Rough and ready reports:
I took Early Crusaders to the Byzantium theme at Warfare as a/ I wanted to use some new Mirliton medieval spearmen won in Rome earlier this year, and b/ it seemed like an unusual army to take. It was almost a wall-o-spear, but with the twin advantages of having lots (20) bowmen to allow it to be more proactive than usual, and also being mostly Sp(I). With only 35 spear and 6 Bd the "wall" would also need to be often in one rank - and with only 14 supporting Ps hopefully this meant it was weak enough for opponents to risk attacking it rather than grinding out skirmishing draws.
Game 1 I played a Ottoman army under the generalship of Suleiman Ian Stewart.
Unsurprisingly I defended (booo), failed to roll for a WW and then attempted to fill the edges of the table with as many steep hills as possible. This - as you can see, mostly worked, and allowed me to set up a wall of spear and bow across most of the table. Ian responded by throwing all his army into my CinC's command - with the 4 blades a fairly nasty surprise for my rather less competent wall of rubbish.
The 4 auxilia were also a cause for concern, as I had been slack and not really realised they might be hiding behind my hills, and also not realised they were in the list anyway. I was soon forced to counter their trail through the mountains with some bowmen, who held up manfully until the reinforcements (the 3 mounted knights swiftly redeploying from the opposite side of the table) arrived - but by then Ian had managed to insert a column of cavalry across the mountains as well, and had his blades fighting my Sp(I) - this was rather too much action to have happening - especially the bits behind my lines - and given 28 of my spears, 18 bow and 6 blades were mostly unoccupied at this stage, and I was doing most of the serious fighting with 2 Kn, 2 Bw and 2 Ps I was starting to wonder whether this "big army" theory was all it was cracked up to be! I was taking a right pasting, and it seemed to be heading for a dead Crusader King in double quick time...
However this wasn't the full story either - the flanking cavalry were part of the command with the blades attacking my front, and they were also feeding in more Cv to support the blades flanks, and using LH to delay my advance in the middle. This was always going to be a bit much....even for a Ottoman Suleimans command - one extra pip wasn't really enough to mount 4 separate simultaneous attacks across 3 feet of frontage and over a mountain....
Suddenly the "delaying" light horse were "eaten" light horse as my advancing spearmen got the opportunity to do a drag-and-buttock maneuver to kill them both. The blades took fright at this and realised they had advanced too far, exposing flanks - and soon my Kn(F) were chewing Cv(O), and the Ottomans CinC's command was pushed back over the edge from what they had thought was an apparently winning position!
This brought the Serbs and the Janissaries into play - could they claw the game back, or would they end up just another target for my battered but as yet undefeated CinC's spearmen?
The Serbs crashed in, crashed partly through, but then were surrounded and cut down - leaving the Serb general to perform an ignominious reverse withdrawal (ouch!) as spearmen from my central command goaded him from just too far away...
It was down to the Janissaries - who were quickly involved in hand to had fighting, supported by LH sweeping in from the flanks through the remnants of my CinC's spearmen. The command could not last under this onslaught - and my CinC crumbled.
The Ottomans looked safe - but the accumulation of casualties had also started to take its toll on them - with the isolated auxilia cut down by mounted knights, some losses to the serbs and a 22 string command already gone the Suleiman realised that he now skirted very close to half of his 57 elements being dead.
One last flurry of activity gave the Crusaders 3 decent attempts to get the final element they needed to push the Ottoman horde over the edge. 3 attempts - 3 misses. A 6-4 defeat (his CinC'c command was worth 2, mine 3) but with me killing 49% to 40%. Not a bad start :-)
Game 2 - vs Rum Old Turks
This was much more what I had expected. Of course, I managed to attack someone without a waterway, but this time it was in winter, so there was a risk of rain, but the river I could deploy was flooded. Hoorah!
Enemy action using the river to outflank me was inevitable.
|"I predict an outflanking move by LH on the short side of the river against your wall of spears"|
With a total absence of spare troops with which to do anything clever like skirmish or stuff, I was forced into the brilliant tactical option of, erm, ignore it and hope the river was hard to get across.
The game evolved into a race against time - could my spearmen push the enemy off the table before they could feed enough men across the river to harass my baggage and my rear. A couple of knights and a lone, underpaid auxilia wondering why when he joined the Crusader Navy his call-up papers had not specified that he would given this level of responsibility were tasked with mucking about on the riverbank.
The Turks also attempted to take advantage of the rain, by riding down a big lump of bowmen, suddenly looking like a weak part of the line. The knights maneuvered carefully through the downpour right up almost into charge range of the bowmen, who were protected on their flanks by buttresses of supported spears. Just as the knights revved up, the heavens, erm, closed (?), and the sun broke through - Doh!
Rather than charge into the sun-kissed valley of death, the knights now executed a pip intensive well planned change of plan, and launched an attack on the spearmen. It didn't work.... and pretty much exactly as the last one died, the rain started again!
By now the turks were across the river, but the Crusaders were nearing the end zone and hoping for a spear-baggage touchdown - and the clock was ticking!
As the game end time rapidly approached the Turks finally ran out of table, out of luck, and the wall of Cv-unfriendly Crusaders ran out winners just before the flank attack became a serious problem, 10-0. Phew!