Banish the Snakes is a cooperative game that simulates Ireland in the 5th century, while the Roman Empire was collapsing in the west and Ireland was turning to the Christian religion. Players represent Saints- Patrick and others (up to six of you) who set out to convert the pagans on the island. You must work as a team to convert the people of Ireland before the barbarians completely overwhelm Britain- if you fail, the Irish will not be able to save Civilization in the following centuries!
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Available on: 15/12/2022
The player’s individual aircraft—each represented by a stickered block—must locate the incoming raid, intercept it, and evade or defeat swarms of escorting German fighters that usually outnumber you and whose pilots have superior experience and tactics. The game simulates the dogfighting and fighter-vs.-bomber action at an individual aircraft level using a card-assisted system that simulates key tactical decision-making without losing the feel of fast-paced aerial combat. A player can fly scenarios representing an individual patrol or use the patrol generator to create an endless variety of realistic individual patrols, multi-patrol campaigns, or larger campaigns covering the entire Battle of Britain. Each patrol will take a half hour or more to play, while a campaign can last anywhere between 6 and 28 patrols.
You select a roster of pilots with varying experience and skill levels. The squadron takes off, takes up a patrol station, and tries to locate and intercept a German raid before it reaches its still-unknown bombing target. Patrol success depends on your disrupting or destroying bombers and shooting down German fighters, but losses of your own pilots count against your score. You must weigh potential reward against risk as you try to keep your planes in contact with the bomber formation and each other, seizing opportunities for successive attacks before your fuel and ammunition levels get too low and the centrifugal forces of aerial combat scatter your unit across the sky. After each mission, you try to recover bailed out or injured pilots and get ready to scramble again—often several times in the same day—while your squadron faces the constant threat of exhausted pilots and excessive losses that could render it ineffective.
The patrol is played on several displays and surfaces at the same time, each one representing a different zoom level of the action in and around the bombing raid. An Interception Map presents the German formation as a lethal space of escort stations, where you can position your squadron for different approaches and assign planes to attack bombers or engage German escorts. Once engaged, moveable bomber tiles are positioned on the tabletop to show bombers in a variety of historical formations and cohesion states. Tiles allow the formation to literally break apart. Fighter blocks and escort markers on the tabletop show the ever-changing positions of attacking fighters and defending escorts. A separate squadron display shows the organization and cohesion of your squadron at a glance and tracks the relative positions of bogeys in relation to your planes during dogfights.
The game poses a series of questions: Will you strike the bombers from a high flank angle to get a safer shot or make a daring head-on attack to break their formation apart? Will you split your squadron to engage escorting Messerschmitts before they bounce you from out of the sun, or will you charge into the bombers hoping to get there before escorts get to your pilots? Unlike its predecessors, Skies Above the Reich and Storm Above the Reich, here the bombers are lightly armed and are at the mercy of determined interceptors. But the German escort is brutal, and their tactical formation of the Rotte and Schwarm are difficult to contend with. Skies Above Britain shifts detail from encounters between fighter and bomber to dogfights between fighter and escort. Your pilots are trained for the officially sanctioned “vic” tactics organizing your squadron into Sections of three aircraft. That gives the Section excellent firepower, but the Bosche is a nimble adversary. Getting on his tail does not guarantee success. Will your squadron leader gain the experience to be an innovator, allowing you to experiment with the more agile four-plane Section?
As tough as each mission can be, the real challenge is the campaign where you watch as your roster of pilots gradually shrinks. Some pilots will survive long enough to acquire ace skills, but you will be forced to replace downed or wounded pilots, and those young newcomers come “green.” Some campaigns will end because you run out of sufficiently experienced pilots and/or sustain too many losses in too short a time.If I have any worth, it is to live my life for God so as to teach these peoples.” - St. Patrick
Legend has it that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland. True, there are no snakes anywhere on the island- but there have been none since before the last Ice Age! The legend is actually an allegory about his successes in converting Ireland to Christianity.
The game board shows a map of Ireland in the 5th century, with four Provinces-the same as today- but no counties yet. Wooden tiles represent the People, Druids, Chiefs, and Kings, and of course the High King at Tara. It is your job to break into the interrelated influences between these groups of people and get your new ideas accepted.
Each turn a card is drawn, throwing new challenges at your team. The severity of the event is determined by the previous card, and so no two games can ever play the same. The cards introduce events and ideas of the time, new saints, and historic figures- like Neil of the Nine Hostages.
There is a diagram of Great Britain to keep track of the steady decline of Roman civilization in Great Britain. As different parts of Britain succumb to the barbarians, more and more difficult challenges are added to the deck, until finally Britain is completely overwhelmed, cutting off Ireland from the continent and ending the game.
If you succeed in your endeavor, Christianity will thrive in Ireland, while paganism overruns Western Europe. The arts, writing, literature and history will flourish on the Emerald Isle! Soon, Irish missionaries will bring these civilizing attributes back to Great Britain and mainland Europe- as Thomas Cahill says in his book, the Irish will save Civilization.
But if you fail…