The hints below are just a few, many more strategy hints and guides can be found on various websites, since Britannia is a game with a long history and a large number of followers.
There are tons of discussions on the boardgame (which this computer game faithfully recreates in its 3rd edition rules), and quite a few can be found on BoardgameGeek, here below:
Know Your Timeline
To do well you need to know what new units are coming, and when; and where your opponents score their points. Think of your forces as a whole, not as separate nations. Maximize your entire score, not the score of each individual nation. One of your nations can divert an enemy, or “take it on the chin for the cause”, if this will sufficiently improve the score of another.
Know Your Geography and History
Just because you can take something or kill someone doesn’t mean it’s the best move. Weakening one color can help another of your opponents too much. Sometimes it’s important to keep an “enemy” around (whether a color or a nation) because it can help you against someone else later on. Force preservation can be as important as scoring points. Just because you can make a 2-1 attack doesn’t mean you should do so.
Majors Invasions are key moments for your important nations, because basically you move and fight twice, and usually you benefit of a large number of troops and a leader. So this is a point in the game when you can make or break your victory.
Before actually moving your first units, check what are your goals, and verify how you can achieve those of your next VP Count turn. The Major Invasion shall achieve this (in addition to getting your most important competitor out of the way by focusing on him, if need be).
Don’t forget, when running a big invasion, to leave yourself in a defensible position. When it’s a Major Invasion, be sure to attack with every army (if you attack at all) in the first half: don’t waste them “holding territory” that you’ll be able to occupy in the second half.
In the case of the Romans, try to get Belgae and Welsh to submit, and during round 2, protect your forts that are close to Blue units.
This applies in most cases, Invasions or not. Leaders are mostly offensive weapons, and mostly in difficult terrains, where they allow movement and offset the defender’s advantage there.
Try to keep a strong force with them, as this will maximize their offensive power and will protect them (especially if you suffered losses) from counter-attacks.
If you can, try to at least have 2 units with them.
This is the most restrictive factor in the game. Make sure to build and stack highest in your most valuable regions (i.e. those which bring the maximum VP or are key targets for the enemy). Remember that you have ONE region which can be in overtstacking (unlimited in clear terrain, up to 4 in difficult), but also don’t forget the overpopulation ratio (you need 1 region for every 2 units on map).
It is often useful to have two or three region with at least 2 units. Also, if you want to last long, try to get for your nation a safe “haven” in a difficult terrain region with 2 units, as it will be hard to capture (except with important effort from your enemy).
Order of Resolution of Movement and Battles
During movement, if you are attacking, try to move first the units that are the farthest away from the target region, so that they expend their last movement point reaching the target. In this way, closer units can go farther away, across the enemy (by usage of overruns).
As a side note, consider that building location of new units can “help” your movement. Depending on your needs (defense or attack), choosing a location close (or far) from your target will help.
Better odds mean less death for you. Preserve your forces whenever possible. Three to two is poor attacking odds when defenders are in difficult terrain, as is two to one.
The player is the one who decides the order in which battles are resolved. With this in mind, you should select your battles by always ensuring a safe retreat path to your units in case the onslaught fails, and conversely make sure the enemy you want to kill has no possible escape (therefore launch battles where he cannot retreat, either because nearby regions are occupied or with unresolved battles).
Coordination of Nations and Strategy
In the game, each player usually has ONE major nation, 2 medium one and a few (2 or 3) small ones. But each nation has its role, and even a medium or small one is enough to make the difference in points. You may also use minor or medium nations to foster future major ones, or the other way around, use a large one to “prepare” the ground for the next – smaller – ones that follow.
A perfect example is Yellow Player’s Romans: they are its stronger nation, almost unbeatable, but they will vanish and, in addition to the major score they shall do, they can help pave the way for the Romano-Britons that follow, or even the Scots. They can clear key regions of those later nations from enemies (e.g. the mountains in the south for Britons or key mountains in Scotland for Scots).
If you think one color “can’t win” (or “can’t lose”), you need a different strategy! The sides are “nearly equal”.
Use your Position in the Nation’s Order of Play to your Advantage
The order of play of nations is always the same, and when playing a nation, it is important to know who is following you in the order of play, as this is where the grander danger comes from (as they can move after you and spoil your success).
As mentioned above, you can also use one of your nation playing first to possibly clear some regions and/or units of an enemy nation that is in the path or an objective of one of your other nation coming after it. For example, the Red player can use Brigantes and Irish to make trouble for other nations that will be “finished” by his Saxons coming afterward.
Position or Points?
Points are important, but position is just as important, because position strongly influences who will score most in the future. So you might choose, for example, to keep some raiders peacefully at sea in order to be in better position in the next round. Your armies don’t NEED to DO anything as long as they’re scoring points (and breeding more armies, usually).
