Both armies in this game were supplied by Ian and comprised 500 points using 15mm figures. The rules used were Sword and Spear (Mark Lewis; Polkovnik Productions, 2014). This was a new rule set for myself, so Ian explained/taught the rules as we went along. I commanded the Seljuks, whilst Ian commanded the Crusaders. The 6’x4’ table was fairly open with a river limiting one flank, and a village on the other flank.
I decided to keep my poor quality infantry away from the action areas, protecting my camp, and to focus on my cavalry forces. I hoped my bow-armed light horse would weaken Ian’s Crusaders, then I would hit him with my heavier cavalry. Ian also kept his pilgrim hordes back, and advanced with 2 blocks of spear/crossbows supported by knights and turcopoles. In the photo below the Seljuks are at the bottom, with Ian’s Crusaders at the top.
I think I quickly got the gist of the rules. I’m not going to attempt to explain or review them here, but the essence is to prioritise dice from a limited dice pool to allow units (or groups) to undertake actions. The higher you roll, the more chance you have of carrying out the desired actions, and 6’s (or multiples of high scores) yield bonuses. Combat is simple ordered dice comparison (the number of dice rolled per side varies), which results in automatic casualties or discipline dicing for casualties. Results can be modified due to armour etc. Units are destroyed if they take more casualties than their discipline rating.
I started the game according to plan and took some fairly ineffectual pot-shots at the enemy. I then threw a good set of activation dice which encouraged me to hurl my heavier cavalry at Ian, who counter-attacked with his knights. A couple of turns of combat occurred with little damage to either side, especially when generals could rally off the hits we managed to achieve. I began to realise how hard a nut fresh, heavy spearmen could be. Ian bemoaned the rigidity of his crossbow units (unable to move and fire, unable to exploit bonus dice rolls). Eventually I managed to crack a unit of spearmen and opened up a wide gap in the Crusader line through which I moved some cavalry to threaten Ian’s fortified camp and pilgrims. Things were looking good, but then next couple of turns were disastrous. Ian’s knights finally broke a couple of my units of heavy cavalry, and then they caught some horse archers who failed to evade. This badly shook up my Arab infantry. A unit of Crusader crossbows then about turned and shot my best unit of break-through cavalry in the back, causing 3 casualties with one shot, destroying the unit and killing my C-in-C. This tipped my army over the edge and victory was awarded to Ian. The photo below shows the end-game with the open area in the centre being where my army died!
This was a thoroughly enjoyable game. The rules really worked, and I ordered a set for myself as soon as I got home. Our next game will use them again, this time featuring Greek hoplite armies. I will write a more complete review once I have my own copy and have played a few more games.