Posts Tagged Crusades

Crusader Command

King Richard with bodyguard.
Figures by Wargames Illustrated and Black Tree Design
Crusader Command

Mounted Command
Figures by Crusader and Gripping Beast
Mounted Cursader Command


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Perry Hospitallers

Hospitaller Command 2 Hospitaller Command 1

Perry Miniatures Hospitaller command units.  Rather than a true black color for the robes, a light brown was added over the black primer to create a sun bleached look.

Paint Plan

Black Primer

Robes:  Dusty Skin (Reaper) with 50% black shade

Horses:  Rife Butt (Howard Hues) + Tanned Flesh (GW)

By varying the amount of Rife Butt and Tanned Flesh, a variety of horse colors can be produced.   The base color produces a Chestnut shade which varies from a dark brown up to a warm brown/red. Adding Graveyard Bone (Reaper), creates a chalky brown/grey which could be roan or grey.


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Little Wars: Battle of Arsuf

For the first time in many years, I was able to attend Little Wars, a local historical gaming convention.  Mike, John and I hosted the Battle of Arsuf using Hail Caesar rules.  The two sessions were well attended with all 8 divisions having players for both games.  In fact, I had several people trying to get in because tickets were unavailable.

The Battle of Arsuf features a classic battle between two icons of the Crusades:  Richard the Lionheart of England and Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb  aka Saladin of Syria & Egypt.  The game opens with the rearguard division some distance from the other three divisions.  The army of Saladin is tasked with breaking this division.  An additional battle object is to charge Richard’s standard.  Richard’s army has the goals of destroying Saladin’s bodyguard unit, and breaking 2 of 3 cavalry/infantry divisions.

Both games heavily favored the Crusader forces, with games ending 2-0 and  2-1.  As happened that day out side of Arsuf, the Crusader knights were unstop-able.  The lances of the knights quickly broke any unit before it.  The Hospitaller knights were devastating, frequently taking on 2-3 units and emerging victorious.

Little Wars Table

Army List

Crusader Army:
Van: Templars
Holy Order Knights
Heavy Infantry
Heavy Crossbow – small
Mounted Sgts with Spear

1st Division (Norman/French)
Crusader Knights
Heavy Infantry
Heavy Crossbow – small
Medium Infantry with bow

2nd Division (Outreamer)
Crusader Knights
Heavy Infantry
Heavy Crossbow – small
Archers – small

Rearguard: Hospitallers
Hospitaller Knights
Heavy Infantry
Heavy Crossbow
Turcopole Horsemen

Saladin’s Army
1st Division
Mamluks with spear & bow
Berber Heavy Cav
Turcoman Light Archers
Turcoman Light Archers

2nd Division
Dismounted Mamluk
Medium Archers
City Milita with Spear
Dismounted Mamluk

3rd Division
Mamluks Bodyguard
Mamluks with spear & bow
Syran Heavy Cav
Turcoman Light Archers

Ghazi warband Fanatics
Medium Archers
City Militia with Spear
Light Archers
Light Archers


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Perry Brothers Crossbows

Perry Crossbow

12 Crossbowmen from the Perry Brothers 1st Crusade line.



Armenian Knights

Perry Armenian 2 Perry Armenian

Models by Perry, with 3 Gripping Beast filling out the back rank.

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Outreamer Infantry by Black Tree Design

BTD Spearmen BTD Spearmen 2
BTD Archers
Infantry by Black Tree Design.  Spearmen from the 2nd Crusade collection, Archers from the 2nd Crusade and Norman lines.

I used these figures to test a variety of paint & wash combinations.  After initial testing, Leather Brown & Redstone with Dark Sepia, and Dheneb Stone with Stone were chosen for further use.    After the units were complete, I started to find the all over washes were giving the entire unit a uniform dark look.  Going forward, I will need to find a way to brighten up the paint plan.

Armour colors:

  • Dirt (Vallejo)
  • Leather Brown (Vallejo)
  • Redstone Highlight (Reaper MSP)
  • Dheneb Stone (GW)
  • Desert Yellow (GW)


  • Dark Sepia (Secret Weapon)
  • Stone (SW)
  • Brown Ink (P3)

Results:  Brown Ink over Redstone, Leather Brown and Dirt are much too dark.  The base color is lost under the heavy ink.  Stone over Dheneb, Desert Yellow, Leather Brown are OK.  The greenish Stone adds good color to the light Dheneb, the other colors are lightly tinted by the Stone color.  Dark Sepia over Desert Yellow and Leather Brown, as expected the Sepia adds dark character to the base coats.


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Deus Vult Battle Report

Deus Vult is the Crusader era game from Fire Forge, designed to take the excellent Fire Forge figures to the table top.   Written by Alessio Cavatore,  the game plays as a cross between Kings of War & Hail Caesar with a healthy dose of moral/leadership checks mixed in.  Armies are organized in to divisions, each lead by a Battle Leader.  Game play alternates as each player is allowed to activate and command one division.  Turns run long, but the steady back and forth keeps both players involved.

The book comes with two full army lists for the 1st Crusade (Crusaders and Arabs) with example lists for European states, Crusader orders, Seljuk Turks and Russians.   The Army rosters have many options and units are well detailed, giving list creation a WAB/WFB level of number crunchiness.   I hope Fire Forge comes out with additional lists, this system is begging for more options.

Set up.  The Crusaders emerge from a line of woods.

