My first ever session report…hope you enjoy it.
I don’t get to play epic board games very often due to a lack of willing opponents…however on Wednesday 11th July, with Esther and Martin visiting, I was able to play my first game of Britannia in around 3 years. Esther and Martin had both played before, although again, not for at least 3 years. This probably contributed to some accidental rule breaches from me, which weren’t noticed until too late to remedy, as well as several major tactical errors. Anyway, here is what happened:
We picked teams randomly. Esther got the Roman-Dane faction and Martin the Saxon faction, leaving me with Angle faction.
In turn 1, the Romans stormed through England, submitting the Belgae but losing 4 armies to them. The Welsh lost their English areas but nothing more. Boudicca’s revolt hit Hwicce (the first of several bloody battles in that area), destroying a Roman army and a fort, whilst an overrunning Belgae army burnt the fort in Avalon, leaving the Belgae scoring heavily for destroying Romans! In turn 2, the Romans reached Scotland, Boudicca was counterattacked and died, but took 2 Romans with her, with the Romans also destroying the last Belgae holdout in Lindsey. The Welsh repulsed Romans in Devon, whilst the Brigantes made a nuisance of themselves, burning several forts before being forced to submit in turn 3. The Brigantes were left a bit oddly-placed: 3 in Strathclyde, 2 in Lothian, 1 in Cheshire. Dalriada fell to Rome, but few Picts died and Alban and Mar were too well defended. The Romans allowed the Brigantes to grow population normally in exchange for occupying Cumbria (which the Romans hadn’t managed to get to). The Brigantes also promptly then took Clwyd off the Welsh, who were having no joy at burning forts.
In turns 4-5, Scotland livened up as the Picts burned forts in Dunedin and Dalriada and snatched Hebrides from the unamused Caledonians. The Romans guarded their shores well and launched a campaign against the Welsh, finally taking Devon and forcing them to submit by threatening Dyfed. The Saxons and Angles did little, forts in Lindsey and Cornwall (paving the way for the Irish!) falling. The Jutes burned a fort and scored the hold points for Kent in turn 5, but despite being surprisingly good at killing Saxons, failed to score again and were wiped out during turn 8. In Scotland, the Picts scored heavily. The Roman limes score was good (52 points, I think) with submitted Welsh and Brigantes in many areas plus many intact forts. The Welsh score was poor due to submission and enemy incursions. Still, at least they still held the two lowland areas and army numbers were healthy…
Turns 6-10: The Romano-British emerged strongly, consolidating in South Mercia, Essex and Kent. The Saxon major invasion was a disaster (no luck with the dice), and fear of Arthur led to Aelle cowering in Downlands whilst the Jutes and Romano-British laid into the Saxon stragglers. At the beginning of their turn 7, the Saxons held only Downlands, although they did have 4 armies there. Form the turn 7 low point, a slow Saxon recovery began…with the Jutes gone and the Romano-British eventually restricted to South Mercia (later eliminated around turn 11), the Saxons gradually filled up southern England again, with a decent turn 10 score. Ida and the Angles fared much better in turn 7, storming across northern England, treading down the Brigantes until they eventually submitted and picking off some Romano-British armies who strayed northwards after Arthur died of old age. Angles scored for most of their main scoring areas in turns 7 and 10, were Bretwalda in turns 8 and 9 and king in turn 10.
Things started going badly for me in Scotland, the tide turning against the Picts…the Scots and Caledonians entered into an unofficial alliance, with the Scots nicking Hebrides. Then, despite my accidental cheating (I had 3 armies in each of Skye and Dalriada – an illegal 2 overstacks) Fergus Mor did some damage, Skye was eventually lost and to add to the insult, the cheeky Brigantes pinched Alban, with Martin gleefully reminding me that the Angles couldn’t help the Picts as the Brigantes had submitted to them! Grrr…
The Angles swept the path clear and the Welsh netted 12 points for York in turn 9. In turn 10, they made a failed attempt to dislodge the Irish from Devon. The Irish, previously forgotten by everyone and deterred by Welsh defensive positions, had built a civilisation centred on Cornwall, Devon and Avalon…and scored very well for it!
