Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Klaus-Jürgen Wrede

AMIGO 2009

No. of Players:
2 - 4



G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Albion from Klaus-Jürgen Wrede is a strategic game and it will need you some rounds to fully understand the mechanisms of the game. Albion is the original name of the British island before the Romans set foot on it. So it is no miracle, that in the game you find yourself on the British island in the time of the Roman Empire, where you build settlements, castles and fortifications in different regions of the board. Players take the role of Roman ambassadors and try to impress the Roman emperor with their attempts to colonize the island. As some of you will know from history, the Romans had trouble to pacify the island with progressing colonization to the North. In the game this fact is implemented quite realistic, because you only have a chance to conquer the Northern regions if you have a good supply chain going northwards from your base camps in the South.

[IMAGE] All players are starting with a fortification in the southernmost province and two plants for the natural resources fish and wood in nearby regions. In a turn a player can either move his units on the board and build new buildings or he can collect raw material from all his plants on the board. There are two different kinds of units in the game: settlers and soldiers. All settlers start their movement each turn in the starting province, so that - at the end of a player's turn - all settler units always are drawn back to their starting space. Soldiers may move freely over the board and begin their movement in the province they were left in the turn before. However, at the beginning of the game a player only has two movement points with which he can move his units on the gameboard.

To build a structure, a player must have moved one of his settlers to the province where he wants to build. One can choose between three different types of buildings that all can be enlarged in three stages of development. First of all, fortifications help a player to defend himself against the Picts, the Scottish natives, who try to defend their country against the Roman intruders. Although the players do not fight against each other, it is quite important to have strong defences against these Picts. Fortifications help a player on the whole gameboard, and this is quite useful as the only other protection are the soldiers. But these units can only protect the province in which they stand so that you have to move them steadily to banish imminent invasions.

The second building type is a Roman fort. Each stage of development of a fort gives the player another movement point. Additionally a fort in the third stage of development can be used as a starting point for settlers next to the start province. This gives a player a huge advantage to reach the Northern provinces, because he then needs much less movement points to get there.

Finally, settlements give a player another settler on the board. In addition, settlements in the third stage of development also allow a player to develop one of his other buildings on the board at once. And as a novelty, settlements can be developed even one step further to stage IV. These stage IV settlements are extremely important, because the development of three stage IV settlements wins the game!

Building these structures costs raw materials. A building in a stage I of development cost one material, level II two different materials, level III three different materials and stage IV four different materials. As you might remember, you are starting with just two different plants. The two other provinces where you can earn stones and gold are far to the north and you first have to establish a plant there, too, before you will be able to develop buildings to stage III and IV. Opponents, who have a stronger building in the same province where a structure is developed get a tribute and take one of the resources the player has to pay, a really huge advantage!

Finally a token of the Picts is drawn randomly for the province where the building action has taken place (if there are still some tokens left). The token can show either a peace sign - nothing happens then - or it is an attack. Then all players with buildings in this province have to fight against the Picts. The new token and all other already open Picts in the province contribute to the strength of the attacker. The players defend themselves alone one by one, they cannot sum up their strength. The strength of each player is a result of the soldiers in this province and all fortifications of the player on the whole board. If a player looses against the Picts, his building looses one stage of development again.

Well, basically that´s it. What seems to be an easy set of rules actually turns out to be highly strategic game. The way to win the game is to be one step faster as your opponents. If you are able to place a building in a strategically demanded region first, you profit from buildings of your opponents in the same region, earning a resource as a tribute each time another player makes a building action there. This is very useful, because the only other possibility to get new raw materials is to give up moving and building in a turn.

In my first games I did a lot of mistakes just at the beginning. If you play against an opponent who knows Albion this will often mean your defeat, since the game does not forgive many mistakes. There are different strategies to win the game, but it will need a lot of time to find them. The game improves with the experience of the players, but you must have your opponents learning with you, otherwise you will dominate them and they will be frustrated soon. If you only plan to play the game by occasion, you probable will be disappointed. The game can be enjoyed best if you have a regular gaming group and you are looking for a game that you can play a lot of times. In addition, I would recommend to play Albion with four players, because the competition level ensures the most interesting gameplay with this number of players.

One last word to the design of the game. It is very functional and probably not everyone´s taste. But it clearly helps keeping track of the situation when you are in fully engaged in the fight.

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Copyright © 2010 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany