I think the issue is that most British players don't do that (which I agree is realistic) but pull the Boston forces south which allows for early capture of New York-Philadelphia. Its that in turn that makes the scenario very pro-British once a player works this out. I think my recent PBEM with Altaris
explores this pretty well.
I do agree. The 1775 and 1776 starts are still very popular with players. These are the house rules I am currently using, developed with jointly with another player:
Some players have found the 1776 scenario has grown stale because a 'best' British play has emerged for both the 1775 and 1776 Campaigns assuring British victory between two relatively equal players, the following 'house rules' are offered for your consideration. Certainly players can do just a few or all of these suggestions.
The historical justification for the house rules flow from the British attempt to use diplomacy early in the war, only later undertaking the chore of conquering a continent.
1) Spain does not come further north than St Augustine. But the Gulf and Mississippi Basin are wide open.
2) Hard activation is used. This is the option which means non-activated generals and their forces may become locked.
3) For both British and Americans, the numerically strongest force must be led by the 3 star general ranked first in seniority (Usually, Gage, Howe, Clinton ; Washington)
Only armies led by a 3 star general may have more than four generals in the stack.
Armies led by a 2 star general may have no more than three generals in the stack.
If a force/stack has a 1 star general commanding, the force may have no more than two 1 star generals total to provide command.
4) Burgoyne's force must go to Canada (other British forces can join him) and he can start immediate hostilities against the Colonial forces from Canada (e.g. he can attack south from Canada at any time since hostilities have already commenced there)
5) British forces will focus on one of four major Colonial cities in 1776 (Boston, New York, Philadelphia or Charleston)
6) If Howe stays in Boston, any other British forces arriving in 1776 will go to Boston, Halifax or Canada.* Boston becomes the staging base for British forces in 1776.
7) If Howe decides to leave Boston, he will return to Halifax where he will remain for 4-6 months (more on this later).* If Howe leaves Boston, other British forces that arrive by sea in the game prior to his return to the Colonies will go to Halifax or Canada.
8) There should be a time uncertainty as well as a location uncertainty for when the British forces come back from Halifax.* The British player will roll a 6 sided dice keeping the result secret.* 1-2 means the British will return in 4 months, 3-4 means the British will return in 5 months and 5-6 means the British will return in 6 months.* For example, if the British evacuate Boston in the March turn and the British roll a 4, the British can then leave Halifax in the August turn.
9)* Once the British gain control of one of the four Colonial cities, they will establish a North American base of operations in that city/region for the duration of 1776.* They can extend control a single region in all directions from the region of the base of operations.* If attacked by Colonial forces in 1776 in their base of operations or adjacent region, they can extend control further to two regions from the base of operations.
10) A general state of war will exist in January of 1777. If the Colonial Army attacks any of the regions adjacent to the chosen British Staging City, then general state of war exists from that moment.
11) Cornwallis and any British forces arriving in the South may attack and secure Wilmington, Charleston or Savannah. If a southern base of operations is established in 1776, the limitations of (9) & (10) will govern the southern base as well.
Issues with the house rules: The British will have supply challenges the first year. Our solution was to allow the British to use supply wagons to build depots and to expand outward from the limitations listed in (9) until they sufficient supply to*survive*the winter of 1776-1777.* It would be useful feedback for players who try these house rule to determine if this is a good game balancing mechanism or if it ruins the pleasure of play.
Hard activation is used. This is the option which means non-activated generals and their forces*may*become locked. This is really the most historical option even though many players hate the seeming loss of control. These house rules are founded upon balancing the game with two experienced players. Hard activation is the key way of achieving this balance, by putting to lower initiative British leaders in charge. Once the war develops and the superior initiative British leaders gain promotions, the Americans have had time to develop the Continental Army.