chris0zz
Rating: 9
An absolute gem of a game. The theme is captured and you are left with tons of decisions to make on every turn. No two games are alike with the draw pool. You might get the help from the powerful crusading units one game and the next game you might be on your own. The hardest part is deciding whether to play this or Richard the 3rd.
bfung1972
Rating: 9
I purchased this game along with HotS. I like this game better! I enjoyed it immensely. Lots of replay value, although playing the Franks could be fustrating for a new player.
7inchsplit
Rating: 9
So good! Both sides have such an interesting challenge ahead of them. If you haven't played yet, the main tension in the game comes from the Franks player waiting for the Crusaders - the English, French, and Germans - to arrive from Europe. Each round, the Franks draw a block from a face down pool - if it's a Crusader, the block is added to a waiting room on the board. Once all three of a given set of Crusader (once again, English, French or German) show up in this waiting area, they can deploy onto the map.

At the start of the game, most of the Franks draw pool are Crusaders. However, as "Outremer" blocks - ie, those knights with holdings in the Middle East - die out, their blocks are added to the draw pool. Since the Crusaders are the Franks most organized and powerful blocks in the game, this effectively dilutes the draw pool and delays the troop surge.

So, for the first half of the game, the Franks sole aim is survival of the Outremers, waiting for the Crusaders. They really have no chance at winning unless they do this. The Franks challenge, then, is to keep their Outremers safely nestled in castles (double defense) while they send out the fairly powerful Templars and Hospitallers (who don't clog the draw pool) to wreak havoc upon the encroaching Saracens using their dangerous Knights Charge ability.

It may seem bleak for the Franks, but the Saracens have their own problems. Their advantages are that they're very fast, so they usually strike first in combat and can move farther in a single turn. During the early game, it's also a mixed bag counterattacking against them because of their Harrying ability (attack retreat simulteneously).

The Saracens are weak in firepower, and most all of their units are removed from the game when they get eliminated. So, their best bet is a hardline push during the first 3/4 of the game, followed by turtling in safety, perhaps with a bit of Harrying, in the final few years.

Plays:

2 - Franks
1 - Saracens
axisboulder
Rating: 9
Tricky and chancy as far as the European Knights are concerned, but a tight game. Both sides are quite distinctive and the play flows smoothly.
al the pal
Rating: 9
I finally had the chance to play this game, and it was great just like I hoped. I really ejoyed Hammer of the Scots, and this is another triumph in the block game series. I played the Franks, and the fluidity and speed of play was more than I expected... therefore I feel that I was fast on may way to a massive defeat. But that is not known since we had to cut it short due to weather related issues. Anyway, fabulous game, I would recommend it to anyone that like war-games or strategy games, and I cannot wait to play it again.
cfarrell
Rating: 9
UPDATE: With play balance concerns more or less retired, I've been very happy with Crusader Rex and have enjoyed it a great deal. It's short, it fast-paced, it's highly-playable, it's historically interesting, and there are lots of options for both side. Personally, I like Crusader Rex a lot more than Hammer of the Scots, because it feels more open, where Hammer often felt bottle-necked.
---
Sort of a provisional rating. The system itself is great, and the core cardplay/movement/combat/siege I think works better than Hammer, and the more open playing field also is more interesting.

The concern of course is play balance. The first game we played was a Crusader win, but, of some concern, a total blow-out. These things happen, of course, but with experienced gamers it's unusual unless there is a sense that something went seriously wrong, which was not the case here. So ... the judgement is certainly not conclusive, and I look forward to giving it another try. I'll be paying attention to the balance issues, and if they prove elusive, this'll easily round up to an 8, and really, balance is my only significant worry. Systemically, Crusader Rex is a proven game, and felt very solid.
crackedlcd81
Rating: 9
Tremendous. The virtues of Hammer of the Scots are preserved here and in many ways enhanced, making for a deeply engaging, compelling wargame that is both completely accessible and full of detail and specficity. The Franks have a tough time of it through the first few years, fighting to keep their strongholds while the Muslims stage a nasty counterattack. It's a matter of waiting for the Crusaders to show up and strike back. I think it's slightly better than HOTS (itself an awesome game) mainly because there's more options and it doesn't feel quite so hopeless for the weaker side. The only complaints are those that are typical for a Columbia game- lo-fi production and the map could stand to be larger. All in all, one of the best games of the year and one that stands with the best of Columbia Games' fantastic products.
agripa
Rating: 9
The operational nature (movement point to point) of this game, makes it one of my favorites of the Columbia block games.

