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Video Game / Thrones of Britannia: A Total War Saga

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Only one can rule...

The year is 878 AD, the embattled Anglo-Saxon king Alfred the Great has mounted a heroic defense at the battle of Edington, and blunted the Viking invasion. Chastened – but not yet broken – the Norse warlords have settled across Britain. For the first time in nearly 80 years, the land is in a fragile state of peace. Throughout this sceptred isle, the kings of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales sense a time of change approaching; a time of opportunity. There will be treaties. There will be war. There will be turns of fortune that become the stuff of legend, in a saga that charts the ascent of one of history’s greatest nations. Kings will rise. One will rule.
Narrator, Steam Page

Thrones of Britannia: A Total War Saga is a standalone game in the Total War series that serves as a sort of indirect sequel to both the classic Medieval: Total War Expansion Pack Viking Invasion and Total War: Attila Expansion Pack Age of Charlemagne, taking place in the early Middle Ages in the isles of Britannia. As the petty kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxons, Gaels, Welsh, and now-settled Norse continue to squabble, kings famed in story and song begin to rise and build legacies that will outlast their line; there can only be one ruler of Britannia, and each intends his children to hold that throne. However, further raids from the mainland arrive all the while, and there's no guarantee that another power might not look upon the fractured isles with the intent to conquer...

The player is able to play as one of ten separate factions at launch, drawn from five different cultures:

  • The Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms, represented by Mierce and West Seaxe, focus on a well-rounded roster with a solid core of infantry, with no huge weaknesses in any single part of their army.
  • The Welsh Kingdoms, represented by Gwined and Strat Clut, utilize excellent long-ranged missile units and light cavalry forces, relying on hit-and-run tactics for victory.
  • The Gaelic Kingdoms, represented by Mide and Circenn, focus on shock infantry and javelin-armed skirmishers, wearing the enemy down before rushing in.
  • The Viking Sea-Kings, represented by Dyflin and Sudreyar, whose forces are naturally focused more on naval superiority and assault from the sea, fielding armies more purely Norse with some Gaelic influences.
  • The Great Viking Army, represented by East Engle and Northymbre, which has settled since its defeat by Alfred the Great and begun to culturally integrate with its Saxon subjects, resulting in armies as much Saxon as they are Norse.

Each faction will sport often similar baseline troops, but wildly different rosters as the campaign proceeds - an emphasis on variety of gameplay both on the campaign map and the battle map, despite the more constrained geographical location. The game completely overhauls how the classic Total War campaign works, adding mechanics such as branching storylines for each faction, overhauled technology trees that expand based on player action rather than simply being linear progressions, and a recruitment system aimed at making the decision to raise a new army more of a strategic one rather than a spur-of-the-moment choice.

Thrones of Britannia: A Total War Saga was released on May 3, 2018.

This game provides examples of:

