By Jim Lawler (article published in The GENERAL Vol.30,No.2)

The GENERAL Vol.30, No.2 - Avalon Hill

BRITANNIA (BRI) is my gaming group’s favorite four-player game. It plays pretty evenly and is usually interesting for all players until the end of the game and can easily be played in one night. Whilerecently playing a game of BRI, I had time to reflect on the map, and the history of the British Isles during the time period covered in the game. I wondered if Ireland could not easily be added to the area of play.

In discussing the idea of expanding the playing area with my group, we noted that Ireland had suffered from many of the same invaders as Britain. Ireland’s own factious history often made her an easy target for outsiders. Since Ireland was such a poor country, her people raided Wales and western England. The English, Welsh, and Scots constantly returned the favor, while various Viking groups cheerfully raided both islands. Therefore, I decided to create an Ireland add-on map, which can be located on page 55 of this issue. Follow the instruction on that page to cut out the map.

Follow the instructions below to use it in the game.

(The Map)

The GENERAL Vol.30, No.2 - Avalon Hill - Britannia Ireland map

There will now be five new areas of play in the game: The Isle of Man and four areas in Ireland. The four new areas of Ireland represent the Irish Kingdoms of Ulster (hiland), Meath (clear), Kilkenny (hiland) and Connaught (marsh). The fifth new area, the Isle of Man (hiland), was important for much of the period due to its strategic location. The Isle was raided and conquered many times during the time represented in the game. We didn’t expand into the French peninsula, as most invasions went from the continent to Britain. The British didn’t start to invade France seriously until after the Normans controlled England.

These new areas can be reached by boats or by crossing at the new straits that connect certain areas of England and Ireland. If a crossing is made without boats, no other movement can be made that turn (as per the straits rnle in the standard game).

Armies that have boats and appear in the Irish Sea or the Atlantic Ocean may now raid or invade either Ireland or England.

[EXCEPTION: You may move from Ulster to the Isle of Man without boats, but you cannot continue to Cumbria. You could travel from Ulster to Cumbria if you had boats.]

All five areas count 112 points each after turns 4, 7, 10, 13 and 16. If one nationality (not one color) controls all four areas in Ireland on one of these turns, an additional victory point will be awarded to that nation.

If Brian Born is in the game (see column three), the Nation who owns him gets an additional victory point if they control all four provinces in Ireland at the end of its turn. One victory point is awarded for killing Brian, but only by the Dubliners, Norsemen or Danes.

The Isle of Man is considered to be part of England and gets to vote for Bretwalda and King.

While there were are a number of possible ways I could have chosen to people these new areas, below is the one I feel best combines historical accuracy while giving each color one of the new areas. The Irish, as you can see, are now part of the initial set-up.

Isle of Man: Belgae
Ulster: Caledonian
Meath: Pict
Connaught: Scot
Kilkenny: Irish

In an effort to compensate the Blue Player, who has less access to these lands, and because Blue is the conscience choice of my gaming group for peing the least enjoyable position to play, add:

One Pict on Turn 4
One Angle on Turn 7
One Angle on Turn 8

The Blue player may bring these extra counters in during his Increase Population Phase.

NEW LEADER (Brian Boru)
Brian Boru was a great Irish leader who united his people and overthrew the Vikings in a series of wars that ended in his death in 1015. He possessed the rare combination of military and political skill to temporarily unify Ireland. The following rules apply to his use in the game:

• Add Brian Boru at the start of Turn 14. Brian only appears if there is one Celtic nation (the Irish, Scots, Welsh, Caledonians, Belgae, Brigantes, or Picts) that controls more Irish provinces than any other player. Brian may never lead one of the German or Viking Nations.

Example: The Irish control Kilkenny, the Scots control Meath and Ulster, and the Dubliners control Connaught. The Scots would get Brian. If the Dubliners had controlled Kilkenny as well as Connaught, Brian would lead the. Scots. If the Irish controlled Kilkenny and Connaught and the Scots controlled Meath and Ulster, Brian would not appear as there is no dominate Celtic Nation.

• Brian Born may never leave Ireland.

Add the following tokens to the present counter mix so there will not be a shortage of playing counters because of the additional playing area. I recommend turning over some tokens from other nations. Add the following:

2 Irish
2 Welsh
1 Norseman
2 Scots
1 Pict
2 Caledonians
1 Belgae
2 Angles
2 Dubliners
1 Norwegian

While this isn’t the be-all-end-all variant for BRI, my group and I find the addition of Ireland a useful way to spice up the game. Use and adjust this variant in any way you see fit, and I enjoy.

Ireland has the same stacking limitations as England, but the tally is kept separate from Britain’s.