The combat it's the classic a-b-c-d. But then you have sieges, herrasing mounted archers and Knight Charges!

The timely arrival (or not) of the Frank reinforcements brings a Fun strain to the playing of this title.

Playing time: 2-3 hours
agripa
Rating: 9
The operational nature (movement point to point) of this game, makes it one of my favorites of the Columbia block games.

The combat it's the classic a-b-c-d. But then you have sieges, herrasing mounted archers and Knight Charges!

The timely arrival (or not) of the Frank reinforcements brings a Fun strain to the playing of this title.
anton
Rating: 9
Don't be mislead by the result of the original verdict of history.
A great "what-if" game especially when you add in the variants and new units.
It is so-o-o-o-o deliciously evil to be the Byzantine Emperor in this game. Don't just stab your opponent in the back: make sure your blade's poisoned when you do.
BWBnTX
Rating: 8.8
Good game! Can be a challenge for the Frankish player but its supposed to be!
cartking24
Rating: 8.5
My favorite Columbia Games game.
Constantinople
Rating: 8.5
2005 Columbia Games

great game!
cicciburicci
Rating: 8.5
Maybe the best introductory blockwargame. Easy but not repetitive, does a very good job in simply depicting both the historical crusade and the real way of fighting in that times. It also smartly introduces some flavour and chance with the particular franks build-up/arrive.
bigcheese
Rating: 8
Have played 4 games now. I have played both sides but still can't win! Would like to give it a 9 but it just takes a little too long compared to Napoleon.
cbrown
Rating: 8
Good hard slog for the Franks.
andersed
Rating: 8
Superior to Hammer of the Scots.
caradoc
Rating: 8
Very good. I like the movement system, the dice system is also very interesting. The differences between the special abilities of the Crusaders and the special abilities of Saladin's armies make for a fascinating and asymetric battle. My only concern is that the game seems to feel like a lot of work for not a lot of effect - essentially a player is trying to hold a majority of the key cities at the game end, and this means that the tug-of-war over those cities doesn't sway over much land.

Despite this one mild misgiving, the game is really thoroughly excellent. I love the Columbia block games, and this, along with Wizard Kings, may be my favourite.
caesarmom
Rating: 8
Much better with the latest rules from Columbia. The old rules make it extremely hard for the Franks!
alexgrant
Rating: 8
[Mounted board] Good, but I prefer Julius Caesar.
anemaat
Rating: 8
Exiting and fast-playing wargame. Too bad that many rules were changed after publication, but that certainly has improved the game. The game suffers from a last turn syndrome. If you controle 4 or more cities, concentrate all your forces there, only waiting for your claim of an easy victory.

The game is actually about the 7 VP-cities. The other points are only meant to delay the enemy.

Armies didn't march along multiple roads to encircle an enemy force in those days. It was a later invention!

Winter attrition in a subtropical area where many Crusaders have died of thirst!? A bit odd.

I did not like the abstracted way Egypt is depicted in this game.

Article in Dutch
angeral
Rating: 8
grate block game!
Charles Vasey
Rating: 8
This is the revised version, a really tight game.
chris0zz
Rating: 8
An absolute gem of a game. The theme is captured and you are left with tons of decisions to make on every turn. No two games are alike with the draw pool. You might get the help from the powerful crusading units one game and the next game you might be on your own. The hardest part is deciding whether to play this or Richard the 3rd.
Arkobla Conn
Rating: 8
Have lost every time as Franks... Update - I did win .. once ! :)
airjudden
Rating: 8
I haven't formed a final opinion on this, but I think the 2.1 rules were a step in the right direction. 1.4 was too imbalanced. I was impressed with the little bit of 2.1 that I did get to play.
astroglide
Rating: 8
Love the narrow, long, congested map. Theme presence is good although I'd like chromier units. Road movement is clear and cool. A couple plays with 1.3 led to Saracen blowouts, and a long languish on a shelf until it was finally picked back up in November 2009 with 1.4. Rules were quite readable although a few seemingly common situations were unclear (e.g. knight's charge while defending a castle storm). Mud is just potentially huge and scares off already-tough sieges. Seems to me that unless the Saracens cause a lot of early bloodshed the game is in for more turtling than tactics, followed by a gamey all-or-nothing on the final round. I think the Frank outlook has improved considerably with the latest rules revision, but I'd like to see tighter rules and a more flexible endgame.
AvramL
Rating: 8
Solid system, interesting strategic situation (far more so than hammer of the scots). Neither player (especially the Franks) can be strong everywhere and the map provides for a good number of options and possibilities. Road based movement is superior to HOTS's area based movement.

