Wednesday 20 October 2021


For the rest of year, the gaming plan is play one-offs, large games (get the toys out) with our preferred rule sets. One of each game, but with a more ‘historical’ scenario bent. So no campaigns or pick-up games, each of our games will be (or heavily based on) an actual battle.

The first was the Soldiers of Rome game, so time to move on to Soldiers of God. I wrote the scenario for this, basing it on Arsuf. The crusader army is on the moving and about to reach the walled fortress, following the road, having been shadowed by the Saracen forces for days. As they approach the safety of the walls, the Saracens finally strike. The battle would take place between the fortress walls and a narrow river/stream, over which the rearguard of the crusader’s army was fording, the Tayaar ‘Ahmar. We set the points at just about everything the crusaders had, 350 points.

Here was my Saracen force:

Battle Plan: Double Envelopment

Left Battle (Charge!)            stands    pts    MV    
Al Halqa Royal Guard cavalry   4        60      3
Ghulam Cavalry                        4        28       2
Ghulam Cavalry                        4        28       2
Horse Archers                           4        20       1
Total                                                   136      8

Centre Battle (March)
Arab Tribal Cavalry        4        16      1
Tribal Camelry                4        20      1
Tribal Camelry                4        20      1
Horse Archers                 4        20      1
Horse Archers                 4        20      1
Horse Archers                 4        20      1
Baggage Train                 1        0        *
Total                                         116    6

Right Battle (Charge!)
Ahdath Levy                   3        3      1
Ahdath Levy                   3        3      1
Ahdath Levy                   3        3      1
Dismounted Ghulam      4        20     2
Dismounted Ghulam      4        25     2    +Naffatun
Mujahideen                     4       12     2
Sudanese Infantry          4        16     2
Infantry                          4        8       1
Infantry                          4        8       1
Total                                        94    13

Grand Total: 349 pts, 27 MV

The plan was to swiftly attack with the cavalry on the left, with the centre using its missile power to shoot and harass the Crusader’s centre to death, all being light cavalry here. The right would be a sink, a lot of infantry to hold up the enemy knights (in his rearguard), long enough to win it on the left and shoot them to bits in the centre. All three of my army’s ‘battles’ would be aggressive and attack…

The crusaders deployed along the road, facing the castle as they marched, the staggered arrival of the Saracen forces over the first 3 turns would give them sometime to organise and reform to face the attack, it seemed a bit unfair to make them fight facing the wrong way. Still, they’d need the cards to do this.

The game opened with the elite Saracen cavalry galloping in, to attack the head of the crusader column and prevent it escaping into the fortress. The crusaders reacted, some armed civilians fleeing for the safety, most others marching on or turning to face the attack. My horse archers arrived first (of course) to pepper his vanguard. Having seen them cause initial damage, and with good cards, I decided to risk a charge-in and have a go at breaking his Turcopoles, for a quick early win.  It didn’t work, he just held on and the melee then became a stalemate, neither units are very good at the sword-play stuff.  

Turn 2 and on came my light cavalry centre at galloping speed, led by the tribal horsemen and camelry, horse archers behind (they can lob shoot over the front units anyway). The crusaders were turning to face, but then pulled a surprise move. They changed battle plan (these are the three cards a players always has). Instead of being aggressive as first planned, they took up more defensive positions and his centre (including 2 archer blocks, crossbowmen and more Turcopoles) would now have their own Loose! card. When they unleashed their first volleys, the Arab camelry took heavy looses and one unit broke and ran! His centre's missile fire was match for, maybe better than, my own!

Turn 3, and my infantry right flank marched on and pressed towards the stream as fast as they could. The Levy ahdath militia led, each unit in open order for speed. The plan here was for these ‘expendables’ to take the first charge of his knights, die, break, not cost me much (or any) morale value and leave my infantry behind able to counter-charge and thus pin his heaviest hitters in place. Then, extend the combat, using Rallies etc, to keep my weak infantry fighting long enough. It sort-off, mostly, didn’t work… best laid plans and all that….

