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britannia, 43 ad



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Britannia, 43 AD was an experimental game organized by Chris Brantley and sponsored by WADBAG for Historicon 2006.  The game was fought on a large canvas gameboard depicting Celtic Britain at the time of the Roman invasion in 43 AD.  The intent was to combine elements of the DBA campaign rules with the fast-play battle rules in an attempt to squeeze a multi-player game into the standard four hour DBA tournament time-slot.  I hoped to keep the game as simple as possible, allowing the players to enjoy the simple pleasures of fighting battles and diplomacy.  Following our highlights of our game, illustrated with pictures snapped by Bob Beattie and Rich Baier

Anyone who would like to give it a go are welcome to use and adapt the rules and player sheets I created for this event.  I would welcome your feedback

Battle Highlights

The quasi-historical Celtic line-up included Jeff Caruso (Arvirgaris of the Durotriges), Mark Bumala (Caradoc of the Ordovices), Hank Drapalski (Venutius of the Brigantes), Ahmet Ilpars (Calgacus of the Caledonaii), David McDonald and Peter Sheriff (sharing the role of Prasutagus of the Iceni) and Jonathan Miller (Caratacus of the Catuvellauni),  Doug Austin took the role of the Roman proconsul Aulus Plautius, with Mark Fastoso (and later Peter Sheriff) commanding Vespasian's Roman force.

Having received the submission of the Iceni, the Romans started
confidently.  But as the Roman legions advanced into the British hinterlands, the Iceni rose against their Roman masters and fell on their rear (even sending horsemen far afield to shout insults at the Roman defenders in the coastal fortications at Richborough).  A confused battle resulted, with the Roman armies retiring on their civitas at Londinium with heavy casualties.   Facing the combined British forces of Arvigaris, Caradoc, Caratacus and Prasutigus, Proconsul Plautius summoned the Emperor Claudius with his elephants and Praetorians, as reinforcements, but a surfeit of pips prevented the Emperor from employing his Celt-squashing pachyderms.

Meanwhile, in the far north, Venutius squared off with Calgacus in a see-saw battle that saw the Caledonians slowly pushed back on their oppida.  Calgacus had the aid of the Druids of Inys Mon, but Venutius' effective use of denarii ensured a steady stream of allied reinforcements.   Finally Calgacus was forced to submit and join forces with Venutius as a tributary. 

As Venutius marshaled his combined forces for the drive south, the British alliance fractured, with Caratacus falling on the unsuspecting Prasutigus to settle old  scores.  In the resulting combat, the Iceni held their ground, prompting the other Celtic warlords to shower the young Prasutagus with silver denarii.   The hour growing late, the game was called and Prasutagus was proclaimed the winner, having accumulated the highest combined total of skulls (for elements killed) and denarii.

In retrospect, I assumed that financial incentives and special prestige rules would keep the Celts divided and fighting amongst themselves, when in reality, they worked in fairly close concert against the Romans, pitting four Celtic armies against two Roman armies, much to the discomfit of Plautius and Vespasian.  The Romans distributed plenty of bribes, but the Celts had no reason to stay bought.  And the Celts overcame their feuds and rivalries, holding to that strategic truism that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." 

The players take in the pre-game briefing.
Player roles have not yet been assigned.

The game set-up viewed from the North.

The action is hot and heavy as the Iceni revolt, pressing hard against the Roman right flank, while the Ordovices, Durotriges and Catuvellauni converge on the Roman center and left.

From afar, the Brigantes and Caledonians survey
the collapsing Roman front.

Forced back by Hank Drapalski's Brigantes, Ahmet Ilpars' Caledonians
prepare for a last-ditch defense of their homeland.  The "bacone" in the Caledonian oppida signifies that the province is still capable of supporting an army and not yet pillaged by the Brigantes.

Last Updated:  31 July 2006

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Photos by Bob Beattie and Rich Baier
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