Monday, 18 January 2021

A Solo Meeting Engagement, Holy Land, 1105 AD.

The following battle is a fictional meeting engagement, played solo using To the Strongest rules (with house amendments). It has no 'background scenario notes'. Its purpose is to test my amendments, especially for game balance. Both sides have a roughly equal points value (180 points, or thereabouts).

I will describe the game turn by turn. I will illustrate each turn with at least one photograph, usually a close up of something that occurred in the turn, and an 'end of turn map' showing the game position. I will try to explain new formations and period specific rule amendments as they come up in the game (in blue).

One thing not noted below, are the Victory Point Medals (I use poker chips). The Franks have 16 (including three for their camp and three for the True Cross), and the Syrians have 15 (including three for their camp). I like the idea of camps in Crusades games: historically, camps feature prominently as the objective and / or prize of many battles.

The Set Up:

Terrain Definitions:

Cedar woods: Rough terrain for activations for all except light infantry. Rough terrain in melee, cover versus missilery. Block LOS.

Fields: Rough terrain for activations for all, except light infantry. No effect, regardless of depicted crops, on LOS or combat.

Escarpment: Rough terrain to all for activation. Troops deployed along top of the escarpment get a +1 save bonus versus charges coming up the scarp face (similar to defending a river bank). 

Buildings: The rules I will use for buildings differ greatly from the norm but, these a certainly not set in stone: 

  • Each buildings box has normal occupancy restrictions except that only one unit can be cavalry (infantry in the buildings, cavalry in the streets).
  • Units in a buildings box never present flank or rear, nor do they have a defined position (front or back) within it. 
  • When shooting from a buildings box, the shooting unit can choose which face it wishes to shoot from for the whole turn (it can be changed turn to turn); two units cannot shoot out of the same face of a building box in the same turn; only one shot per activation is allowed regardless of troop type. 
  • Where an activation is made to charge or shoot at a building box containing two units, the attacker chooses the target; in a melee the defender can choose with which unit he wishes to battle back, even if the target of the charge was destroyed (this is similar to the battling back allowed to Republican Romans, so it didn't seem too much of a rule stretch). 
  • A buildings box counts as rough terrain to all, in all circumstances; buildings block LOS. 

Partly, my reasons for these rules are practical. They work, especially for occupancy, with my model buildings.

Camps: Rough terrain to all for activation; cover versus missilery, no effect in melee; block LOS. Note that I don't quite get the amount of VPMs you should get for each camp box, I found the rules unclear (or I haven't found the right bit): but, as you lose three VP for each box lost, I settled on one added VP for each. I feel sure they will be targeted in the upcoming game.

Turn 1.
End of turn 1.

The Franks make a general advance. Nordwin's infantry occupy 'the farm' and its surrounding fields whilst his turcopoles and supporting knights move to counter any flanking move by the enemy Turcomans in front of them; Lazarus advances with Nordwin, slightly refused; Gungatin brings his Armenians up to the escarpment, throwing his archers, through the 'cedar wood', further out to the flank.

The Syrians begin a cautious envelopment on both wings with their Turcomans, whilst Prince Kalib throws his foot archers out to contest the advance of Nordwin's infantry through the fields and date palm groves about 'the farm'.

The Turcomans are in a new two unit formation: 'Whirling Mass'. I came up with this formation specifically for Turcoman nomads. 

Unusually, for middle eastern horse archers of the time, they didn't 'shower shoot' from a stationary position. Instead, Turcoman masses would advance in groups to shoot off a few arrows before retreating, constantly being replaced by other groups in the mass. This action almost certainly had a forwards and backwards motion, with a definite direction of attack (according to Nicolle). It allowed Turcomans to deliver a constant, heavy, withering barrage of arrows.

I represent this with two permanently converged units of Turcoman horse archers. My army list holds the key facets of the formation for TtS. It is points costed as two units of horse archers (10 points). The rules for whirling mass are as follows.

·         A whirling mass is a formation exclusively used by massed Turcoman horse archers. It represents groups of horse archers, within the mass, advancing to shoot before retiring, constantly replacing other groups within the formation ‘whirling’ in the same manner. It is represented on the table with two converged units, one unit placed directly behind the other: the stands of the second unit should be arranged with the centre stand facing forwards and the outside stands facing backwards.

·         A whirling mass has two hits; it is disordered after receiving the first, lost after receiving the second.

·         A whirling mass can shoot twice on the same activation unless it is disordered, in rough terrain, or it is partially out of ammunition (OOA) when it can shoot only once: partially OOA have one OOA marker, totally OOA have two. .

·         A whirling mass never presents a flank to shooters (because of its constant motion).

·         A whirling mass cannot share a box with any other troops and, due to its ever whirling nature, it cannot be interpenetrated.

·         A whirling mass is treated as light troops in all other respects (including the ability to move backwards after shooting).


Turn 2.
End of turn 2.
A unit of Turcopoles has been eliminated by Turcoman fire (Frank's unit 8, in grey).
The small white crosses (Syrian units 11 and 4) are 'out of ammo' markers.

