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Thread: [SS 6.4] Crusader States AAR: In the Holy Lands

  1. #1

    Default [SS 6.4] Crusader States AAR: In the Holy Lands

    SS 6.4 Crusader States late Campaign (vh/vh, Gracul AI, BGR IV-E, longer assimilation, permanent watchtowers, manage all cities, no battle time limit, 2 TPY). This is my first attempt at writing an AAR, so be gentle.

    Disclaimers:

    a) Do not expect historical accuracy. The point is to tell a story, and historical context will be adjusted and reinvented as it suits me.

    b) Characters/narrators may refer to other characters, factions or groups as being treacherous, cowardly, wine-sodden and so on. This is for purposes of adding flavour to the story and does not reflect my personal opinion towards other nationalities or ancestors of persons living or dead.

    c) Crusaders and Muslims may refer to one another as “heathen”. Again, this is not meant to insult anybody or raise one religion over another.

    d) Updates will be irregular at best, as I have to do a lot of work in my other life. Also, I may manipulate chapters I have already published to improve them. Maybe I will not finish this AAR, as I have a certain idea for another story in mind and just want to try out some things.

    e) Readers may recognize similarities to certain other AARs. This is because I have read quite a few and of course picked up some ideas from excellent writers (Skantarios deserves special mention here). However, I will try to give it my personal touch.

    f) There will only be reloading for purposes of taking screenshots I forgot to take and/or gathering information to amend the story. Other than that, the game will go on as it happens. If a battle is lost, it will be lost. If a character dies, he/she will be dead. [EDIT 13 Oct 2012: This rule was somewhat broken - but only to my disadvantage - when rule g) was introduced.]

    g) [EDIT 13 Oct 2012:] Battles will not be autoresolved unless they are sure to be lost. While playing this campaign, I discovered that one unit of catapults cannot take down the first level of city stone walls in a single battle on the battle map. However, if the battle is autoresolved, they can. There was a turn when I could have taken two settlements at once which were hardly garrisoned, which would have helped me greatly. However, this seemed a cheap shot, since the AI often leaves settlements unguarded. So I decided that I would at least have to bring enough siege engines if I wanted to take advantage of said situation.

    Enjoy. Feedback is welcome.
    Last edited by Strengelicher; October 13, 2012 at 05:55 AM. Reason: Forgot to mention 2 TPY and f), later added g)

  2. #2

    Default Re: [SS 6.4] Crusader States AAR: In the Holy Lands

    Chapter 1: In every end, there is a new beginning

    A.D. 1220 - From the diary of Prince Alphonse de Brienne:

    It is the year of the Lord 1220, and I have just arrived in Acre after a long journey from the Southwest. It is Springtime, and the weather is still fairly mild. As I stand on the battlements of the mighty fortress overlooking the city, a salty breeze caresses my face, and I close my eyes for a moment. This is what peace could feel like…



    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Acre in Spring, view from the seaside:



    Acre in Spring, view from the inner fortress' battlements towards the Sea:


    Opening my eyes, I look below into the courtyard and watch my men tending to their mounts and equipment. They are exhausted from many months of battle and travel, and so am I. What adds to our exhaustion is the fact that our campaign – undertaken with so many men and resources from the Crusader States, the Knightly Orders and the Holy Chair in Rome – was an utter failure. We had set out to extend the reign of our kingdom to the Nile Delta, to define new borders that would finally protect the holy city of Jerusalem from the Fatimids to the Southwest. And at first it had seemed as if Providence smiled upon our endeavors. The Fatimid Sultan had been struggling with his Emirs, and we met little resistance on our way. Soon, we had secured all the land between Jerusalem and the outermost part of the Nile Delta. We crossed the river, laid siege to Damietta and took the castle within a week. However, whether we had sinned or the Lord decided to test our beliefs, the Fatimids laid their quarrels aside, and we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by a host more than five times our own, and cut off from reinforcements and supplies alike. Then pestilence struck the castle, and we were forced to open the gates and surrender to save our very lives. Without a fight, the Caliph retook not only Damietta, but also made many Christian knights and soldiers his prisoners, among them myself and my father Jean, the King of Jerusalem. However, the Caliph treated us with the utmost courtesy and proposed to release us if we relinquished the fortress at Gaza and the surrounding lands. It was not a real choice, so the deal was sealed and we returned home, heartbroken. So many brave men have died, and it was all for naught. But if it was God’s will that we should travel this dark path, He will have His reasons, and it is not up to us to question Him.

    Our situation is now precarious at best. Since the Caliph has rallied the Emirs under his banner, we are confronted with a most powerful neighbour. The rulers of Antioch, Aleppo and Damascus were so impressed with the Caliph’s success that they have sworn allegiance to him. As a consequence, we find ourselves surrounded by the Fatimids. We can still count on allegiance from the Christian rulers of Nicosia, Tortosa and Kerak. Their castles are suitingly fortified and strategically well positioned for defending Jerusalem, but their lands are poor and hardly garrisoned.



    We may not expect much help from others. To the South, there is nothing beyond Fatimid lands but endless desert. To the Southeast and East, a number of small independent Emirates can be found, but they are powerless and will certainly do nothing to help us. To the North, beyond Antioch, the Seljuk Sultanate is a rising power in itself. We may be able to draw some advantage from the growing rivalries between Seljuks and Fatimids, but this is hardly a reliable option. However, we may find an ally far across the Mediterranean Sea, in the holy city of Rome: His Holiness the Pope Honorius is benevolent towards our cause, and although he will most likely neither send troops nor money, he may one day call a crusade in our favour. He is not named “The Warmonger” for nothing.

    Last edited by Strengelicher; October 02, 2012 at 05:26 PM. Reason: Nothing is perfect. Not even Strengelicher.

