David Dockter
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We dig Berg & the Ancients at First Minnesota Historical Wargame Society One of many, Carthage AARs: Carthage must be destroyed yet again: 1st MN's Match Game...and a Whiff of Thunderbolt.

Background: So how did we get here?

At the First Minnesota Historical Wargame Society, we love ancients ...and Berg...and operational strategic wargames. Plus, we're a fan of Against the Odds. So, it was preordained that BOUDICCA would get a play and a VERY friendly audience here in the heartland.

I got the game when it was first published by ATO in 2012. Since we are living in the 2nd Golden Age of Wargaming, poor Boudicca got shoved farther and farther down in the MUST PLAY PILE as more and more recently published quality games (damm cult of the new) took its place on top of the pile. And, yet, every time I saw that evocative & outstanding cover of the game, I thought, "Man, I've GOT to play that". Well, at least it stayed in the MUST PLAY PILE vs being exiled to the game closet...and then into game storage (where my games go to DEEP sleep).



I'm always in the market for a great op strategic ancients game. A few years ago I did a survey of the ancients. Some analysis is contained below. Related, I also did Episode XI of Guns, Dice, Butter Jan 8, 2013 (a conversation with Fred Schachter {designer of Siege of Jerusalem} and a conversation with Enrico Viglino {game reviewer extraordinaire} regarding wargames covering the ancients period) .

When the 1st MN boys & girls finally got Boudicca on the table last week, - with an outstanding 1st MN Dungeon Master Rich leading the charge - I knew I would finally get a shot at playing this fine title soon. Soon was yesterday.


Ancients: Ancients Wargames: The glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome


Ancients by decade


Alea Iacta Est on the must be played plate: planning to play with Sir Patrick at the club soon

A Bit about the Game...



In contrast to some of my other session reports, I won't spend much time explaining the game. That's been done: here is a comprehensive, outstanding review here:A Review of Boudicca (and her grandmother)


map: decent appearance, clean


counters: functional


Cards are the juice in this game: they drive the action.

Quick summary: It's card activation game. Players get between 6 and 10 action cards a game turn (6 game turns - players alternate playing cards). Each card allows the activation of 1,2 or 3 hexes or contains a special action (only a few of those).

Roman deck contains:
7: One activations
4: two activations
2: three activations
5: Specials (Gov gets to teleport, hail caesar, three force marches)

Brits deck contains:
10: One activations
2: two activations
1: three activations
5: Specials (two Druid invocations, spontaneous revolt, rampage!, draw another card if Brtis won a major battle this turn)

Tribes must revolt first and legions must be activated before either can move. Units may move twice in a turn. A leader may intercept (up to 3 hexes away - very cool, a reaction zone...similar to Berg's other ancients games).

Combat is interesting. Each side rolls dice. If a side has 2 to 1 odds, they roll 2 dice (opponent tosses one)...3 to 1 odds, 3 dice, etc. Sides inflict losses or disruptions on the enemy. The effect of a disruption is to subtract one from the next rounds combat die roll (and, yes, you can get multiple disruptions...causing more subtractions). Not many combat DRMs (die roll modifiers) for a Berg game. After each round, the side with lower combat strength can disengage and risk a cavalry pursuit. REALLY LIKE the retreat rules: each side moves its full movement towards safety. Effect is that multi tribe druid/brit stacks scatter.

Rulebook: Very good. ONLY SEVEN PAGES OF RULES. Berg demonstrates real design efficiency & elegance with this game: a lot of play value per page of rules.

Operational feel: Fabulous. Berg even tosses in a bridge building/destruction rule. Real cat & mouse. Lots of spaces, not many units. Love it. OF COURSE, I wish there were more capabilities for the leaders (sadly, only intercept), but, the lack of capabilities didn't seem to really crimp the fun.

One minor bitch & moan: It is too easy for the Brit (Boudicca with cavalry) to intercept...engage the Roman deathstar for a round and then disengage the Roman. Since each unit can only move twice in a game turn - and there are only 6 game turns - Boudicca can sort of run the clock out on the game.

We'll probably play with a house rule next time: Post successful combat movement: Keep track of the movement spent when the moving force is intercepted...if intercepting force disengages, the moving force may resume movement (subtracting one move point point for each round of combat) if it makes a die roll (easiest for Romans).

