A More Historical Britannia

There are few games that teach history or British regional place names better than Britannia. But anyone familiar with the history of the period will sooner or later start to notice that not everything is just the way it should be. These notes are intended to serve as a basis for debate, eventually I hope to turn them into rule changes.

I've discussed the issue in the left hand column, and a possible solution in the right. If anyone has comments on these ideas or can suggest other problems, please don't hesitate to tell me about them.

Boudicaa's rebellion of 60 A.D. doesn't seem to be represented, and it probably should be. She sacked three cities in what Britannia calls Essex, more or less the three largest cities of Roman Britain. Boudicaa led the Iceni, which in Britannia terms probably makes her a Belga from Norfolk, plus she had allies in Essex and elsewhere. About four to six Belgae reinforcements in turn 1, arriving in a Belgae area. If there isn't a Belgae area any more, or perhaps even if there is, the reinforcements might arrive in the Frisian, or more likely in the Belgae choice of any Roman area adjacent to Suffolk (where Suffolk is considered adjacent to itself), or something like that. The Romans will obviously have to be compensated with reinforcements in Turn 2. The permanently dead forts, though, will be a handicap even after Boudicaa is dead and there needs to be some thought on that.
The Roman Conquest of Wales
Historically Rome conquered Wales late in Turn 1. In the game, however, victory point awards and Roman resources conspire to make it impractical, not to mention catastrophic for the Welsh should it occur. (It's possible the designers intended to make the Roman conquest of Wales usual, if so I believe they failed.) The Welsh were not expunged, and came back reasonably strongly after the Romans left, so the obvious Britannia mechanism is that the Welsh submit, and get a boost around about the time the Romans disappear. A crucial event in the invasion was the Roman destruction of the Druidic religious centre of Ynys Mon (the “Gw” in Gwynnedd). More units for Rome (to make the simultaneous reduction of the Welsh and Brigantes possible) and more victory points for Wales (to make it worthwhile). The Welsh can submit (the crtieria for this in the standard game may be fine.) Gwynnedd is worth more points conquered than submitted, to encourage Rome to go there. When the Romans leave, forts in Wales may become Welsh armies. Something should be make those forts less tempting targets for the Germans (Saxons, Angles and Jutes) otherwise it's possible the Romans won't bother defending them and none will survive. Possibly single Welsh armies can enter fort areas to defend them.
The Romano-British Civilisation
The portrayal of the Romano-British is odd: they get the bulk of their victory points from charging down to murder Germans (defending is no fun) and their main use is providing the Scots with a carpet of Pictish bodies on which to walk. This doesn't have much to do with what they were like (if anything it sounds like a stereotypical Saxon). In reality, the Romano-British were settled and urbanised Romans by all but ancestry, and spent their days wondering how they would survive now that Rome's armies had abandoned them. Much later they became less civilised and more violent, in Britannia terms a lot like the Anglo-Saxon invaders — but not the day the legions embarked for Gaul. Instead of deleting the forts and replacing Roman armies with Romano-British ones, delete the Roman armies and leave the forts in place. A turn or two later, replace any surviving forts with Romano-British armies. Better idea: each turn give the Romano-British the option of replacing some or all forts with armies, this represents refugees decivilising. Only forts can score victory points, but buying armies allows concentration for defence. Once the turn 7 victory phase is over replacing forts with armies will look more attractive, so we get the transition to barbarism naturally. The Scots may need additional support, since they're doing without their toga-wearing pest exterminators.
The English National Consciousness
By the time William the Bastard shows up the idea that Angles, Saxons and Jutes were separate peoples is really in the dustbin of history. In Britannia terms they've fused into one nation ... OK, they may fight each other occasionally, but those are recognisably internal wars. I don't know how to do this one. Simply creating an Anglo-Juto-Saxon superpower is out of the question. Perhaps a penalty on attacking each other after a while? Say, any German-German attack becomes a difficult terrain attack? Or perhaps this one isn't worth worrying about.
The Other Problem
I don't know what this problem is, since it's the one I haven't noticed. Please tell me about it. You might also like to tell me how to solve it.
Prehistorical Britannia
This is a damned silly idea, but for the sake of completeness we could extend Britannia backward in time. The two interesting events of the era are the Belgae expansion into England (from north-eastern Gaul, i.e. Belgium) and the failed Roman invasion of Julius Caesar. Both these events are from the southeast, I haven't good sources on the rest of the island and to a lesser extent neither does anyone else. Turn -1 runs up to 55 B.C. (well, technically 56 B.C. because there's no year zero, but who's counting) and includes the major expansion of the Belgae in southern England. Turn 0 runs from 55 B.C. to 35 A.D., includes a failed Roman invasion of Britain (implemented as raiders?) led by Julius Caesar, and everyone scores victory points at the end of it. Turn 1 now runs from 35 to 110 A.D., making it the same length as the following turns. The area the Belgae are landing on needs to be filled with Welsh, Brigantes or a new neutral power. Probably the last since otherwise Purple will have nothing to do for a turn. Survivors from this new Purple nation, if any, can become the Regnii, Roman allies who historically held an area around Wessex or Sussex when the real invasion arrived to save them from the Belgae.
Famous Names
There's a school of thought, which I mostly agree with, that leaders are Good Things. When all is said and done the impact of a leader on the game isn't huge: a leader is a lot less useful on the average than an extra unit, for instance. But for adding historical flavour they can't be beat. That makes them a sort of zero-calorie chrome. One I'd like to include is Cadwallon, who is essentially the leader that takes the Welsh to York in Turn 8 and 9. Caratacus, who led Welsh resistance to Rome, is another. Hengest (if he existed) would probably have been quite surprised to discover he was a Saxon rather than a Jute, and Arthur is far less historical than Ambrosius Aurelianus, though that may not be worth changing.


