Monday, 23 December 2013

Barbarossa playtest. Day Two counter-attack

With the holiday season upon us, there has been time for another playtest for the forthcoming Barbarossa rules and lists, and a sunday afternoon visit to my friend Andy’s house. He’d picked 600 pts from the 1941 panzer division lists to face 600 from my 1941 mechanised corps. It would be a straight forward meeting engagement.

The German end of the table with the village and orchard, which would become very hotly contested. Germans arriving from top right corner.

The Russian end of the table, all forest and a marsh.Russians arriving left to right (via the road) and then occupying the tree line.

My plan was to quickly get to the wood line and use it as the jump-off for a strong attack on the village from the left and right. On my right would be the BT-7s carry tank riding infantry. On the left, my 2 T-34s and truck-borne rifle platoon. Pressure from two sides simultaneously should keep the Germans well penned in. In support (off-table) I had a battery of 120mm mortars and a timed 122mm howitzer barrages.  That would hit the village on turn 6, time for the German invaders to get there in numbers and to get my attacking units on the table and up to the start line.

The game began badly, as German 105mm shells interdicted my route of advance (the road), destroying one of my armoured cars before it had done anything. The second armoured car made a daring (dumb) dash for the village, speeding out across the fields with only a 222 to take on. Or, so I thought, until a Panzerjager I appeared from the German table edge and destroyed it with a single lucky shot... both my recce units gone very early.

Deployed and awaiting (the road junction was an objective too). 

Solo 222 heads into the village, leading the German column.

105mm shell target point, ot-oh!

Breaking cover, my second BA-6 meets 47mm AP shell.

The Germans arrived slowly, a Kradschutzen squad racing for the village (good), with a Panzer III and the Panzerjager I. The escalation would continue as the Germans pushed along the road into the village (including their senior officer in his half track, confidently out front to lead the way). My motorised infantry sped along the road in trucks under intermitent 105mm and 80mm mortar fire, causing some pinning but no damage. My T-34s cut cross-country (they are very good at it), waded the marshes and reached the tree line, just in time for a direct hit from a 105mm shell to wreck one tank. My potent armoured strike force was halved in the strength.

 Truck-borne rifle troops and two T-34s making for the wood line
Meanwhile, the BT-7s and their tank riding platoon arrived and massed on my right, ready for the wreckless charge. Long range fire was exchanged and my 120mm mortars got going, only to find my observer was sitting on the target point of a timed 150mm barrage and a direct hit wiped him out messily. No more mortar fire support for this game then!

 BT-7s amassing for the main charge towards the distant church.

On the far flank, a wild 105mm shells ends a T-34's war.

With all my troops on the table and deployed, the wood line was now packed with infantry (and an infantry gun), I realised there was not a hope of having enough orders to launched everybody into the attack at once. Even using the Stal! special rule my attack would not come as the almighty rush I had hoped for. The Germans were still slowly getting onto the table and setting up, the time to strike was now before they were ready and, it was now turn 6. My 122mm guns opened up on the village and suddenly there was a thunderous inferno. German infantry were dying and 6 units were pinned by the thunderous strike. Time to go, go, go!

The village under a heavy barrage before the main attack

 BT charge! Single Panzer III in target rich environment...

Stal! Stal! Stal! My BT-7s all went flat out over the open fields, infantry clinging onto each tank. A single Pz-III was in position to open fire, and missed twice, as 47mm HE shells added to the pinning in the village. It was very dramatic and the German commander looked worried, Mother Russia was striking back. Also, the village was the last objective I had’t claimed. If I could take it, then it was game over.

Of course, it's just not that simple. My infantry debussed from their mounts and charged on, rifles and DPs adding to the pinning. One squad seized the church, others were in the orchard. A 47mm shell ripped through the Pz III and it burst into flames. The village was in serious danger being overrun.

... and smashing their way into the village

Except for the German's fast reinforcements it would have fallen right then. Kradschutzen troops used the road to speed forwards and debuss. Infantry packed every building and a big fire-fight developed as both sides hammered away with everything they had. German MGs (so many of them) raked the buildings and pretty soon all my rifle squads were pinned down. My BT-7s lent support, one hit the 222 and destroyed it, whilst the 251/6 and senior officer rapidly withdrew under fire from BTs, as the Major saved his own skin. 

