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Subject: Version 1.4 vs. 2.0 rss

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Peter Putnam
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I played 2 games of Crusader-Rex this week. On Wednesday, I played Crusader Rex 2.0 with WKover. This was the 4th time I've played Crusader Rex. On Friday, I played Crusader Rex 1.4 for the 1st time.

If you're new Crusader Rex, Crusader Rex is a block game similar to Hammer of the Scots. Like similar block games, Crusader Rex uses hidden troops, the familiar roll a crap load of dice A,B,C battles and cards are played to activate groups of troops.

The game takes place during 12th Century during the 3rd Crusade. One Player plays the Christian Franks, the other, the Muslim Saracens. The object of the game is to control 4 of 7 important cities Jerusalem, Acre, Damascus, Antioch, Egypt, etc. at the end of 6 years. The Christian start the game control 4 cities and the Saracens are control of 3 cities. So at the start of the game for about the first 3 years the Saracens are on the offensive. The Saracens forces build up faster than the crusaders so it's usually easy for them to pick off Antioch or another Crusader controlled city. Around turn 4 Richard Knights, the Franks and Barbarossa's Germans start to arrive so Crusaders will go on the offensive and the Saracens will go on the defensive.

I really like war games like Crusader Rex where you see a rise and fall of one side and fall and rise of the other side. What this means is your strategy will need to change constantly through out the game. I especially like that Stalingrad moment in the game where the transition from attacker to defender or defender to attacker happens. While playing Wkover we made that transition very evident by his musical selection. For the first 3 turns, we played Boliwood Arab and Turkish music as my Saracens rolled over Antioch and almost took Jerusalem. Than about turn 4 WKover switched the music to Gregorian Chants (I can't believe WKover has 100 hours of Gregorian Chants. He said he got them in some deal, 100 hours for $1.00. I think he got ripped off). Well, I couldn't take the Gregorian Chant torture and my Saracens folded up like Flimflam drinking shots of Bourbon with Andy soon after the Richard the Lionhearted and Barbarossa's Panzer showed up. Maybe next time I play Crusader Rex, I'll play the Ridley Scott Directors Cut of Kingdom of Heaven in the background.

On BGG, I would rate Crusader Rex v1.4 an 8.7, v2.0 8.6 and Hammer of the Scots an 8.5. Meaning I'm rating them so close together that I don't really care which game I'll play on any given night. When somebody asks me what's my favorite Block game I always say the last one I've played. So if your interested in buying or playing Crusader Rex, which version should you get?

CR v2.0 has a much nicer board, event cards are more interesting and the game probably plays a little more historical in that the sieges are longer and movement is slower. Version 2.0 will probably set you back $50 or $60 so I'm calling this the 50 year old beard scratching guy version.

CR v1.4 has a crappy board, crazy ass rules and you can probably pick up a used copy from a 50 year old beard scratching guy for less than $30. So 1.4 is the Crazy Ass 30 year old dude version of the game. I own 1.4 even if I'm closer to 50 than 30. Some of the crazy ass rules in version 1.4:

Knights Charge: Knight can roll double dice but 6s are self inflicted. This rule was nerfed in 2.0, no double dice just hits on 1 higher.
Harrying: Almost all Saracens can Harry or fire -1 and run away.
Storming the Castle: x2 units can storm the castle vs. x1 in version v2.0. This makes Storming the castle much easier in v1.4.
Forced March: No Forced March in 2.0. With Forced March in v1.4 Saracens moving 4 is pretty scary.
Movement: 8 movement on major road and 4 on minor road in v1.4 vs. 4 and 2 in version v2.0.
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Shayne Richards
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You should mention that v1 was lob sided to Saracen and v2 is over corrected and lob sided to franks...fun game but still broken
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Zach Osterloh
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Thanks for the review! I have been wondering which version of Crusader Rex to get; whether I should save money for the older version or shell out for the newer one.
 