...a few more minor complaints: Roman force marching should result is some attrition...some downside besides the negative DRM if attacked. Mulligan rule for getting bunk cards: tweak it - allow a player to redraw, but they receive one less card (the NAPPY WARs rule). Would have liked to see at least a few more political rules.

Flavor/chrome/respect for the historical story/conflict the game is modeling? You don't need to ask: it's a Berg game...so, HIGH. There are Druid Invocation and Tribal Convocation (we forgot to play with that one) rules. Check out a few of the charts below. Any random event table that contains wicker baskets is going to be a good one. This is one of Berg's BIG talents: his games are full of soul & story.

Components? The map and counters are fine. Functional. Clean. Have a little flavor. All ok. Cards? There is no art on these cards (WTF?!)....This is a rare misstep in this package. I also think this was the first time ATO included cards in a game: give us more cards, but, at least make a token effort at tarting them up next time


Tribes: The usual wonderful Berg historical flavor/color/research


Game charts: 1


Game charts: 2

Setting Up


Berg's Boudicca: The Warrior Queen played last week at 1st MN.The boys gave it a thumbs up.

Wasn't able to make it to the usual BIG GAME TABLE Friday session that always kicks off in the morning. Called Alsen and he got me to Rich to confirm our evening Boudicca session.

I asked Rich, "Do I need to look at the rulebook?"

Rich: "No. "I'll be waiting for ya.".

I arrived a little after 6PM. Rich, being the gentleman gamer he is, had the game all setup and ready to go.

Rich is one of our FANTASTIC Dungeon Masters at the club. He gave me a 5 minute overview. And with that, we were underway (ANY relatively experienced gamer will have no challenge quickly grok'ing this game and then be able to push counters)...


setting up


Roman Governor Rich

Rich Horton
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Turn 1: Boudicca summons a rebillion


boudicca whips up a frenzy

The game began with Catuvellauni tribe revolting at hex 2821, Verulamium. The mob then stormed Londonium. Rome activated its XXIV legion. The druids continued their march to the south east with force entering Durovernum, setting up an attack on the Roman posts on the Southeast tip of Britain.

Rome activated and moved two legions, XXIV and XX as things began to heat up. XX forced march to hex 3915.

Boudicca got in to gear; moving all the way to hex 3529.

The druid player then tried the Druid Invocation Table. The Druid player shouted out for all to hear, "Bring out the wicker baskets. Ladies, begin your nude suggestive dancing in the forrest. I curse the roman dogs and I summon...". He then tossed a die..."6": bad augury...no effect.

The Druid player then tried again, "Bring out the wicker baskets. Ladies, begin your nude suggestive dancing in the forrest. I curse the roman dogs and I summon...". ...another die tossed....another "6". "DAMM, these auguries!".

Turn ended with the Druid player rolling on the Tribal Revolt Table three times. First, two "6s" tossed: no revolt. At that point, the Druid player let out a stream of ancient foul words. One last try...this time, he was successful and the Canti tribe joined the revolt.


Four sixes


Turn 1 end

Turn 2: Druids Take London and the Southeastern Roman Posts


Avalanche Press' Boudicca, Rome At War III: Queen of the Celts , her two deadly silicon based weapons and mutant children


Boudicca quickly moved towards Londonium

The Druids began the turn with 10 action cards, having captured two Roman cities on turn 1. Rome won the initiative roll and dispatched XXIV Legion to Cornovii.

Boudicca first moved on Camulodunum and overran the garrison and then turned her main force towards Londonium (and dispatching a few Roman citizens to the afterlife).

Rome responded by moving XX Legion to Magiovinium (3118) and IX Legion to 4321 (just south of Durobrivae). Rome also managed to torch Corinium.

The druids took two Roman posts in Portus Dubris & Rutupiae: the Roman position in the southeast of Britain had been almost totally annihilated. Druids also managed to enlist another tribe in the revolt: the Regni.


Attack on the Roman posts


Turn 2 end...red blocks indicate legions, blue blocks indicate concentrations of druids...little red cylinders are Roman cities

At that point, we took a quick break. Discovered that a game of Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage was under way (two club mates playing it for the first time) Also managed to check on the game shelves for new titles.


Our lair, The Source Comics & Games, is tarting up their lobby: 1st MN needs to get a big beautiful poster soon


More ancients play at 1st Mn last nite. Photo by Gordo

Turn 3: Boudicca Chases Away Girlie Mon XX Legion


Southern tribes needed some friendly druid coaxing to join the fight

Turn 3 began with both players receiving 8 action cards.