Turns 11-13: Dane raiders hit soft targets in Lindsey and Norfolk, losing only 1 army, with several Angle losses. Saxon burhs started appearing everywhere and they were truly back in the game, scoring well in turn 13. The Dane major invasion swept the Angles back, leaving them only Hwicce, March and (I think) Cheshire. Although scoring well, the Danes amusingly lost Ivar and Halfden - ambushed and killed in Strathclyde on turn 12 as the Brigantes reduced them to 1 army when defending in turn 11 and then counterattacked from Alban! Martin reflected that it was a bit of shame that the Brigantes don’t get ‘kill’ points for Ivar and Halfden…Elsewhere in Scotland, the Picts were finished off as the Norsemen’s major invasion crashed into them, Mar and Moray falling rapidly. The last 2 Picts in Dalriada successfully re-entered Mar via Dunedin on their next turn, but lost one army in the process, with the final army falling to a further Norse attack.
Martin’s cunning manoeuvring of Caledonians and Norsemen to maximise their points through turns 12-16 was something to witness, although after the game he pointed out that he’d probably have scored more by not pursuing a genocide against the sole remaining Scot, who was eventually eliminated in Skye.
Overpopulation was approaching for the cowardly Welsh, who would need to try something soon…
Unfortunately for Esther, she forgot to redistribute some of the Dubliners to shore up York in their second major invasion turn, with the result that the Angles ambushed Olaf Guthrifsson who only had 1 army with him. Olaf was killed for no loss, restricting the Dubliner turn 13 score to just 9, whilst the Angles pulled out a last-gasp 8 for York and Hwicce.
The Danes scored heavily in Turn 13, whilst the Caledonians and Norsemen also did reasonably well, carving up Scotland between them. The Brigantes were restricted to Strathclyde and Galloway, but at least were now unsubmitted and got full points for those areas.
Turn 14 was Danish glory time as Cnut achieved king on his turn by shaving the Saxon empire after pinching Essex and Kent, although Saxon re-expansion prevented the Danes also achieving the end of turn king. The Norse/Caledonian dance continued in Scotland, whilst in Wales, the Welsh weren’t quite overpopulated yet…and did nothing. The Irish, now down to Devon and Cornwall, but holding 3 armies in Devon, watched and waited…
The endgame beckoned…and the Welsh finally struck in turn 15. Deciding the Danes were looking too strong, they took North Mercia with 3 armies. There were still a worrying number of Danes around, however...
Sven Esthrisson and his armies further shored up Danelaw. Harald Hardrada’s Norwegians captured all objectives except North Mercia, where they decided to avoid the Welsh hordes. They finished with good territory and finally dispatched the Angles and Dubliners, but Harald looked vulnerable in Cheshire with only 2 armies, although there were plenty of retreats open. Would Sven go after him…? The Saxons and Harold pulled back to Downlands with 4 armies, but also left 2 in Avalon. William managed to occupy most of his main targets in major invasion turn 1, usefully eliminating Danes in Essex and Kent, but losing 3 infantry. Two remaining infantry held Wessex and Essex, leaving William to attack Downlands with 3 cavalry and 1 infantry, the fourth cavalry being forced to cut Harold’s retreat by attacking Avalon – despite being out numbered 2 to 1. For a change, William’s units fought well, eliminating the Saxons and Harold for the loss of 1 cavalry and 1 infantry. However, one Saxon survived into turn 16 as the cavalry in Avalon was eliminated for the loss of the second Saxon in return when that battle was resolved.
Turn 16 – The Welsh in North Mercia pulled back to South Mercia, intending to create a ‘human shield’ to buffer William against Harald and Sven. 3 further Welsh hit 2 Danes in Hwicce, who were uncomfortably close to William. This resulted in another bloody battle as all 5 armies were eliminated and left my plan in tatters because there was now a big open highway right to William! Fortunately for me, Sven decided to go for the softer target…5 Danes landed on Cheshire and Martin groaned as the necessary fours came up on the dice. Resignedly, most of the remaining Norwegians spread out across northern England to maximise final occupy points, whilst 3 armies in March decided to chance a go at William in Downlands. They all died with no Norman losses.
