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Subject: If you like straitjackets, this game is for you rss

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Tim Borders
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Let's say you are the leader of an invading tribe, bound for Britain. Your scouts report a scattered military presence along one stretch of coast, but further north, massive armies from a strong tribe will easily repulse any attack. What do you do?
In Britannia, you invade up north, because taking one of your objectives is usally more profitable than taking five times as many territories in an area that isn't part of your objectives.

The game punishes players who fail to follow the path of history. I am sure I would actually enjoy the game if it rewarded thinking outside the box, rather than what it does, which is to reward metagaming. "Let's see, should I attack inland this turn, even when it is a freebie? No, better not, I know the XYZ tribe will be invading along my coast next turn, and I want to chew them up for lunch, or else channel those forces into my neighbor's territory."

The game requires that at least three of the four players be experienced--people who have played the game multiple times in order to size up the various players and get a sense as to who is doing well and who isn't. Furthermore, play is asymmetrical so the experienced players need to know who should get a handicap and who shouldn't, as the game progresses.

Every game I have played or seen is the same: there is a power play at the very end, when people realize that one player is running away with the game. So they collectively either beat the player down or they don't. Contrary to other people's experiences, all the games I have witnessed have taken at least 7 hours to play, and for what? The game always comes down to the last half hour, assuming that the players know what they are doing. For example, if some noob is playing yellow, and messes up with the Romans, the other players will always give that player a handicap for the remainder of the game (e.g. deciding to attack someone else whenever there is a tossup call to make) so yellow will remain in the game, and with end game luck could possibly even win, when the player is a complete boob and doesn't know what he is doing. So if that player lucks out at the end and wins, he incorrectly thinks it was due to some skillful play on his part, when it wasn't. No, you boob, it was just plain luck at the end, combined with the fact that the other three players were always keeping each other in check and giving you breaks.

The game is bad with experienced players, but is dreadful with unskilled or inexperienced players. In one of my more recent games, I fruitlessly attempted to get two players who were new to the game to understand that the fourth (veteran) player was far in the lead, and he ended up winning by over 100 points. Why? Because they did not understand the inherent asymmetry to the game. It is difficult to convince noobs that the person with the most points at the beginning is not necessarily in the lead. This game took 10 hours to play because the new players were so slow. It was an agonizing experience because around hour 7, I realized I was doomed to lose no matter what happened in the endgame, even after I had finally convinced the other two players that the eventual winner was running away with the game. No, they continued to choose to maximize their own score rather than attack the player in the lead.

This game is discouraging to skillful players and reduces their chances of winning to 25%. Assuming that all players know what they are doing, it all comes down to end game luck. No thanks.
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Michael Denman
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I have to agree that most of what you said applies to nearly ANY game, so it doesn't mean a whole lot. Still, there were SOME specific points.

timborders wrote:
The game punishes players who fail to follow the path of history. I am sure I would actually enjoy the game if it rewarded thinking outside the box, rather than what it does, which is to reward metagaming. "Let's see, should I attack inland this turn, even when it is a freebie? No, better not, I know the XYZ tribe will be invading along my coast next turn, and I want to chew them up for lunch, or else channel those forces into my neighbor's territory."


I understand why you might want a more freeform game, but you know what this is going in. If you don't like this format... um... why did you decide to play? I know I was initially skeptical about what looked like a scripted game, but I found through playing that I really did have options... I just couldn't choose to do ANYTHING.

timborders wrote:
The game requires that at least three of the four players be experienced--people who have played the game multiple times in order to size up the various players and get a sense as to who is doing well and who isn't. Furthermore, play is asymmetrical so the experienced players need to know who should get a handicap and who shouldn't, as the game progresses.


My last game had one player with some experience, one who'd played once, and two who'd never played. It was explained up front that the game is asymmetrical and we understood. What DID help was having some old scoresheets from past games. If you let the players know what a "good" score is for each group, then they can judge who's really winning and losing.

timborders wrote:
Contrary to other people's experiences, all the games I have witnessed have taken at least 7 hours to play


That's your players, not the game. This game IS longer than the typical euro so many may not have the patience for it. I know that I prefer to not play long games, but when I do, this one is definitely a contender.

timborders wrote:
No thanks.