The turn began with bad weather on yet another Druid Invocation Table booooof. Boudicca moved her horde of 82 combat factors north to 3019, just south of Magiovinium. The adjacent XX Legion then fled north and linked up with XIV Legion.

In the east IX Legion continued its move on Boudicca's hometown (which, she had heartlessly abandoned).

In the south, a Druid leader continued recruitment of tribes by successfully enlisting the Belgae.

The now somewhat nervous Roman Governor Rich sent a text message to Rome requesting the II Legion. Sadly, he was ignored.

Each side ended the turn torching enemy towns and posts.


Turn 3 end

Turn 4: The Showdown: Boudicca vs Two Roman Legions


Another Boudicca


The first BIG battle

Turn 4 witnessed the showdown; a few of them. Boudicca intercepted two legion led by Paulinus at Magiovinium. Boudicca stayed for two rounds, but feared that the tide of battle was moving against her. She retreated and suffered a pursuit loss. Adding to her woe, the Romans managed to torch Venta, where the rebellion began.

In the west, II Legion engaged a large druid force at Corinium. 42 Roman SPs vs 48 Brition SPs. Again, the tide of battle went against the home team and the druids withdrew.

A side note. One, of many, cool design mechanics Mr.Berg has woven into this game is that the Roman are MUCH more resilient in battle. All units in the game have two steps. However, the Romans have many more units (76 to 47), but each has less strength than the druids (cohorts have a strength of 4/2 vs a typical druid of 10/5). The cool thing is that when a Roman unit suffers a step loss, it losses 2 combat strength vs a druid that drops 5. Very cool.

The turn ended with another big battle involving the two Roman legions and Boudicca. This time the site of action was Verulamium. Verulamium is the door to the southeast (Londinium and the southeast Roman posts on the coast). Boudicca tried valiantly to fend off the imperialist low roader Romans, but, to no avail. Again she had to flee east. She ended the turn by entering the shelter of the forrest close to Durolipolte.


Turn 4 end

Turn 5: The Disgrace of II Legion and the Capitulation of a once Proud Rome


...yet another Boudicca

Each player again receive 8 action cards. The turn began with the brits torching Londinium and the Roman burning Verulamium.

Out west, II Legion again engaged the druid horde close to Corinium. 42 Roman strength points fought 54 Druids. It was a glorious battle of MANY rounds. When the smoke cleared, the Romans had suffered 10 step losses vs only 5 for the druids. The Romans had to flee when they received their 4th disrupt result (meaning, any future battle rolls would be with a -4 DRM). Disgraced, II Legion fled north: the Roman right flank had disintegrated.

On the Roman left, Boudicca led her horde north to Durobrivae, planning a Turn 6 assault on Lindum. The rebellion was flourishing.

As the turn ended, Roman Governor Rich requested peace talks with the Boudicca. A truce was granted.


Site of the arse whipping of the disgraced 2nd legion

We decided to conduct a VP count at that point:

Rome

12: Four tribal towns torched
5: Boudicca's home town torched
1: One lonely Roman civilian group saved
2: Canti tribe destroyed
===
20 VPs for Rome

Druids

8: Two Roman towns torched
4: Two Roman posts torched & occupied
5: Five civilian groups cleansed from Britain
5: 2nd Legion 50% destroyed (let that be a lesson to would be invaders of Britain)
===
22 VPs for Boudicca and friends


VPs

After lengthy negotiations, the Romans agreed to limited autonomy for the Britons, including the right for the druids to eat their shitty english food in perpetuity. However, the brits also traded away Italian red for the right to drink outstanding bitter and cider in perpetuity...so, on balance, a marginal Boudicca victory.


Turn 5 end


Classy Andrew coaching

Wrap up: Three Big Thumbs Up


Boudicca is simple fun with flavor

After the game, I stopped by Bryant Lake Bowl for a beer and a taco. Did most of the session report there.

Mr.Berg did a great job with this game (and tip of the hat to the artistic team - cover, map, counters...but not the weak arse cards...grumble). THREE thumbs up (the three of us that have played this fine title at 1st MN the last two Fridays)...more play is planned...might even get a Boudicca tourney going this winter.

