Liberty or Death
Liberty or Death SNES Cover
Developer(s): Koei
Publisher(s): Koei
Release Date: Flag of Japan: September 27, 1993 (DOS/V & PC-9801)
March 18, 1994 (SFC)
Flag of the United States.svg: April 1994 (SNES)
1994 (Sega Genesis)
Genre: Historical simulation, Turn-based strategy
Game Modes: Single player, Multiplayer
Ratings: ESRB: ESRB Mature Rating
Platform(s): DOS/V, PC-9801, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Genesis

Liberty or Death (独立戦争 Liberty or Death, Dokuritsu Sensō - Liberty or Death, "War of Independence") is a turn-based strategy title based on the American Revolution, a war between the thirteen colonies of North America against the British Empire. The title's namesake is Patrick Henry's famous quote, "Give me Liberty, or Give me Death!", during the Virginia Convention.

Kou Shibusawa is the producer and Noriyoshi Ourai illustrated the cover of the game. The designer for the American DOS version is Stieg Hedlund.


See also: Liberty or Death/Officer List

Players are first given the option of playing against the computer, competing with a second player, or controlling both sides (manually or by AI). Afterwards, they must choose whether to play as the American Continental Army or the British Royal Army. Each side has its own set of pros and cons derived from historical facts that may affect whatever strategies the players can use in order to seize victory.

  • American Continental Army (George Washington on home console versions) - Starts out in the middle of the map with only a few officers and territories at their disposal, thus leaving them in a defensive position. Occasionally gains support from volunteers and eventually from other foreign countries as the war goes in their favor. Recommended for beginners who want to get a good feel of the game.
  • British Royal Army (Thomas Gage on home console versions) - Begins the game with more territories and war funds. However, this advantage does not last for long due to the limited amount of officers available for the British side. Therefore, a quick offense is essential in order to gain the upper hand. The shortage of men can be somewhat assuaged by hiring multiple Hessians (German mercenaries) to counter the gradual foreign aid of the Americans. Recommended for experienced players who wish to challenge themselves.

The main objective of the game is to defeat the opposing side by winning battles and occupying every single district throughout the colonies. Aside from handling skirmishes every now and then, running each district efficiently adds another depth of challenge. Players are encouraged to think resourcefully as to how they can solidify their forces while appropriately managing their funds at the same time. Failure to do so may cause overall popularity to wane and convince political entities to vote for the Commander-in-Chief's resignation, thus prematurely ending the game.

Once players have chosen their faction, they are immediately summoned by the Continental Congress (for the Americans) or the British Parliament (for the British) to discuss how the military budget should be spent for the next three months. These funds are used for financing the navy, the salaries of each officer, the districts within the player's domain, and so on.

It is up to players to decide how much money should be distributed for each factor to maintain the needs of their army. Officers are prone to losing loyalty if their wages are not paid in full, leading to their eventual defection. The same goes for generic militia as well. Also featured in this part of the game are the options of requesting for new regiments or building up naval fleets to deploy them for future battles ahead. Each subsequent meeting may also give players the chance to promote any of their men into a higher rank if their standing with the government is high enough.

District ManagementEdit

Though the game itself focuses more on military conflict, it also delves into politics and economics as both armies must gain the support of the people while increasing the means in sustaining themselves. Each district is given two turns a month to manage the actions of the residing regiments. The officer with the highest rank is automatically in charge of the region. By consuming "Body" points that partially replenish in each turn, officers are able to perform a wide range of actions to help their cause. These actions are divided into five different categories.

  • Domestic - Offers actions that help improve the army's economic standing or their reputation within the various districts. The success of domestic actions mostly rely on the officer's reputation and proficiency in tactics.
  • Materials - The actions within this category mostly entail the purchase of necessities such as food, gunpowder, and arms. It also includes services for the construction of cannons and boats for regiments.
  • Personnel - This particular category pertains to actions that aim to recruit new officers or please current ones for the purpose of raising their loyalty.
  • Military - Actions within this category include military duties such as training, drafting, mobilizing, and initiating battles.
  • Info - Contains a menu of actions that list down information regarding each officer, district, and state within the player's jurisdiction. Also includes the spy option used for gaining info on the enemy army.

The importance of organizing each district accordingly becomes quite clear as players gain more new territory. Because of the difference in strategic value and terrain for each area, one must decide which district is worth attacking. In addition to this, there are numerous third-party factions that appear on different parts of the map at random. These units cannot be controlled and will act on their own unless recruited by their preferred side. Revolutionary regiments affiliate themselves with the Americans whereas the Loyalists are supporters of the British. Other factions also include foreign armies from France and Spain that serve as non-recruitable allies for the Continental Army.

Climate changes, epidemics, occasional aid from locals or foreigners can also affect gameplay. Historical events may occur randomly after fulfilling or failing specific conditions. Some of these events are entirely optional and can be averted by the player's own actions. For instance, Nathan Hale's execution can be prevented by not allowing him to be captured by the British. Another example is that the player can prevent Benedict Arnold's treason by keeping his loyalty high enough.

Battle SystemEdit

Before initiating battles, players are required to allocate a certain amount of food, gunpowder, and currency in order to last through several rounds of fighting. Also, they must organize the formation of their troops before battle to effectively mobilize against the opposing army.

Turn-based battles take place on hex-shaped maps filled with all kinds of terrain such as fields, rivers, mountains, and oceans. Time of day and the seasons further affect the layout of the battlefield, some of which can obscure the player's vision. Every district has its own map consisting of roads and obstacles that may impede attackers to a certain degree.

Units such as infantry, guerrilla, and cavalry are used for close-combat whereas support units like engineers are utilized for providing artillery support and constructing bridges. The potency of these troops is reliant on the commanding officer's stats, armaments, and terrain. Naval troops may also join the fray in coastal battle zones if available.

Players can capture weakened enemy units and hold them hostage in exchange for money or keep them imprisoned instead. Likewise, the opposing side has access to these options as well. Capturing the Commander-in-Chief usually results in an instant victory for the captor's side as well as the apprehension of any remaining foe. In higher difficulty settings, capturing too many officers may cause them to escape due to overflowing prisons.

Differences between portsEdit

  • When an ally general is captured by enemy forces in the Japanese PC versions, the player has no means of retrieving them. The home console ports added the ransom and prisoner exchange system to compensate.
  • Trenches need to be built in a particular direction in the home console editions. This does not affect the PC versions.
  • The PC editions can additionally perform a mandatory collection of funds and supplies from all ally colonies at the risk of lowering the Commander-in-Chief's reputation and officer loyalty.
  • Rumors to lower an enemy's reputation do not exist in the home console versions. It is a safer command than using the Spy order.
  • Barracks can be built in the PC versions to protect troops from the intense dangers of seasonal weather. This feature is removed completely from home consoles.
  • Japanese PC versions have an in-game chronicle to record and hint historical events for the player.
  • Starting stats and skill levels of every playable officer vary between the English and Japanese versions.
  • The American PC versions allow players the choice to choose Artemas Ward or Charles Lee as Commander-in-Chief for the Americans and Sir Henry Clinton or William Howe for the British.
  • The graphics, sound quality, and the presentation of the game's music slightly differ from one another in each port and region.


External LinksEdit