Llew Bardecki, Ewan McNay, Derek Landel
and Daniel Farrow in the first heat.
Defending champ Barry Smith, Gregory
Hultgren, Gus McDonald and Matt O'Connor.
Two-time champ Nick Benedict, Eric
Tolentino, Todd Carter and Edward O'Connor.
Former champs Jim Jordan and
Ewan McNay with Gus McDonald and unknown fourth.
Encore ... 15 Years in the Making
Time once more to wax histrionic for the yearly narration
of the WBC Britannia Tournament. Sadly, the younger generation
was largely absent this year, as attendance sunk to a new low,
but the usual suspects continued to emerge. As with last year,
the competition was extremely tight. It's getting harder and
harder to manage a three hundred point game and everyone has
a laser like focus on keeping the leaders in line. I am quite
proud to see it. Balance and finesse are what Britannia is all
about. Oh, and manipulating your opponents like crazy!
Before launching into the heats, let me first thank Ewan McNay
and Randy Schilb. While serving as my assistant GMs, they also
volunteered to play dual games during the heats so that I wouldn't
have to. Two of the three heats were one shy of an even multiple
of four, but we got everyone playing! Go team!
It was another year without any one-point wins, although there
were tight games nonetheless, including one adjudicated game
that had to be resolved by a dice roll. The closest win awards
this year were taken by Greg Hultgren in the first heat at 241/222
with Red. The second heat went to Nick Benedict with a 237/222
with Green. I took the third heat with the closest win of the
preliminaries at 251/248 with Blue as Ewan gave a very strong
run for it despite playing two games!
The color finishes in the heats tilted towards Red and Yellow
this year, with both scoring four wins. Blue and Green followed
with three and two respectively. Adding the semifinals into the
mix though resulted in a spread of four wins apiece for the 16
games. I believe that's the first time that's ever happened.
And then Green claimed the Final. But I get ahead of myself.
Before I launch into that story though, I will present the
high score awards and a couple of memorable items from the heats.
the heats, first, Mark Smith sitting watching in amazement as
his Picts and Angle both evaporated by about Turn 10. He was
left with just waiting for those Normans to arrive. And, apparently,
this was the year where, if your name was O'Connor, skill and
favorable dice gods met, and the wins rolled in. Between Matt
and Ed, they won five games in the heats and the semifinal, with
Ed being the only player to sweep the three heats!
The high score awards were fiercely competitive this year
and the high scores keep falling as folks get a better feel for
balancing out the games. There were definitely no 300-point winners
this time around! This year we had our highest of the high scores
in Red, as frequently happens, with Greg Hultgren posting a 274
in the second heat. Green was next on the list with a 271 by
yours truly also in the second heat. Moving on down, we had Ewan
McNay pulling together 260 points with Yellow. And coming up
at the bottom, as usual, the Blue high score, also by your GM,
came in at 251 points.
The Ethelraed the Unraedy award went to Barry Smith with a
score of 183 with Blue in a game where Red won with a score of
241 points. Barry's Angles ran into strong opposition followed
by his Normans being crushed and only hanging onto one space
at the end of the game.
And now we arrive at the Final. We only had three semifinal
games this year, so the three winners and the closest runner-up
would advance. The three winners were Matt O'Connor, winning
handily in a crazy game with Greg and Ewan taking each other
out. Randy Schilb was next, squeezing out a bare five-point victory
over Nick Benedict. And last was Woolly Farrow, edging out your
GM by four points in a tight game with Rick Kirchner another
two points behind.
The cards came out and Matt drew Yellow, I had Green, Randy
Red, and Woolly Blue. We immediately started out at a blistering
pace. Matt's Romans invaded in fine form and with little opposition.
My Welsh ran for the hills and submitted. Meanwhile, the Belgae
were squeezed back to their usual corner and the Romans were
heading up to take out a couple of initial Brigantes. The Brigantes
did sting the Romans as did the Belgae, but it was just those
two Romans lost in the initial drive.
Boudicca's Belgae did a nice job with their rebellion, scoring
20 points in the first round taking out two more legions and
a fort, but not seriously denting the Roman drive. The Brigantes
attempted to takeout some Romans, but only succeeded in losing
several armies for their efforts before retiring to await their
fate. Boudicca's rebellion was then crushed with little effort
by the Romans, losing only one more legion for their troubles.
One lone Belgae was left in Lindsey to cause trouble later. Meanwhile,
the Brigantes were quickly deciding that submission was the best
policy. The Romans were delayed enough though that even though
they easily submitted the Picts, they did so leaving the Picts
with five areas to inhabit.
A couple of uneventful turns later, the Romans wrapped up
with 142 points for a tidy invasion and Matt's Romano British
positioned themselves in the Downlands and a scattering of other
areas as usual.
Randy's Saxons rolled in on Turn 6 and went after the R-Bs
with more than the usual panache. The Romano-British were almost
entirely eliminated during the invasion except for a couple of
holdouts in Lindsey. Meanwhile the Saxons lost a few of their
warriors and spread out to occupy the lowlands, making a deal
with my Jutes to graciously allow them to stay in Kent until
Turn 7. The Brigantes and the Irish were both in reasonable shape
waiting for Woolly's Angles to come aboard.
