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Posted on Sep 2, 2008 in Boardgames

Army of Ireland – Boardgame Review

By Bill Bodden

Army of Ireland: A Counter-Strike mini-game. Fiery Dragon Games. Designed by David Cuatt. $22.95

Passed Inspection: A simple, solid design that plays quickly and smoothly.

Failed Basic: Could use a bit more redundancy between the rules and the charts for greater ease of reference.

Troops on both sides are roughly equal in ability; the difference is the weapon range and ammunition supply.

The Feinian invasion of Canada isn’t well known to most United States citizens, but in 1866, a group of Irish veterans of the American Civil War invaded Canada near Buffalo, New York. The idea was to capture large chunks of territory and exchange it for Ireland’s freedom from English rule. In Army of Ireland, you, too, can relive the action as the hardened Feinians attack the Canadian militiamen and irregulars at the battle of Ridgeway in Ontario.


Predominantly a two-player game, though easily adapted to one, three or four players, Army of Ireland begins with the Feinians set up along the right edge of the map, behind a railroad embankment which they’ve had time to adapt into a proper defensive position. A unit of skirmishers has been deployed forward, roughly halfway along the map, under cover of an orchard.

The basic game is a simple, stand-up fight; points are scored for routed/eliminated units. The Canadians are at a heavy disadvantage; they begin the game heavily outnumbered and outgunned by the better-equipped Feinians, and short ammo supplies will force them into even closer range as the game progresses. To their advantage, both sides start the game well out of long range for their weapons, so the Canadians have a little time to prepare.

Play is simple: activation chits for each unit are placed in a cup, and drawn at random until the cup is empty. Each unit is made up of from two to six counters, plus a unit commander. When one of his units is drawn, the owning player has up to four activation points to spend on two elements of each unit—moving to a clear hex costs one, firing costs three, etc. Each side also has an Overall Commander (OC) who can lend command support anywhere on the field within range of his command rating.

The Feinian player starts with everything he has on the board; there are no reinforcements. Historically, the Feinians were waiting for additional units to join them, but many were intercepted at the border by American troops and taken into custody. The Canadians do receive reinforcements on turn two, which evens the odds, but they still suffer from inferior weaponry. Their long-range rating is typically inside of the Feinians’ short-range capabilities.

Troops on both sides are roughly equal in ability; the difference is the weapon range and ammunition supply. When attacking, players roll two six-sided dice, hoping to roll an eight or higher. Having a commander within range, as well as catching the opposing troops in the open—or better yet, on a road—can add tactical advantage and lower the target number considerably. Target cover or long range will subtract from it. The Canadians, to be successful, must press their advantage as quickly as possible and use available cover to force the Feinians out in the open. If the Feinians choose a defensive strategy and stay behind their prepared earthworks along the railroad tracks, the Canadians will have their work cut out for them.

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1 Comment

  1. Nice review. You misspelled “Fenian” throughout, though.


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