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: The scaled-up map and the way seasons work means that it takes upwards of three in-game years to march your army down Great Britain. An acceptable compromise, as a game where everyone could blitz up and down the island within a single turn wouldn't be nearly as fun.
  • Alternate History: An inevitable outcome, considering the premise. Ever wondered how it'd look like if the Danelaw managed to successfully resist Anglo-Saxon reconquest and carve out a permanent domain in Great Britain, unswayed by indigenous powers or the Norse kings across the North Sea? Or if the Norse-Gaelic Kingdom of the Isles (Sudreyar) had annexed the Scots instead of the other way around? How about if the Anglo-Saxons had completely resisted the Danes in the first place?
  • Anti-Frustration Features: In the game, Trade is largely automated; the player's role is basically deciding how much of each trade good to produce by upgrading settlements accordingly. War also automatically suspends trade between factions.
    • Armies can enter water bodies from any location. However, setting sail from designated ports allow armies to continue their journey within the same turn.(Otherwise, the army cannot move again until the next turn.)
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: The Anglo-Saxon factions have a limit on the number of levy units they can field, representing the fyrd system which underwent reform under Alfred the Great. While the number of levy units can exceed the limit, the result will be reduced Farm income and public order, along with increased time for levy and retinue units to be replenished in the recruitment pool. The fyrd limit can be increased by controlling more settlements.
    • Each faction can have a maximum of 10 governors.
  • Arcadia: Invoked by the public order penalties incurred by extractive industries, e.g. iron, salt and silver.
  • Artistic License – History: While generally less prevalent in this title compared to others in the series, a few inaccuracies have been noted - some of which are deliberate to add more interesting features to the time period, such as Ragnar Lodbrok being treated as a historical figure, siege equipment being more advanced than ladders, and the Picts of Circenn making heavy use of crossbows for warfare instead of primarily for hunting. note 
    • The use of St Andrew's Saltire to represent the Kingdom of Ce/Circenn is about 300 years premature.
    • Since the game begins after the battle of Edington, the whole nature of East Engle and Westseaxe's relationship is presented incorrectly. In-game, the two begin as intense rivals, just a hair's breadth from war. In reality, after his defeat at Alfred's hands at Edington, Guthrum converted to Christianity and changed his name to Aethelstan, with Alfred as his godfather, and East Engle became a half-ally, half-vassal of Westseaxe until it was finally annexed somewhat peacefully by Alfred's son Edward in 918. note 
    • Overlapping with Canon Foreigner, somewhat; Eirik Fálki of Sudreyar is entirely fictional. Given that there are no records detailing the leadership of the Southern Hebrides when the game starts, it's an understandable invention.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Community Civic tech branch is this to factions who do not start near Ireland or Scotland. In order to access the branch, the faction must capture a Monastery provincial capital, which is only found in those two locations and upgrade the capital's main building to its maximum level.
    • The Fame victory conditions are the only victory conditions (out of three possible choices) which cannot be completed with the help of vassals. In addition, unless you plan beforehand, it is very likely that a vassal or ally is holding a monument you need as part of a Fame victory.
  • Badass Army: Everyone. From the brave defenders of Wessex, the Last Kingdom, to the Viking Raiders of Northumbria.
  • Barbarian Tribe: Shockingly enough, Subverted when it comes to the Danes; after settling down to rule their British kingdoms, the Vikings have become quite civilized. The various Gaelic tribes in Ireland and Scotland play this trope more straight, though the former subverts the stereotypical Barbarian image with monasteries being part of their social and economic life (income bonus) along with their increased research rate.
  • The Blacksmith: A building you can construct in all major cities. They allow you to equip your soldiers with weapons and armor, improving their capabilities in battle.
  • Born into Slavery: The King of Northymbre was born a slave and impressed into the army before being appointed King.
  • Boxing Battler: Once the requisite technology has been unlocked, fighting arenas can be built in cities. They have no impact on public order, but they cause all your soldiers in the province to gain experience every turn.
  • Brave Scot: Circenn, one of the Gaelic factions, is situated in Scotland with their origins described as a desperate alliance formed between the native Picts and Gaelic refugees from Viking raids. Their main objective for the storyline is to find the Stone of Destiny that could legitimize the king and cement their authority over the tribes.
