Holy War – A Soldiers of God Campaign

The Baron of Nusquam, recently returned from a pilgrimage to the Holy City, was enjoying a morning repast with his two companions while encamped in the village of Pagida when an uproar began outside and a guard called out to enter their tent.

“What a din! Who is that making a din, soldier?” The Baron demanded.

“Yes m’lord, and Barbai.” The soldier said, “How did you know?”

“What? How did I know what? Bar buy what?”

“M’lord?” The soldier looked confused.

“What is going on out there!?” The Baron shouted in exasperation.

“The scouts report the Saracens are coming m’lord! As you said, Mahkan-ah-din is leading a raid with Wot-ah-din and Barbai!”

“What! Why didn’t you say so, rouse the troops, bring me my armour!”

“Right away m’lord!” The soldier exited the tent as the nobles leapt up and began their preparations for battle.

The war had begun.

Welcome to the first post in a new series of linked games. Followers of my blog may know that I’ve used the Soldiers of God rule set a few times with my crusades forces. One part of it that interested me is the “Holy War” campaign system that begins with small raids then escalates the battles in size and ferocity until there’s a final siege to decide the fate of the war.

For this campaign, I’ve created two small fictional fiefdoms to battle it out on the fringes of the Holy Lands.

On the Christian side is the Crusader Barony of Nusquam, under Baron Luke de Loupe and his two lieutenants, Sir Henri de Hippo and Sir Hugh de Chass.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Emirate of Lamakan is ruled by Emir Mahkan-ah-din, with his son Wot-ah-din and his ferocious uncle Barbai as his two primary generals.

The Emir won the roll off and so begins the war with a lightning raid on the village that the Baron and a small contingent of troops is currently camped at.

The Lamakan raiders descend on the sleepy crusader camp.
The Nusquam crusaders rouse themselves to action.
The Saracen guhlam advance on the Christian position but the mounted knights and men at arms surge forward to take the fight to them. The Knights, who called themselves Sir Roderick’s Riders, massacred Farhaan al-Kalil’s Ghulam. The Sarecen raiding party was deeply shaken by such a brutal counter attack and almost fell apart, but Allah bolstered their will and they fought on.
The Lamakan forces continue their advance, with the light horse to the north east and south west harassing the Nusquam crusaders with arrows and javelins before melting away again. The Christians attempt to reposition themselves to the south to receive the attack.
Abdul Wadood al-Rauf and his ghulam cavalry crash into the Nusquam crossbowmen, Reynald’s Rangers, though the well armoured crusaders hold form against the attack. Their companions move to help. In the north the Lamakan forces continue to harass the Blue Company of crusader infantry without doing any real damage. To the west however, the concentration of arrow and javelin from the forces under Wot-ah-din breaks the Black Wolf Company of men-at-arms who rout from the field.
Abdul Wadood al-Rauf’s ghulam come under increased pressure as the Red Brothers men-at-arms and Sir Luke with his personal guard crash into their flanks and rear.
Despite driving off the Black Wolf Company, the sight of the beleaguered ghulam cavalry combined with the imposing approach of Sir Hugh and his bodyguard struck fear into the tribal allies hearts and they turned their horses and fled from the field. The sight of their retreat led to a mass rout as the raiders fled the field in disgrace.

“Great work, Sir Hugh, the heathen couldn’t stand the sight of good Christian steel!” Sir Luke called out to his companion riding up to the camp now the enemy had fled.

“More like they couldn’t stand the sight of his fat face!” joked Sir Henri, a slight edge to his tone.

“You do realise you’re meant to attack the enemy, not just sit about getting shot at?” Sir Hugh sneered, gesturing to the ranks of porcupine men behind Sir Henri, pulling arrows from their shields and armour.

“Sir Roderick my good man, excellent show on that first charge, you and your lads really showed them!” Sir Luke called out, changing the subject.

Sir Roderick nodded his response as he and his men went to tend to their horses, while behind them slunk the scattered remains of the Black Wolf Company who had given such a poor showing in the face of the enemy.

“Don’t worry boys, you’ll get your chance to prove your mettle soon enough. Tend to the wounded, resupply the troops, it’s time we pay these heathen sons of pigs a home visit.” Sir Luke declared.

I’ve had this campaign in planning for a while but hasn’t the opportunity to start it until now. As I was sorting out the hobby space in our new home I felt it works be a good time to get them on the table as I already had the forces planned out.

The playing area was 3ftx2ft or so which worked well with for this small raid scenario. The idea is there is a bit of a flow chart of actions as you progress through the campaign leading to different scenarios. Units can gain experience too, so I’ve given then all names to provide a bit more character as they advance and change through the games.

I actually had a bit of a disappointing start to the campaign when the raid ended in the very first turn. When Sir Roderick’s Riders delivered their devastating charge, they actually wiped out the Sarecen army morale. I decided this wasn’t the most fun way to start things off so downgraded the rout roll to let them keep the fight going a little longer.

I find these rules can swing to the extremes at times. I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about them. They give a good narrative flow, but sometimes suffer from too many options and special events and not enough core actions to keep the game flowing. Sometimes this results in a great game, but other times it can be a crazy outcome, or long grind of nothing happening.

I’ll play a few more games, indeed the next game is already in progress, and see how I feel about them. I’ll likely continue the campaign, but possibly switch to other rules if the gameplay doesn’t pick up. I suspect it’ll get better as the battles increase in size though.

Keep an eye out for the next report and as ever, thanks for reading,


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