  3. #3

    Default Re: [SS 6.4] Crusader States AAR: In the Holy Lands

    A promising beginning. Please keep it up!

    +rep

  4. #4
    Mega Tortas de Bodemloze's Avatar Divide & Conquer Ver 3
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    Default Re: [SS 6.4] Crusader States AAR: In the Holy Lands

    A most promising start, Bravo! On ward, against all odds...




    +Rep

  5. #5

    Default [SS 6.4] Crusader States AAR: In the Holy Lands

    From the diary of Prince Alphonse (continued):

    So, we must be prepared to rely mainly on our own resources. Our first strength lies in the loyalty of our family, our friends, the Crusader States’ Christian rulers and our skilled agents. The first one to mention here is Baudouin de Lorraine, who is Lord over Kerak and has fought many battles at our side. Being a good strategist, strong fighter and noble knight, he is respected by friend and foe alike. Furthermore, he is accustomed to warfare with the Fatimids and has a profound and invaluable knowledge of the lands surrounding us:



    His bonds with our family may grow even tighter in the near future – Baudouin has been courting my sister Yolande, famed for her beauty througout the Levant, for almost a year. His efforts are bearing fruit, as she seems to have fallen deeply in love with him. This development has pleased me and my father greatly and kindles our hopes in these dire times. According to my father’s plans she is to wed Baudouin rather sooner than later:



    I shall not forget to mention Bertrand, the ruler over Nikosia. We have not seen him in a while now, but he is a trusted friend and reliable commander:



    Our affairs with the Holy Chair in Rome lie in the hands of Colin, a man of both French and English descent. I have never met him so far, but he is notorious for being well acquianted with the Pope himself. This may prove to be a valuable asset:



    Another promising young diplomat named Gautier Corbet will be in charge of our affairs with the Fatimids. He is fluent in Arabic and has lived in Cairo and Jerusalem for several years, so I trust that when he speaks the sultan will listen:



    Our religious matters will be taken care of by Reynaud d’Aubusson. Blessed with a sharp mind, this man has risen through the ranks of the Church ever so quickly, and has been made a Cardinal at only 34 years of age. Some say he is more ambitioned than pious, but maybe ambition is just what we need now. If we are to retain our hold on these lands, and even more important, if we are to find the sufficient number of trained Christian fighters to build up our armies, we must convert as many of the local population as possible to the proper belief. To this end we will need to employ the service of priests, and Reynaud will hold the reigns of it all. So he must be up to the task:



    Finally, my father commands the services of a man named Foucaud. He likes to call himself a merchant dealing with information. However, I would rather call him a spy. I am not comfortable with the thought of employing such a dishonorable subject, and I will never be able to trust someone not accustomed to speak out the truth in the open, but it seems a necessity in this game of power we play:



    As I said, the loyalty of all these people is our first strength. Our second strength is the ability to recruit troops from the military wings of the religious orders, above all from the Templars. Religious fervour gives these troops a strong morale in the field, and – most important – they cost little to maintain. Therefore, we must take them into service whenever the opportunity presents itself:

    The strongest cavalry they can currently field are the St. Lazarus Knights. Drawn from a single hospital in Acre, they may provide only a single company for the time being, but they are superior to most regular Fatimid cavalry. Most importantly, they are equipped with exceptionally strong armour, outweighing the advantages of Fatimid horse archers:



    The strongest infantry available are undoubtedly the Canons of the Holy Sepulcre. Only a selected few are seen fit to serve in this unique elite unit, whose primary purpose is to protect the Holy Sepulcre in Jerusalem, but who will also venture forth from the Holy City if demand be. They are famed from the Nile delta to the Levant for their prowess and bravery:



    Whenever we need to defend a position against cavalry, Templar Serjeants are our best choice. Well armoured and equipped with big shields, they can stand their ground for a long time in a melee battle:



    Templar Squires are well armoured and equipped with maces. As such they are good at taking down armoured – even heavily armoured – foes. So this is a good offensive unit, whereas the Templar Serjeants are rather suited for defense.



    So, we must recruit these religious order units whenever we can. However, I shall not hold our other troops in low regard. While they are more expensive to maintain and we must therefore think twice before recruiting them, they provide us with further options on the battlefield:

    Again, the first to be mentioned are heavy cavalry, the famous Knights of Jerusalem. Given enough space and momentum, they can deliver a powerful charge with their lances. Therefore, they are best used in the open field. If a melee ensues, they will fight with axes, which can penetrate heavy armour. Being accustomed to fight in hot climate, their armour is lighter than the one worn by their Western counterparts. Still, they provide shock attack, speed and maneuverability and should not be missing in any field battle.



    When fighting on foot, these knights are much more vulnerable to missile fire and cavalry attacks, albeit still strong in a melee. As infantry, they should rather be used as garrison for our fortress at Acre, where we can provide shelter and provisions for several companies in the inner fortress. Knights housed in the inner fortress do not need additional payment, as they are provided with everything they need:



    When our troops go to battle, they are often accompanied by a great cross, mounted on top of a cart. Sometimes this cross is positioned on a hill overlooking the battlefield, sometimes it is carried into the midst of the fighting, clear to see for everyone. The sign of the Lord standing upright lifts the fighting spirit of our men. However, the cross must never fall. Therefore it is at all times protected by a group of elite warriors:



    Depending on the terrain and weather conditions, we may often strive to weaken the enemy with missile fire. The Fatimids and Seljuks have mastered the art of archery, and we may not hope to excel them here. However, we do have an exceptionally strong missile unit at our disposal – the Templar Crossbowmen. Equipped with excellent heavy crossbows, these men can fire their bolts over a great distance. However, they can stand their ground against a heavily armoured foe in a melee as well. Their versatility comes, however, at a cost. We will not be able to afford many of these soldiers:



    Of our other troops I may relate at a later time, as they can be found in the ranks of many an army.