Here are proposed rules changes to reflect the ideas above, and are very preliminary.

Add to Armies

Total of 18 Roman armies.

New Leaders

Add leaders: Hengest (Jutes), Caratacus (Welsh), Boudicca (Belgae), Cerdic-Cynric (Saxons)

Delete leader: Hengest (Saxons).

Changes to Turn Record Chart, Turn 1

17 (not 15) Romans (English Channel), 5 Belgae (see [10.8]). Leaders: Boudicca (Belgae), Caratacus (Welsh).

Additions to Turn Record Chart, Turn 2

2 Romans (English Channel).

Romans may rebuild forts destroyed in Turn 1, at a cost of 1 VP (this turn only).

Reminder on Turn Record Chart, Turn 5

Romans may no longer build forts.

Change to Turn Record Chart, Turn 6

Leaders: Hengest (Jutes).

Replace Roman forts in Wales with Welsh; remove Roman forts in Scotland; remove Roman armies; Roman forts in England are now controlled by Romano-British.

Major Invasions: None.

Change to Turn Record Chart, Turn 7

6 (not 4) Saxons (Frisian).

Leaders: Cerdic-Cynric (Saxons).

Major Invasions: Angles, Saxons, Scots.

Change to Victory Point Card for Romans

Any time to Turn 5: Devon, Gwent: 2; Dyfed, Gwynnedd: 1; others: as on original card.

Turn 2: Each fort rebuilt: -1.

Change to Victory Card for Romano-British

Any game turn: Kill Hengest: 3; Kill Cerdic-Cynric:3; destroy Jute, Saxon or Angle army in own turn: 0.

Turn 8 to 12: Destroy Jute, Saxon or Angle army in battle involving at least one Romano-British army (fort not sufficient): 1.

Turn 7: Each fort: 1.

Turn 10: As for Turn 7.

Turn 13: As for Turn 7.

End of Game: As for Turn 7.