Matt's Scots came aboard Turn 7 to stiff resistance from the
Picts and only managed to hold the west coast of Scotland. Meanwhile
the Picts maintained a strong position in the rest of Scotland
not occupied by the Caledonians. Woolly's Angle invasion fared
rather better than the Scots, pulling in a decent 26 points while
submitting the Brigantes and establishing a stable base in the
north of England without overreaching.
The usual quick 8th and 9th turns were only notable for the
complete lack of Bretwaldas as the opposing sides carefully counted
territories. In addition, my Welsh were denied York by Woolly's
Angles, who maintained their numbers by not dueling heavily with
Randy's Saxons. Turn 10's scoring round kept the same equilibrium
with the only points of note coming when the Matt's Scots did
manage to even up the territory count in Scotland and grab Dunedin
for equal points with Woolly's Picts. And so we moved into the
late game with everyone in the running and lots of on par numbers.
Turn 11 was none too kind to my Green's. Randy's Norse came
ashore and barely noticed as they brushed aside my Caledonian's
from their island homes. Caithness was the only holdout. To add
insult to injury, my "mighty" Danes came ashore to
raid and were slaughtered on the beaches. After losing half their
numbers, they managed to score only two raiding points. The prospects
for a massive Danish invasion were small indeed.
So here we were on Turn 12 with a bunch of relatively even
scores: Yellow 168, Green128, Red 103 and Blue at 122. All scores
were depressed since the Bretwalda and King possibilities had
been avoided by the Blue-Red détente. My Greens looked
a bit low with the whacking the Danes and Caledonians got, but
there were plenty of Welsh. Randy's Reds had huge Saxons and
the Brigantes and Norse had strong forces left, but the Irish
had been wiped out.
There was minimal maneuvering pre-Danes other than some Welsh
aggression. The Saxons and Angles had already pulled back to
their defensive postures. The Danes came on in modest fashion,
sticking firmly to the plan of establishing a center around Lindsey.
Given their limited numbers, the 24 points scored weren't bad
given that there were only about nine Danes left. At least Lindsey,
Norfolk, Suffolk and North Mercia were occupied, along with a
loner in York.
With the Saxons at hefty numbers though, they easily took
the King points for Turn 12 and looked set up to score big the
With the Dubliners coming on and the Norse raiders still looking
for points, Turn 13 continued relatively static. The Dubliners
rolled in and dented the Angles and, given the weakness of the
Danes, decided that York looked like a good deal. Sadly for them,
the Angles took back Cumbria. To make matters worse for Matt's
Yellows, the Scots lost another territory to the Norse. Meanwhile,
the Saxons continued to use their numbers to their advantage,
taking another Kingship and a very tidy 39 points for the turn.
The Angles had been severely tested and managed only 14 points,
while the Welsh scored 20, as many as as the Caledonians and
Turn 14 the Danes got some of their own back as Cnut managed
to somehow pull off the Kingship in the face of a lot of Saxons.
Of course, the Saxons then turned around and took the Kingship
Turn 15, the board was a bit thin for all the King conflicts
so Matt's Norwegians and Woolly's Normans looked to do fairly
well. But the 65 points scored by Randy's Reds on Turn 13, plus
the Kingship on Turn 14 made Red appear to be the front-runner,
influencing the actions of the board. The Norwegians came on
with a very standard turn, losing a couple, but easily bagging
their 28 points and forting up in Bernicia.
The Normans had a harder time of it. Even though the Saxon
had been dealt with severely by the Danes, there were still a
lot of them. The Normans came on and started losing troops right
away. They decided to take the conservative approach then and
went west through Avalon, only netting 18 points for Turn 15.
It was a death tango with the Saxons though with both sides losing
significant numbers and Harold looking vulnerable going into
And with Turn 16, the tide started turning Green. The Welsh
rolled out of Wales and secured most of England just the other
side of their border. The Caledonians actually managed to take
a space from the Picts on pure luck and the Danes spread out
and sacrificed to their gods for mercy. The Picts and Scots were
down then, with the Scots and Picts each in two areas but the
Norse looking good. And then they mutually annihilated in Skye
with the Scots.
In the last blows of the game, the big scores of Randy's Reds
in the early endgame proved their undoing. We were cruising along
at warp speed, looking to finish in just above three hours and
the adrenalin and weariness were telling. The Brigantes were
destroyed by the Dubliners as Matt looked at Randy's Reds as
his chief opponent, and the Saxons were taken out to a man by
the last of the Normans.
With the points counted, your GM won with a Green score of
234, Matt's Yellow were just a nose behind at 232, Randy's Reds
had 204, and Woolly's Blues trailed at 192. And all played in
three and a quarter hours. Meaning it took me a tad less than
15 years to win my second BRI title.
Thanks to everyone who played. It was another wonderful tournament
and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone next year.
Now, what's up with Britannia? Lew still has the publishing
rights, and is working through, with lots of enthusiastic commentary
from the community, the next evolution of Britannia. It
looks like there may be a couple of versions, one targeted for
the more casual gamer, and one that looks to continue the Britannia tradition of a lengthier game. The discussions and play testing
are still going on, so we'll see what happens next year.
Rick Kirchner, Edward O'Connor, Travis
Nesmith and John Henry
The finalists pose after a memorable