Gangs Of Britannia - The Story

An early stage sketch for the game

An early stage sketch for the game

Gangs of Britannia

Bringing a new boardgame into existence is a big project. We're not just talking about taking a few game pieces from an existing boardgame and writing a set of rules. No, it also involves rigorous gameplay testing with multiple people, picking a coherent and logical theme, and balancing the gameplay and all of the game elements with each other.

These together probably equate to a rough basic game and will take many weeks, if not months, of your spare time. Given the large project it is also no surprise that writing up how the final version came about is not easy either, especially considering that nearly a year has passed from the inception of the first concept.

Theme

Before we decided on Gangs of Britannia as our theme, we were in fact toying with a completely different part of the criminal spectrum: the production, transportation and sale of illicit drugs. In fact most aspects of the original gameplay formed around the theme rather than us picking a theme that would suit the gameplay. However, we soon realised, that the game we had created and the theme we had envisaged did not go hand in hand.

The criminal aspect stuck with us and after numerous brainstorming sessions we came to a conclusion and adopted the United Kingdom gangland theme. It suited the gameplay perfectly, incorporating rivalry but also sometimes cooperation between the different gangs. Popular TV shows such as 'Peaky Blinders' and the recent 'Legend' movie about the notorious Kray Twins lent themselves as suitable inspirations.

We took care to integrate many historical aspects that were specific to each of the gangs and wanted to make it somewhat educational and so spread a few nuggets of knowledge about the cities' and gangs' histories throughout.

Gameplay Inspiration

Our goal from the very beginning was to bring about a game that would be fun to play and that would involve a large element of human interaction between players (i.e. guessing intentions, scheming, bluffing and crafting alliances). The game had to be simple to pick up but also difficult to master and would therefore make players want to play it again to get better at it.

As such, we looked around the existing board gaming world and found many inspirations that have guided Gangs of Britannia to what it is now. Here are some of the games that we thoroughly enjoyed and that led to the final Gangs of Britannia gameplay:

Kemet, Settlers of Catan, Risk, Forbidden Desert.

Whilst there were many more that we drew inspiration from, each of these games had a central concept that we incorporated into the final version. Strategy, upgradable units, economics and human interaction make up the final version of the gameplay that is so unique to Gangs of Britannia.

From a non-gaming environment we integrated the age old prisoner's dilemma that has been successfully incorporated into game shows such as Golden Balls.

With each of these elements we had to however find a balance so that each element by itself would bring the game to a level that's more fun than the sum of its parts. Naturally, this was done via constant and extensive play testing using the many guinea pigs (none were hurt in the process) that had bravely put themselves forward. With feedback gained and taken onboard, each successive play test improved the game a touch despite us sometimes putting in completely new ideas into the mix (some of them worked and others didn't).

Ultimatetely we are very happy with the final version and look forward to the finished product hitting the shelves so that the game can be enjoyed by more people than just us (and our lucky guinea pigs). Send us an email (listed below) if you have any questions or queries. One of the team will get back to you!

Chris, Dan & Joel