Another invitation to Eric's Shed yesterday and another run out for his marvellous desert terrain. This time we were back in the time of the Crusades. I have wanted to play a Crusades wargame for years and the first of the Perry ranges that really tempted me was their First Crusade range.
This nearly happened almost exactly nine years ago when Guildford Wargames club put a game together for the Society of Ancients Battle Day in June 2006. I painted up 30 Turcoman horse archers for the recreation of Dorylaeum (1097) and also a pack of armed pilgrims (above). Unfortunately, I had to go to Vienna at short notice so missed the game, although my troops did take the field without me.
So it was nice to actually use some of my Turcomans (above) last night in Eric's Crusades game; my second experience of playing Lion Rampant. No doubt he will put up one of his excellent accounts of the game shortly, which I will link to from here.
So I shall confine myself to a brief look at the game from my point of view. Eric's game preparation is always excellent; from game specific laminated play sheets to his superb scenery and well-balanced scenarios that nearly always, as last night, lead to a close game. Yesterday's game saw the Crusaders led by Alastair, from Guildford Wargames Club, attempting to escort a body of monks (and some monkettes) to a waiting ship on the coast. Eric and I had two bodies of Saracens to stop him.
My force consisted of three units of Turcoman cavalry and two of foot. I really like the Lion Rampant rules as they enable you to field enough figures to look good but not so many that you will never finish painting them!
The scenario meant that the monks couldn't be killed by bow shot but had to be defeated in melee. My tactic was to ride for them with my horse archers but I got off to a slow start with one unit failing to activate on the first turn. As in our previous Robin Hood game we abandoned the rule that said that if one unit fails to activate then the whole force is prevented from taking any actions. This just leads to too much standing around doing nothing. So we played the house rule that if a unit fails to activate then the next unit can try to activate as usual. This leads to a much more fluid game.
The ability of horse archers to skirmish forward, loose their arrows and then retreat (for a shooting penalty) certainly recreated the tactics of their historical counterparts and both sides' horse archers swirled about, darting forward, shooting and riding away again.
Alistair's vanguard (top right) charges towards the village while his Turcoples and crossbowmen (middle left) cause me a great deal of pain as I try to drive towards the monks (top left)
Alistair, I have to say, played a superb tactical game; sending forward a flying column to attempt to secure the village on the coast, sending a harrying rearguard back to hold up my forces while protecting his marching monks, who kept edging sideways away from the threat, with a bodyguard. His early success started to run into trouble later but I will leave Eric to describe the whole game.
This game did, however, confirm the appeal of Lion Rampant and the fact that putting together forces for these rules is much more achievable for a slow painter like me (Eric has painted a whole Saracen army since Christmas!). Both Alastair and I have thoughts of painting some Wars of the Roses retinues to use with the rules too. I must find out whether he is a Yorkist or Lancastrian so I can paint the other side! I am still working on my Carolingian force and am also thinking about El Cid too for this. It has started to occur to me that I should focus my painting on forces that I can field at the Shed games! It was nice to play another game with Alistair and thanks, as ever, to Eric for the invitation to the Shed!