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Glutter of Ravens: Warfare in the Age of Arthur – Rules and Resources for Wargames in the Period AD400-AD700
Glutter of Ravens: Warfare in the Age of Arthur – Rules and Resources for Wargames in the Period AD400-AD700
by Outpost Wargame Services (1998)
Player Count

Player Ages

Playing Time
2 hours
  • Wargame
  • Medieval
  • Miniatures
  • Designers
  • Daniel Mersey
  • Mechanisms
  • Simulation
  • Family
  • Magazine: Wargames Illustrated
  • The Legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table
  • Player Count: Two Player Only Games
  • Rating: 7.04/10 from 12 users


    "Rules and resources for wargames in the period AD400-AD700."

    The name comes from a line in the Welsh epic Y Gododdin, "He glutted black ravens on the walls of the fort, but he was no Arthur."

    Daniel Mersey, the designer, is a British archaeologist who wanted a set of miniature wargame rules that specifically captured the style of warfare in Dark Ages Britain in the period between the Roman departure and the coming of the Vikings; the age that was dominated by the legendary war-leader Arthur.

    The armies represented in the rules are mostly the British kingdoms that arose after the Romans left Britannia. However, there are also the external enemies of these kingdoms: the Irish, the Picts, and the Saxons. There is also an army list for Romans.

    Figures are mounted in multiples on stands that represent warbands. Warband types can be Heavy Cavalry (HC), Light Cavalry (LC), Heavy Infantry (HI), and Light Infantry (LI). The warbands are further distinguished by a set of three "characteristics" that play an important role in movement and combat. These characteristics are Formation, Aggression, and Strength and are represented by a numerical value that can fluctuate during the game. Based on warband type and nationality or kingdom, there are set maximums for each of these characteristics. If the value for any one characteristic decreases to zero, the warband is lost.

    Players control their armies through Command Points that are determined by a die roll. Using his Command Points, a player can move his warbands or increase their Formation and Aggression values up to the maximum allowed. (The Strength characteristic represents the number of warriors in the warband. Once a Strength point is lost, it stays lost.)

    Armies are divided into two distinct categories of warband. The Comitatus represents the personal retinue of the leader, the trained warriors whose only job is to be fighters. The Contingent represents levy troops who are not primarily warriors but can be pressed into service to swell the numbers of an army. The maximum Formation and Aggression values for the Comitatus are higher than those for the Contingent.

    When choosing the warbands that make up his army, a player must use all the Comitatus warbands in his army list (there are always five). However, he may choose any number of the Contingent warbands from none to all. The number of warbands in the army is a critical pre-game decision a player must make. The starting values for Formation and Aggression are assigned to the warbands from a pool of 30 Command Points that a player starts with. Even if he chooses only the Comitatus, he will likely be unable to start with his warbands at maximum values and must build them up during the game using his Command Points. This "building up" of the warbands represents the need for a leader to organize and inspire his warriors for them to be at their maximum effectiveness in battle. If a player divides his 30 Command Points between too many warbands, the starting values will be very low and he must spend several turns building up his warbands.

    Combat is divided between missile file and melee. Every warband has some kind of missile weapon (javelins, slings, bows). Firing is done by comparing a firing warband's Strength to the target's modified die roll. If the die roll is lower than the firing unit's Strength, some effect is made against the target.

    The values that warbands use for melee depends on the nature of contact: warbands that move into combat use their Aggression value, warbands who are stationary when contacted use their Formation value, and warbands that are continuing a melee (no initial contact this turn) use their Strength--the combat has degenerated to a slog bewteen mobs of armed men.

    As a result of combat, warbands may Stand, Rally Back, or Retreat in addition to varying losses in Formation, Aggression, and Strength. A very successful warband may actually increase Aggression as a result of combat. Warbands are never eliminated outright in combat unless their losses reduce one of their characteristics to zero. In many cases, a warband has to get hammered for several rounds of melee before it is lost.

    The rules also contain a great deal of background information about the period that include notes about the armies of the era, color plates of warriors of the period, a very good bibliography, and a presentation of the debate, "Arthur: Fact or Fiction?"

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