sabato 14 luglio 2012

The siege of St. John of Acri

During the last months, Gianni and me have developed the siege version of "Magna Acies!".
Being a "large tactic" ruleset, "Magna Acies"" is quite not suitable to play siege rounds along a short wall stretch, but it is more comfortable with a complete siege of a complete town.
So we have decided to refight the whole siege of St. John of Acri!
We had not been able to play a complete battle so far, due to the lack of time during the week that forced us to test the rules only in the evenings, after hard working days ...
We have taken the opportunity to play the whole siege during a medieval exibition which has taken place in Brugnera (near Pordenone, in the Italian Region of Friuli, in the north east of Italy) on the 24th of June.

Gianni (who is the "expert" of Crusades) had prepared the following battle order:

Rules: "MAGNA ACIES!" (with Siege adds - on)
Battlefield dimensions: 150x180 cm
Scale 1:2500 (1cm=25m)
1 infantry stand: 1.000 infantrymen
1 cavalry stand: 500 cavalrymen

CRUSADERS' army (Gianni):
1.000 knights (Templars and Hospitaliers)
16.000 sergeants and other infantrymen (Templars, Hospitaliers, Teutonic Order, Kingdom of Jerusalem, English, French, Italians)

MUSLIMS' army (me):
60.000 cavalrymen
160.000 infantrymen 

Game length: 8 rounds

- attacker (Muslim) major victory: if, at the end of the game, he has been able to conquer both the town-walls;
- attacker partial victory: if, at the end of the game, he has been able to conquer the first circcuit of the town-walls;
- defender (Crusader) victory in all other cases.

Gianni "the besieged" tries to improve his town walls!

Last inconclusive diplomatic efforts between the two enemies

St. John of Acri: view from south

St. John of Acri: view from north
After some rounds of fire of the siege machines, the assault begins.
The north side of the walls is held by the military Orders: from right (west) to left (east) Templars, Hospitaliers and Teutonic Order.
The north-eastern corner is held by the English.
The east is held by the French and the Italians: this is the weakest point, due to the smalness of the garrison.  

The north side of the walls, held by the Orders, assaulted by the Muslims

Other inconclusive assaults against the north side

The fierce defence of the Templars and the Hospitaliers in the north side

The weakest part of the walls: the east side, held by French and Italians

A desperate sortie of the Orders'knights in the north side

In the seventh round, William of Beaujeu, Master of the Temple, leading the sortie, is killed by the Muslims

Despite the fierce resistance of the Crusaders and the sortie of the knights, it is impossible to stop the overcoming number of the Muslims.
Al-Ashraf, the Muslim commander, has detected the weakest point of the defenders.
While he launches other massive attacks against other sides of the town walls, he decides to concentrate the efforts against the eastern stretch, held by a small division of French, Genoese and Pisan infantrymen.
The defenders take many casualties and, at last, the Muslims are able to raise their flag on the top of the walls.

The massive Muslims'assault against the east side of the walls

The neighbouring English decide to leave the first wall and to retreat to the second circuit

Muslim troops on the top of the east walls

At the eighth (and last) round, the Muslims have taken the most part of the walls' first circuit.
But the Templars are standing, and, despite the heavy casualties, they insist to defend their stretch.
Due to this, the victory of the Muslims is less than partial.
Obviously the disproportion in troop number advantages the Muslim: at the end he will win the battle and he will conquer St. John.
But the game length has been well balanced, so the Muslim leader is forced to carefully plan his efforts in order to fatigue the defender and to launch his attack waves in the right moment.

Eighth round, the outcome of the battle: the first circuit of the walls has been abandoned by the Crusaders. Only the Templars follow to defend the very western side of the first wall

After all, we enjoied a lot the game.
The rules fitted perfectly the situation, even if they had been developed for pitched battles and not for sieges.
Despite this, we have added not more than a page of small rules in order to tune "Magna Acies!" to sieges.
Now we'll concentrate our efforts to details, developing proper and more detailed rules for mines, countermines and siege machines.

St. John's towers reflecting their shapes on the sea