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Britannia game links:
WBC 2011 tournament account by Jim Jordan (HTML)
WBC 2010 tournament account by Jim Jordan (GM)--PDF format
Designer's public blogs:
This link leads to a Boardgamegeek video review and "how to play" video (which are on YouTube, actually).
Brief (and probably incomplete) enumeration of
differences between Brit 1 and Brit 2:
I've run this by the Eurobrit denizens, but I've probably missed something. Of course, there are differences between the original editions (two by Gibsons, then one by Avalon Hill, and I'm not counting the WDS German-language edition). So this is a list of clear differences between the two versions.
Raiders and Settlers: There is no distinction between armies; raiding is an attribute of certain turns, not of certain armies. Hence raiders cannot hang out at sea for centuries. This was the designer's original intent.
Sides: there are changes in 3 and 5 player games, not in 4. Purple has become Yellow.
Board: in northern England the "four corners" has been eliminated. Cumbria connects with Lothian.
Pieces: there are different maximums for some nations
Points: there have been many tweaks in the point values (and all have been doubled to eliminate halves); most notable may be Romano-British interaction with English invaders, in points
General course of play: Boudicca's rebellion makes the Roman invasion and Belgae response very different.
Roman Roads make the Roman offense and defense quite different--the Romans are very maneuverable.
Changes in submission rules (points and Increase of Population) mean the Welsh are quite likely to submit.
Saxons can sometimes build Burhs (form of forts) to help them against later invaders.
Danish Svein Estrithson has been added to the endgame to make "Four Kings" instead of three
Generally: strategy is somewhat different, as Red, who were probably strongest in Brit 1, are much weaker in Brit 2. The Blue, who were probably weakest in Brit 1, may be strongest in Brit 2. This will evolve with time, of course.
Regarding Rights to Britannia-like Games
It is impossible in American copyright law to "own" a game system. Moreover, I specifically negotiated my contract with Fantasy Flight Games to be sure that the phrase "all derivative works" could not be construed to include boardgames using Britannia techniques or ideas.
First, for American copyright law, I quote from a US government copyright office page at http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.html. (Note: as I write this on 24 May 2006, clicking the link to the page does not work, but it can be found by searching Google using "game copyright" (without quotes) as the parameter--it is the first hit. You can also cut-and-paste the URL.)
"The idea for a game is not protected by copyright. The same is true of the name or title given to the game and of the method or methods for playing it.
Copyright protects only the particular manner of an authorís expression in literary, artistic, or musical form. Copyright protection does not extend to any idea, system, method, device, or trademark material involved in the development, merchandising, or playing of a game. Once a game has been made public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on similar principles.
Some material prepared in connection with a game may be subject to copyright if it contains a sufficient amount of literary or pictorial expression. For example, the text matter describing the rules of the game, or the pictorial matter appearing on the gameboard or container, may be registrable."
[Emphasis added by L. Pulsipher]
As you can see, the ideas or systems of a game cannot be copyrighted, only the written expression can be. The Britannia game is copyrighted, hence no copy can be made that uses the words or pictures in it. However, if someone designed a game about British history from the Roman invasions to the Norman Conquest, and used many or even all of the ideas and techniques of Britannia, but used a different title (in case the present title is trademarked), a different-looking board, and completely rewritten rules, it would be legal, however reprehensible it might otherwise be. I don't know (nor would a lawyer know) at what point the overall "look and feel" of the copycat game might make it legally liable.
A patent covers a particular expression of an idea. Very few games are covered by patents. The Britannia "game system" has been used in many other published games such as Maharaja (Avalon Hill), Hispania (Azure Wish), Ialia (Phoenix), and Rus. The fundamental idea for Britannia actually comes from a game called Ancient Conquest, for which I read the rules while watching a game being played sometime in the late 70s. Britannia may be the first game that had nations acting completely independently and moving at different times, though controlled by the same player: in Ancient Conquest all nations controlled by a player acted at the same time, in concert.
