For a long time I’ve been looking for a set of wargaming rules for the Arthurian age i.e. the Dark Age in Britain. Having tried lots of commercial rules, Vincent Tsao and I have written our own. Called Twilight of the Britons – Fast play rules for the English Invasion of Britain it is a variant of Twilight of the Sun-King (2001 version) . It covers the warfare in Britain from Roman departure (410 AD) until the English installed a Briton of Strathclyde as King of Scotland (1054 AD). The six page booklet contains only two pages of rules and four pages of army lists.
Back in 2013 Tom Loback and Vincent Tsao wrote a battle report for the Battle of Hastings under Twilight of the Sun King. This has been lurking in my subconscious ever since, kind of a innovation Viking waiting to spring. With my recent obsession with all things Arthurian I thought I’d pick up the conversation with Vincent and see what we could do to take Vincent’s Norman mods and turn them into a stand alone game.
My starting point was the original (2001) version of Twilight of the Sun-King. I actually wrote this in 1995 although it was only published in 2001. Being from the last century means it is quite dated in style. So I rewrote it to reflect my current thinking about game design. I haven’t published the 2022 draft as its main purpose was just to get a modern version of the rules to provide a more solid foundation for the new variant.
Then Vincent and I started tweaking to get the Arthurian vibe. Vincent’s mods were a great inspiration, but we didn’t stop there. We dropped the two base units and went for single base units. Inspired by Philip Sabin’s Analysis of Ancient Warfare in Lost Battles I went for basic troop types: heroes, heavy infantry (HI), light infantry (LI), heavy cavalry (HC) and light cavalry (LC). Vincent contributed the supplementary attributes for a unit, both the missile weapons (javelin, sling, foot bow, or horse bow) and the optional attributes for heavy units (armoured, aggressive, undisciplined, and well drilled). We also included Vincents’s ideas on recoil, evade, hold and impetuous advance. I added “curses” to give priests, druids and magicians a battlefield role; I might not believe in the efficacy of curses but the men of the time did. Units are rated brave (+1), epic (+2), or legendary (+3), with the great mass being brave and Arthur and his lot being legendary. I wanted a heroic feel to the game hence “heroes” not “generals” although they serve a similar purpose in the game. I adopted the cavalry threat rule of Andrew Coleby from the 2010 version of the rules (Version 1.1). Movement is far more generous than in the original rules where the games were often described as arthritic. I dropped the random end of battles in favour of a hard stop after one side loses 1/3 of their army.
Throughout that process I stuck to my design goal of a two page set of rules, despite urging from Vincent to relax that constraint. I like a hard limit on rule size as it forces me to make hard game design decisions. I did, however, add four pages of army lists: Romano-British (407-470 AD), English (429-1075 AD), Briton (471-580 AD) and Northern Briton (580-1054 AD), Western Briton (580-1149 AD), Gewissei, Picts (211-900AD), Scots-Irish (55BC-900AD), Scots (900-1124 AD), Norse-Irish (842-1300 AD), and Northmen (790 – 1280 AD.
Download Twilight of the Britons
You can download Twilight of the Britons as a PDF.
The first publicly available version.