  • The Berserker: A highly elite unit available to the Viking factions, fearsome Warriors who simply excel at butchering other infantry in droves. Unlike how they are usually portrayed, these Berserkers are both well-armed and well-armored, wielding swords and shields (as opposed to the typical axes or large swords) and very disciplined. They do still possess a berserk mechanic, however, which grants them increased melee stats the longer they remain in melee combat.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Buildings and settlement types are colour-coded, making it easier for the player to know their nature. This extends to provincial capitals; different types of provincial capitals allow for different buildings.
  • Cool Sword: A wide variety of swords belonging to different cultures are present in the game. For example, the seldom-depicted Seax is wielded by the foot soldiers of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms.
  • Culture Clash: One major mechanic for Northymbre (Viking Northumbria), a major Norse stronghold in England, is trying to juggle between the Norse warriors and their Saxon subjects. This is displayed by events where the player can choose between appeasing the English nobility and the Viking army; balancing between both is necessary to prevent instability, but oftentimes this will mean a short-term humiliation or penalty in favor of long-term survival.
    • On a broader level, interaction between kingdoms of different cultures can be this; vassals who are of a different culture are rarely loyal for long.
  • Death of the Old Gods: This theme comes into play during the campaigns of the Viking Sea Kings, the only two factions to begin the game with pagan kings. You'll get an event in which Christian missionaries come to your lands, and you'll have to choose whether to have your king convert while letting your people follow whatever religion they want, to force a mass conversion at sword point, or to remain staunchly pagan. Each choice has its own benefits and drawbacks. Staying pagan grants bonuses to your warriors, but you'll eventually be faced with similar events pressuring you to convert, giving you the sense that you are ultimately only delaying the inevitable.
  • Easily Conquered World: Only provincial capitals are fortified and have garrisons. It is possible for a small raiding party to infiltrate a realm and wreck havoc on its economy by occupying settlements. However, an army which occupies a settlement loses all its remaining movement points for the turn.
  • Easy Logistics: After many games of playing this trope straight, Creative Assembly seems to be taking steps to avert it; armies now have a supply meter, which depletes the longer they remain in enemy territory and eventually will cause the army to suffer attrition as their supplies run low. Units also cost not only money but food to maintain, representing workers called away from the harvest, and will not be mustered at full size; instead they will arrive with 25% of their max capacity, and will gradually replenish as warriors are mustered.
  • Fighting Irish: Ireland is host to many clans and kingdoms, Mide being the playable one, and whose bickering had been the source of their weakness as the Norse began to expand along the island's eastern shores. Due to their bonuses to monasteries, which provide them with income and research, it also crosses with Religious Bruiser and Badass Bookworm.
  • Fragile Speedster: As is period accurate, cavalry has been given a serious Nerf and downgraded to this, especially compared to past games - being useful only to flank, harass, hunt skirmishers and scout. What makes them stand out is their speed and maneuverability. Head-on charges are even more limited, with horses outright refusing to charge into dense formations - persist in ordering them to and your warriors will be forced to walk them into the fray, depriving them of their vital charge bonuses.
  • Going Native: The Foreign Warrior and later tier Gallowglasses units for Irish factions in Thrones of Britannia are basically Norse warriors who adopted local Gaelic culture and later hired themselves to any willing recruiters.
    • Although it's downplayed in the game itself, this is what is happening to Guthrum's Kingdom of East Engle. The Danes living there soon started to adopt the language and culture of the English already living there. Even Guthrum himself has converted to Christianity by the time of the game's start, and changed his name to Aethelstan (although the game does not reflect this and calls him Guthrum note ).
  • Good-Guy Bar: Once the requisite technology has been unlocked, taverns can be built in some cities. They improve both public order and the morale of your soldiers in the province.
  • Horny Vikings: Barring the horny part, the Norse would play the role in the game as one of the playable faction and serious contention for Anglo-Saxons in Britain and Gael in Ireland as they settled on the British Isles. They are divided into three different subcultures: the settled warriors of the Great Heathen Army, the settled but still seafaring Viking Sea Kings, and the completely seaborn (and unplayable) Viking Raiders of Scandinavia, who most notably remain pagan. Furthermore, Mide's Foreign Warriors and later Gallowglasses are Norse soldiers who adopted Irish culture.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Implied with the game's depiction of Guthrum, who can renege on the treaty signed after Edington, and re-ignite war between Wessex and East Anglia.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Coming alongside the invading Normans are some of the first knights, and though they are only early knights still only in chainmail they remain heavy shock cavalry in a game almost entirely devoid of dangerous melee cavalry at all. Featuring the best armor in the game, they are not at all to be underestimated, and their surprising power will be a rude awakening to any player who had grown used to being able to take out cavalry with relative ease.