Nations by Nations advice
Created by Ian Turner on BGG, 2017
In the order of the Nation’s sequence of play
Romans – points target 124
There are literally dozens of posts for playing these but generally bear in mind that by the end of Round II you have to discard down to 12 armies so it’s worth taking some risks. You definitely need Devon (everybody agrees on this and I go in with 3). You need to try to create a Belgae submission on the first phase of your major invasion. I prefer to leave the Downlands until last and go in with a 1-1 (this is contentious though). It’s quite likely that Blue will submit as the loss of one army to them makes a much bigger difference to them than it does to you.
As you know the Belgae will un-submit, try to encourage them westwards by leaving lightly defended forts (juicy targets) in these regions (eg Hwicce). That way you will keep control of your high scoring areas and allow eventual repopulation by the Welsh. You should also gallop up the East cost (York, Bernicia & Lothian) taking out as many Brigantes as possible in easy regions to deny them population growth and to encourage their submission. Delay is fatal to you because you have to move quickly to get to the Picts and you need their regions for scoring.
In Wales take Devon, Avalon and Hwicce (last two are easy terrain). Then in phase two take Dyfed and threaten Gwent and at this point the Welsh will probably submit. Try to negotiate with them offering full population growth for occupation of burnt forts. Submission is hard for a new player to appreciate, don’t take it too badly if they won’t co-operate – just kill them later.
In rounds IV and V you need to decide which forts to protect. I would definitely prioritise your 6 VP’ers and Kent, as Kent is so valuable to the Jutes. Leave the North East (Dunedin, Lothian and Bernicia) to the Angles and make it tough on the Saxons by defending the South Coast with your remaining forces.
Romano British – points target 12
Firstly don’t expect too much from them and secondly leave the Welsh alone and don’t get in their way when they want to go to York. I would organise the units into four 2’s in the midlands e.g. North / South Mercia, Suffolk and a.n.other. Then take pot shots at 2v1 against any singles.
Arthur and his cavalry can pop up in any vacant English location which is fun. You can survive for several rounds but try to avoid taking refuge in difficult terrain. This doesn’t score points for you, it slows down population growth plus it’s really dull.
Belgae – points target 24
You really MUST submit at the point of being reduced to 3 areas. You need 4 units in four areas because with population growth and the Boudicca bonus army you can do some damage. You need to go for it, don’t hold back for later, attack now to maximise your points. Don’t expect to last very long, if you target Essex it annoys the Romans so do that.
Welsh – points target 95
These are huge point scorers but you must be conservative with them. You should surrender to the Romans when you are able to but not until then. Offer to occupy burnt out forts but insist on full population growth. Warn yellow that red will run away with the game and that you will leave the Romano British alone.
Concentrate on protecting your homeland as it scores the most points for you. Put two units in Cornwall don’t make it too easy for the Irish. Have a unit in March prior to the turn you need to get to York. You will be attacked by the Saxons and the Irish, focus on defence if you only score your homeland areas for the whole game you have done well. In round XVI you can be a little reckless and kill a “king” if he comes too close.
Brigantes – points target 60
These are really hard work. They seem a huge nation at the start but they quickly become reduced by the Romans and spend the rest of the game hanging on. At 6VP for knocking out a Roman army it is worth having a go. You will spend most of the game as overpopulated in Strathclyde as possible. It is vital that you hold onto this region for the whole game, it is such a serious point scorer. Use Urien defensively to hold onto Strathclyde and try not to submit to the Angles.
Caledonians – points target 36
In round I support Caithness from the Orkneys you really don’t want to lose that to the Picts. Otherwise these are simple, grow slowly and again be conservative. You need to hold onto your three areas. A possible adventure into Skye might be worth it but your boat movement is a red herring really. You should focus on defence and holding out against the Norsemen. On their invasion, try to have 2 armies in each region to make it as tough as possible for them. If you end up with one region left you have done well, and should beat this target.
Picts – points target 60
These are complicated. As blue you might be able to slow down cautious Romans with your Belgae. If you do the Picts can be strong. However it is more usual that the Romans will succeed and it might be better for you to retreat into 3 areas to keep your forces strong and make submission easier. Dunedin is nice for your population growth but it is also wanted by the Scots. The Caledonians will soon be threatened by the Norsemen and so if you have any aggression you should aim for the Scots or the Brigantes.
Irish – points target 20
These are a lot of fun to play as they raid for many turns. Don’t raid on the first turn with just one army wait until you have a decent sized force. Time your attacks to inflict maximum pain to the Welsh usually on rounds V and VII. They won’t score many points for themselves but they can help the Brigantes in the North if in Cheshire and Cumbria or they support the Saxons by attacking the Welsh. Note the Romano British score no points for killing them so they can be a useful buffer for your Saxons against the RB’s. Cornwall is a common target for the Irish but we find the Welsh opposition too strong.