The Saracen bias seems to have been fixed by updated rules and revelations in strategy.

The Franks must preserve their forces in the early game and moving Guy into Tripoli is a good idea.

The Saracens on the other hand need to get out of the gate quickly, seize an objective or two and then use their harrying ability to full effect in order to tie up and attrit the Franks.
Count Von Luckner
Rating: 8
Wonderful block game. Enjoy this one as much as Hammer of the Scots. There's always a tension to game play.
Cleitus the Black
Rating: 8
2nd edition. Excellent game, very asymetric. The Franks (Crusaders) spend a few years just hanging on, them the Crusaders arrive and its much more even - but usually by then one of the Victory Cities has fallen to the Saracens and the Franks need to attack.
benjak
Rating: 8
Fun if unbalanced (against the Franks) during the first few iterations of the rules. Finally managed to score a win with the Franks with ver. 1.4. I'll have to play a few more games to see if the balance issues have finally been fixed.
Arkobla Conn
Rating: 8
Solid...if challenging block game set in the crusades. We think the Saladin forces are easier to play
christopherfritel
Rating: 8
2, 180
Con Man
Rating: 8
Playing the Franks is quite challenging. You've gotta have the fortitude to take it. I like the pain. Dice rolls and more importantly card draws have to go the Franks way in order for them to have a chance. Its not LUCK...its God's will. But, you do have to back up the good fortune by making the right tactical decisions.
Playing the Sarecens is fun because you have a lot of advantages and a lot of room to manuever. Wreckless play will get you in trouble though.
chriswtham
Rating: 7.75
Played 1.0 twice. Only 1st turns of each as the game seemed totally against Franks

Then played 1.4 twice but also only 1st turn as Franks conceded 1st game and on 2nd game we thought it looked like it would be turtling all game long.

Would like to try 2.0
asimpkins
Rating: 7.5
I loved Hammer of the Scots, and this is an interesting continuation of that type of game with some new mechanisms to represent a different scenario.

With only a few plays we've had a hard time figuring out how to play effectively with the Crusaders. I believe it's possible, but it hasn't clicked yet. When it does, I suspect that this rating will rise.
Bundyman
Rating: 7.5
Print and play self made block game. For the templars! I think we played that wrong, because we had only the english rules and not properly firmly with this new words. Many questions in our 1st game? Read the FAQs!
2nd game: I lost with the Franks in 1190 6 to 1 and showed the white flag. Needs a 3rd play......
boneroller
Rating: 7.5
A very enjoyable romp into the battlefields of the 3rd Crusades.
Admiral Fisher
Rating: 7.25
This rating may go up or down on extra plays...I've only played once so far.

This is a good and enjoyable game with a lot of things to recommend it. However, I did find there were quite a few rules questions that weren't covered by the existing text and needed intuition to answer. Usually, concise rules are a good thing, but here I feel more examples of play and some FAQ-type solvers would have been a VERY good thing. I would advise Columbia to add extra detail into the next printed set of rules - probably mostly as an add-on section rather than within the main text.

The Wintering rules made for a much slower game than I imagined...somewhat like Wilderness War - but this is both less complicated and sophisticated than that game. The latest rule changes certainly help to balance the game - I wouldn't say that the Saracens have a big advantage as Winter is more of a problem for them, and pieces for both sides come onto the board quicker now. There can be a lot of die rolling, but I personally don't object to that.

So far, I'd say it was fun and good but not a classic. It does benefit from being on a theme that is interesting and little visited. As I get to know the game, my opinion may change.
Andy Parsons
Rating: 7
First impressions of Crusader Rex were not good; on reading the rules it seemed like a Hammer of the Scots clone with a long, thin map familiar from Liberty. In fact, it plays quite differently.

