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Subject: "Broad market" Brit rss

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Lewis Pulsipher
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At PrezCon this weekend I heard about a "broad market" version of a famous gateway game. That gateway game is quite simple, but this version is MUCH simpler, to appeal to a broader market--people who don't normally play boardgames at all (I think), and who might buy them in places like Target of Macy's.

Just for the heck of it, I'm trying to develop a "broad market" version of Brit (the kind of thing that would sell with Risk and similar games). History may be too serious for a broad market, especially medieval British history, but it's an interesting exercise. I already have "Brit Lite" version, and that can be played by casual gamers and video gamers, but I'm aiming at the sort of folks who might play Risk and Monopoly and checkers or chess, but not much else.

The game would have to have many fewer units than Brit, and many fewer areas (my first cut has 14 instead of 37 land areas). Six turns perhaps, 8 nations. I'm afraid that with the limits required, the Roman conquest must be left out. Non-gamers might not care for the one-sidedness of it, but more important, it will tend to go the same every time, so let's not bother.

Obviously, there should be plastic figures for pieces.

Leader pieces? No, I think the way to introduce historical flavor (and some variation) is with cards. Those cards can include leader cards that the player will always get on certain turns.

Possible timeline:
400-525 A-Saxons, Scots come w/Fergus
525-650 Badon etc. stops A-S, then win by A-S (577 especially)
650-800 A-S clean up, Heptarchy
800-925 Vikings. Kenneth McAlpin
925-1025 Viking renewal, Cnut
1025-1100 Four Kings

My first cut with nations was 12:
R-B
Angles
Saxons
Scots
Picts
Brigs
Welsh
Irish
Norwegians
Normans
Danes
Norse-Dubliners

But that's too many, so I tried for 8

Britons less Welsh (R-Bs and "Brigs")
Welsh
Angles
Saxons
Danes
Norse including Dubs & Norwegians
Scots & Picts & Irish
Normans

Four players:
Angles--Normans
Saxons--Scots Irish Picts
Welsh--Danes
Britons--Norse Dubs Norweg etc.
So the British get Vikings to play with. Angles (who get stomped) get the eventual historical winners (Normans)

I have a system for possible double occupancy of areas that works very well in Frankia (and Brit Lite), but it's a little complex. So I'm waffling between having more areas than the 14 I came up with, or 14 and double occupancy, or more areas--but that might mean empty areas, and might require more pieces. Dunno until I try something.

Or maybe more areas to avoid double occupancy? But then areas might be empty, that's the problem.

The Brit combat system has far too much variation to be used at this scale. But dice rolling is fine for this market. Right now I'm thinking roll one die for each army, higher total kills one army of other side and pushes them back. Cards might modify this (e.g. leaders add one to each die roll). (Variation: one die plus one per army, helps the defense a lot.)

That's all for now. I have many other things to work on as a result of PrezCon contacts, I'm glad to say.
 
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Justin
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lewpuls wrote:
I already have "Brit Lite" version


i wish i did too! i might have bought britannia over a year ago and it still hasn't hit the table.
 
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Lewis Pulsipher
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Well, with FFG reprinting Brit and not interested in other versions such as expansions, Britlite lies dormant. I am using the techniques in other games.

Two of the "expansions" would have been a 10 turn and a 6 turn version of Brit. The games exist, but I'm not spending any time on them. Shrug.
 
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Justin
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would you give consideration to releasing it free as a print & play type thing if publishing looks like it won't be an option?

i think that it could increase sales of the base game if circulated and reviewed on bgg.
 
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Lewis Pulsipher
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No. Far too much work to get it to a proper state, I have to work on what might be published. Moreover, if I put together expansions for games, then issue them for free, I'll never persuade anyone to publish an expansion to one of my games, will I? Either reason is sufficient at this point.
 
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Ronster Zero
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I on the other hand, just got this in a trade and played it the first weekend I got it.

What a fantastic war game you have produced. I was a *bit* daunted by the rules at first, but read, play, repeat worked very well and I found the rules very digestible.

The theme and time period is what made me love this game. Loosing that would probably loose me, but then again, when I explain this game to some of my friends I see their eyes glaze over.

I think leaders are a MUST. Cards or units, I think they need to be simulated. Also, ever thought of using step blocks. Giving units the ability to be reduced or reinforced might help with the smaller nation size.

You also might think of considering Homeland or Capital land areas. Kind of like A&A revised in which capturing a certain number of capital lands wins the game. This would give more "broad based" gamers some simple direction to drive for.

