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Barbarians at the Gate is set around the time of the fall of the Roman Empire. At the start of the game the empire has been divided in two and almost the entire strength of the Roman army is committed to holding the frontiers against the barbarian invaders beyond. There are six Roman players (the two emperors and four additional army commanders) plus the Persians and nine barbarian kingdoms (including the Huns).

The rules for Barbarians at the Gate are the same as Dark Age II, except as amended here (and subsequently in the messages section of the game report). There won't be a separate rulebook for Barbarians, at least to start with. We'll use the existing rulebook - and even after that I figure it'll be better to have standard rules with a page or two of rules changes for this variant.

The historical frontiers of the Roman Empire were natural boundaries (the Rhine, the Danube and the African and Syrian deserts). The great rivers aren't included on the map at present, but we might add them for future games if it looks like the frontier is too difficult to defend without them.


The startup positions are not balanced, for obvious reasons. The Barbarian kingdoms should be stuffed to the rafters with population and troops, and the Romans should be knee-deep in troops but with dodgy economics. Historically the Romans wouldn't have been capable of rebuilding their economy even if left alone (they didn't actually know they had an economy, so they didn't understand what was wrong with it and passed a succession of laws that only made it worse) but in this game they might. Or they might find enough BPs to go out a kick some barbarian butt. Historically, of course, they fought amongst themselves.

I've altered the startup positions for the second game, by removing three of the German kingdoms and making the Slavs, Scots and Picts active at the start. This should make for a very different game balance. The initial German kingdoms (the Franks, Saxons, Vandals, Visigoths and Ostrogoths) are larger, but the NPC rules will make it difficult for them if they stay at home. I've combined the Scots and Irish in one kingdom (originally they were two names for the same people).


There are up to sixteen "kingdoms" (player positions) in play at any time, along with any number of "non-player" kingdoms. Players may use the EXCHANGE action to swap positions to any unowned player kingdom or to any of the non-player kingdoms (in which case their new kingdom becomes a player position and the old one becomes a non-player kingdom).

The German kingdoms that I've removed from the starting lineup are now included as non-player kingdoms, along with several more that were left out of the previous version. The Germans NPCs only become active on turn five.


Special rules apply for many of the barbarian kingdoms (they apply the same whether the kingdom is played or a non-player kingdom, but they're intended mainly to allow for more kingdoms than the game can handle normally).

At the end of each turn these gain one population or army in each area they own, up to the population and dispersal limits. If all their territories have reached their limits then they start raiding other nearby areas (if they raid an empty area then they capture it instead). If they have no land areas then they raid against their home area and another adjacent area instead (so don't expect to be left in peace if you capture one).

The Huns do this TWICE every turn up to and including turn twelve (after that they don't do it at all).

The non-German NPCs (that are involved from the start) and their "home areas" are the Alans (Caucasus), Arabs (Oman), Armenia (Greater Armenia), Balts (Livonia), Berbers (Sahara), Finns (Finland), Huns (Kharkov), Parthians (Parthia), Persians (Zagros), Picts (Grampian), Scots & Irish (Hibernia) and the Slavs (Volhynia).

From turn five the German kingdoms count as well. These with their "home areas" are the Alemanni (Rhine), Burgundians (Hesse), Danes (Copenhagen), Franks (Franconia), Frisians (Frisia), Gepids (Dacia), Lombards (Thuringia), Norse (Bergen), Ostrogoths(Bessarabia), Saxons (Saxony), Suevi (Bavaria), Vandals (Silesia), Swedes (Stockholm) and Visigoths (Moldova).


All kingdoms can use the "barbarian" rules (ie. the gaelic rules in Dark Age) except the Romans, Persians and Armenians. There are no Vikings and no-one can use the VIKING actions or the Viking rules.


In Barbarians the bonus for Overlords (Emperors) and sub-kings (if you've a better idea for what to call them, let me know) is the same as Dark Age except that the total (treasury and reserves) is divided by three instead of five. The Persians, Huns, Finns, Balts, Slavs, Arabs and Berbers all have their own nations. The Irish and Picts are Gaelic. The Danes, Swedes and Norse are Teutonic. The others are Romans or Germans and I don't think you need to be told which are which.


All Hun armies are light cavalry. In addition to household troops each kingdom has Companion Cavalry, which is heavy cavalry, recruited using the CAVALRY action. Unlike household troops these can be used in attacks and remain distinct rather than being added to the troops on the map. If present, companion cavalry always moves together with regular troops in any MOVE, PROBE, OVERRUN or ASSAULT action and may also be moved separately by the RIDE action.