Whilst the turcopoles shower their Turcoman adversaries with desultory volleys of arrows, the Franks advance through the fields an groves of date palms west of 'the farm'. On the left flank, the Armenian archers snipe from the woods and temporarily disorder a unit of Turcomans whirling around in front of them (it will rally in the Syrian turn).

All along the Syrian line, every bowmen looses arrows sending volley after volley of arrows into the serried ranks of heavily armoured Franks. The results are pitiful. Only one unit failed its save: a unit of turcopoles bit the dust under a hail of well directed (two hits on the first volley, one saved) Turcoman arrows. Two Syrian units received out of ammo markers *.

The photo shows the tall stack of 'to hit' chits drawn by Prince Kalib's command group, the smaller stack the number of saves that had to be made. The other chits were drawn for activations (and Kalib's command might have had more if I had remembered his signals group: more annon). It also shows a 'tuft' marker (behind the central unit of Syrian foot archers), which I'm using to mark units that have gone 'out of ammo'.

At this point I'll outline the changes I have made to the shooting rules. The basic mechanism is unchanged. All I have done is adjust the saves and ranges, changed the 'ammunition expenditure' rules to something simpler (if a little more abstract), and added a few troop types capable of firing twice on the same activation. I have made these changes purely in an attempt to tailor the rules for this specific period, where the technology of missilery was of great tactical importance. 

Note: The change to the ammunition rules were made because of the sheer numbers of units armed with missile weapons and consequent stacks of ammunition chits that would be required: basically, for aesthetic (and lazy) reasons.

Note: Crossbows are not the powerful weapons of later times, predating even a stirrup to aid loading, and have been downgraded accordingly. Although they were feared for their penetrative qualities at short range (and I did think about a -1 save for armoured targets), crossbows had a slow of rate of fire and I think one attribute cancels the other.

Note: Composite bows had a remarkably long range when shooting light hollow reed arrows, or darts with a majra or siper arrow guide, but suffered a from lack of accuracy and penetration when doing so. Regardless of its lack of effect, long range shooting was often employed against the (outranged) Franks so must be included in the rules.

Note: Simple slings (not staff slings) were not a military weapon in this period: they were largely restricted to 'pilgrim' and other civilian types, shooting stones rather than much heavier (and more lethal) lead shot.

The rules:
  • * Units of archers go out of ammunition if they draw an ace (1) chit to hit. Turcomans in whirling mass go partially out of ammo after drawing one ace chit, out of ammo on drawing two (because the formation comprises two converged units). Light infantry with javelin go out of ammunition if they draw a 1 - 5; other javelin armed units automatically go out of ammunition after activating to shoot. Note here, units armed with bow and javelin cannot shoot their javelin (javelins are their primary melee weapon and reflected in the unit's saving throw). Units can resupply themselves fully by activating to replenish and spending a replenishment (ammunition) chit.
  • The effective range of all bows and slings is two boxes, except that composite bows can shoot very light arrows and darts out to three boxes. Javelins, naptha pots, and improvised peasant weapons have a range of one box. Artillery has a maximum range of four boxes and a minimum range of two boxes.
  • Saving throws are unchanged for crossbows and composite bows at one or two box range. Saves against composite bows at three boxes range are made with a +2 modifier.
  • All saves against hits by simple bows and slings are made with a +1 modifier.
  • Saves against improvised peasant weapons are made with a +2 modifier.
  • All save against naptha pots (incendiary terror weapons) on 8+.
  • Artillery targets everything in a box, drawing a (to hit) chit for each target; all targets save on 7+.
  • Close order foot bowmen (such as Fatimid Sudanese), Turkish ghulams, mamluks and bow armed veteran askaris may fire twice on the same activation. Turcomans in whirling mass may also fire twice (see whirling mass above).
Turn 3.
End of turn 3: The Franks Press Home
Note that disordered units (Turcoman 4, Ahdath 8 and Armenian 16) are marked with grey numbers. Totally grey units are units destroyed this turn in the position in which they were destroyed.

Nordwin's men went forward, forcing the Syrian archer screen to evade. Nordwin lead the charge with his veteran ferocious* knights and, adding a hero to the equation, went through the Muttatawia (unit 9) like a hot knife through butter, then swept away the unlucky Syrian archers (unit 13) sheltering behind them (who failed to evade a second time) in their turn. To Nordwin's immediate left, his sergeants disordered a unit of Ahdath before the attack ran out of steam. However, whilst this attack went in, the other knights in his command also went forward and the turcopoles disordered the Turcomans facing them with a well timed volley.

According to plan, Lazarus and the Armenians maintained their refused positions to Nordwin's left. Lazarus' crossbowmen doing sterling service by routing the Syrian archers (unit 10) to their front.

* The mounted charge of western knights had a ferocious reputation. It was capable of smashing through far superior numbers of the enemy, be they infantry or cavalry. In the rules, veteran knights save on 5+, which makes them more durable than the best 'Saracen' cavalry which save on 6+, but doesn't quite reflect their devastating power in the charge. Consequently, I have added ferocious to the list of unit classes (army list cost, 2 points): Units charged by ferocious knights save at -1. Ferocious cannot be attributed to foot knights - these already have 2HCW (under the standard rules) which amount to the same thing.

