"At that time all members of the assembly, along with the proud tyrant, are blinded; such is the protection they find for their country (it was, in fact, its destruction) that those wild Saxons, of accursed name, hated by God and men, should be admitted into the island, like wolves into the folds, in order to repel the northern nations. Nothing more hurtful, certainly, nothing more bitter, happened to the island than this [...]"
Gildas (De Excidio
Britanniae, Part I.23)
the 6th Century AD British monk Gildas in his pamphlet De Excidio Britanniae (“On the Ruin of
Britain”) about what had befallen the Romano-British lands. This crucial period in history
saw the end of the Roman Empire in Britain and the seeds of the modern nations
of England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and Brittany. Most of us know next to
nothing about this period, but we know of its legends – from King Arthur and his knights, through Merlin,
Vortigern and Hengest, Badon Hill and the Isle of Avalon, to St. Patrick
and Niall of the Nine Hostages…
“For the fire of righteous vengeance, caused by former
crimes, blazed from sea to sea, heaped up by the eastern band of impious men;
and as it devastated all the neighboring cities and lands, did not cease after
it had been kindled, until it burnt nearly the whole surface of the island, and
licked the western ocean with its red and savage tongue. […]”
Gildas (De Excidio
Britanniae, Part I.24)
VIII in GMT’s COIN Series transports
us into the 4th and 5th Centuries A.D. and to the embattled Isle of Britannia.
– The Fall of Roman Britain
covers a century of
history from the first large-scale raids of Irish, Pict, and Saxon raiders, to
the establishment of successor kingdoms, both Celtic and Germanic. This
sumptuous volume adapts the celebrated asymmetrical COIN engine to depict the political, military, religious, and
economic struggles of Dark Ages Britain.
in mists of myth and legend, this story so foundational to many national groups
has been subject to many different narratives and interpretations. The traditional Victorian vision of
brutal and violent conquest
of Roman and Celtic Britain by Anglo-Saxon raiders and invaders nowcollides with modern historical
views ranging from continuity of tribal rivalries to quasi-peaceful cohabitation and
Pendragon leverages the tremendous
flexibility of the COIN system, from
dual events to dissimilar approaches and victory conditions, to capture the
complexity of the period and let the players explore alternative narratives. Unlike
earlier volumes, Pendragon is not about counterinsurgency per se, but focuses on the asymmetrical clashes between and among
Romano-British authorities and Barbarian powers gnashing over the carcass of
the Roman Empire, including:
- Barbarian Raiders plundering the
land and trying to surprise unwary towns and hillforts, then melting into hills
- Expansion or decline of the Saxon
Shore naval defense system to counter sea-borne raiders.
- Authentic Late-Roman military
doctrine—mighty but hard-to-replace cavalry tracking down raiding parties
before they can return their booty home.
- Accessible, powerful but fickle Foederati: barbarian warbands in Briton
- Nuanced battle system
representing troop qualities and tactics.
- Fortified strongholds that must
be assaulted, besieged, or rebuilt to gain regional political control.
- Civil wars, coups, religious
shifts, and cultural assimilation.
- Population movements over the
generations, due to good administration, barbarian ravages, or climatic changes.
- Epochal Events ranging from Roman
usurpations on the continent to massive reprisals against barbarian homelands.
- Evolution of rules and victory
conditions throughout the game, as the still vivacious Roman Empire may or may
not end with Britain fragmented among competing semi-barbarian proto-kingdoms.
- A deck of 83 cards with gorgeous
commissioned original art.
- Short, medium, and full-length
- Support for solitaire, 2-player,
3-player and 4-player experiences.
