Boudicca, The Warrior Queen
Against the Odds Issue 35
Game Design by Richard Berg
Boudicca was the Queen of the British Iceni tribe who led a revolt against Rome in approximately 60 or 61 AD. Boudicca’s husband, Prasutagus ruler of the Iceni tribe, left his Kingdom to his daughters and the Roman Emperor in his will. When he died, his will was ignored. The Iceni tribes’ territory was annexed by the Romans and Boudicca was flogged and her daughters raped so that Roman financiers could be paid their loans. Boudicca was able to unite a number of tribes and win a number of battles against the Romans and Roman Legions. This is a simple and very brief background of Against the Odds Issue #35.
This issue of the magazine is dedicated to the subject of Boudicca and the Romans. I know I may be stating the obvious, but the first thing that you notice about this issue of ATO is the front cover. As Andy Nunez so aptly pointed out looking closer at this picture and you “can see the dirt from her abuse stained by tears on her cheek. Truly this is a woman scorned and is ready for vengeance.” This is the beginning of the 52 page magazine, plus 12 pages devoted to this issues game rules and charts, that is in Against the Odds Issue 35.
The issue begins with an Andy Nunez editorial of how “Rebellions are part or human existence.” After the editorial the major articles of the magazine begin. Since this issue is devoted to Boudicca’s Rebellion, there are a number of excellent articles devoted to providing background and giving us a good amount of historical detail. The specific articles devoted to Boudicca or the Roman Army are;
- On Guard: The Lost Legion – The Legend of Legio IX Hispania
- Hells Fury – Boudicca’s Revolt Against Rome in Britain 60-61 CE
- The Matter of Britain
- And the Data Shows – Romans Go Home
Additional articles in this issue of the magazine are devoted to a myriad of subjects. Some are devoted to game design, while others take a look at World War I and World War II. The remaining articles in this issue of the magazine are;
- Good Games vs. Good Simulations
- Axis Airpower: Nike and Nemesis
- The Fifth Columnist – Book Reviews
- Learning the Art of the Great War
- Decision-Based Combat Results
- Simulation Corner – Design Choice and Instant Gratification
- “Post-Westphalian” Warfare and its Implications
- Codeword Barbarossa Update
As you can see, there is quite a mix of information presented in this issue. Overall, it makes for excellent reading and is very enjoyable.
Let’s look at the articles with a bit more detail so you can see the excellent quality of ATO Issue 35. First is Andy Nunez’s article on Legion IX Hispania. He takes a look at some of the myths concerning this Lost Legion as well as providing us with historical research about the Legion.
Following this is my good friend Richard Berg’s article titled Hells Fury. He begins with Caesar’s invasion of Britain in 55 BCE. From here, he explains how the Iceni tribe was treated under Roman Rule and how they were kept under control. He introduces us to Catus Decianus who was the greedy financial overseer and financial extortionist. Next we are told how women are held in very high regard in the Iceni Tribe and describes a bit about her physical presence. After this, a number of battles are discussed complete with some detailed maps drawn by Terry Leeds which further enhances the text. The final section of the article is devoted to Celtic Warfare and the strategy and tactics that were likely employ at the time.
The next article is another one written by Andy Nunez titled The Matter of Britain. This is another excellent article by Andy that gives us a brief history of Ancient Britain and Rome’s invasions and influences. He takes us from Caesar’s invasion in 55 BCE all the way to approximately 500 CE. In 5 pages we get a glimpse of the relationship between Britain and Rome over these 5 centuries.
After this is an article by Lew Pulsipher where he looks at the difference between what makes a game good vs. a simulation good. Here Mr. Pulsipher presents interesting arguments regarding history as inevitable or does a designer design a game where history can be changed. He looks at all types of facts and presents a well written and informative article.
The next article is Axis Airpower by Sam Sheikh. In this article Mr. Sheikh looks at the big two, Germany and Japan, and shows how they had a clear airpower doctrine leading into World War II. It is an interesting article that discusses pre-war influences on the experience of airpower operations.
