Author Topic: Saladin vs Jerusalem  (Read 8276 times)

Hannibal

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Saladin vs Jerusalem
« on: December 08, 2011, 01:11:53 AM »
Some time back, I expressed an interest in designing a historical set for BGFW: the Crusades.  My first few drafts never amounted to much, and seeing as how any project would be several years away, I'd shelved it until recently.  With Chad's permission, I'm posting what I have to generate some chatting.

But first, some design thoughts:

Saladin vs. Jerusalem encompasses from the ~1170 to 1192 AD.  It portrays Saladin’s empire after he’d cemented his power in Egypt, replacing the Fatimid military with a Turko-Arabic army. The major battles that bookend this period are the Battle of Montgisard and the Battle of Jaffa, which is the last real battle of the Third Crusade.  I very deliberately centered it on the entirety of  Saladin’s reign instead of just the Third Crusade.  The reason for this is two-fold.

First, the Third Crusade simply isn't very long.  Its really just two large skirmishes, a siege, and an army-sized ambush.  There are many other battles that take place during the rise and fall of the Crusader Kingdoms that are, frankly, more interesting than the battles of the Third Crusade.

Second,  the Third Crusade was very much King Richard’s war.  At the Battle of Hattin the military of Jerusalem was wiped out, and with them a lot of the archetypical forces of the Crusades.  For example, the Knights Templar ceased to be an effective military force, with their remnants commanded by the Knights Hospitallier.  While I could design units from the Angevin-Germanic-Jerusalem alliance that fought the Third Crusade, it didn't seem the right focus.

Similarly, folks may wonder why I focused on this era and not the First Crusade, for example.  Well, the reasons are mostly the same.  The First Crusade was fought by a fairly ragtag force against a very divided, and yet militarily homogenous, group of Turkish principates.  Again, the iconic forces of the Crusader era (the Templars, Hospitalliers, etc.) wouldn't be present.

By having Saladin's reign be the lynchpin, this gave me a very wide selection to create units.  Saladin's army was drafted from the reaches of his empire, including his Kurdish brethren, Arab allies, Turkish allies, and the populations of Syrian and Egypt.  Similarly, Jerusalem of this era was composed of several different groups of native Franks, recently arrived crusaders, the warriors of the Holy Orders, Christian and Christianized Arabs, plus allies from places like Cilician Armenia.

Plus, you can't have a Crusader vs Muslim faction and not do Saladin vs Richard in some context.


Okay, now some history:   

In 1099, the First Crusade came crashing through the Middle East.  The Crusaders conquered almost all of the Mediterranean coast, setting up the County of Edessa, the Principality of Antioch, the County of Tripoli, and the Kingdom of Jerusalem.  Nominally Edessa, Antioch , and Tripoli were all under the command of Jerusalem, but in reality the King of Jerusalem could barely control the landed nobility inside his own borders much less those beyond.  By the time of Saladin, the County of Edessa had ceased to exist, conquered by two decades earlier.  For simplicity, whenever I say “Jerusalem,” I am referring to all the Crusader Kingdom.

Also during this time, the kingdom of Cilician (or Lesser) Armenia existed in what is today the south-eastern coast of Turkey.  Essentially it was a kingdom carved out by Armenian nobles after the collapse of Byzantine power in the region.  Armenia provided mercenaries for the Byzantine Empire and even the Fatimid Caliphate in Egypt, even though they were Orthodox Christians.  By the time of Saladin, Armenia had forged close ties with the Crusader Kingdoms and primarily fought for them, especially for Antioch and Tripoli. 

After the First Crusade, the region of Syria and north-western Iraq was united by a warlord named Imad al-Din Zengi.  He destroyed Edessa and fought off the Second Crusade.  His son, Nur al-Din, succeed him and in 1169 sent a general named Shirkuh to protect the ailing Fatimid Caliphate from invasions by Jerusalem.  Shirkuh took with him to Egypt his nephew, Saladin.  After Shirkuh died, Saladin became ruler of Egypt.  After Nur al-Din died, he annexed or conquered most of Syrian and north-western Iraq.

Saladin justified his rule as essentially defender of the Muslim faith.  So he was constantly at war with Jerusalem.  He suffered a massive defeat at Montgisard in 1177, where Jerusalem caught him unaware while his army was spread out foraging for supplies.

At the Battle of Hattin in 1187, he wiped out the army of Jerusalem.  Basically the leadership of Jerusalem marched across the front of Saladin’s entire army in the high heat without any water.  Under constant horse archer barrage, they were pinned down, separated, and then those smaller portions were defeated piecemeal.  Without an army, 90% of Jerusalem was conquered.

This slaughtered spurred the Third Crusade.  Originally it was a joint venture between the German Holy Roman Empire, the French, and Anglo-French kingdom of Richard.  But the German Emperor died on the way and Richard & the French had a falling out that made the French king set sail for home.  So it quickly became Richard’s war with his army bolstered by the remnants of the German contingent and the tatters of Jerusalem’s army.

Having captured Tyre, Richard marched south to prepare to march inland to Jerusalem.  The precipitated the Battle of Arsuf, which is this weird cross between an ambush and a pitched battle.  Saladin tried to slam into the flank of Richard’s army, but Saladin’s army was ultimately routed.  Richard chose not to pursue because he feared it was a trap and let the majority of Saladin’s army escape.

After that, Saladin refused to risk pitched battle with Richard, while Richard did not have a force big enough to re-take all of Jerusalem.  In fact, he could not secure inland passage to the City of Jerusalem.  If he took the city, Saladin would fall back and hit his supply line leaving Richard trapped in the city.
   
So without a way to engage Saladin (and have a chance to win), with news of his brother threatening to take the throne in England and of the French king threatening his empire in Europe, Richard cut a deal with Saladin.  The Christians kept the land they held and Jerusalem was open to Christian pilgrims.  Richard went home at the end of 1192 and Saladin died in 1193.


Okay, next up, the army of Jerusalem...


Hannibal

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Re: Saladin vs Jerusalem
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2011, 02:38:55 AM »
Jerusalem

Design Notes:  The themes of Jerusalem stem from its poor organization and discipline, its ad hoc composition, its religiosity, and its adapting of tactics to the context of the Middle East.