I am not a lawyer, yet I think anyone can read the copyright office statement and come to the same conclusions. These limitations are widely known amongst game designers.
Of course, as a matter of reasonable behavior, any game I might design that could reasonably be construed as quite similar to Britannia would be submitted to Fantasy Flight Games.
Second, the contract: I did not sign the standard FFG "all derivative works" contract. I did not want to be in a situation in which there could be any question about whether I could market a game that I had designed because of any resemblance to Britannia. I specifically negotiated changes to the contract to avoid this potential problem. As a summary I cut and paste from the electronic copy:
"FFG recognizes that, under this agreement, the Work and any derivative works thereof assigned to FFG are limited specifically to the design and title of the game "Britannia" and not other designs or titles produced by designer."
Either of the above is sufficient to protect my rights to produce further games that may resemble Britannia in one or many particulars.
Lew Pulsipher, designer, Britannia
I am including here the rules and map of the original game (which I called "Invasions") as submitted to H. P. Gibsons and Sons, who then made some changes (as is often the case) before publishing the game.
Original Invasions rules (Word format)
Original Invasions Appearance and Victory Points (Word format)
Original Invasions map (JPG).
Gibsons and Avalon Hill Britannia
I am not an arbiter/interpreter of the rules of either the Gibsons or Avalon Hill editions of Britannia. As you may know, publishers usually change games before they are published. The uncredited developer at Gibsons (Roger Heyworth) spent two years with the game, playtesting, changing the board slightly, changing the four player combinations slightly, and changing (or misunderstanding) the rules. By the time he was finished, I had "left" the gaming hobby, though I still corresponded with him occasionally.
By the time Avalon Hill picked up the game--I had offered it to them before Gibsons, but they told me games of that era didn't sell--I had no idea about Brit, never having read the published rules let alone play it. So though I received a letter from the AH editor asking some questions, I don't believe I replied, simply because I had no clue--it was not quite the game I'd done, though close, and not something I'd thought much about for three or four years.
I much prefer the Gibsons version, as it seems as though every time AH changed something, they guessed wrong. (I don't know that anyone can be blamed for this: the rules were not perfectly clear, something we can say about most games.) Perhaps it's a testament to the robustness of the system that it survived the alterations.
The one thing I really did not like about changes in the published versions was the differentiation between Settler armies and Raider armies, and this is likely to have been a misunderstanding of the original rules. As an historian I understood raiding to be a condition of the time, of the turn (hence I included no "Raider" markers). Gibsons understood it to be a difference between types of armies. When I first watched a published game of Brit played, in late February 2004, someone left a Jute army at sea FOREVER, and when the players told me the rules allowed this I exclaimed "No Way!". Historically it makes no sense at all, of course, for raiders to hang out at sea long after their home country has disappeared. Brit Second Edition puts this back to the way it was intended, the way that makes sense historically--and just might be better for the gameplay, as well.
I have never actually played any of the originally-published editions of Britannia, though I've watched many games. You can see why I say I cannot be an arbiter of rules. If you want to play the old version of the game, I recommend the rules set put together for the World E-Mail Brit Championships (available in the Eurobrit Yahoo Group). I prefer Brit Second.
Britannia was also published in a German-language edition by Welt Der Spiele. I recently bought a copy (for over $70!), as I had never seen it, and I have posted photos under "Published Games". (I had to buy the AH version as well, as I never received a free copy. Sigh.)
I am glad to say that I have encountered only one person who prefers the old version to the new one, though I'm sure there must be more people in that category.
"Always do right--this will gratify some and astonish the rest." Mark Twain
"A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." Antoine de Saint-Exup'ery
"A teacher is never a giver of truth - he is a guide, a pointer to the truth that each student must find for himself. A good teacher is merely a catalyst." (Martial Arts quote)
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Pogo (Walt Kelly) "Enjoy the Journey"
Send mail to webmaster (at) pulsiphergames (dot) com with comments about this web site. Last modified: 02/08/13. Copyright 2012 Lewis Pulsipher