Just a few thoughts.....

Oh, and to mention it again, I love the original game.
 
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George Van Voorn
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Quote:
The Brit combat system has far too much variation to be used at this scale. But dice rolling is fine for this market. Right now I'm thinking roll one die for each army, higher total kills one army of other side and pushes them back. Cards might modify this (e.g. leaders add one to each die roll). (Variation: one die plus one per army, helps the defense a lot.)


I hope I get this straight, but don't you mean you roll ONE die per WHOLE army, not just one unit?! If you have four units and roll four dies, this would require calculations (1+2+4+4 = ..., yoh, what's 1+2 ... etc). I don't think that is for the "market" you aim for.

I would normally say, make a table where can be seen what the result is of a single die roll based on the number of units in the army. But this is not for the "market" you aim for. So, instead, perhaps you could use different kinds of dies. 1 units rolls a D6, 2 units D8, 3 units D12, 4+ units D20, and higher roll wins. But I still doubt this is for the "market" you aim for. These people don't even know other die types but D6. On the other hand, that might be part of the attraction...

Regarding the history: these people won't care. They want something like Romans, Vikings and Saxons. I don't think they ever heard of Dubliners and stuff, so 8 peoples, 2 per player, is just fine. 14 areas might be a bit too little, I would say something like 25. No double occupancy, too complex (well, not for me, but you get my point). No overrun, sea moves, and whatever. I fear the whole spirit of the game might be lost this way, but from what I understand you want some beefed up Risk-game like Shogun or History of the World.
 
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Lewis Pulsipher
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Lookup tables are anathema for simple games, I would never use one. Ordinary Brit fans would be fine with them, but "broad market" people just don't cope well with them. And in the broad American market, people don't mind at all rolling dice, they kind of like it (Risk, Axis & Allies). So a method that requires some dice rolling and then simple addition (even if people count the individual pips) appears to be best, to me.

The alternative is a card-based combat method as I use in Brit-lite, Frankia (rules may be in the files section). But that's two decks of cards, and a lot of explanation. A broad market game should have a really simple rules explanation.

I've decided to go with the Brit Lite board (18 areas) for a first try, 14 was just too few.

My first cut for pieces is at less than 70.

Shrug.
 
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J. Alan Henning
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lewpuls wrote:
So a method that requires some dice rolling and then simple addition (even if people count the individual pips) appears to be best, to me.


I disagree. The Axis & Allies approach is so 1980s. If you look at Memoir 44, Attack!, the updated Conquest of the Empire, they all use symbols on the dice. I think that that is the new mass-market approach.

So for BritLite, I'd suggest you roll the same number of dice as you have attackers. Each die that you can match to an attacker counts as a hit.

Symbol - Effect:
Spear - a hit if matches an attacking infantry
Wheel - a hit if matches an attacking infantry and not attacking in highlands
Sword - a hit if matches an attacking Roman
Horse - a hit if matches an attacking cavalry
Fort - a hit if matches a fort/burgh
Shield - a miss

Such a system rewards combined arms more (a calvary and an infantry in highlands have four sides of two dies they can hit on, compared to three sides if each unit was rolled on its own die). That makes combat more deadly; you might want to drop the Wheel symbol and just have another Shield.

I'd love to play BritLite, if you could come up with it. It's not an expansion but a different game with the same theme.
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Lewis Pulsipher
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Jeffrey Henning wrote:


Symbol - Effect:
Spear - a hit if matches an attacking infantry
Wheel - a hit if matches an attacking infantry and not attacking in highlands
Sword - a hit if matches an attacking Roman
Horse - a hit if matches an attacking cavalry
Fort - a hit if matches a fort/burgh
Shield - a miss

Such a system rewards combined arms more (a calvary and an infantry in highlands have four sides of two dies they can hit on, compared to three sides if each unit was rolled on its own die). That makes combat more deadly; you might want to drop the Wheel symbol and just have another Shield.



I see your point. Interesting, but difficult to make work--e.g., there's no way above for an infantry to hit cavalry, is there? Though you could make the spear do both... And forts become hard to hit, etc.

In any case, I want to reduce the role of chance, and reproducing the Brit combat with symbols won't do that: there's too much standard deviation in the Brit method for a smaller game (which becomes more obvious when you play a four or five turn scenario).

There's much less deviation in the simple method I'm going to try (which I have used in a Chinese-based game, but there were more dice involved there).

I'd consdier a no-chance method, but on this small scale I suspect it would lead to chess-like analysis, which is undesirable in this kind of game.
 
