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Subject: First session report of 2009! rss

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Dylan Melton
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I am pleased to present the first session report of 2009!

This game was an atypical one where the Saxons were weakened greatly and many nations took advantage of it. It is interesting how each game has the potential to be so different. So without further ado, for the community of BoardGameGeek's enjoyment, the tale of Britannia!

The Roman invasion aimed squarely at the Belgae nation. With one stop to pick up Devon, Roman legions blitzed through the Belgae nation, leaving them with Lindsey, Suffolk, Norfolk, and North Mercia. The Belgae submitted quickly at this point - so the Romans used the second half of their invasion to "convince" the Welsh to enter the Empire as well. The Welsh capital of Powys fell first to make the point, as did Hwicce and Gwent. With two of their mountainous regions gone, and Avalon sticking awkwardly out like a sore thumb, the Welsh capitulated with the promise of full population points. On the Belgae's turn, Boudicca drove south with a fury, abandoning future points in order to sack, sack, sack! The Belgae withdrew two armies into Lindsey and pressed the remaining 5 south. 4 Belgae armies sacked Essex (guarded by a legion and fort), and one remaining overrunner got lucky and laid waste to the province of Sussex. The Brigantes wisely withdrew to the line of Cumbria, Pennines, and Bernicia on their first turn, and used their reinforcements to capture Dalriada and Dunedin from the Picts. The Brigs left 2 armies each on those northern territories, solidifying their empire from threats from the north for turns to come. The far northern nations sat quietly, building up steam.

Southern England trembled as the Romans used 7 legions to annhilate the Belgae scum. But in the process the legions were only able to advance to York in the east and Cumbria in the west. The Welsh continued to hold Avalon while the Brigantes impaled themselves on a greedy, unsuccessful attack at Cumbria. Further north, the Cals and Picts again reinforced, the Picts not yet able to counter the Brigantes' initial move. The Romans received 2 reinforcements which hurried north and the battle with the Brigs was on. Lothian, Dunedin, and Galloway all fell before Rome, leaving the Strathclyders broken up in the moutains of Pennines and Dalriada. Near the western coast, the Welsh fortified and the Irish prudently waited for an opening. Turn 4 saw the real Roman strategy become apparent. 7 of the 10 legions struck further north at Alban and Mar, in order to pave the way for the Scots. Alban fell easily and the Picts submitted, seeing the desperate bloodlust in the Romans' eyes, and clearly not wishing to go down any further down. The height of the Roman Empire was plain for all to see; only the Caledonians sat outside looking in.

The Irish landed in Cumbria and Cheshire; they were successful in the former and failed in the latter. The Saxons ran into tough Roman resistance in Wessex and chose to wait, while the Jutes nabbed Kent and the Angles beached in Norfolk. Rome then braced in vain -- this time the Saxons ripped through Wessex and the Jutes even launched a sortie into Sussex that nearly worked.

Tallies were made and the Romano-British set up in Gwent, March, Hwicce, Downlands, both Mercias, Lindsey, and Suffolk. The biggest questions were in the north -- how would Scotland develop? Would the Picts and Brigants recover before the Scots landed with authority?

The Britons struck an alliance with the Welsh and withdrew from the east coast into Mercia and out of Wales to consolidate their position. The Welsh gratefully moved back into Powys, Gwent, and Devon. When the Scots landed, it was where no one expected -- Strathclyde! -- and they tore the Brigantes from limb to limb. The much awaited Saxon invasion was a disaster. The red armies stumbled in Norfolk and Aelle took heavy, heavy losses capturing South Mercia. To their greater dismay, the spunky Jutes took a chance and knocked the Saxons out of Sussex, weakening them even more. The Angles cam in, filled all the holes, and turned their sights on the Brigs. The Angles ended up lining the coast from Lothian to Suffolk. This put the Saxons at only 3 areas and 4 armies. The Romano-British aimed squarely at them and threw the main effort of their empire south at Wessex, Essex, and South Mercia. On turn 7 Arthur's strong cavalry charge stunned the Saxons and won all three areas.

