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Subject: Back in Time: Men of Iron to The Last Crusade rss

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Dale Holmstrom
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My local wargaming partner and I have really enjoyed Men of Iron, one of Mr. Berg's tactical warfare systems for pre-gunpowder battles. It is easy to learn, the system itself enhances the "feel" of medieval warfare, and games can be played in one session.
My friend is a Templar and crusader buff, so I picked up The Last Crusade with his interests in mind. The game itself is about the Battle of Nicopolis (1396), in which a medley of Christian forces led by the Hungarian King Sigismund were defeated by the Ottomans. Large contigents of Christian horse assault an emplaced Ottoman infantry force with subsantial cavalry reserves.
The physical components of the game are typical of DTP games. The countersheet and map is paper. The rulebook, game charts, and scenario are all bound together and of paper stock.
The counters are a surprise---nice graphics for the various units, with "command" color bands on the top of each counter. My only complaint is that the Ottoman infantry counters are a larger size than the rest of the counters, and do not fit in the map hexes.
The map is also colorful and does a good job of terrain respresentation. The big problem is that one side of the map was printed in a larger scale than the other. We had to "fudge" how units moved through the middle of the map due to this issue.
The rules themselves are short and concise. They are very vague concerning charge, countercharge, command range, and multiple battle casualty determination. The fire table does not address what happens to Ottoman Heavy cavalry (there are no "unhorsed" counters for them, so we assumed an "Unhorsed" result was a disruption).
We have played the Last Crusade once using the original rules. We had to make a lot of assumptions, capitalizing from our experience playing the updated rules of Men of Iron, to make sense of vague and incomplete rules. The scenario itself is fun, and historically stimulating. Who wouldn't enjoy having in his forces, a contigent of knights led by Vlad Tepis's grandfather?cool
In conclusion, The Last Crusade is a welcome addition to any Men of Iron fan who is willing to see a diamond in the rough. I do not suggest this game as an initial purchase to learn the Men of Iron game system. Suggestions for play are that the players agree to use Men of Iron rules (with exception to the fire combat chart), and that they go to a copy shop and alter scale of both mapsheets so they are the same scale.
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