When Jerusalem was established, the assembled lords elected their king.  So instead of having a conquering warlord who ruled absolutely, the king of Jerusalem was much more the 'first among equals.'  Many of his own vassals had a great deal of independence and the holy orders were at best allies to the King.  This is the basis of the Factions rule, demonstrating how hard a general has in controlling his army.

In addition, many of the knights and cavalry were simply poor soldiers.  They were good warriors, but lacked discipline and could be drawn out by harassment attacks.  The vast majority of Jerusalem's cavalry are Impulsive.

Jerusalem was literally always at war.  Although European Christians "took up the cross" it was never enough. In addition to the Templars and Hospitalliers, Jerusalem made use of hired mercenaries from Italy and also other Christians in the region, such as Marionites, Armenians, and Turcopoles (Turks who converted to Christianity).  This is reflected in the large number of unit types, but that many of them are Elite choices.  A player simply can't load up on Knights Templar, for example.

The religious belief of Jerusalem's forces provides their army ability but also is a large influence on their Command Cards.  Even by the standards of the era, the Europeans of the 11th and 12th century were religious nutters.  But this faith sustained them in some of the most absolutely miserable conditions, from the Firs Crusade to the Battle of Hattin.  Many a battle involved the Crusaders force marching while being pelted with arrows.

Eventually, however, the Crusaders did adapt.  The more experienced (and less fanatical) knights learned patience when fighting their enemy.  They also made use of infantry as both human shields for the horses against Muslim archers but also as mobile rally points on the battle field, so that a fleeing unit could rally, reorganize, and get back in the battle.  This is represented by the Cordon and Burst Through rule.

Faction Abilities

Fervor:  Spend a Command Action to mark a Fervor box.  While the box is marked the unit gains +1 Cge.  You may erase the box after your opponent rolls to hit to gain D+0/+1 this attack.  This counts as playing a Command Card.

Cordon:  If a unit with this keyword is backing up a Cavalry unit that fails a Rout check, instead of Free Strikes the Cavalry unit takes 1 pt of damage per engaged enemy unit (this can cause another Rout check).  If the Cavalry unit is not destroyed, the Cordon unit trades places with the Cavalry unit, becoming engaged with any units with which it was engaged.  The Cavalry unit then rallies.

Reorder: If a Cavalry unit starts its activation backing up an unengaged non-Cavalry unit, you may spend 1 command action to have the Cavalry unit trade places with the non-Cavalry unit.  If the Cavalry unit has a Close order with no Objective or Move Cap, then it must trade places.  This does not cost a command action, but the non-Cavalry unit suffers 2 points of damage.

Factions: Before deployment choose one unit per 600 pts in your army's points budget (round down).  To play a Command Card on any unit other than those selected units, you must first discard a Command Card.

Note:  I know this is a lot of faction abilities, but since this is just a homebrew faction now, I don't care.


Units:

Italian Crossbowmen - Core - 195 pts
O:(4)5*/6*  D:1/2  Rge: 17.5"  Cge: 12  Mve 3.5"  3G 3Y 2R
Cordon.  LOS Ranged attack.  O:(-0) -1/-2 when Engaged.

Genoese, Venetian, Pisans.  They all fought for coin.


Serjeant Swordsmen - Core - 190 pts
O:(5)5/5  D:2/2  Rge: -  Cge: 12  Mve 3.5"  4G 4Y 2R
Cordon.  

The men-at-arms of every noble are pressed into service when Jerusalem marches.


Serjeant Spearmen - Core - 211 pts
O:(6*)5*/5*  D:2/2  Rge: -  Cge: 12  Mve 3.5"  4G 4Y 2R
Cordon.  O:(-1) -0/-0 when charging. O:(+0) +1/+0 vs. cavalry or large units. O:(+0) +0/+2 when holding vs. charging cavalry or large.

Descended from Frankish settlers or accompanying their lord on crusade, these humble men formed the bulk of Jerusalem's army.


Mounted Serjeants - Core - 219 pts
O:(6)5/5*  D:2*/2  Rge: -  Cge: 12  Mve 6"  3G 2Y 1R
Cavalry, Impulsive.  O:(+0)+0/+1 and D:+1/+0 when charging.

Only a small portion of Jerusalem's cavalry are actual knights.  The rest are the retinues of the nobility, in such large numbers that they are brigaded into their own units.


Pilgrim Slingers - Core - 72 pts
O:(3)5*/5*  D:1*/0  Rge: 7"  Cge: 14  Mve 5"  2G 3Y 2R
Skirmisher, Impulsive.  Ranged attack is LOS.  O:(-0) -2/-2 when Engaged.  D:+2/+0 vs ranged attacks.

The story of the humble slinger resonated deeply with the pious Christians of Jerusalem.


Maronite Archers - Standard - 146 pts
O:(4)5*/5*  D:1/0  Rge: 14"  Cge: 10  Mve 3.5"  2G 3Y 2R
O:(-0) -2/-2 when Engaged.

Relations between these Christian Syrians and the Frankish Crusader Kingdoms was one of wary cooperation.


Pilgrim Levy - Standard - 91 pts
O:(5)4/4  D:1/1  Rge: -  Cge: 14  Mve 3.5"  4G 2Y 3R
Impulsive.

In dire circumstances, the king would call the Arriere-Ban a general levy for all Christians and even pilgrims with no experience were drafted.


Brother Serjeants - Standard - 278 pts
O:(6*)5*/5*  D:2/3  Rge: -  Cge: 13  Mve 3.5"  5G 3Y 2R
Cordon. O:(-1) -0/-0 when charging. O:(+0) +1/+0 vs. cavalry or large units. O:(+0) +0/+2 when holding vs. charging cavalry or large.

Commoner members of the military orders were the most disciplined, stalwart infantry Jerusalem had.


Armenian Mercenaries - Standard - 147 pts
O:(6*)5*/5*  D:2/2  Rge: -  Cge: 12  Mve 3.5"  4G 2Y 3R
No Fervor box.  O:(-1) -0/-0 when charging. O:(+0) +1/+0 vs. cavalry or large units. O:(+0) +0/+2 when holding vs. charging cavalry or large.