    Note: I was thinking about wrapping some of the pictures in this post in spoilers, but wasn't really sure if that would do any good. Opinions on the subject will presumably differ, but are welcome.
    Last edited by Strengelicher; March 15, 2013 at 12:29 PM. Reason: Strengelicher loves to edit his posts.

  6. #6
    sevisenturk's Avatar Foederatus
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    Default Re: [SS 6.4] Crusader States AAR: In the Holy Lands

    nice start mate i will be following this

  7. #7
    Shankbot de Bodemloze's Avatar From the Writers Study!
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    Default Re: [SS 6.4] Crusader States AAR: In the Holy Lands

    A great start, and the unit pictures look good. I personally wouldn't put them in spoilers, but that's just me.

    I am looking forward to the clash, which I assume is coming. +rep
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  8. #8
    Paragon's Avatar Senator
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    Default Re: [SS 6.4] Crusader States AAR: In the Holy Lands

    Why didn't you tell me about this? Or put in in the signature? Or whatever?

    While the beginning certainly reminds me of Skantarios, I'm looking foward more pal
    This is my Aragonese AAR, One Single Man

    If you read and comment, there WILL be cake!

  9. #9

    Default Re: [SS 6.4] Crusader States AAR: In the Holy Lands

    Chapter 2: An unexpected gift

    A.D. 1220 - From the diary of Prince Alphonse de Brienne:

    A hot Summer has come to pass. Now the days are getting shorter again, and the heat during the daytime is becoming almost bearable. I am sitting in my study in the fortress at Acre and recounting all things that have happened over the last months. Some of it was most wondrous and unexpected. But this will have to wait, as I will try to lay down things in the proper order…

    After our return to the Holy Lands, a flurry of activities ensued. Letters carried by pigeons and messengers were exchanged almost daily between our provinces, and soon father and I had gathered enough information and decided what should be done. With our campaign to Damietta ended, the steady stream of mercenaries, pilgrims, knights, adventurers, merchants and seafarers from the West had subsided. Having lost their prospects of easy conquest and plunder, and fearing a Fatimid revenge, many men seemed to lose their “belief” in God and turned their backs on the Holy Lands. It was clear that we had to act quickly and take as many of the finest fighters into our service as we could afford, as with so many people leaving, it was uncertain when we would be able to recruit decent troops again. Therefore, we ordered the Canons of the Holy Sepulcre, a Holy Cross, mangonels and catapults to be recruited in Jerusalem, St. Lazarus Knights, Knights of Jerusalem, Foot Knights of Jerusalem and more catapults in Acre, Knights of Jerusalem, archers and light men-at-arms in Kerak, and even more Knights of Jerusalem in Nikosia and Tortosa. Furthermore, we took priests into our service in Jerusalem, Tortosa and Nikosia.

    The rest of our treasury went into building projects – father ordered the roads around Jerusalem to be paved to faciliate trade and army transport, I had additional lands around Acre cleared for farming, and Baudouin began construction of a chapel in Kerak. All this was already more than our treasury could afford.

    Meanwhile, we had become active on the diplomatic front as well, and one day a messenger coming from Rome brought a letter from Colin, telling us that he had been able to forge an official military alliance between us and the Holy Chair. We were overjoyed.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 





    However, the most confusing and surprising development was brought upon us by someone from whom we least expected it – from my sister Yolande…

    My heart still skips a beat when my thoughts wander back to the act of both foolishness and bravery she committed. It was shortly before the date that had been set for her wedding with Baudouin that she left Jerusalem on horseback with her handmaiden and a small bodyguard, to meet her bridegroom on his way from Kerak to the Holy City, where the wedding celebrations were to be held. Father and I objected, but the road between Jerusalem and Kerak was well guarded and it was unlikely that any ill fate should befall her, so in the end she convinced us and was allowed to leave. However, when Baudouin and his men arrived in Jerusalem five days later, she was not with him, and it was quickly determined that they had not met on the road. Baudouin’s travelling party was impossible to miss, and soon astonishment gave way to worries. Had she been abducted? My father had Foucaud summoned and when he arrived asked him eagerly if he knew anything about Yolande’s whereabouts. Foucaud smiled dryly and said, “I have just been informed that she left the road to Kerak shortly after leaving Jerusalem out of her own accord. It seems it was not her intent to meet the Lord of Kerak on the road”. “Liar!” shouted Baudouin, his face swelling red with anger. In an instant, he had crossed the room, grabbed Foucaud by the throat and lifted him off his feet, growling “why did you not tell anybody earlier? What part are you playing here? What kind of treachery is this? She would never run away from me, do you hear me? Never!!!”

    It took the joint effort of father and myself to separate the two men. Foucaud looked at Baudouin with hatred in his eyes, cool as a snake. He took his time rearranging his clothes, then spoke very quietly, “If the Lord of Kerak would care to listen, I said I have only just been informed that she left the road. Therefore, I could not tell anybody any earlier. Also, I did not claim to know she was doing this to evade the Lord of Kerak altogether. I only presumed that she did not plan to meet him on the road. It seems that her way led her to the fortress at Gaza, where she met the hospitality of the Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim”. Hearing this, Baudouin looked as if madness was about to strike him. “What?” he whispered, “Yolande a prisoner of the caliph? What kind of witchcraft could have brought about this kind of tragedy? Oh Lord, what am I to do? What am I to do now?”

