Had Mark over today for more gaming (this is three weekends in a row with someone…). Today was his pick, and he had decided he was interested in seeing the Third Crusade scenario from Onward Christian Soldiers, which was more than fine by me, as I think it’s a good scenario.

It was a rough start, as it’s been a bit since either of us has played, and we also had to remember not to confuse the issue with Carthage which can be similar.

One critical bit that didn’t hit me (the Saracens) at first was that Saladin starts under the onus of a rule where he has to have half his available forces with him, which he doesn’t. I could either sit in front of Acre as the Crusaders besieged it, unable to do much, and try to get reinforcements there, or leave and seek out those same reinforcements.

(The first try before we realized just how unbalanced his command structure was, saw Saladin attack the Crusaders twice and drive them away with good die rolls.)

I went seeking reinforcements, and was approaching the 50% mark, when a revolt broke out in Edessa, requiring my immediate attention. (Really immediate—I pick up Saladin and 10 SPs and move him all the way across the map to Edessa.) This pretty well froze me in place for a turn as nothing was set up for this. And two turns later it happened again, when I’d only gotten half way back and was still gathering a new force together.

So, while Saladin was gone, Acre was still besieged. Richard took Cyprus and then landed at Tortosa and quickly took it as well. Acre fell about the fourth turn, after siege attrition had got the garrison where it could be assaulted more easily. (An interesting note, about this time we had a turn where there was only one successful continuation roll. Slowed everybody down.) After this, Crusader attention turned to Jaffa, where Saladin had been gathering his army together. Also around this time, Saldin’s trusted subordinate, Taki ed-Din Omar, was killed by Assassins (further paralyzing my command).

I was actually able to sally during the siege of Jaffa with a minor leader and narrowly win the battle, causing the siege to temporarily end. As winter got closer, I realized the army there was way too vulnerable, and I planned to carry the force out by sea to safety, until something better could be arranged. So, in my biggest mistake of the game, I neglected to have my fleet marker be my automatic first activation after winning the initiative!

Jaffa fell, and with it went about 1/3 of the Saracen forces (and another leader). I managed to take some revenge by driving the Crusader fleet out of Acre Sea Zone, and then Saladin arrived to ravage the countryside around Acre, and retake it at the end of the turn. The Crusader army reconvened at the gates of Jerusalem, where Philip I decided he’d had enough and went home.

During winter 1190, Jerusalem was taken (for the second time) by Crusaders from Europe. Duke Hugh of Burgundy immediately set out to re-establish contact with the coast, as Jaffa had come under siege by Saracens coming up from Egypt. Marching around several strongholds, he took the town of Haifa (exactly 10 attrition points away from Jerusalem). Meanwhile, Saladin fell ill in Acre, not allowing him to isolate the Crusaders in the interior.

So, it was another Crusader auto-victory, though this one was much earlier. At first, Mark was worried about how to deal with Saladin, and the large force he was gathering. The events conspired against me, and he took advantage of every one. I could have done better even so, my play just did not rise up to the challenge presented.

It may be a while before we get together again, Mark has a socially busy month coming up. When we do get together, it will be for some-scenario-or-other of Stonewall Jackson’s Last Battle.