Well, this was my first game of Crusader Rex. I played with my brother-in-law who was down for the weekend. Josh is not a wargamer, but has played computer games and so was willing to give it a go. I have wargamed for about 15 years, but I have only played one block game, Napoleon and that was twice. We were playing version 1.3 and we played someone’s variant rule that the Saracen didn’t know which Crusader stack (English, French, Austrian) would come on the board when. (Basically, he just kept them in groups by country, but face down.)
Josh wanted to be the Franks so, off we started.
Turn 1: Antioch Captured (We had no clue what we were doing!)
Having looked at the BGG site, I knew that the Franks needed to protect pieces and suggested that to Josh. Partially due to a terrible hand (4 x 1’s, 1 x 2, and winter), he decided to pull back out of Antioch province, consolidating forces and maximizing coverage of his area.
I had high cards (4 x 3’s, 2 x 2’s) and decided to use them to the fullest. I took all of Antioch province (except Margat), as well as Krak de Chevaliers, Tiberias, Basilion, Nablus and Amman. In addition, I killed exactly one, yes ONE, stupid hospitaller. So much for my “massive attack”. Near the end of the turn, we both remembered the winter stacking rule and I hastily retreated the 8 or 9 guys from Banyas to spread out the winter quarters.
A somewhat wasted Saracen turn.
Turn 2: Failed assault at Tyre
Josh had a mediocre hand, but continued consolidating this time at Beirut and Acre and Gaza. He played mud on a Saracen assassin canceling it...drat. He slaughtered an emir from Nablus into Acre who was trying to prevent a reinforcement to Tyre. Josh tried to retake Sidon from me, but he failed and had to retreat out for winter.
I took Beaufort, then I decided to try to take Tyre, so moved into Sidon at the same time to block off Northern reinforcements. My siege of Tyre lasted 3 rounds, even through Winter with that card and he still survived. I moved around a lot of guys for replacements. I also ended up with quite a few nomads in Egypt.
Once again, a somewhat wasted Saracen turn.
Turn 3: Egypt Falls
Josh easily retook Sidon and then Beaufort, nullifying most of the last Saracen turn. As the Egyptian stack took Gaza and Jerusalem, he took Egypt!!! The decision to trade Egypt for Jerusalem was to haunt me for the rest of the game.
For the first turn, I had bad card compared to Josh’s 4 x 3’s. I did take Gaza, which I subsequently lost and then took again, and then Ascalon, as well as Hebron and Jerusalem (the latter two I kept). I was also poised to retake Egypt IF I got to go first...
This turn was somewhat even in numbers of losses, but the loss of Egypt hurt the Saracen. However, the saving grace was the fall of Jerusalem and the fact that the Franks did not continue attacking when they had the momentum.
Turn 4: The Tide Turns?
Josh of course got to go first on round one and strengthened Egypt. Later, he retook Gaza, continued consolidation and finally got the English in the game! He also moved some forces to Anjar, threatening Banyas, Damascus and north. Josh used mud again to cancel out a turn.
For the second turn, I had horrible cards (3 x 1’s, winter, jihad and 1 x 2). For reinforcements naturally, I drew a bunch of Egyptians. [Side note: We did this wrong. When I drew an Egyptian, since Egypt was taken, I PUT HIM BACK INTO THE PILE. I should have placed him on the board in a friendly location at one strength. I think that I drew Egyptians 6 or 7 times.] I attacked the stack in Anjar with my group from Allepo and had them pretty much wiped out. Then I lost two units in Banyas to overstacking. I was becoming a bit unhinged.
The only saving grace at this point, was that the Franks had not really attacked much except into Egypt and I still had 4 of the 7 cities needed.
Turn 5: Franks attack. Franks Die
The French began to arrive. It was time for the Franks to attack. They started with an attack on Hebron against a lone guy. With 4 Saracen reinforcements, the attackers were mauled. On the next attack Richard, his archers, and some knights tried to retake Krak de Chevaliers and the same story happened except that all were wiped out to a man.
The cards were fairly even finally. A poor attack on Beaufort was horrifically thwarted. But his was made up for by my two units in Ascalon, where Al-Adil killed King Guy (second time to die) on a roll of 1, 1, 1, 2!!!
Turn 6: Wrong Fork in the Road
Josh had ONE block left in his pool. It was an Austrian. He had consolidated along the coast in the north, deciding that this offered the best avenue of attack to gain a city. He picked Antioch. He ended up being so focused on it that he didn’t notice a chance to force march a unit into an UNGARRISONED Aleppo... Instead, he moved from Tartus to Margat, which was harried by an “A” Nomad. Then he moved to Latakia and then Kassab, followed by a Muster there. At that point he realized that he could have force marched the Turcopole from Latakia to Aleppo. He had crap cards again (3 or 4 x 1’s) and with realizing that the Kassab - Antioch road was a minor road, it was all but over. He launched to attacks of 2 blocks vs. the three in Aleppo to no avail. He had the potential to bring in the Austrians, but not the cards.
I launched another stupid attack at Beaufort that failed. After realizing the silliness of leaving Aleppo open (to help defend Krak de Chevaliers), I moved blocking forces to all of the victory cities. I had mud, Jihad and assassins this turn.
To be honest, other than the mistake of Aleppo, Josh played a great game. It was a nail-biter throughout. He had three really bad hands of cards, but played like a trooper. I ended up with winter campaign 4 times to his 2 times. It was a good game and we will have to try to play again, though I think that we will try Hammer of the Scots next.
One rule that we “forgot” was the Regrouping rule #6.6. That could have helped us both out a bunch.
It seemed to me that Krak de Chevaliers is the key to the north. You could attack towards Aleppo, Damascus or indirectly towards Antioch from there.
I like the changes from earlier versions to this one. I think that the play balance was razor-edged most of the game.
Well, I hope that you enjoyed my report.