  Still pushing forwards

A towed Pak-36 deployed to engaged the BTs and immediately hit and destroyed one. Next turn, with the crew pushing it, they changed positons and hit and destroyed another BT. Never has a 37mm gun dealt such damage!
PaK-36 detonates a BT-7. The orchard was swept by MG fire from the Pz-III and buildings opposite.

With the intense fight around the village petering out with about 12 pinned units, my forces still in the tree line kept up some supporting fire with their rifles and DPs, with the infantry gun doing a fine job of keeping the Panzerjager I pinned with constant HE area fire. The T-34 emptied its HE ammo bins doing the same at a HMG-34 team set up and raking heavy fire along the treeline. The T-34 missed 5 times! It turned to AP shells and hit and glanced off the side of a Panzer III! Then, to compound the bad luck, trying to close the range and trusting its mighty frontal armour, it broke down with a grinding of gears and was immobilised. So much for the vaunted new tanks! Out of ammo, can't move.

Still, it didn’t affect the fight for the village. Unpinning as fast as we could (both sides were talking multiple counters for this), the firefight was resumed. A fresh Russian rifle squad assaulted a building and cleared it of an MG team, only for another Kradschutzen squad and MG to wipe them out. My own Maxim Mg was now in place in the church, but it drew a lot of rifle fire and was repeatedly pinned. In the orchard, swept by two MG-34s and tank fire, my two rifle squads and the platoon HQ couldn’t get over the end wall to assault. Only the lieutentent survived from his HQ squad, still shooting back with his pistol. I was suffering for BR. But, so were the Germans, as another MG team was cut apart by BT-7 mg fire and their artillery spotter's radio suddenly packed in, failing for 3 turns to get those 105s firing again, thank you god! No German signals vehicle either, so the game was mercifully free of German arty for several turns as the firefight raged.

 Circling the village, the infantry have just fallen back rather than be wiped out by MG fire.

My BTs, unable to get into the vaillge for burning wrecks, circled it and found another Panzer III waiting for them. It ambush fired and unluckily missed twice and a return shot luckily hit and destroyed it (on a 6). All Panzer IIIs were now burning. With no tanks left the Germans withdrew. His BR total of 41 had been reached with a final unlucky 5 counter. The Russians had reach 37 from 39, the narrowest of wins.

It was great game, a real nail-biter at the end as we both  could see the other must be close to breaking and fought tooth and nail for the village. I caught a ybreak at the end,  don't think I'd have lasted another turn, but thankfully this road east was now blocked. 

Cheers to Andy for the game, a useful playtest too, although I'm happy with the rules at the monent. The Russian feel unwieldy and a bit chaotic, but their numbers and willingness to get stuck in won the game. The Germans were just all round good and anything but a 5 counter would have seen another German turn and almost certain Russian defeat.  

Well, Merry Christmas to all, I hope Santa brings you what you requested. He better have brought my new 28mm ACW Union army on Christmas morning... but that's a biggy for 2014.

Monday, 9 December 2013


Just a quick post before the Xmas period kicks in and takes over completely.

Having finished my DAK, I went looking through the 'to-do' bins, to see if there was anything that grabbed my fancy. Found an old Matchbox kit I got from the Derby bring-and-buy for £2, with the thought it would come in handy for my late-war German kampfgruppe for Fall of the Reich. Can't let the £s go to waste!

The kit went together in about 15 minutes, and the rest of the evening was spent brushes in hand. I don't have an airbrush, so all those nice 262 faded camo-schemes seemed a bit beyond me, so I went for something a little bit more achievable with a dry-brush and a bit of light dabbing with a sponge.

One day it might actually show up on a tabletop.

Got to say the 'to-do' bin is looking pretty empty... which is either a good thing, or bad thing. Only a Zvezda Russian 85mm AA gun and crew and a few Russian pioneers left. Plenty of space for next years big project.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Rommel's Boys

Back in the summer (on the day Andy Murray won Wimbledon, so I remember) I was at Battlegroup South, at Bovington Tank Museum, when I decided to finally make the start on the Afrika Korps army I’d had my eye on. Since owning Airfix Afrika Korps as a child, I’ve always loved the look of these dusty and battered desert warriors, but amongst the many other periods of WWII I wanted to play, I just never got round to North Africa. I actually have the terrain collection (from my Crusades stuff), so I just needed the models to go on it. The time had come to get going.