Next is the book review column by John D. Burtt. He provides his readers with 4 books reviews on a single subject. This subject he is focusing on this issue is Burma. The books he looks at are “Not Ordinary Men”, “Kohima”, “The Burma Campaign”, and the “Chindit Affair. Anyone who has an interest in this area of World War II should read Mr. Burtt’s reviews and it will enlighten them on which books to read first. Also, reading any of these books will prepare you for Issue #36 of Against the Odds magazine. The main subject of this issue is devoted to the Japanese subjugation of Burma in January 1942. The title of the game in this issue will be Defeat into Victory, and it is being designed Paul Rohrbaugh and covers this neglected aspect of World War II history. The game will use a very interactive and easy to play chit-pull activation system of play. Keep an eye out for this issue. I will notify readers when it is available.
Following this is what I found to be a very interesting article that was written by Ed Heinsman which was “And the Data Shows – Romans Go Home”. He looks at the Pax Romana period of Roman History and gives his readers insight into the rebellions that occurred between 27BC and 180AD. There is also an excellent timeline presented that summarizes where you can see that not everyone enjoyed Roman rule.
The next article in the magazine is “Learning the Art of the Great War” written by William Stroock. This is also an interesting article talking about the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in World War I. We are given an insight into the problems that were overcome by General Pershing in putting together that force. We are shown how Pershing and his officers “forged a modern army out of a frontier force.” This article makes for very interesting reading and he also provides some hints for wargamers looking to wargame this period.
After this is a game design article titled “Decision-Based Combat Results” that was written by Michael Raymond. In this article Mr. Raymond presents an alternative to Combat Results Tables (CRT’s) in a well written and defined manner. He presents a Combat Advantages Table that is precise and to the point and offers it to other game designers to use in their games. He also presents a system whereby players can use Command Points for winning battles in large games. The article presents a very interesting concept for getting rid of die rolls in wargames.
Next is John Prados’ Simulation Corner. Here my friend Mr. Prados discusses how the immediate feedback of the internet can take a life onto itself when readers make posts and do not give a designer a chance to respond. He discusses in detail a situation that developed with his upcoming game design “Beyond Waterloo”. He points out, and rightly so, that when we are reading something on the internet, that it is the rapidity of posts that makes people think that the game is evolving, moving, when it is the process of communications that is moving. It really is an excellent article from a long time game designer responding to unfounded criticism’s to a game that is in development.
Following this is an Op-Ed piece on “Post-Westphallian Warfare” by Ed Erkes. He talks about how we have laws of warfare and civilized norms of battle and that they adhere to Westphallian concepts. However, he them points out that most warfare that does not adhere to these concepts. It is an interesting article that makes you stop and think about the subject and its impact on todays’ society.
The final article in the magazine is another one written by John Prados titled “Codeword Barbarossa – Update”. In this article Mr. Prados provides new Victory Conditions for the game that he designed for the ATO 2010 Annual Four Roads to Moscow. This Annual presented 4 different games by 4 different designers on the Battle for Moscow. John Prados’ game was Codeword Barbarossa and in the past few years he has received feedback on the games Victory Conditions. In this article he presents a new set of Victory Conditions as well as a new method of keep score. For those that have the 2010 Annual Issue it is a great addition. For those that don’t have the 2010 Annual Issue all I can say is get it, you won’t be disappointed.
Boudicca, the Warrior Queen Game
Now that we have looked at the lineup of articles in this Issue 35 of ATO, it’s time to move onto the game itself. At first glance, you really don’t realize that the rules for the game are only about 6 pages in length. This is because with a magazine that is a full 52 pages of interesting information you don’t concentrate on the game, you first read the articles, at least that is what I do. However, when I started to look at Richard Berg’s game itself, I was pleasantly surprised to see that while it takes up 12 full pages, only half of them are the actual rules dealing with the game. However, don’t think for a minute that just because the rules are short there is no depth in this game, because that is not the case.
