Sunday 19 September 2021

A Stream Runs Through It. A Raid Scenario for the Crusades using TtS.

The Scenario

This is a straightforward To the Strongest scenario for the Crusades period. It was devised to be played by four players, though a two or three player game is entirely possible; in the event of a three player game I suggest that the Franks are played by one player (the Franks have less units).

The scenario is based on the premise that the Franks are launching a large scale raid into Saracen territory with the object of pillaging two large and prosperous villages. Unfortunately for the Franks, their plan has become known to the Saracens and their ambition will be forcefully opposed.

Each of the forces (x4) comprises 90 points worth of troops - it's a raid not a full sized battle. However, the Saracens have had to pay 10 points (2 for each village section) for five camps and these form the basis of the scenario - hopefully they will be too tempting for the Franks to resist. Each camp adds a victory medal to the Saracens VM pool, so the points have not been wasted but, they have been double costed to reflect the semi-fortified nature of the 'camps' being sited in buildings. If lost, each camp will cause the loss of 3 VM - very tempting for the Franks!

The Battlefield has been laid out on a twelve by six table. The box size is 200mm x 200mm: 18 by 9 boxes overall. 

The new stylised terrain, including some virgin stream sections, looks very angular but works a treat in game terms.

The Franks (right) will deploy one command first, anywhere up to two boxes in; then the Saracens (left) can deploy a command anywhere up to three boxes in; and so on until all four commands have been deployed.

The Franks will move first.

The terrain definition sheet, just so everyone knows what is what. The biggest changes to the basic rule definitions are that light cavalry struggle in difficult terrain (because horses don't really like rough ground), and I treat 'town' boxes differently. Oh, BLOS stands for Blocks Line Of Sight [beyond box], and high means hills or town boxes.

Franks. Player1.

Command 1. Heroic General: Brother knights; foot sergeants; Turcopoles.

Command 2. Heroic General: Knights; 2 foot sergeants; Armenian light cavalry.

1 munitions chit.

5 points of discretionary spend.

Franks. Player 2.

Command 1. Heroic General: Knights; foot sergeants; crossbowmen (light infantry); turcopoles.

Command 2. Heroic General: Knights; 2 foot sergeants; turcopoles.

5 points of discretionary spend.

Saracens. Player1.

Command 1. Heroic General: Ghulam cavalry (upgraded); Syrian cavalry; 2 Turcoman horse archers.

Command 2. General: 2 Syrian cavalry; 2 Adhath; 3 archers (light infantry).

4 munitions chits.

4 points of discretionary spend.

Note how I'm choosing to mark commands, upgrades and generals. Units have the usual number bead to indicate which command units belong to; blue beads indicate an upgrade is in effect; yellow beads indicate a general, red beads indicate him being heroic. I've stopped using more colours than than this - see more about this later in this post.

Saracens. Player 2.

Command 1. Heroic General: Ghulam cavalry (upgraded); Syrian cavalry; 2 Turcoman horse archers; Adhath; 2 archers (light infantry).

Command 2. General: 1 Syrian cavalry; 2 Turcoman horse archers.

4 munitions chits.

4 points of discretionary spend.

Each player will get to choose how to use a small amount of discretionary spend (4 or 5 points). This can be used to upgrade units, or buy heroes or munition chits.
I have recently changed the way units are marked. In our last game I used beads of various colours to denote troop types. However, I thought this was cumbersome and decided to only use one blue bead in this game to mark units that have been upgraded. If a unit has a blue bead it is easy to see what the upgrade means by simply referring to the blue highlighted upgrade in the army lists.

All other upgrades (highlighted pink) are merely stated as being in effect and generally effect a whole troop type: For instance, all knights can be stated to be impetuous or ferocious. No troops in this game have a stated upgrade but might have at the players choice - upgrading to Impetuous is a freebie, guys!
The Syrian army list sheet is laid out in exactly the same way.

You will also notice that each list comes with period specific notes and rule amendments for the army.
My quick reference sheet is also a little different to the one that comes with the rules.

I have made several small changes here, most notably to some saving throws and to ammunition chits - the latter having been entirely removed from the game and replaced by a simple rule mechanism. I removed ammunition chits because they look rubbish on the table and because, for this period, there are simply too many units that need to carry them around: things still go out of ammo, just in a different way. For other games, like the Punic Wars, I'll stick to ammunition chits, mostly because of the javelin armed troops, and the fact that there are far fewer shooters.

Anyway, there it is, a very simple scenario for Wednesday night.