I'd have to agree with you to give this game a pass. For YOU. Besides the problems you cited that were true of most games, the other problems have to do with your group of players... and I assume that's unlikely to change.
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Eric Brosius
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I remember making the comment, while playing this game many years ago, "this game really shows you why British history turned out the way it did."

One of my fellow players said "yeah---like, the Welsh attacked York because they got 6 victory points for it!"
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Chuck Alessi
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If it's taking you seven hours to play Britannia every time, you're doing something wrong.
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Darrell Hanning
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Ironically, while I agree in spirit with your overall take on this game, this article is not a "review".

It's a "rant". You start right in on the game with the first sentence, and never take a single step back to provide overview, context, or contrast. It may as well have been a recount of the last visit of your in-laws, as any type of assessment of a game.
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Alex

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I can't for the life of me understand how you could manage to play a 10 hour game of Brit. It's a pretty simple game in fact. It does have some exceptions (with 1 or 2 a bit complicated), but come on.

A game of Brit should last 4h to 4h30. Definitely not more. Maybe add 1 hour if all players are newbies.

One suggestion (probably not for you, since you probably won't play this again, but for other new players) is to play with hidden points. Not to hide the points you receive, but simply not to display or announce your total. It's actually very fun, encourages players to strive for their points instead of kingmaking and make the game more relaxed and friendly.
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Michael Denman
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jellospike wrote:
One suggestion (probably not for you, since you probably won't play this again, but for other new players) is to play with hidden points. Not to hide the points you receive, but simply not to display or announce your total. It's actually very fun, encourages players to strive for their points instead of kingmaking and make the game more relaxed and friendly.


I don't know. I've found that players still go after the leader, but instead of hitting the real leader, with hidden points they hit the perceived leader. I also don't see kingmaking as being much of a problem with this game since it IS a longer game and there's a lot of direct player interaction. By the time the game is ending and I'm trying to decide which of two players to attack, I know which of them has been kicking me in the teeth the whole game. Smashing that player isn't kingmaking, it's payback.
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Ken
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timborders wrote:
This game is discouraging to skillful players and reduces their chances of winning to 25%. Assuming that all players know what they are doing, it all comes down to end game luck. No thanks.


I don't agree with just about anything you've said in your review in terms of criticism. Yes, the game drives players to occupy the areas they were historically interested in. Is this a bad thing in a historically themed game? You say it is, I say it's not. Particularly when you can often improve your position by denying another player one of their high point areas even if it's low value or no value to you.

But your closing remark is particularly off-base. This game does require a great deal of skill to play well. And that skill will become telling. By knowing the ebb and flow of the game, by knowing how to maximize your points while minimizing your opponent's points, by knowing what's a good attack and what's not, a player will dramatically improve their chances of success. If you don't believe that, hand a new player Green and don't provide them any advice on how to maximize their position. It's very likely they will be far too aggressive and lose as a result.

Sorry, but this sounds more a reflection of your particular group's style of play than the game. If it takes you 7 hours to play, then there's something fairly horribly wrong going on. Britannia takes several plays to "get," but once you "get" it and know what's going on, it's among the best four player games that I've ever encountered. There are multiple balancing mechanisms in play, and when used skillfully, a good player will be able to keep themselves in the hunt.
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Brian Morris
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First I have been playing this game for many years. Most of our games take 3-4 hours. I taught 3 people new to the game once and it took 4 1/2 hours. If you are taking 7 and 10 hours to play this game as you claim then you are doing something seriously wrong to begin with.

Secondly you keep pointing out all these different times you've played. Sometimes with experienced players, sometimes with novices and one time (your 10 hour marathon) with 3 new players. For a game that you dislike this much it sounds like you're playing it quite a lot.

Quote:
Let's say you are the leader of an invading tribe, bound for Britain. Your scouts report a scattered military presence along one stretch of coast, but further north, massive armies from a strong tribe will easily repulse any attack. What do you do?
In Britannia, you invade up north, because taking one of your objectives is usally more profitable than taking five times as many territories in an area that isn't part of your objectives.