    Foucaud looked at him, unmoved. Then he continued, “If the Lord of Kerak would care to put his mind back on its hinges, he would listen to all I have to say. He would then learn that I said no such thing as her being a prisoner. In fact, he would get to know that his bride is already safely back on her way to Jerusalem, and that the preparations for the wedding need not be interrupted. Unless the Lord of Kerak decided that to wed a woman who talks to the enemy is something he cannot do. But it would be premature to judge the young princess harshly. I hear she brings a... delicate... wedding present”.

    The last words were lost on Baudouin, who, almost crying with relief, took Foucaud into his arms and covered his forehead with kisses. Foucaud’s face showed disgust, but being no warrior and slenderly built he was unable to free himself. Again, father and I had to separate the two men, and it was the king who eased the tension with a jest, saying, “It is my royal wish that these two subjects of mine stop embracing each other, lest I order that the Lord of Kerak should marry Foucaud!” Baudouin immediately let go and took a step backwards, blushing.

    At that very moment, one of my father’s servants entered the room, bowing deeply and presenting a rolled parchment. “Mylord”, he said, “a message from the princess”. My father grabbed the letter, quickly broke the seal and unrolled it. It read as follows:

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    “Dear father and King,
    dear brother,
    dear and beloved Baudouin.

    As you are reading this, I am already on my way back to Jerusalem, but before I dare to stand before you, there are some things I must tell you. Once you have read this letter, you may pass judgement upon me, and I will submit to any punishment you see fit.

    The first thing you should know is that whatever I did, I did it out of love. Love for my family, love for our people, but above all – love for Baudouin, who is my heart and soul. I understand enough of politics to feel the imminence of another war, possibly a Fatimid invasion into our lands. The thought was unbearable to me that I might become Baudouin’s wife only to see him march off to battle, possibly never to return. I know very well that we do not have the military strength to withstand an onslaught of the unified Fatimid forces, at least not at this moment. But then, having grown up in a household where Fatimid diplomats, imams and merchants would enter and leave every day, I knew their way of thinking, their language, their hot temper as well as their sense of honour...

    Father, you know many things, many of them through the man named Foucaud. But if you listened to what the servants whisper in the back alleys and in the corridors of their masters’ homes, you would know even more. I have my own sources of information, and from those I had learned that the caliph Al-Hakim himself was currently in Gaza, inspecting the progress of restoring the fortress. It was then that a bold plan formed in my mind. I would go to the caliph in person to sue for peace under the protection of the ancient unwritten law of hospitality! We know that all desert tribes have followed this rule for millenia: whoever seeks shelter under your roof as a guest may never be harmed, must be protected and granted free passage. I took the gamble to assume that if I entered the fortress at Gaza officially relating to this ancient law, the caliph would be bound by honour to obey it. And I was right.

    When I arrived at the fortress, I unveiled my face and had my bodyguard call out to all the people present at the gates who I was and what I desired. I was soon brought before the caliph, who reposed in a mountain of cushions, as is the custom of his people. He jumped up and bowed deeply, then showered me with compliments for my knowledge of his people’s customs, and even more so for my knowledge of his mother tongue, after we had exchanged a few sentences. He is quite a nice man, but his eyes glitter in a strange way as if some kind of fire were burning deep inside them. He bade me rest with him on the cushions, and we settled down, ate, drank and had the most wonderful conversation about all kinds of interesting subjects. Finally, he asked me why I had come, and I told him. Doing so, I unleashed all the weapons upon him that a woman has at her disposal – tears, smiles, a blush, a casting down of the eyes. When I had ended, the caliph looked at me thoughtfully for a long time. Then he said, “All you said has merit to it. It has given me much to think about. If you permit, I will withdraw to my chambers. Tomorrow you will get your answer. Until then, everyone in this fortress is to serve you no less than they are to serve me”. He clapped his hands once, and a dark-haired girl appeared, took my hand and led me to a wonderful chamber. “Be calm”, she said, “your people have been taken care of. Sleep now. If you need anything, clap your hands, and I will come”. She left the room and I lay down on a soft bed to fall into an uneasy sleep.

    The next morning, I was brought before the caliph again, who greeted me warmly, saying, “O flower of Christ, you have convinced me that we shall have peace. We shall have even more – I offer you trade and an alliance between my people and yours! If you will, we shall promise to come to each other’s aid if one of us should get attacked. Do not answer me now, as I presume you must talk to your father first. But it would please me greatly. However, know this – that I do not know how long these promises can last. The emirs are ever challenging my position, and there may come a day when they will try to drive us to war again. May Allah protect us from such a day…”.

    So, I left the fortress freely with additional bodyguards from the caliph and this offer for peace, trade and an alliance. I wish you would accept it, maybe there can be a reign of peace in these lands. Maybe this could be the way to erect the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth that we all desire so.

    I will be back in Jerusalem soon. May God protect us all until then.

    With love,
    Yolande.”



    Somehow, the news of Yolande’s adventure had spread out through the city within a day, and when she arrived in the city some days later, we heard the people cheering her in the streets before we saw her. Father had decided wisely to lay any punishment in the hands of Yolande’s future husband, and although Baudouin had assured us that he would be very strict with her, he was only able to scold her in the most tender way when she flung herself into his arms, and both were shedding hot tears of joy.

    The caliph’s offer was accepted, and the relief going through Jerusalem at receiving the news was almost palpable. The wedding celebrations were held pompously, and the whole city seemed to be drunken with joy, with people hailing the young couple – and even more so Yolande – in the streets all night through.



    Last edited by Strengelicher; October 03, 2012 at 08:07 AM. Reason: Government warning: Editing may cause addiction.

  10. #10

    Default Re: [SS 6.4] Crusader States AAR: In the Holy Lands

    Unorthodox strategy, but I like it. You should put a link to this in a signature.

    Hope to see more violent updates coming soon.

  11. #11

    Default Re: [SS 6.4] Crusader States AAR: In the Holy Lands

    Quote Originally Posted by Steward Denethor II View Post
    A promising beginning. Please keep it up!