Armenians sold their services to Fatimids, Byzantines, Turks, and Crusaders alike.


Armenian Cavalry - Elite - 226 pts
O:(6)5/5*  D:2*/2  Rge: -  Cge: 12  Mve 6"  3G 2Y 1R
Cavalry.  No Fervor Box.  O:(+0)+0/+1 and D:+1/+0 when charging.

Despite being Orthodox Christian, the Armenian nobility by the time of Saladin had close ties with the Crusader kingdoms.


Crusader Knights - Elite - 278 pts.
O:(6)6/5*  D:2*/2  Rge: -  Cge: 13  Mve 6"  3G 2Y 1R
Cavalry, Impulsive. O:(+0)+0/+1 and D:+1/+0 when charging.

Having taken up the cross, these men arrived in the Holy Land with no title, no land, and a burning fanaticism.


Outremer Knights - Elite - 341 pts
O:(6)6/5*  D:3*/2  Rge: -  Cge: 13  Mve 5"  3G 2Y 2R
Cavalry.  O:(+0)+0/+1 and D:+1/+0 when charging.

Natives and long-time residents of the Crusader kingdoms, these warriors were cautious and wary of their Muslim foes.


Knights Hospitaller - Elite - 411 pts
O:(6)6/5*  D:3*/3  Rge: -  Cge: 14  Mve 5"  3G 2Y 2R
Cavalry, Impulsive.  O:(+0)+0/+1 and D:+1/+0 when charging.

Originally founded to protect pilgrims and hospitals, the Knights of Saint John evolved into one of the two major military orders in the Crusader kingdoms.


Knights Templar - Elite - 398 pts
O:(6)6/6*  D:2*/3  Rge: -  Cge: 14  Mve 5"  3G 2Y 2R
Cavalry, Impulsive.  O:(+0)+0/+1 and D:+1/+0 when charging.

The most famous military order in history, it was known for aggressive actions against enemies of the faith.


Turcopoles - Elite - 189 pts
O:(4*)5/5*  D:2*/1  Rge: 10.5"  Cge: 11  Mve 6"  2G 2Y 1R
Cavalry. Range attack is LOS.  O:(+1) +0/+0 when Engaged.  O:(+0) +0/+1 and d+1/+0 when charging.  No Fervor Box.

Most famously associated with the Hospitalliers, these sons of Frankish-Arab unions and converted Turks served as scouts for the armies of Jerusalem.



Command Cards:

The True Cross: (1)  Play after one of your units has failed a Rout Check.  Reroll the Rout Check.  If the unit has a marked Fervor box, it passes the Rout Check and heals 1 pt of damage.

Force of Personality: (1)  Play during an attack, before you rolls to hit.  You gain either (+1)+0/+1 or (+1)+1/+0 this attack.  You may play this card on any unit, without having to discard a Command Card.

Signo Vinces: (2) Play during the Movement and Command Phase.  Gain two Command Actions, but only to mark Fervor boxes.

Second Charge: (1)  Play during the Movement & Command Phase on 1 engaged cavalry unit or 2 engaged non-Cavalry units.  Your unit(s) counts as charging this turn.  You may not play Command Cards or erase Fervor boxes on the unit(s) this turn.

Deus Vult!: (3) Play during an attack, before you roll to hit.  You gain (+0)+1/+0 this attack.  Your opponent may not play command cards this attack. (This does not affect command cards already played.)

Fortis en Fide:  Play during an attack, before your opponent rolls to hit.  Your unit gets D:+0/+2 this attack and +2 Cge this turn.

« Last Edit: February 24, 2012, 03:55:09 PM by Hannibal »

Hannibal

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Re: Saladin vs Jerusalem
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2011, 02:51:34 PM »
Saladin

Design Notes:  Saladin was like many generals in that he was a strategic genius, not a tactical one.  He was a cautious leader to knew the value of defending (and attacking) supply lines, that an army in the countryside produced bigger strategic victories than any single pitched battle could, that wars were won by planning and scouting.  His strengths were in logistics, organization, and most importantly, setting achievable goals for each campaign so that he could declare victory every time.

Starting in Egypt as a vizier, Saladin was saddled with an ineffective Fatimid military that eventually revolted on him.  From this crisis, however, he could recreate an army using the fertile lands of Egypt to cement the loyalty of the nobles he installed.  He imported Kurdish warriors from his homeland as well as Ghulams (slaves trained to be warriors and then set free) that he and his nobles purchased to be their retinue.  He made alliances with Bedouin Arabs and eventually he expanded to conquer the Syrian city-states (and their surrounding areas), encircling most of Jerusalem.  These city-states brought with him more cavalry (both lancers and Turk horse archers) but also city militias to increase the size of his armies.

These disparate sources gave Saladin a lot of manpower, integrating them was where Saladin's distinguishes himself.  His army had a well developed officer core, and through a combination of messengers, drums/horns, and semaphore, his army could coordinate in a way similar to the Romans, Mongols, and Byzantines at their respective heights. 

Further, Saladin made good use of scouts.  Most of his cavalry was lighter than the Franks, and so while he was seldom able to control the area of engagement, he was often able to attacks at the right place with sufficient force.

These two traits are represented by a theme of not only controlling the unit's but also controlling the Command Cards.  The Officer Core is designed to be a very flexible ability, allowing you several options.  The Battle Plans represent Saladin understanding his enemy and usually having tricks or stratagems prepared in advance.

The faction itself is obviously a combination of several different unit types, with an emphasis on both cavalry and ranged weapons.  Infantry in the Middle East were historically almost always lightly armed and of uneven quality, as they were not expected to carry the day.  Of note are the two different types of horse archer units:  Turcoman and Ghulam.  The Turcoman are the Turkish peoples who fought that classic hit & run horse archer style.  Ghulam were much more a mixed-use unit.  They were trained not to shoot-and-evade, but to use their cavalry to move to a good position, halt (sometimes even dismounting), and shower an advancing enemy with arrows before either withdrawing or charging in.  They engaged in "shower shooting" or what we'd call suppressing fire where they fired at an area as fast as they could instead of aiming at anything.  For this reason, the Turcoman ranged attack is direct fire while the Ghulam ranged attack is indirect fire.


