The game begins in 1775 with the convocation of the Second Continental Congress. Each turn represents a year during which the player sets policies (e.g. the attitude towards loyalists), assigns leaders to administrative positions (historical figures, each with their own set of characteristics), recruits military support and manpower (for the continental army, state militia and privateers on the sea), negotiates alliances with European states, regulates the economy (inflation) and raises taxes (even the slave issue is taken into consideration).
The player's government eventually formally declares independence from Britain, leading to civil war, forcing the player to defend the confederated rebelling colonies. The battles are resolved automatically, based on army strength & quality, the presence of a general, morale and supply level. The final outcome may range from a successful defense of a fledgling independence, through a partial autonomy, to an unconditional surrender.