Fresh Blood ...
Richard Curtin, Greg Romano and Llew
Bardecki in the Preliminaries.
Gordon Stewart, Barry Smith and Chris
Trimmer vie to advance.
It was a year of rebirth for Britannia! We had the
highest turnout ever for the demo with a dozen folks staying
for the entire presentation. And then, the first heat had 10
games! All in all, we enjoyed our best attendance in ten years.
I have no idea why the 35% increase in one year, and designer
Lew Pulsipher was equally mystified, but everyone was pleased
to see the interest in the game. I'd say we're still going strong
after 20 years of tournament play.
And a corollary note of thanks on that massive first heat.
John Henry and Tony Newton were not able to make it to play in
that first heat, but they thought I might need their games, so
they dropped them off with me to use as needed. And we did indeed
need them! That's the kind of unselfish act that really helps
to make the Britannia group an actual community. So John,
And here's another note on how the Britannia tournament really
is a community. We had four father-son pairs playing in the tournament
this year, and two of them made it into the semi-finals. Congratulations
to the O'Connor's and the Hultgren's for placing one quarter
of the semi-final participants. And lastly, my thanks to John
Rinko and Samuel Covington for gaming with our two youngest participants
and having a rousing game in the process.
We had 19 preliminary games and yellow had an amazing number
of wins with four in the first heat and ten overall Coming in
next was blue with four wins (which is a great improvement from
last year when there was only one blue win in the heats. Following
up were red with three prliminary wins and green with two.
We had the usual closest win plaques for each round, as well
as the high score plaques. The close win plaques were taken by
Mark Smith, me and Randy Schilb with wins of 9 points, 5 points,
and 13 points respectively (yes, I do like games that go down
to the wire.)
For the high score plaques, we had only one huge score this
year. Ed O'Connor topped the red pile with an impressive victory
of 315 points. Chris Trimmer did notably with green taking the
top score with 266 points. Tony Newton then came in with a fine
blue score of 252. And, last but not least, the yellow high score
was taken by Ewan McNay with a 277 point win in the third heat.
I saved the yellow high score for last because it was amusingly
notable. We thought we had tied yellow high score winners after
the first round when Micah Hultgren and Matt O'Connor both hit
276, a very tidy score, in their yellow wins. Matt was then playing
in the game which Ewan won in the third heat. And the nation
that tipped Ewan over the top to get that 277 point high score
in the end...some Romano-British who were still around in Turn
16 in Lothian of all places.
Naturally, having a tied yellow high score plaque is a notable
event. We've not had even the possibility of that before. But,
then losing that high score by one point, and to turn 16 Romano-British?!
That I had to memorialize, so I created special "Battle
of Stamford Bridge" awards for Micah and Matt and shipped
them off after the WBC. Congratulations folks, and keep up the
great play next time, your turn will come!
Last, of course, from the heats, my perennial favorite award,
Ethelred the Unraed, was taken by Greg Hultgren for his 126 point
game where his green Welsh, Caledonians and Jutes were pretty
much all wiped out. Congratulations Greg! And Greg had the very
nice consolation of making it into the Final anyway based on
his first heat win.
Now, for the semi-finals, we had some spectacular games. With
the larger number of players, we had a record number of winners
advancing to the semi-finals this year with 15 winners and only
one alternate participant. Perhaps most interesting was how little
the color wins in the heats predicted the semi-finals. In the
semis, we had three blue and one green win. All of the games
were tight, with an average of 15 points separating first and
second, and an average of 33 points separating top from bottom.
One of the semi-final games was particularly interesting in that
the cards dealt three of the 2009 finalists to the same table
which explains why only one 2009 laurelist managed to repeat
in 2010. Not surprisingly, that game had the tightest spread
at 19 points.
And so, Greg Hultgren, Randy Schilb, Chris Trimmer and I advanced
to the Final. We started a little early Sunday morning, as Randy
had a plane to leave for at 1, so at 8:30 AM, with coffee providing
some alertness, the Romans marched forward. The cards had dealt
me Yellow (ahem, not my favorite color.) My Romans were marching
against Trimmer's Blue, Schilb's Green, and Hultgren's Red.
The Romans encountered immediate success...in losing legions.
There were five of Rome's bright boys dead on the first turn
and stellar dice rolling by Blue and Green took down a total
of 12 legions by the time the Romans pulled their tired patrols
back across the channel. Meanwhile, the North Country was proceeding
to demonstrate that it was going to be wild and wooly throughout.
On the first turn, the Brigantes moved into Dunedin against
the Picts and proceeded to deal with the decimated Romans to
try to get five spaces to grow into, although the bellicose Romans
allowed only four. Meanwhile, the Welsh had also decided to hold
off submitting to the Romans and ended up taking back the fort
in Devon before humbling themselves to the Roman masters, although
probably mostly because they were laughing too hard behind their
hands at how the Romans were going to fight them.