Faction Abilities:
Officer Core:  Spend a Command Action to mark 2 Coordination boxes on one of your units. You may erase any number of boxes during the Movement and Command Phase to do the following:  (may choose multiple options)  [note:  most units have 3 boxes]
•   1-3 boxes:  Unit gains +1 Cge for the turn per box erased.
•   1-2 boxes:  Unit gains (+1)+0/+0 this turn per box erased.
•   1-2 boxes:  Unit change/adds one Standing Order Modifier per box erased.

Battle Plans:  You may spend up to 60 pts on Battle Plans.  For every 10 pts spent on Battle Plans, draw 2 Command Cards after deployment.  Choose half of the cards and set them aside.  Shuffle the unwanted cards back into the deck, and then place the chosen cards on top of the deck in the order of your choosing.


Units:

Turcoman Cavalry - Core - 182 pts
O:(4)5/5  D:1*/1  Rge: 10.5"  Cge: 11  Mve 7"  2G 2Y 1R
Cavalry.  No penalty for Move and Shoot.  Range attack is LOS.  When Direct Controlled may treat Rear Arc as Front Arc for ranged attacks.  D:+1/+0 when charging.

Turcoman tribes had swept into the Near East in the 10th century, and toppling centuries-old empires.


Kurdish Archers - Core - 157 pts
O:(4)5*/5*  D:1/1  Rge: 14"  Cge: 12  Mve 3.5"  3G 2Y 2R
O:(-0) -2/-2 when Engaged.

Kin to Saladin, these warriors were some of his most dependable.


Kurdish Cavalry - Core - 259 pts
O:(6)5/5*  D:2*/2  Rge: -  Cge: 13  Mve 6"  3G 2Y 1R
Cavalry.  O:(+0)+0/+1 and D:+1/+0 when charging.

The myth that all Muslim warriors went into battle lightly armored as the Turks was just that: a myth.


Ahdath Swordsmen - Core - 150 pts
O:(5)5/5  D:2/1  Rge: -  Cge: 11  Mve 3.5"  4G 3Y 3R

These militias were provided by the cities of Syria and Egypt, and were of dubious quality.


Ahdath Spearmen - Core - 167 pts
O:(6*)5*/5*  D:2/1  Rge: -  Cge: 11  Mve 3.5"  4G 3Y 3R
O:(-1) -0/-0 when charging. O:(+0) +1/+0 vs. cavalry or large units. O:(+0) +0/+2 when holding vs. charging cavalry or large.

Although much maligned, the militia soldiers served valuable roles during sieges and holding the center while the archers could disrupt the enemy.


Bedoin Cavalry - Standard - 144 pts
O:(5)5/5*  D:2*/0  Rge: -  Cge: 11  Mve 7"  3G 2Y 1R
Cavalry, Impulsive.  O:(+0)+0/+1 and D:+1/+0 when charging.

Although ill-disciplined and with no armor, the Bedoins made fierce raiders.


Muttawiyah Javelinmen - Standard - 126 pts
O:(5)4/5  D:2/1  Rge: 3.5"  Cge: 10  Mve 5"  3G 3Y 4R
Javelins, Impulsive.  No Officer Core boxes.

Untrained religious volunteers, Saladin was forced to accept these barely controlled mobs.


Bedoin Archers - Standard - 74 pts
O:(3)5*/5*  D:1*/0  Rge: 10.5"  Cge: 10  Mve 5"  2G 3Y 1R
Skirmisher.  Ranged Attack is LOS.  O:(-0) -2/-2 when Engaged.  D:+2/+0 vs ranged attacks.

Saladin could rely upon these men to fire only a few volleys before scattering.


Bedoin Skirmishers - Standard - 79 pts
O:(3)5/4  D:1*/0  Rge: 5"  Cge: 10  Mve 5"  3G 2Y 1R
Skirmisher, Javelins.  O:(-0) -2/-2 when Engaged.  D:+2/+0 vs ranged attacks.

The heavy infantry of the Bedoin contingent.


Ghulam Cavalry - Standard - 326 pts
O:(4*)5/5  D:2*/2  Rge: 14"  Cge: 13  Mve 6"  3G 2Y 2R
Cavalry. O:(+2) +0/+0 when Engaged.  O:(+0) +0/+1 and D+1/+0 when charging. 

Every Muslim noble was guarded by a retinue of freed slaves, raised from birth to fight and die for their lord.


Ghulam Infantry- Standard - 264 pts
O:(4*)5/5  D:2/2  Rge: 14"  Cge: 13  Mve 3.5"  4G 3Y 2R
Ranged attack is LOS. O:(+1) +0/+0 when Engaged.

When needed Ghulam dismount and bolster the center of the line.


Naffatun - Elite - 185 pts
O:(4)5*/6*  D:1/1  Rge: 7"  Cge: 11  Mve 3.5"  3G 2Y 2R
O:(-0) -2/-3 when Engaged.

Usually deployed during sieges, Naffatun hurled jars of flaming sticky Naptha that clung to a man even as it incinerated him.


Veteran Turcoman Cavalry - Elite - 274 pts
O:(4)6/5  D:1*/1  Rge: 10.5"  Cge: 12  Mve 7"  3G 2Y 1R
Cavalry.  No penalty for Move and Shoot.  Range attack is LOS.  When Direct Controlled may treat Rear Arc as Front Arc for ranged attacks.  D:+1/+0 when charging.

So tiring was the Turcoman hit & run attacks on his steed, that each man rode to battle with six horses.


Royal Ghulam Cavalry - Elite - 425 pts
O:(4*)5/5  D:3*/2  Rge: 14"  Cge: 13  Mve 6"  3G 2Y 2R
Cavalry. O:(+2) +1/+0 when Engaged.  O:(+0) +0/+1 and D+1/+0 when charging.

Saladin's retinue of Ghulam, they were deployed when the king himself was present or when victory was uncertain.



Command Cards:

Relay Orders:  (2) Play during the Movement and Command Phase.  Mark one Office Core box on four different units of your choice.

Takbir:  (2)  Play during an attack, before your opponent rolls to hit.  Your unit gets D:+1/+0 this attack.  Your unit rerolls failed Rout Checks this turn.