Anything that makes the Franks, especially knights, so often outnumbered but victorious, more powerful but costly in points is probably a good thing - especially for balancing historical refights where the Franks are vastly outnumbered. It remains to be seen if this makes knights over powerful 'super troops' and if, in consequence, I decide not to make ferocious generally available as an army list option. At the end of the day, game balance is the most important thing. 

Turn three is not a great turn for the Syrians: their activations, even with the aid of the signals group *, being shortened by the draw of dreaded ace chits. Except for Sarrouff's Turcomans disordering a unit of Armenian foot (unit 16) on the escarpment, they only manage movement activations. However, these movements might prove to be tactically important ones. As well as Kalib managing to reposition his cavalry to repel Nordwin's attack, Ratfan begins his own counter attack with his veteran Ghulams and Kurds, possibly outflanking Nordwin and deflecting his focus of attack. We will see. 

* When reading about Saracen battle tactics, I was deeply impressed by their use of loud music or semaphore to transmit simple orders over battlefield distances. As the Franks get Holy Relics stands, I thought a balancing stand might be interesting and novel.

I had painted a group of musicians, including a camel mounted kettle drummer, and these were ideal to represent this aspect of their battlefield technology. 

Anyway the rule for this is pretty simple. A senior general, and only a senior general, can have an attached long range signals stand. He can use it to re-draw for a failed activation in any box, within three boxes range, that does not contain a general, once per turn. It cannot be used to replace an activation chit to get a lower one, only replace a failed activation chit. It cannot be used in a box containing a general because players shouldn't get two bites at the same cherry, and can be easily explained as troops in a general's box looking to that general for orders rather than signals from afar. 

In the army lists, I have given the piece a high cost of 7 points: I think the piece is a very powerful tool, to some extent making ordinary generals 'brilliant' and, in consequence, players should pay through gritted teeth for it (brilliant generals, such as Hannibal, cost an additional 4 points and are only allowed to specified armies).

I only allow them to Syrian states and Fatimids (Arabic rather than Turkish culture, though I'm not wholly sure the Seljuks wouldn't use similar technology).

BTW. The transmission of orders by flag (very simple semaphore) was carried out from a camel mounted platform - wouldn't that make an interesting gaming piece! 

Turn 4.
End of Turn 4: The Counter Attack
The Franks lose their first units of consequence (grey units 3,16), several units are disordered (grey numbers) and two units of lance armed cavalry lose their lance attack bonus (white cross, units S14, F2).
The photo opposite shows how the table actually looks at the end of turn four. 
 
Nordwin's men press home their attack still further. The sergeants to his immediate left rout the Ahdath they had disordered in the previous turn.  

Norwin urges his knights into the fresh cavalry now facing them: the Syrian cavalry are disordered but fight back bravely, disordering the knights. 

The knights to his right force the Turcomans back after a brief clash (the Turcomans failed to evade) but, the knights only manage to lose their lance bonus* and hero in the process (they hit twice, saved twice). 

The Armenians continue sniping from the woods to good effect, disordering a unit of Turcoman horse archers.

* Lance bonus to hit chits are not automatically lost after the first charge. Instead, they are lost if either to hit chit drawn is an ace. Lances can be replaced by activating to replenish. I do not differentiate between arrow ammunition and lance replenishment chits; a replenishment chit can be used for either purpose. 

Ratfan's Kurds now accomplish what they failed to do the previous turn. A unit of Kurdish cavalry (S16), orders reinforce by long range signals, charge into the flank of Nordwin's sergeants and scatter them to the four winds. Ratfan then leads his ghulams and Kurds in a charge against the Franks and Armenians on the escarpment. The fighting is fierce and three units (F11, F17, S15) are disordered, and Ratfans ghulams (S14) lose their lance bonus. 

The torment is still not over for the Franks. The unit of Armenian infantry, shieldwall not withstanding, fall beneath Turcoman arrows.

At this point the Franks have surrendered 5 VP, the Syrians 7VP.

Turn 5.
End of turn 5: Crisis.
[Edit: I have corrected an error in previous maps. The Frank's camp extends one box further to the right - it is three boxes wide].
Three more units have been destroyed, and both sides are running low on VP - the Franks have 6, the Syrians have only 4.
Ratfan's 'charge of opportunity' is shown with a red arrow.

Nordwin rallies his knights and charges again hoping to finish the battle quickly by breaking into the Syrian camp. He breaks the Syrian cavalry in the cedar wood, but he has redrawn an activation chit (a nine) to do it. Rather than risk everything by trying for the Syrian camp, the Franks must break off this attack to deal with minor crisis elsewhere. 

Fearing that the Kurds on their flank the sergeants withdraw into a defensive formation nearer the farm. Meanwhile the knights on the right, who have managed little so far, again come up short, forcing back the Turcomans but nothing more.

Lazarus, now is your time! A couple of good charges might do it. He draws a two, failing to extricate himself from the fields and palm groves, then draws an ace - Disaster!

Gungatin, now is your time! Gungatin's heavy cavalry career down the slopes of the escarpment and cash into the disordered Kurds at the foot of the slope. They are broken! He fails to rally his infantry. His archers fail to make an impact. All of his drawn chits are high. He tries to change his cavalry's eight to something lower - he draws a ten! The Franks finish their turn.