In HotS the situation too often resolves into the Scots in the Highlands and the English in the lowlands, fighting over a few areas in the middle. In Crusader Rex forces and victory areas are spread right across the map. This makes it a strategically more interesting game. The constant challenge for both sides is to concentrate sufficient force in one place. The Frankish charges, Saracen harrying and the sieges also give the gameplay a distinctive flavour. Using the version 1.4 rules, it seems, on early acquaintance, a well-balanced game.

There are a few negatives. As many others have commented, the map is too small, with stacks of blocks obscuring key information. As ever, Columbia has been miserly with markers. Something flippable to show a siege in its first turn and beyond would have been helpful. Considering that we're on the fourth published draft of the rules, it is inexcusable that they are still full of holes and ambiguities. Finally, after carefully conserving forces throughout the game, the final turn no-tomorrow assaults are a jarring bum note.

Far from perfect then, but quite enjoyable.
adalbert
Rating: 7
I own this game only because I got it as a gift; otherwise would never buy it - horribly overpriced.

like the theme a lot; the mechanics are simple (although the rules are a bit unclear/snippy at times).
alexisW
Rating: 7
Beautiful components. Fantastic background. Game play being dice dependent is still the limiting factor in realism and historical accuracy.

Nevertheless, a fun game that is a cut above other average Wargames.
andrewhodkinson
Rating: 7
Block
Arbuthnot
Rating: 7
Played a few times.
Artaxerxes
Rating: 7
Crusader Rex is the only block game I have ever played. I don't know why I waited so long to try one- I've been wargaming since 1980! It certainly is a lot of fun, even if the amount of dice rolling required to resolve battles seemed excessive at first. The wristage is acceptable, though, because the number of battles that occur during a game is relatively small.
Arteusz
Rating: 7
The small board.
barbarigo
Rating: 7
In my humble opinion it is not balanced enough. If the crusader-player cannot land its troops due to lack of fortunate dices, he is very basically screwed. The muslim-player can on the other hand easily concentrate its forces and remove one enemy strongpoint after the other in a very short time (if like in my case the crusader-dices are cursed!!!). Very slim rulebook that leaves to many questions that arise during gameplay unanswered. You need support to clear that. Would I buy it again? Yes absolutely!
bazzer52
Rating: 7
First play, slightly (only very slightly) more complexity than HOS, R3 or Julius Caesar. Seems that dogged defence is Franks only policy which clouded my rating. More plays needed though as Knights Charge only used in latter game and Saracens made a mistake leaving Egypt.
Benjaminviking
Rating: 7
Asked for and received this offering for Christmas, as I like Hammer of the Scots so well. I've only gotten to play it once, but the learning curve was much easier being already familiar with HotS. Fortunately it's its own creature, but because I've only played it once, I haven't figured out the best stragegies yet. My rating may change as more plays are experienced. [Gift]
bigchief
Rating: 7
Had fun during my one play.
BillJ1967
Rating: 7
Great game! Columbia games should just *STOP* making games with hexagons, and concentrate on games with point-to-point or area control games. Hammer of the Scots, Napoleon, and Crusader Rex are all classics! Bobby Lee, Sam Grant, and Athens & Sparta are not.

Crusader Rex is a finely balanced game, with tough decision making, and dramatic conflict. What more could a wargamer want?!?

