On June 18th, 2017 H2H (Hand to Hand Entertainment) & designer Eric Sheppard, will be launching their Kickstarter Project Sabres & Smoke: The War of 1812. This is also the 205th anniversary of the start of the war.

The War of 1812 has been considered the “forgotten” war by some historians. This was a war that pitted the young United States versus the British, Canadian colonists, & Native Nations for almost three years. There were tons of skirmishes that ended with almost 24,000 people perishing during the war. This would be a war that would forge the destinies of not just the United States of America but Canada as well.

Sabres & Smoke is a two player war game, ages ten years to adult, & has a variable time for each of the scenarios.

In Sabres & Smoke one player command the Infantry, Militia, Artillery, & Naval forces of the United States & the other player will command the Infantry, Militia, Artillery, & Naval forces of Great Britain. The British player will also command Native American warriors & members of the Canadian Militia.

Players will take turns fighting out each of the scenarios in the game manual. There are currently sixteen different scenarios in the game manual. Each scenario will describe how to set up the battlefield. Each scenario will give the location of the battle, the date of the battle, flavor text describing the battle, the orders for each side, & special rules.

Each turn will consist of four actions: drawing a battle card, movement, battle, & resolving the battle.

On a player’s turn they will draw a battle card & show it to their opponent. The effect on the card immediately applies for the rest of the turn unless it states otherwise. Battle cards will either have a positive or negative effect on the situation. Some cards may be kept by the player, these will be used later. Used cards will be placed at the bottom of the deck of Battle Cards.


Next the player will move their forces according to the orders listed in the scenario. These orders will change from scenario to scenario. Each game piece will have a movement listed on them. Each piece in a unit must move together. Terrain on the battlefield may restrict the movement of some units.


After each unit moves they will then battle an opposing unit if able. Once a battle has ended the player’s next unit will move until all of their possible movements are finished.

During a battle players will need to work through four steps. First the attacking player will need to determine range.

Next the attacking player will need to determine their attack factor. The attack factor is determined by the attack number of their unit on the attacking player’s side versus the defense number of the defender’s unit. If the attacking player’s attack factor is larger than the defender’s then the attack is successful. That player will then roll a number of dice to a maximum of six dice. If the attacking unit has a lower attack factor then they will roll one attack die.

The attack dice will determine what happens during the battle. The symbols on the dice will represent: hits, retreat, shell, leader, & hand to hand combat. Each die will contain two hit symbols.


After each battle, players will resolve what has happened during the battle. These may involve removing soldiers or the retreating of soldiers.

The first player to reach the allotted amount of points in the scenario orders will win that scenario.

There is a ton that is included in this game. As a disclaimer I must warn that the photos I am presenting in this review are of the prototype game that I have received from Hand to Hand Entertainment. Included were a ton of military units on top of a bunch of double-sided terrain pieces.

The scenario below is of the Siege Fort of Detroit, Michigan on August 15th-16th, 1812.


I really enjoyed playing Sabres & Smoke: The War of 1812. Each scenario was full of history from each of the battles from the real war of 1812.

In this light strategy game I felt as if I was transported back in time to the many territories that were under siege, from the Maryland territories to the upper regions of Canada.

War games like Sabres & Smoke provide players with a different aspect of how a war is fought. Sometimes the side that won in the history books isn’t always the side that comes out on top on the table.

Sabres & Smoke is currently running as a project on Kickstarter. On the project page you will find a video & plenty of photos of the game. You can find the Kickstarter here: Sabres & Smoke: The War of 1812.

It’s time to face history & game on!

-Christopher Richter

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