Well, having taken the plunge in £s I gave myself the rest of the year to get all my force together, paint it and be ready for a game... against whom I’m not sure yet, but I’ll persuade somebody.

Well, for the pasted 5 months I’ve kept up the project, a few evenings here and there, the occasional full sunday afternoon of sticking, spraying and painting... and I’ve final arrived. Rommel’s boys are ready for action, so here they are. I really wanted a battered look - dusty and battle scarred veterans was my plan, with lots of stowage and captured vehicles, etc.

The Headquarters units; the boss in Kfz21 staff car (Ace kit and Brittania crew), SdKfz 263 forward signals unit (Roden Kit - now long will that aerial last?), dispatch rider and Luftwaffe air liaison officer (both Brittania).

 Infantry; Schützen platoon (mixed Caesar miniatures, Brittania, Foundry and SHQ) and 2 snipers (Brittania)

Platoon's LMG teams (Brittania and Caesar miniatures)

Platoon support weapon teams; AT rifle, HMG team, 80mm mortar, 50mm mortar (all Brittania) and platoon transports (Brittania seconded Italian trucks, Altaya Stoewer car)

Kradcshutzen squad - dismounted miniatures aren't shown. (Brittania)

 Panzer IIIs (Plastic Soldier Company)
 Second Panzer III platoon (PSC)

Panzer II platoon (Revel kits)

Artillery; well the FOOs and their radios (Brittania and SHQ), and supply trucks (Academy kit and Frontline truck? - it's a freebie given to me so I'm not sure, still a spare truck can always find a home). 

Reconnaissance; 3 x SdKfz 222s (Airfix kits with AB and SHQ crew) and SdKfz 232 (Altaya - repainted)

Specialist Support; PaK38 anti-tank guns (Plastic Soldier Company with Brittania and SHQ crews) and the mighty 88 (Revel kit with AB crew). Airfix towed version isn't shown.
Panzerjager I (Italeri kit with AB crewmen), 20mm AA (Altaya and SHQ crew) and a cheeky captured British tow (Airfix - spare from the bits box)

That is not to say I’m done (like any army ever really is). But, it’s enough as ‘phase one’ of the project to get a good sized game from. Other stuff will be needed, especially a desert-camo Stuka and some artillery (other than off table that is), a second Schützen platoon and maybe a second 88. I’d really like to do a few Italian allies too, not a full army, maybe just an infantry platoon and a few tanks, for a change and to expand the force without too much replication. But for now, this project is done... time to think about the next one (maybe some desert Brits? or, a far more ambitious American Civil War army, big job that).

Hope you enjoy, Warwick

Monday, 25 November 2013


 The battlefield. US approaching from the bottom, Germans would be deployed in the top half of the table. P-47 overflying pre-battle.

This was an ‘End of the Rat Race' scenario from Fall of the Reich, with the Germans dug-in defending as the Americans probed along the farm lanes towards the rural village of Pfalingen. The scenario begins as the American road column comes under attack, its forward recce (here an M5 Stuart) being hit as it approaches a road block on the edge of the village.

The German defenders (600 pts of them) consisted of an ‘Atypical ‘platoon of regular SS panzer grenadiers, dismounted and dug-in to two 10” lengths of trenches. Supporting them was a dug-in Pak40 (with loader team), a HMG-42 team, a squadron of 3 Panzer IVs, a 222 armoured car and an OP team spotting for an off-table battery of two 120mm mortars (ubiquitous these days it seems). They also had a few timed barrages up their sleeves. BR total 34.

The American column consisted of a platoon of three M26 Pershings, an armoured infantry platoon in their M3s, an artillery spotter with three 2nd priority requests, an M4A3E8, an extra infantry squadron in a truck, a Sherman ARV (as I was bound to lose a tank early doors) and the forward HQ also in an M3 halftrack. They also had a timed airstrike from a P-47 arriving on turn 7 (hopefully the deciding factor late in the game). BR total 42. They had to enter the table in march column order, up the road.

The US would take the first turn, but the Germans were all waiting on ambush fire.

The Germans dug-in on their right.