On the left, my Al Halqa had closed in behind the lead horse archers and their arrival in the melee with the Turcopoles broke them, but left the way clear for a counter-charge by mounted knights, and a new melee erupted here, leaving my Royal Guard heavy cavalry and their horse archer support fighting his knights, and it was very even, although I had the edge. Neither side was going to break fast and that melee went back and forth for the rest of game, with no clear result. Stymied on the left, my archery centre pressed on, but I had few Loose! cards and no (where are they?) Advance, Loose!, Retire cards for my light cavalry to do their thing, they did good damage with their firepower, but not often enough, and the return shooting really hurt… so much that the Arab tribal cavalry broke and fled as well. The centre was now one hell of an archery fight, neither side interested in charging home to melee, we stood off and exchanged a rain of arrows and javelins, etc. With heavy losses, I had to pullback out of range to rally and regroup, ready to go in again. The horse archers did so three times over the battle, each time coming off slightly worse. That Loose! card was a killer. I had to try and time my rushes forwards so I could get out again without too much damage.

On the right, well, the infantry initially did its job, and the ahdath militiamen died… but cost me 0 MV for the loss of 3 units. His Hospitallers and Knights had reformed from their march and advanced over the stream, and the melee started, an epic in which my infantry, ghulam and religious fanatics stood up well, with more infantry support behind. The battle was at its peak, the full length of the table, with nearly all units engaged.

We slogged it out, but steadily my infantry started to lose their fight, I kept them going with Rally cards and throwing away more cards, but after a few turns it became clear, there would be only one winner here. In the centre, I had broken his second unit of Turcopoles and almost routed his men-at-arms and Armenians with archery volleys (and some deserters), but I had also lost the second camelry unit in doing so. The Arab tribal troops had been ruthless ‘expended’.

By now both sides had lost a lot of their starting morale value, the score was 6 MV left for the Crusaders, 7 MV left to the Saracens. Too close to call and tense…

In the next turn, it was my infantry that cost me. The fearsome Hospitaller Knights final broke a dismounted ghulam unit and made short work of the supporting infantry too… the infantry flank crumbled and was running, and on the left I had not yet managed to break his knights with my Al Halqa (I tried so hard… using Fear cards, Challenges, Melees, as well as their Charge!) but somehow he kept his hard-pressed Knights just in the fight… it was enough. The Crusaders had reduced my MV to -1 and won the day, just, but it could easily have gone either way in the last turns, oh for a few more ‘Advance, Loose!, Retire’ cards for my light cavalry to use.

Great game, a really memorable ‘duke-it-out’ battle, with a bit of story behind it and two players who know the SoG rules really well, playing the rules to the full, and pushed to the limit. Here are some snaps of the action. 

The battlefield, Crusaders on the right, along the road, heading for the fortress walls, Saracens arriving on the left, intercepting them. The 'Red Stream' in the foreground.

The village and citadel. Inside the walls was a bonus garrison unit of crossbows.

The ford, where the mounted rearguard of the Crusader force was crossing.

Open desert in the centre, down from the high ground.

Citadel garrison in the tower, adding some harassing bolts to the passing Saracen cavalry.

The Saracen right's infantry blocks, led by ahdath, skirmishing Turcopoles try to slow them down, before falling back over the stream again.

The centre, horse archers and camelry run into a murderous rain of arrows. Another Turcopole unit have skirmished forwards, to disrupt my advance as best they can. Saracens aren't the only ones with good light cavalry... at the back, the cavalry are getting stuck in.

Marching up to the stream, at the rear, his Hospitallers and Knights are still not ready.

They are now. Hospitallers and Turcoples attack and quickly destroy a militia unit, I pushed them too far forwards.

The right, at the village, Al Halqa in the long melee with his Knights, disruption (yellow dice) building.

The centre pulls back, out of archery range for now... everybody is peppered by arrows.

The infantry on the right break, ghulam and religious fanatics, finally break before his knights and holy order knights... the Red Stream gets its name.... my infantry just couldn't hold long enough.

Monday 11 October 2021


The Andycinii are up in arms again, something about too much tribute to Rome, unfair taxes… yadda, yadda, yadda, set the VIth Legion on them are the Governor’s orders!

The Romans deployed first, with the refused left flank, the cohort bastion in the centre, which with their Rally card would be able to absorb a lot of damage and, if the left flank did collapse under an attack they couldn’t handle, would become a stop against having the legion being rolled up from that direction. They were the anvil. The right was the hammer, three tough cohorts leading the attack with support behind, including the auxiliary cavalry, which would try to prevent anything getting round that flank, at least long enough for the main attack to deal-out the damage and win the battle here.

