A Second Life Prevails Again ...
Llew Bardecki shows James Tyne how
its done in New Zealand.
Ed O'Connor and Ron Clement try to
It is an interesting year in the tournament when there are no Red victories in the heats. But I get ahead of myself.
We had a great start this year with about ten people attending the demo. A number of those folks went on to play in a heat as well, so I entered a number of new names in the Britannia roll. Nevertheless, attendance matched its alltime low. Still, given the number of newcomers, hope springs eternal that we will pick up again next year in our new digs.
In the heats, the primary item of note was the lack of Red victories. Blue had a tremendous year, claiming half of the 12 preliminary games. The remainder were evenly split at three each for Green and Yellow. I did note that Boudicca ended up, a number of times, walking through the Welsh and into the Downlands. This turn of events was facilitated by the traditional Roman/Welsh withdrawal deal. It might make the Romans think somewhat about modifying their approach to that deal in the future. Not going so far as to not make it, but rather to put a fort and legion in Hwicce. Anyway, it was interesting to see the Romans digging Boudicca out of the Downlands.
Another item of note with the heats was the speed of play. It was necessary for me to encourage two games in the first heat to move along. But even so, all of the games in the heats finished in less than 5 hours. Even better, one of the semis finished, in what felt like (I was playing in the game) an unhurried fashion, in 3:45, possibly even a little less.
Now, on to the high scores. For the highest of the high, the Blue score, Ewan McNay ended up competing with himself, he racked up a 286 in his first heat and added a 288 in his second. There was a run at that Blue score by Randy Schilb with a 264. Green was a tight race with Ron Clement scoring 254, but Bruce Blumentritt topping him with a 258. Again with Yellow, it was close, but Barry Smith’s 241 was not quite enough as Ed O’Connor put together 247 points. I was pleased to note that, although these were certainly some high scores, these games were not enormous 300+ point blowouts.
My favorite Ethelraed the Unraed award was taken by Gary Moss. Gary had a disastrous Roman invasion which started a game fraught with dice turning stone cold. That led to a score of 146. Truly worthy of the Ethelraed award.
We again had three semifinals. There were ten different heat winners but with two defections to other endeavors, we admitted four runners-up. And again, with just three Round 2 games, a close second would be just as important as winning, since the highest runner-up would advance.
The semifinals, encouraged by the eventual advancement of a runner-up, were closely contested. Sean McCulloch and Ed O’Connor registered Yellow wins, and Red finally broke into the winner’s circle with Randy Schilb! The runners-up, in order, were Chris Trimmer, Ewan McNay and Barry Smith. Regrettably, Randy had to departl to catch an early plane so our finalists were winners O’Connor and McCulloch, and runners-up Trimmer and McNay who automatically assumed favorite status with the aura of invincibility that comes with a second life.
In the draw, Ed pulled Blue, Sean Yellow, Ewan Red and Chris Green. Ed and Chris made the standard Welsh-Roman deal modified by allowing the Welsh to burn one fort. Sean lost two Romans to the Belgae, so a fairly successful first round. But Ewan’s Brigantes then caused some pain by taking down three Romans, including two in March, leaving the Brigante standing proudly alone. Boudicca then came raiding in Londinium, well, Essex. She piled enough into Essex to make it through to Sussex with an army. The Belgae troops did very well, taking down two legions and the fort in Rome and the one brave Belgae in Sussex taking out the fort.
The Welsh turn was … interesting. That proud Brigante in March was invested by the Welsh coming out of the mountains in a nicely opportunistic move. They ended up with two in each of Powys, Devon, North Mercia, March and Hwicce. The most curious setup I’ve seen. Your loyal reporter is very curious how this will play out. The Brigantes at this point were reduced to two in Pennines and Strathclyde with one for the Romans to run over in Lothian. The setup was something of a dilemma for the Picts, so Ed spent a bit of time thinking before arranging three in Lothian, fighting the lone Brigante, and two in Dunedin and Mar.
