Volume VI of the COIN series will bring a number of changes to the system to apply the realities of combat, politics and economics in the eighteenth century. Each leader has a specific Brilliant Stroke card with capabilities that can be used by trumping an event card in play. The mechanism allows each player, once per game, to utilize their current leader to deliver an earth shattering blow to the enemy. Additionally there is a hierarchy of Brilliant Stroke cards so one side can trump another sides Brilliant Stroke. In the end it is a threat that each player possesses and a threat to each player’s strategy.
Where did the term Brilliant Stroke come from? There are a number of references to the concept of a Brilliant Stroke in the writing of the time.
With the arrival of General Howe and his armada of ships and men near New York City in 1776 Washington called a council of his Generals to discuss a response. He later wrote to the Continental Congress to communicate the results of the council. In reference to the enemy they faced Washington wrote: “…it is now extremely obvious from their movements, from our intelligence, and from every other circumstance, that, having their whole army upon Long Island, except about four thousand men who remain on Staten Island, they mean to enclose us in this island by taking post in our rear, while their ships effectually secure the front; and thus, by cutting off our communication with the country, oblige us to fight them on their own terms, or surrender at discretion; or, if that shall be deemed more advisable, by a brilliant stroke endeavor to cut this army to pieces, and secure the possession of arms and stores which they well know our inability to replace.
After leaving New York, Washington wrote John Hancock and discussed the plan to “…wait for an opportunity when a brilliant stroke could be made with any probability of success” Certainly Washington’s successful attacks at Trenton and Princeton that followed were “Brilliant Strokes”.
The Marquis de Lafayette proposed to Washington a “brilliant stroke: to rouse the people of France.”
General Charles Lee planned (and wrote about) but never attempted a “brilliant stroke’ into New York from New Jersey. Perhaps the most professional soldier in the Patriot army Charles Lee was an extraordinarily controversial figure. He and his guards were captured by British Colonel Banastre Tarleton at White’s Tavern in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. His time in British custody including plans he made for the British is controversial and documented by his own writings. After being released through an officer swap he showed poorly at the Battle of Monmouth. Washington dressed Lee down in front of the troops, Lee publicly expressed disrespect to the Commander-in-Chief and was arrested and later court-martialed. After Lee appealed unsuccessfully to the Continental Congress to overturn the court-martial’s verdict he resorted to written and verbal attacks on Washington – not a popular move.
After reading about the concept of the “Brilliant Stroke” it was easy to apply the label to the larger impact of leadership in the game. Leaders also influence other aspects of the game like battle and each leader has special capabilities but the Brilliant Strokes will each change the momentum and potentially the outcome of the game. What will your Brilliant Stroke be?
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