The troublesome barbarians, as is their style, would be aggressive but keep it simple. The initial all out attack would up the centre, led by the fanatics, supported by chariot-mounted nobles. To their left was another hard hitter, nobles and warriors, with mercenary noble cavalry as well, but their advance would into the teeth of my attack. On their right, skirmishers and more warriors, so, by luck, his weakest flank was against mine, and my flank would have mainly slingers and archers to deal with (i.e. weather). The warriors here were more mercenaries, so not that reliable.

Post-deployment, the Legate was happy, both sides would be attacking and the forces lined up were OK by me, His strongest attack, by the naked crazies, would be met by stoic legion cohorts that could grind them down. The day would, as hoped, be decided on the right, if my left held long enough, but I felt they would.

My ‘Feted General’ earned me the initiative and first card play for the first 3 turns of the battle. We dealt the first hand of Action Cards and were off… but not before the Barbarians rolled to ‘Appease the Gods’… and as a result the fanatics, unrestrained, launched themselves in a mad dash towards the enemy, ahead of the main line. Bring them on.. ‘Pilums Ready!’.

Early Turns
This encompassed the initial advances by both sides. First the Romans, it was a bit slow, no March cards came my way, so I had to go at the best ‘slow’ speed I could on the right, heavy infantry blocks lumbering up over the low hillocks. Ahead the Barbarians raced up, keen for action, Caryx band blaring… it looked great, a horde of gaudy, hairy, Celts against the steel-clad tight blocks of the cohorts. Both sides closed in…

… then an odd thing happened, by random chance of the cards. With little to use the card for, I threw down a special event, Commander Wounded, a shot to nothing, and rolled the required 6. The Andycinii Queen/Chieftain (in Briton, every red-haired girl with a chariot thinks she can defy Rome these days) was injured, a fall from her chariot meaning they had lost a commander as the first casualty of the game. A blow to Barbarian’s morale so early… ‘I told you not to drive under those low tree branches’. The worst effect, the Barbarians had lost one of the 4 random cards for each turn, leaving them an action card down for the rest of the game… Mars smiles upon us today!

Middle Turns
Impact was imminent, both the centre and the right were within charge range and the Romans held the initiative, so use the Charge! card first and get stuck-in, we didn’t come the mess around. So, the Praetorians led, into the Fanatics, with the veteran 1st Cohort next to them, and the 2nd next to them, pilums flew and out came the gladius… and my boys got the upper-hand to start with, except the 1st cohort, who would have bad-dice day. They struggled, so I sent in the reserve 6th cohort to support them, as the auxiliary spearmen came in behind the 2nd cohort to aid in the melee against his nobles and their supporting warriors. 'Grind boys grind'… the war of bloody attrition was on, and, with a fortunate Rally card, my cohorts rallied off most of their initial damage. On, on, on… keep driving forwards, scutum up.

On the left his skirmishers had started to unleash a rain of rocks, peppering my line, and the mercenary tribal warriors did not like it! Unable to Rally, they soon broke and fled… I want by denari back for that performance… ‘cowards!’. That left my auxiliary spears holding out with the support of 2 Scorpios which were doing some good damage in return to the Celtic rock-flingers. That was until one broke on a ‘War Engine Breaks’ event card… the left was crumbling.

Meanwhile, on the far right, my Equites shook-out into open order to navigate through the small woods and emerged to find more Andycinii warriors moving around my flank. They spurred in and charged. The light cavalry aren’t much of a combat force, but they just had to hold up the flankers long enough.

In the main tumult the Praetorian cohort was holding its own against the ferocious fanatics, but couldn’t break them. The veteran 1st Cohort was still struggling, not doing much a damage against the mercenary mounted nobles and supporting chariots in a long combat that would last most of the game. The 2nd cohort and their auxiliary spears made the breakthrough though, routing his nobles and driving on into their supporting warriors… break them and they would be through. It didn’t take long, I used a ‘Brilliant Commander’ special event for my general (who was having a day to remember) and recovered a Melee card from the discards to get another round of melee this turn, and it broke the warriors. The 2nd cohort, inspired by the presence of the Aquila party, had done it… the barbarians had cracked and we could exploit the breakthrough for some flank attacks. First, my Equites needed a hand, so the auxiliary spears rushed over to support them on the extreme right flank fight, and, outnumbered, those Celts, outnumbered, soon fled too… victory was at hand.