The game punishes players who fail to follow the path of history


The game is a historical simulation. Thus players must work within a historical framework. For example, by your reasoning the Romans should have the option to be able to invade northern Britain instead of the south in the initial turns of the game. Problem is that would have been completely impossible in reality. Likewise it was impossible for the Vikings to invade Wales from the Irish Sea simply from a logistical stand point.

So remember, this is a historical simulation which means you have to start with the historical options the leaders of the time had. Otherwise the game is like the old Saturday Night Live "what if" skit What if Napoleon had a B-52 at Waterloo. That's not history.

To me your post reads more like someone who is reacting to one specific bad game. You had a run away leader and two novice players (which likely led to the runaway leader). You tried to get the two novices to go after the leader to help you win. Not a bad move. You get the two novices to throw themselves on the spears of at the enemy's gate hindering him and then you go from second to first. Rather than do that they decided to maximize their own personal scores by going after territories that scored them more points rather than after the person who was leading.

Games with new folks can sometimes be frustrating, especially when their mistakes can result in an experienced player taking advantage of a new player to get a nice comfy lead. However I've never been one for Kingmaking. I give credit to your novice players for not allowing themselves to be used by another player to play kill the leader. They chose to better their own positions even if they couldn't win rather than play just to help second place kill first place.

I strongly suggest you give Britannia some more tries. The game can really surprise you. I've seen some whack stuff happen in that game well outside of the historical result due to creative play. Things like the Irish wiping out the Welsh and occupying all of Wales. I've seen the Welsh get booted out of Wales and end up in Scotland and we've had games where even the Belgae survived to the end.
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Moshe Callen
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to the OP;

I too once gave this game a scathing reivew. My complaints weren't the same as yours but they too were the complaints of someone new to the game-- even though I'd played it seemingly many times. I got lambasted on that review and in its way it deserved it but the kinder posters encouraged me basically to stick with it, as I am encouraging you. I continued to play and to analyze the game and produced this strategy discussion in the form of a GeekList. It's imperfect by all means but it shows my efforts to try to learn to appreciate a game that I knew to be a classic game but which at first I just didn't get. I now consider this one of my favorite games. It works wellonce you learn to work with the framework of the game rather than fighting it. Learning to play it takes work because it really is unlike any other game except those modelled on it and even those usually fall short.

You like thinking "outside the box". Ironically perhaps, this game forces one to do just that because it IS so different than other games. Were it a free-form conquer-fest, it wouldn't be.

As for metagaming, you can limit the forms it can take. In my own culture, deals between players are strictly forbidden (indeed are regarded as a form of cheating) unless the rules explicitly state otherwise as in Diplomacy. You mayn't like that or may not be used to it but the point isthat you and the people you game with can findsomething thatworks for you.

This game is like 20 year single malt whiskey; it really is good but you may take a bit to realize why.
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Richard Young
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Yes, in a way this game is out to tell a story and is specifically designed to have the story arc followed. It's quite clever really. Lew had to abstract a lot of forces at work in the history of Britain but he should be the one here explaining how it all fits together. Within the general arc of the story there are a lot of opportunities for experimentation and innovation. The bottom line for me is that the game is just fun to play and seeing if you can squeeze a few more VPs from a faction than you did last time is something I look forward to. I admit the game is on the longer side but look at the epic you are reliving!

There are gamers who criticize War of the Ring for the same reason - the game design forces you to generally follow the story arc of the Tolkien trilogy. Rather than a weakness, I see it as a great strength and both games strike me as outstanding achievements in game design. There, as here, you try your best to manage the resources you are given to do what you know you have to do. Delicious!
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Alex

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Trump wrote:
jellospike wrote:
One suggestion (probably not for you, since you probably won't play this again, but for other new players) is to play with hidden points. Not to hide the points you receive, but simply not to display or announce your total. It's actually very fun, encourages players to strive for their points instead of kingmaking and make the game more relaxed and friendly.


I don't know. I've found that players still go after the leader, but instead of hitting the real leader, with hidden points they hit the perceived leader. I also don't see kingmaking as being much of a problem with this game since it IS a longer game and there's a lot of direct player interaction. By the time the game is ending and I'm trying to decide which of two players to attack, I know which of them has been kicking me in the teeth the whole game. Smashing that player isn't kingmaking, it's payback.


