to an unusual global context, as opposed to the previous European-continental focus games where Frederick the Great is heavily cast.  A Joe Miranda ambitious design on the war, which lead to the consolidation of British power over the North America 13 colonies and establishment of an imperial empire all over the globe.  France was decisively defeated in this war thus diminishing her influence.  


The game features "Campaign Markers" similar to those in Trajan (by the same designer), stratagem markers for modular sub-systems on world events, political manoeuvres, national economics, scientific breakthroughs, etc., all of which are easily assimilated into the core system.  Other key features include taxes, treasury management, military unit recruitment and training, naval operations and, of course, diplomacy.  Low counter density and a campaign game that lasts for a mere 7-turns, 7 Years War World War offers a unique perspective on a global scale war which can be completed in one single 4-hour session.  


To enhance the game, I've prepared a decisions flow chart and a player aid cardLiving rules can be downloaded here


After Action Report


We had a 4-player game "Seven Years World War" at the mid-June 2004 meeting, although we played it short, for three turns only; i.e. the first 3 years in the 7 Years War:  Lawrence Britain, Jack France, Anthony Russia, Simon Manchu.


Worrying about France raising a significant army in New France , Britain adopted a strategy of consolidating in North America by moving the majority of its forces to the 13 colonies.  The remaining French colony in America fell after a skirmish fight.   


Surprisingly, London was captured by the French with a naval amphibious assault on the second turn, despite a successful British illuminati on the islands (a re-roll of die).  On second thoughts, perhaps the lack of naval interception rule is an indication that the game does not simulate the war realistically.  It makes amphibious attacks all too easy.  It is, I think, an intended design effect (more on this later). 


Safe from possible French intervention into Austria , Russia began its aggression in northern Scandinavia but lost 2 wars to the Swedes.  Manchu, in the Far East , turned its eye on Japan and Korea and some progress was made by defeating their minor forces.   The Martha Confederacy was largely untouched by any hostile major forces.  France tried to enlighten her people, but instead got a reaction from all major powers, i.e. they all got additional campaign markers.


Turn 3 saw the British amassing their land army back to the islands for a counterattack from the 13 colonies.  Spanish reverted to the British call (by a diplomacy campaign marker roll), and given that a political allegiance between Russian and British was possible in Europe, the British were not that doomed as to the hope of retaking London and given time, could have done so.  Russia called for a political settlement with both Britain and France by calculating the possibility of repulsing the French on a 1:1 linear combat results table.  We called the game to an end because the earliest the British could take back London from a fortified French defence would be 3 turns (years) later.  


In retrospect, the British should have adopted an opening strategy as follows:

  1. Converted London base into a fort immediately;

  2. Did not go over to North America for any consolidation moves so early in the war, instead, waited to see what the French were about;

  3. Retained and used forced march markers to counter-march any French amphibious assaults, turning the French to the defensive.

The present Combat Results Table favours the attacker even at low or even odds.  It therefore encourages expansion rather than contraction.  The naval threat crossing the strait posed by the French should not be ignored given the number of French fleets she is able to mobilize.  The British wide open defence of London and not using its forced march markers (when it had 2) to counter-march the French, proved to be a disaster. 


The French invasion into England makes the 7 Years World War for an interesting strategic game with a lot of difficult-to-balance options.  Every major force has strengths and weaknesses. Russia has a positional advantage and the naturally undisturbed expansion into northern Europe , but she lacks the materials (especially at sea) and fiscal strength for any rapid expansion.  Manchu has to worry about possible European invasions from the sea into her long seashore squares, but she has the numbers in terms of men (though their quality is mostly horde) and the minor powers like Japan and Korea to chew on.  France can be a major threat to anyone because of her initially balanced land and naval forces.  On the other hand, she can be attacked from all sides, unless she can ally with the Spanish early on.  Britain , as usual, has the money to conduct all offensive or defensive actions, but is short on numbers in view of her vast lands and colonies. 


All in all, 7 Years World War is a good game for a magazine.  The draw of the chits allows every game flow to be different, but the game calls for a longer playing time for its full potential to be exhibited. 


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