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Matthew Looby
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Shaynerichards72 wrote:
You should mention that v1 was lob sided to Saracen and v2 is over corrected and lob sided to franks...fun game but still broken


Had a CR event at Prezcon, which had the largest number of contestants. V. 2.0. Either we all belong on the Funny Farm or the game play is balanced.
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Shayne Richards
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The game is only balanced Matt if you do what most people think you have to do and that is to retreat in the castle. For the franks, DON'T retreat into the castle and become seiged unless you are likely to be decimated in the field. The frank blocks are far too powerful in this game and once I learnt not to retreat into the castles all the time, it's hard to not win...the franks starts strong, can be hard to lose any castles without hurting the Saracens in the process, usually the north might be taken but once the Germans come into the game, and then the french and British, the game starts to rely move...it may have some balance for first half, but if the franks don't fall for seige they just get too strong and in the last two years cause havoc.
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C Sandifer
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I only have 100 individual Gregorian Chants on my iPod, not 100 hours of chants. Though that would be four straight days of awesome.

A few other notes:

v2.0 only has the nice thick board if you preordered it. Later printings include the thin cardboard map, I think.

The wintering limits in v2.0 are much more stringent, which (thankfully) forces the Saracens to spread out more at the end of each year.

And I still think v2.0 is pro-Saracen, but what do I know.



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Necessary Evil
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I own both and tend to like 1.4, but I am younger than you Pete.

M
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Jon Karlsson
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wkover wrote:
And I still think v2.0 is pro-Saracen, but what do I know.

Well, you could tell us why you think so.
 
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C Sandifer
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Jon Karlsson wrote:
wkover wrote:
And I still think v2.0 is pro-Saracen, but what do I know.

Well, you could tell us why you think so.


Sure thing.

Requiring one full group move per block to bring Crusaders onto the board is a huge problem for the Franks. This is drastically pro-Saracen. (In v1.4, it was one move per Crusader group not per block.)

Unlike v1.4, most Saracen blocks don't die permanently. They pop back into play the very next year, since the Saracen reserve pool empties out pretty quickly. This is hugely pro-Saracen.

Also, this gets into strategy, but - during the final years - it's fairly easy for the Saracen blocks to spread themselves thin across the board into all of the different castle areas. This makes it tough for the Frank blocks to even reach the VP cities by the end of the game, let alone successfully siege/storm them by game's end.

The Saracen player can also drastically overstack the VP cities in the final year(s), essentially without penalty. It becomes much more difficult to attack VP areas if there are 6-8 blocks sitting on top of them, as opposed to the normal castle limit.

Generally speaking, unless the Saracen player makes some pretty significant mistakes, the Saracen player will eventually be up on VP cities. It's only a matter of time. And with the "spreading out" and overstacking problems - combined with the fact that the number of blocks that can storm in v2.0 is drastically reduced - it's improbable that the Franks will recapture cities once they've been taken (or at least enough to win). In the time allotted, anyway.

There are also games where dumb luck will play against the Franks. With too many sixes rolled, Knights Charges can go horribly wrong - something that will never happen to the Saracen player. And if the Saracen player never sees the Winter Campaign card, it's no big deal. The Saracens will eventually be ahead in VP cities anyway, though the where and when are up to the Saracen player. If the Frank player doesn't see a Winter Campaign in either 1190 or 1191, though, it's much harder for the Franks to win.

As a result of the above issues, I always play with the following variants in v2.0: (1) all emirs (not just some) are permanently eliminated from the game when killed, and (2) Crusader groups are brought onto the board with a single group move, not one move per block. (Essentially, this reinstates two rules from v1.4.)



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Jeff White
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KingPut wrote:
I played 2 games of Crusader-Rex this week. On Wednesday, I played Crusader Rex 2.0 with WKover. This was the 4th time I've played Crusader Rex. On Friday, I played Crusader Rex 1.4 for the 1st time.


I'm guessing these plays were with WKover's house rules rather than 2.0 vanilla, correct?
 
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C Sandifer
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Jack Hooligan wrote:
KingPut wrote:
I played 2 games of Crusader-Rex this week. On Wednesday, I played Crusader Rex 2.0 with WKover. This was the 4th time I've played Crusader Rex. On Friday, I played Crusader Rex 1.4 for the 1st time.


