"As soon as the sun began to turn, he formed up his lines and with war cries and tremendous shouting rushed upon the barbarians. However Tzachas was not found unprepared for he quickly had his men fully armed and joined battle with the Roman lines."
From The Alexiad of Anna Comnena
Welcome friend, to the page that asks, "Emperor or Sultan"?
A quick and easy campaign game for the Crusades period in the Byzantine Empire, including map, counters, and miniatures interface for our "Ironbow" rules.
Now available, the Rules in Italian! Special thanks to Stefano Bonazzi! Great Job!
The year is 1113.
The Byzantine Empire is experiencing an economic, cultural, and military renaissance.
Having recovered the Aegean seaboard, the Armies of Emperor Alexius Comnenus have pushed inland up the Meander valley, across Paphlagonia, and along the southern coast of Asia Minor. Cities once deserted have their populations returning, and after 40 years of Turkish domination and vandalism, the land is growing rich again.
Now the forces of the Seljuk Sultan and his bands of Turkomen nomads are on the move. Determined to set the land on fire and plunder all that they don't destroy. Splitting into long, fast moving columns, they spread out to all corners of the rejuvinated territories, some being so bold as to set up satrapies and minor emirates in the face of the enemy.
To stay alive and keep their followers in line, the Turkish chieftans must bring their booty back home to be displayed and enjoyed. The Byzantine provincial armies have other ideas. The hunter now becomes the hunted. Every mountain pass may be blocked or have an ambush prepared. Above them on the hills, two or three horsemen stand watching them, then ride of to make their whereabouts known to the Emperor, who is on his way with the Imperial Host with his Latin and Varangian mercenaries, who could deliver a death blow to your hopes if ever they catch you.
The Byzantines must protect their people and show them that the frontier is safe or they will face a mass migration and the loss of the new territories. To do this, they cannot be passive. They must destroy the invader any way they can. Greek subtlety, caution and a scientific approach was the hallmark of their success. Head on fighting may not bring success and might bring annihilation; only when the Emperor arrives will they be able to rescue those taken captive and bring back their property, while dealing with the enemy in such a way that they won't dare show their faces for a generation!
What's it like?
Every commander and Emir mentioned by Anna Comnena in the Alexiad is present. In fact, the game is leader driven- good leaders get things done, while poor ones are a hinderance. Counters representing every troop type are here, including Turkish Ghulam heavy cavalry, Turkomen horse archers, light and heavy infantry, Byzantine Cataphracts, Norman and Varangian mercenaries, Petchenegs, everyone. It comes with a battle board so you don't have to stop the game for every battle if you don't want to, but the troops convert directly into "Ironbow" units for those of you who want to play miniatures.
How do you win?
To win, the Turks must get as many plunder markers out of enemy owns and off the board as they can, and perhaps hang onto a town or two. You will need to strike deep into Byzantine territory to get the juiciest plunder, and then bring it back. Remember, stacks carrying plunder are significantly slower than those unencumbered, and cannot easily disengage from battle, so move quickly. Try and destroy enemy forces on the way in, but not on the way out.
For the Byzantines to win, they have to stop the Turks. Early battles will be difficult, as you are outnumbered, but you can't let light cavalry columns promiscuosly steal your people blind! The occasional engagement should keep the enemy honest. If the enemy gets through, and he will, your best bet is to seal the exits behiond him, so that the late-arriving Imperial Army can get to grips with them. With Alexius in command, you have a good chance of beating an equal enemy force.
*To those interested in this game* Allow me to convince you to purchase or obtain from the library a copy of the Alexiad of Anna Comnena, which is a book of the life and times of the Emperor Alexius Comnenus, written with care by his learned and indomitable daughter, Anna Comnena. This book will give you a deep insight into the period in question which will fascinate and amaze you. For the military minded every campaign fought from 1081-1118 on land and sea is covered in detail. For those who want to learn about a culture which was truely one-of-a-kind, this is the book for you. Romance, despair, triumph, loss, everything! Read it NOW!