The 4th Crusade, a variant for Siege of Constantinople and Acre
By Roger Deal, who has nothing better to do.
th The sack of Constantinople, which was the only real “achievement” of the 4 Crusade, was perhaps the
most shameful episode of the entire crusading era. For those of a morbid disposition or who just want to see history unfold, this variant is offered. The time is 17 July, 1203 AD
You will need the crusader counters from Acre in the Art of Siege Quad and the map, rules, Byzantine counters, except the Venetians and Ottoman siege tower counters from Siege of Constantinople that appeared in S&T #66. Only the assault, fire combat, leaders and part of the engineering rules will be used plus the few changes contained in these variant rules. Since this was very much come as you are event, there is no tunneling and the crusaders had few siege engines available. On the other hand, years of corruption had totally destroyed the Byzantine navy as an effective force.
There will be one, two or three assault periods of ten turns each. Losses from one assault are carried over to the others. If the Crusader player wins the first, there is no second, if not, the Crusader starts with all his remaining units outside the walls, the Byzantine player deploys his remaining units inside the walls, the foss in emptied, and they have at it again. If the Crusaders do not win the second time, both sides redeploy and the foss is emptied as per the rules. If the Crusaders fail to win the third time, they are presumed to fall into squabbling among themselves and the Byzantines win. (N.B. Since we‟re pretty much stuck with the counter mix here, the representation of events may seem a little awkward at times.)
Throughout, substitute “Crusaders” etc for “Ottomans”.
The Byzantines set up first. They may deploy all their combat units, catapults and leaders in any hexes inside Constantinople. The Crusaders move first.
Ignore rule 5.17; all Byzantine units can move at all times. Also ignore 5.04; units do not need a leader to move.
For the Crusaders, use the light and dark blue and the dark green counters. For this scenario, the light blue are southern French (Provence) the dark blue represent northern French and the green represent the Venitians and allied Italians. The light green (Swabian) units are not used, nor are the catapults or ballistas. The blue units are set up in the assault areas. For the first Assault Phase, they must set up in separate, adjacent areas but then can move wherever they want while the Venetians set up across from the Golden Horn. The siege towers from both games, which represent ships with towers in this game, set up with them in shore hexes. If a second or third Assault phase is required, the Crusaders can set up in either area or both as they chose.
„Ships‟ can move four hexes per turn. They must stop upon entering a partial sea hex although they may
move the following turn. Needless to say, they can never enter all land hexes.
The Byzantines use all their leader counters (they‟re going to need them) except Johannus. The Crusaders use only the following: King Guy representing Enrico Dandolo, Doge of Venice (who was 80 years old at the time); Geoffrey representing Boniface, Count of Monferrat; Conrad representing Baldwin, Count of Flanders; Henri representing Louis, Count of Blois and Garnier representing Andre d‟Ureboise (not a leader but a heroic figure).
Because the units for the two games have slightly different number systems, some modifications are needed. The Combat strength on the Crusader combat units is used for both attack and defense, their movement is as shown, their morale is as follows: knights, mounted or not, are „1‟, men at arms are „2‟, all
others are „3‟.
On the other hand, the units in Constantinople do not have printed movement ratings. Use the ratings as per 5.0 i.e. “6” for leaders and “5” for all others.
Leaders in Acre also have movement ratings based on mounted movement. Although most Crusader knights remained mounted (and will be represented as such in this game; see the rule below.) The leaders seem to have dismounted so as to lead the attack better. Therefore, while all Crusader combat units use their printed movement rate, the movement rate for their leaders is “6”.
The “ships” have a movement rate of “4”. For this scenario, they are presumed to have crews and, therefore, can move on their own. They can enter sea and partial sea hexes but never all land hexes. If they enter a partial sea hex they must stop movement. They can move the next turn, but the first hex entered must be an all sea hex and it costs an extra movement point to enter that hex (crew straining to shove off). Each “ship” can carry one combat unit and any number of leaders. Historically, the ships were equipped with towers the height of the wall, therefore, any time a ship ends its movement in a partial sea hex next to a wall, the units on that ship may attack opposing units on the wall or enter the wall hex if unopposed.
Ships can only move in the waters of the Golden Horn. A ship may move and units may use movement points to embark or disembark in the same turn but units cannot both embark and disembark in the same turn. Such units may advance after combat. Due to the rough seas, the Crusader player rolls 1d6 for every unit attempting to attack or move onto a wall. On a roll of 1-4, they succeed; on a 5 or 6 they do not and remain in place. These units may not be attacked. This effect lasts for one turn. Ships that are alone in a partial sea hex may be attacked in the melee phase by defending units that are not in the ZoC of any Crusader combat unit. The ship is automatically destroyed and the attacker is disorganized. Ships that are destroyed in the first assault phase return to play in the second. Only Venetian units may move by ship. (Historically, the other Crusaders refused to fight this way.)
The area between the main wall and the Wall of Constantine is open terrain except for the towers and the Imperial Palace.
Byzantine units may go in and out of gate hexes at will unless . Crusader units may go through a gate hex after the turn in which a Crusader unit has been adjacent to the “inside” of a gate hex. This is the only
way mounted knights can pass through a wall. In addition, mounted knights “inside” the Wall of Constantine may only enter road and forum hexes. They may not assault walls.
All Byzantine combat units can conduct missile fire; only crossbow units on the Crusader side can. In addition, the Byzantines can use their catapults. Missile fire has no effect on ships.
Units defending in melee with a defense strength greater than „5‟ are treated as „5‟.
The Crusaders win if, at the end of the tenth impulse, they have 35 or more combat strength points inside (not on the wall) the city proper, i.e. inside the Wall of Constantine. If they have not achieved this result at the end of the tenth impulse of the first assault phase, all Crusader units are returned to their start positions outside the walls, the foss in emptied and the Byzantine catapults can be moved. This is the only time the catapults can be moved. Wounded leaders who can be returned to play are returned and any ships lost are replaced. If the counter for the emperor (here Alexius III) is still in play, he is removed ( Alexius ran away). The Byzantines, then the Crusaders deploy again and the second and, if necessary third, Assault Phase are played out. If the Crusaders have not won at the end of either phase, the Crusade breaks up and the Byzantines win.
Final designer‟s and historic notes: As noted above, the counter mixes restrict how much historic detail can be included. Historically, the Byzantines were able to send a mounted force outside the walls on several occasions, for example. Hopefully, this variant will capture the essence of the event.
Historically, Byzantium went through three emperors during this short time and the Crusaders succeeded in “winning” on the third try. The result was three days of wholesale looting that permanently weakened the ability of the Eastern Empire to continue to resist the Moslems. Among other treasures, Venice stole the four bronze horses that still can be seen above the entrance of St. Mark‟s on the Piazza St. Marco.