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J. Alan Henning
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lewpuls wrote:
I see your point. Interesting, but difficult to make work--e.g., there's no way above for an infantry to hit cavalry, is there?

Actually there is. Sorry, I was just being illustrative rather than developing a full system. I also wasn't clear enough on some of the details. I'm recovering from a mild case of the flu and am a bit mutton-headed.

Hopefully here's what I actually meant:

Spear - a hit if matches an attacker or defender
Wheel - a hit if matches an attacker (not attacking in highlands) or matches a defender

Quick example:

I attack your two infantry and burgh in Essex with one cavalry and two infantry. I roll three dice, and get two Horse symbols and a Spear. I match one of the Horse symbols to my cavalry and one of the Spears to one of my infantry for two hits on you.

You roll three dice and roll a Shield (a miss), a Sword (a miss) and a Wheel, which you can use to match any of your defenders. You score one hit.

Each of us chooses our casualties and fights again. I now have an infantry and cavalry; you now have just the burgh.

I roll two dice for one cavalry and one infantry. I roll a Fort and a Sword; two misses.

When you roll for your burgh, you will hit on a Spear, Wheel or Fort, but not on a Roman, Horse or Shield. You roll a Wheel, which you can match against your burg, so you score one hit.

I choose my casualty (the last infantry) and withdraw.

I read this four times and found a mistake each time, so I'm probably still not explaining it perfectly.

lewpuls wrote:
In any case, I want to reduce the role of chance, and reproducing the Brit combat with symbols won't do that: there's too much standard deviation in the Brit method for a smaller game (which becomes more obvious when you play a four or five turn scenario).

I think that may conflict with your goal. I never hear the broader market complain about the role of chance in a game, although we Geeks often complain about it. I think the role of luck makes the game less prone to analysis/paralysis and makes even a poor player feel like they have a fighting chance.

Enjoy the weekend!

Best regards,

Jeffrey
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Lewis Pulsipher
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While I see the virtues of symbols, in the end your symbol method may be more complicated to remember than straightforward dice rolling; I think if you use symbols you have to simplify the actual combat system to match.



Quote:
I think that may conflict with your goal. I never hear the broader market complain about the role of chance in a game, although we Geeks often complain about it. I think the role of luck makes the game less prone to analysis/paralysis and makes even a poor player feel like they have a fighting chance.


Well, broad market isn't quite the same as mass market, though I don't think I could say how at this point. I'd start out erring on the side of too little chance, than too much.

The cards are going to provide some variability in combat, as well.
 
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Jon G
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I can't see any harm in just using the normal Brit battle system. With plain old dice. Without leaders, it's no more complicated than Risk, easier than Axis & Allies, and the odds are easier to understand. Leader cards would let you give the leaders more personality or unique powers, which would make up for some of the lost flavor.

Edit: On second thought, the problem may be that there's no time to recover from a major defeat (or avoid it if the other guy goes first), which may break the game. I can see the merit of pushing back the enemy, though it may stagnate the game with too many armies on the board. Playtesting would have to tell

The premise you mentioned above with each nation scoring for a home province and adjacent provinces (maybe 2 for home, 1 for adjacent) seems like a really good compromise between the existing nation cards and just "1 point-per-territory". This seems like a good enough idea to design the map to match it. Some nations (i.e. Saxons) would be favored with a lot of adjacent provinces, some would be harder to attack due to Highlands (Welsh), and some would be at a corner of the map and be less valuable (Scots). With perhaps 6 nations in play at once, 18-24 spaces makes a lot of sense.

Population growth seems viable as is, but it might be better to do modulo 5 math, or just one new army for each 2 territories, no remainder. It amazes me how many people can't do mod 6 math.

Happy to help with playtesting if you like... my wife might be willing to play a mini-Brit.
 
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Jon G
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astroglide wrote:
lewpuls wrote:
I already have "Brit Lite" version


i wish i did too! i might have bought britannia over a year ago and it still hasn't hit the table.


Justin- Two of the four mini-games in the back of the Brit rules make very balanced, shorter games. The round 11-14 scenario (for 2 players) takes about two hours and has lots of tension and back and forth action; The round 6-14 3-player game takes about three hours and is good fun, though it leaves you disappointed that you can't play turns 15 & 16, too. The Round 1-5 and 6-10 2-player scenarios are more like practice for the full game; they may be even on points, but it feels like one player is bullying the other for most of the game
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Justin
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dr.mrow wrote:
Justin- Two of the four mini-games in the back of the Brit rules make very balanced, shorter games.


thanks for the notice! if i get two out of four would-be players comfortable with the rules, that should make things a lot easier too.
 
