Top 10 Crusades Games
Robert Carroll
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Joplin
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Below is my Top 10 list of games covering the Crusades (circa 1095 to 1291). These are games that meet substantially all of the following criteria: (1) focuses on the campaigns and battles of the Crusades (can focus on individual battles, operational level or strategic simulation of the Crusades); (2) a wargame; (3) addresses the "theme" in an interesting or compelling manner that leaves the player with a better understanding of the Crusades(and its various aspects); and (4) fun to play (understanding that this can be very subjective, especially for wargames). This is a list of the BEST! As always, your mileage may vary and some entries may be "controversial." As such, please feel free to comment, debate, or just express your own point of view. Feel free to thumbsup this list (to draw attention and more comments) or any pleasing, interesting or thought provoking entries. If I missed one that you feel is essential or I am "insane for not listing" (trust me, it has been said before), then by all means let the comments fly . . . just be civil. FYI - I am a sucker for comments and discussion and usually thumbsup most if not all of them.

I find that these lists sometimes are helpful for others seeking similar games and the more rich the discussion for more useful the list.

For related games, check out Top 10 Saladin Games.

For a complete listing of my Top 10 lists, see--MetaList: Nap's Top 10 Lists.

As always, thanks for reading and participating!

NOTE: Where I have included quotes from BGG users, I have included the BGG user name in parentheses.
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1. Board Game: Kingdom of Heaven: The Crusader States 1097-1291 [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:2598]
Robert Carroll
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Joplin
Missouri
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My favorite, all encompassing Crusades game. Cards and components are visually stunning with a period look and feel. Units and charts are easy to read. The map is of hard card stock. Game play is straightforward and the rules clearly explain moves and events. Fantastic scenarios complete this perfect package. Highly recommend this exciting game. Good design, the best of MMP's efforts!

--Paul Denhup (PAYDIRT)
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2. Board Game: Crusader Rex [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:1270]
Robert Carroll
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Joplin
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It's a period of history I like to read about and paint miniatures for. It's a unique design and a small wargame that feels like a very broad campaign. It plays big. It's a beautiful point to point map that allows swift movement, temptations and traps. It's a map I've studied for hours. It's card driven and moves are precious. It has dramatic 'down to the last man' sieges but it's also a game of maneuver. The Franks have power, the Saracens have speed. It looks beautiful and offers enough choices to burn your brain. As a bonus, after most turns there's the thrill of rolling dice in combat. I'm no expert, but so far my games have been close, exciting, and memorable. I'm rating this game a 10. Jerry Taylor is my favorite designer and needs to make more games like this! A lot of intelligent thought went into this design.

Note: If you play it once and expect it to be like Hammer of the Scots, you need to play it again. It offers three fronts instead of one and the width of the map combined with the low number of units creates more maneuver. This game gives the player more options, and that makes it harder to 'get'.

--Brian B (fatso)
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3. Board Game: Onward, Christian Soldiers [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:4442]
Robert Carroll
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Joplin
Missouri
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Definitely a favorite. This is a solid game about the Crusades with scenarios for the First, Second, and Third Crusade. The First Crusade plays from 1-7 players. Each of the other scenarios plays only two players. The attrition mechanism of this game is my favorite ever. Its your will and the weight of your army against the friction of the terrain. Beautiful and utterly vicious... Siege rules are excellent as well. The combat system is very similar to Carthage - which for me is a big plus: it is an interesting system with a chance for very unpredictable results. The presentation is fantastic, especially the card art. In short, Onward Christian Soldiers is a very fascinating, engaging game that will be heavy in the rotation. It needs a few more multiplayer scenarios to be just exactly perfect.

