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Subject: Forward to Glory! (But Not Victory) rss

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James Lowry
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[This session report is cross-posted from my blog.]

Well, the annual vacation with my parents has started out well. Weather on the way down alternated between sunny and warm, and overcast and threatening. But, no actual rain, and traffic was pretty good other than along I-210.

Took care of the main tech support duties yesterday morning, helping a neighbor with her machine, and getting the wireless network up and running again here. No big projects, thank goodness.

So, yesterday afternoon, me and my Dad played the 2nd Crusade scenario from Onward, Christian Soldiers. It's the smallest, shortest and simplest of the scenarios, and therefore a good introduction to the two-player play of the game. Since my one other play of the game was as the Saracens, and I consider the Crusaders to have the tougher lot in the scenario, I took the Crusaders this time.

I deliberately opened with the same move as my opponent's last time had been: Move the combined armies of Jerusalem, France and Germany up from Acre to Tiberias. It's possibly slightly cautious, but it helps keep the Saracen player worried about Damascus without possibly triggering a shattering confrontation right away, insuring that the initiative in the south stays with the Crusaders, and hopefully keeping the Mosul Turks from spending all their effort in the north.

From there, things ran quite differently. In the north, things looked pretty good for a little bit. But I was unable to roll well, generating a horrific number of '1's for formation in the opening battles. Meanwhile, the Saracens rolled well; the classic tale of a western army falling for a feigned retreat and getting smashed in a counter attack played itself out all too often in this game. Still, I kept the armies largely intact into the second turn, slowing things down a bit.

Down south only saw limited maneuvering at first. But Unur of Damascus eventually headed north to help with the situation up there. As a couple more battle reduced the armies of Antioch and Edessa to a point where they weren't much of a threat to anyone, he ended up heading south again. By this time, Baldwin and Philip VII had moved to the gates of Damascus and were besieging it, and Conrad was holding Tiberias, planning to move up to Tripoli and joining the small army there. However, he got off to a late start (last chit in the cup), and was defeated by Unur (still couldn't roll a good formation, it was a fairly even battle otherwise).

The final turn and a half was mostly clean up for both sides. The Turks spent their time trying to claim the rest of the County of Edessa (and barely made it), Unur made a try at Jerusalem, but when he realized he had 4 chances in 36 (needed really good assault rolls), he headed to Damascus to get rid of the French army there. For once, the Crusaders stood firm, and Unur was unable to do anything. However, I had screwed things up, and the siege had ended the turn before due to the army strength going too low (largely due to desertions--the only event roll that did anything during the game). Meanwhile, Conrad and the other leaders had been busy with ravaging cities and taking Homs, Hammah and Shaizar.

So, at the end the score was 7 to 22. I had nearly gotten another 10 for Damascus, and Samosata had nearly held out (good assault roll at the end of the game), which would have given me another point, and lost the Saracens 3 for a possible 18 to 19.... I'm definitely convinced that the Crusaders have a much harder position in this one, not least because it's much easier for the Mosul Turks to shift between the two different theaters than for the Crusaders. If I hadn't so consistently lost battles that were winnable, it might have been very different, as Edessa and Antioch have just enough forces to be a problem for the Turks, with careful handling.

Anyway, I'm down here for a bit, and I think we'll end up playing the Third Crusade scenario soon.

http://rindis.livejournal.com/43829.html
 
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Neil Randall
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Thanks for the report, James. And let us know how the 3rd Crusade works out.

I encourage the two of you to play the First Crusade at some point soon, in fact while the rules are fresh in your mind. I'm currently playing it face-to-face and I'm reminded that playing the 1C two player is still my favourite way.

I wish we'd marketed it more strongly as a 2-player and even 3-player game (it plays superbly 3-player, and the hobby has two few 3-player games). I think many buyers never got the full value for the game because they assumed you needed the full contingent of players (7) for it to work properly. That's absolutely not the case.

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James Lowry
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We played the 3C scenario yesterday, and there should be a report on that soon.

I've played 1C both 3- and 4-player and it works very well. We might go for the 1st Crusade soon, but there's other games calling us too.
 
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