The Matter of Britain

A Campaign for Art de la Guerre

By Arofan Gregory. Copyright (c) 2021. All rights reserved.


This is a simple campaign system which provides a framework for a series of Art de la Guerre games. It is set in mid- to late-5th Century Britain, the period when "King Arthur" was temporarily halting the advance of the many enemies who were intent on seizing the remnants of Roman Britain after its abandonment by Constantine in the 4th Century AD. To the north, beyond Hadrian's Wall, are the Picts. To the east are the Saxons (and Angles, Frisians, Jutes, Franks, Slavs, and Geats) - Germanic tribes which are looking to find a new home for their excess population. The British king Vortigern had invited them across the channel as allies against the Picts, but they decided to stay (and invite their friends) against his wishes. To the east are the Scotti (the Scots-Irish), based in Ireland but now establishing themselves on the coasts opposite the Irish Sea.

The Britons - known also as the "Welsh" - are the native Celtic societies which were, to one extent or another, Romanized. It is this loose set of kingdoms which is threatened by invasion from all sides. For military purposes they have recognized a Dux Bellorum, a high king, but in fact remain a cluster of loosely allied states. The Saxons have control of the eastern kingdoms where they have established themselves. The Picts control the area beyond Hadrian's Wall, and the Scotti control Ireland.

The goal of the campaign is to become the ruler of Britain.


There are four sides in this conflict:

      Britons: This is army list 146, Post Roman British. Welsh allies may be used. Arthur's Sarmatian Knights may be used, but Saxon mercenaries may not. (Assume the year 495 AD for the purposes of lists.)

      Picts: This is army list 99, Caldedonian, Scots-Irish, and Pictish using the Pict option. Saxon allies are allowed.

      Scotti (Scots-Irish): This is army list 145, Later Scots-Irish. Saxon mercenaries are not allowed.

      Saxons: This is army list 100, Saxon, Anglo-Saxon, Frisian, Jute. No allies are allowed.

All lists are as per the 4th Edition of the rules.

The Map

The map shown below is used to conduct the campaign. Each labelled area is a valid area for map movement and combat, as explained below.

At the start of play, the sides control the following areas:


  1. Gaul
  2. Ynys Weith
  3. Durotrigia
  4. Atrebatia
  5. Dumnonia
  6. Powys
  7. Dyfed
  8. Gwnedd
  9. Rheged
  10. Cerniw
  11. Ynys Mon


  1. Caledonia
  2. Dalriada
  3. Gododdin
  4. Bryneieh
  5. Strathclyde


  1. Regia
  2. Cantia
  3. Londein
  4. Linnuis
  5. Ebrauc


  1. Connachta
  2. Munster
  3. Ulster
  4. Leinster
  5. Ynys Manaw

The map at the start of play:

Control of one to four areas at the start of any season entitles that side to field a single army. Control of five to eight areas at the start of a season entitles that side to field an additional army. Control of nine to twelve areas at the start of a season allows for three field armies. Thirteen or more armies allows for four armies. No side will ever have more than four armies.

If at the start of any season a side has control over no areas, they are out of the game and their culture and genetic pool will be subsumed by others.

The Play of the Game

The game is divided into years, each of four seasons, but no one campaigns during the winter season. Thus, there are three active seasons per year.

At the beginning of each season, players will dice for initiative: higher roll may choose their position in the sequence, with low roll taking whatever is left over.

Each season, during their place in the sequence, a player may choose to act with one or more of their armies by invading an area adjacent to one they control, or by making an invasion from the sea (see below for limitations on sea invasions). Any such actions will be conducted by one army, and the side may make a separate action (or not) with each army at its discretion. All actions to be taken by the field armies are specified before any reactions are made by opponents, or any battles fought on the tabletop.

The side whose area was invaded may choose to react by fighting a battle, but only if they have an army which has not yet acted or reacted that season. If they cannot react, any side with an area adjacent to the invaded area may choose to react and go to the support of the invaded side (again, only with an army which has not yet acted or reacted that season).

If there is a battle, then a tabletop battle is immediately fought between the two sides. If there is no battle, the invading player immediately assumes control of the area.

If the invader wins the battle, they immediately assume control of the area. If the defender wins the battle, they retain control of the area. If a victorious side has reacted in support, they may choose to immediately assume control of the area, or they may allow the invaded side to retain control.

Invasions from the sea are allowed on either the eastern or western shores of Britain. Any side may make an invasion by sea from any area in their control at the start of a season on the coast, on any other area which has a coast on the same British "shore" (east or west). The east-west divide is described by Caledonia to the north and Cerniw to the south, both of which are deemed to have coast on both east and west shores - all other areas have coast on only one shore. Note that due to very bad weather and probable encounters with sea monsters, Connachta is deemed not to have any coast (the only such area in the game).

Invasions from the sea are risky, as a defeat will generally result in the utter destruction of the invading army. The penalty for losing a battle resulting from an invasion from the sea is to remove an army from play for the following season, after which point a new army is assumed to have been raised.

Once an army has been committed to an area by fighting a successful battle in it, the army is assumed to be present in that area for the remainder of the season, and may fight to defend it against subsequent invasions until the following season, when it may be committed elsewhere. This may result in more than a single battle being fought in a given area during a turn, if it is invaded more than once. Only the latest victor's army is considered to be active in the area for the duration of that season.

Players may allow allies to transit through the areas they control to attack other opponents, but any area so transited may be "defended in support" by any player from an adjacent area with an army capable of acting/reacting, as if the transiting army was an invader and the current owner of the area was unable to defend it (see above). Players may transfer control of areas to other players at any time, if they so desire, to fuel alliances. Each area always has one and only one owner, however.

All battles are fought as per the Art de la Guerre rules as tournament games, or as scenarios agreed by the commanding players.

Winning the Game

The campaign starts in the Spring of 495 AD, and will continue through the Autumn of 500 AD, giving a length of 18 active seasons. The side which controls the largest number of areas is the winner. If two or more sides have the same number of areas, then they may conduct sudden-death battles (per player agreement if more than two) to determine the ultimate winner and to settle the Matter of Britain for once and all!