Break the Back: (2)  Play during an attack, before rolling to hit.  The unit gets (+1) +1/+0 this attack.  If the unit is engaged and causes at least 2 points of damage before damage reduction, it causes an additional point.

Take Aim:  (2) Play during an attack, before rolling to hit.  Your unit gains (+0)+2/+0 this attack and if you fail to do any damage (before damage reduction) do 1 pt of damage.

Sidestep: (2) Play during an attack, on an engaged unit after your opponent rolls to hit.   That set of dice cannot be rerolled. Discard X Command Cards (X may be 0).  Increase the result of X+2 dice by 1 each.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2012, 03:46:19 PM by Hannibal »

gull2112

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Re: Saladin vs Jerusalem
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2011, 05:11:30 PM »
Very original. I like! :) Obviously, playtesting will determine what exact specifics are balanced etc.
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BubblePig

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Re: Saladin vs Jerusalem
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2011, 01:08:22 AM »
I like the flavor but one thing that occurs to me is that you could erase 2 boxes to put the card that enables you to mark 4 boxes on the top of the command deck. That does not seem balanced.

Hannibal

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Re: Saladin vs Jerusalem
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2011, 01:15:10 PM »
I like the flavor

Very original. I like! :)

Thanks guys.  Appreciate the sentiment.


but one thing that occurs to me is that you could erase 2 boxes to put the card that enables you to mark 4 boxes on the top of the command deck. That does not seem balanced.

Well, drawing Relay Orders costs you 1 CA and gets you 2 CAs (functionally).  So if you spend that net CA to get the card back on your deck, it becomes a wash in terms of CAs gained. It'll then cost you one CA to draw it again, and grant 2 CAs, putting you back in the place of a total of 1 net CA.

I do agree it seems a little weird to use Officer Core boxes to get a Relay Orders card back, so if it seems weird I could have it say "take the top Red/Blue card on the discard pile" or some such.

When I showed this to my buddy, he felt that Officer Core could be just the first two bullet points (Cge bump and modifying orders), specifically because the order modify amounts to a direct control at half price.  His feeling was that it was more useful for an army that 1) has a lot of shooting (because you can change your targets to concentrate fire on that one unit that took a lot of damage from a lucky hit) and 2) has a lot of crap infantry (so that they can dance and avoid combat for longer).   I didn't totally agree because I felt it'd be an ability that spent a lot of time dead after the fighting started, and +1 Cge per box seemed like a lame ability after that.

One thing I did kick around was to make the recycle a CC option cost 3 boxes, making it fairly hard to pull off without "wasting" half a CA.  Meaning you'd have to spend a CA and then either spend a second CA and only mark 1 box or erase a box somewhere and then spend a CA.

Another thing I think I'm going to do is remove the option to erase 2 boxes for Direct Control.  With the option to add/change modifiers, it seems a little redundant.


Obviously, playtesting will determine what exact specifics are balanced etc.

Yeah.  I'm not totally happy with the Burst Through rule, but it does what I want.  It just feels kinda...clunky.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2011, 01:19:24 PM by Hannibal »

iamJMAN00793

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Re: Saladin vs Jerusalem
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2011, 02:43:30 AM »
This sounds like a cool expansion. Any chance it will become an official product?
Every man dies. Not every man really lives. ~ Braveheart

Hannibal

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Re: Saladin vs Jerusalem
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2011, 12:59:18 PM »
Oh almost certainly it will in some form.  The era is just too popular not to do it.  In fact, it's probably more popular than Aztecs & Spanish (sorry Niko!), so if Aztecs & Spanish gets released I can't imagine this one wouldn't.

Currently the rules are a touch bloated on the Jerusalem side, so they'd almost certainly need to go through the editor.  One thing that occurred to me is that the Burst Through rule would probably stay in some form and the Factions rule would go (the opposite of what I'd thought).  I could probably capture the theme of Jerusalem units not really listening to their leader by just having a whole lot of Impulsive units.  Having most of the cavalry units be Impulsive and require an extra CA to control them is probably too much.

But some form of the Burst Through rule would need to be kept so players couldn't use the Indirect Path rule to contain their Impulsive guys.  Plus its also historically accurate.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2011, 01:02:53 PM by Hannibal »

Hannibal

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Re: Saladin vs Jerusalem
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2011, 06:24:30 PM »
I played a 1500 pt game last night with Saladin, taking the "archer cav" army out for a test drive.  It was 1500 pts and I took 3 Turcoman Cav, 2 Bedoin Archers, 1 Ghulam Cavalry, & 1 Royal Ghulam Cavalry.  I played against Undead (3 Zombies, 2 Rat swarms, 2 Zombie Trolls, 1 Skeleton Trolls, 1 Skeleton Cavalry), and to be honest when my buddy said he was going to play Undead I almost put the Saladin box away.  But I figured that if a shooty cav army can hold its own against a Fearless army, it can hold up against anyone.

The plan was to take advantage of the fact that the Ghulam & Royal Ghulam are indirect fire horse archers, running them behind the screen of Turcomans and skirmisher-archers, and charge into the soft spot of the enemy unit.  When he overloaded the right flank with zombie trolls and skeleton trolls, the fight quickly became about a delaying action on the left while I turned the corner on the right.  Being the first game, I made tons of mistakes including not appreciating how effective the Officer Core would have been early on, not setting the objectives for my turcomen on the right to go over enough, and not putting my Ghulam on Close at the right moment. 

The last one was a killer, but because I was so out of position with guys I had to use DCs and was forced to eat a charge with my Ghulams from Skeleton Cav.  I eventually won, but I lost a 300pt unit to kill a 200pt unit.  Combine that with some terrible dice rolling when my Turcomen charged some zombies in the flank (meaning I had to spend 2 rounds engaged and so it was mutually assured destruction), meant that I had 3 horse archer units left to face his 2 zombie trolls & 1 skeleton trolls.  Whatever the outcome, it would've been turns and turns and turns of me plinking away with arrows while he regenerated.  And so we just called it a draw there so we could play another game.


I really like the way the units work.  It felt very much like a horse-archer army, with me ducking and weaving around.  At first I was sort of dubious about the indirect fire for the Ghulams, but I think a Ghulam-Turcoman combo can be very powerful, with the Ghulams behind the Turcomans, who dodge out of the way at the last minute so the more melee-oriented Ghulams can charge in.

