Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Beaver Wars in Ohio -- A Campaign for Song of Drums and Tomahawks

The first supplement to the Fall 2014 release of my French & Indian War rules set, Song of Drums and Tomahawks, will be a set of campaign rules called "The Beaver Wars in Ohio." This is a set of campaign rules set in the late 17th century to early 18th century Ohio area.  Players control an Indian tribe battling for control of the area’s lucrative fur trade -- particularly beaver pelts, which are in much demand by European traders.  The campaign will last for 12 turns, at the end of which it will be determined which tribe has established hegemony over the others in Ohio.

These pages of my blog will cover our group's playtest of the rules, which began in January, 2015. I will post a new entry for each turn of the campaign and discuss what each player's tribe did, and perhaps explain their strategy. The rules actually present three separate campaigns, covering the early phase of the Beaver Wars (1650-1690), later phase (1690-1710), and what I call "The Vacuum" (1720-1750) -- when many other tribes were drawn to the area after its depopulation once the decades of conflict subsided. For this playtest, we chose the later phase, or middle period. This covers the period after the overwhelming Iroquois onslaught into Ohio, and actually represents when the other tribes were pushing back against them. Not counting myself who is running the campaign, it will have six players. They will represent the Miami, Ojibwa, Ottawa, Potawatomi, Seneca, and Wyandot tribes. 

Here is the campaign map.
 In the Beaver Wars, the tribes are competing for hegemony over this area. In game terms, this will be represented by a struggle to be the best in four areas:
  •  Number of towns controlled
  •  Number of bundles of beaver pelts traded to Europeans
  •  Number of victories won in battle
  •  Experience gained by surviving members of player forces
 Each tribe will be ranked 1st-6th in each area. This will translate to a certain number of points (first place will be 6 points, 2nd 5 points, and so on). The points are totaled up each turn to determine who is leading in the campaign. So, a tribe can't simply go for a war of aggression, taking over rival towns. They must also pay attention to the economic aspect, represented by the beaver pelts.

The logistics and economics of The Beaver Wars are controlled by a deck of 52 playing cards. Player earn cards as income, and trade in sets of them to represent beaver pelts. Trading with the Europeans provides them with more firearms, which makes their forces more effective. No one strategy can be relied upon, and the warfare between the various tribes will effect the choices a player must make.

The whole point of the campaign, of course, is to generate tabletop miniatures battles. My players will use Song of Drums and Tomahawks to fight out the battles, but the rules can be easily adapted to fit any man-to-man skirmish rules for the period. There are four different types of battles that can be generated, each with 6 possible scenarios springing from it. So, the rules essentially provide two dozen scenarios for players to game, which should give plenty of variety. Players are given a wide leeway in drawing up their troop lists, so this should generate even more variety of games.

Stay tuned to these pages for regular updates to The Beaver Wars campaign. If you are interested in purchasing Song of Drums and Tomahawks rules, they are available in both print and PDF versions on the Ganesha Games and Wargames Vault websites, linked below.

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