The Syrians now play cagey, to see what happens. Scarrouff rallies his disordered unit then fires on Gungatin's cavalry, disordering them. He moves his own unit forward then turns to bring more firepower to bare. His chits resemble those of his foe, all high. He fails to make any further impression.

Ratfan, charges up the slope into the disordered foot sergeants, they break. For once the chits are kind, he charged on the perfect score required, a 3. He is at the top of the escarpment looking at the undefended camp of the Franks. The Franks have 9 VP, the camp is worth 9 VP if he can take all three. The moves forwards (on a five, he could do it!), then sideseps into the camp (on a six, looking good), then the wheels come off. Poised on the brink of victory his turn is over.

Kalib, on the brink of defeat (4 VP left) now desperately seeks to defend his own camp. By hook and by crook he shifts several units into position and even manages to disorder the knights facing his Turcomans.

The Franks have 6 VP remaining, the Syrians still have 4 VP: This is going to be close. The Franks must decide either to defend their camp to buy time for a trial by combat they must surely win, or go for the kill, or a combination of both. For the Syrians, their best hope, I feel, is to survive the Frank's turn with Ratfan able to take the camp. The course is clear, the Franks priority must be to stop Ratfan.

Turn 6.
End of Turn 6: Victory!
There is no map because very little actually moved and victory was achieved by.......

Lazarus turns and races back towards the camp. His first activation chit is the worst possible - stick or twist. He decides to draw hoping for a nine to charge Ratfan cavorting amongst the tents. A three, followed by a redrawn five, and no banana. Now, it is all up to his father Nordwin.
Nordwin charges Kalib. The chip draw for the action is shown above. I actually kept track because of his initial draw of three tens. Top row is activation (the four was a replacement chit for the ten). The second row is to hit chits following a successful charge, the next row is the unbelievably great streak of saves, and the last row is the abysmal battle back chits to hit. after this, his other knights rallied, as did the Armenians, then failed to charge. The Franks ended their turn pretty much in the state they had  started it.
The Syrians didn't mess around. Ratfan moved through the camp with ease: 6 VP surrendered, game over. A Syrian victory grasped from the jaws of defeat. 

The camps worked well, giving a possible objective other than simple unit annihilation. The main lesson being to buy a camp guard. Just about anything would do, light infantry, Ahdath, or 'pilgrims': Any that would slow an attack on the camp long enough for help to arrive. In this game, following his unexpectedly easy victory over the sergeants on the escarpment, Ratfan saw his chance and took it.r for

The rule for ferocious knights wasn't overly tested in this game. However, it didn't seem to over egg the knight's pudding. A few more games required, I think.

I didn't get a chance to test the rules for buildings. My next scenario will be smaller, with unequal sides, and one side's camp will be in a town.

All in all, a good solo game. I hope you liked it too.

Sunday, 6 December 2020

A bit of recycling: Islamic mangonels for the Crusades

Edit: When I linked this post on TMP, Col.Campbell (hi, Jim) commented on the name 'mangonel' being applied to this type of siege engine, thinking it should be called a 'trebuchet', specifically a 'traction trebuchet'. For some reason, I've always called them 'mangonels'. Luckily for all, both of us are right, and Jim posted this interesting link about the "Torsion Mangonel Myth" explaining why.

Before I get to the models, let's get the big issue out of the way. I know that throwing engines were not used in field battles. However, artillery, in any period, can be great table-top fun. I know because, I have a couple of onagers with Frankish crews (Gripping Beast Normans range, I think) which have seen the table a couple of times.

The basic design for these models is taken from various sources including pictures and models of Chinese mangonels. The scale I can only call 'table-top scale'; they were made to look just big enough to look like practical pieces of siege equipment.

The model, with arm up, is 110mm tall overall.

They are made from recycled plastic. 

The throwing arms are plastic pins (I can't remember their original use). 

The green plastic beams are made from the plastic bases that come with plastic figures, glued together to make small pieces of plastic sheet. There are two thicknesses: three layers thick for the base frame; two layers thick for the upper structure.

The plastic is soft enough to be cut into 'planks' with a modelling knife. Each piece was sanded with fine sand paper after cutting to get rid of the burrs.

I added wood grain in two ways. At first I used the tip of a blade but, this was too slow. To speed things up a lot, I simply dragged the plastic over rough sand paper. 

The throwing 'bag' is made from a piece of netted ribbon, and a few bits of wire drilled into place as axles and throwing hook finish the pieces.

Start to finish, they took about two hours to design (as I went along, more or less), and make.

The bases, like all the bases for my crusades stuff, is 4mm plywood. It seemed like a good idea at the time but, is now one I regret. Cutting 4mm ply with a Stanley knife is a hastle I can do without. The bases, for scale, are 60mm x 90mm. 
Here they are with the ropes attached. These things were man powered. 

There should probably be more ropes. However, as I can't find figures in poses suitable for actually pulling the ropes, I thought six would be sufficient to express the basic working principles of the thing. 

The ropes are cotton button thread: a single thread has been wound around the beam; the actual ropes are two threads twisted and glued (PVA) together before being glued into place on top of the cotton around the beam.

All in all, I'm quite happy with the way these turned out.