In terms of the army ability, wow Office Core is nice.  My friend's thoughts that the 'command card recycle' isn't needed may be correct.  The ability to zip around by changing/adding standing order modifiers is really poor man's Direct Control.  It's really nifty on horse archers but I'm curious to see what I'd think of it if I was using it on infantry.  I think I'll try a more combined arms approach next time.  Maybe because of how unreliable the infantry are, the ability to advance and then back off might be important.  If not, maybe the Courage bonus will be enough of a bonus.

The Battle Plans ability, I'm less thrilled with.  I spent 4 pts on it and drew 2 Mettles, Strike, Sidestep, Precise Attack, Break the Back, Takbir, and Fortunes of War.  Basically, my first 8 cards were some of the best cards I could get and it was really frustrating to have to put them on the bottom of my deck.  Admittedly, Mettle isn't much use when you're mostly Toughness 0-1 and he has 3 units with Toughness 6 or 7.  I'm actually glad this happened, because it shows what could be a worst case situation with this ability.  Imagine playing High Elves and drawing 2 Accuracy, 2 Parry, and 2 Strikes.  You'd have to burn your best cards no matter what you did.

I was kicking around an idea to replace this with "Draw 2 cards for every X pts of Battle Plans.  Put all the cards back on the top of the deck in whatever order you want."  My instinct is that X = 15 pts.

Another idea I had was to go simpler:  Battle Plans is a discount on purchased Command Cards.  The first 5 Command Cards you buy cost 15 pts instead of 25 pts.  Its a much simpler ability, but that's okay.  Foresight is dirt simple, but it is very powerful and a very sexy ability.  What do you guys think?


On the subject of Command Cards:

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Takbir:  Play during an attack, before your opponent rolls to hit.  Negate one point of damage this attack.  This unit rerolls any failed Rout Checks this turn.

Too powerful.  I don't know what I was thinking.  I like the idea of it being a Cge reroll, but negating a point of damage on top of it is crazy.  Gonna change this to D:+1/+0.


Quote
Break the Back: (2)  Play during an attack, before rolling to hit.  The unit gets (+1) +1/+0 this attack.  If the unit is engaged and causes at least 2 points of damage before damage reduction, it causes an additional point.

Precise Attack:  (2) Play during an attack, before rolling to hit.  Your unit gains (+0)+2/+0 this attack and if you fail to do any damage (before damage reduction) do 1 pt of damage.

I like bother of these.  I'm not a huge fan of "if you fail to do damage..." cards, but it really does fit with Precise Attack.  Break the Back I just love.  I also like that its an engaged-only card in a shooty army.  Very fitting because its a reminder that horse archer armiess only disrupted enemies with their shooting.  There had to be a mop-up charge by the lancers to finish the enemy off.


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Sidestep: (2) Play during an attack, before the opponent rolls to hit.  The enemy unit suffers (-3) -0/-0 this attack.

It wasn't till I was sleeving the cards that I realize I'd just copied and upgraded from Aspect of the Fox.  So on the fly I changed this to an engaged-only card, but I dunno if I like it.  It seems like "its a weakness except it's not" sort of thing.  I'm wondering if instead I'd make it a Parry but if the unit is engaged the enemy suffers an additional (-1)-0/-0.

BubblePig

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Re: Saladin vs Jerusalem
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2011, 07:00:04 PM »
The Battle Plans ability, I'm less thrilled with.  I spent 4 pts on it and drew 2 Mettles, Strike, Sidestep, Precise Attack, Break the Back, Takbir, and Fortunes of War.  Basically, my first 8 cards were some of the best cards I could get and it was really frustrating to have to put them on the bottom of my deck.  Admittedly, Mettle isn't much use when you're mostly Toughness 0-1 and he has 3 units with Toughness 6 or 7.  I'm actually glad this happened, because it shows what could be a worst case situation with this ability.  Imagine playing High Elves and drawing 2 Accuracy, 2 Parry, and 2 Strikes.  You'd have to burn your best cards no matter what you did.

I was kicking around an idea to replace this with "Draw 2 cards for every X pts of Battle Plans.  Put all the cards back on the top of the deck in whatever order you want."  My instinct is that X = 15 pts.
My feeling on this is that you have drawn a conclusion from a very small, very atypical statistical sample. The chances of being able to improve your draw are astronomically higher than being forced into making it worse. Drawing 6 cards and getting the 6 best cards happens 720 times in 427,518,000 tries: approximately 0.000168% chance. Sort of like getting dealt a royal flush in five card stud when your life depends on losing the hand.

Also, I really like the flavor of the original Battle Plans. Even the worst case scenario gives you the ability to formulate your plans based on knowledge rather than guesses and hopes, and the chance of being forced to make such an unappealing choice adds spice IMO.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2011, 07:04:22 PM by BubblePig »

Hannibal

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Re: Saladin vs Jerusalem
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2011, 07:05:04 PM »
Quote
My feeling on this is that you have drawn a conclusion from a very small, very atypical statistical sample.

Sorry, my point was that it was frustrating to spend points to have to bury useful cards.  Regardless of whether its balanced or not, it didn't seem very fun.  Even though I really only had a tough choice to make on 1 card (it was easy to drop the 2 Mettles, and even Fortunes of War), spending points and then feeling like you're "hurting" yourself might leave a sour taste in a player's mouth.


I find it cool that you like the idea so much though.  What would you think of paying to basically take a peek at your Command Cards and then put them back on the deck in whatever order you want?  That would at least be all upside.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2011, 07:07:08 PM by Hannibal »

BubblePig

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Re: Saladin vs Jerusalem
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2011, 07:12:59 PM »
Agreed. But the ability shifts the odds (at least slightly in your favor an overwhelming majority of the time as explained above) AND gives you foreknowledge of what is coming down the pike.
To make a mathematical analogy: Just because there is a possibility of rolling all sixes on the to hit roll three times in a row, does not mean Rune of Uruz needs changing, even if "wasting" a command action on it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.

I repeat, the added frisson of the (very remote) possibility of screwing yourself is a good thing IMO.

