The 19th Burton and District competition started bright and breezy for us.
The Crusader army we picked was based on the following plan. With 32 bases of armoured defensive spear this was to act as a buttress while the Knights would deploy in reserve and either to the flank or centre (The military order being drilled could act as either fire brigade or exploitation force as required. The 2 blocks of Crossbowmen would deploy last where needed. So often these guys are in the wrong place. Not being the best troops in the world we thought that they needed some advantage. Also deploying 16 bases of shooters might shore up a hanging and certainly drive of any light mounted troops ahead of them. Here is the list –
Our opponents in the first game was the illustrious Hammy and Martin with their Fatamid Egyptians. The list was something along the lines of
- 3 BGs of 9 bases of protected defensive spear
- 2 BGs of Mamluks (Sup/Arm/Bow/Sw)
- 6 BGs of Arab/Syrian lancers ( various grades from Arm/Sup to Avg/Unprot)
- 2 BGs of LH with Bow/Sw
- And a couple of LF BGs with bow
So about 15 BGs
With a PBI of 0, we lost the roll off, but our opponents passed the initiative. This happening in 3 out of 4 games. I’m not sure why people think that was such as good idea. Against a sluggish army like the Crusaders they largely like to be pinned back. Really this avoids the gaps in the line opening up too early. If you can deploy sensibly (with a reserve) then going second is no big issue (especially when you get the terrain advantage). In all of our games I didn’t feel like our opponents opening move was that much of an advantage. I would happily take this option ! As it happened it allowed our Crossbowmen to shine, where perhaps they might be considered mediocre.
In this game terrain was largely irrelevant. A couple of bits of rough going in the flanks , back on the edges. Certainly a 4’ wide section in the centre. Our deployment was to plan. The 32 bases of spear in centre (each group of 2 8s would be supported by 1 4 of Armenian MF (great filler)) We left a 16cm gap in the centre which could be closed by the spear or occupied by Knights or Crossbowmen. The Military order were centre rear. The Armenian Knights and Crusading Knights were deployed on the right (which with hindsight was a slight mistake). The Crossbowmen were split, one in a field to the left to shore up that flank and one to rear centre.
The Fatamids deployed in largely similar fashion. Their spear rear centre. Mamluks deployed in front centre. Our right flank had 2 Syrian (Superior) Lancers and 2 BG of LH. The Left flank had 2 more Syrian Lancers and 2 Arab Lancers (lesser quality ), and a bit of LF Bow.
From setup it looked reasonable for us. Our spear was better (armour), although less numerous. The Cavalry on both flanks we held a slight advantage, in quality , but we were less numerous in bases and BGs.
Their opening move was to send the LF and LH forward to hold us back. The Mamluks raced forward to start their shooting. We ambled forward, not committing any reserves. On the right flank the LH started peppering the KN and tempting them to charge. With 2 BG of KN vs. 2 BG of LH it wasn’t too bad , there would have to be exceptional set of circumstances to break those (more of that later!) . The Syrians on our right didn’t fancy the 2 BGs of Crusading Knights bearing down on them and did a swift handbrake turn and moved back to a safer centre rear position. On our left flank the general plan as I saw it was to envelop us with the Arab lancers while holding us in the centre with the spear and better Cavalry.
Our spears pressed on and the gap closed. The Mamluks started to shoot, but because they couldn’t gang up on any target the odds weren’t in their favour. 4 dice needing 5’s ,requiring 3 hits for a test and 4 for a minus… while the spear had rear support and general. Not much of sporter. As the spears closed the centre it was time to commit the Military order, to the our left. On our right there was a general swing inward. The LH were doing nothing and the chargers were swinging in towards meatier targets.
The crux came as the lined closed to 4-5’ on the left one Military order was facing off 2 units of Syrian lancers. All BGs had a general in tow as no-one wanted to fail the test to charge. Being drilled it meant a 5 thought but they would have 2 tests each turn, so it was in our advantage to wait. We were trying to wiggle a spear unit to get closer and get in-between the cavalry standoff. This meant that the Berber spearmen were pushed to prevent that. Then as luck would have it Hammy failed one of the 2 tests that he needed to make. The impact was brutal. The Knights were a POA up, re-rolling 1 &2s … the Syrians needing 5 (thought re-rolling 1&2s). The Knights of Jerusalem were triumphal. They won the combat. The Syrians lost a base and disrupted – Perfect. In the ensuing melee the Syrians fragmented. In our turn we just pushed everything forward. The Mamluks were a bit squashed, with Berber spearmen directly to the rear. But it wasn’t in our interest to charge, as they were superior with a general, we weathered the shooting. But now our crossbowmen had moved up with all the enemy committed (pinned), we could then just start shooting the end of the Mamluk line with 4 crossbow shots.
The Syrians to the left broke, and the rampant knights smashed into the other Syrian lancers unit behind. With their best cavalry ½ shattered and the other ½ now being outnumbered, the Fatamid saw this as a do or die moment ( they didn’t want drilled lancers floating around to the rear of their lines). SO, they charged en-masse in the centre. The fights were level and there were a lot of dice. For the spear BG that was closest the left most lancers, it was a tale of woe that Hammy will be dining out on for a while.. I should mention at this point my daughter was in charge of dice duty. In the impact were we were level, and they needed some luck (as they would be down in melee for armour). She rolled the first 6 dice , and rolled 6 5&6s (showing off as 4s would be OK). Hammys dice were poor and he only got a couple. He disrupted, it was all looking ominous. Then to compound matters with another throw she threw 11 to kill the general. A general waver when through the Fatamid lines, and several other units dropped after seeing this calamity.
To the right a lancer units was trying to sneak through to get a charge in against the Crossbowmen that were shooting at the Mamluks. But they took 3 hits for their trouble and threw the ubiquitous 1 for their death roll and removed a base.
The whole centre was wavering now. The left centre the second Syrian lancer was breaking… the next Berber spearmen held on briefly but soon broke. The ripple that this caused fragmented the last spear units that was behind the Mamluks, as our turn opened we charged a Spear BG as the Mamluks (who has contracted to avoid being shot , but therefore could not evade. The spear charge also targeted the fragmented Berber spear who didn’t stand. The whole Egyptian centre was now in flight.
With KN bearing down on the remaining right flank, the jig was up. We have a solitary fight on the very left flank were the Arab lancers manifested a charge into the crossbowem (in a field). With the loss of lance, disorder, and the bowmen getting support shooting that was only going one way
The Fatimid’s lay crushed. We have only lost 2 bases in the whole game and suffered 1 disruption. So would be a 25-0 .. a rare score and a perfect start for the Crusaders. Who prior to this had never won a game.