    +rep
    Thanks for encouragement & rep.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mega Tortas de Bodemloze View Post
    A most promising start, Bravo! On ward, against all odds...

    +Rep
    Thank you, thank you.

    Quote Originally Posted by sevisenturk View Post
    nice start mate i will be following this
    Thanks. Incidentally, I am also following yours.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shankbot de Bodemloze View Post
    A great start, and the unit pictures look good. I personally wouldn't put them in spoilers, but that's just me.

    I am looking forward to the clash, which I assume is coming. +rep
    Thanks to you as well. Yes, the clash will come eventually (I have played ahead a little bit).

    Quote Originally Posted by Paragon View Post
    Why didn't you tell me about this? Or put in in the signature? Or whatever?

    While the beginning certainly reminds me of Skantarios, I'm looking foward more pal
    I didn’t tell you about this, because I wanted to see when you would find it yourself. I was all worked up about when you would comment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steward Denethor II View Post
    Unorthodox strategy, but I like it. You should put a link to this in a signature.

    Hope to see more violent updates coming soon.
    The strategy may appear unorthodox, as many people seem to be going straight for Gaza in the first turn (which makes sense). However, I do not like to start off like that for various reasons. For one thing, it has a touch of blitzing, as it is taking advantage of the Fatimid armies being dispersed at the beginning. Also, it feels more appropriate to me that the Crusader States should only retaliate – King Jean has the Champion of Honour trait, so he would need some kind of justification for attacking first. After all, there is no state of war with the Fatimids to start with. Further, I just like to play slowly, trying to make some sense of everything that happens. It just makes the game much more enjoyable for me. Finally, with BGR IV, RR and longer assimilation, it might become difficult to go on conquest too quickly. Due to the low starting percentage of Catholics in your regions, it is hard to replace decent units once they are lost. If I take my time to convert the population, I will be able to reinforce my armies at a much faster rate later on. War needs careful preparation.

    Thanks for the suggestion concerning my signature. I have just added a picture and link into it.

    Updates will soon become more violent.
    Last edited by Strengelicher; October 04, 2012 at 03:21 PM. Reason: Strengelicher does some things for no reason at all.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: [SS 6.4] Crusader States AAR: In the Holy Lands

    Nice work. I will be following this AAR.

  13. #13

    Default Re: [SS 6.4] Crusader States AAR: In the Holy Lands

    Chapter 3: Clouds in the West

    A.D. 1226 – From the diary of Prince Alphonse de Brienne:

    It is Summer, and the sun is beating down on Acre with a blinding glare. I stand on the battlements of the fortress, looking down upon the city. Everything is quiet and peaceful, the people have taken refuge from the heat of midday in their houses and cellars…

    We have enjoyed six years of peace, a period which the people started calling the “Peace of Yolande”. During this time, the realm has flourished, and so has our family.

    Shortly after her wedding with Baudouin, Yolande was heavy with child, and in the year 1221 gave birth to a healthy son who was baptized Jaques.



    Soon afterwards, a letter from my father informed me that my own mother would be giving a late birth. We were all concerned, as it is widely known that a late birth is a peril to both mother and child. But with the help of God, she bore another son. So now Yolande and I have a little baby brother, who is called Arnolf.



    In the year 1225, a young woman from a Frankish noble line, Genevieve de Luxembourg, arrived in Acre by ship, passing through here on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. On her return from there she remained a guest in the fortress for several weeks. Having been trained on horseback since she was a child, she made it her pastime to ride out with me. I caught myself finding excuses to delay her departure – at one time I judged the winds to be unfavourable, at another I had heard rumours about pirates roaming the coastal waters. But in the end, I had to confess that it was indeed my heart that would not give her leave. When I confessed my love to her I was met with an equal confession from her, and we were betrothed. Within a month, our marriage celebrations were held in Acre, and my whole family – father, mother, Yolande, little Arnolf and Jacques as well as Baudouin – joined us for this joyful event.



    The following winter, mother bore another child named Beatrix. We have to thank God for delivering her safely, since mother is well past childbearing age.



    Meanwhile, many miles from us, Colin travelled around Italy, establishing himself as a reknowned and highly respected diplomat. In just a few years, he forged alliances with the Republic of Venice, the Kindom of Sicily and the Crown of Castile.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 






    Also, the Catholic leaders in the West formed a network of mutual alliances, making a war between them unlikely. A beneficial development for us, as with peace in the West our allies will be much more likely to come to our aid should our lands be attacked. I have a feeling that this is also Colin’s doing.

    Reynaud reports that our efforts to convert the local population to the proper belief are successful as well. Small churches and chapels are being erected everywhere and religious unrest is decreasing.

    However, good times seldom last forever. This Summer A.D. 1226, we received news that a war has broken out between Venice and Byzantium. We are allied with the Venetians and therefore expected to support them, but we have no forces to spare for this unnecessary conflict, which has presumably been brought about by the greed the Doge of Venice has displayed so often. Moreover, the Eastern Roman Empire has been the shield of Christendom against Muslim conquerors from the East for centuries. What will happen if this shield is taken down by the Venetians? To make things worse, war has broken out between several Catholic factions in the West.



    I had a feeling that this was just the beginning, foreboding worse things to come. And I was right: About four weeks later, messengers arrived from Jerusalem reporting that the Fatimids were drawing great armies together around Damascus and Gaza, not far from our borders. In absense of another enemy, this activity could only be directed towards us. Meanwhile, an uprising of local lords in the province of Jerusalem, on the Eastern bank of the river Jordan, had turned into open rebellion, making trade between Jerusalem and Damascus almost impossible and costing us precious money. Both father and I agreed that this was no coincidence. And then, another three weeks later, we learned that a Fatimid army had crossed our Southern borders! I immediately made haste to Jerusalem to hold council with father.



