Wednesday, 15 April 2015

SOLDIERS OF GOD - THE BATTLE OF KHEREYAB



1138. On the disputed border between the County of Antioch and the Emirate of Homs lies the stream and village of Khereyab. Here, with the army of Raymond Marshal of Antioch on the march, the Emir of Homs drew up his forces to meet the infidel invaders, foreigners` greedy to steal their lands and access to the waters of Khereyab which fed fertile lands downstream.

This would be final big play test for my forthcoming ‘Soldiers of God; rules set – a card-driven game for the Crusades. In game terms it was a large field battle between 300 pts of Crusaders and 300 pts of Saracens. Commanding the Army of Homs, I pre-chose my Battle Plan (in the game, each force has a plan of attack or defence, chosen before picking their forces, which dictates some of the action cards available to the commander each turn). I picked a defensive plan, ‘Hold and Harry’, in which my army’s centre would hold its place and make best use of their missile weapons, whilst the right and left flank would harry the enemy, again with missile weapons, but most effectively with quickly advancing and retiring skirmish units. These flanks were built around mercenary horse archer light cavalry, support by some Ghulam ‘medium’ cavalry behind, should the enemy breakthrough my light missile troops. My centre was massed levy infantry (including some Sudanese mercenaries but all pretty poor stuff), backed by some archers and a single ballista light war engine.

The Marshal of Antioch led his force with a Battle Plan of ‘right echelon attack’. Attacking hard on his right, advancing steadily in the centre and holding on the left. His army had the Knights Templar and mounted men-at-arms on the right to launch the main assault, with their extreme flank held by Turcopole native light cavalry. Men-at-arms, archers and crossbows were in the centre, with more men-at-arms, armed pilgrims (diverted from the road to Jerusalem) and more Turcopoles on the extreme left.

Deployment complete, the more offensively minded Crusaders began their attack, with their right flank quickly running into swarms of advancing light cavalry, all darkening the skies with an arrow storm that saw the mounted men-at-arms routed from the field, a bad start. But the Turcopole’s rash charge did defeat and rout some Arab light cavalry (they had already thought about deserting on the first action card play of the game – so were obviously not to be trusted anyway).

Saracen archery proved deadly, the horse archers racing in to fire, turn and ride away, leaving the heavier crusaders pressing forwards peppered by waves of arrows. Disorder built in the ranks. On my right, the horse archers held on the stream banks and launched volleys into the village of Khereyab, now occupied by enemy men-at-arms and pilgrims, but these troops had no way of replying and just took the best cover they could. Happy with that, I left the skirmishing light cavalry to just harass the village all game, keeping those unit’s heads down.

In the centre the Crusaders pressed forwards, only targeted by the occasional ballista bolt, until a free horse archer unit circled around from their right flank and freely galloped around the rear to threaten the Crusader’s baggage train. Men-at-arm were forced to halt and wheel about to face the horse archers, weakening their attack. To add to their woes, another unit of horse archers attempted a flank march and passed the test (I needed a 6 and got it) to arrive on the enemy board edge. Suddenly, the Crusader’s centre looked surrounded, horse archers attacking from left, right and centre. Tactical it looked grim.

The only chance was to press the right flank attack rapidly, launching the Knights Templars into a furious charge, which final caught up with the retiring horse archers, but their final charge lacked impact, and my light cavalry managed to hold out. They would fight a cautious, attritional melee to hold the heavy knights. They slowly lost the fight to the best troops of the age, but it bought valuable time for the rest of my forces to finish the surrounded and beleaguered centre.

With no decisive victory of the right, the Crusaders centre could not hold out. Arrows from front and rear peppered them, a Ghulam unit charged and smashed the peasant archers, winning the melee in a ‘gory massacre’ (big wins mean a gory massacre has occurred and extra army morale is lost for the heavy and gruesome losses). Then the men-at-arms also broke and routed, taking arrows from front and rear, and leaving the baggage train exposed to the horse archers, who gleefully fell up it to loot it. The sudden massive morale loss for the collapse of the centre saw the Crusader’s defeated and withdrawing to save themselves.

Antioch’s invading army had been crushed. It starting Morale value had been 23, it now stood at -6. The Saracens had been 25, it was still 15. A major victory for the Saracens (and a big win for me, hurrah!).

The SoG rules are now complete, this test threw up nothing that worried either player. It was fast, furious, unpredictable and great fun. My battle plan had worked well, the light cavalry had harassed the life from the enemy, turn after turn. The Crusader’s attack had been a shambles, every unit was going home looking like hedgehogs. It had been 4 hours of furious play, with a 30 minute break for a bacon-butty lunch.

Now to finish the production work in the next couple of weeks. Look out for more details about SoG in the near future. Very happy with game rules, and I can see it being turned to other ‘ancients’ periods in the future - maybe ‘Soldiers of Rome’, ‘Soldiers of Persia’ or even a fantasy battles version (a bit ahead of myself, but just getting enthusiastic).

Here are a few snaps. My camera batteries died after deployment and, keen to get on and play, I couldn’t be bothered to find new ones. So these will have to do this time. 

 The battlefiled before the armies arrive. Saracens on the left, Crusaders on the right.