Edit (2 years later): Except more balance. I find it too easy for the Saracen player to adopt a strategy where a slow crawl virtually guarantees a win.
billweis
Rating: 7
Too difficult for the Franks. Maybe there is a required strategy to play, but short of the designer telling you how to play both sides, I don't see it. Even if the Franks run away for 2 years to minimize units added to the pool, the odds of winning still seem heavily against them. The game needs more balance, either for a victory condition, or unit entry.
Update: Played with the new 1.4 rules. They have many good modifications, and I have played a couple of times. I still have repeatedly won with the Sarecens but the games have been much closer and much more enjoyable. Rating bumped up from 4 to 7.
Cathan
Rating: 7
Rating is based on one play. Another interesting block game. A bit more involved than Hammer of the Scots. It's also a bit more difficult to play via Vassal with the point-to-point movement system. Areas can get crowded.
chargetheguns
Rating: 7
Nice game with only a few vague areas still in the rules (1.4). A bit too long for what it is.
chuffymonkey
Rating: 7
Typically spare Columbia offering, with a chess like feel as Crusaders and Saracens contest a thin strip of land, dotted with strongholds. Few pieces, minimal cards, but lots to think about, and just enough chrome to give it an authentic feel
Corbeau
Rating: 7
Superb game. The fog of war aspect is not as pronounced as it is in something like Wizard Kings, but the whole game meshes extremely well. I have no complaints about gameplay whatsoever. The game is a bit expensive considering the components, but in return you get one of the best designed wargames that I've ever seen.
crowleyhammer
Rating: 7
A fantastic game by Columbia Games, a relatively quick game (under 3 hours) with lots of decisions and uncertainty, and more importantly is just plain FUN.
Cruelsader
Rating: 7
Initial impression after 3 plays (rating 7) The map looks good although it is a bit too small to my taste. Rules are streamlined but perhaps too much: many rules remain ambiguous.
ctalbot
Rating: 7
Dec. 16, 2009 -- Two plays in, and aside from some errors with the rules on the first play, I have to say I enjoyed the game. The strategy eludes me, and it showed in my shameful losses, but I like the way the game works. The fog of war is a nice touch, and the movement of pieces feels almost chess-like in nature. I think with some more time, I could really get into block games. 7/10
Cthulhu1
Rating: 7
Best enjoyed while watching Kingdom of Heaven. :)
adalbert
Rating: 7
My first block wargame and I own it only because I got it as a gift; otherwise would never buy it - horribly overpriced.

Like the theme a lot; the mechanics are simple (although the rules are a bit unclear/snippy at times).
airjudden
Rating: 7
I haven't formed a final opinion on this, but I think the 2.1 rules were a step in the right direction. 1.4 was too imbalanced. I was impressed with the little bit of 2.1 that I did get to play.
4characters
Rating: 7
A light enjoyable game with some interesting mechanics, takes a little long to play for what it is, the components are atrocious for the price of this game.
agripa
Rating: 7
The operational nature (movement point to point) of this game, makes it one of my favorites of the Columbia block games.
The combat it's the classic a-b-c-d. But then you have sieges, herrasing mounted archers and Knight Charges!
The timely arrival (or not) of the Frank reinforcements brings a Fun strain to the playing of this title.
_________________//__________________
2016.03
Down the rating to 7
Played several games with the new version of the rules.
The previous winter supply version was not good because allowed the unhistorical maintenance of great armies, BUT... the new winter supply restritions are too severe to the Franks/crusaders and IMO umbalances the
gameplay.
The Crusaders should be able to duplicate the winter quarters in coastal cities.
The new siege/assault rules are a improvement and now it makes much more sense to close inside the castles.

Columbia continues to maintain the enervating policy of sending to the market unduly developed games and putting customers as playtesters.
Playing time: 2-3 hours


bigwhipper
Rating: 6.5
Only a couple of plays so far, but need to figure out how to balance this one before I play much more.
cosarara
Rating: 6.5
I had some fun with Crusader Rex but it comes from the fact that I'm an huge outremer fan, and the only game on the subject (barring crusades I and II) was Crusades from Berg and S&T memory.
The game will be a success for the fans of the block system out there but I found major problems in the realm of simulating the period and the wristage needed in order to play.
Binars
Rating: 6
I guess I just dont get block games. Its ok but it didnt blow me away like all the block hype would have you believe. Think Stratego but you roll the number on the shield and shields can gang up. Thats the game. Simple and concise. Thats why its such a hit. Totally pasted on themes with some historical placements. The game is just a math equation like similar typical euro fashions.
Arctic Jack
Rating: 6
I've only played two, half games so far so this is just previsional. After buying this off the back of Hammer of the Scots it was a little bit of a disappointment. While I was considering this as an addition, I thought 'seiges, knight charges, muster, harry' great! But after playing, they seemed more hassle than they were worth.

This was probably just me and my opponents bad tactics but all our men were just camped in the victory points cities most of the game and just slugging it out between them. It seemed less tactical than Hammer of the Scots. I really do need to get some plays of this under my belt, because after reading all the reviews and having played it I know it has potential. It's hard to stop reaching for Hammer of the Scots though.

