Last night, we celebrated the midpoint between our annual gaming weekends at Dan’s place. It’s been approximately 180 days since the end of GTF’06 and another 180 days until we open GTF’07. Nine people showed to play games. Nelson, Patty, Denise, Heather and Bob played Vegas Showdown. I picked up a copy at GenCon in the WotC prize area. I’ve read the rules a couple of times but have not played. I walked through the game with everyone and they took it from there. They finished after about 90 minutes. Heather was the winner I heard with a well designed casino. Nelson was tied with Heather in fame but lost the tie-breaker with less cash on hand. Sounds like it was well received by the group. This group also went on to play a couple of games of Time’s Up. Not really Nelson’s cup of tea but he was a good sport about it!
The rest of us (Josh, Dan, Troy and me) dug in for a good long session of Britannia. I picked up a copy of the FFG edition earlier this year and have been itchin’ to play this for most of the summer. There are a lot of rules and it seems overwhelming reading and explaining it but once you get into the rhythm of play, it is not all that complicated. Most of the problems arise from the exceptions and special treatments of certain nation’s armies and leaders. A good player aid would speed play a bit. I’m looking at one on BGG that’s not bad but I may work on improving it some.
Britannia is a game about all the invasions that occurred to Britain from the first Roman invasion around 50 BC to William the Conqueror in 1066. The game starts with Britain controlled by various factions (Welsh, Brigantes, Picts, etc) and a major invasion (2 attacks) by the Romans. Troy played the Romans and we goofed/forgot the major invasion rule on his turn. By the time we realized what happened, we were too far along to undo it so he had 2 attacks during turn 2 to compensate for it.
One of the funniest exchanges of the evening was sometime during the 2nd or 3rd turn. Josh (playing the Welsh) struck a deal with Troy’s Romans on how to divide up the ‘neck’ of Britain heading north toward Hadrian’s wall. The Romans would take the eastern areas and leave the western areas open for the Welsh. The Romans marched north, ‘civilizing’ the barbaric populace and leaving only a token force (Roman forts) in each southern area. The barbaric Welsh, having no qualms over a little backstabbing, saw an opportunity to plunder and pillage the Roman fortifications. That upset the Romans (a little 🙂 causing them to abandon their northerly conquests, race south to push the Welsh back toward Wales and force them into subjugation.
We played until the end of the 2nd scoring round (Turn 7). That was roughly half the game but it was pushing midnight. We estimate it would’ve taken another 2-3 hours to finish. However, with familiarity of the mechanics, I’d say 4-5 hours for a 4 player game. The first play was enjoyable and interesting. Time flew by. Josh likes games with a lot of conflict. It was hilarious to play Britannia with him and watch him goad us into attacking each other, including himself.
If you play, go in with the realization that the point of the game is to conquer territory and eliminate opposing armies (possibly even armies of another nation that you control). Deal making is expected and deal breaking is encouraged (the rules even talk about/encourage the backstabbing aspect). With this in mind, you can have a great time with Britannia. If you find the prospect of conflict frustrating, stay far, far away!