 In the centre, the Pak-40, in the background is the burning M5.

 US march column arriving and deploying off the road for the attack.

Oh dear, German mortars, werfers and the Pak-40 reap havoc in the first turns...
Well, I won’t got into a blow by blow account of this game. But it started very badly for the arriving Americans. Accurate 120mm mortar fire saw a direct hit lucky knock out the lead Pershing (drat!), and then destroy the following M3 half track, leaving the rifle squad cowering in the ditch, pinned. The mortar fire was followed by the screech of a timed ‘werfer barrage, which added a lot more pinning. The road was suddenly packed with pinned vehicles. The distant PaK40 flung some extra HE area fire at long range, aided by a busy loader team. Shells were going off left and right as the US struggled to get on the board.

The US, unable to get clear of the road for pinning, tried to do what they could as more units arrived behind them, pulling off the road to avoid the inferno of HE. 

Grenadiers move up into the hedgerows to get a few early shots in. 
Under return fire they fell back to their trenches again.

The Americans bad start didn’t get any better when a long range hit from the Pak 40 rolled an 11 and knocked out the second Pershing, so much for the heavy tanks! On the bright side, the German’s lone panzer ran out of fuel, and seeing the Americans massing up the road for the assault the crew lost their bottled and abandoned it. The first German loss and counter.

The deployment was a real struggle through the first few turns, under repeated mortar fire, then a timed 105 barrage, but luckily then the 120mm mortars just ran out of ammo (another special counter) - a blessed rest-bite for the hard hit Yanks. Now they could get on with the task of taking the fight to those trenches.

ARV makes it's way through the smoking wreckage on the road to salvage an M26.

The M3s broke into the open fields to the right and raced for cover in the hedges, with the FHQ getting into position to see the trenches and call in his own heavy guns - only to be turned down for 3 turns (the officer must have been screaming for his fire support by then – I was!). The last M26 got into position to see and engage the German’s first reinforcements, their second Pz IV, but their gun battle was inconclusive as we exchanged AP rounds at range. So far, the yanks had taken 9 counters, the Germans 2. Not good.

But now the game started to turn, good US command and control got the infantry moving, debussing and hitting the hedgerows, .30 cal MGs in place to lay down area fire ahead of the advance on foot. The Germans were struggling for orders, and their mortars fell quiet. The game went into a lull as the German reinforcements arrived and the US got into position to maximize their firepower. The scream of the first 155mm shells finally smashed into the German lines, leaving pinned infantry in trenches and a destroyed 222. The Pz IV behind was lucky to survive the heavy shelling. 

First German reinforcements arrive.

 US infantry work their way up the road, under scything MG fire.

On the left, the M4 Easy8 exchanged fire with the last Pz IV to arrive, and lost... ho-hum... Shermans continue their poor performance. Meanwhile the M26 was out of AP ammo and withdrew to the ammo truck, the last of the US road column to arrive, along with the ARV which hooked up a knocked out and tank and dragged it off the table (getting rid of a counter for the US). Now it looked a bit more even... just 12 counters to 7.

Things took another bad turn for me when the PaK40 found its range against my forward HQ half track, some 53” away!  Not being out of range (something of a surprise that) meant the HQ halftrack became target number one (it was doing the arty spotting) and a lucky 6 rolled was a hit that saw the halftrack destroyed, and all 3 men inside with it become casualties too. That was 3 counters (1 for the M3, 2 for the senior officer), lost me an officer and my re-roll (every turn) for my command dice and the man in place to call in the big guns. Still, the forward observer was now almost in place at the forward hedge to take over that job.

Seeing the Pershing withdraw to re-arm, the two panzer IVs pressed forwards on the left and right, hoping to catch it without any return fire. On the American right the panzer crew didn’t realise that the lurking US infantry squad in their M3 (it had raced forward, seen the tank coming and swerved off behind the woods to get out of the line of fire), still had a bazooka. Now, the half track emerged from hiding and deployed the squad, who scrambled forwards into the hedge and lined up the bazooka on the approaching panzer. Whoosh – boom! A  hit and scratch one tank...

