Went up to a wargame club in Oakland today. Found out about it through BGG, and gave it a try. Not hard to get to, and in a very nice game store (they have a second floor for all the club activities that could probably hold some gaming con open gaming rooms I’ve seen). Attendance was lower than what I understand the normal is (about a half-dozen guys plus me, and it sounds like a dozen is more normal. With the drive, I won’t be going too often, but I’ll certainly be back at some point.

At the moment, it looks like the current big item is Combat Commander. I’ll probably give it a try at some point, but I have to say that ASL is really more than enough squad-level combat for me. Right now they have a kind of meta-campaign of it going, which also explains the popularity.

I nearly got talked into a game of it, but talked my opponent (whose name I’m already blanking on) into a 2nd Crusade game of Onward, Christian Soldiers instead. This was a little more involved on my end than it might seem, as I’ve only played the 1st Crusade scenario (which is much longer), and the rules are somewhat different between the two.

He opted to take the Crusaders, and in hindsight, I’m not sure if that’s the best idea, they have a very challenging situation in front of them. For this scenario, there’s almost two separate theaters, the north and the south. In the south, the Crusaders have the Kingdom of Jerusalem (with their best leader–Baldwin II) and the French and German contingents against just the city of Damascus (which is a tough nut to crack). In the north, the Mosul Turks have a large army with a good leader (Nur ed-Din) against the fairly small forces of Edessa, Antioch and Tripoli. An interesting bit is that victory is VP-based after four turns(!), and you generally only get VPs for areas you don’t control at the beginning.

The first thing that happened was the Crusaders started staging their army towards Damascus. Unur (Emir of Damascus), decided to try and distract them by taking Tiberias (2VP) and threatening Jerusalem. Meanwhile, the Turks moved out, and started attacking the various parts of the County of Edessa.

While I did what I could (in between trying not to forget rules completely) to help him though it, there were the usual first=game fumblings with keeping the armies under control and moving. By the end of the second turn, the Turks had most of Edessa, while the forces of Tripoli and Antioch tried to take Aleppo. In the south I was dithering about as the Crusaders drew closer to Damascus.

The third turn saw the siege of Aleppo broken as Nur ed-Din started pushing them across the map, and Unur ravaged the countryside around Jerusalem to reduce the garrison, and the Crusaders invested Damascus. Or tried to. There was a good number of missed continuation rolls on both sides that prevented much from happening.

The fourth turn was quiet in the north as the Frankish troops retreated into Antioch, and I didn’t have much interest in trying to take it with a good garrison there. In the south, the Crusaders sent Louis VII to try and eject Unur from Jerusalem before it could be starved into submission. In the only battle where the armored knights played a part the Crusaders were unsuccessful and had to withdraw (got a ‘4’ on 2d6 with a net +0 modifier). However, the massive army at Damascus got a good roll and managed to take the city by assault, eliminating the garrison there (I had left about a 1/3 of the army there to make sure it wouldn’t be easy).

That ended things with a 20-10 VP Moslem victory. I had taken all of the former County of Edessa (slightly better than historically) for 15, and Jerusalem for 5, while Damascus was worth 10 all by itself (historically, neither of those fell), and the Crusaders had retaken Tiberias on the way to relieve Jerusalem.

I’m glad to report that the Crusader player enjoyed himself, and I have to say I’d like to try this from the Crusader’s viewpoint, I need to figure out just what their options are. The biggest mistake looks to have been not putting more of the Kingdom’s garrison troops in Jerusalem itself to make it harder to starve out, and that wasn’t obvious to me before hand.