I agree that there is not much of a kingmaker problem in Brit (not many problems at all in Brit, in fact, I think )

Playing with open points encourages strategy and competition. Which is probably fine with most people playing this game. However my game group is very casual, mostly likes euros and coop games, so playing with hidden points offer a better gaming atmosphere for us. The few games we played with open points were not very much to our liking. We played more than 25 games of Brit the way we do and I can tell you that it works very well.
 
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Ken
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I'd encourage anyone to use open point totals. Otherwise, the game becomes a great deal of guesswork as to who's actually in the lead, and that (in my mind) detracts from the strategy. With open points, you're required to decide who's ahead on points (not always obvious) and then who's in the best position to score well based on the map (also not always obvious). With open points, there's less mystery as to who's winning, yes. But this encourages tighter, more competitive games in my experience.

That said, if it don't work for you and your group, play with hidden points.
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Richard Young
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Yes, this debate occurs regularly. For me it is essentially, "name your poison." Open VPs encourages ganging up on the "tall poppy" (whack the leader); however, hidden VPs can result in arbitrariness and inadvertent "king making." It comes down to personal preference in the end.
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Michael Denman
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Bubslug wrote:
Yes, this debate occurs regularly. For me it is essentially, "name your poison." Open VPs encourages ganging up on the "tall poppy" (whack the leader); however, hidden VPs can result in arbitrariness and inadvertent "king making." It comes down to personal preference in the end.


Personal preference does figure into it, but I think some games really need to be one way or the other to work correctly. To my mind, Britannia needs the open points. With the asymmetrical scoring, it's really a lot to ask of someone to determine who the leader might be if the points are hidden. When I play short games, I don't really care about this sort of thing, but if I sit down to a longer game, I'd like to have a better idea of what's going on.
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Alex

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Well, we don't exactly play with hidden points as such (like there are in many euros). We actually know how much VP people are getting and we can see the piles of VP tokens piled on the nation sheet. We're simply not the kind of gaming group that likes to memorize or go out and check how many points people got. And it makes for a much more exciting endgame. Not only to know who is the winner at the end (that is usually pretty obvious), but my friends are usually anticipating the results, to know if they ended 2nd, 3rd or 4th.

It makes the revelation of points in the end most often the most exciting bit. But like I said, not for everyone. But frankly, I don't even consider how we play to be a variant. We simply play like they say in the rulebook (new edition) without going out of our way to check out people's scores.
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Lewis Pulsipher
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Trump wrote:
Bubslug wrote:
Yes, this debate occurs regularly. For me it is essentially, "name your poison." Open VPs encourages ganging up on the "tall poppy" (whack the leader); however, hidden VPs can result in arbitrariness and inadvertent "king making." It comes down to personal preference in the end.


Personal preference does figure into it, but I think some games really need to be one way or the other to work correctly. To my mind, Britannia needs the open points. With the asymmetrical scoring, it's really a lot to ask of someone to determine who the leader might be if the points are hidden. When I play short games, I don't really care about this sort of thing, but if I sit down to a longer game, I'd like to have a better idea of what's going on.


My point of view is that if someone can track the points on his own, trying to hide them only puts the players at a disadvantage who don't bother to track.

Now if everyone agrees not to track points, and you trust them (since they can memorize the scores), then playing with hidden points becomes reasonable.

That the scoring markers are in the game at all is because FFG didn't want to force anyone to write anything down. And I recommended against a scoring track, as it is too likely to be messed up in a long game.

Lew
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Wendell
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lewpuls wrote:

That the scoring markers are in the game at all is because FFG didn't want to force anyone to write anything down. And I recommended against a scoring track, as it is too likely to be messed up in a long game.

Lew


No scoring track in MY (Avalon Hill) edition of Britannia, Lew!

+1 to various previous posts, especially about the factors (logistics among them) that may have prevented an invading people from going to a part of Britain that was less defended. Starting with the fact that in those days, the invading tribes didn't all come at once (the game condenses a lot of years) and weren't necessarily a formal, organized military unit with command and control capability. Let alone intelligence (the military kind I mean).