The panzer IV on the American left emerged from around a hedge to line-up the rear of the re-arming Pershing, but rolled a 1 to hit and the heavy tank survived. In its turn, re-arm complete, the M26 crew quickly swivelled round and returned fire, and another duel of AP rounds began.  To be honest, the resupply truck was an easy target for the panzer’s MGs, and it hadn’t reloaded the Pershing yet, so destroying that would have left the Pershing a sitting duck, so I caught a break there. 

Lining up the Pershing's rear-end... and missing - phew. Previous victim still burning.

US armoured infantry debuss and take cover behind a hedge, then let the panzer 
have it with their bazooka. One shot, one kill.

 General Pershing scores a kill. The ammo truck behind was a sitting duck of a target 
but mercifully wasn't targeted.

With only one tank left on each side the Germans were down to just their grenadiers in trenches, blazing away with their many MGs, whilst the US infantry used their M1 Garands and BARs to suppress them back, and a blazing firefight began, in which the US infantry held their own, thanks to ‘Fire Superiority’ from their semi-auto rifles.  When the Pershing finally scored a hit and knocked out the last panzer IV, the battle had definitely switched. The Germans were in trouble. Then it got worse for them, not only did the timed P-47 air strike arrive (but its bombing run went wild and missed the Pak-40 dug-out by so much the bombs landed off the table!), another P-47 also arrived, this time with rockets. Its first attack run saw all its rockets miss though... those flyboys were shooting very wild today. But still it was another counter for being under air attack (a 5 my opponent revealed by his groans), and now the German’s BR total looked dangerously close to breaking. There was nothing in it! It turned out the Germans were just 4 pts from breaking, as were the Americans.  But I had a tank, and an aircraft, and artillery to call in - he had just infantry and a single PaK-40.

 The USAAF arrives in force, hitting nothing but the ground! Damn them flyboys.

That gun became target number one for my next artillery request from my observer who had crawled into position on the front line. His incoming 105s shells thundered into the area, destroying the gun with a direct hit which its dug-out failed to save. Hurrah, but the Germans didn’t break! The P-47’s next attack run saw it miss with all its rockets again (how realistic!) and then take a hit from smalls arms AA fire, which the aircraft’s morale roll of 1 saw it return to base – useless, useless, useless! 

US infantry on the front line. The panzer IV is abandoned due to lack of fuel. 
The M3 was another Pak-40 victim. 

 On target. 105mm shells wreck the Pak-40 dug-out - at last!

The German player’s gloomy demeanour perked up, the air threat removed, and in his turn an MG team’s concentrated fire wiped out one of my rifle squads in the hedge. Disaster, I drew a 4, and my battle rating was done. The Americans began to withdraw, the back road to Pfalingen had held (by just 2 BR it turned out – 1 more counter).

Well it was a really close and hard fought battle for 3 hours. The US got off to a terrible start, and then came right back into it. Another turn and they would have won, I’m sure... but such are the fine margins.  Those grenadiers could thank their entrenching tools for victory, the trenches had saved them and kept them in the battle way longer that the mere hedges my infantry had for cover. Still, if either of my aircraft had hit anything, then maybe it would have been a different outcome, so I blame the USAAF.

Monday, 4 November 2013


Have just returned from Crisis in Antwerp. A very good convention, full of great games, with the first sales of 'Fall of the Reich' at the PSC stand. The book was delivered from the printers late last week and we took a few boxes over to Belgium for the stand. Orders will be shipping this week (I think).

I'd just like to say big thanks to The Red Barons gaming group for their demo-game of Fall of the Reich which drew much attention, and for the champagne breakfast provided with it (something of a first, but it gets you going in the morning). What a great bunch of guys, and I look forward to seeing them again, no doubt over the tabletop, somewhere.

Another mention should go to the 15mm Battlegroup Overlord game being demo'd on a very nice Omaha Beach boards. It looked a terrific game, although the US seemed to be stuggling badly to get through the first defences with just about everything being mined; sea, beach, wire... 

More photos of Crisis 'pretty things' can be found on the new IFP facebook site which, over the next months we'll be using to get Battlegroup news out, as well as on the Plastic Soldier Company facebook site. Please check them out.

Monday, 21 October 2013


Somewhere on the desert borders of Syria, battle lines are drawn between the armies of Emir Asifi of Aleppo and the defenders are the Kingdom of Jerusalem, under the command of the impetuous Lord Reynard de Chatilon.