Scots – points target 36
As above with the Irish, do not raid with just one army. Indeed the points score in round V is modest. You will probably want to wait for Fergus in round VII and hit the Scots crescent ( Skye, Dalriada and Dunedin ) for maximum effect. It is then a case of holding on against the Picts from the North and the angles from the South. Some like to place a Roman fort in Skye as it gives the Scots a reasonable target in round V. The Scots can fail and score lowly.
Norsemen (a.k.a. Vikings) – points target 34
Aim to wipe out the Caledonians and you will score most of your points. Hit the Hebrides and Caithness with 4 armies plus a leader and later turn to the Orkneys. (This depends upon the Caledonian defence obviously). You should try to get an army into Cumbria for round XIII as this will net 7VP but might require some moving around of the Irish and Brigantes as they also score in this region.
Dubliners – points target 12
These are generally disappointing. They seem to have a major role and you can certainly aim for York but in reality they make little impact and score poorly. You have done well if you get the 8VP for York. Cumbria at the end of the game is worth 4VP but look at red’s status. It might well be worth having a pop at the Brigantes in Strathclyde because this could rob him of 10VP and help protect your Scots. You also need to get out of the way of your Norwegians so you need to evacuate York in any event.
Danes – points target 65
These are the fun nation for the greens, you get to attack with them. You should raid in pairs on Round XI hitting empty areas first then any single units and expect 8VP. edit [This is a bold strategy see below, others prefer a 3,3,2 v 1 or even a 5,3 v 1.]
In round XII you can score an awful lot of points just by occupying areas. Be bold but be wary as well of leaving yourself open to counter attack. You will almost certainly be looking to wipe out the Angles in their key areas and you have to weigh up how many units you wish to risk. You get 8VP for York in round XIII but don’t forget the Dubliners also want this and will fight you for it. The Danes can fizzle out and Svein can arrive with too little support at the end.
Norwegians – points target 30
These arrive very late in the game, the yellow player has to be patient. You should be able to take your key areas but be very careful with Harald. You mustn’t lose him or leave him exposed at the end of your go. Ideally have him in York with troops in all the connected areas so that an enemy will require an overrun to get to him. He is often a liability that provides other nations with scoring opportunities, don’t allow them that chance.
Saxons – points target 95
These are red’s big beast. They need to populate the south and spread out to maximise population growth. They need to start in the South East and progress westwards by the end of the game. They have a very decent chance of scoring the Bretwalda bonus particularly with support from the Irish and even more Southerly Brigantes. The Saxons are the biggest nation in the game and they get a string of leaders. They do need careful handling early on and you must take care to grow them organically. The Welsh can threaten them and so can the Romano British but you can sometimes use the Irish to help them. Early on it might be worth co-existing with the Jutes but really you should be wiping them out quickly and then moving onto the Romano British. Take care of Aelle as he is a target for Arthur and you can use your later leaders to worry the Welsh in their difficult terrain.
If you are struggling with them remember you can build burhs in rounds XII and XIII. Take advantage of this as they really slow down the Normans later on and can protect Harold. The points target varies a lot for the Saxons and they can score well over 100. Some careful counting is required; a score for a king may well swing the game in your favour.
Jutes – points target 18
Hold back until round V and then hit Kent/Sussex with all you have. It is vital to try to get the 8VP for Kent as you are likely to be wiped out by the next scoring round. Sometimes the Jutes can hold on in the South East corner but it is not too likely.
Angles – points target 90
The Angles can often score some easy points for northern Roman forts but it is not worth taking on any Roman armies. They are not as strong as the Saxons and tend to fizzle out at the end. Some think it is good to go after the Brigantes early on to force submission. This hurts red in terms of VP and helps your Picts. It doesn’t score many points for the Angles though and can be a distraction. Your other problem is that the Saxons will be nibbling at your Southern borders. You can get bretwalda with the Angles but the Saxons have to be really struggling for this to happen.
The trick with the Angles is to try to hold on until the end of the game. The trouble is the North, where they score is invaded by lots of other armies. But even if you only hold Lothian and Bernicia for rounds XII and XVI you will get 16VP.
Normans – points target 36
As blue you get to go last with both the Angles and the Normans but the Angles are little help, they are usually just trying to survive. Look carefully at the regions you need to occupy, Essex, Wessex, Sussex & Kent etc. Your cavalry are particularly vicious especially when teamed up with William. Look to inflict considerable pain on the Saxons. Can you wipe out Harold in round XV and still leave William secure? Watch out for those Welsh who can sneak across the border and remember that your reinforcements are in the English Channel. Your enemies may have killed William before you get a chance to land them.
Summary points targets
Yellow: 124 + 12 + 36 + 12 + 30 = 214
Blue: 24 + 60 + 90 + 36 = 210
Red: 60 + 20 + 34 + 95 = 209
Green: 95 + 36 + 65 + 18 = 214