--Michael @mgouker (mgringo)
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4. Board Game: Infidel [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:2845]
Robert Carroll
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Joplin
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Infidel is the second volume in the Men of Iron series. It still uses the Men of Iron system with some rule expansions to reflect the nature of warfare during the Crusades, but the clarity of the rules has improved significantly. Certain sections have been reworded and more examples are included. However, be sure to download the most recent version of the rules and the FAQ from the GMT website.
Cavalry plays a much bigger role, resulting in a much more fluid game. Infidel introduces mounted archers. These units can move (even through an enemy zone of control), fire, and continue moving, as long as it has enough movement points, simulating the hit and run tactics of the Saracens. Mounted archers can reaction fire in both frontal hexes (effectively firing twice when both frontal hexes are occupied). The light mounted archers cannot shock attack, but they can retreat before combat against any unit. Medium mounted saracen units cannot retreat before combat against mounted units, but they can fire and shock attack in the same activation! On the Crusader side the mounted men at arms have been upgraded to knights. When knights charge, they become medieval tanks, crushing all who stand in their way. Knights never need to be in command to charge, treat Retire results as retreats, and never roll for charge reluctance. In fact, knights must counter charge when attacked unless they are in command and succeed in a resistance roll. Suffice it to say, if you were frustrated by the lack of opportunities to charge in Men of Iron, you should be very pleased with Infidel. Some who are new to Infidel might think that knights are too powerful, but play balance can be achieved once the Saracen player learns how to take full advantage of the mounted archers. Encircle the knights. Block their retreat paths with zones of control. Fire on their flank and rear and cut off retreat. If you liked Men of Iron, you'll love Infidel.

--Jason Smith (Jayman66)
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5. Board Game: The Crusades [Average Rating:6.24 Overall Rank:7262]
Robert Carroll
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Joplin
Missouri
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Marvellous, beats Onwards Christian Soldiers hands down. Can be picked up in a very short time, very simple concepts. The last game I had, one competitor hired me boats so I could go and attack him - and they say war doesn't pay!

--Russell King (Russell King)
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6. Board Game: Ancient Battles Deluxe [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:4867]
Robert Carroll
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Joplin
Missouri
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A family of tactical ancient wargames. It is a redevelopment of the Bill Banks "Ancient" family games published by 3W and Good Industries.

Includes Ancient Battles Deluxe, Ancients, and Ancients II:

I was skeptical as I watched the development process toss the original's classic CRT (a work of art), but I have to admit the new system also works well. The new command rules change play quite a bit. All in all, I like it, and the fact that all the components are back-compatible with Banks' original rules is a huge plus.

--Scott Muldoon (silentdibs) (sdiberar)
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7. Board Game: Outremer [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:5955] [Average Rating:6.98 Unranked]
Robert Carroll
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I like the campaign where you have a band of assorted knights and hangers-on and lead them through the Promised Land. Make sure you pillage enough from the heathens to support your soldiers!

--Chris Walkley (cdwalkley)

Includes Croisades.
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8. Board Game: Saladin: The Fall of the Crusader States [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked]
Robert Carroll
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Joplin
Missouri
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Owning this game I have played it multiple times.

Finally, a great strategy game in the tradition of WiF or Epires in Arms. New releases of huge Games like this have become exceedingly rare in recent years, with the decline of the multiplayer CoSim market and the rise of Worker Placement and cooperative Bier & Pretzel games.

A vast amount of new and interesting game mechanics (e.g. the siege mechanic or the victory condition rules), tight adherence to the historical setting and a love to detail beautifully balance the few weaknesses of the game, which - except for the length of the game - would have been ironed out in a second edition.

--Daniel Jungblut (danieljungblut)
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9. Board Game: Arsuf: Lionheart vs. Saladin [Average Rating:7.26 Unranked]
Robert Carroll
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Joplin
Missouri
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This is another small treatment of a famous Richard-Saladin clash on the coast of Palestine. Simple rules, fun, and engaging play.

--Agung Waspodo (dahusband)

This entry also includes Acre: The Third Crusade Opens as part of DG's medieval folio series.
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10. Board Game: The Crusades [Average Rating:6.26 Overall Rank:10492]
Robert Carroll
United States
Joplin
Missouri
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An undiscovered treasure. Asymmetric strategy, historical results, variable play, suspense. When playing, just cut out the morale checks before combat and the game scoots along. You can use my variable CRT, or the one in Age of Chivalry and play zips along.

--Karl Laskas (Karl Laskas)

Includes Crusades II.
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