Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Soldiers of God AAR

I got hold of Soldiers of God, a tightly focused crusades oriented game by Warwick Kinrade. We had a bit of a trial run with it, and these pics are a recreation (from memory) of the game we actually played.

This was, from the scenario list, a small field battle. Despite being small, it filled a 6*4 table. I'm not sure how a large battle (twice as many points) might fit on the same table.

The thing about Soldiers of God is that it's card-oriented play. Essentially, you get 7 cards per turn, and play them to get your forces moving, or to help rally them, etc. Four of the cards you draw randomly from a deck. And each section (Battle) of your army (Right, Centre, Left) gets its own card which they keep every turn. This is your battle strategy.

For example, my Arabs decided to use the Advance and Harry strategy, which means every turn each flank can use the Advance, Loose, Retire card, and the centre can March.

The Crusaders chose the Double Envelopment strategy which gives them the above cards. There are 8 strategies in the rules, but I don't see much wrong with the idea of simply choosing any three cards that suit your set-up and what you plan on getting your forces to do.

Here's my right battle, with some Arab tribal cavalry, some horse archers, and some Arab infantry, backed by two units of Ghulams. The rules really call for square stands of consistent size to represent parts of a unit, but I was using my Deus Vult 46mm*66mm (I have to add the extra 6mm for the lips of the trays) infantry stands with my 56mm*56mm cavalry stands. I'm planning on making a load of 46mm*46mm infantry stands and leaving the cavalry stands, but istm it won't make too much difference to the game. Even playing with these non-square bases didn't seem to have much of an effect.

This is my centre battle, with some tribal infantry (pretty rubbish) and some Mujahideen (not rubbish) back by archers. Unit sizes can be anything between 2 and 4. Bigger units cost more but can stand more damage (or Disorder). A unit stays until it gets more disorder than it has stands.

And my left battle: tribal cavalry, horse archers, and some medium infantry. I didn't field any two-stand units, coz I was a bit frightened of how fragile it might make the army. Essentially, every unit brings some Morale Value to the army, regardless of its size. And every unit will cost morale if it routs. And bigger units will rout less easily than smaller ones. So creating an army seems to be a bit of a balancing act between unit sizes. Smaller units should make you more manoeuvrable and will give you higher morale, but you will lose units quicker and so your morale will shrink more quickly.

Here's my opponent's right battle. Technically, a bunch of invaders, sweltering in the hot sun, looking on enviously at the cooling oasis.

Centre battle: more uncomfortably hot infidels.


So, to start the game, the crusaders charged down both flanks, exactly as their battle strategy said they should. I got my 'Advance, Loose, Retire' thing going, using my javelins and horse archers. Light troops in open order can interpenetrate for free, so I was able to use them both to attack at once. Still, they didn't seem to annoy the knights much.

Same thing on the left. Two unsaved hits on the Men-at-Arms brought two disorder. If they collect five disorder they will rout (as they have four stands in the unit)

Of course, you can mitigate disorder. You can burn a card to remove one disorder. And there are a few special card functions that can get rid of a lot of  disorder at once. I did manage to pile up quite a bit of disorder against this unit over the course of the battle, but my opponent always seemed to find the right card to get rid of it.

My opponent had the initiative (to start with coz his strategy was more aggressive than mine, but later coz he had better morale), and so my rolling archy javeliny thing didn't work quite so well on the right. And the knights managed to charge them down. With help from the horse archers backing them in melee, they soon put a bunch of disorder on my Arab cavalry that I couldn't slough, and so they routed. Not only did they rout, but they ended up with more than twice their unit size in disorder, and so were massacred. I lost a bunch of morale for the rout, and even more for the massacre (and as I had started the game with a lot less morale than my opponent, I was already in trouble).

So, we had a bit of an issue with the game. You need to have the right card to make the action you want. And so at this stage it would have been ideal for me to charge my infantry into this melee, and get a load more dice, and bonus flanking dice. I feel that would have taken out his units quite convincingly. But, it never happened.

(EDIT: Actually this is wrong. I now realise you can enter into combat with an already engaged enemy unit with a simple March action, instead of requiring a Charge action.)

Similarly, I would have liked to have shot a bunch of arrows at the crusaders' centre, while he wanted to charge me. Neither thing happened. I did get the Loose card once, but I reluctantly used it to burn a disorder elsewhere. Had my strategy been slightly different, I could have had a Loose on hand permanently. The Hold and Harry strategy gives you Loose in the centre instead of March. I feel like I will probably try that next time.

So, the hard as nails knights ate their way through my light cavalry and headed for my Ghulams, and also hit my infantry pretty hard.

The blokes in the centre just stood and traded insults with each other. My opponent did remark that he felt this was a bit off. But istm, this is the sort of thing that can happen in the fog of war and if you play rules like these, you just have to accept it. And make up some sort of narrative for it, if you like.

So, by this stage, I had lost 8 of my 15 morale, and my opponent had lost just 3 of his 20, so it was pretty clear which way this one was going.

All in all, I really enjoyed the feel of the game. First time play-throughs are always a bit of a pain (especially when you have a memory for rules like I do) but I've re-read the rules and pretty happy that we did most things right (the rules are actually pretty short and sweet), and am already looking forward to my next attempt to rid the holy land of the infidel.


  1. Thank you for the AAR, I always perk up when I hear Warwick's name linked with a game. However I can see the frustration with not having the right card.

    1. Yeah, cheers. I've arranged another game for this week, and am looking forward to it.

  2. Excellent AAR. Looks like an interesting game. Great looking armies on display. Really nice. cheers

    1. Thanks. We played again this week and had a much better battle. We went in right from the start with hand management as a priority instead of blundering around and it showed.