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Average Rating: 4.5 in 2 reviews
My first encounter with Britannia was over at a friend's place in the early days of our gaming group. After playing for 4 hours (this is a very long game), I was absolutely hooked and had to get my own copy. Avalon Hill have created a game that utilises a certain amount of historic realism and couples it with enough flexibility to change the way things went. The only players I can see disliking Britannia are those who know almost nothing about the history of Great Britain, so may not understand the significance of each nation that partakes in the game.
Britannia is the usual fair you'd expect from the older Avalon Hill, made up of cardboard counters and a nicely displayed gameboard of Britain. As players progress through history, the amount of troops they have available to them changes. (For example the Purple player loses all his Romans after the first 5 turns, which mirrors when the Roman Empire pulled out of Britain). Each player gets to stage their own major invasion, some even two, which allows that player to rack up their points for final accumulation at the end of the game. Britannia also uses a point system which keeps gameplay finely balanced, so it is rare for one player to win by a huge margin. Wonderful game, if you can deal with the length (usually 3-5 hours).
I quite agree with the previous reviewer -- this is an excellent game with a cool concept, a neat dynamic (different players are strong at different points as nations come and go), and simple but tense combat. Although other websites discuss the relative advantages of this over that faction, any side has a chance to win. This is largely because nations that do better in the game than they did historically are limited in their growth by the number of counters available to them. Also, this is a game in which the dice add a really fun element, since combat is pretty uncertain and a string of crazy rolls can lead to odd and entertaining scenarios.
I first played this game at a relatively young age (~10), and it actually works well with older (patient!) children because the game is competitive with lots of fun combat but it is hard for a player to be completely eliminated. The major problem (besides the time commitment) for children is that the various restrictions on the actions of certain nations, provided for game balance and historical flavor (i.e., the Romans have to invade from the English Channel) can seem rather random and picky. A copy of this game might be a good gift for a 13- or 14-year old fan of Lord of the Rings or budding history buff who likes games -- lots of great place-names and cool sword-swinging armies, and a nice (and social) break from video games with some fun history thrown in.
The only real difficulty with this game, and it is a significant problem, is in its exacting requirements. You need precisely four players and at least four hours to play the sucker at its best. This game might work well divided into two evenings --that way, folks are not too tired by the time the many important invasions and battles of Turns 15 and 16 roll around.
If you run across this game and have some time, pick it up -- it is a good one.