Change to Victory Card for Welsh

Turn 1: Each Roman fort or army destroyed: 2.

Change to [10.5]

The following replaces the first paragraph and the first sentence of the second paragraph of [10.5].

At the beginning of Turn 6, perform the following.

Remove all Roman armies.

Remove all Roman forts in Scotland.

Replace all Roman forts in Wales with Welsh armies. Replace all killed Roman forts in Wales with Welsh armies.

All Roman forts in England are now controlled by the Romano-British, note that forts do not participate in population increase and that the Romano-British cannot construct forts. Immediately after the population increase phase of any Romano-British nation-turn the Romano-British player may replace forts with Romano-British armies (up to the limit of the Romano-British counter mix) on a one-for-one basis.

New Rule [10.8]

The Belgae reinforcements in Turn 1 may be placed in any area that does not contain a non-Belgae army (a Roman fort does not count as an army for these purposes) and which at some time in the game was solely occupied by the Belgae. If there is no such area then the reinforcements do not appear. They move normally in the Belgae nation-turn, and may ignore Roman forts in the area in which they start for the purposes of departing that area.

Prehistoric Rules

These are alpha-test rules for extending Britannia back two turns.

New Nation

La Tene: purple faction, move after Belgae, 7 armies, alternate name "Regnii".

New Landing Restriction

Belgae may not land west of Wessex or north of Essex.

Add to Armies

Total of 16 Belgae, 11 Brigantes.

New Leaders

Add leader: Caesar (Romans).

Change to Start of Game

To start in Turn -1, make the following changes: Lindsey, North Mercia are Brigantes; Downlands, Essex, South Mercia, Norfolk, Suffolk, Sussex and Wessex are La Tene. Everything else is the same as the Turn 1 start. Note that Kent is Belgae.

New Entry in Turn Record Chart, Turn -1

14 Belgae (English Channel). Belgae must land from English Channel. Belgae are immune to population support limits after the first move of their major invasion. Major invasion: Belgae.

New Entry in Turn Record Chart, Turn 0

8 Romans (Raiders, English Channel), 5 Belgae (English Channel). Leaders: Caesar (Romans). All count victory points. Belgae must land from English Channel. Romans do not build forts. Romans may move through La Tene as though submitted.

Change to Turn Record Chart, Turn 1

10 (not 17) Romans (English Channel). Romans may move through La Tene as though submitted.

Change to Turn Record Chart, Turn 2

In each La Tene area place a Roman fort. Remove all La Tene.

New Victory Card for La Tene

Any turn: Each Belgae army destroyed: in Belgae turn: 2; in La Tene turn: 1. Turn 0: Wessex, Sussex, Kent:3; each other lowland area in England:2; other areas:1.

Addition to Victory Card for Romans

Turn 0: Each Belgae army destroyed:1; For occupation during the Roman turn: each area in England: 1.

Addition to Victory Card for Belgae

Turn 0: Kent, South Mercia, Suffolk, Downlands: 2; each other area in England:1; each other area: 1/2.

Additions to Victory Card for Brigantes

Turn -1: Each Belgae army destroyed: 1;

Turn 0: Essex, South Mercia, Suffolk, Downlands, Strathclyde, Galloway: 2; Each other area in England or Scotland:1.

Addition to Victory Card for Welsh

Turn 0: Each area in Wales or England:2.

Addition to Victory Card for Picts

Turn 0: Caithness, Hebrides, Orkneys: 1/2; Each other area:1.

Addition to Victory Card for Caledonians

Turn 0: Caithness, Orkneys, Hebrides: 2; each other area: 1.

Thanks to Charlies “Snuggs” Schmidt, for discussions and suggestions.

Please send feedback to the author, David Bofinger. Other material can be found on my home page, including some related to other board games.

This page is hosted by GeoCities, in return for carrying their advertising they will give you a free home page much like mine. Everything on this site varies without notice, especially after I get feedback.

Hosting by WebRing.