Update: I never really got to grips with this game or had enough motivation to get this to the table. Hammer of the Scots was just too easy to reach for when looking for a simple two player war game. Sold it.
Chris Barnard
Rating: 6
Similar to Hammer of the Scots but played on a very broad front with many options rather than being forced to follow the same repetitive strategy of channelling troops northwards from the border. It still has the 'wintering' problem that means that only 4 out of 6 cards tend to be played trying to expand your territory before you need to start thinking about getting all your forces back home again. The map needs be to bigger. Even a small force obscures the connections. The rules are quite short but didn't answer several questions that cropped up during play.
cadavaca
Rating: 6
As of yet, the Franks appear to have no chance. Once a viable strategy for them is found I'm sure this game will become more fun. In its favor, I'm still willing to give it that chance.
Bobby Tweaks
Rating: 6
Update: This game was my favorite of the Columbia block games until Richard the III came out. It tends to be a bit longer than some others like Hammer or Liberty but it works well with the new 1.4 rules. I can't what till the WBC's picks this one up.

Update: 1.4 rules changed the way Siege Combat works from 1.3. I don't know why but it favors the Saracen player. I play Crusader using 1.3 Combat rules where Siege is handled round by round upto 3 rounds total.

Updated: play tested some 2.0 rule changes. Promising changes that add balance and new dynamics. So far so good.

Final update: 2nd edition sucks. It may be more historically accurate but game play is more scripted and less fun. Waiting for crusaders and moving each block per AP, come on Columbia! Seige attrition plus event card rip-offs from J.C. You botched it, admit it!
Chris Barnard
Rating: 6
Similar to Hammer of the Scots but played on a very broad front with many options rather than being forced to follow the same repetitive strategy of channelling troops northwards from the border. The map needs be to bigger (even a small force obscures the connections) and in my opinion, a nice solid board.
Chrisrob
Rating: 6
This was the first "block system game" I have every played. It was easy to play once I got the concept.

I got lucky and was able to win the game early before the end of the third year (of six years) playing the Saracens. Playing the Franks I was able to build an advantage over time before we folded in the fourth year.
BillSkulley
Rating: 6
One play only, so this is kind of a "placeholder" rating. 1.4 Ruleset, I was Saracen, and despite hearing about how rough it is for the Franks, I lost. After the game, I could see tactical errors I made along the way but am not sure how I lost, or more accurately, how I could have won. So far, unimpressed.
4characters
Rating: 6
A light enjoyable game with some interesting mechanics, takes a little long to play for what it is, the components are atrocious for the price of this game.
aro246
Rating: 6
Didn't like the siege rules.

They make the combat rules more complicated than a typical Columbia block games to the point of me wanting to pull any other title from the shelves whenever the block game itch starts to scratch (Hammer, Richard, Julius).

charlesf
Rating: 5.5
[14/10/2006] I have to say I firmly belong into the Hammer of the Scots 'camp'. Crusader Rex (v1.4) suffers IMO under the following:

- Less tight resources (moves, block draws, replacement points) compared to Hammer of the Scots.
- Problematic victory conditions: They encourage a gamey endgame and the end-of-the-world syndrome.
- Both of the above factors also ensure that ordinary castles do not get their due in terms of their strategic importance. A shame since had they more of a strategic role, the game would IMO gain a lot more strategic depth. This would also make the trade-off between spreading out or concentrating one's forces a lot more balanced (which it is not presently, particularly in the endgame).

I really like the basic mechanics. CR offers more room for manoeuvre warfare compared to HotS. Battles and sieges are well-implemented. It's the logistical/economic aspects and the victory conditions, which I deem problematic.
Benzebub
Rating: 5
2P
cadavaca
Rating: 5
As of yet, the Franks appear to have no chance. Once a viable strategy for them is found I'm sure this game will become more fun. In its favor, I'm still willing to give it that chance.
benhackman
Rating: 5
Oct 2011. Lowered rating from 9 to 5 due to poor 2nd ed rules that turn a great game into an average game. Obvious that Columbia fiddled with rules right up to last minute, so you can be sure the final version was not play tested. Instead, they decided what final tweaks they felt were needed, made them w/o further testing, and went "final." (At least sure looks that way.) Result, in their haste to publish they did bad things at last minute for what they thought were right reasons--with predictable results. And rules still untidy. Sad, because it could have been a "10." Several of us already developing "House Rules" to "fix" game. Keys: (1) Crusaders deploy 1 per group, not 1 per block. (2) Restore Knight's Charge. (3) Set up WITHIN kingdoms, otherwise Franks can, and will, abandon Antioch.(4) Initiative ties to Saracen until 1st Crusader group arrives, then Franks. (5) Toss "Intrigue" card, because it's stupid. (6) Initial Saracen draw back to 6. Also considering following: make Jerusalem worth 3 points--because that's what the Crusades were all about, and since Saracens cannot take Tripoli now that it can be resupplied by sea, meaning Saracens must take 4 of remaining 6 Victory Cities to win. If Jerusalem 3 points, then Saracens can win 5-4 by taking Jerusalem (as they did historically) plus 2. Also Jerusalem would be an "open city," providing winter replacements to whichever side holds. After all, Jerusalem was a holy city to both.
===============