as far as was possible for human nature, by the tale of such a tragedy, make
speed, like the flight of eagles, unexpected in quick movements of cavalry on land and of mariners by sea;
before long they plunge their terrible swords in the necks of the enemies; the
massacre they inflict is to be compared to the fall of leaves at the fixed
time, just like a mountain torrent, swollen by numerous streams after storms,
sweeps over its bed in its noisy course; […]”
Gildas (De Excidio Britanniae, Part I.17)
faction in Pendragon brings
specific capabilities and challenges:
The Dux represent the original Roman Army
in Britannia: with the most powerful units in the game and a network of strong
fortresses ringing the island and tied by efficient roads, you must strive to
preserve the stability and prosperity of the provinces and punish any
interloper daring to challenge the peace. If you can build up your prestige and
maintain order, you may be able to keep the island in the Empire, or at least
united in a new post-Roman power. You can rely on the civilian militia to
assist you, but—as your peerless cavalry dwindles—you must resort to the
traditional Roman offer to barbarians of land for service in your forces as Foederati. As the decay of institutions
conspires with the scheming of feckless civilians and the marauding of restless
barbarians, you may find that the dream of Empire is dead. If so, with your
once proud Army little more than another group of warlords, you still can strive
to carve for yourself the most powerful kingdom alongside your new rivals.
The Civitates represent the Romanized aristocracy ruling the ancient Celtic
tribes from lavish villas and prosperous Roman towns, chafing under the distant
authority (and taxes) of Rome, mistrusting the uncultured and semi-Barbarian
army, and yearning to settle century-old accounts with their neighbors. When the
Barbarian storm comes down upon your island, you may find yourself
woefully unprepared to cope—materially or culturally—and presented with a
fundamental choice: strive to protect your lands, wealth, and way of life via
the despised Army and untrustworthy Foederati,
or sacrifice Roman comforts to face down the Barbarian challenge militarily and
culturally through a return to Celtic traditions.
represent various Germanic groups including Angles, Jutes, Frisians, and Franks
who harried, settled, and eventually took over swaths of Britain. As outsiders,
you face a steep challenge just to come ashore against the might of the Roman
army and navy. You will chip away at the Saxon Shore system, ravage the
provincial economy to weaken the Britons’ capability to wage war, and see some of
your best warriors serve as Foederati
(often against yourself), but recognize that
the more Saxonsliving
on the island—whoever their paymaster—the more opportunities for advancing your
nation. Eventually, you must secure footholds, perhaps in the marshy fens of
the eastern seaboard that so resemble your homelands, in order to wield your
considerable military potential and challenge the old masters of these rich
lands to create England.
The Scotti, named for the marauding groups of Irish raiders, also
represent those Celts native to the island of Britain who differed from the
romanized Civitates by remaining true (or reverting back) to the old ways.
Often, the boundary between the two groups was porous... The biggest such group
eventually formed the northern nation of the Picts, forebears of modern
Scotland. As the Scotti, you see the disintegration of Roman Britain as an
opportunity not so much to expand as to seize riches and renown to assert
yourself at home. Raid ceaselessly, surprise and plunder poorly protected communities,
kidnap for ransom, and show your military prowess against your unfortunate
neighbors across the Irish Sea and Forth-Clyde isthmus… Then establish bases
strategically along the enemy shores and entreat local hill tribes to reject
post-Roman authority. But beware that your very advances will help give rise
and limit your ability to grapple new powerhouses on the island!
"Kings were anointed, not in the name of God, but such as surpassed others in cruelty, and shortly afterwards were put to death by the men who anointed them, without any enquiry as to truth, because others more cruel had been elected. If, however, any one among them appeared to be of a milder disposition, and to some extent more attached to truth, against him were turned without respect the hatred and darts of all, as if he were the subverter of Britain;[...]"
Gildas (De Excidio Britanniae, Part I.21)
as Britain, the Island of the Mighty, is engulfed in the din of swords and
spears and the acrid smoke of burning thatch, will you join the packs of wolves
who feast on the once proud Empire, or will you rally the Dragon standards of
the Pen Ddraig, the Chief Dragon,
lord of battles of the Britons, to try to preserve your people’s lands and
- A 22” x 34” mounted game board
- A deck of 83 playing cards
- Over 300 red, dark blue, light blue, black, green, and gold wooden playing pieces
- 6 gray and 6 white wooden pawns
- 4 foldout Faction player aid sheets
- 2 foldout Non-player faction aid sheets
- 2 Sequence of Play and Battle aid sheets
- A sheet of markers
- 4 6-sided dice and 3 4-sided dice
Players: 1-4 (includes full
Map: Area Movement
Timescale: about 15 years per campaign
between Epoch cards
Designer: Marc Gouyon-Rety
Developer and Series Creator: Volko Ruhnke