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.
Summary: Much better game. The shield wall clash was realistic but took too long to resolve. Battles on the wings were interesting and had an impact in the
Vincent Tsao and I have been playing around with a version of Twilight of the Sun King for the early medieval period in Britain. I started with a rewrite of my original 2001 version of Twilight of the Sun King and incorporated ideas from Vincent’s Battle of Hastings variant. The result is called “Twilight of the Britons: Fast play rules for the English invasion of Britain”. I got Adam and Chris to give an early draft a go. So early I’d only written the rules that day, so isn’t wasn’t so good.
Summary: Too much dark age shield wall stodge. Not enough heroics. But a glimmer of hope for the rules.
I’ve shared some DBA Arthurian Campaigns based on Martin Smith’s “Arthurian campaign” article in Slingshot (Smith, 2021), itself based on Kaptain Kobold’s solo HoTT campaign (Dux Bellorum). Both Martin and the Kaptain give solo opportunities so I thought I’d share how to use my campaigns in solo mode. You can play a solo variant of the campaign, like Kaptain Kobold. Or you can play a multi-player campaign with the table top battles fought solo, like Martin Smith (2021). Both options are presented here.
So I have written yet another DBA Arthurian Campaign, but this time using the Skodbac concept. Like The Bear Exalted, this campaign is set in 518-537 AD, the most likely time period for a historical Arthur.
Being 518 AD, the Roman legions are long gone and the barbarians – Angles, Saxons, and Scots-Irish – are established on the soil of Britannia. The Picts remain troublesome neighbours, and the Gewissei are the enemy within. But the Romano-British kingdoms (Dumnonia, Powys, Hen Ogledd) and their Celtic people (Kymry), continue to fight back.
It is 518 AD. The Roman legions are long gone and the barbarians – Angles, Saxons, and Scots-Irish – are established on the soil of Britannia. The Picts remain troublesome neighbours, and the Gewissei are the enemy within. But the Celtic people (Kymry) of the Romano-British kingdoms continue to fight back.
I have written two DBA Arthurian Campaigns based on Martin Smith’s “Arthurian campaign” article in Slingshot (Smith, 2021), itself based on Kaptain Kobold’s solo HoTT campaign (Dux Bellorum). The first was The Legions Have Gone (420-439). This is the second campaign. It is called “The Bear Exalted” and is set in 518-537 AD, the most likely time period for a historical Arthur. The campaign name, “The Bear Exalted”, is based on the title Arthwyr, a possible, if dubious, old Welsh origin of the name Arthur.
It is 420 AD. The Roman legions left 10 years ago and the barbarians are pounding at the doors. The Angles, Saxons, and Scots-Irish all want a piece of Britannia. The Picts and un-Romanised Welsh are also troublesome neighbours. But the Romano-British kingdoms are fighting back with a combination of ex-Roman troops and men fighting in native styles.
I have written two DBA Arthurian Campaigns based on Martin Smith’s “Arthurian campaign” article in Slingshot (Smith, 2021), itself based on Kaptain Kobold’s solo HoTT campaign (Dux Bellorum). This campaign is “The Legions have Gone” and is set in 420-439 AD. The campaign assumes Arthur existed, was early 5th century, and led Roman troops.
I like the Arthurian setting. I like Campaigns. I like DBA and HoTT Campaigns because they are relatively simple and quick. I’ve played a few games of Arthurian HoTT. I’ve run Britannia 600 AD as a HoTT campaign for six players, although it can be used for DBA. I like the idea of gritty dark age DBA games. A recent article by Martin Smith on his “Arthurian Campaign” for DBA got me thinking about campaigns in this period again. The question is, what to do? How can I improve on previous efforts? What does an even better Arthurian campaign look like? And what army lists to use?
Joe Collins has highlighted a number of problems with DBA 3.0 and suggested ways to address these problems. Collin’s was part of the group that developed DBA 3.0 so he is both a fan and on the inside team. I really like Collin’s attempt to tackle some big problems with DBA. It would be great if more people did this, starting with Phil Barker. Unfortunately, Collin’s particular suggestions mostly leave the problems unsolved. I do like his solution for Bow but even that needs more.
Chris Harrod and I had another game of Arthurian HOTT. This featured Chris’s Chris’s Picts on sabots to provide Big Bases. I fielded my Welsh (Cymry) with Arthurian and Reconquista Christian Elements for Big Base HOTT. I went for my traditional historical Welsh option where the religion is implicit. Chris put a Goddess on table (the Morrigan).
Summary: The Morrigan was scary and my Welsh had to dance around a bit, but it turned out god was on our side and Arthur’s host took the day.
Summary: Grindy dark age affair with lots of flavour. Bad going made the battle bitsy. Arthur took the day.
I recently rebased my Reconquista armies on Big Bases. That includes the elements I use for Big Base HOTT. In this post I feature the Christians which can also serve in Arthurian HOTT. You might have seen some of these guys on small bases in my Strathclyde Welsh (Northern Cymry) for Britannia 600 AD. Of course they complement my “El Cid” Feudal Spanish Army for Big Base DBA and my Dark Age Horde.
I recently transferred my Dark Age figures for Hordes of the Things (HOTT) to Big Bases. Magicians, beasts, clerics, hordes, that kind of thing, making Big Base HOTT. This included my Strathclyde Welsh (Northern Cymry) for Britannia 600 AD.
Big Base DBA (also known as Big Base De Bellis Antiquitatis or BBDBA) allows fast games with a small number of playing pieces and lots of figures. Big Base DBA requires few modifications from the standard DBA rules.
Inspired by Philip Sabin’s Analysis of Ancient Warfare in Lost Battles I’ve drifted further away from normal DBA than you need to, but I’ll explain why as I go along. Mostly it affects basing.
DBx and FOG are wrong. The gardingi were personal military retainers of the Visigothic king. They were wealthy and led their own retainers into battle. Given they were wealthy, and a military elite, they probably fought mounted. And in an army where even some slaves wore armour, it is beyond belief that these palatine officials were unarmoured.