    “It is a provocation, there is no mistaking it”, father said, “but on whose behalf? There is word from Gautier that he has been trying to converse with the caliph on the matter, but he was refused an audience. However, different sources indicate that the Fatimids are again suffering from inner conflicts, with different factions struggling to influence the caliph. Several powerful emirs seem to have gained the conviction it is their Allah’s will that Jerusalem be returned into Fatimid hands. Of course, they have realised that more and more people are converting to Christendom, and that our grip on these lands is becoming tighter as a consequence. They fear that the Holy City will be forever lost if they do not act now.”

    “We cannot tolerate their armies roaming through our lands. I say we attack them straight away and ride them down”, I returned.

    “No, my son. A premature attack would give them a justification to attack us with all their forces. We would be the aggressor, and they would again be unified behind the caliph. No. We shall wait. Let them strike first. Remember, we are still officially allied. If they are the first to raise their swords, the blame will be on them, and we may still find emirs who support us. Or maybe even the caliph would be able to justify our position. We will keep our fortifications well garrisoned, and we will wait…”

    And so we are waiting…

    On a side note, we have been receiving more and more reports about a war waging in the East, though many miles distant. Nomadic tribes seem to be moving westwards, leaving behind them a path of destruction. However, all this is happening far away, and I find it hard to imagine that it should be of our concern.

    Last edited by Strengelicher; October 13, 2012 at 05:58 AM. Reason: No reason. Brainless editing.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: [SS 6.4] Crusader States AAR: In the Holy Lands

    Some fight you're going to face here. Good luck with all the Fatimid stacks.

    On a side note, we have been receiving more and more reports about a war waging in the East, though many miles distant. Nomadic tribes seem to be moving westwards, leaving behind them a path of destruction. However, all this is happening far away, and I find it hard to imagine that it should be of our concern.
    Alphonse better hope so.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: [SS 6.4] Crusader States AAR: In the Holy Lands

    Mongols gonna make y'all in minced meat

    Going to follow this good work!

  16. #16
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    Default Re: [SS 6.4] Crusader States AAR: In the Holy Lands

    You should have told me if you were waiting for me to start the signature publicity, you've been very lucky that I noticed so soon

    Now that I have real updates I must say I like it

    Only thing is that, of course the Prince might be undocumented, but he has entablished alliances with Castille and mentions a war between HRE-Genoa and England-Scotland as "bad news, the Chirstian west is at war..." while the mongols are three times closer at least than all that

    Otherwise, I will be following this good job so far
    Last edited by Paragon; October 06, 2012 at 01:46 AM. Reason: My edits are cooler than yours
    This is my Aragonese AAR, One Single Man

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  17. #17

    Default Re: [SS 6.4] Crusader States AAR: In the Holy Lands

    Chapter 4: He who sows wind shall harvest a storm

    A.D. 1228 – From the diary of Prince Alphonse de Brienne:

    I am in Jerusalem for a couple of days to hold council with father. It is early Spring, the short time when the desert flowers bloom and cover the surrounding hills with a white blanket. It is almost as if fresh snow had fallen…

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Jerusalem in Spring, view from the Southwest:


    We have endured growing transgressions from our Fatimid neighbors for almost two years, and we waited. Lesser emirs have skulked around our realm with armies of considerable size, and still we waited. They have even chosen our lands as battlegrounds – the rebels on the Eastern bank of the river Jordan were wiped out by other Fatimid tribes, a clear sign of discord among our enemies – and still we waited. But now Fatimid warships have raided our trade fleets and blockaded the port to the West of Jerusalem. This means open war, and the time of waiting is over.



    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    The situation around Jerusalem A.D. 1228:



    The situation around Tortosa A.D. 1228:


    Father and I came together in a special room of the council chambers, which had been cleared of all furniture save a huge table with a map of the Levant fastened to its surface. Little carved figures of different colours were dispersed on it, representing the armies of both friend and foe.

    “Foucaud is telling me a great Fatimid host is approaching the city of Jerusalem from the South”, father said “it is being led by two members of the Fatimiyyun family, Bakr – who is apparently in command – and Dinar.”





    “I heard so. Bakr is a grandson of the caliph. Only 17 years of age, but already a man grown, famed to be an inspiring fighter and great strategist. Dinar is an uncle of his, if I am not mistaken. If these two are leading an army in our lands, things have become serious.”

    “Quite so, my son. And I have decided that I must meet them in the field, before they reach the Holy City.”

    A cold shiver was running down my spine when father said this, a familiar feeling almost forgotten. Battles were lying ahead.

    “I shall ride with you, father!” I blurted out.

    “No”, father replied firmly, but with deep affection in his eyes, “it would not be prudent, albeit I know that you would any time I asked for it. No. A battle may be lost, and whoever sets out to slay others may be slain himself. What If both of us were to fall at the hands of Bakr and his men? Our people would be without a leader, and our kingdom would fall apart. You must rule in my place while I am in the field. Protect Acre and Jerusalem from attacks from other directions. Oversee our building projects and recruitment of further troops. You must stay.”

    I looked at my father sadly, knowing that he was right, and nodded.

    “Good. Now that this is sorted out, you should know my further plans”, he continued, “listen well. My men are ready to depart. With God’s help, I am hoping to disperse the army to the South. However, if that is accomplished, we will not stop there. We will take ample supplies with us and march straight on towards Gaza.”

    “Another attempt at the fortress?” I groaned, “it has brought us bad luck in the past.”