Bit of a change from the usual tank battles, and the first time my Saracens and crusader armies had seen a tabletop in 4 years, but well worth the wait. We were playing a homebrew version of Piquet rules, with lots of my own alterations, omissions and inclusions... including my own army lists. It produces a very different gaming experience, and I really like the unpredictability that Piquet brings, never quite knowing where the battle will go next, or how much impetus you will have to move/shoot/fight with, but the game as written is (IMHO) rather fussy, slow and weighed down by too many factors. My house-version streamlines the rules a lot, to make for a more player-friendly game (and it still took over 4 hours to get a result).

The chosen armies were as follows:
Emir Asifi’s Army
3 units of Ghulam (medium cavalry)
1 unit of native Arab horsemen (light cavalry)
1 unit of native Arab camelry
5 units of horse archers (skirmishers)
3 units of archers
2 unit of regular mercenary infantry
1 unit of Sufi fanatics (infantry)
5 units of Ahdath militia infantry (peasant rabble)
21 units, morale total 29. 

Lord Reynard de Chatilon’s Army
2 units of mounted Knights
1 unit of mounted Knights Templar
3 units of men-at-arms
2 units of archers
1 unit of arbalester (skirmishers)
9 unit, morale total 19.

Before deployment each force had to be divided into a left wing, ring wing and centre, each ‘battle’ under its own commander (each side also had an independent supreme commander and a baggage train).
The Saracen’s divided their army into a centre of infantry (all 11 units!) massed together, militia (cannon fodder) to the fore, backed by infantry and archers. His right flank was made up of all 5 horse archers units. His left flank was the Ghulam, backed by the camelry. The Arab horsemen were left back as the baggage guard/ final reserve. So, an infantry centre and two cavalry flanks – the classic crescent.

The Saracens deployment, horse archers, infantry and cavalry in that order.


The Crusaders divided their far smaller army into a centre of the Knights Templars, a unit of infantry and a unit of archers, deployed as skirmishers into the buildings. The right flank was just the two mounted knight units, my main strike force. The left flank was more infantry, backed by archers, and screened by skirmishing crossbows, deployed out front.

Crusader's left wing looking towards the centre

The Knights on the right...

 Battle lines drawn...

Models deployed, it was time to roll of for impetus in the first turn, and see who could seize the initiative. Oh, and the random draw of morale totals required result in the Muslims having 29 morale, to the Crusader’s 19, a serious deficit for my army to start with (I was the crusader commander – for the first time ever).

The Saracens gained the first initiative and began spending impetus with a bold advance. First the entire centre stepped off and marched towards my meagre lines, a horde of spears and swords. Then the first horse archer probed on my left, as the light cavalry raced in and unleashed their first shots of the game, to little effect on my crossbow screen. Out of impetus, the Saracen’s phase ended and we rolled off again for impetus, and again the Muslims won. On came the horde in the centre, banners waving. And again the horse archers raced up to loose arrows, causing disruption to the crossbowmen, who opportunity fired back this time and scored the first kills. Their archery vs crossbow skirmisher duel would last all game.

 Horse archers and crossbowmen trade first shots on the left

The crusaders archers also let fly into the infantry hordes, and caused a few loss and a few of the woeful militia infantry to become unformed (which has a negative effect in later combat). All ready they were half way across the board.

Piquet’s rules throws up such variables, as yet I’d only been able to use my interrupt archery to attack the Muslims, who looked like a tidal wave about to crush the few crusaders. There had been no movement on the Muslim left yet, the pride of the emir’s cavalry was saving itself, trying to draw my knights into the main battle before coming forwards to attack weakened and disorganised knights (rather than the well ordered, fully rested and keen mincing-machine the units start out as).

Finally, my army won some impetus and could react. The crossbows fell back, faced with three horse archers units peppering them with arrows. They then reloaded and were ready for fire again, but I ran out impetus to complete this action. Everywhere else my infantry braced themselves for the onslaught, whilst my archers reloaded and loosed again, causing more disruption in the Saracen ranks – good!

Levied militia advance en masse in the centre, a mismatch of the very best troops
(Templars) and the very worst.

 Men at arms and their commander cut a swathe through Saracen archers.