And so the Romans withdrew south, leaving the hapless Romano-British
behind to be swiftly taken apart by Greg's Saxons. The Saxon
invasion went sufficiently well that by Turn 8 the Romano-British
had departed the world, garnering only six points total. The
final smashing of the Romano-British left the Saxons weak enough
though to give the Jutes a continuing foothold in Kent, leaving
them to score their four points there in Rounds 7 and 10.
Up to the North, my Scots decided to persecute the Caledonians
in the Hebrides. This proved an ill-advised venture as Randy's
Caledonians kicked them right back off the islands. So the Scots
ended up dealing with Chris's Picts and just going for their
usual territories of Skye, Dalriada and Dunedin. Unfortunately,
the hapless Scots were led by the same dull witted leader as
the Romans and, while making peace with the Picts, forgot to
round out the negotiations by including the Angles in the quest
to keep Dunedin free of Blue. So naturally, the Angles came in
and smacked the Scots right back out of Dunedin, killing them
to a man heedless of the presence of Fergus.
A quiet middle game, with a dearth of Bretwaldas, followed.
Well, there was one Bretwalda, although I suspect that something
was happening at the polling stations as the Saxons all voted
for the Brigantes, giving them the four points. ;-) Meanwhile,
there was just enough in-fighting between the Green, Red and
Blue forces to thin the midlands. Thus, the Danes had a fairly
empty middle board to come ashore to as everyone pulled back
at the sight of the Danish invasion fleet sailing in. Even with
the emptied center, Randy's Danes did only moderately well on
points, scoring 32 on Turn 12. That score was also influenced
by the Danes admirable eye on force preservation. They were ensuring
that they would not fade away immediately after their invasion
as so frequently happens.
Back up in the North, Greg's Norse came on and blitzkrieged
the Orkney's and Caithness, losing only one man in the process.
Randy's Caledonians and my few remaining Scots were quaking in
their boots waiting for the onslaught to continue. But it was
not to be for the mighty Norse, as a clutch roll in Skye by the
Scots felled two Norse and the wounded Vikings decided they had
Back in the South, Greg's Saxons were setting up for a mighty
Turn 13, adeptly targeting point maximization for the scoring
round. Unfortunately, in going for King, the Saxons counted the
Danes at only four spaces, and learned to their chagrin that
they actually had five to the Saxons nine. Nonetheless, it was
an impressive round for Red as they racked up 52 points on Turn
13 (31 Saxon, 12 Brigante and 9 Norse.)
The Danes came back strong on Turn 14 and used their strength
on the board and the thin spread of the Saxons to grab the Kingship
before Cnut sailed away to the homeland.
For the endgame, the Danes strength also led them to put three
armies in York to bravely defend against the incoming Norwegians.
Meanwhile, to the south, the weakened Saxons played cover for
Harold, who occupied the traditional citadel in the Downlands,
awaiting the onslaught of the Normans and their cursed horses.
The Danes served as little resistance to the Norwegians, but
took out enough that the Norwegians were forced into a peace
settlement with the remaining Angles in the north in order to
maintain the integrity of their armies. The usual 28 points were
scored and enough reinforcements were coming to make close to
the full tally of Norwegians. The spread out armies of the Norwegians
ensured that the last of the troops would come aboard.
In the south, the Normans traipsed around the Harold in the
Downlands with little opposition, garnering 28 points, but losing
enough infantry and cavalry to slow their advance. Nonetheless,
they did manage to put four reinforcements on the board.
There were minor dramas around the board as various nations
fought for their border territories on Turn 16, but the real
denouement to the major invasions of Turn 15 occurred with Harold
in the Downlands. The Norwegians had made a bold move to the
south to try to gain territories to become king. But kingship
was denied, with admirable political acumen as the Danes managed
to swing Harold in to taking out the southernmost Norwegian stronghold
in South Mercia. After that the Normans spread out a bit and
the game was done.
With the smoke clearing, Randy Schilb and his Greens, in his
first time back to the convention in five years, earned his second
Britannia crown with 239 points some 15 years after scoring
his first, proving yet again that we gamers just get better with
age. Meanwhile, my Yellow troops claimed second with 232 points,
Trimmer's mighty Blues took third with 219 and Hultgren's brave
Reds settled for fourth with a solid showing of 193 points.
The final four chose from books of Welsh history and folk
tales as their special gift this year, Wales being one of the
few areas not covered in the recent extras. Now I have to come
up with a new idea for the Finalists of next year's game.
And, on a last note, after many years of service, the Britannia
silver plate will be retired with honor and the names of 20 winning
years on it. It will show up for one more year to make the tour
with the full 20 names. And for next year's winner...well, we'll
have to see, I'll come up with something to affix the names of
the next 20 years of winners to. See you all next year and thanks
for making it another great year for Britannia!
Thomas Melton and John Rinker with
an up and comer ...
Paul Risner, David Fritsch and Ewan
McNay repaint the board ...