    “Indeed”, father returned, “but that does not mean it will bring bad luck again. The garrison will be weak, since Bakr has drafted the greater part of it into his field army. It is an opportunity not to be missed. And the Fatimids will not expect such a swift counterattack. The initiative in this war would suddenly be ours. Now you will object that we will be unable to garrison Gaza appropriately without exposing Jerusalem to the armies surrounding us. And you are right in so far that we lack the troops and money to withstand the Fatimid armies surrounding us in the long term. Unless… they were occupied with something else.”

    I looked up at father, curiously.

    He continued, “Colin has not been idle these last weeks. The Pope is prepared to call all Christendom to arms in a crusade against the Fatimids.”

    “Against the fortress at Gaza?” I asked excitedly.

    “Against Cairo! If the target was Gaza, we would end the crusade prematurely if we conquered it right away, and supporting armies from our Christian brothers in the West would never arrive to help. Cairo is the heart of the Fatimid caliphate, and if we manage to take Gaza quickly and a crusade is called against Cairo, the caliph will fear losing his capital next. Instead of counterattacking, he might withdraw his armies to protect Cairo. This could give us time to fortify our position…”

    The more I thought about it, the more merit I saw in father’s plan. So I agreed, and the last preparations were made for his departure. Mother cried many tears, and my heart was heavy, too. Finally, the time to say farewell had come, and father and his men left the Holy City, proudly marching out of its great main gate.



    After several days of anxiety, a messenger returned from the field. He was carrying the white banner of Jerusalem, the sign of victory, and when he appeared in the distance, a cheering broke out from the guards on the battlements, spreading like a wildfire through the city.

    A.D. 1228 – First Battle of Jerusalem. Battle report from King Jean:

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    On our march South, we were joined by mercenaries Foucaud had hired on my behest – two companies of Turkopole Cavalry. The services of these men are costly, but they provide us with horse archery, an art our own knights have not mastered in these lands. I can see many a tactical use for them, although I will have to accustom myself to how they are best applied.

    We met Bakr, Dinar and their army in the rolling hills. The sky was overcast, rain was imminent.

    The enemy army ranks were filled with achers and spearmen, one unit of Arab Cavalry and two units of bodyguards. The spearmen were of mixed quality and did not concern me very much. I knew I must keep an eye on the archers, though, as Fatimid archers are generally skilled and equipped with strong bows. Arab Cavalry is strong and exceptionally fast, but I did not expect much trouble from just a single unit. My primary concern were the bodyguards, as their armour is known to be excellent and hardly penetrable. They would cause losses among my men, and I had to take measures to keep these as low as possible, especially among my more precious units. Luckily, most of the enemy were inexperienced recruits.



    Our army was a well-balanced mix of superior units and militia, both infantry and missile. I had a unit of St. Lazarus knights and my own bodyguard to protect our flanks. The Turkopoles would provide more flexibility to either flank, and a unit of mangonels the range to force the Fatimids on the attack.



    I positioned my troops on a hilltop, awaiting Bakr’s approach. His men would have to ascend the hill to reach us. This would give us a height advantage. As we waited, it started to rain quite heavily and it became difficult to see the enemy at a distance.



    My troops were arrayed in a “fortress” formation, with spear militia schiltroms as spearheads to break the enemy line.



    In a formation such as this, the schiltroms will take the heaviest casualties, as they will be the first targets of both enemy cavalry and missiles. It is therefore advisable to employ spear militia as schiltroms, as they are troops which can be easily replaced. Behind the schiltroms heavier infantry needs to be placed in tight formation. This will give the schiltroms both mental and physical support once the melee is on. The heavier and more valuable units will be protected from cavalry charges and straight missile fire by the schiltroms. Behind the gaps of this formation, missile troops are positioned in V-shaped formations. These will fire through the gaps, hopefully causing heavy casualties and preventing the enemy from breaking through. If all troops remain in this exact formation, it will hold against much stronger odds, and the general can direct his attention to wing maneuvers.

    Bakr sent his archers running up the hill first, closing the distance to my troops and exchanging missile fire. The archers immediately began taking losses due to their lack of armour and height disadvantage.



    When Bakr overlooked the situation, he and his bodyguards stormed up the hill and around our left flank. The missile fire from our Turkopoles did not deter him at all, so I had to charge against him myself to protect our flank and the mangonel crews. Only few of his bodyguard went down from our lances, and a melee ensued. Bakr’s bodyguards were superior to mine in a melee, so I had to think of something quickly. I drew my men around his and to the left, to expose his back to crossbow fire from my Templar Crossbowmen. This was not without risk, as any missile missing Bakr and his men would become a peril for me and my men in turn. But there was no other way to get further assistance without breaking my formation.



    After a short and fierce fight, I realized that I would be unable to take down Bakr personally. He was such a good swordsman! When another one of his bodyguard fell from his horse with a crossbow bolt protruding from his neck, Bakr roared and threw around his horse. Followed by the remaining few of his bodyguards, he galloped into my crossbowmen, swinging his sword wildly and taking down several of them in just a few moments. My own bodyguard, already whittled down to six men, covered my retreat.

    Meanwhile, on my right flank, the St. Lazarus knights and the second unit of Turkopoles had decimated the Arab Cavalry. Unfortunately, the Turkopoles had been caught in a melee and nearly wiped out. The St. Lazarus knights, however, made use of their newly won freedom of movement and charged into the back of the enemy infantry engaged in a melee with my rightmost schiltrom.



    Reading the battle again from the hilltop, I realized it was already decided in our favour, with many of the enemy troops dead or in flight. Dinar and his bodyguard were nowhere to be seen. I presumed they must have been slain, probably by crossbowfire. However, Bakr was still fighting like a madman, hacking his way through my men and killing them by the dozen.





    It was magnificent to watch, but it had to end, so I blew my horn to signal that one last effort had to be made for the final victory. On hearing the signal, Bakr wheeled around his horse and shouted across to me, “you shall have victory today, but you shall not have me!”

