Game 3 vs more araby things
(actually, Dynastic Bedouin)
Yet again I faced a game without a waterway (the Bedouin haven't got one - tricksters!) and also without H(S) to clutter the table edges. The devious dervishes also went for a flank march as well as the almost compulsory mini command of LH almost entirely across the river to harass my other flank. Yet again both of these problems were largely left in the "too difficult" box as I attempted to crack forwards - but with desperate pips for the first 3-4 bounds it proved rather less speedy than I had hoped. In fact, the Bedouin had deployed their mounted blades with the CinC, and my bad pips were their good ones - the blades were able to redeploy at will, with a total of 27 pips in their first 4 turns - this single command outscoring my entire army on two of those occasions.
This soon found them redeployed to face a block of 8 bowmen towards the flank-march-expectant edge of the table. With the wind also in my face this was starting to seem like a handicap system had been implemented against me without my prior knowledge!
|"I predict an outflanking move by LH on the short side of the river against your wall of spears"|
Soon the Arabs were flooding across the (of course) paltry river, and my reserve/cutting edge of knights was forced to waste its time preventing them capturing the leaning tower of Pisa in my baggage.
The battle against the blades was all slowly going the wrong way - with infinite pips at their disposal the Bedouin were able to redeploy at will, and reinforce the salient with cavalry, light horse and more mounted bowmen - the crusaders were not happy at all !
However the crusader spearmen were proving remarkably resilient in the face of Arabic swordsmanship (and poor combat and movement dice to repay them for their mobile maneuvering earlier in the game also played a part), and as they pushed forwards the bowmen managed to fall back towards the relative safety of a patch of rough ground (that to be honest they maybe never should have left)
The Bedouin leader fed more cavalry into the gap, attempting to expose the flanks of my ill advisedly advancing spearmen - and for several turns it was desperate stuff, with impossible recoils on both sides and multiple deaths being forecast, but not quite coming off.
Meanwhile, back at the camp a lone Bedouin had snuk past the knight patrols and started munching the undefended baggage - with great success - 4 were munched before I could respond - and the - of course - the rescuing knight was also promptly dispatched!
Then to compound matters more, the flank march came on - fleeing some of the surviving bowmen, and creating a log jam which was impossible to extricate myself from - the last of the bowmen dies, leaving the command tottering on 8 out of 9.5 dead...
But, with my spears pushing relentlessly on, and the blade threat neutralized by heroic crusader infantry, the "supporting" cavalry suddenly became "enveloped" cavalry, and were sandwiched by crusader spearmen, and then turned into seaside jam (looks kinda strawberry, but with sand in it).
Both armies now had commands on the edge of explosion - and as the clock ticked down we had only carried out 11 turns in what had been an action-heavy game throughout. With the prospect of some more decisive advantage for both sides - especially for the Bedouin with nearly all of my baggage also gone - we chose to play a voluntary 3 minute blitz for the last pair of bounds.
The crusaders had a handful of chances, the Bedouin likewise... but both washed up just short of the casualties required to kill a command!
A very hard fought draw - arguably justification for my "ignore the flanks and push on" strategy... (or just luck really!)
Game 4 vs Syrian
Again, no waterway - this time due to my defending. the navy was destined not to see action!
With some allied Armenian knights, the Syrians were almost inevitably drawn into an attack somewhere along my line, and they chose one of the blobs of bowmen, whilst their auxilia faced off against the other blob on the opposite side of the table.
The Crusaders did their traditional advance forwards and fight anything we face tactic, but pushing the supported spearmen up past to form a valley of death for both the knights and the auxilia to charge into. No change there then.
Brace Yerselves lads.....
It was at this point the repeated prayers and religious exhortations came off - the 8 bowmen loosed their arrows as the knights lurched towards them, but only killed one Cilician .... the General, with a 6-1 !
A desperate move of combat later saw only one more knight killed, so when they rolled again they needed to score 3 - they got a 1, and the striking punch of the Syrians was in full retreat!
On the left the bowmen vs auxilia struggle had gotten very messy - good shooting had eroded the auxilia formation, but in combat they were fighting staunchly - killing spearmen as they knocked a hole in the bowmen, and then turned a flank. However maths is maths, and with huge commands the crusaders were fighting back, and gradually the auxilia were being overwhelmed.
With the knights swiftly redeploying from right to left to reinforce and already advantageous Crusader situation, the Syrians were under intolerable pressure all across the park. Finally they cracked - 10-0 to the Crusaders!
So, 29 points in old money, enough to sneak me into a trophy-free 3rd place. Not bad for a bunch of pedestrians !