At this point, Sean realized that the Welsh in the middle of England were blocking the Romans from moving to the north. Although this annoyed the Romans, it didn’t seem to hinder them very much as they used the southern Romans to take out Boudicca and the Northern Romans to run into the Picts. The Picts were impressed by the seven Roman legions that showed up to say hello in Lothian and immediately submitted. Meanwhile, to the south, Boudicca was eliminated with the loss of but a single legion.
The Brigantes moved into Dalriada and the Picts took over Skye, Moray and Alban in addition to the lands of Lothian, Dunedin and Mar. The Romans then, on Turn 3, were left with nothing to do but defend their territory, so they redeployed to the south. Given their 11 legions, they were able to protect most of their lands. It promised to be a large Lime score. Turn 3 flew by completely uneventfully with no one able to attack except the lone Irishman who stared mournfully at the fortified coast.
Turn 4 the raiders came out to see a heavily defended coast. First the Irish, then the Saxons, Jutes and Angles all declined to make a raiding attempt. And so we passed on quickly to…
Turn 5 promised to be equally uneventful, until of course, the raiders came up. The Irish decided that Devon, with only one Welshman, was a tasty target. The Irish took Devon, but at the cost of a precious Irishman. The Saxons then worked on Cornwall. They took Cornwall, but lost three Saxons in the process. The Jutes, as usual, strode boldly into Kent and eliminated the fort and legion in one quick die roll. The Angles targeted Bernicia, interesting only because York, worth more Limes points, was equally defended. Bernicia cost only one Angle army. And indeed, it was an impressive Limes score of 54. The Turn 5 scores were 134 Yellow, 41 Blue, 37 Green and 31 Red.
Turn 6 and the Romano-British stacked themselves with four in Lindsey, two in North Mercia, and one each in South Mercia and Suffolk. A diplomatic success for the Saxons, convincing the Romano-British to deploy in a more northerly formation. Would it come back to bite them, or indeed, to bite at the game entire? Your loyal reporter rather thinks so. The Welsh then went after the stack of Irish in Devon with four Welsh. The Irish quickly melted away, causing no casualties to the Welsh. The Brigantes then retaliated against the Welsh, responding to the pain of their Irish brethren, and went into Clwyd with three against the lone Welshman. Clwyd fell quickly. The Picts forted up with two each on the coasts and two in Dunedin, with the Scots threatening from the Irish Sea. The Irish ignored the empty Cornwall, feeling threatened by the stack of four Welsh in Devon, and went into Gwynedd on the path to their brother Brigantes. Alas, they were slain by the two Welsh who cleanly eliminated them in one roll, losing one in the process. And then, Saxon invasion time. Having virtually no resistance, with the Romano-British having taken refuge in the north, the Jute in Kent was eliminated by six Saxons as an incidental side show. The Saxons continued the Red-Green war by taking Powys with Aelle. The Jutes settled in Cornwall and Kent. With so many Brigantes to the south, the Angle investment of the north was straightforward, with four Angles in Strathclyde. As the Brigantes declined to submit to the Angles, the Brigantes were eliminated at the cost of an Angle.
Turn 7 and the Saxons campaigned hard not to be attacked by the Romano-British. The Romano-British listened to them. Your reporter shall hold his tongue on what he thinks of that. And thus the Romano-British attacked the Jute in Kent, and Angles in York and Bernicia. By the way, this was influenced by a vigorous defense of the Angles from the Brigantes stacked in York. The Welsh then realized they were hungry and had to go after the Saxons in Hwicce to get room for living since the Jutes were in Devon. The much reduced Brigantes, like a rat frightening away a large cat, fought a diplomatic fight to get a deal to not submit to the overwhelming Angles. The Scottish major invasion saw an empty Dunedin, but two Picts in each of Mar, Moray, Alban, Dalriada and Skye. The Picts retreated from the Scots in Dalriada and were wiped out in Skye. The Scots ended with two in Dunedin, one in Dalriada and three plus Fergus in Skye. A vast number of Saxons then distributed out of Wales and across the south. At this point, there were already 17 Saxons to the south. This reporter will again, keep quiet as the Red player worked on directing the attentions of the Angles against Arthur and his cavalry in York. That was a resounding failure as only one cavalry and one infantry were killed and the remaining cavalry and infantry escorted Arthur off to hide in Lindsey. Of note was the Angle elimination of the Scots in Dunedin. The scores came out to 148 Yellow, 81 Blue, 68 Red and 62 Green.
