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Subject: Third Crusade, played at SNEW May 2018 rss

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Jakub Kircun
United States
Woods Hole
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I had a blast playing the Crusades with Dan during SNEW (May 19, 2018). Being an older title (one-year older than me!) this game still holds out pretty well I think. There is an endearing quality to it despite the written orders, simultaneous moves, and countless checking (and double/triple checking) of the Crusader's force roster. There is definitely a sort of cat-and-mouse quality to the gameplay (one you might not necessarily get with a chit-pull system?), and zones-of-control are only effective once you setup several interlocking fields; therefore, most armies tend to move as they please.

We tried out the Third Crusade scenario, with Dan as Salah ad-Din, and me as an amalgamation of christian forces (mostly French and Latin, but also some English and German).

The game started-out with a large Crusader force, under the leadership of the King of Jerusalem (Guy de Lusignan), besieging the important port-city of Acre. Philip, King of France, who was sitting on the outskirts of Tyre split his forces, sending a probing expedition south to Caesarea while the main French contingent trekked north to capture the city of Sidon and besiege the Castle of Beaufort. Unfortunately both city of citadel were later reconquered by Muslim forces from Damascus.

Further inland, the lightly defended Krak des Chevaliers was besieged by Muslim forces, and fell in short order. Saladin then made his way into Tyre to start a major siege of his own, however the christian defenders put-on a very tenacious resistance, while causing the infidels large causalities (I was getting consistently good rolls for the besieged forces, certainly a sign of divine providence). Eventually the French king decided to break the siege in Tyre and took most of his forces (even stripping some of Acre's besieging troops) into Tyre to meet Saladin in the field! The impetuous charge that followed was a disaster for the Crusaders, which then retreated south into Caesarea to lick their wounds.

On the horizon the English kind, Richard Coeur-de-Lion, landed in Cyprus and quickly deposed Isaac of Cyprus by taking the major port of Famagusta (adding "Lord of Cyprus" to his own titles). A large Egyptian fleet then sailed to Cyprus to blockade Richard delaying his arrival into the Levant. Richard eventually landed in Acre and subsequently meet Saladin on the fields of Tyre. His superior military tactical ability broke the Muslim siege of the city and routed Saladin back to the fortress of Beaufort. Richard pursued Saladin but was unable to cut-off his retreat into the citadel, and was later forced to withdraw back towards Tyre to avoid isolation. Meanwhile, further north, Muslim forces have been slowly chipping away at the County of Tripoli, and were now threatening the Principality of Antioch.

Eventually the city of Acre fell to the King of Jerusalem, becoming the only lasting Christian military success of the Third Crusade. Meanwhile, multiple Muslim naval expeditions were launched against Cyprus, and eventually grabbed the major port of Famagusta! The French king sent several of his best vassals to aid in the defence of Antioch against a mounting Muslim threat in that region. Finally, with winter approaching, both French and English kings started a southern campaign to capture the cities of Jaffa and Ascalon, with some modest successes. As winter set-in, Saladin sent-out Assassins against the French king camping out in Jaffa, successfully slaying him! Shortly thereafter large contingents of French troops set sail back home having fulfilled their pilgrimage and feudal obligations. Saladin then graciously offered a truce to king Richard (an actual random event by-the-way!).

With winter still underway, and my Crusader forces severely crippled, I saw no path to victory (or even a stalemate) and I forfeited the game. An uneasy peace descended upon the Levant with a tenuous Crusader hold of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Principality of Antioch. Jerusalem, the ultimate prize, remained out of reach...

Edit: Typos.
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