Great game. Although if it were really 7-10 hours (which I cannot comprehend, unless you break for lunch AND dinner AND cocktails), that might be a bit much for what it is.
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Lewis Pulsipher
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When players new to the game play, it does tend to take 7 hours. But with experienced players, e.g. at the WBC (World Boardgaming Championships) tournament, it is generally 4-5 hours (I've seen three).

Those who play Brit a lot recognize that there is a great deal of variety despite the "scripting".

Perhaps the OP prefers "Euro" games, which are often designed specifically so that the players can well understand (or at least, think they understand) the strategy after a single play, and which are designed to give players just a few plausible options at any given time. No, Brit is not a Euro game, it is an historical strategy game.

That the same folks tend to win at WBC year after year indicates that there's a lot more than luck to the game. It becomes, in the end, "playing the players". OTOH, a couple years ago a player new to the game (but playing at least his third game) won the tournament. In the final, the experienced players all concentrated on each other.

I'd summarize complaints of some people as:
1) the game is too long
2) the game is too "scripted"
3) the game has too much chance in combat.

All of these are addressed in Barbaria (one version has been played in 1:40) and some other games I'm now trying to find publishers for. When I do, then I'll look for non-local playtesters. But they will never be "Euro" games, certainly.

Lew
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Jeff White
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I know this is like asking an 8-ball, but what is the likelihood of Barbaria seeing publication? I would love to buy Britannia, in fact I read these boards and pour over the rules all the time, but the time length means my group will never play it.

If Barbaria plays in under three hours, besides preferring Britannia's theme, it may be my ideal 'wargame'.
 
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Lewis Pulsipher
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BullBear wrote:
I know this is like asking an 8-ball, but what is the likelihood of Barbaria seeing publication? I would love to buy Britannia, in fact I read these boards and pour over the rules all the time, but the time length means my group will never play it.

If Barbaria plays in under three hours, besides preferring Britannia's theme, it may be my ideal 'wargame'.


I'm pretty sure Barbaria will be published SOMEWHERE, SOMETIME, but that could be a long time hence.

I devised a version of Britannia that takes (with experience) 2 hours or a bit more, same sides, same pieces, same board, etc. Still in testing, if you'd like to test it write me privately (but you'd need a Britannia set). Of course, with inexperienced people it's still a 5 hour game despite being only 6 turns instead of 16. Lots more attacking each turn than in Brit, inevitably.
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Tim Borders
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The initial post had three chief criticisms: 1) the game takes too long to play, 2) the game is too rigid, 3) as a victory point game, the victor is determined by who gets lucky at the very end (assuming that all players "know the score" and play accordingly throughout the game).

To answer Michael's first question, I initially decided to play Britannia because the game looked very appealing. As an educational tool, the game certainly has its merits. The decision to play the game again was to humor my primary gaming group, because the player who owns the game loves it. I have also observed it being played at gaming conventions and at a gaming club.

Britannia enthusiasts invariably claim that the game "usually takes less time" but the games I have actually played or observed took at least seven hours to play, and yes, it might be a reflection of the individual players who were playing it. Perhaps I would not dread the game so much if it weren't so agonizingly slow, and it took only 4 to 4.5 hours to play, but even if the pace were to quicken to that speed, the game still has other significant flaws.

Britannia follows the path of history too rigidly, to the degree that it becomes ahistorical. Other historical board games do a far better job, in my opinion, of simulating actual history.

Take GMT's title, The Napoleonic Wars. No two games are alike, although the game mechanic is designed in such a way that a player who bucks the historical reality tends to lose: for example, all else being equal, if the British player fails to keep up his or her naval superiority, a skilled French player will notice the oversight and will invade and conquer Britain, and quickly win the game. In fact, any player who fails to pluck the lowest-hanging fruit and adjust his or her play to the situation at hand is much more likely to lose the game.

Historically, what would have happened if circumstances had been different? For example, what if Nelson had lost at Trafalgar? What if Wellington had failed in his bid to oust the French from the Iberian peninsula? Either of these circumstances would have altered history significantly, because the countries involved would have responded accordingly. In TNW, if a French player fails to exploit such occurrences, and stubbornly clings to actions the French had historically taken, or tries to repeat a strategy that had worked for someone in a prior game, he or she is likely to lose. In other words, it is a game that rewards skillful play.