Edit: And let us not forget that if you draw your best six cards, you still have the best three cards in your deck coming out BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. I mean how bitter is that taste really going to be?
« Last Edit: December 16, 2011, 07:20:47 PM by BubblePig »

Hannibal

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Re: Saladin vs Jerusalem
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2011, 07:15:51 PM »
Update:  added points cost.  Chad gave me the okay to plug them into the formula and post them up.

Hannibal

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Re: Saladin vs Jerusalem
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2012, 08:13:47 PM »
Played a 2,000 pt Key Objective scenario with Jerusalem last night.  We were using a tweak we like where cavalry units don't get the charge benefits (beyond the normal Pow bonus) for charging in difficult terrain (defined as "MC penalizing" terrain), and the map was 3D, so I knew this one was going to be (yeah I'm really gonna say it), an uphill fight for me.

However, when I designed Jerusalem I gave them a fairly decent infantry component, because 1) well, they did have some decent infantry and 2) for situations like this.  My army was 2 Mounted Serjeants, 1 Serjeant Spearmen, 1 Italian Crossbowmen, 1 Brother-Serjeants, 1 Armenian cavalry, 1 Knights Hospitallier, 1 Maronite Archer, and 2 Cards.  I was going to take Turcopoles, but my friend hates horse archers (they're in Persia, the Wuxing, the Catalan Company, Saladin, and Jerusalem, and since he's been my primary playtester for like 6 months, he's seen them a lot).  I found myself wishing I had, but in retrospect it might have ended up costing me the game due to the factions rule.

I forget what my opponent took, but it was lots of spearmen, pikemen, some light cavalry, and greatswords.

Now here's the funny part:  during army design, I forgot we had a night fight sub-plot!  Meaning my Maronite Archers and Italian Crossbowmen couldn't see!  Oh the stupidity!!    :-[


Oy, so, I figured make the best of it.  I deployed all my cavalry but my Armenian Cav on the open side of the field.  The Italian Crossbowmen were now high priced atlatlmen to hold the small hill by my DZ.  The Brother-Serjeants and Serjeant Spearmen would ascend the hill to fight for the mission, backed up by the Maronites.  The Armenians would sit on hold between the big hill on the left and the small hill by my DZ, and shoot the gap to anyone trying to flank my guys on the hill.  The Mounted Serjeants and Hospitalliers went on the far right, facing away from the enemy.  The plan was to let him advance while thinking "there's no way he'll take 800 pts of his best stuff and just sit there."  By making him hem them in, I'd delay any encirclement of my own guys and try to steal a victory.

It sorta worked.  I was robbed pretty hard by the dice.  My Knights Hospitallier got a charge and then the Second Charge card, two turns of chargin 400+ pt cavalry:  3 pts of damage on Hawk Light cavalry.  Oy...

Also I spent a good part of the game Direct Controlling Impulsive cavalry to keep them from charging into pike & spear.  There were many turns I was spending 3 CAs to Direct Control 2 units.  In the end, I held the objective and brought the game to an end.  Between kills and the objective I got a ratio of 1.2 for victory conditions (less than 1.25 was a draw).  Was a fun game though.


Analysis:

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Fervor:  Spend a Command Action to mark a Fervor box.  Erase any number of boxes either before opponent rolls to wound or before rolling a Courage Check.  That unit gets D:+0/+1 and +2 Cge this turn per box erased. You may not play Blue cards on the unit for the rest of the turn.

I like it, although it was pointed out that by the wording a player could play a Blue card before the attack and then erase Fervor.  This of course wasn't the intent, so I'll have to reword this.


Quote
Cordon: If a unit with this keyword is backing up a Cavalry unit that fails a Rout check, instead of Free Strikes the Cavalry unit takes 1 pt of damage per engaged enemy unit (this can cause another Rout check).  If the Cavalry unit is not destroyed the Cordon unit swaps with the Cavalry unit, becoming engaged with any units with which it was engaged.  After swapping, the Cavalry unit rallies.

Burst Through: If a Cavalry unit on Close is backing up an unengaged non-Cavalry unit and there is an enemy unit within 7" of the Cavalry unit when it activates, in the Movement and Command phase the Cavalry unit and Non-Cavalry unit may switch places instead of moving.  The non-Cavalry unit takes 2 pt of damage, except for Cordon units which only take 1 pt. This does not cause Rout checks.  An Impulsive Cavalry unit on Close must swap places unless Direct Controlled or its Standing Order is changed.

Didn't get a chance to test either of these, although I talked at great length about Burst Through and need to give it some more thought.


Quote
Factions: Before deployment divide the army as evenly as possible into 3 groups so that 1) units with the same label (ex: [Templar]) are in the same group and 2) each group has as equal a number of Cavalry units as possible.  (If these conflict, #1 takes priority).  Choose one group to be the Retinue.  Direct Controlling or changing the Standing Order of any non-Retinue unit costs an additional Command Action.

This rule needs to go or be changed.  Between Impulsive and this rule, you can easily find yourself without enough CAs to prevent your cavalry from charging in.  While this might be historically authentic, its no fun to play when 200+ pts just decides to go kamikaze.  Worse, this rule is a case of sometimes a disadvantage and sometimes its free points.  If you get a matchup where you want to charge across the field, then who cares about Impulsive?  If you need to sit back, you're basically playing down 2-4 CAs every turn.  I think the latter is more common because since this is the "knight faction" everybody under the sun is going to load up on spearmen.  Finally, it just feels a little fiddly.

But more important, I'm not sure this rule is really needed.  I'll do a little crowdsourcing here and throw it out to anyone who is interested.  Please let me know.  Does the army really need a special rule to highlight the fact that it a fractious group of allies rather than a true army?  Or does the fact that is has lots of Elite choices capture that?

My instinct at the moment is No, to both.  I'm not really sure that a factions penalty really adds much in terms of game play.  But at the same time, having lots of Elite choices doesn't really grab that either.  How many times is someone going to take 2 units of Templars and say "man, I'd take a 3rd if the army would let me!"?

Playing devil's advocate with myself.  Without a 'factions' limitation, the army could feel very much like a generic medieval army.  On the Elites:  someone might not take lots of Templars, but the inability to take lots of solid Cavalry that are not Impulsive and have an army ability is a limitation.