Harold and Harald were dead and Sven was down to 6 areas, with only 1 army in each of Suffolk and North Mercia…could William become king? William gathered the 2 surviving infantry in Downlands, and marched into North Mercia, whilst the cavalry separated, one attacking Suffolk and the second hitting the last Saxon in Avalon. The 5 infantry reinforcements in English Channel then took Wessex, Sussex, Essex, Downlands and Kent, which should have been good enough…however, although both cavalry hit and eliminated their targets, William’s infantry both missed and the Dane retreated to March giving them 5 areas and denying William kingship. It was later pointed out to me that I should have ignored the Saxon and instead put the cavalry in either Hwicce or March. This would have cut the retreat from North Mercia to any vacant area and given me additional goes at eliminating the Dane who was stopping the kingship. Using the power of the Norman cavalry to extinguish the last Saxon resistance was just too tempting…That last in a sequence of genocides left Britain to the surviving Welsh, Irish, Normans, Danes, Norwegians, Brigantes, Caledonians and Norsemen.
Final scores for each nation:
Roman-Dane faction (Esther):
Saxon faction (Martin):
Angle faction (Alan; me):
I was surprised by the margin of victory. It was probably down to having no ‘failed’ nations: The Welsh were consistent, the Picts and Belgae good before they died, the Angles impressive and the Normans decent, despite the missed kingship. By contrast, although Esther’s Romans and Danes did well, the Scots, Dubliners and Jutes scored poorly, whilst Martin did very well with Irish, Caledonians and Norsemen, but less well with the Brigantes (too much time submitted) while the slow Saxon start dented their points total. Martin noted regretfully that he might’ve snatched second if he’d thought to try to take York off the Danes in turn 16.
Not sure when I’ll next get a chance to play this…hopefully sooner than 3 years!
The consensus seems to be that this 3P version is unbalanced (but that the short 3P version works well). I am working on a new full 3P version for the third edition (which will use the third edition rules) that has quite different sides.
As the glorious leader of the Saxon faction I thought I'd lend some of my thoughts about the game.
First of all it was an enjoyable game despite Alan's clear win. Even though I was last at the end of the game I was the only person with any armies north of York/Cheshire and took great pleasure in renaming Scotland Norsedonia.
I did make a number of mistakes during the game. My attempt to wipe out the Jutes with my Saxon major invasion backfired horribly losing me quite a lot of armies and meant that there was no clear opposition to the Angles, leaving them to run amok. Though I did manage to take North Mercia at the appropriate time stopping one of their leaders appearing.
Due to forgetting to move a Caledonian army out of Caithness in the same turn as I killed off the Scots my Norse/Caledonian dance, as Alan called it, ended up a turn or two behind schedule, losing me some points in one of the scoring turns.
In the second turn the Brigantes managed to burn down 3 Roman forts cutting the road to Scotland but this did leave them quite vulnerable to attack and ended up with them having to submit. Its possible that they may have been ignored if they had just stayed where they were and grown.
The Norwegians did attack York on the last turn but with just one army as he had nowhere else to go. The whole of Northern England was already under Norwegian control, with 1 army in each territory. With hindsight I should have abandoned some other territory to attack with 2 or 3 so as to prevent the Danes from scoring their 8 for it.
Throughout the whole game the welsh seemed to have hundreds of armies in all their territories. The Irish did attack Dyfed with 3 armies against 3 at one point but with Alan getting 2 kills and me none the remaining army retreated quickly back to Devon. If they had succeeded then a weakened welsh may have been targeted by some of the Norse.
Boudicca's performance definitely helped Alan a lot and he appears to have forgotten how good she was. When the Romans attacked her on turn 2 with 4 armies to her 3 the battle lasted three rounds. In each round Boudicca and the Romans killed 1 army each and so her kill count was 3 not 2. As an outsider of the battle I was very happy to see so many Roman armies, but it did give the Belgae lots of points.
Overall a very good game and I look forward to our next one.
Martin makes a good point about Boudicca and the Belgae in general...they did kill a ridiculous number of Romans. In fact, I had some outrageous luck with the dice throughout the game, particularly with attacking armies failing to score hits. From my opponents' points of view this led to far too many of my armies surviving...especially Welsh and Picts!