Thursday 25 September 2008

The Battle of the Red Gate.

The Chronicle of Kermit the Hermit (A.K.A. The Dirty Fakir) continues.

"……and were in sight.

But Rorus was false and in the pay of Toghtekin. Toghtekin, unbeknownst to King Baldwin, was in full knowledge of the King’s preparations and plans, and had, in the day preceding King Baldwin’s arrival at the Red Gate arrayed his forces in devious places and hiding, showing him only what Toghtekin wished. Having set his trap, he had sent his agent Rorus to goad King Baldwin into it.

King Baldwin led his army with discipline through the lower Gate sending his archers [Turcopoles] ahead to skirmish with Lord Toghtekin's van. But the King's archers were not a match for his and many ran. So the King trusting more in his true and good Christians formed his line before the enemy whilst the Count Garnier was charged to support from rearward and watch for any ruse the enemy might endeavour to perform.

When the King’s army was half way between the doors of the Gate, Toghtekin released his archers [Turcomans] from either side and behind. Now Lord Garnier proved his worth; afore seeing danger everywhere he told the Pisans, who accompanied him, to watch a certain gully, from which the heathen now emerged in a great swarm. His Pisans did great slaughter, filling the air with their bolts, and many a pagan and his horse did block the gully to the height of a man’s chest.

Toghtekin’s trap now having been sprung, Baldwin did set his horse firmly for defence but persisted in his assault on the northern end of the Gate. Count Garnier, seeing the Askar of Toghtekin on the ridge set forth with his knights in order to kill him and thus weaken the hearts of the enemy, but as his knights made their way up the rocky slope they were charged by a body of wild men, who rushed from the deserted village on the mount in a screaming frenzy [those pesky 'Village People' again], and but for a body of his own foot who came to his aid he would surely have perished before his unjust end was met. Onward, under arrows that filled the sky and emptied saddles, he and his company drew swords against Toghtekin and his guard, forcing him back. But, woe worth the day, the Count fell and was taken into the bosom of The Lord. Undaunted, his knights, in vengeful anger, fought on, and his foot, with equal resolution, took the ruined village from the Muslim. To the rear of the Count’s fight, all was not right for the Army of God. For as many a black souled heathen was dispatched to the Devil, another took his place, and they were sore pressed.

Where Baldwin was all was well and his soldiers in good heart; fortified with the Power of The Cross on which their Lord had died. His foot did advance onto the village where in many of the enemy threw rocks down upon them and a great struggle began and battle raged about it. Busy with his sword, the King led his knights into the fray on one side whilst his archers did try their luck again against the archers of the enemy. The King pressed back the Askar of Klimuk whilst his archers on the left hand were forced back upon their foot."

To be continued, same time next week........

Wednesday 24 September 2008

The Battle of The Red Gate

Tonight we turn to the lesser known [fictional] writings of Kermit the Hermit, known to the Arabs as The Dirty Fakir, for our scenario.


“On the 22nd day of May in the Year of our Lord 1106, Toghtekin governor, who they style atabeg, of Damascus did lay siege to the castle of Toron; a castle of great import which guarded the road between Antioch and Jerusalem, and eastward to Damascus. The castle was strong and strongly garrisoned, but Toghtekin had brought up giant engines with which to batter the walls, and it was feared the castle would surely fall. A messenger was dispatched with speed to King Baldwin seeking succour.

Baldwin gathered his army together at Jerusalem and started north with all haste on the 29th day of May. Five days later, on the night before his expected arrival at Toron and at the lower part of The Red Gate where his army lay, an Armenian called Rorus arrived at the King’s Camp bearing intelligence of Toghtekin’s army. Recognised as an old and faithful soldier of Antioch, Rorus was presented before the King’s council. Here he told the King and those present that Toghtekin was removing most of his army south to bar the King at the northern end of The Red Gate, and even now the first of his soldiers were arriving though their main strength was still some way distant.

The King and his council resolved that the army should be roused and called to arms before dawn so that it was ready to march through the Red Gate before the main part of Toghtekin’s army could arrive at this advantageous place. Thus, when the King’s army arrived in the valley only the vanguard of Damascenes faced them…………..”

The Red Gate: A valley suitable for the movement of an army with many springs and wells and named after its craggy red limestone hills.
In this scenario it is possible for both sides to gain all of their victory conditions and draw. This is because each has different objectives that are not mutually exclusive. Consequently it is important that each side only reads its own extra briefing notes before play. To prevent accidental reading I have published the briefings as images that must be opened to be read. [Peter: If you read this before my email YOU ARE THE FRANKS TONIGHT.]
[Tim: If you read this before my email YOU ARE THE DAMASCENES TONIGHT.]
All terrain features are type II except for the villages and wooded slopes which are type III.
The Deployment Map

Frankish extra briefing

Damascene extra briefing

Thus the sides are set and victory conditions are established. The Chronicles of Kermit the Hermit will continue shortly.