The physical components of the game are up to the high quality standards as normally put forth by the Against the Odds staff. Along with the magazine you receive;
- 1 Mapsheet
- 2 die cut counter sheets totaling 240 counters
- 36 Cards (18 per side)
- Rules and Player Aid Charts (PAC)
To this, the players are asked to acquire 2 six-sided dice of different colors that they will us to play the game.
Goal and Scale
Your goal in Boudicca, the Warrior Queen (BWQ) as the Briton player is to perform better than the real Queen herself. You must do this within 6 turns as that is how long the game lasts. The scale of BWQ is that each hex is 5 miles, each turn is equal to about a week and every strength point on the counters is equal to 100 troops, except for the tribes whose sizes vary.
Sequence of Play
The Sequence of Play in BWQ is of variable length. It is this variable length Sequence that provides BWQ its depth of play and re-playability. The Sequence of Play consists of only five simple phases and they are;
- OP Card Selection Phase
- Civilian Movement Phase
- Determine Initiative Phase
- The Operation Phase
- End of Turn Phase
This is a Sequence of Play that is simple to remember, easy to execute, but offers a variability of play that is endless.
OP Card Selection
To start, each player shuffles his cards and then draws the number of cards as specified on the Turn Track. There is a condition under which the Briton player can draw additional cards but only if he occupies a Roman Town and didn’t sack it. For example, to start the game, the Briton player draws 10 cards and the Roman player draws 6.
There are two types of cards that the player can draw. One card contains Activation Point numbers on them and the other type of cards call for Events to occur. Anytime a player wants to perform an action in BWQ, it costs him Activation Points. Once he plays the card on the table, he can perform that number of activities on the map. Events on the other hand, are specific actions that will be put into play by the player at that moment. Some of the Events that can occur in the game are;
- Spontaneous Revolt
- Force March
- Hail Caesar
- Civilian Movement Phase
At this time the Roman player will move any civilians that he wishes that have been deployed on the map. As is pointed out in the rules in a Game Play Note, is “Why move Civilians and where would they go?”. Well, the answer is that they were trying to get away from what they perceived as a bad treat. Also, as to where they would go the answer is as far away as possible from the revolting tribes. This Phase simulates the civilian panic that took place.
Except for Turn 1, every turn players must roll for Initiative. Each player rolls 1 die and the player with the highest roll has the initiative for that turn. But wait, Initiative is not only decided with a die roll. Once the rolls have been completed, players can now play OP cards and whatever Activation Points are on the card adds to the players die roll. This continues, going back and forth between the players until one player has the advantage.
The Operations Phase
At this time, the player who won the Initiative chooses who will go first and then players alternate impulses. During an impulse, a player puts down anywhere from 0 to 2 OP Cards. On each card, there are a number of Activity Points that a player can use to perform activities that turn. Play proceeds alternating from one player to the other until both players pass.
The strategy here is the tactical play of the cards and the events. Just because a player goes first, doesn’t necessarily give them the advantage, as depending on the cards in the players hand may give them the advantage last. This can change from turn to turn and the excitement of the game is the ebb and flow that takes place during the Operations Phase.
End of Turn Phase
The last phase of a turn is the End of Phase Turn. You can think of this as the administrative cleanup of the map. If it is the last turn of the game, each side will determine victory.
Issue 35, Boudicca, The Warrior Queen is another excellent effort put forth by the team at Against the Odds. The mix of historical articles makes for very enjoyable reading and the game is very enjoyable and challenging. Boudicca, The Warrior Queen, while having been done a number of times before is given a fresh look and a different type of game system. While not a complex game, it is challenging and it can give gamers a distinctive look into this historical period. Boudicca the Game, and Boudicca ATO Issue #35 should not be missed, even if it is only for the fantastic cover page of the magazine.