The Caledonians eyed the Scot invasion and chose not to attack but to discourage the Scots by building up. The Picts took a reinforcement and braced for the worst. When no one was looking, the Irish sideswiped Gwennyd by boat right before the Scots' main attack force hit land at Skye. As soon as the Scots came out of the boats the blood flowed freely. Four out of five rolls were hits in that battle, showing that the Picts were not giving up easily and that the Scots were determined. In the second wave the Scots chose to take Dalriada from the Brigantes, leaving the Picts in a surprisingly adequate position. Further south, the last 4 Saxons came ashore and hit Essex and Sussex. Ida of the Angles forced the Brigantes to submit, but seeing a golden opportunity to weaken their main enemy, the Angles unconventionally threw most of their men in at the Battle of Essex and decisively reduced the Saxons to a minor player in the game. Angle armies occupied North Mercia, March, Cheshire, Cumbria, Pennines, and Dunedin. The term 'ANGLAND' was becoming a reality.

It was the Welsh who struck York and so delivered the Angles' first blow. The Caledonians nibbled and took Skye, while the Saxons ran into the Downlands to survive. The Jutes pursued the fleeing Saxons into Sussex, and the Angles were easily crowned Bretwalda. The south now evolved into Angles vs. All, as there were many enemies but none in a position to threaten Big Blue. The R-Bs tested Essex but fell back. The Welsh retook Gwynedd from the Irish, and while the Brigs eyed Scottish Strathclyde from the mountains of Galloway, they realized they were lucky to be alive and so kept quiet. The last Irishmen failed to take Avalon, while the Scots retook Skye from the Cals. Turn ten showed R-B armies taking Avalon and Welsh armies taking it back. The Scots bullrushed Alban and won, while the Saxons charged Wessex for a better population base and won bloodlessly. The Jutes took note that they were 2-strong in both Kent and Sussex, and counted their blessings, while the Angles took Hwicce for last minute scoring. The Vikings were coming!

Having dealt with the westerners (or so they thought), the Welsh took Hwicce and March, marking the high water mark of their "empire". The Brigs risked a game-ending attack on Strathclyde -- and lost. Ketil took Orkneys and the Hebrides from the Cals, and the Danes freed Norfolk, Suffolk, Bernicia, and York from Angle control. Seizing the opportunity, the Jutes managed to seize Essex from the disconnected Angle south. The Angles withdrew to Lothian, Cumbria, Pennines, Cheshire, and Lindsey. Norsemen sailed south and west, capturing Cumbria, Avalon, and Gwent in a desperate attempt to give the Saxons a boost. The Danes landed all along the east, and drove as far as Strathclyde, while Alfred the Great boldly conquered Jutish Sussex. The Caledonians now left Caithness to take back Orkneys, and the Scots methodically continued their one-province-at-a-time assault on the Picts by taking Moray. The Norse left Avalon for Welsh Hwicce, when all of a sudden the Dubliners spelled doom for the westward-fleeing Angles. Cheshire and Cumbria fell, as did York. The Danes then sent four armies against three Dubliners led by Olaf, and the earth trembled. When the dust had settled one Dubliner army had hung on.

In the last stanza, the Welsh failed to take Hwicce from the Norse, who then turned angrily on them, shrieking cries of punishment! Powys fell to the terrible Norse, and the Dubs took Dyfed, further dealing the proud Welsh a blow. Cnut landed with his eyes closed and tripped over Lindsey, dying upon impact, while the opportunistic Saxon army took Avalon. What was left of the Angle nation moved into March and Hwicce. Turn 15 promised chaos as many nations were dangling by a thread, and powerful invaders were set to land...

The Romano British pushed west out of South Mercia into Angland. Hwicce fell, while March held. Scotland was very quiet as all the action took place in the south. Harald Hardrada landed and wiped the Danish filth from central England. When the Normans landed, no one expected the Jutes to fight like hell, but fight they did, and the Normans actually had to withdraw temporarily from Essex and Kent. With a great effort, the Normans managed to finish the Jutes with their cavalry and William finished Harold in the Downlands. Hardrada's armies nixed Svein, as it seemed the Norweigans had read the Danes playbook from the start. The Scot's last attempt to ethnically cleanse the north of Picts narrowly failed in Mar. The game ended with the Caledonians, Saxons, Dubliners, Angles, and Picts all holding only 1 territory. William is poised to unite (read: conquer) the south.

Final scoring:

Romans: 120
Romano-British: 26
Scots: 66
Dubliners: 19
Norweigans: 38
YELLOW : 269 -- 1st Place

Jutes: 32
Welsh: 89
Caledonians: 42
Danes: 68
GREEN : 231 -- 2nd Place

Belgae: 26
Picts: 35
Angles: 122 (my best score with them!)
Normans: 42
BLUE : 225 -- a close 3rd Place

Brigs: 21
Irish: 12
Saxons: 30 (horrible, definitely atypical)
Norsemen: 25
RED : 88 -- well, what can you say when the Saxons only score 30.