 The village and fields of Khereyab. Soon to be occupied by infidel invaders, pinned down under endless arrows from across the stream.

 Saracen lines, from right flank to centre. Horse archers skirmishing. Ghulams just behind.

 The Crusaders opposite, with their own Turcopoles.

Crusader's infantry centre (and baggage train camels).Most would be dead or routed by the end of the battle. The baggage looted.

Point of the attack - the Knights Templar and mounted men-at-arms (they ain't Knights). The Saracen hordes would prove too numerous even for these vaunted warriors. The command stand (supporting the Templars) was killed by a stray horse archer's arrow in the face early on - another turn of bad luck for the Christains.

29 comments:

  1. Sounds great. This is a period I plan on getting into at some point soon. I imagine they work with 15mm as well?

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  2. Yep Kurtus, designed for all scales. All distances are in 'paces', which the players assign a value to, based on their chosen scale and table-size.

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  3. Awesome. My stuff is mounted on DBx/WRG style basing. I assume the rules will work for that as well?

    I have TONS of Feudal English I want to convert over to Crusader armies. All are mounted for DBx.

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  4. Basing isn't proscribed, as long as it relatively consistent between armies it won't matter. Units of 2,3 or 4 bases (small, medium or large).

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  5. Excellent. I shall await publication :)

    Kurtus

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  6. This table is really amazing, excellent report and great write-up as well...

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  7. As a fan of your other games i.e. battlegroup and someone painting up a crusader army i'm interested in this game. I'm fielding units of 24 infantry to a unit and 12 cavalry to a unit, with about 4 cavalry units and the same for infantry per game. Is this too big an army for this game and do I need to rebase, as mine are set up to play War and Conquest or in other words the old warhammer ancients basing style.

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  8. Hi
    I have played a trial game at the local club and the rules are an instant hit. I want to try the siege scenario next but I cannot find any points costs for some of the siege equipment, in particular the battering ram, tower and the burning oil. Are these free?

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  10. Could I get someones advice please
    Can units from the centre battle sector move into a left or right battle sector.
    Can they fired into an adjacent battle sector.
    Thx
    Amos
    Thx
    Amos

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  11. Amos, yes they can, no restrictions after deployment.

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  13. Sorry, I mucked up the first version of this comment so I deleted it to retry.

    I'm still learning these rules and enjoying them. I've got some mates coming round for a game in a few weeks and I've go a few questions:

    1) p36 says if a Battle is wiped out Army Morale reduced by 3. The QRS says reduce by 4. I normally go with the entry in the rules in such a case but clarification would be great.

    2) On the Shaken Special Event - I think the enemy unit only takes 2 points of disorder if they fail the Resolve test. Not so sure if army morale is automatically reduced by 1 or is also a result of a failed test. The (rather excellent) Deserters Special Event specifically says it is regardless of the result.

    3) If a Battle is wiped out (including the Commander) can the Battle Plan for that Battle still be used (to Rally off 1 point of Disorder in another Battle, for example)

    TIA
    Colin

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  14. Hi Colin,

    1. 3, rules is right.
    2. Only on a failed result.
    3. Yep, the card is still in play.

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  15. can a command stand go into another sector and if so any effects
    Amos

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  16. Hi again
    Just wondering if I'm doing something right.
    If I play an Advance, Loose, Retire card - can a skirmisher unit WITHOUT missile weapons also move on this card to keep position with their missile wielding friends? For instance - assuming that they only use either the Advance OR Retire move.
    Cheers,
    Colin

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    Replies
    1. Yes, it is skirmish units that use the card, not missile armed skirmish units, so they can still move and retire (or either).

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    2. Great, thanks.
      Got some mates round for a game 10am today so I hope to post some piccies somewhere later.

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  17. Are there downloads of QR Sheets etc available anywhere? My rules book is brand new and I don't like bending it too much to fit under the scanner.

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  18. Are there downloads of QR Sheets etc available anywhere? My rules book is brand new and I don't like bending it too much to fit under the scanner.

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  19. These look to be interesting rules, but I gather they have only got two army lists.

    Which kind of limits their appeal.

    Although I have 2 Muslim armies Buyids and Seljuks, would I be able to use them with these rules?

    Are there any plans to expand the army lists?

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    2. Hi, I see no reason why muslims could to fight muslims in these rules, although the game isn't interested in the small differences between various Caliphates and empires, its more about capturing the eastern style of warfare... that of mobile horse archery, compared to the western tradition.

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  20. Thanks for the reply Warwick.

    Those traditions can also be captured in the Muslim world too, as the Buyids originated from the Daylami tribes of N Iraq, hardy mountaineers.

    Vs

    The Nomad (as they were then) the Seljuks.

    It would at some point perhaps be useful to add the Byzantines, and Armenians to the mix.

    As then that would round out the armies available.

    Cheers

    Stuart

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  21. Hi
    Advance, Loose, Retire question again.
    I understand it that the Basic Action cards apply to the whole Battle. However the Advance,Loose, Retire rule says "A unit of skirmishers ..." and the whole section is written as singular. Does this mean only one unit of skirmishers can act on this card, not all skirmishers in the Battle?
    Thanks,
    Colin

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  22. Can't seem to find the points cost for siege tower and battering ram and under- counter-mining ??

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