7th September 2019
Saturday evening. Matakishi's. Game night.
Tonight we decided to play another classic board game. This time it was 'Britannia', a game originally published in 1986, over 30 years ago.
Britannia is a historical game of invasion and conquest and when I say invasion and conquest, I really do mean constant invasion and conquest.
In Britannia, players do not play a single nation or tribe or whatever. Instead they play a colour and each colour has 4 nations of varying size. Each colour will have 1 nation that benefits from a 'major invasion', this explained later.
Britannia is played over 16 rounds and centuries of time. The game starts with the Roman invasion (So around 43 A.D..) and end with the Norman invasion (Around 1066 A.D..).
Even though each player has control of 4 factions, the factions do not appear at the same time in the game. They appear when 'historically appropriate' in various turns throughout the game.
What's in a game?
How's it play?
The rules for Britannia are relatively simple. The complexity comes from the interaction with the other players.
Before the game begins we have set up. Each player chooses a colour and is given all the relevant tokens for that colour, the play begins.
One other thing worth noting are 'major invasions'. Each player will have a faction that has a major invasion at some point. A major invasion means that the relevant faction gets to turns in a row.
Britannia is played over 16 rounds. Scoring occurs throughout the game, but not on every round. In fact not all the factions score at the same time, some factions score on entirely different rounds.
Additionally, when scoring is carried out, different factions score different points for controlling different areas of the board. Which means that different factions may have different priorities. However quite often opposing factions score points for the same regions, invariably pushing them into conflict with one another.
After all the rounds have been completed, points are tallied and highest score wins.
Britannia is a wargame and as such is very confrontational. It's a game that charts the historic invasions and conquests of early Britain. It turns out there were a lot of invasions and conquests! Players will more or less be in constant conflict with other players and there's no way to avoid it.
Combat is a key component in Britannia: Luckily, the basics of the rules are simple to remember. Mostly players will be looking into how to expand into and hold high scoring areas and this drive most of the game's conflict.
Asymmetrical rules make Britannia interesting and quite unique.
I like how the asymmetrical factions give different players advantage at different times. So for example; whoever has the Romans will gain an early lead, but after that they will have smaller factions appear.
Combined with the asymmetrical scoring that gives different players different objectives means that the end score is always unpredictable.
I do have a couple of minor criticisms of Britannia.
Britannia should only really be played with 4 players. Sure you can play with 3 or 5 players, but it's not optimal.
Britannia can take about 4 hours to play, so it requires quite a time commitment. I guess a millennia of invasions of Britain can't be played out quickly!
But these small criticisms aside; Britannia is an involved but entertaining game to play.
31st August 2019
Saturday evening means gaming at Matakishi's
On this evening, we decided to indulge ourselves in an old classic; 'Kingmaker'.
History lesson; Kingmaker was orignally released in the mid 1970's. It was republished in the mid 1980's, but since then has not been in print!
Kingmaker is set during the 'War of the Roses', a time of civil war and strife in 15th century England.
Player's take the role of factions attempting to grab power for themselves. This is done by acquiring a member of the royal family and having them crowned as King (Or Queen I guess?).
What's in a game?
All the components in Kingmaker are 'old school', but they are all perfectly acceptable.
How's it play?
The basic premise of the game is accumulate power and resources use them to acquire a member of royalty and have them crowned as king.
At the start of the game, each player is given a number of Crown Cards to represent their starting resources.
Then play can begin. Actions occur in the following order.
Once a player crowns a member of a royal family and all other potential threats have been eliminated, then that player has won.
Kingmaker is a classic and no doubt about. But it plays very differently to most modern games, particularly 'eurogames'.
Kingmaker is very confrontational, with lots of conflict between players, military and political conflict. This is not everyone's cup of tea.
But it's also a game of sometimes biding your time and avoiding confrontation. When you're outmatched, then you're outmatched.
Talking of conflict. I have to mention that I really like how battles are resolved. I like that if you significantly outnumber you opponent, you are nearly always guaranteed winning the battle. But you always risk losing your nobles, even if you win.
It means you can't really risk going into battle frivolously. It also means that you need to think about how you distribute your forces to your nobles and how you put those nobles into battle.
So I think that Kingmaker is an interesting game to play.