My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Monday, February 07, 2011

AWI Rules Review - The World Turned Upside Down (Part 1)

As many of you know, I like the American War of Independence and I have been trying to come up with the "right" rules for gaming them. I've tried developing variants from a number of different rules (DBA, HOTT, Napoleonic Wargaming, '61-'65, etc.), all with varying success. One of the problems is that they never seem to have enough "period feel", which I may not even be able to articulate. (That makes for it being very hard to fit the bill, doesn't it!)

In Battlegames magazine, issue #24, Mike Siggins gave a tantalizing review about an AWI ruleset called The World Turned Upside Down by Realtime Wargaming, and sold by Realistic Modelling Services. What sounded so interesting was two items: 1) it includes a set of campaign rules, and 2) the tabletop (battlefield) movement was something akin to point-to-point map movement used in campaign games. For those two reasons alone, I had to buy them. It took 1 1/2 months for the rules to arrive (Realistic Modelling Services was great about keeping the lines of communications open while the postal service held my package hostage), but it was well worth the wait.

First caveat: I have not yet played the rules. Unfortunately my gaming schedule was already booked this weekend (I know, that is not really a bad thing) and my pipes burst from the cold, so all extra time was taken up with that, so I have not been able to try them. Also, because of the basing scheme, it might take a little work to get ready for a game. Units are big.

The World Turned Upside Down

Game Overview

The World Turned Upside Down (TWTUD) is a board game and a set of miniatures rules all in one package. Included is a map, counters to cut out, a rule book, quick-reference charts, and some game tracks. The idea is that you play the American War of Independence. All of it. (Well almost. Lexington and Bunker Hill have been fought, Washington has been appointed Commander-in-Chief, and the Continental Army has been created. It is the Fall of 1775.) None of this mamby-pamby gaming the "Philadelphia Campaign" or "Southern Campaign" stuff; you play the war.

The map that is included are two glossy color sheets (I think they are A3 in size) that are point-to-point maps, showing areas of wilderness, mountains, seacoast, etc. along with the roads, rivers, bridges, ports, villages, towns, and cities. There are also three sea zones representing the entire eastern seaboard. Basically land units move one location per turn via the roads and naval units can move one sea zone per turn.

Basically the game is determined by counting VP at the end of Spring 1782. The British start with 100 VP and lose 6+1D6 per season, and add or subtract VP based on whether they win or lose battles. (Small battles are more like skirmishes, but they count differently than the large battles.) If the British have 20+ VP they win, as it represents they did better than historically. If the British hit 0 VP before then the Patriots have won, as they did better than historically. Any other results in an Highly Honorable Draw. (This is one of the first indicators, in my mind, of the pro-British bent to the design.) Additional VP may be lost or gained depending upon the current British Strategic Policy, which is determined at various times in the game. Examples are: cut off New England from the rest of the colonies, the Southern Expedition, etc.

The Crown side gets a variable number of reinforcements by schedule and through calling up the Loyalists, while the Patriots get them through calling out the State's militia, recruiting Continentals, and French intervention. Calling up militias and recruiting are operational actions, so to perform these actions you are giving up performing other actions, like moving armies, as each side receives a number of operational action points to spend each season.


At the heart of the system, both the campaign game and the battles, are the Generals commanding armies and garrisons. Each General is rated in Seniority (used to determine who the Commander-in-Chief is when stacked together) and an "Ability" rating. Let me start off by saying that, in my opinion, the Ability ratings are heavily weighted towards the Crown forces. Tarleton, of all people, is given the highest of ratings (a '5'), while Daniel Morgan appears, apparently, as an "Unnamed Brigadier"! So, expect the British (and Germans) to be able to perform actions operationally and tactically, while the Patriots struggle.

Putting the author's obvious bias aside, the campaign rules reflects an issue of the AWI pretty well: the constant shuffling of commanding generals. At the end of each season a check is made to see if a General is removed from play. If they are, their counter is flipped over, revealing a General of less seniority (and potentially higher ability). If that General is removed, the counter is discarded from play. Additionally, each season may see new Generals arrive on the scene (by randomly drawing their counter from a cup), allowing each side more flexibility operationally.


This is just a summary of the first part, which really focused (superficially) on the campaign aspect of the rules. The next blog entry will discuss the tabletop rules.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Dale,
    Thanks for the review! I have a little group online that plays Real Time Rules and includes Keith Warren and his chief rules guru, Bernie Ganley. If you would like to join us, my email is
    John Mumby


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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 50 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ (although I have a townhouse in Houston, TX and a small home in Tucson, AZ) working on a contract for "the next two years" that is going on five years now. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").