Input is much appreciated.


If a rule is needed, it needs to be changed.  So there's two parts to this:  the fiddly and the binary effect it has.  A fix for the fiddly aspect came to me while I was talking about it.  Instead of making someone break their army into three parts, why not work backwards and assign X units that aren't affected by the bad thing?  Make it:  before deployment, choose one unit for every 500 pts.  These units are not affected by the factions rule.

There, simple and easy.  It can result in weird things where some Templars are tagged and some aren't, but that's the drawback.  I could say "before deployment, choose one unit for every 500 pts.  These units are not affected by the factions rule.  Either all or none of the units with the same label must be chosen."  Thoughts?


As for the binary aspect of it, my thought is to ditch non-tagged units being stupid-lite.  There's just no way around that.  Sometimes it'll be a killer and sometimes it'll be free points.  And I think in cases where you want to delay a turn or two, an army full of impetuous cavalry will convey the feeling of a barely controlled horde pretty well.

Leaving me with Command Cards:  to play a Command Card on an untagged unit you must discard a card first.  There's nothing binary about this:  it'll always affect your units, no way around it. 

So the full rule would be something like: 

Factions:  Before deployment, choose 1 unit per full 500 pts of the game being played.  To play a Command Card on any unit other than those chosen units, you must first discard a Command Card.

Maybe make it only affect Red or Blue command cards?  Obviously that'd necessitate changing the command cards, but I'll probably end up doing that anyway.


Anyway, thanks for following me this far, and all input is appreciated.

Hannibal

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Re: Saladin vs Jerusalem
« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2012, 01:17:48 PM »
I have updated these guys based on a couple weeks of playing them, here's a list of changes:

Saladin:  Most of the units and command cards are unchanged.  I have a couple of reservations that this army has only one way to win: with its cavalry.  That concerns me as it can make the army a little one dimensional.  Unfortunately, there's not much I can do as their infantry was pretty much junk.  In fact, I've probably represented them better than they were in real life.  The Ahdath Spear/Sword for example could very easily be Off Skill 4.  Anyway, its a concern, but I'm guessing that Saladin can win by going shooty cav or charging cav, but however you do it, the army's decisive element is going to be its cavalry.

I've changed the Officer's Core to remove the 'recycle command cards' thing.  I've found its a very good ability in that its incredibly flexible (as you'd expect from an officer core).  I found the ability to modify standing orders was very useful even on infantry.  Its funny because its a very subtle ability and it doesn't seem very useful for infantry, but the fact that you have it changes the meta-level of how you play.  Because your infantry isn't very sturdy, you'll be using maneuver to delay or set up favorable engagements.  Its almost a foresight negation, because you can deploy one way and use it to shuffle a large part of your line.  The +1 Cge or +1 die per box erased seems a little cluttered when I look at the ability, but it also means that the army ability isn't dead in the later turns.  The whole ability strikes me as something where you'd spend a CA just as insurance and then try to make use of it.

The Battle Plans ability was changed, so that unwanted cards are shuffled back into the deck rather than placed on the bottom.  In every game I've played so far (drawing between 2-6 cards), I've had to place a useful card on the bottom, and that bugs me.  Shuffling it back in makes me feel a lot better about the concept.


Jerusalem:  A lot of changes.  So much so that its easier to break it out, starting with the army abilities:

Factions:  Rather than deal with fiddly 'split the army into groups' thing, I decided to go with a penalty on command cards.  A player chooses X number of units (3 in a 2000 pt game) and to play a CC on any unit other than those chosen units you must first drop a command card.  Its simpler and not as huge a penalty.

Cordon:  I really like this rule, and if reflects the fact that they used infantry as a rally point and a mobile base, but I'll be honest I have yet to use it.  Now, really that's because with the expensive cavalry I haven't had the ability to put a unit behind them.  I tried it in my game last night but 1) found my cavalry outran my infantry and 2) I racked up such a quick 5-1 win that I never even had a fleeing cavalry unit.  I want to keep this rule, but if it doesn't serve a purpose, its a candidate for coming out.

Reorder:  This rule is there because Cordon is there.  Its a way to prevent cavalry from being pinned behind your own lines, but also to represent impulsive cavalry being forced to crash through that nice mobile base of infantry.  If Cordon goes, though, this goes.

Fervor:  I'm starting to wonder about changing this ability.  I have found myself rarely using it, but looking at it, I think its almost too strong.  Comparing it to the new card Fortis en Fide, I think they're a bit too similar but I like Fortis en Fide.  I wonder about changing the army ability to something like:  Mark the Fervor box.  You can erase it before a Cge check to get +2 courage or after passing a Cge check to erase 1 pt of damage.  (This would obviously mean tweaking the True Cross card).  I don't know, doesn't seem to be worth much.

The idea behind Fervor is that the Crusaders routinely endured severe hardships, be it from the heat + poor logistics, or from the fact they often had to stand and/or march while constantly under harassment.  Usually that meant a lot of arrows shot at them, but also there were hit & run attacks.  They did this while staying a cohesive fighting force.

edit:  I changed the Fervor box to be a Courage cookie while marked, and only a Def:+0/+1 (instead of getting both).  Playing it after the to-hit roll makes this a pretty good ability IMO and very in theme.  That means Fortis en Fide became Mettle with a Courage bump.  Too bad because I really like the subtly of a faction card that is Mettle except changing one word:  player after your opponent rolls to hit.  I have come to appreciate very subtle tweaks like that and think that's a freaking cool card.  Oh well, I'll save it for later, for another faction.

Command Cards:  Almost all got tweaked.  I choose to give them 3 Deus Vult cards and then limit a bunch of the other cards to 1 of each.  The idea is that Jerusalem wasn't an army that could pull complex or repeated stratagems.  They were all about one decisive attack in one place and if it didn't work they were in trouble.  I was trying to capture that concept with the idea that if breaking away from the enemy and charging back in didn't work, they were out of ideas.

Units:  Most the units stayed the same in terms of stats, but the costs changed.  This was a result of changing the army disadvantage and tweaking a bonus for getting an additional fervor box on some units.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2012, 02:55:46 PM by Hannibal »