Holy War Part 2.5

Frustrated as I was with the last game I couldn’t just pack it in without giving the troops a chance to blood themselves properly. Having spent a fair bit of time over the past few months thinking about my own wargaming rules for big battle feudal Japan and Trojan war skirmish, then synthesising aspects of those into more core sets of mechanics, I made some notes on how I thought I might evolve these into something for the crusades. I’ve still a lot of details to work out but was able to grab the best bits from both and come up with a few stat lines and give it a run on table for a loose game.


In Nusquam castle, three nights hence.

“It just doesn’t sit right with me, that was a travesty, I’ve never seen the like!” fumed Sir Henri.

“What did you even see, you ran like a startled rabbit at the first glint of steel!” scoffed Sir Hugh.

“Humph… Let me at them again and I’ll show you whose a startled rabbit!” Sir Henri slammed his fist on the table.

“Gentlemen, I must go to our liege lord and beg he raise some banners for us and seek out mercenaries willing to take our coin. What has been started will only escalate and we have not the forces to succeed. Nevertheless, we cannot give the heathens time to do the same. Take your forces and seize that damned village. The river crossing is too important to leave in enemy hands.” The Baron of Nusquam was grim faced.

“We won’t let you down, my lord!” Sir Hugh said.

“Again..” muttered Sir Henri.


On the road to Lamakan, Emir Makan-ah-din holds council.

“We cannot let the infidels continue with their disgraceful behaviour. We must rid this holy land if their presence. We held the village, but I fear they will try again. Taking that crossing will let them and their foreign devils flood our lands with their evil. Yet I must take word to the Caliph and ask he sends aid lest we fall.”

There is a disturbance behind him as a messenger slips into the tent and whispers in Barbai’s ear. His eyes bulge and he pushes forward towards his Emir.

“Nephew, I have just now received word from our spies that the filthy Christian dogs have set out with a small force and come this way! Let me take my men and crush them!”

The Emir gently brushes a fleck of Barbai’s spittle from his cheek then nods.

“Very well uncle, go with my son and stop them and by Allah’s will the Caliph will heed my warnings and send help.”

The two kinsmen nodded and left the tent.


Barbai leads the Lamakan cavalry while Wot-a-din commands the infantry. For the Nusquam crusaders, Sir Heni and Sir Hugh each command a block of infantry, a handful of knights and some turcopoles. The forces meet once more on the pains before the village of Manhanaa Al-nahr.
The Crusader cavalry surge forward taking the fight to the heathens while Wot-a-din sends some infantry to occupy the village.
Battle is joined quickly as Sir Roderick’s Riders crash into two Lamakan Ghulams. The turcopoles on the flanks push back the horse archers and allow the Christian infantry to move up.
Though outnumbered Sir Roderick puts up a strong fight. (The yellower bases are on an older basing style, they’re actually two separate cavalry units, while the crusaders are a single unit). The infantry watch the light horsemen scramble in the dust before them.
Sir Roderick is forced from the field as his troops are overwhelmed, but Sir Bernard of Vernair’s knights, unblooded in this war so far, follow up Sir Roderick and drive Farhaan al-Kalil and his Ghulam from the field. The horse archers fall back to harass the oncoming infidels rather than cross steel with them any further.
Sir Bernard turns his knights to face a charge from Abdul Wadood al-Rauf’s Ghualms and manages to carry through the momentum of their victory and send the heathens into disorder and panic. The light horse out of the way the infantry to the south engage each other with Allah favouring the Saracen infantry in the initial clash.
The knights see off their ghulam foe but left disordered they’re driven back by the saracen infantry advancing on them. To the south the melee rages on with both sides wearying of the fight. The light horse continue to swirl around the edges of the battle clashing and harassing where they can.
Sir Hugh orders his infantry to assault the village and despite having to break ranks to cross the river and move into the buildings they give as good as they get against the defending saracen infantry.
With the Lamakan cavalry driven from the field (and Barbai away with them) Wot-a-din struggles to retain control over his infantry. First the infantry in the southern engagement, unimpressed by the cavalry dust disappearing to their rear decide to follow and run. The central infantry, unaware of what is going on behind then, continue to advance and push back the disordered knights but the battle for the village goes in favour of the heavily armed Nusquam crusaders who drive the saracens from the buildings and seize the defensive position themselves. Defeated, Wot-a-din sounds the final retreat and leaves the field to the infidel.

A much more fun game this time. I was playing fairly fast and loose with the rules given they’re still very much work in progress. I had enough of a core from my ongoing thinking to run the main process well enough, but I had to come up with a few modifiers on the fly and I need to give some more thought to how it will work for multi unit engagements as I’ve switched from the handfuls of dice I’d been using for the feudal Japanese rules to a 2d6 system I’d been experimenting with for the Trojan war skirmish (and that I think I’ll retrofit into the Japanese rules too). Throwing two dice feels much nicer than throwing just one while being less faffy than throwing handfuls. The melee/shock phase approach translated well enough to the 2d6 without too many changes, still using opposed rolls with the winner of the melee allowed to roll for shock, which may result in no effect, causing some form of disorder or even routing the unit entirely.

Ranged attacks didn’t work quite as well as I’d hoped being abstracted entirely into resolve tests, but I have a good idea of how to rework that next time. I was only testing resolve when attempting actions, but I think a round of resolve tests at the end of each turn might make sense to better represent the impact of sustained archery.

For an ad hoc run with some rules written up during a stretch of insomnia last night it worked out pretty well. I’ll roll many of these concepts back into the feudal Japanese rules too as I think they’ll help with the grindiness I encountered in the last test game and speed things up considerably. I’ll probably extract out the shared rules into a core “Feudal Warfare” set of mechanics, then build the appropriate flavour into them where appropriate for particular periods.

Was nice to be able to turn a poor experience into something positive. Back to work next week, so suspect it might be a little while before the next report, but we’ll see what I can do to get something in.

Thanks for reading!

Matthew

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