The best crew I've found so far are Gripping Beast shepherds. Each model will get a crew of four figures idly standing about the place. The figure with the staff / crook over his shoulder will be given a longer pole with a hook on the end - he's the guy who hooks the throwing bag after firing to drag the arm back down into the launching position.
Neat little models that cost next to nothing. Something from scrap.


Friday, 4 December 2020

Desert real estate: Embracing the grid.


Having reorganised and rebased my Crusades collection (units are now on three stands, each 60mm frontage) for To the Strongest rules, I decided to re-do my desert buildings so that they could hold units more comfortably. There were several ways I could have done this but, after much thought, I pitched for building modules that fully embraced the grid and TtS box sharing rules. I made four modules including a mosque. 

Each section is 210mm wide. My grid boxes are 200mm and ideally the building modules should have been the same but, during the design process I realised that the unit frontage plus the thickness of the walls wouldn't quite make this possible - so I added 10mm.

All the buildings were all made in the same way. They are based on 2mm MDF (or hardboard from the back of a broken picture frame - waste not want not). The walls are constructed from 5mm foam board. Doors are balsa wood and the gates are made from the wood of ice lolly sticks (because the latter is much stronger than balsa). The dome is a plastic lid (I found in the street last year and picked up) with a crescent made from a spare shield. Brickwork is old greetings card / cereal box (I keep some of this about the place too). Roof supporting beams are cane barbeque skewers. Plaster daub work is heavy body artists acrylic (dark blue and left over from basing ships for a client - Hi, VDS). Ground texture is artists acrylic, a bit of sand and grit and cat litter (unused: I do draw the line somewhere). All are painted using household emulsion (when you choose your room colours, think about what you can use the leftover paint for afterwards) and artists acrylic paint and ink.

They take the units quite nicely, as you can see here.

Building with tower. This is a good looking, very basic design.

All the buildings are built as fully enclosed 'compounds'. I got the idea for this from footage of the goings on in Afghanistan a few years back. 

A secure compound structure seems fitting for built up areas in 'lawless times': I imagine compounds would be the normal format for most rural buildings in the Holy Land during the times of the Crusades. 

Note two new flags for the Armenians. The mountain lion on red features in a film, as does the small cross. A white red and yellow tricolour is the flag of modern Armenia (horizontal stripes?).
Two storey building with long one storey warehouse attached. This will give a 'multiple module village' a bit of height.

Note the small high windows on the outer face of the compound. Windows low down would defeat the compound's purpose.
Two small, single storey, buildings sharing a compound. 

I might make another similar to this. As a design, it came out much better than expected. The narrow gap, between the buildings, leading to a smaller courtyard beyond, was important for its success, I think.
A mosque. 

Domes are a bind because they preclude putting troops on the roof and spoil any chance of two unit per box occupancy...
...but wait! 

I actually managed to think about this before gluing the dome structure in place: the dome lifts off when required. 

I very nearly glued it on. Phew!

The roof has a hole in the centre and the dome has a plastic locator pin. these centre everything when it's put together. Troops on the roof cover the hole. 

Will I make more? Yes, four, I think. Three will be made with a single building on one edged and a road on the other (the road being the position of the second 'occupying' unit) so that I can have a road going through two module villages. I'm still at the design stage for these - getting these to look good is actually harder that it seems; one will be a row of shops with a cloistered front.

On the rules front. TtS rules for 'village boxes' are not quite right, IMHO. So, I'm tweaking again. 
  • I'm only going to allow occupancy of a single unit of cavalry (in the streets) per section. 
  • I'm going to say that units can fight back out of a flank if attacked, though the attacker still gets an extra chance to hit. 
  • I'm going to allow units in a village to choose to shoot out of their flank, choosing the front or flank facing they wish to shoot out of for the duration of each turn: once the direction of fire is chosen it is chosen for the whole turn; if a unit chooses to shoot out of a flank, any other unit in the same box, or entering the box at a later point, can't shoot out of the same flank that turn if the original shooter is still there. One stand of the shooting unit can be turned to the flank to indicate the direction of fire.
  • Light troops can't use special move and shoot activations on entering, or leaving, a village box.

Thursday, 15 October 2020

My house army lists and rule changes for TtS Crusades games. TtS Even Longer.

Following the lengthy reply I made in comments relating the last Crusades post, I thought it might be useful if I posted these. They are the army lists and quick reference sheets that I'll use here for TtS Crusades games. They have all of the house rule amendments included (at least I'm pretty sure they do), and the sheets over ride the rules as originally published.

Obviously, the lists reflect what's in my collection. The rule changes have been made purely to add an extra layer of depth to give my Crusades games more period characterisation - this is especially the case when it comes to missile weapon technology. 

I've added a new formation called whirling mass specifically to reflect the tactics of Turcoman horse archers. Unlike settled Seljuk Turks and Arab troops, who used shower shooting whilst stationary, Turcomans were constantly on the move when shooting. Turcomans used, what I can only describe simply as, 'shooting by tribal caracole': That is sweeping in in large groups, before shooting, then retiring, the process constantly being repeated by more groups behind. This whirling, dust raising multi-unit tactic is a difficult thing to model, so I've come up with whirling mass. (see notes under Turcomans in the lists below).