It was a pretty fun game. I learned how to control the Brigs and I have got to use Aelle better than that next time! Having the Saxons that weak makes for some interesting R-B, Angle, and Jute play!
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Lee Massey
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Who is the strongest group in the game?
 
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Dylan Melton
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There's not one stronger color, although with skilled play, a player can maximize the nations at his disposal. Each color group has sort of a hierarchy of nations that they can expect to score points for them. Each color has one or maybe two nations (Yellow: Romans) that they can count on to be the main point getter, other nations that, depending on how well they play out, can earn a good share of points (Yellow: Scots, perhaps Norweigans), and still other nations that won't be big point getters, but should still get all the points they can (Yellow: Romano-British, Dubliners).

Think of it like a basketball game. The Lakers are counting on Kobe Bryant for their main scoring spark on any given night, but he might score anywhere from 20-60 points. That alone is not going to win the game, but it will go a long way. Kobe would symbolize the Romans. Then there are "role players" that add 10-20 points along the way, as well as players who don't score many points at all, but are still trying to help the team's point total as much as they can.

Each color in Britannia will have a depth chart of sorts. You're trying to coax as many points out of your 4-5 nations, knowing that you can't expect someone like the Belgae or Caledonians to be your main point scorer. In practice, the colors even out quite well. One of the biggest pluses about Britannia is that in playtesting it seems VERY well-balanced. There's not a faction that you want the most experienced player to play (read: Germany, Axis and Allies), or a color that you want to give noobs because it's a little easier than the others.

Just an analogy, hope it's helpful.
I guess this means Pau Gasol is Scottish? :)
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Jeremy McKean
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samclemens53 wrote:
I never think of that rapist filth.


Its a name in current basketball that anyone would recognize, even if they don't follow sports. But don't let that get in the way of posting some off-topic hate.

I don't entirely agree that all the colors are equally newbie friendly, though. Red can really shoot himself with just a few mistakes with the Saxons, and suddenly that force you were hoping to see last until turn 15 has been reduced to 5 guys on turn 8.
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Dylan Melton
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I didn't mean to suggest that the colors were balanced for NEW players, only that the colors altogether seemed well balanced. I'd agree that Red (and Yellow) in my opinion are colors which reap the most benefits from being in the hands of a more experienced player.

It is probably best for a new player to play Green -- the Caledonians and Jutes play themselves, and the Welsh have some straightforward objectives as well. And having the Danes means that you won't have complicated last-era play (William, Harold, Harald). By that time the Danes have usually figured out where they want to stick it out.

But I think with a good grasp of strategy the Red color isn't too hard...it's Yellow, with their Roman responsibilities and the need to set up the Scots decently, I would NOT give to a new player. If the Scots don't get set up well, you could end up having 1 or 2 (or even zero) Yellow armies at all on the entire board for a while. Point taken there.
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Lee Massey
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Thanks for the insight! Much appreciated!
 
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Jeremy McKean
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DylanAM wrote:
It is probably best for a new player to play Green -- the Caledonians and Jutes play themselves, and the Welsh have some straightforward objectives as well. And having the Danes means that you won't have complicated last-era play (William, Harold, Harald). By that time the Danes have usually figured out where they want to stick it out.


The only time I've ever seen the Danes make a strong showing was when Blue and Red fought so heavily that the Welsh were actually a contender for Bretwalda. That was a very silly game. surprise But then, I'm so unlucky with them that I get attritioned to death early on, losing an army in almost every fight in 3:1 attacks. blush
The problem with green is that it is quite boring to play, since actually doing much of anything only loses you points... I would agree that its the easiest for a new player, though.
 
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Dylan Melton
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SenorOcho wrote:
The problem with green is that it is quite boring to play, since actually doing much of anything only loses you points... I would agree that its the easiest for a new player, though.

I dunno, it depends on the personality of the player. Getting the Welsh to last in Wales for the whole game was exhilirating in its own way. Sometimes you're in the mood for the thrill and challenge of holding onto your Fatherland defenses -- Welsh and Cals -- for as long as possible. I played Green in my first game and it was thoroughly enjoyable. After you get a little acclimated to Britannia, and want to try some new strategies, just turn to the Jutes for an experimental plaything. That boat movement lasts for a surprising length of time! Anyways, they're not going to score more than 20 points at best unless the Saxons lose the will to live.
 
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