Rob said...

I think the terrain looks ideal for TtS, personally I think I might smooth more of the slopes and use rocks and shrubs to decorate those edges that are more 'step-like'. But they are great as they are, elegant in their utility, i.e. form following function which is what's needed for a game. I've played on some beautiful terrain that's been a b*gger to move, or even stand, troops on so I'm in your camp on this one.

Jim Walkley said...

I enjoy reading about your games although my own are much more modest. I enjoy To the Strongest games and feel the system makes the use of chits worth tolerating. I would be interested in how you make a rule to do away with ammunition chits. Looking forward to reading how the game went. Best wishes. Jim


Hi Jim, if you click on the image of the QRS it should enlarge, then enlarge again and the rule is there under shooting notes in the bottom section.

However, in short (and because virtually nothing has javelin to skirmish with in this period - Crusades), it goes like this. If a unit draws a ten to hit (not activate, to hit) it goes out of ammunition, sometimes first shot, sometimes never.

The same applies to lances, they are also 'broken' on a 10 to hit chit.

Javelins are a one shot weapon used up the second they are used on a successful activation to be thrown - the unit automatically goes out of ammo. Because of the general availability and use of bows, javelins were not widely used as a skirmish weapon during the crusades, most being a spear or light lance that could be thrown when necessary.

The randomness of the 'on a 10' mechanism doesn't bother me very much (it actually makes more sense) because with this rule system, what time span does an activation represent, and what do multiple activations within a player turn actually mean in relation to the ammunition chits used over a player turn - surely, two bodies of troops within range of each other are simply shooting at each other as fast as they can and using ammo at the same speed; and surely a turn is the same duration for each so ammunition expenditure will be similar (which it isn't under the TtS mechanism). So perhaps, running out of ammo is simply that the re-supply element has broken down temporarily, and if you run out of replenishment chits permanently.

Therefore, do multiple activations to shoot simply mean that one side is potentially being more effective with its archery than the other, rather than shooting faster and using more ammo than its adversary. In better documented battles the lop sidedness of archery effect is often seen and one side (even though very comparable in training and armament to the other, etc.) does much better; but one side probably isn't doing better because it is being less conservative with its ammunition usage: it's probably using a barely evident height or wind advantage, or is simply being more accurate / under better direction for some reason best known to Lady Fortune.

In my rules, you replenish as per normal but each ammo chit (which I call munition chits and can also be used to replenish lances too) keeps you going until you go out of ammunition again, and represent supply being re-established.

It's simply a different way of looking at the problem and gets rid of a lot of bean counting, something that TtS does very efficiently in every other department. I'm afraid, as it is presently written, the TtS rule is cumbersome, and out of step with the rest of the fuss free and elegant design of the rules.


Having talked to Simon about ammunition chits some time ago, I know that his initial thought was not to have Roman Velites and similar troops throwing (what were a limited number of) javelins all day, and detracting from the important tactical element of that kind of warfare. That, because I also do Punic Wars, is something I can understand perfectly. You want a bit of a skirmish followed by the main event of heavy infantry of various types getting to grips with each other.

Having a couple of ammunition chits with a few units, and not the most important ones at that, is fine. However, when it's more than half an army, and involves a major combat factor in the upcoming struggle, each unit carrying's for the bees, not me.

I'm struggling with getting rid of them all together because of the velites thing. I did wonder about making it part of the save chit. If the target drew an even chit (2, 4, 8, etc.) save or not, then the Velites would go out of ammo. A 50 / 50 chance every time they hit. That's very similar to two ammunition chits. Close enough?


To hit chit, better?

Jim Walkley said...

What a detailed and lengthy reply. I am sorry, I should have read the QRS first. Many thanks for the reply it was very interesting to read your thoughts. It appeals to me as I have a dearth of 10s but an apparent oversupply of 1s would negate the permanent ammunition supply :-).The problem my old codger head would have is remembering who has run out - perhaps a marker like a small stone would do.

On your final point I think perhaps it 'feels' more appropriate to have an even to hit chit causing the loss of ammo but I haven't thought through any unintended effects of this.

On a different tack, Field of Battle 3 brought me back to the Piquet stable, and when considering Pulse of Battle I rediscovered your Ager Proelii rules in Miniature Wargames - surely not published nearly 10 years ago. I intend to use these and your Ager Sanguinis QRS to try a Spanish Reconquista game. There don't seem to be as many horses as in the Crusades and I hate painting horses in particular!

Apologies for the meander and thanks for the blog.