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Fortress America: Strategy and Tactics
In 1986, Milton Bradley released its second Gamemaster board game: Fortress America. Having played Fortress America over one hundred times in the past decade, I offer the following wisdom for play.
For the invaders to win the game, they must occupy at least 18 cities at the end of any USA turn. The invaders must act quickly and decisively, using their early turns to gain ground before the USA can adequately reinforce coastal cities. Teamwork is not always essential, but can be crucial depending on what reinforcements the USA gains.
For the USA to win, the player must hold at least 12 cities at the end of his turn. Judicious use of reinforcements and lasers will determine if the USA can pull off the defense of the homeland.
The Western Invader (Yellow)
The Western Invader should be responsible for capturing the following cities: Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and San Diego. Yes, San Diego is in Southern Invader (Blue) territory; Blue will be discussed shortly. Take Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles on the first turn. Also, take the territory west of Seattle to set up your second or third turn attack. Choose troops based on the defenders. Try to allow for losses and still maintain combined arms for an easier conquest. Your second or third turn should secure Seattle and San Diego.
Do not try to capture every territory on the board; this only wastes time and resources. Instead, limit your supply lines towards Salt Lake City to the Portland and south Portland invasion routes. If necessary, the San Francisco invasion route can add firepower when you finally attack Salt Lake City. In two or three territories, primarily cities but not in resource territories, station some troops of all types to deal with any USA reinforcements that may appear. 1 or 2 infantry, 1 Mobile Unit, 1 Tank and 1 Helicopter should suffice for most emergencies. Also, your Infantry are slow to advance, and you should be able to find some in the rear area for emergency support.
After capturing Salt Lake, head for Denver. Blue should be there as well. You may have to cooperate to take Denver, as the USA will have had time to bring in heavier defenses. While attacking Salt Lake and Denver, send some Helicopters and follow-up Tanks or Mobile Units across the upper Plains Sector towards Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Kansas City. Be cautious of these deep penetrations; severed supply lines can leave you unable to save your troops.
The Southern Invader (Blue)
The Southern Invader should be responsible for capturing the following cities: Phoenix, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, New Orleans, and possibly Denver, Memphis, St. Louis and/or Kansas City. Leave San Diego for the Yellow player to avoid stretching yourself too thin. To capture your three coastal cities choose your forces as suggested for Yellow, with the exception of Houston. Overload Houston to ensure the capture; if you fail, the USA will load the defenders and make your job extremely difficult. By grabbing Houston first turn, you divide the defenders in Dallas and New Orleans, forcing them to stay at home rather than reinforce, a classic 'Divide and Conquer'.
The USA can quickly bring defenders to Dallas and New Orleans, so combined attacks will be necessary. Focus on Dallas, as you will have an easier time gaining adjacent territories from which to attack. After Dallas and New Orleans fall, you can head for Memphis, St. Louis, Kansas City, or perhaps even Atlanta if the Eastern Invader (Red) is having trouble.
While fighting the battle for the Houston area, also head for Denver. By the time you get to Denver the USA will have brought in extra defenders, so you will likely need 2 territories next to Denver for a combined attack. Be sure to station some troops in your rear area to deal with surprise USA reinforcements. Once Denver falls, you can concentrate on a deeper penetration to the east. Your invasion route to Denver may be split from the Houston area for a few turns. Endeavor to link these troops to ease the task of reinforcement.
The Eastern Invader (Red)
The Eastern Invader should be responsible for conquering the following cities: Miami, Tampa, Atlanta, Memphis and Washington DC. Additional targets could include Philadelphia, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Chicago and/or Pittsburgh. If possible, capture Miami and Tampa on the first turn. Set up a second or third turn combined attack on Atlanta by capturing both territories to the south of Atlanta on your first turn. Alternately, capture south of Atlanta and the two mountain territories north of Atlanta before assaulting. Use maximum force to conquer Atlanta, then use it as a defensive base for incursions further north. Use the supply line just north of Atlanta to aim for Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
Washington DC is a special case. It is easily captured on the first turn, but the USA will certainly be able to retake the city, earning a bonus reinforcement card. Before attempting to take DC, capture the mountain territories around the city, both south and west. This will allow you a combined attack and prevent a combined attack by the USA. Once you have secured your attack bases, hit the city with everything possible. Still, the masses of troops in the northeast make holding the city difficult, so be cautious. As you attack north from Atlanta, the USA may be forced to draw troops from the northeast for defense, so those attacks could ease the task of holding DC.
Be sure to station defensive troops in the rear to counter USA reinforcements. If possible, avoid resource territories, as they are often targeted by USA reinforcements.
Because of the random nature of US reinforcements, playing the US can be a challenge; good tactical sense is essential for success.
Because your coastal cities are going to fall anyway, save your stronger units for containing the invaders rather than initial defense. If any invader is making sudden rapid progress, mass your laser fire on them for a turn, slowing their advance and gaining time.
Alternately, heavy initial forces in the Eastern cities can seriously slow Red's progress. Since Red generally suffers the heaviest casualties, why not make the situation as hard as possible. By reducing the eastern invader's ability to penetrate, you can free up troops to defend in the South, or possibly the West.
Use your reinforcements to launch surprise attacks on captured cities. Back up your attacks with laser support. Every liberated city earns extra reinforcements for the next turn. Also, use your reinforcements to cut supply lines. If the invader cannot reestablish the supply line, forces will be lost without needing to fight them directly.
For increased defensive power, mass your troops and place them in cities and mountains. Find natural choke points, especially in the east, and occupy them heavily. Beware moving all your troops from internal cities such as Milwaukee and Chicago; an invader may make rapid progress, leaving you hard-pressed to defend those cities.
The strategies described here are not foolproof. The US may gain such reinforcements that an invader's plans are stopped cold and be unable to recover. One Invader may have outstanding dice for a few turns, pushing all US opposition aside. There are surely other strategies for playing. Play the game and discover them for yourself.