Sunday, April 28, 2013


A solo play of the Montgisard scenario in Infidel, the second of the GMT Games "Men of Iron" series.

In this battle, the terrain is flat and clear. Ten Crusader units--five knights, five infantry, under Baldwin the Leper--face eighty Saracen units, mostly light and medium cavalry, under Saladin. The Saracens have to gather 15VP to win, with Baldwin counting for 5, Reynald 2, knights 3 and foot 1. The Crusaders have to get 60vp, including the result of a d10; Saladin himself is 5, the Mamluk heavy cavalry are 3, other horse and generals 2 each.

The Saracen forces all start Disordered. Their left is a single formation of thirty Seljuq light cavalry; the right is a formation of ten medium cavalry and a formation of ten light cavalry farther right. Saladin, with ten Mamluk heavy cavalry, is in the rear. A force of fifteen infantry units will arrive as reinforcements. The Saracen leaders are all in the second or third lines of their formations, rather than the first, on the theory that safety is better than glory.

The Crusaders start with a line of knights facing the enemy, with a line of infantry behind. Baldwin is in the center, with the Templars. The infantry line has a unit of crossbowmen on the right, with the rest of the line being men at arms, commanded by Raynald de Chatillion.

By scenario rule, the first activation goes to the Crusaders. They advance to the seam between the enemy wings, and charge. The knights on the Crusader right are disordered by Seljuq archery, but shatter all before them and pass through all four lines of the Seljuq formation. The band on the near left does the same to the Syrian medium cavalry. The other three knights each defeat two units, including, on the far left, al-Adil's unit, but the general slips away as his troops rout around him. At the end of the activation, four of the five knights are disordered, but they have destroyed seven units and forced six more to retire. 20vp for the Crusaders.

Second activation: The Saracens decide not to contest it, and Raynald de Chatillion makes his roll to activate the Crusader infantry. They advance, and the crossbowmen on the right fire at an opposing Seljuq unit; the range is long, but the Frankish crossbows are steady, and the Seljuq archers retire. 21vp for the Crusaders.

Third activation: Baldwin announces his intent to activate again; Saladin tries to seize initiative, but fails the roll. With his free activation, Baldwin urges his knights to attack. The company on the left pivots to attack al-Adil; attacking from the flank, this time they succeed in cutting him down, and pass through the Syrian cavalry to end up facing the Kurdish light cavalry of the Saracen right. The other four knights ride to attack the Mamluks--one on each flank of the formation, and Baldwin with the Templars and another company charging straight in. The two flanking units, being disordered, make no progress, but the frontal attack succeeds; the Templars crash through the lines, destroying two Mamluk companies and forcing a third to flee. Saladin narrowly escapes, taking refuge with his last company of guard cavalry. Atthe end of this activation, eight of the ten Syrian medium cavalry have retired or been eliminated, as have four of the Mamluks and seven Seljuqs. The Crusaders are at 35vp, over halfway to victory.

Fourth activation: Reynald rolls a 0 and activates. Good thing this is solo or the Saracen would be muttering darkly about the dice. The Crusader infantry advances to engage the front and right flank of the Seljuqs. As they close, Saracen archery disorders the crossbows and one of the men at arms companies; the crossbows' reply forces the Seljuq unit to retire. Reynald's frontal attack bogs down, but the two companies on the left force yet another horse archer to retire. Crusaders are at 37vp.

Baldwin fails his next activation attempt, so the Saracens finally get to do something. The Saracens would prefer to get the Mamluk heavy cavalry in the game but almost all of them have a Crusader adjacent, so they can't be rallied from disorder. Only one of the Seljuq light cavalry has an enemy adjecent, so the Saracens activate that command and rally it.

And then Baldwin seizes initiative again. Most of the knights are disordered and all of them are adjacent to enemy units, so they can't charge, but they can melee. The company off tangling with the Kurdish horse forces one to retire, and advances, working its way closer to the general. The other four knights attack the Mamluks, killing two and forcing Saladin to scramble to escape yet again. The Crusader score is 44 now, and only three Mamluk bands are still functional.

Saladin tries to regain initiative, choosing his Seljuqs with some misgivings; he rolls badly enough that none of his commands would have made it. The Crusaders had been planning to activate Reynald, and do so, although since it was a Free Activation, the knights could (and probably should) have activated instead. The crossbowmen exchange ineffectual long range fire with a Selujuq band; the men at arms on the left swing around the flank but are unable to make much of their attack; Reynald's men force a horse archer to retreat,  but it has no avenue for escape and is destroyed. Reynald advances. The Crusaders are at 46.

Saladin again rolls a 9 and fails to seize initiative. Baldwin and the Templars charge, destroying two bands of Mamluks; Saladin is mounted on his racing camel and easily escapes to the last remaining Mamluk band. The lone company of knights engaging the Syrian cavalry attacks successfully, destroying a band. The Crusaders now stand at 54 points. They don't quite make their roll for victory but Saladin can't get away and the next Crusader activation will finish him. The Saracens surrender.

Final tally:
Crusaders: no losses. Four knights and two infantry are disordered, which doesn't count for victory points but would help the Saracens if they ever got a chance to attack.

Saracens: Mamluks, 5 eliminated, 4 retired; Syrian medium cavalry, the general and 4 units eliminated, 4 retired; Seljuq light horse, 6 units eliminated, 6 retired; Kurdish light horse, 1 unit eliminated and 1 retired.

The results are unbalanced but something like this is what actually happened; the Crusaders destroyed 90% of the Saracen force, including Saladin's bodyguard and almost including Saladin himself. So in that sense it's fairly faithful historically. The results would have been less lopsided if Saladin had been able to succeed with an activation roll, but c'est la guerre.

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