I've also added a couple of simple rule changes for impetuous troops who often charged without orders, and made a simple change to the way artillery works. 

Possibly the most radical change I've made is to dispense with ammunition chits altogether because so much in the Crusades shoots; having stacks of chits everywhere isn't great; I frequently forget to expend them on shooting (or worse put them into the replenishment stack); it is a needless complication that slows the game down. Units do still go out of ammunition (and such units are marked with a counter) but, they do so following activation to shoot, on drawing a 1 (ace) chit when determining if there is a hit or not (javelins are treated slightly differently - see QRF). Ammunition is replenished in the usual way except that on a single replenishment the unit counts as 'loaded' until it draws a 1 (ace) chit again. I do something similar for lances. I do not have separate lance and ammunition chits, they amount to the same thing and have been termed 'replenishment chits'.

I'll stick my neck out here and say that Simon M. will not mind me publishing this as I think the official TtS army lists and QRF are free to download from his site, and he's quite open to new ideas. He calls his amendments TtS Even Stronger; I call my amendments TtS Even Longer.

EDIT: Since originally posting I have edited the tables and reposted them here. Some people are not getting the tables in the right format. If you are experiencing difficulties, drop me an email (see my contact details in the sidebar), and I'll send you the original MS Word doc.

Syrian

 

Unit

Description

#

Save

Cost

Generals & heroes

Mounted, attached general

1 - 3

2+

5

Upgrade to heroic

Any

3+

+1

Upgrade to senior general

0 - 1

-

+1

Mounted, Turcoman tribal leader ¹

0 - 1

2+

5

Heroes

4 - 8

-

1

Askari or Ghulams

Cavalry lance, veteran

1 - 3

6+

11

Upgrade by adding composite bow

Any

-

+2

Other Syrian or Kurdish cavalry

Cavalry lance

1 - 6

7+

9

Upgrade to veteran

Up to 1/2

6+

+2

Bedouin cavalry

Light cavalry lance or javelin, raw

0 - 4

8+

4

Upgrade from raw

Any

7+

+1

Reform two units into tribal mass ²

Any

-

-1

Turcomans

 

 

Light cavalry composite bow

4 - 8

8+

5

Reform two units into whirling mass ³

Up to 1/2

-

0

Upgrade to impetuous

Any

-

-1

Ah’dath

Shieldwall, raw

0 - 5

8+

5

Upgrade spearmen to glaiveman (2HCW)

Up to 2

-

+1

Muttatawwia

Warriors, deep, impetuous

0 - 2

7+

10

Upgrade to warriors, fanatics, deep, impetuous ⁴, added hero

0 - 2

8+

+1

Kurds or Daylami foot

Javelinmen, veteran

0 - 2

6+

7

Crossbowmen

Light infantry, crossbow

0 - 2

8+

4

Al-ashair

Light infantry, composite bow, raw

0 - 5

9+

3

Naffatun

Small light infantry unit, hand hurled ITW weapon ⁵

0 - 2

8+

3

Artillery

Small artillery unit.

0 - 2

7+

7

 

1

Notes

Must command at least at least four tribal units; may not command other troops.

2

·         A tribal mass is represented by placing one unit directly behind the other with the same facing.

·         A tribal mass has two hits; it is disordered after receiving a first hit, lost after receiving the second.

·         A tribal mass is not required to evade when charged; it may, however, choose to evade.

·         A tribal mass may charge disordered formed troops frontally.

·         A tribal mass cannot share a box with any other troops.

·         A tribal mass is treated as light troops in all other respects.

3

·         A whirling mass is represented by placing the stands in a circle running clockwise with the command stands arranged so that the facing of the formation is clear.

·         A whirling mass has two hits; it is disordered after receiving the first, lost after receiving the second.

·         A whirling mass can shoot twice on the same activation unless it is disordered, in rough terrain, or it is partially OOA (partially OOA with one OOA marker, totally OOA with two) when it can shoot only once.

·         A whirling mass never presents a flank to shooters but always presents a flank to chargers.

·         A whirling mass cannot share a box with any other troops.

·         A whirling mass is treated as light troops in all other respects.

4

A failed activation on a 1 will cause impetuous troops to charge the nearest enemy unit within reach and remain impetuous until successfully activated again. Whilst impetuous light troops may not evade. Impetuous troops always hit on 6+ in the first round of combat.

5

If Naffatun turn a 1 when activating to shoot (throw) their fire pot incendiary terror weapons (ITW), someone drops a pot and the unit must make a save or be lost.

 

 


 

Seljuk

 

Unit

Description

#

Save

Cost

Generals & heroes

Mounted, attached general

1 - 3

2+

5

Upgrade to heroic

Any

3+

+1

Upgrade to senior general

0 - 1

-

+1

Mounted, Turcoman tribal leader ¹

0 - 2

2+

5

Heroes

3 - 6

-

1

Ghulams

Cavalry, lance, composite bow

2 - 5

7+

11

Upgrade to veteran

Any

6+

+2

Seljuk horse archers

Cavalry, composite bow

2 - 5

8+

9

Upgrade to veteran

Up to 1/2

7+

11

Turcomans

Light cavalry composite bow

6 - 12

8+

5

Reform two units into whirling mass ²

Up to 1/2

-

0

Upgrade to impetuous ³

Any

-

-1

Armenian knights

Cavalry, lance

0 - 2

7+

9

Armenian light cavalry

Light cavalry lance or javelin

0 - 2

8+

5

Syrian cavalry

Cavalry, lance, veteran

0 - 1

6+

11

Bedouin cavalry

Light cavalry lance or javelin, raw

0 - 1

8+

4

Turkish or Armenian foot.