Fascinating, decision-rich play. Once balance issues sorted out (Columbia never gets it right on 1st try, and sometimes 2nd, too). I think they over-corrected in favor of Franks. Original rules + knights charge + free arrival of crusader groups was all that was necessary. Now, too hard for Saracen to winter in towns in his own country. Maybe Columbia will tinker with it again. Still a great, meaty, block game. Cerebral Hammer.
Charles Vasey
Rating: 5
The original game did not work, but the team are building it back. I hope in due course to revise the rating.
BradyLS
Rating: 5
Tense block game covering the 3rd Crusades. European knights try desperately to maintain their tenuous hold on the Holy Lands while the Saracens attempt to create a breach in the network of Crusader forts to exploit. Some fiddlyness in the combat, movement, and reinforcement systems makes this game a bit heavy to even experienced wargamers, but reinforces the theme and makes the game richer for the trouble. After a couple plays, (especially with the latest "living rules",) fans of the system and era should be able to knock out games quickly. Of all the block games I've played, it bears a close situational feel to '1812'. Add 1 or 2 points if you're a fan of block games.
BotD
Rating: 5
I couldn't really get into this game. Why would I play this when Rommel in the Desert is a far superior wargame specimen of the same length (maybe denser rules)?

I cannot express much fondness for the point to point movement or the campaign cards (seem like an attempt at mixing in CDG wargame). The tactical positioning is one of my favorite parts of most wargames and this game doesn't really have any of it.

However that is not my main complaint. Instead, I severely dislike the game dynamics. Saracens are quite powerful at first which encourages the Franks to bottle up. The game basically comes down to the Franks trying to hold onto as many VPs as possible until they are strong enough to counterattack and hopefully grab the VPs needed to win before the game is over.

Therefore, in my 5 games (mostly as the Franks), the Frank player sits around burning cards to do nothing. Then, neither player enjoying themselves too much takes stock of how many VPs the Franks have and their forces and one player concedes, i.e., I never actually get to do anything interesting.

Overall it just seemed like a pointless exercise in dice rolling since we don't see many alternate strategies and the tactical game is pretty tame.
alfredo lorente
Rating: 5
The new Columbia Games block war games trade elegance for cookie cutter design. Crusader Rex went through what amounts to a redesign, and while 1.4 is passable, it is not a great game. A pity, really, but them's the breaks.
Crangle
Rating: 5
I own the first edition, and despite it's reputation as a great game, I don't enjoy CR very much, and certainly not enough to plunk down the cash for an updated second edition.
chicagometh
Rating: 4.3
Let's just sit here doing absolutely nothing for the most part. When we do end up doing something, let's be at such a disadvantage that rolling gads and gads of dice won't even help. It's no wonder the Crusades took hundreds of years.
bazik123
Rating: 4
too bad I didn't try hammer of the scots instead of this, which I think I would like much more. a bit too heavy for the randomness included, you are forced to think over each move quite deeply for the game to have any sense. do not let people convince you to play the first game as the 'easier to play' arabs.
Contender
Rating: 4
Crusaders just turtle in their castles. Boring!
crazyyog
Rating: 3
If this game had not been published before it was properly playtested I would have given it a higher rating of a 7 or 8. The designers have listened to the input of their customers and have made changes to fix balancing issues, but this really ought to have been handled before it came to market.That said, I really do enjoy the game. This is a fairly easy wargame that gives you a lot of options to work with, so there is replay value here. It also can be played in a 2-3 hours which is a plus for any wargame. The theme of Third Crusades is also a plus in my book! I look forward to playing this again now with the new rules out.Update - maybe they listen to their customers too much. As of 7/24/06 there is yet another rule update to balance the game, as it is perceived to be uneven against the Franks. Come on Columbia games get with it! I spend my hard earned money to buy a finished product and not to be the testing grounds for what is looking more and more like a product still in the beta stage! Thus my rating is going down again...
Beyak
Rating: 3
I wanted to love this game. The subject matter intrigued me and I am generally fond of block games. That being said, I was completely underwhelmed by the effort Jerry Taylor and Columbia games put into this game. The game felt very incomplete. We had to pretty much guess at a number of the rules because they were not well defined in the rulebook. I think we played the game correctly but I have a nagging feeling that maybe we misinterpreted something.

