Saturday, May 15, 2010

First Crusade: (1) The Siege of Nicaea

(Main historical research source while designing scenario: Osprey: The First Crusade 1096 - 99: Conquest of the Holy Land. By David Nicolle.)
(Also, Google Earth for the layout of the southern part of the city walls, for the scenario map.)

The first scenario I have designed is about the first battle during the First Crusade, over the Byzantine city of Nicaea. The region north of the Holy Land had been conquered by the Seljuk Turk arabs, who were taking more and more land from the Byzantines. In Constantinople, Emperor Alexios sent forth a call to the west for mercenaries to help the Byzantines turn back the muslim forces.

In response, religious groups in Europe set the First Crusade in motion, to not simply help defend the Byzantine empire, but to push onwards to Jerusalem, to 'liberate' the Holy Land from muslims and take hold of Jerusalem.

To get to Jerusalem, the Crusaders had to first pass through the northern lands that lay under the control of the Seljuk Turks. Their first stop was to retake the Byzantine city of Nicaea from the Turks in May 6th 1097.

The Crusader contingents of Bohemond of Taranto, Raymond of Toulouse, Robert of Normandy, and Stephen of Blois, arrived over the next few days. They were supported by a Byzantine contingent of around 2,000 troops under the command of Tatikios.

A second Byzantine force supplied boats necessary to complete their siege of this city by the lakeside.

Eventually the Crusader forces numbered between 4,200 - 4,500 cavalry, 30,000 infantry, excluding non-combatants. Emperor Alexios remained at Pelekanon to supervise supplies.

On 16 May, a Turkish relief force coming to aid the arabs who occupied the besieged city was soundly defeated by the Crusaders. They arrived from Melitene, under the command of Kilij Arslan, with Danishmandid allies.

Most of the force were mounted Seljuks, which enabled them to travel fast in the hope of relieveing the Turkish garrison inside the city, before the Crusader could establish proper siege lines.

Apparantly the Turks attacked Raymond of Toulouse's Provencals outside of the southern gate and wall, because this french contingent had just arrived and had yet to set up any defences. They would have hoped to break through the french forces, and into the city, to bolster its defences.

However, the Provencals held their ground, until Godfrey of Bouillon and Robert of Flanders rushed down from the eastern side of the city, striking the Turks in their flank.

The fighting took place in confined areas between the city walls and heavily wooded and hilled areas south of the city, giving the Turks little room to manoeuvre. As a result, Kilij Arslan withdrew after heavy losses.

Agents sent by the Byzantine Emperor Alexios convinced the Turkish garrison within the city to surrender.

Nicaea was handed over to the Byzantine negotiators (who did not want the city to be sacked and looted by the Crusader armies), while the Crusaders, ignorant of the Byzantine-Turk negotiations, were still assaulting a different section of wall, on 19 June. The wall was breached, and to the Crusaders, the city seemed doomed to fall – but with the secret surrender, Byzantine troops had already moved in to garrison the city, and the Crusaders were surprised to see Emperor Alexius’ banner fly over the city walls.

The battle was over.

The Crusaders were further galled when they learned of the safe conduct granted to the Turkish Garrison. It was the beginning of a growing enmity between the Crusaders and their ‘employer’, the Byzantines, which would become increasingly overt as the Crusades continued.


Crusader Starting Positions:
Raymond of Toulouse's french Provencals are situated outside the southern wall, before the south gate, having just arrived, and yet to make any defences as their thoughts turn to laying siege to the city.

Godfrey of Bouillon and Robert of Flanders have their forces to the north-east. They will enter the map from that corner during the first turn.

Crusader Starting Forces:
(Based on the Early Crusader Starter Army: Field of Glory: Swords and Scimitars page 7)

Each Crusader Force:
1 battle group (4 bases) of Knights each
1 battle group (8 bases) of Spearmen each

Bohemond and Godfrey have 1 battle group (6 bases) of Crossbows each, Bohemond is a Field Commander (C-in-C) and Godfrey is a Troop Commander.
Raymond has 1 battle group (6 bases) of armed Pilgrims, and he is a Troop Commander.

The commanders may only join with their own group forces in combat, though any Crusader over-all army commanding rolls come from Bohemond, as C-in-C in this battle.

Muslim Starting Positions
(Seljuk Turk Starter Army: Field of Glory: Swords and Scimitars)
Kilij Arslan and his Danishmandid support are coming from the south and southeast, hoping to break through the french forces and through the city gate to join the garrison.

Muslim Starting Forces:
Kilij Arslan has:
1 Field Commander (C-in-C)
1 Troop Commander
1 battle group (4 bases) Seljuk Nobles (cavalry)
2 battle groups (4 bases each) Ghilmans
2 battle groups (4 bases each) Turcomans
1 battle group (6 bases) Foot Archers

Danishmandid Support has:
1 Troop Commander
1 battle group (4 bases) Ghilmans
1 battle group (4 bases) Turcomans
1 battle group (6 bases) Foot Archers

Any turn that a muslim unit is able to move through the gate into the city, the gate will be open for them to enter - as long as no Crusaders would be able to move through the gate in that same turn. Simply work out the furthest any nearby Crusaders could move, and if they could move through the gate, it will remain shut.

The Crusaders win if they defeat the Seljuk forces. The Seljuk forces win if they are able to get a large amount of forces into the city. The game is a tie if only a small amount of forces get into the city, and the rest are defeated. The game can be made easier or more difficult by simply changing how many Seljuk units need to enter the city to win.

Seljuk archer forces are also able to begin the game atop the city walls! These represent forces already defending the city, and commander/morale effects do not apply to them. They are automatically defeated if the rest of the Seljuk forces that are not on the wall are defeated, or if they are slain through battle.

Alternate History
As I have yet to collect any Seljuk Turks, and am currently focusing on collecting Fatimid Caliphate (Field of Glory: Fatimid Egyptian Arabs Starter Army Set) who were the faction controlling Jerusalem at this time, I am including alternate history rules with my scenarios, as a guide to playing the same scenario with different forces.

Fatimid Caliphate Forces:
Main Force:
C-in-C Field Commander, and 1 Troop Commander
2 battle groups (4 bases each) Arab Lancers
2 battle groups (4 bases each) Mamluks
1 battle group (6 bases) Abid al-shira Javelins
1 battle group (3 bases) Abid al-shira Archers

Support Force:
1 Troop Commander
2 battle groups (4 bases each) Bedouin Light Cavalry
1 battle group (6 bases) Abid al-shira Javelins
1 battle group (3 bases) Abid al-shira Archers
1 battle group (6 bases) Armenian Archers

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