But in Britannia, a set strategy is imposed upon each player. This both stifles innovation and allows the least-skilled player to know exactly what to expect in subsequent turns, and prepare accordingly. As the ghost of Harold Godwinson can attest, it is far more difficult to defend against invasions that can happen anywhere.

It is telling that nobody has responded to the following criticism:
"Let's say you are the leader of an invading tribe, bound for Britain. Your scouts report a scattered military presence along one stretch of coast, but further north, massive armies from a strong tribe will easily repulse any attack. What do you do?
In Britannia, you invade up north, because taking one of your objectives is usally more profitable than taking five times as many territories in an area that isn't part of your objectives."

Historically, no sane commander, or tribe, would commit suicide by invading a heavily defended stretch of coast that was occupied by a stronger tribe unless they had no other options. Historically, tribes behaved rationally, and attacked wherever they felt they had the greatest chance of success. If given the choice as outlined in the scenario, they would always invade in the south.

Obviously there are specific historical and logistical limitations for invading tribes and armies: the Romans would not have been able to make landfall in modern-day Scotland and work their way south. But who is to say that Harald Hardrada was forced to land in northern England? He could have landed anywhere. The decision to land in northern England was a calculated one, based on circumstances at the time. A suitable game mechanic--one that is absent in Britannia--would enable variation, within reasonable bounds, given the logistical constraints (primarily determined by distance) faced by each invading force. Most historical board games incorporate such a mechanic, but Britannia chooses to use a stilted substitute that forces the narrow historical event to be within a predetermined geographical area with each invasion, and channels subsequent behavior for the invading tribe toward predetermined victory point goals, rather than to whatever territories would historically have been better for that tribe.

This problem is not limited to one game. Axis & Allies, the Anniversary Edition, is arguably the best of the three editions. Like Successors, Sword of Rome, The Napoleonic Wars, and a host of other historical board games, it somehow tends to repeat actual history more often than not, when played by skilled players (e.g. a Japan-first strategy never works). However, the optional rules in the Anniversary Edition destroy the free-form aspect of the game and "straitjackets" players much as Britannia does, although to a lesser extent. With the optional rules, each power is generously compensated for taking historical objectives. This is a bad mechanic, because it defeats the purpose of the differing resource values of each territory. The optional rules essentially force each game to resemble all the others, because a player who ignores his or her special additional bonuses will lose. Played with the optional rules, Axis & Allies (Anniversary Edition) has very little replay value; played without the optional rules, it can be played again and again, and be fresh and exciting each time.

The third criticism of Britannia is the fact that the game comes down to end-game luck. This is a problem shared by many victory point games--in this respect, it has much in common with euros. For example, skilled players will always work against the person in the lead in euros such as Puerto Rico, Settlers of Catan, and Saint Petersburg. If all players are of adequate skill, the winner is usually determined by who gets lucky at the very end. (If someone gets lucky at the beginning, the actions of the other players soon reduce that person's relative position back to the mean.) A game such as Saint Petersburg takes about 45 minutes to play, so this flaw is not nearly as pronounced in SP as it is in Britannia.

Not all victory point games suffer from the end-game luck problem. For example, automatic victory conditions encourage players to take risks earlier in the game, and provide multiple opportunities to win the game.
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Richard Young
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In Hearts, there are many more "VPs" awarded for "taking all the hearts" than any other way - so the game is scripted as the logical thing to do is always go for broke? Actually, sometimes you do and sometimes you don't. And, the whole whole game is based on a series of randomly distributed cards in the first place. Luck gone wild! Yet, many folks enjoy the game as an exercise in managing what fate deals them. It that so different here? You are assessed on how you handle what you are given to do what you know you have to do. That includes how you handle both the victories and the defeats in the many, many combats you are going to be involved in.

There have been more than enough discussions about the nature of dice driven combat to lend any credibility to an argument that amounts to blaming a loss on a "few bad die rolls" at the end of a game where die rolls have been instrumental throughout in determining one's final tally. There would have to be so many caveats on such as statement, such as: "assuming optimal play by everyone and equally distributed combat results up to the critical point in the game where a couple of poor rolls sunk everything," that it makes the assertion meaningless - well, more like sour grapes actually.

