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Subject: The saracens renounce rss

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Patrick Donohue
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My two first games as the Franks had been over before the end of the second year with resounding Saracen victories.

But I felt that my defense had not been perfect so I was ready to bite the bullet again (and my gaming partner agreed to let me try my luck again as the Franks).

Once again I opened with a 3 move card to get the isolated units out of harms way. Muster on Jerusalem and Tripoli, and I shamefully evacuated Antioche.
In response the Saracens pounced on my isolated unit in Tiberias. It was quick work for Saladin, the frank unit was submurged without even dealing a blow!

For the second round I still had a 3 moves card to play, which I immediatly played. I did a muster on Acre and my forces from Antioche joined Tripoli. I had now 3 solid anchor points: Jerusalem, Acre and Tripoli.
Now the Saracens did a slick move, they moved their forces from Egypt so that they had two forces that they could attack in one move either Jerusalem or Acre: the Egypt force from the south and the Saladin taskforce from the north. Both forces combined were enough to overwhelm either cities. Moreover he could put one unit in Nablus cutting communications between Jerusalem and Acre so that I could not reinforce either one city with the forces in the other.

For such a desperate situation the Franks made a desperate move: they evacuated Jerusalemblush. But it would be some time before the folks in Europe would hear the news.

So at the end of the first year the Franks had a huge force in Acre, a strong force in Tripoli, had lost one unit but two victory cities. Needless to say, the gameplan at that point was simply to wait for the crusaders and only then deliver the big push at the end of the game.

In the beginning of the second year the Franks established a mobile reserve in Beyrouth that could support either Acre or Tripoli. They used their Turcopoles in Beaufort to protect the lifeline on the coast between Acre and Tripoli.
The saracens had two battlegroups one threatening Acre (with Saladin) and the other one threatening Tripoli.

At the fourth round the Saracens moved: the force in front of Tripoli attacked! I was surprised but was ready: my forces in Beyrouth rushed to Tripoli. But soon to my dismay I realised that this was only a spoiling attack. The Saracens decided to quit the battle after the second round (just two units attacked in the firts round). My forces however did manage to kill several units with knight charges (though I lost my two templar 2 steps units due to 'self inflicted damage').

So the Tripoli battle was easily one, but now Acre was faced with Saladin and only one Turcopole unit to reinforce it. The Acre battle was to be decisive. In fact 9 Saracens unit ended facing 8 Frank units.
The defensive advantage was to much for the Saracens to overcome. In an anticlimactic battle the Saracens got severely beat! They retreated with 5 units left all reduced to one step.

At that point the Saracencs called it quits. They had gambled for Acre and lost. Actually I'm not quite sure how the end game would have played out, in my opinion it wasn't all so bad for the Saracens (all they units would come back before most crusaders would showed up).

Now my opponent is working on some better strategy to beat the coastal defence the Franks used. And in the beginning of the following game he made it: but that is another story...
 
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Gotthard Heinrici (prev. Graf Strachwitz)
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Very nice!

Iam looking at this game but I am a bit afraid about the replayability value of it.

What do you think Patrick?
 
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Bart Grubben
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I'm not Patrick, but I wouldn't worry about replayability. I've played 7 games now with the new 1.4 rules and each of them played out very differently. Of course, the main flow of the game is more or less the same each time (Saracens attacking in the first few years and the Franks making a come back as soon as the Crusaders arrive), but the long map and the scattered victoy cities make for lots of variation.

I used the 'evacuate the north strategy' twice as the Franks, but in the end I'm not convinced if it's really the best option available. Keeping some blocks in Antioch diverts Saracen forces and keeps them busy.
 
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Gotthard Heinrici (prev. Graf Strachwitz)
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Thanks for the feedback Karel!
 
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Bart Grubben
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You're welcome.

'Harro Bosma': you must be Frisian, right?
 
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Patrick Donohue
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About replayability I don't have a definite point of view. At this point me and my opponent are still trying to figure out the best strategies for the first couple years. Obviously for a game that has a fixed set-up some openings move are better than others.

One thing is sure: its touch and go for the Franks in the beginning. If he looses say more than 4 units the first year with no losses for the Saracen he is in trouble. And this is likely to happen because his units in Tripoli are vulnerable.

If the Frank can weather the first two years then the game is on, but I haven't got that far since the game where I managed to bunch my forces the Saracen then commited all his forces and lost.

What I can say though is that the game is tense and interesting and I still plan to play it some more before I can tell if its an open game or if there is a definitive winning strategy!
 
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Gotthard Heinrici (prev. Graf Strachwitz)
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Karel wrote:
You're welcome.

'Harro Bosma': you must be Frisian, right?


My name is utterly Frisian and my dad is utterly Frisian.

However I never lived there but when I visit, I feel quite at home...must be the genes :-)

 
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Jerry Taylor
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Of course, it's impossible to provide optimum advice for the Franks at start because we have no idea what the Saracens are up to, and how they decide to play the attack has a lot to say about what the Franks need to do. But all things being equal, if the Saracens are letting me have my way, my preferred strategy as the Franks in 1187 is to evacuate Tripoli completely. A block might go to Antioch if necessary, but the balance of those forces go south. Acre is the main point of resistence. I'll try to hold Jerusalem as well, but if it's starting to look grim, I'll get out of there too and try to hold on to the coast.

The main thing is to keep orange blocks alive - no fights to the bitter end! That is, unless you can take the stronger emirs (the B3s and the As) out with you. Often times, the Saracens get a little to careless walking up to the big Frankish armies and can be whacked quite nicely. The Franks should always look for local counterpunching opportunities - and always keep an eye on Egypt. One of the reasons to hold on to Jerusalem for as long as possible is to pose a threat to Egypt.
 
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