Cavalry counts normally in battles, with these additions. In any battle, whichever side has least light cavalry becomes stuck (if the attack fails then it's the area the attacker came from that becomes sticky). In a battle where the defender retreats there is a skirmish round, in which only light cavalry counts (inflicting losses equal to half their strength).

In a battle on an ASSAULT or MOVE action, when the difference in strengths is calculated, the difference in heavy cavalry is added to the difference (so that heavy cavalry effectively counts twice at this stage).

If your companion cavalry is caught inside a city when the hinterland of that city is captured then it deploys on the map as infantry (the same as your household does). If the area containing your companion cavalry is captured then the same penalty is applied as when your household is lost (your opponent captures half your treasury, and your cavalry is removed from the map).

Battles losses are taken from infantry first, then light cavalry, then heavy cavalry, but dispersals (see later) are taken from infantry.


If you lose an area containing your household or companion cavalry there is a penalty of 20 VPs (if you lose both at once then the penalty is 40 VPs). There is no penalty for losing your companion cavalry in an attack.


In Barbarians the FLEET action is allowed only in sea areas that you already own.


Roman armies in forts in areas with roads don't count for supply costs.

At the start of the game areas owned by the Romans have roads, and other areas do not. For the Romans roads reduce the income for each area by one (but there's an advantage for movement and dispersals).


Roman agriculture was limited to methods suitable for the Mediterranean climate, and wasn't capable of working heavy lowland soils effectively. The population limit for lowlands in this game is one (instead of three). The population limit for the cities of Rome and Constantinople is nine (instead of five, which is still the limit for all other cities).


Armies can suffer dispersals on each move action (move, overrun, probe or assault). If moving in your own territory then one army may be dispersed the same way as at the end of the turn (ie. of there are more armies than forts and population). When capturing an area from another kingdom then one army disperses if there is more than one attacking army moving into the captured area.

Cavalry does not suffer dispersal. Romans armies don't disperse on move actions in areas with roads.


Many kingdoms have a target city assigned at the start of the game. They gain 30 VPs, 20 treasury BPs and 10 army reserves the first time that kingdom captures the hinterland of that city and the same the first time it captures the city itself.

The kingdoms and their target cities are the Alans (Hispalis), Alemanni (Narbo), Arabs (Damascus), Armenia (Edessa), Berbers (Carthage), Burgundians (Massilia), Franks (Treverorum), Frisians (London), Gepids (Ravenna), Huns (Constantinople), Lombards (Milan), Ostrogoths (Rome), Parthians (Babylon), Persians (Antioch), Picts (London), Saxons (London), Scots & Irish (London), Suevi (Cartagena), Vandals (Carthage) and Visigoths (Rome).


Kingdoms my loan troops to each other. Loan troops move from the reserve of one kingdom to the reserve of the other, but can't be used until the following turn. A kingdom may loan troops to ONE other kingdom, and may borrow troops from ONE other kingdom (but you are allowed to borrow from one kingdom and loan to a different one). Troops that have been loaned to you can be returned any time you like. You can also recall troops that you've loaned to someone else whenever you like, provided the other kingdom has troops in their reserve. Troops returned from loans can't be used until the following turn.

The BORROW action allows you specify which other kingdom is allowed to loan troops to you. The LOAN action sends troops to another kingdom (provided they previously made a BORROW action to say that you're allowed to). The RETURN action sends borrowed troops back to the kingdom they came from (they come from your reserve, and you can do this at any time - but you can't return loan troops to a non-player kingdom). The RECALL action takes loaned troops back from the reserve of the kingdom they came from (you can do this at any time).

You can't send loan troops to someone who hasn't made an action to say they want them.

Note: The proper process is that the kingdom which wants to borrow troops makes a BORROW action. The other kingdom can then make a LOAN action (later in the same turn, or in a later turn). Multiple LOAN actions to the same kingdom are allowed. Either side can end the loan, even at an inconvenient moment.


The formats of the new actions are as follows :-

CAVALRY same as HOUSE         ie.   CAVALARY blank blank NUMBER
RIDE same as KING RIDE FROM TO blank
BORROW same as FIND BORROW blank WHO blank
RECALL same as HOUSE RECALL blank blank NUMBER
RETURN same as HOUSE RETURN blank blank NUMBER

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