Turn 8 started with the Romano-British deciding where to strike out from Lindsey. Remarkably, they seemed still convinced that Blue was a danger despite there being only 12 Angles on the board. Although the hard campaigning by the Welsh player to get into York, lightly defended by only one Angle, may have swayed that decision. The Romano-British quickly brought the number of Angles down to ten by eliminating two in Norfolk. The Welsh then ran into York, not hitting the Angle and losing a Welshman. The Angles nonetheless retreated, not wanting to take any chance of losing forces at this point. The Picts continued the Scottish pogrom by taking out the lone Scot in Dalriada. The Scots swiftly responded back and drove the Picts back into Alban. The Saxons had a quiet turn going to 19 armies and kicking the Romano-British out of Kent. The Angles redeployed and kicked the Romano-British out of Lindsey. The turn ended with the Saxons voting the Brigantes in as Bretwalda. The Red plan was coming together. And slowly there was a realization by the other players that Red was feeling confident, which clearly spelled trouble…
Turn 9 and the Romano-British hoped no one noticed them in Norfolk. The Welsh tried to kick the last Brigante out of Clwyd, but were unsuccessful. The Irish lost their last man in a futile attempt to take Powys. Otherwise a quiet turn until the Saxons pulled out their 20th man and discovered the need to have a 10th space. With some, umm, gunboat diplomacy from Red to Blue, a deal was struck for peace and the Saxons kicked the Welsh out of Hwicce. The reign of Red Bretwaldas was thus assured. The Brigantes were again voted Bretwalda by the Saxons. The other colors realized the issue with Red, but seemed paralyzed into inaction.
Turn 10 promised to be quiet with peace breaking out all over. This is a war game isn’t it? It being a point turn, the Welsh finally did kick the Brigante out of Clwyd. The Brigantes were hungry and ventured into Dunedin. Strangely enough, the Picts came right back and kicked the Brigantes back out. The Brigantes would be hungry again next turn. The dance for Dunedin continued with one Scot boldly venturing out. He was killed by the lone Pict. Once again, the power play politics of Red came out to force another peace with the Angles for a turn. Strangely, the Angles managed to arrange to become Bretwalda as part of the deal and the Saxons went off to Norfolk to kill off the last Romano-British. That deal was sufficient to convince the Angles to attack the Picts in Dunedin for their needed living space. This reporter regards that as a strange situation indeed. But the Angles were voted as Bretwalda. The deal was certainly significant of the overwhelming confidence, deserved, of Red at this point. Totting up the scores showed Yellow at 156, Red at 129, Blue at 123 and Green at 104.
The turn for Dane and Norse glory arrived on Turn 11. First though, the Welsh made a small and unsuccessful run out against the Saxons. The Brigantes had meanwhile, gotten wind that the Angles might be attacking them later on, so they went to hide in the Pennines. Fighting continued with the Picts kicking the Scots out of Skye. It was apparent that the other colors were confused and fractious as the Scots then kicked the Picts out of Alban. The Danes did decently on their raids, losing one, but collecting six points for areas. As the turn ended, the Saxons stacked up to the south to fend off the Danes, and the Angles ran northerly, attacking the Brigantes in Strathclyde and Cumbria. Because of that forting up of the Saxons, there was no King this turn.