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Justin
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Jeffrey Henning wrote:
I disagree. The Axis & Allies approach is so 1980s. If you look at Memoir 44, Attack!, the updated Conquest of the Empire, they all use symbols on the dice. I think that that is the new mass-market approach.


the heroquest series of games use them too. fwiw, i'm a fan of symbol dice in general.
 
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J. Alan Henning
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astroglide wrote:
the heroquest series of games use them too. fwiw, i'm a fan of symbol dice in general.

And Risk Express:

 
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Jon G
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Jeffrey-

I realize we're getting off topic, but WHY? Why are these bizarre dice any good? Are you that worried of someone making homemade copies that you need special dice?

Have game players become so innumerate that it's easier to say (exaggerating here) "Okay, so if you have army and cavalry the one-guy and cav hit; if at least three armies then the three-army side hits. If a general shows then you can pick one of your opponents casualties, otherwise they pick them, and cannon hit if you have the right set of cards", rather than "kill a bad guy for each 5 or 6 you throw." I have to think that Risk's success proves that rolling plain old dice works just fine.

Aside: Having played Conques of the Empire, I know how these dice are usually used. But the results don't make a whole lot of sense, they just require army diversification for no apparent reason. Sure, it introduces some battle tactics, but they're completely artificial tactics.


 
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Jon G
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Hey, completely different idea for a Broad market Brit:

If you reduce the nations to eight iconic tribes, and each nation scores just for their home & adjacent territories, you'll lose a lot of the national identity. To put some of that identity back, you could have an optional rule set that gives each nation unique battle abilities, which might be activated by leaders or some other resource. Off the top of my head, with no attempt to balance them, here are some thoughts:

Welsh & Irish/Scots: Defensive bonus in highlands
Saxons: Shield Wall defensive bonus if >2 Saxons attacked
Angles: Single Angle gets a pre-emptive attack before battle (or maybe he can run away before battle; I don't have an iconic image of an Angle, other than that plaid tunic and awful pants)
Danes & Norse: Raiding
British & Normans: Cavalry (maybe enhanced somehow)
 
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Justin
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dr.mrow wrote:
I realize we're getting off topic, but WHY? Why are these bizarre dice any good?


i don't know if you're asking only jeffrey, but i'll provide my own perspective. i find it more thematic to have attack rolling weapons and defense rolling shields, more intuitive to introduce modifiers based on alternate hit conditions, and most importantly i simply find it more fun to roll symbols instead of the same six numerals i've seen for years. i get more emotion out of a visual hit than a number.
 
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Lewis Pulsipher
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dr.mrow wrote:
Hey, completely different idea for a Broad market Brit:

If you reduce the nations to eight iconic tribes, and each nation scores just for their home & adjacent territories, you'll lose a lot of the national identity. To put some of that identity back, you could have an optional rule set that gives each nation unique battle abilities, which might be activated by leaders or some other resource. Off the top of my head, with no attempt to balance them, here are some thoughts:

Welsh & Irish/Scots: Defensive bonus in highlands
Saxons: Shield Wall defensive bonus if >2 Saxons attacked
Angles: Single Angle gets a pre-emptive attack before battle (or maybe he can run away before battle; I don't have an iconic image of an Angle, other than that plaid tunic and awful pants)
Danes & Norse: Raiding
British & Normans: Cavalry (maybe enhanced somehow)


This is where the cards must come into play. I already have a system (from one of the stillborn expansions, Brit Brevis) that gives nations "specialty cards", one-use cards that reflect some of the things you're listing above. And that's where the "chrome" needs to come from, the feel of history, in a broad market version.
 
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Lewis Pulsipher
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dr.mrow wrote:

The premise you mentioned above with each nation scoring for a home province and adjacent provinces (maybe 2 for home, 1 for adjacent) seems like a really good compromise between the existing nation cards and just "1 point-per-territory". This seems like a good enough idea to design the map to match it. Some nations (i.e. Saxons) would be favored with a lot of adjacent provinces, some would be harder to attack due to Highlands (Welsh), and some would be at a corner of the map and be less valuable (Scots). With perhaps 6 nations in play at once, 18-24 spaces makes a lot of sense.

Population growth seems viable as is, but it might be better to do modulo 5 math, or just one new army for each 2 territories, no remainder. It amazes me how many people can't do mod 6 math.

