Sunday, June 04, 2006

Might of Arms Redux

I've been itching to try this game again, and was able to get a few free hours. I set up a medium sized, meeting engagement. To add a little spice, I've added a few pictures to help illustrate the action.

I went with the same armies as the first battle, Seljuks vs Crusaders, but I went with larger armies. The Seljuk army consisted of 3 units of Heavy Cavalry, 7 units of Light Cavalry, 2 units of auxilia, 1 unit of archers, and 1 unit of skirmishers. The Crusaders had 4 units of Knights, 1 of Light Cavalry, 2 units of spearmen, 2 units of spearmen with attached crossbowmen, 1 unit of pilgrims, and a unit of skirmishers. Each formed infantry unit (spearmen, archers, auxilia, pilgrims) had 4 stands, while everything else had 2 stands.

(The opposing armies)

The battlefield was rather simple, with a small village at the edge of a valley. The terrain split the battlefield into three sections separated by rough terrain.

(The battlefield)

The plan for each side was simple. The Turks wanted to delay in the center and win on the flanks, while the Crusaders wanted to do just the opposite. Here is the initial setup of the forces:

(Crusader setup)
(Seljuk setup)

The Turks sent light horse to attack each flank. On the Crusaders left flank, they were stopped by crossbow fire and the Turcopole light horse. The Turks were not able to make progress on that flank for the entire game.

On the Crusaders right flank, the spearmen/crossbowmen unit was able to hold off the horses for a few turns, but it was then charged by a unit of auxilia. It held the initial charge, but was then hit in the flank by light cavalry. A unit of knights rode to rescue, and a swirling melee developed. (insert picture here) Eventually, both the infantry and the knights routed in the face of superior numbers, but they mauled two units of light horse and delayed the Turks for several turns.

(Action at the end of Turn 1)

In the center, the Pilgrims pushed forward. The Seljuks quickly dispatched them with a unit of auxilia and a unit of heavy cavalry. Crusader spearmen charged the auxilia, and were able to defeat them after 3 or 4 turns of battle. In the meantime, two units of knights were able to charge the heavy cavalry after taking a few hits from long range bowfire. The Turks responded by sending in their reserve, and things looked grim for the Franks. By a stroke of luck, they managed to kill the Seljuk commander, causing several units to fail their morale check. At about the same time, the spearmen finally defeated the auxilia and joined the fray. It proved too much for the Turks... their last heavy cavalry unit broke and the game was over. The Frankish knights had taken many casualites but were able to win the day.

(Climax in the valley)

The Turks lost nearly double the points that the Crusaders had lost, resulting in a decisive victory for the Franks. The Turks were unable to break through on the flanks, and the Crusader spearmen plus knights proved to be very tough. That said, the loss of the Seljuk leader was probably the turning point of the battle, since the units that failed were destroyed soon after, causing the collapse of the Seljuk center.

I definitely like the "feel" of the game. To me, it feels a lot like Warhammer, where you maneuver to get advantageous charges or to position your skirmishing units to harass and disrupt. I like the fact that you use missile fire to wear down units before you charge them. I also like the way that the different units have very different movement capabilites. I think we did the system an injustice in our Romans vs Gauls game by simply lining up two infantry lines and slamming them into each other.

On the down side, the system is more complex than DBx. Combat resolution between evenly matched units can take a long time. And finally, you need a lot of stands for the armies. I used about 70 stands for this battle, while an average sized battle would be about twice that.

All that said, I'd love to try the game again. It provides a nice change of pace from the DBx games, while not being overly complex. Knowing how the system works, I think we'd find it quite enjoyable.

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