Overall the game seemed fairly good but the experience of learning it with that set of rules was frustrating. I am actually amazed at the amount of critical acclaim this title has received. If Hammer of the Scots is anything like this I will avoid buying it until I know it has a rule set that is more or less water tight. The same goes for anything designed by Jerry Taylor.
colleens
Rating: 3
unbalanced.
Bill Romaniecki
Rating: 2
My favorite game company stumbles badly.

Columbia's habit of devoting their full attention to final development only shortly before publication resulted in a product with serious play balance issues. Last minute changes cannot be adequately tested. Basic features such as the style of map (hex or area) are often not set with only a month or two left before production.

Columbia's last two new games, Crusader Rex and Gettysburg, have both required post publication changes in order to make them playable. While this may be acceptable to fans of Columbia's games, it is not acceptable to casual or first time buyers.

Potential buyers of new Columbia games are better off waiting six to tweleve months for the inevitable post publication changes required to polish and finish the game.

More than three months after publication
the game is still undergoing final development. Totally unacceptable that earns the game a "1" rating.

706/06 Note: A revised rulebook supposedly correcting play balance issues was published. The game is more of an alternate history than a game of the actual campaign.

AlexL
Rating: -
Impulse buy. Didn't actually manage to play it, so it's gone to a good home.
armadaman
Rating: -
Second Ediiton; new, in original shrink-wrap.
BanjosAreLoud
Rating: -
I like it. hard to get into, but once you do, it has a nice arc.
booned
Rating: -
I guess the hard thing for a lot of people to accept is why God would allow me to go running through their yards, yelling and spinning around.

- JH
Cosmid
Rating: -
Only want 2nd edition in trade
armadaman
Rating: -
Only want second edition (2011+)
aro246
Rating: -
Didn't like the siege rules.

They make the combat rules more complicated than a typical Columbia block games to the point of me wanting to pull any other title from the shelves whenever the block game itch starts to scratch (Hammer, Richard, Julius).

Basto
Rating: -
Components flimsy, but functional.
CondorTheMerciless
Rating: -
Primarily want the revised second edition version.
CMOT Dibbler
Rating: -
Despite the fact that the changed rules make it more balance, I miss the tactical options that the original version of the rules had (such as two different scores for Saracen's Horse Archers, and different rules for the Frankish Knights). As a result, my interest in this game has dropped like a stone.
7downup
Rating: -
Mint condition; still in shrink wrap
alkaiser
Rating: -
Be sure to use the latest ruleset (v.1.4).
aPilgrim
Rating: -
[2]
caublbil
Rating: -
I own the 2nd edition of the game.
boomman72
Rating: -
$35

No Shrink, Stickered, Never played.
booned
Rating: -
I guess the hard thing for a lot of people to accept is why God would allow me to go running through their yards, yelling and spinning around.
clawlan
Rating: -
Wanting 2nd edition with mounted map
biggdork
Rating: -
Just got it, looking forward to playing it, but it is missing the assassin block, so that is one minor strike against it.
Bulwyf
Rating: -
Haven't played it yet.
BobDodgerBlue
Rating: -
867
chocoworm
Rating: -
2판으로 맵이 일신되었다. 제3차 십자군 시대를 배경으로 한 게임이다. 얘길 들어보면 해머오브스캇보다 좀더 룰이 간편해 졌다는데, 한글룰북이 없어서 고민중이다.
charshep
Rating: -
Played at ConquestNW 08
BloodyGhost
Rating: -
First Edition, like new.
cannoneer
Rating: -
Too many balance issues addressed by seemingly-random rules changes. Not sufficiently playtested.
Amitar
Rating: -
First Edition
bbhalla
Rating: -
Homemade Upgrade Kit to 2nd edition