Happy to help with playtesting if you like... my wife might be willing to play a mini-Brit.


I have "about" eight Brit-like games that I've tested in the past few years, and every one uses this point system. I'd never go back to the detailed system of Brit itself, it is just a stumbling block. And yes, the board needs to be designed to work well with the system, they have to evolve together.

My stumbling block is getting rules setttled and written to the point that others can playtest when I'm not present.
 
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Lewis Pulsipher
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dr.mrow wrote:
I can't see any harm in just using the normal Brit battle system. With plain old dice. Without leaders, it's no more complicated than Risk, easier than Axis & Allies, and the odds are easier to understand. Leader cards would let you give the leaders more personality or unique powers, which would make up for some of the lost flavor.

Edit: On second thought, the problem may be that there's no time to recover from a major defeat (or avoid it if the other guy goes first), which may break the game. I can see the merit of pushing back the enemy, though it may stagnate the game with too many armies on the board. Playtesting would have to tell

My card-based combat system involves (depending on which of two versions I use) little or next-to-no actual death. But when I combine the latter version with a maintenance requirement, those armies become precious indeed, and you don't have many to work with. "Frankia" is the game where this is most developed. Nations often go three or more turns without gaining a new army, because they have to pay maintenance for the existing ones.

In the broad market I would try to avoid the two decks of cards needed for this system and use dice, but still keep the casualties and the number of armies low.
 
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Lewis Pulsipher
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astroglide wrote:
dr.mrow wrote:
I realize we're getting off topic, but WHY? Why are these bizarre dice any good?


i don't know if you're asking only jeffrey, but i'll provide my own perspective. i find it more thematic to have attack rolling weapons and defense rolling shields, more intuitive to introduce modifiers based on alternate hit conditions, and most importantly i simply find it more fun to roll symbols instead of the same six numerals i've seen for years. i get more emotion out of a visual hit than a number.


Obviously, the picture-dice have their proponents--I am "old" and don't like to try to puzzle out which picture is which, personally--but I would entertain use of dice if less standard deviation in results were involved. Reproducing the Brit combat method with picture dice leaves too much standard deviation for a much smaller game.

Maybe, roll two dice per army, and you need two of the "hit" pictures to kill an opposing army? And some of the "hit" markers do not apply if the defender is in difficult terrain? Put the cavalry effects into nation specialty cards (as leader effects) and you have only one kind of army.

So each die would have one "always a hit" and one "hits if not a defender in difficult terrain. Gives a single defender only one chance in 9 to kill an attacker, and attackers less than half a chance to kill one defender. (I don't know how to calculate the odds of getting two or more hits on four dice.)

Then cavalry and leader effects are to roll an extra die per army? And there aren't any forts if we leave out the Romans. Unless I want to give each nation a stronghold to try to help keep them in the game...

Have to think about this...
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Randy Brown
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I really like Brit, but I know some people who are turned off by the history (and they even like--say it isn't so--Risk...gasp!). I think that if you want to make a Brit like game that appeals to the Risk crowd, it would have to be dumbed down significantly.

Dice are good, but adding is not. Stick with the hits on 5's and 6's. All armies should fight the same, and there should be no terrain bonuses. Leader cards could work, ala Castle Risk, but they'd have to be pretty simple to understand: i.e. only make a few different mechanical archetypes (again ala Castle Risk).

Scoring does lose broad appeal, but your idea of a home area + adjacent provinces is sufficiently simple. Though I would pick only 4 tribes (say the 4 kings at the end), and just make it a player elimination, or at least domination (control more territory than everyone else). This would have a very Risk-que feel. Also, you must have maximum carnage to appease this crowd. Low casualties games do not sit well with them (a big reason I can't get Game of Thrones onto the table).

Would this be a game that we'd want to play? Hell no, but then, we are not the "broad market." Would this be a game that Risk lovers could get into immediately? Absolutely. If this is the market you're going for, you pretty much need to toss out the baby with the bathwater, cuz these folks don't bathe (j/k).

However, if you're trying to make a "Gateway" version of Brit--one that a Brit fan wouldn't mind overly much teaching a new player in the hopes of training them up for the real thing--then your ideas seem very good. Except for the addition. I'm excellent at fast addition, and I hate games where I'm adding dice (sometimes you're playing and it's 4am; this is what kills Eagle's ill-fated Civ release for me more than any other element).

Once again, I like the game as is. I am not advocating any of these ideas as personal preferences. I'm just giving an honest, hypothetical 2 cents. And you know what two cents will buy you...
 
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