Berg's taken his previous design on the subject, Druid: Boudicca's Rebellion, 61 A.D., and improved it. Most importantly, he didn't lose the soul of the game {which probably impossible for Berg to do - to design a soul-less game}. Berg accomplished the same trick with Genesis: Empires and Kingdoms of the Ancient Middle East again this year: improving on a previous design (Pax Romana)

Get this game if you are:

1) Looking for something lite, but engaging and something that generates meaty op strategic decisions
2) Looking for a game to play at the club
3) Introducing a gamer to our hobby
4) A wargamer with a druid fetish

Play it. Almost no rules learning curve (only 7 pages!) Clean. Simple. Good flavor. Fun. Decent operational choices. Cat and mouse. Few units, lots of space. Complete a game in under 3 hours. Real play value pop per page of rules.

We do hope Mr.Berg tweaks (more political rules, give leaders some additional abilities, a few more cards with interesting effects, post successful battle movement capability) this system a little and applies to other ancient rebellions.



In post game discussion, Nathan (who had played Germania with me earlier in 2015: AAR: Herman the German: Counter Insurgency in the Ancient World: 1st MN dive's into Miranda's Germania ) stopped by. Nathan hasn't been able to attend 1st MN much lately, but, it now looks like he will be back in the fold for the upcoming long Minnesota winter. Nathan recommended we give a listen to the podcast, WHEN DIPLOMACY FAILS http://whendiplomacyfails.libsyn.com .

After that, we called it yet another highly successful 1st MN Friday gaming session. Next up on the ancient operational strategic game agenda for us: Alea Iacta Est . After that? Maybe, just maybe, we'll FINALLY attempt to tackle a beast of a beast: Epic of the Peloponnesian War which has been sitting on the shelf unplayed for 9 years. Allen & Frick tried it a few times; mixed reviews. However, I think we are going to attempt it again. In prep, I tarted up the rules to it:

http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX?233@@.1dcfb38d/2861!enclosu...

Wish us luck. arrrh




Berg's Boudicca 2012 has a lower game weight (about 2) and is higher rated than Druid


G.A.A.R. -- 11/13/15 -- Yes, We Did It!!! Edition


=====================



Other 1st MN/Sawatdee/Herr Dr AARs: 1st MN/Sawatdee/Herr Dr Session Reports

And, if you are a follower of the way of the beast; someone that likes big honking beautiful flavor filled wargames: The Way of the Beast: Session reports & reviews of heavy wargames

======================

[NOTE: We discovered later the events of the day on the other side of the Atlantic in the City of Light: Thoughts, prayers and fraternity with our brothers and sisters in Paris on what turned out to be a tragic, senseless and horrible day.



Related today for anyone in the area: Sunday Nov 15 2P - Alliance Française Mpls/St Paul, 113 N First St - Minneapolis):
http://afmsp.org/events/memorial-march-for-paris/

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Rich Horton
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Actually, were you to intercept a Roman force on a Forced March there would be a negative effect on the Romans. It just didn't come up on this play through. And, evidently, torching a town needs to be the first thing a unit does on a turn. You cannot move into the town and then torch it later. It has to be there at the turn's start. I've never played that rule correctly.

Oh well.
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Gordon J
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Fantastic report as usual. Beer & Taco, What a great way to write up a session report.
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David Dockter
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You should give Boudicca a shot Gordo; I think you would like it.
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Gordon J
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Herr Dr wrote:
You should give Boudicca a shot Gordo; I think you would like it.


Low counter density, seems like my kind of game.
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David Dockter
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Gordon, you are going to want to stay away from Day of Days: The Invasion of Normandy 1944
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http://afmsp.org/events/memorial-march-for-paris/

Good turnout & event.
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Richard Berg
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Thanx for the kind comments . . .and glad you enjoyed The Bou . . .

rhb
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David Dockter
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More play of Boudicca tonight at the club: more thumbs up.
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http://www.atomagazine.com/Details.cfm?ProdID=109&category=4

Looks like ATO now has upgraded cards for the game.
 
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first great game,,,, turn one going made a mistake I forgot you can only activate one hex per one point so I had a bunch of cohorts an cavalry in londinium the ctvlni revolted an move to combat against londinium what a blood bath the last ctvlni were cut down by the roman cavalry lesson learned need big tribes to fight together to win great feel to this game , well done!!!!
 
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