Late Turns
Except, my left was gone, my auxiliary spearmen finally broke under the rain of stones from his two big skirmisher slinger units, leaving a single Scorpios to shoot back, until it too was gone, the crew running. I had won on the right flank, but he had won on the left. So, to the centre. Where my legios had finally moved up and engaged and the fanatics were final dying in satisfying numbers. One unit broke and the Praetorians could push on again.

The writing was on the wall for the Britons as the 2nd cohort flank charged his noble cavalry and chariots, and, despite a heroically long fight, holding me up for turns, they ran out of steam and broke too, in a Gory Massacre… my Equites galloped off after the Celtic baggage train, defended by a few armed civilians. But, that was enough for the Andycinii, taking to their chariots, the last nobles retreated.

Roma Victor! …

A thunderous encounter and fight that went, mostly, sort-of, to plan. I got some early luck with cards draws and the Celts were always on the back foot after they lost their Chieftain almost before we’d started. My right ‘hammer’ had crushed his left, except the 1st cohort would have to hang their head in shame for a rubbish performance and almost being broken twice! I had thrown away a lot of cards to save them and only a fortunate Rally card did in one turn. Mars had been with me. Decimation for them I think and the Primus Pilum’s getting demoted. As ever, Roman cohorts were tough, with a Rally card behind them, they are a bulwark against almost anything the Celts could throw at them, an immovable object. Still, it wasn’t plain sailing, he had scattered my weak left mostly with boys throwing rocks…

Altogether, a cracking 4 hours of gaming. Perhaps now these angry Britons will learn to pay their taxes on time…

Here was the list for may legion for the day.

Battle Plan: Attack on Right Flank

Feted General        10 pts    (choose table edge, Init for first D6 turns, 1 extra card draw)

Left Wing (Loose!)    stands pts    MV
Auxiliary Spears            4    16    2
Allied Tribal Warriors    4    12    1
Scorpios                        1    12    1
Scorpios                        1    12    1
                                            52    5
Centre (Rally)
Legio Cohort  3           4    24    2
Legio Cohort 4            4    24    2
Legio Cohort 5            4    24    2
Auxiliary Javelins       2    8      2    Baggage guard
Baggage Train            1    0    +1 on 5+
                                        80    8
Right Wing (Charge!)
Veteran Legio Cohort 1   4    32    3
Praetorian Cohort            4    32    3
Legio Cohort 2                4    39    2+D6    +Aquila Party
Legio Cohort 6                4    24    2
Auxiliary Cavalry           4    16    2
Auxiliary Spears             4    16    2
                                            155    14+D6

Points 301    MV 27+D6 (started at 30)

 and quick snaps of the action… 


The Roman hammer, the right flank deployed.

The left flank, mercenary tribal warriors and auxiliary spears with 2 Scorpios to lob-shoot over them.

Naked nutters, incoming... the fanatic's first mad dash.

The Celt's right, lots of skirmishers. These were highly effective today, more of this sort of thing for them I think!

The Celts left, around their village, but marching forwards. They only have 1 order - 'Attack!'

Slingers... many slingers, moving up.

The Nobles lead the surge forwards, but their Queen had already had a terrible accident involving a chariot and low tree branch!

The battlefield as the Celts move up, impact imminent.


The tumult, centre and right engaged and doing the dirty work... its a grind, but Romans can grind hard...

Slingers move into harassment range, under accurate Scorpios bolt hits...  note, one cohort left as the backstop flank guard.

The hammer strikes... Praetorians, 1st Cohort and 2nd Cohort are the cutting edge, with some support.

The long struggle of the 1st Cohort, taking more damage than they are dishing out!

In the centre, the cohorts crash into the other fanatics and quickly overwhelm them.

Slingshot breaks the mercenaries of the neighbouring Brummii tribe (I forgot to rally them!).

Equites charge! Brave, but they need the spearmen's held to drive off the sneaky flankers.

The mercenary noble cavalry are in a bad place, cohorts to the front and flank press to finish them and the battle. It became a gory massacred.

Galloping on, to plunder the baggage train, the Equites face a few old men, women and children. We'll be eating their sheep and drinking their wine tonight.