Turn 12 and the Danes piled up on the coast ready to invade. The Welsh made another foray against the Saxons, but this time came with more strength. Two Welsh in Hwicce and three in March killed or drove Saxons back. The hungry Brigantes went into Cumbria, with a kill on each side, the Angles retired to better defend Lothian. The Picts continued to chase the Scots, going into Dalriada, but they were soundly defeated by one brave Scotsman. The Norse continued the Caledonian pogrom, killing the last of them in the Hebrides while still losing none. The north end of the island was looking extremely Red. There was a pause then as the Danes considered what to do. England looked like a menacing place to attack. A large stack of Danes went into Suffolk, wiping out a stack of three Saxons, but being hit twice in return. Otherwise, there was a march through the empty center of England and then finishing up with a march to the north. The Danish brothers ended up heading into the Pennines and Bernicia. The Danish dice were hot in Bernicia as they slaughtered the Angles, but then the Danes were in turn killed by the Brigantes in the Pennines. Aiming for King after the Danish invasion, the Saxons built their first Burh and spread out to cover all of southern England, kicking everyone else out. The Angles followed up by going after the Brigantes in Galloway and Pennines. While they were successful in Pennines, they failed in Galloway. The Saxons then easily claimed the kingship.
Turn 13 opened with an interesting turn in the Scot-Pict dance. The Picts boldly forayed two from Skye into Caithness to fight two Norsemen. They were swiftly defeated. The Norsemen continued their, apparently unstoppable, rolling of sixes by taking Skye from the Scots. The Dubliners came on to an empty board. They decided that they should thus spend a few moments killing some Saxons before taking their triumphant march to York. Two Saxons died in North Mercia at the hands of five Dubliners and Olaf Guthfrithsson. The Danes then went north, pushing the Angles out of Lothian and the Dubliners out of Cumbria. The Saxons also headed north, taking seven troops led by Edgar against Olaf in York and two more into March to kill more Dubliners. The Dubliners were reduced to a shadow with two armies and Olaf in Cheshire. With the Angle turn, the Brigantes were ushered out of the world. The Saxons were, of course, crowned King. At this point, Red’s total stood at 215, Green at 170, Yellow at 164 and Blue at 141.
Turn 14 went along swiftly with sniping by the Welsh at the Saxons and the Norse continuing to plow through the North, taking Moray from the Picts. The Dubliners re-established themselves with their new recruits in Cumbria. Cnut had no chance of being king, but decided to take out some Saxons anyway. He did take out a couple of them but the Danes, after the removals, were reduced to one lone settler sitting in Lindsey. The Saxons took four into Pennines to block the Angle move south, incidentally providing a capability to hit the Norwegians. Meanwhile the Saxons spread out their troops to the south. The Saxons claimed the Kingship again.
Turn 15 and the Normans and Norwegians appeared on the English shore. The Welsh dove back into their hills, hoping to avoid notice by the invaders. The Dubliners took exception to the Saxons in the Pennines and sent three men into the Pennines to soften up the Saxons for the Norwegians. The, rather suicidal, Dubliners did manage to take out two Saxons before withering away before the entrenched and superior force. The Norwegians came on unopposed except for one inconvenient Angle in Bernicia who swiftly ran away. The Norwegians touched their points and headed up into the Pennines to rout the last of the Saxons there. The Normans had far different invasion prospects. They faced a shield wall of Saxons stacked three deep along the shore. The Normans did manage to clear the Saxons off the shore, but only managed to claim Avalon, Sussex, Wessex, Essex and Kent and were much reduced.
Turn 16 promised to be swift. The Welsh stepped out into the empty Avalon and Wessex. They also challenged the Norwegians for Cheshire and March. They only took March, but the battle emptied Cheshire. The Norse bid for more territory, taking out the last Scot in Dalriada but not managing to take Mar after a long, drawn out dice battle. The Danes decided that Lindsey was the right place for Svein to settle and left some timid settlers hoping to be unnoticed in Norfolk and Suffolk. The Norwegians sallied their boats to the south and went after William in Kent. William managed to duck away to Essex, only to be killed by Harold soon after. The Angles now raced their armies from the north and ended up with six territories stretching from Lothian to North Mercia. The final scores were 263 Red, 205 Green, 200 Yellow, and 193 Blue.
My thanks to everyone for another great tournament and I hope to see all of you playing again next year in Seven Springs!
GM Jim Jordan with his finalists. |