    Incredulously, he tore himself free from the fighting, killing several more men in the process. Then, he galloped down the hill, waves of missiles following, but doing neither any harm to him or his mount.

    However, my first unit of Turkopoles, being much faster than his heavily armoured horse, gave a hot pursuit and felled this bravest of all warriors.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    We achieved a clear victory while losing about a quarter of our men. Most of these losses have been among the spear militia or Turkopole mercenaries and do not concern me much. However, a substantial number of Templar serjeants and crossbowmen have also fallen, most of them at the hands of the furious Bakr al-Fatimiyyun himself.



    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    When inspecting the battlefield, my men were surprised to find Bakr still alive and only knocked unconscious. He was taken before me. Although the clothes below his armour were soaked with his own blood, he stood upright, lifted his head in scorn and pride and said mockingly, “So, king of the infidels, you have won this day. But you cannot win this war! My grandfather and father will drown you in blood! Where is my uncle? Has he died? If so, it will have been with a crossbow bolt in his back. The crossbow takes no skill to use, it is a coward’s weapon!”

    “I shall not discuss with a prisoner which weapons I should or should not use”, I replied coolly, “and your uncle is dead. Whether he was shot in the back or fell off his horse I cannot tell, for I did not see it. But you may take his body with you when you leave. You have fought bravely, and your grandfather has shown mercy on me and my son many years ago, albeit in exchange for land and money. I shall return that favour today twofold, letting you and all the men who fought with you go free to their homes, and I ask nothing in return.”

    Bakr looked surprised, then bowed and said, “Sadiq. You are said to be merciful, and now I see this is true. I shall return to Gaza from where I set out to conquer Jerusalem, and failed. However, most of the men who have fought under my command belonged to my uncle, who has now died a martyr. Whether or not they will still follow my orders after this battle I do not know. They may or may not.”

    “Very well then”, I added, “tell them if they do not leave our lands we will fight them again, and the next time we may not show any mercy. And deliver this message to your grandfather – that we shall let everybody know he has broken his word of peace and alliance. His betrayal will not be forgotten.”

    Bakr’s gaze flickered at this, as if he felt some sort of guilt. He bowed again, more deeply this time, saying, “Sadiq. I kindly ask you to deliver my greetings and apologies to the princess Yolande, who is fabled among my people, but whom I never had the mercy to meet and probably never will. If I should die one day, I pray to Allah that she will forgive me whatever I have done. And if it is true that in paradise a man will encounter everything he wishes for, I would pray that I open my eyes there with tears on my eyelids… tears from the princess who wept for me. But there are times when a man must do the things a man does. Word and honour may bind him stronger that his heart's desire. Salem aleikum.”

    With these words the proud young warrior left, taking his people with him. I watched him go, strangely moved by his last words.
    Last edited by Strengelicher; October 13, 2012 at 06:01 AM. Reason: Arrrrgh... mistakes, mistakes, mistakes...

  18. #18
    Paragon's Avatar Senator
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    Default Re: [SS 6.4] Crusader States AAR: In the Holy Lands

    Hi, I'm posting before Strengelicher actually finishes his post because I'm evil.
    This is my Aragonese AAR, One Single Man

    If you read and comment, there WILL be cake!

  19. #19

    Default Re: [SS 6.4] Crusader States AAR: In the Holy Lands

    Quote Originally Posted by The Kybrothilian View Post
    Nice work. I will be following this AAR.
    Thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Kybrothilian View Post
    Some fight you're going to face here. Good luck with all the Fatimid stacks.

    Alphonse better hope so.
    Thanks again. We shall see.

    Quote Originally Posted by the new username View Post
    Mongols gonna make y'all in minced meat

    Going to follow this good work!
    And thank you as well. The Mongols have yet to make their way through the Khwarezmians. I have no idea when they will knock on the door.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paragon View Post
    You should have told me if you were waiting for me to start the signature publicity, you've been very lucky that I noticed so soon

    Now that I have real updates I must say I like it

    Only thing is that, of course the Prince might be undocumented, but he has entablished alliances with Castille and mentions a war between HRE-Genoa and England-Scotland as "bad news, the Chirstian west is at war..." while the mongols are three times closer at least than all that

    Otherwise, I will be following this good job so far
    I wasn’t waiting for you with the signature, until Steward Denethor II’s remark I had not realised it is a custom to advertise your own AAR in a signature. Thanks for the thumbs up.

    I thought about how much concern the Mongols would give Alphonse at the time, as I presume the crusaders must have had quite a good knowledge of what was going on in the East as well. But then I thought that at the time the news of e terribly powerful force invading must have seemed unlikely.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paragon View Post
    Hi, I'm posting before Strengelicher actually finishes his post because I'm evil.
    You are one fast reader. I do have a strange habit of posting my new chapters in chunks and completing them online. This is partly because I feel that text and pictures are somehow interacting, and when I first see them in combination online, I feel the need to make adjustments in the text. So you will see the last chapter constantly changing when it is still “fresh”.
    Last edited by Strengelicher; October 06, 2012 at 11:15 AM.

  20. #20
    Paragon's Avatar Senator
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    Default Re: [SS 6.4] Crusader States AAR: In the Holy Lands

    That young guy had ten stars in Command at 17?!

    Anyways, great EVIL plan, good battle (with mathematician's formations striking again (?)) and good end. Looking foward more.


    What I do (just as writer advice, because I find it better than taking hours to edit the update fully) is copying the pics directly in word, so it warns you about typos and you can still see them when you write and change it accordiingly.
    Last edited by Paragon; October 07, 2012 at 06:07 AM.
    This is my Aragonese AAR, One Single Man

    If you read and comment, there WILL be cake!

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