Friday 19 September 2008

Basing technique for my 'Crusaders'.

First I stick the figures onto the base (in this case 4mm plywood - cheap, available locally, and cuttable with a Stanley knife) using household contact adhesive (Bostik or UHU). I then liberally 'paint' the base with PVA and place cat litter and cork before dunking the whole base in a box of fine sand (children's sand pit sand) and ground oyster shell (available at pet shops).

When dry, I paint the base with burnt umber ink (as shown) watered down 1 part ink to 5 or 6 parts water. Ink is about £4 a bottle but the dilution (essential) makes it go a long way (400+ figs?). Again when dry, I dry brush with Humbrol enamel (number 63) then lighter again (with number 103). For Europe I would use antelope brown ink and Humbrol 62 then 63 drybrush.

Now comes the 'flocking'. Syria is not a desert. It is an area, during the dry campaigning season at least, of arid rough pasture. Anyone who has travelled anywhere around the islands of the Med' (I think of Crete) in the summer time will have seen parched grass and bushes everywhere. I use three shades of woodland Scenics stuff for this. I think it gives the right 'impression' for late spring / early summer. It is all stuck on with PVA dabbed in the right places, one flock at a time, tapped down then the excess shaked / tapped off, with a drying time between. A pair of heavy pincers is useful for getting it in the trickier spots.

Finally I add two or three low 'bushes'. These are also by Woodland Scenics but I can't remember what they are sold as - 'Clumps' or possibly 'Undergrowth' in 'Dark' or 'Forest' green?

Thursday 18 September 2008

Second Ager Sanguinis battle

The opening move was made by the Franks who advanced towards the heathen whilst the Seljuk looked on in disbelief. After advancing a way (using all three ‘march’ early in the turn), the Seljuk countered by attacking both flanks of the infidel.

On the Frankish right, a mixed force of Seljuk cavalry and tribal infantry soon came to grips. Following a brief barrage of arrows, the tribal infantry advancing across the valley floor charged home. This put the Frankish right under extreme pressure; the Turcopoles giving way without much of a fight. Only the vigorous efforts of the doughty Frankish foot prevented complete collapse.

Then, on the tree covered slopes behind the flank, Italian screams of terror overcame the general din of battle. Through the trees came hundreds of ‘bronze’ chested men, bald headed and wearing huge black mustaches. The Italian sailors did not stand, they routed from the field yelling “Run for your lives! It’s the Village People!”

Meanwhile on the Frankish left the Turcomans began to harass the infantry there; but to little effect. In the centre the Seljuk cavalry hung back to await the outcome of the battle on the Frankish wings.

Now the tide changed. The Franks began to launch attacks of their own. On the right, they did well, several Islamic contingents were sent running and their cavalry were forced to withdraw as the Frankish foot pressed their attack. The position here was stabilising.

On the Frankish left the pressure was increasing until, as is there nature and without orders, one of the Turcoman tribes (3 units) decided to settle the issue themselves by charging. One after another they were routed by infantry and knights.

The battle was now general along the whole front. The fights on the wings had disrupted the Frankish line to such a degree that it fell to the knights to restore the situation. The Seljuk responded with hails of arrows and counter charges by their heavy cavalry. After stiff resistance the knights, now effectively unsupported by their infantry, were swamped. The King of Jerusalem, after leading three charges, fell with what remained of his bodyguard. What was left of the Frankish knights withdrew from the field post haste, leaving their infantry to be butchered on the field.

In truth, the battle probably had another two turns in it. Neither side had reached zero morale chips. The Franks were certainly in a good position on their right and the infantry on the left were still capable of packing a significant punch. However, it was past 11pm and the table is required for a photo session on Sunday (for Piquet’s Cartouche 2 by Mark Dudley, who controlled the Seljuk left for most of evening, in between sessions rummaging through my bookshelves - 'sticks and stones' are not really his thing) so the figures needed to be cleared away. Below are two pics of the end of the battle as described above – even though this did not actually occur.

The rules, with last week's amendments, worked exceptionally well. I think, hell I know, that this will become one of my favourite war games. The abilities of the troops and general 'feel' of the period are fantastic!

Wednesday 17 September 2008

New units.

Before taking a break from painting cavalry I decided to paint one more batch of 48; four units of Seljuk horse archers. Based three to a 60mm x 90mm stand with four stands per unit they have the look of loose order cavalry. No picture of all four units together, but the following shots give an idea of what they look like and how I patterned some of the clothes with simple 'spot' and 'diamond' designs.

This week, fed up to back teeth with horses, I churned out three units of 'Turkish' foot. Very easy to paint! The Azerbaijanis have had some of their swords removed and replaced with spears to make them more 'Turcoman'. I liked painting these so much I'm going to splash out on another unit or two - they took less than 20 minutes each!

Next I plan to do some Arab foot. 148 of them. Two units of (30) Ahdath, two units of (20)Muttatawwia and 4 units of (12) archers. Then more cavalry - ARGHHHHHHHH!