Rebellion: Britannia is a game about the Roman military campaigns to suppress the Silures, Brigantes, and Boudica Rebellions (47-61 CE) and the relationships between the key British tribes.
Claudius’s invasion of Britain in 43 CE was a military success. However, as a series of rebellions demonstrates, this military success was not so much the end of the story but rather the beginning. The British tribes were unruly, and even when defeated in large pitched battles, they did not cease antagonizing Rome nor, indeed, each other. For the British tribes, expansion seems not to have been an overriding concern, but they nevertheless were engaged in a struggle to survive in an environment dominated by Rome. Survival might mean battle, but it might also mean finding other ways to protect or encourage trade, agriculture, crafts, or sites of ceremonial importance. In the midst of this strife, the island of Britannia provides the perfect arena for players to champion one of four factions as they compete to establish or reclaim their foothold on the land.
In this game, 1-4 players take control of one of the powerful factions of the time: either Rome or one of the key British tribes—the Iceni, Silures, or Brigantes. Over the course of 12 game rounds (lasting 60-90 minutes), players attempt to gain the most victory points by controlling land, burning Roman infrastructure, and reducing enemy forces.
Rebellion: Britannia is a card-driven wargame. Each player’s available actions are largely dictated by the cards they currently have available to them, and, following a simple Sequence of Play, players use these cards to recruit and move pieces on the board, secure control of regions, engage in diplomacy, form alliances, and battle against their rivals.
Simple Sequence of Play
Rebellion: Britannia boils down the classic CDG sequence of play to its most simple and elegant form, which makes for lightning quick turns, while still providing the crunchy decision making that veteran players love about this style of game. Each round opens with an event card draw which results in new pieces being added to the board, faction leadership changes, the appearance of major Cultural points of interest, or grants Victory Points (VP) for the control of specific regions.
Then each faction activates and enacts the following FIVE steps:
- Play a previously prepared strategy card (if applicable)
- Play one card from hand OR take one generic action by discarding 2-3 cards from hand
- Prepare a card for the next turn by placing face down in personal play area (if desired)
- Discard any unwanted cards from hand
- Draw to refill hand
So that’s Play, Play, Prepare, Discard, Draw—super simple to teach but still so satisfying to play.
Innovative Card Preparation Step
You may have noticed that two of the five Sequence of Play steps, mentioned above, revolve around the preparation of a card. This innovative addition to the CDG system allows the player to strategically plan ahead for their next turn. There is a risk that the situation may change before your next turn and a prepared card may be ineffective or even imperil your forces. But setting up a powerful two-card turn or a defensive trap that triggers if another faction makes a move against you is often too great of a reward to pass on.
Asymmetric Faction Abilities and Scoring
Rome has powerful legions which are hard to beat in battle, but Rome has only four of them. With a great deal of territory to attempt to suppress (and accrue VP), they are heavily tasked and if stretched too thin will become vulnerable. Rome also has the ability to build forts or settlements (both of which accrue VP), build roads, send out patrols, use cavalry, siege engines, or a fleet, rest legions, affect logistical support, and quell unrest. The Brigantes and Iceni may have leaders that reward a more peaceful coexistence with Rome, but leadership might change and reward a more assertive military presence. For all the tribes, including the Silures, military survival must be balanced with their play of cards to their discard pile to score highest in the 'suits' of Trade, Agriculture, Crafts, and Ceremony, often augmenting these scores with control of specific yet changing on-board locations. In addition, the tribes have varying abilities to pillage and burn Roman buildings, rally troops, send emissaries to different regions, and allow Warbands to disappear from the view of Roman legions.
Tension: A Dash of Inspiration from the COIN Series
Tension is a key concept in Rebellion: Britannia. All Briton faction pieces are double sided and, while on the board, may exist in one of two states: Tension or Warbands. Tension simulates the threat to Rome’s power that accumulates as the tribes gather. Warbands represent the tribes openly rebelling against Rome and delivering on their promise of violence. Each state provides different opportunities and actions to the players. A status change often allows players to set themselves up for a future turn but can also open up their pieces to different kinds of threats.
Rebellion: Britannia is fast to learn—it’s a low complexity asymmetric game with few rules, a simple sequence of play, and a high quotient of strategic choices. The game depicts a dynamic military and political situation in first century Britain, distilled into 60-90 minutes of play time.
Players: 1-4 (Bot System to play solitaire against 1-3 bots)
Playing Time: 60-90 minutes
- 1 22x17 Mounted Game Board
- 126 poker-sized cards
- 4 tarot-sized cards
- 24 Punchboard Tokens
- 112 Wooden Pieces (some embossed)
- 1 Rulebook
- 1 Playbook
- 4 Half Sheet Player Aids
Game Designers: Maurice Suckling and Daniel Burt
Game Developer: Ken Kuhn