Commonly Overlooked/Misinterpeted Rules in Britannia

last updated Wed Apr 21 13:08:52 PDT 2004

4.5 Although some nations on some turns can gain victory points for temporary capture of areas (see list below), points for occupying areas are awarded only at the end of the turn.

5.2 Stacking limits apply at exactly 3 times:
  1. At Population Increase Phase (of that nation)
  2. At end of Movement Phase (of that nation)
  3. During a retreat (any nation's turn)
The stacking limits are 3 in the plains, 2 in the hilands. One area may exceed these limits in which case plains hold an unlimited amount and hilands hold 4. (Romans are not limited by these rules except that they may only stack 4 in hilands.)

6.0 Overpopulation applies at exactly 1 time:

  1. At end of player's turn.
Romans are not affected by this restriction. Angles, Saxons and Jutes are not affected on turns 4 and 5. Note also that this rule is controversial. For example, another website has decided that overpopulation also applies in the middle of a Major Invasion.

The original rule itself was rather poorly written:

Overpopulation limits apply at the end of both movement phases of a major invasion.
In fact, overpopulation limits are never checked at the end of the movement phase, but after the combat phase. In addition, does the word "both" here actually mean "each" so that it is to be checked twice or does it mean "all" so that it is checked after everything has been completed?

My conclusion, and perhaps I am alone in the world on this, comes from the following thoughts: (1) it is not clear what the designer originally intended; (2) I doubt its wisdom -- consider the poor Scots who invade with just a few units and into hiland regions; in many games this rule will mean they simply have no fair chance in the game; (3) what is the rationale -- after all, if a side is taking a double turn, why should it be necessary to fulfill the end conditions at the midpoint?

As of December 28, 1998, more fuel for the fire on this one as D.C. Williams of Australia writes:

You are certainly not alone in the world in your interpretation of the Britannia overpopulation rules, I for one, agree with your 'reading'.

I learned the game from a friend, and have only recently acquired a set of my own. In reading my set of rules there are a few things that make me scratch my head, but in the the end the proof of the game is in the playing, and when it's possible to read a rule in couple of different ways I prefer to choose the the reading that results in a fatser more playable game with a tighter outcome. A certain amount of experience with the game helps in this regard, as well as understanding that wargamers are a conservative lot who don't like to have to rethink new tactics in response to 'changes' in the rules...

I have a Gibson Games version of the game, and it is really quite difficult to draw the 'overpopulation during major invasion' interpretation from my rule book:

"6.5 Overpopulation. At the end of a nation's TURN, any armies it possesses in excess of two times the number of land areas..." [the writer's capitals]

"6.13 Major Invasions A number of major invasions...the nation concerned takes two consecutive PLAYS: move pieces, fight, move pieces, fight." [the writer's capitals]

7.12 Raiding armies receive points for killing enemy units only if all raiders return to sea.

7.21 Unlike Raiders, Invaders may not move to an adjacent sea area and remain there for one turn.

7.22 Invaders may retreat back to sea after combat if they cannot retreat by land.

8.1 In the midst of combat, some of a nation's surviving armies may retreat while others remain.

8.3 Attackers must retreat to the reas they came from.

9.0 Leaders (without accompanying forces) may occupy areas to score victory points, vote for Bretwalda or to qualify for kingship.

9.1 Leaders and their units are not stopped by hiland areas. Leaders (and the units in stacked with them) may use boats in one of these ways:

  1. move 1 sea area, then 2 land areas
  2. move 1 land area, 1 sea area, 1 land area
10.3 New Roman reinforcements appear in the English Channel.

10.4 Roman forts are always the last Roman units eliminated in an area. No Roman fort may be placed after turn 4.

10.5 Arthur and his knights may appear in any vacant area south of York if all the Romano-British have previously been eliminated.

10.6 If the Danes lack enough counters to invade with 6 on turn 14, then for each counter short, subtract 1 from the number the Danes must remove at the end of the turn.

11.1 Romans (and Angles) may move through, but not end the turn in the territories of subject nations. Submission may be declared:

  1. after any battle finishes
  2. after any round of dice throwing
  3. after any movement phase
11.2 Brigante forces in England (exclude Galloway) never submit to the Angles.

Please note: These opinions are in no way official and really just the result of several people's attempts on the USENET group to nail down the correct rules in the halcyon days when this game had just come out, nobody knew anything and we were madly playing it weekly. If the world's Britannia players have formed a discussion group and after many playings have decided on the best official rules, that is wonderful. November, 2003.

Update April 21, 2004:
The original designer of Britannia, Lew Pulsipher, has finally discovered a web. Has anyone else thought of asking him about these rules issues?

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Rick Heli