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Thirty years ago the Romans left Britain which allowed the Picts and Scots are tearing the Northern part of our sunny little isle apart. In Saxony Vortigern hears of this and send two of his warriors, you and your brother Horsa, to lead your Tribes to Britain and protect it from the rampaging Picts and Scots. My geography isn't that good and I know the Calais-Dover Ferry wasn't running in these ancient times, so I looked on the map for the location of Saxony and the route to Britain and thankfully in HENGIST you don't have to actually make that journey, because finding your way from landlocked Saxony to the North Sea and across to Britain using the system of Rivers would be a game in itself.

So you begin the game with you and your brother's armies in the same boat arriving somewhere in Britain, presumably the North-East coast. And so your "protection" of Britain begins, with you pillaging and robbing every village and monastery, town, farm and estate that you come across. You are in competition with your brother to gain the most fame and fortune, though one would assume (and I don't use the word "assume" lightly) by your very actions of theft and destruction you are more likely to gain "infamy" not fame; so basically the pre-game story that sets the theme is poorly thought through. Now onto Uwe Rosenberg's game of HENGIST; published by Mayfair Games (from the LOOKOUT GAMES range), edited by Hanno Girke with artwork by Klemens Franz and atelier198

     

There are three game boards, called BAY boards, that are printed double-sided so that you have six different sides giving twelve different Bays to be explored; each board has two Bays, all three boards are placed side by side, and the ship from Saxony, loaded with three Red and three Blue units, is placed front facing inwards in the first Bay of the leftmost board. All the cards in the deck show either one or two terrain symbols and colours, they are shuffled and three cards dealt to each player, the remainder of the cards make up the face down Draw Pile. The Road tiles are shuffled face down and placed, still face down, on the boards in the obvious positions and finally the round Treasure tokens are turned face down, mixed up and four placed face-up in the spaces of each board, now play can begin.

As this is a game for only two players turns are alternated back and forth and each turn consists of Part A and Part B, Raiding and Card Drawing. Your three units are called Raiding Groups and they begin as I said in the ship and on your turn you can move a single Raiding Group. They can move from the ship to the Beach, beach back to the ship, Beach to the Hinterland and then all roads South to the Crossroads (the Road tile) and on to a Village where points are scored - there is no actual Pillaging, fighting or other action, you just walk in and steal their gold. The only obstacles to your movement are the different terrain spots for which you have to play the correct terrain cards (dual coloured cards count as one or the other of the colours shown on them). To Raid a Treasure you have to play all three required colour cards, you cannot play a dual colour and one other card, to get you to the crossroad tile. Once you reach it you look at it, do not show it to the other player, then you move to the treasure that the road you are on continues to. You collect this and place a shield token in your colour there to show you have raided the village, once both players have reached the road tile it can be turned face up if you want to make it a little easier to reach the other two Treasure spaces, or you can keep it face down and try to remember which of the remaining roads leads to the higher value Treasure.

    

Once you have collected the Treasure you move your Unit back to the Hinterland for free, you do not need the three coloured cards again, but if you want to return to the ship you do have to pay the cost (coloured card). From the Hinterland you are able to travel to the Hinterland on the next board though this will mean passing through another Terrain Gate (pay a card). After moving you Draw 2 cards from the deck plus one card for each Unit you have in any Hinterland on  the Board(s). The Black cards show a Saxon warrior (looks like a Dwarf but it isn't meant to) and this card can be used as any colour (like a Joker), as a Spy to secretly look at any Road tile or to return a Raiding Group Unit to your ship, explained in a moment. Once you have taken one of the three actions of an Explorer (Black) card you move the ship to the next Bay. This may mean leaving a Bay Board and moving onto the next one, in which case the Bay board just left is affected in a manner akin to games like ROLLING THUNDER.

The Bay boards are taken from one end, flipped over to their reverse side, and added to the other end once the ship moves on and away from them. Any Units on a Bay board that is flipped are returned to their owners, not to the ship, thus you need to use an Explorer card (Black card) to return the Unit to the ship. It is possible that you could end up with all three Raiding Groups out of the ship or even "lost". The latter is only a problem if you don't have any Explorer cards and the former is never a problem because the Units can walk across the Hinterlands from Board to Board as long as the correct cards are played. Generally it costs nothing to move off the ship to one of the three Beach spaces adjacent to where the ship has berthed, then you pay a card cost to get to the Hinterland and then three cards to gain a Treasure.

  

I'm not actually sure what Uwe Rosenberg was aiming at with HENGIST; there is no actual game here and only a fairly average mechanic It's like a Reiner Knizia standard game of Colours and Numbers only Herr Rosenberg forgot the Numbers. The artwork is unappealing, the boards, tokens and cards are bland and the Raiding Groups are simply large regular shaped wooden dobbers  (round at the base, swans neck up to a round top bobble); only the assembled ship (or boat - my idea of a ship is a vessel, other than a submarine, that is built to cross an ocean, as this clearly does, and a boat is a small vessel used for fishing, joy-riding and coast hugging, like a trireme) gives this any gaming credence at all. I notice there are no Mayfair Games people credited anywhere for HENGIST and that's possibly because when Mayfair Games bought into Lookout Games this came along as part of the deal. 

  

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015