In Brit, you know where you want to end up (as, generally, did the factions of yore - talk to a historian), but of course you are going to take the line of least resistance to get there. Moreover, you are assuming way better "scouts" than they actually had back then. Like so many strategy games, this is one features "perfect intelligence" so the scenario posed (which no-one had yet addressed) is pretty much a red herring anyway. This is a game, not a simulation, so a criticism of some aspects as "unrealistic" is missing something.

WBC sets four hours for this game and as has been noted earlier, shorter times have occurred. This one particularly benefits (time-wise) from experience.

All that said, the game is intense and demanding. It is no Euro. It will likely last longer than many people have the patience for, particularly if it is the type of game that doesn't suit your fancy to begin with. Fortunately, we live in a time of ever expanding choices from top notch game designers. There is something out there for all of us - so many games, so little time!
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Chris Montgomery
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timborders wrote:
It is telling that nobody has responded to the following criticism:
"Let's say you are the leader of an invading tribe, bound for Britain. Your scouts report a scattered military presence along one stretch of coast, but further north, massive armies from a strong tribe will easily repulse any attack. What do you do?
In Britannia, you invade up north, because taking one of your objectives is usally more profitable than taking five times as many territories in an area that isn't part of your objectives."


I question this statement. I am not a historian, not by any means. But I doubt the vikings and the other similar invading tribes used "scouts". I think they sailed to the British Isles looking for gold and plunder and stopped at the first oceanside or riverside communities they saw, sacked them, and then took the loot. Over the course of 100 years (roughly a game TURN), they settled in these areas.

In other words, to my mind, it is silly to think that they would skip the first town they came to (simulated by the game as awarding more VPs for that first town) in order to sack a place further south that, for all they know, has just as many troops and just as little treasure as the place to the north. I think they got in their boats and sailed east and south, which coming from Scandinavia puts them around Scotland.

I don't think the Vikings had "scouts" in that sense. I think they rode upon the mainland and maybe scouted out the nearby territory. But they didn't scour the entire length and breath of the British Isles and intentionally avoid the easier settlements.

I think this is a case of a player with god-like knowledge trying to backfill that knowledge into the size of a single playing piece.

Is the game scripted somewhat? Of course.

And as to the other criticisms, I don't necessarily disagree.

But unless there's a historical citation that invaders from Scandinavia used scouts in Kent, the argument sort of falls apart, doesn't it?

If the tone of the post is a little incredulous, my apologies. I'm not a stark raving mad poster, here, just put-off a little bit.

And, for all I know, I could be wrong. As I said at the start, I'm no historian.

Chris

PS--I am talking about invasions, here, from the more barbaric tribes. Obviously, William the Conquerer came to conquer, and did so. But even he attacked the nearest land mass. He didn't sail to Scotland simply because they had fewer troops.
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Tim Borders
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Of course there were scouts.

"Scandinavian raiders first landed on British shores in 789, at Portland. This was a reconnaissance mission, and it ended with the death of the king's Reeve, a high ranking local official, who in his surprise at being confronted by strangers on the beach refused to give them the tribute of money and provisions that they demanded."

http://www.infobritain.co.uk/Viking_History.htm

How about Caesar's first invasion of Britain?

"In late summer, 55 BC, even though it was late in the campaigning season, Caesar decided to make an expedition to Britain. He summoned merchants who traded with the island, but they were unable or unwilling to give him any useful information about the inhabitants and their military tactics, or about harbours he could use, presumably not wanting to lose their monopoly on cross-channel trade. He sent a tribune, Gaius Volusenus, to scout the coast in a single warship. He probably examined the Kent coast between Hythe and Sandwich, but was unable to land, since he "did not dare leave his ship and entrust himself to the barbarians",[10] and after five days returned to give Caesar what intelligence he had managed to gather."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesar's_invasions_of_Britain

History records numerous instances of reconnaissance. In the Bible, Joshua and Caleb were sent ahead as scouts in Canaan. So even in ancient times, invading armies used scouts.
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