I'm guessing these plays were with WKover's house rules rather than 2.0 vanilla, correct?


Yes, that's true. I've played vanilla 2.0 a reasonable number of times, but not recently - and not against KingPut.
 
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Necessary Evil
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wkover wrote:


As a result of the above issues, I always play with the following variants in v2.0: (1) all emirs (not just some) are permanently eliminated from the game when killed, and (2) Crusader groups are brought onto the board with a single group move, not one move per block. (Essentially, this reinstates two rules from v1.4.)





Ahh yes you are reminding my why i think 2.0 sucks.

They removed all of the fun from the game (like yelling, he's Dead, Gone, Bye Bye! whenever you killed an Emir) and when tossing double dice took balls because it could devastate either side.

They did this to balance the game, but then left in all these crappy gamey things like spreading block and over stacking on turn 3, and in the end failed to balance the game.

Thanks Columbia!

-M
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Alistair Gibson
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This review and the subsequent comments, has got me breaking out my 1.4 version of the game. I made the mistake of allowing comments on BGG effect my enthusiasm for a game, without having tried said game. I have always wondered if the view that the game is not balanced is an initial impression or just that it takes a few plays to get the strategy right. So thanks for putting right the situation. I actually know better as well than allowing a ‘hive mind’ opinion negatively influencing me. So sticked up the blocks, read the rules and ready to go and so far it seems I made the right choice, rules way it looks good

As an aside I think maybe a lot of people came to this after HotS with very high expectations and maybe that coloured the view of this game a bit.
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David G. Cox Esq.
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Excellent review.

Constantly fluctuating between useful and amusing.

Thank you.
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Reinhard S.
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wkover wrote:


...

As a result of the above issues, I always play with the following variants in v2.0: (1) all emirs (not just some) are permanently eliminated from the game when killed, and (2) Crusader groups are brought onto the board with a single group move, not one move per block. (Essentially, this reinstates two rules from v1.4.)



Very good house rule.

But how do You treat the Christian Nobles from Outremer (not FRANCE/ENGLAND/GERMANY and not the Orders), the ones with fiefs in the holy land. They are replacable - do You Keep that, or do do make them unreplacable too?

This would mean: Only the PILGRIMS and TURCOPOLS (Christian) an d only the ARABS, KURDS etc. (Saracen) are replacable?
 
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C Sandifer
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Reinhard Sabel wrote:
But how do You treat the Christian Nobles from Outremer (not FRANCE/ENGLAND/GERMANY and not the Orders), the ones with fiefs in the holy land. They are replacable - do You Keep that, or do do make them unreplacable too?


In my variant the replaceable Christian nobles are still replaceable. The Crusaders need all the help they can get.

But if you want to vary my variant, feel free!
 
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Robert Buccheri
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I must admit that I have never played 2.0 rules. I have always found 1.4 rules fine with 1.3 combat system. Original cards over 2.0 as well.

I was never a big fan of the direction 2.0 went as an early play tester. I believe Columbia wanted a more historically accurate game but it just wasn't fun in simulation and favored the Saracens too much. 1.4 is a better game.
 
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Wojtek Makarewicz
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Quote:
As a result of the above issues, I always play with the following variants in v2.0: (1) all emirs (not just some) are permanently eliminated from the game when killed, and (2) Crusader groups are brought onto the board with a single group move, not one move per block. (Essentially, this reinstates two rules from v1.4.)

If it's supposed to be even remotely historical game Franks have to have a hard time, especially early game and you remove the only 2 pro-saracen rule changes in 2ed.

Harrying is now almost useless (only Nomads); Knights Charges on the other hand are no brainers most of the time (low risk high reward). Road/siege limits slow saracens down badly early game when they should gain as much ground as possible. Franks start with more blocks on board and they have more 3 speed blocks than in the 1ed.

To each his own. If you prefer to play it your way - have fun.

 
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