Set up. The Crusaders emerge from a line of woods.

turn 1 right flank_1

Crusader skirmishers take the hill.

Skirmishers face the Crusader lines.

Arab skirmishers face the Crusader lines.

Crusaders ready to over run Arab battle lines.

Crusaders ready to over run Arab battle lines.

King of the hill.

King of the hill.

All flanks exposed.

All flanks exposed.


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Dismounted Knights

A unit of 20 Dismounted Knights from Black Tree Design, 3rd Crusade.  The army deal provides a nice mix of sculpts with few repeats.  Flash was minimal & sculpting detail is adequate.

Knights 1Knights 2

Paint Plan

Prime White with Rifle Butt (Howard Hues) undercoat

  • Cloth: Codex Grey (GW) with Sky Grey (Vallejo) highlights
  • Shields:  Basic Red (73007 Vallejo)
  • Shading:  Dark Sepia (Secret Weapon)

Where have I been?  For those of you reading CTF, it’s been more than a year since my last post.  In the past 12 months, I’ve moved to a new home, sold a house & my youngest daughter has grown up into a toddler.  While there has been time for gaming, there has been very little time for painting.  In fact, I was rather surprised to find my basing sand & flock still packed away in boxes from the move after more than a year.

What’s next?  My Arab Crusader force needs an opponent.  The painting table is full, as I’ve been busy purchasing Normans/Crusaders for a sizable 1st and/or 3rd Crusades force.    While I have hundreds of figures at the ready, I think I’ll paint small groups which could also double as a Saga army (in the off chance I get to play with that rule set).

Reaper Bones.  Like 17,000 other gamers, I bought in to Reaper’s Bones KickStarter.  The local club has taken to Song of Blades and Heroes as a light weight skirmish game for all the new figures and monsters.  Expect to see a handful pop up on the blog  between units of Normans.

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FireForge Teutonic Knights

FireForge is a new manufacture of plastic historical model kits.  Their first release is a 12 figure Teutonic cavalry set.  The miniatures are well sculpted & fit together without much modification.  The kit contains a variety of weapon & shield combinations.  In scale, the figures are rather small, but the flowing capes and barding present a much larger image.

Paint Plan

Prime White with Rifle Butt (Howard Hues) undercoat

  • Cloth: Kommando Khaki (GW), layer 50/50 mix with Chalk White (Vallejo), highlight with Chalk White
  • Cross:  Burnt Cad Red (V), Flat Red (V)
  • Armour:  black base, Boltgun Metal (GW) with Shining Gold highlight



Reading List: Crusades

Crusading Warfare, 1097 – 1193 by R. C. Smail

A socio-economic description of Crusader warfare practice.  Well worth reading, this book provides a discussion of the crusades I’ve not found else where.  The text focuses on the nuts and bolts of maintaining a Crusader state.  Following the creation of the Latin states, the Crusader leaders moved from a pitched battle strategy to a  stand off strategy.  Campaigns  became periods of watching the opposing army.  With the threat of an intact Crusader force, Arab forces where unable to conduct sieges and without the ability to capture hard targets – campaigns ended in tactical failures.  Pitch battle became a rare occurrence as neither side wanted to risk a direct confrontation.

The primary weapon of the crusader army was the horse.  The warhorse delivered the devastating charge  of the knights.  Great efforts were taken to preserve steads while the crusaders maneuvered.  Marching columns placed infantry on the outer edge with the knights in the middle.  Arrow attacks from Turk horsemen were taken on the armored (replaceable) infantry  rather than on the irreplaceable horses.  In addition to direct attack, horses were frequently lost to lack of water or eaten to stave off starvation.  As an example of a horse poor force, King Richard, during the defense of Jaffa 8-5-1192, commanded a force of 2000 men and all of 10 mounted knights.

When battle was joined, the Frankish armies deployed in squadrons of matching knights and infantry.  Once more, the infantry was used to screen the cavalry unit the critical charge could be executed.  For the battles recorded in the text, Crusaders deployed in 3 detachments with a fourth in reserve.  Frequently, the opposing Arab army would either outnumber or be able to out manouver a Frankish force.  As a remedy, battle lines would typically use a terrain feature such as a hill to anchor one end.

An Illustrated history of the Crusades and the Crusader Knights by Charles Phillips

Provides an adequate over view of the crusader states (mostly from the western perspective).   While not of gaming quality, the book does contain prints of period paintings and current photos of contemporary castles.  Troop counts are few and far between but we do get an account of the King of Jerusalem’s army consisting of only a few hundred knights with Turkopoles, Lebanese archers and Armenian & Syrian infantry numbering 20,000.

‘Men of Iron’ name given to the crusaders by the Turks based on the impressive amount of chain mail armour worn and their determination when fighting.  Other references in the book contrast the relative light weight armour worn by the Turks versus the armour of the Franks.  (A point that WAB does not seem to reflect in most army lists.)

Nation states in the region (1140) include:   MAP

  • Kingdom of Jerusalem
  • County of Tripoli
  • Principality of Antioch
  • County of Edessa
  • Cilician Armenia
  • Byzantine Empire
  • Fatimid Caliphate of Cairo
  • Emirate of Damascus
  • Sultanate of Rum

God’s Warriors by Dr Helen Nicholson & Dr David Nicolle

An Osprey reprint of three earlier books (Hattin, Saracen Faris and Knight Templar).  The text provides a pleasant overview of the three main forces in the conflict.