Javelinmen

0 - 5

7+

7

Turkish or Armenian archers.

Light infantry, composite bow

 

0 - 5

8+

4

Kurds or Daylami foot

Javelinmen, veteran

0 - 2

6+

9

Adhath

Shieldwall, raw

0 - 2

8+

5

Crossbowmen

Light infantry, crossbow

0 - 2

8+

4

Naffatun

Small light infantry unit, hand hurled ITW ⁴

0 - 2

8+

3

Artillery

Small artillery unit.

0 - 2

7+

7

 

1

Notes

Must command at least at least four tribal units; may not command other troops.

2

·         A whirling mass is represented by placing the stands in a ‘circle’, running clockwise, with the command stands arranged so that the facing of the formation is clear.

·         A whirling mass has two hits; it is disordered after receiving the first, lost after receiving the second.

·         A whirling mass can shoot twice on the same activation unless it is disordered, in rough terrain, or it is partially OOA (partially OOA with one OOA marker, totally OOA with two) when it can shoot only once.

·         A whirling mass never presents a flank to shooters; it always presents a flank to chargers.

·         A whirling mass cannot share a box with any other troops.

·         A whirling mass is treated as light troops in all other respects.

3

A failed activation on a 1 will cause impetuous troops to charge the nearest enemy unit within reach and remain impetuous until successfully activated again. Whilst impetuous light troops may not evade. Impetuous troops always hit on 6+ in the first round of contact.

4

If Naffatun turn a 1 when activating to shoot (throw) their fire pot incendiary terror weapons (ITW), someone drops a pot and the unit must make a save or be lost.

Other Notes

·         Danishmend armies can also include Syrian cavalry and Adhath.

·         Great Seljuk armies can include everything except Armenians.

·         Following the First Crusade, Seljuk armies did, on occasion, field allied contingents of Franks.

 


 

Crusader (Frankish)

 

Unit

Description

#

Save

Cost

Generals & heroes

Mounted, attached, heroic general

1 - 4

3+

6

Upgrade to senior general

0 - 1

-

+1

Upgrade senior general to ‘Great’ as Bohemund ¹

0 - 1

3+

+4

Upgrade to mounted, attached, heroic Military Order general ²

0 - 1

3+

0

Mounted, attached, Armenian ally general ³

0 - 1

2+

5

Heroes

4 - 8

-

+1

Army standard

True Cross or Holy Lance of Antioch, attached ⁴

0 - 1

-

4

Knights

Knights, lance

2 - 6

6+

11

Upgrade to veteran

Up to 1/2

5+

+2

Upgrade veteran knights to Brother Knights, fanatics, plus added hero

0 - 1

5+

+2

Turcopoles

Light cavalry, lance, composite bow

0 - 4

7+

6

Armenian knights

Cavalry, lance

0 - 2

7+

9

Armenian cavalry

Light cavalry, javelin

0 - 2

7+

5

Bedouin cavalry

Light cavalry lance or javelin, raw

0 - 1

8+

4

Foot Sergeants

Armoured foot with integral bow or crossbow support

0 - 8

6+

10

Upgrade as bolstered by foot knights (2HCW) ⁵

0 - 4

5+

+2

Upgrade as veteran Brother Sergeants

0 - 1

5+

+2

Arriere-ban or pilgrim soldiers

Shield wall, raw

0 - 3

8+

6

Crossbowmen

Armoured light infantry, crossbow

0 - 2

7+

4

Archers / slingers

Light infantry, simple bow or sling

0 - 3

8+

4

Pilgrims

1st Crusade, civilian mass, IPW ⁶

0 - 5

9+

4

Upgrade to Mob, deep, IPW as pilgrim militia

0 - 2

8+

+3

Armenian foot

Javelinmen

0 - 3

7+

7

Armenian archers

Light infantry, composite bow

0 - 3

8+

4

Syrian archers

Light infantry, composite bow, raw

0 - 3

9+

3

Maronite archers

Bowmen, composite bow

0 - 1

8+

7

Artillery

Small artillery unit.

0 - 2

7+

7

 

1

Notes

Bohemund may play two replacement ‘activation chits’, or ‘to hit chits’, or a combination of both, in a single turn rather than the usual one. When testing for injury he always picks the lower of two chits. 

2

General must attach to Military Order knights; he may only command knights, sergeants, crossbowmen and turcopoles. Military Order knights require a military order general.

3

An Armenian ally General is needed if more than four units of Armenians are used.

4

Add three extra VP medals to the army’s total; lose three VP medals if it is lost. Count as a hero for any unit within 1 box range. Units in the same box, or adjacent boxes, never test for routing units.

5

The number of available mounted knight units must be reduced by one for every bolstered foot sergeant unit fielded.