  • Lightning Bruiser: In comparison to the Fragile Speedster nature of other cavalry, Norman Knights are terrifyingly powerful in combat, being able to slaughter units of infantry on their own thanks to their quality armor, skill and arms. And yes, they retain the speed.
  • Made a Slave: This is Dyflin's special mechanic. They gain thralls by occupying enemy cities, sacking enemy cities, and defeating enemy armies in battle. Then each turn a number of these thralls are sold overseas, generating income for the faction. To increase the number of thralls sold, and to improve overall trade, Dyflin can build thrall markets in ports with viking havens.
  • Monumental Battle: While monuments featured in the game are relatively obscure to mainstream audiences, they are nevertheless valuable to factions as they provide good bonuses; fighting over them is virtually guaranteed, before considering the fact that Fame victories is essentially a series of occupying (and building up) monuments.
  • Planet of Hats: Whilst most historic Total War games do generally have varied factions, the developers have put a strong emphasis on promoting variety for each culture group and kingdom in the Isles.
    • Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms (Mierce and West Seaxe) have the Fyrd mechanic (various penalties from having too much levy units based on Bretonnia's Peasant Economy limit in Total War: Warhammer) and reoccurring events (West Seaxe's Wittan and Mierce's Hoard).
    • The Great Viking Army (Northymbre and East Engle) have to track both the favor of their Anglo-Saxon subjects and Norse warriors. Raising one often can result in lowering the other. note 
    • Viking Sea Kings (Dyflin and Sudreyar) can conduct expeditions and focus on raiding. How well they perform in their raids is tracked by the Tribute mechanic.
    • Welsh Kingdoms (Gwined and Strat Clut) are dealing with the squabbles between the two brother-kings after the death of their father. Also, the Heroism mechanic encourages battles and conquests in order to gain bonuses.
    • Gaelic Kingdoms (Mide and Circenn) have the Legitimacy mechanic, whereby holding cultural lands or defending fellow Gaelic factions can allow diplomatic bonuses with their fellow Gaelic kingdoms.
  • Rags to Royalty: King Guthfrid, according to his own account at least, was formerly a slave before rising up to become the King of Northymbre.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Portrayed through the unit recruitment system, which places a food cost on every military unit and limits the number of each unit recruitable at any given time. Your early-game armies are relatively small, consisting of whoever you manage to call up at the beginning of your current war. Want some retinue swordsmen to lead your offensive, but their recruitment stock hasn't replenished yet? Too bad, you'll have to recruit some spear-wielding peasant levies and wait for them to muster over several turns instead. As your kingdom grows, your food surplus and recruitment limits increase dramatically as well, representing your ability to train and equip a professional standing army.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Apart from being able to do this after winning a siege or occupying a settlement, certain units will also split up when attacking a city, without immediately apparent enemies nearby - breaking into houses, setting them ablaze, and generally turning the city into a ruin mid-battle.
  • Scenery Porn: As amply displayed by the Land of Hope trailer, to the tune of Wardruna's "Helvegen".
  • Shout-Out: The quote for the "Mortality of Bees" event is "No! Not the Bees!" from the infamously Narmtastic scene from The Wicker Man (2006)
  • Tech Tree: Downplayed. Each faction has tech branches, which become available after certain actions are taken (usually recruiting X number of certain troops for Military techs and building/leveling a certain building type for Civic techs).
  • The Low Middle Ages: The entire time period of Thrones of Britannia is set in the late 9th century British Isles where Vikings have begun to settle and clash with the natives after periods of raiding on Saxon and Irish settlements.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: Won't be a Total War game without this. Each resource usually has more than one way of obtaining them.
    • Income: Factions earn this via farming, commerce from taverns/marketplaces/trade ports, contributions from the church, and industry, which is basically commodity extraction. Income is also earned from trading goods between factions. Income is spent on the construction of buildings, recruitment of troops and their maintenance.
    • Food: Used for maintaining troops and military supplies. Many buildings also decrease food output. Low food supplies will result in decreased public order and troop desertions. Food can be obtained from various settlements and buildings.
    • Public Order: Commodity extraction industries decrease public order, along with some buildings. If public order gets too low, rebels will spawn in the province. Public Order is increased by buildings in the province capital (main settlement).
  • We Have Reserves: It seems like you'll want your generals to avert this more than usual, as losing more soldiers in battle will negatively affect your supply bar on the campaign map.

Alternative Title(s): Total War Saga Thrones Of Britannia