We played our first full 200 point game of L'Art de la Guerre Thursday night. I made a number of errors, both tactical and with the rules. In addition, my aging point and shoot camera is acting up. I thought I took 6 or more pictures but there were only two in the camera when it was downloaded. We used Normans for Crusaders, close enough. We used Huns for Seljuk Turks, a bit more of a stretch but steppe warriors all the same. Figure purists may wish to avert their eyes.
I was the Seljuk leader, with Tom as a subordinate. Bill led the Crusaders with Ken as his second. Bill and I had played a 100 point game last week. This was the first look at these rules for Tom and Ken. I had 2 brilliant and one competent general. The Turks had 4 elite heavy cavalry with bows, 18 elite light horse with bows and a fortified camp for 199 points. Upon finding I had 4 extra points I also got a light infantry bow unit. The Crusaders had 1 brilliant, 1 competent and 1 ordinary general. They had 6 elite medium knights, 5 medium knights, 3 light cavalry with bows, 4 heavy spear units, 2 crossbow units with pavises and a fortified camp for exactly 200 points.
With my higher command rating and my swarm of light horse, I determined the Crusaders would attack in the steppes of Anatolia. My left corps was 6 light horse archers commanded by Tom. My center and right each had 6 light horse archers and 2 heavy cavalry. The Crusaders had a right flank of infantry, a center of medium knights and 2 light horse archers, the left under Ken had all the elite knights and 1 horse archer.
The Crusaders all moved forward, Ken making multiple moves to hug the left edge of the field. This opened a gap between him and the Crusader center that I neglected to exploit. I moved horse archers to face him and unleashed a storm of arrows. Few hit, even though I neglected to apply the -1 for light units firing. I also somehow thought elite status only affected melee and we didn't use it for missile fire. The list of errors grew.
The center horse archers moved partly into the gap between the Christian left and center but not nearly forceful enough. They traded bowshots with the turcopoles and came off somewhat the worse. Again the light unit -1 wasn't used. It took a few turns before I realized this.
That's it for the pictures. The Crusaders center and left each got 2 pips, not enough to restrain the knights, who all charged on orders. First my right flank light horse evaded. I rolled for each individual unit. Only after the game did I find evading groups that move the same speed only roll once for evade distance and evade as a group. My line of 6 horse archers broke up into as many groups as no two adjoining units ran the same speed. I was not to get them back together during the game. The center was charged and evaded and likewise broke up into small groups. It was a disaster. Tom, under pressure from enemy infantry, sent a couple horse archers to fire on the flank of the central enemy knights. None hit. I lost my nerve and fell back with my two heavy cavalry units in the center. Some of my center horse archers advanced through the gap between the enemy center and left.
The infantry charged Tom's horse archers. Again we rolled individually for evade distance and half of Tom's archers evaded off the table, including his general. They decided to hit the local pub and watch the rest of the game on TV. I realized that the next evade would carry off most of my troops so I stood. The sight of knights carving up your light horse is not pretty. I should have evaded and thrown in the towel. Instead light horse units flew into the routed pile.
My center heavy cavalry charged forward. The general led one unit and rolled a 6. The anemic response of the Crusader unit saw the Turks rout the knights. My other heavy cavalry unit tied.
On my right, my heavy cavalry got behind the elite knights. One heavy cavalry unit rode off after a turcopole unit. They traded bowshots for the rest of the game to little effect. The other heavy cavalry unit hit a knight unit in the rear, aided by the light infantry. The knights collapsed and routed. In the gap between the Crusader left and center, two of my light horse units fell upon the flanks and rear of Bill's general who was imbedded into a squadron of knights. It took several turns but the general and his elite knights killed both of their assailants.
On the left Tom had command control problems since his general had evaded off the table. He managed to get one squadron to charge a Christian crossbow unit. With a mighty yell (and a high die roll) the crossbows took a hit. Then their nearby friends flanked and routed the light horse. My general, having routed their opponent, fell on the flank of the next knight. A high die roll saw the knight tie them. A spear unit then fell on the rear of my general's unit. They took one hit before resolving the fight for being hit in the rear. They lost the fight, taking another hit. Then Bill rolled a 1 and my general was dragged off his horse and given a severe haircut. At the sight of that the heavy cavalry unit routed. We counted up at the end of the turn. We were way over our demoralization level, game over. We decided to let the Crusaders head on for the Holy land, as long as they left our turf. It was dinner time.
As you can see, I made a lot of mistakes. I also didn't keep track of how many turns we played, perhaps 10. The game took about 2 and 30 minutes. But I think all are up for giving this another try.
Assuming each infantry unit is 1,000 strong and each cavalry is 250, the Turks fielded 5,250 cavalry and 500 light archers. The Crusaders had 5,000 infantry and 3,250 mounted. I assume losses are negligible unless a unit routs and then assume 50% of these units are casualties while the rest will turn up later. The Turks lost 1250 horsemen and their commanding general while the Crusaders lost 375 knights. It was a signal victory for the Crusaders. Perhaps the Seljuks can get a rematch in December. But we do have board games and also have the new edition of DBA to play. We'll see.