6

Civilian mass are 1st Crusade pilgrims ‘on the road’ rather than an armed mob. They have two hits (to reduce staying power). They do not count as deep for box occupation. Upgraded mobs are as per the standard rules and include campaigning pilgrim militias. Both count as deep formations for movement.

Other notes

·         Military Order Brother Knights and Brother Sergeants are only available after 1128. The save of Brother Knights is not downgraded for being fanatic due to their discipline, hence 2 points extra.

·         Armenians are only available to the armies of Antioch and Eddessa.

·         Maronite archers are only available to Tripoli.

·         Knights did not regularly dismount to fight. During the last year of the 1st Crusade (1098 -99) half the total number of knights fielded must fight on foot due to a lack of horses. German knights dismounted to fight in the difficult terrain, “as was their Teutonic fashion”, outside Damascus in 1147.

·         Frankish armies sometimes included larger Islamic contingents than listed. E.g. Bedouin tribesmen under their own chieftain, large numbers of Turcoman mercenaries, or the army of an allied Islamic state.

 

Easy Activations

Move or Charge one box straight ahead, or two boxes straight ahead if mounted.

Move and Shoot one box straight ahead (light troops armed with javelins only).

Shoot and Move backwards, facing in same or opposite direction (light troops armed with bows only).

Replenish units that are out of ammunition (OOA), or replenish ‘broken lances’.

Rally.

Difficult Activations (Light troops ignore all difficulty)

Move or Charge one box diagonally ahead, maintaining facing; mounted units may move or charge one further box straight ahead thereafter.

Move one box sideways, maintaining facing.

Move backwards one box, or two if mounted, facing in the same or opposite direction.

Change facing, or exchange places within their box. After this, mounted may move one box straight ahead.

Move or charge into, through, or out of rough terrain.

Save Modifiers

Type

Circumstance

Mod

 

 

 

 

Melee

Light infantry in rough terrain, except when charged by light infantry.

+2

Foot when charged across fortifications.

+2

Any hit by improvised peasant weapons (IPW).

+2

Foot when charged uphill.

+1

Foot in rough terrain charged by mounted.

+1

Any, defending against a charge across a stream, bridge, shoreline or stakes.

+1

Foot (except light infantry), who are not disordered, receiving a frontal mounted charge.

+1

Charged by foot wielding two handed cutting weapons (2HCW).

-1

Light infantry charged by mounted in the open.

-1

 

 

 

Shooting

Units hit at three boxes range by composite bows.

+2

Any hit by improvised peasant weapons (IPW).

+2

Units hit, at any range, by simple bows or slings.

+1

Foot behind field fortifications, except versus artillery or incendiary terror weapons.

+2

Shieldwall, or any units behind cover, except versus artillery or incendiary terror weapons.

+1

Light infantry, light cavalry or artillery, except versus artillery or incendiary terror weapons.

+1

Units hit from behind a flank or rear, except versus artillery or incendiary terror weapons.

-1

Rally

A general is present in the box.

+1

For each unit in a position from which it could charge the testing unit.

-1

Special Saves

All units in a targeted box, hit by artillery (artillery targets a box, not a unit) regardless of circumstances.

7+

Any unit hit by incendiary terror weapons (ITW).

9+

Useful Reminders

Shooting

Target priority is always the nearest target, with diagonals measured as 1.5 boxes. All hit on 8+.

Range: Javelins, IPW and ITW: 1 box. Simple bows, crossbows & slings: 2 boxes. Composite bows: 3 boxes (save bonus applies at 3 boxes range). Artillery: 4 boxes.

Bowmen, veteran Ghulams, veteran Askaris, and double strength Turcomans in whirling mass, may shoot twice except when disordered or in rough terrain.

Melee

All hit on 6+, except disordered and light troops, bowmen, artillery, civilian mass and mobs who require an 8+.

Note: Fanatic troops always hit on 6+. Impetuous troops always hit on 6+ in the first round of combat.

 

Evade

3+ if mounted in the open evading foot, or foot evading any in rough terrain.

5+ if mounted in the open evading mounted, or foot in the open evading foot.

7+ if foot in the open evading mounted, or mounted evading any in rough terrain.

Injury to

Generals

Generals must save each time the unit is hit. Generals failing to save draw a second chit to determine the effect:

9-10= Killed; 6-8 = Seriously wounded must retire from battle; 1-5 = Lightly wounded, no effect, a second light wound is a serious wound. A general surviving attached unit loss automatically joins another of his command.

Difficult Activations

& Out of command

Difficult activations are 1 activation point harder to achieve than normal; all difficulty is cumulative. Deep units and civilian mass find difficult activations ‘doubly difficult’ (e.g. 2 levels of difficulty is 4 points harder).

If the command’s general is dead or has left the field; the general is more than 2 boxes away, or 3 boxes away if the unit is light troops, difficulty will always be 1 point harder. Not cumulative.

Replenish

OOA &

Lances

Any bows or crossbows, artillery, ITW, or IPW go out of ammunition (OOA) after turning a 1 to hit.

Light troops with javelin go OOA after turning a 1-5 to hit; others with javelin go OOA automatically.

Lances need replenishing after turning a 1 to hit.