Peasant archers occupying the buildings
On my left flank the see-saw skirmish duelled continued, my crossbows rushed forwards again and shot at short range, seeing off more horse archers. One horse archer unit broke round the extreme left and headed for the gap beyond my lines at top speed. The others advanced and hailed arrows upon my crossbowmen, causing a few more losses and forcing them to pull back again.

In the centre the Ahdath militia’s front line was now within movement distance of my single infantry unit, and rather than be charged, they counter-attacked into the Sufi fanatics. This unit had good morale, but where no match for my well armoured men-at-arms in the melee. It was messy, and the Sufi broke and ran, pursued by my infantry into the (now unformed) archer unit behind. At last I got a cavalry move card and my knights could get going. On the right both units advanced to threaten the infantry flank with a devastating charge, but that brought the Ghulam forwards too in response. If I charged the infantry flank I do a lot of damage (to some poor combat units), but risk losing my knights to a flank charge from the Ghulam. Instead we faced off, my knights were outnumbered two to one as the two side’s best cavalry squared up to charge. Both commanders though it would be here that the battle was actually decided.

 The contest between Knights and Ghulam approaches on the right. Ghulam archery had little effect. The camelry have fallen behind, and later ran off!

It was not to be so. In the centre my lone infantry continued their heroics, cutting their way through a unit of archers, who also broke and ran. The Knights Templars, my last reserve, had been held back, confident that the poor militia facing them would not have the necessary morale to charge a ‘fearsome’ unit. They didn’t, and the Saracens impressive infantry attack was now a disorganised mess, as units were running and men dying. 

Men at arms, their pursuit in the centre stopped, now face the native Arab light cavalry, between them and the Saracen baggage train. A face-off in which neither side had the impetus to close in.

On my left the fast horse archers used their ability to ‘flow around’ enemy units as mounted skirmishers to get past my crossbows and infantry line, and although they took more losses to archery (one unit was wiped out), the lone flanking unit was now behind my lines – and had their eyes fixed on my undefended baggage train.

End runners on the left, causing alarm.

 Horse archers bypassing the infantry

 Behind the lines, the lone horse archer unit eyes the undefended baggage train.
The heavy-weight contest on my right got underway when my knights plunged in. No point in hanging around any longer. The attack was less than spectacular as the knightly charge failed to inflict any losses and managed to only push the Ghulams back a bit, it was stalemate. Lances broken, it was time to draw swords in a slugging match, with the Ghulam’s greater numbers counteracting the knight’s combat ability. Both sides best troops were now locked in a battle of attrition.

The swirling cavalry melee, neither side could break the other quickly.

The battle now was very even. Stalemated on my right, the centre was going well, but the left was now impotent to do much to stop the horse archers, who were all around them it seemed (infantry cannot charge skirmish cavalry).  I couldn’t save the baggage train, and the next time the horse archers got to move (which is often in the Saracen’s cavalry-heavy action deck), the baggage would surely be doomed (the loss of the baggage train has a drastic effect on morale and might well cost me the game). 

Horse archers reach the baggage, but just too late, as their army's morale gives out before the combat could be resolved - a close shave.

It was now, crying ‘Deus Vult!’ that the Templar Knights finally charged. I needed to smash the remaining enemy infantry centre and hope it would be enough to break the Saracen army. If not, then the Crusaders would probably have lost the battle, doomed to die in the desert without their supplies. But divine inspiration and good dice were upon the Templars, and their charge smashed the first militia unit to pieces, and raced on it the second rank, killing more infidels. The resulting heavy damage saw the Saracen commander forced to give up his last morale counters. With all 29 counters now spent, the Saracens had to withdraw from the field. Victory to the defenders of Jerusalem. 

Flee for your lives! The routers from the centre pass their Emir, watching on from high ground
(and none too impressed).

Deus Vult! The Templars dispatch the infidel infantry to win the battle. 

It was good to get the models out again, dust it off and have a game. As I said, it lasted over 4 hours, with no breaks and going hard at it, and this is Piquet ‘Lite’. It might have taken twice that time with the full game, which has some very good ideas behind it, but just is so unwieldy. The game got me thinking hard about getting on with my own Crusades rules again, which I started several years ago under the working title ‘Soldiers of God’. I might have to put some time aside to resurrect the project.