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Onward Christian Soldiers (Ziplock)

DESIGNER Richard Berg
DEVELOPER Neil Randall
ART DIRECTOR Rodger B. MacGowan
CARD ART Mark Simonitch
MAP ART Mark Simonitch & Wayne Highland
COUNTERS Rodger B. MacGowan, Mark Simonitch, & Mike Lemick
PRODUCERS Gene Billingsley & Tony Curtis & Andy Lewis & Rodger B. MacGowan & Mark Simonitch
Price: $55.00


Onward, Christian Soldiers is Richard Berg's newest strategic level game, this one focused on one of, if not THE, centrifugal events in the Middle Ages - The Crusades. Onward, Christian Soldiers will allow gamers to replay not only the first three Crusades - the only 3 that focused on what we call The Middle East - but with scenarios that range from a 7-player version of the 1st Crusade to a 3rd Crusade scenario that supposes Frederick Barbarossa didn't drown in Turkey and his immense army reached the Kingdom of Jerusalem pretty much intact.

Onward, Christian Soldiers uses numerous innovative mechanics, including:

  • an Activation system that allows players to choose which leaders/armies they want to use most in a given turn, but not know when they will be available for such use.


  • a Movement system with no Movement Allowances or Costs, but a heavy emphasis on Attrition and the ability of commanders to "keep going". Shop 'til ya Drop . . .


  • Combat mechanics that put a major, detailed emphasis on sieges and ravaging the surrounding areas, but still allow for the predilections of the various armies in field battles (such as the famous Frankish Heavy Cavalry Charge), as well as the abilities of their commanders . . . men like the great initial Crusaders, such as Raymond, Bohemond, Godfrey and Tancred, King Louis VII of France (and his troublesome wife, the famous Eleanor of Aquitaine), Frederick Barbarossa (if he stays away from the pool), the dangerous Nur ad-Din, the magnificent Saladin, and the one Christian the Muslims feared more than anyone, Richard Lionheart.


  • Movement and attrition go hand in hand in this game. Leaders may move as far as they want -- in fact, in one playest, a Crusader army decided to try marching from the entry spaces near Tarsus all the way to Jerusalem in one shot. They made it, with roughly 3/4 of the force disappearing to attrition, and not enough remaining to siege the city. But even if they'd succeeded, the game doesn't end just because Jerusalem falls. It's an important victory point location, but it has to be held. And the problem for the Crusader forces is that they get no reinforcements but the Muslim forces do.


  • The game uses three sets of cards (110 cards total). Each of the four Crusader factions -- Northern Franks, Southern Franks, Sicilian Normans, Germans -- and three Muslim factions -- Nothern Syrians, Southern Syrians, Mosul Turks -- has three or four Leader cards, which the players secretly "purchase" at the beginning of the Game-Turn to create the Activation Deck that determines which leader goes next. In addition, there are two Event Decks - one for the Crusaders and one for the Muslims -- through which a variety of random events occur, ranging from taking cities via treachery to suffering added attrition through oppressive heat.


  • Normally, each Leader controls armies only from its own faction. However, a simple set of multi-faction rules controls situations in which either side wishes to combine their armies into larger forces, mostly for the sake of sieges against major cities. The Siege of Antioch, which usually happens early in the game, often requires such an army. The multi-faction rules particularly come into their own during multi-player games; here you can expect to see players bickering over who controls the combined forces, an important point considering that whoever is in charge when the city falls gains control over the city. If attacked while combined, the players of a multi-faction force have 30 seconds to decide who's in charge: if they don't, they defend using a mediocre formation.
    If this game proves popular with our customers, Richard will continue design work on a new series of games under the flag, "The Middle Ages". This project will present play-oriented coverage of half a millennium of the key events in world history … from Charlemagne to The 100 Years Wars; from The Reconquista to Tamerlane; from The Vikings to The Normans.
    COUNTERS 876 full color counters
    MAP One 22"x34" full-color map
    CARDS 110 Cards
    • Two six-sided dice
    • First Crusade Rule book
    • Second and Third Crusade Rule book
    • Playbook
    • 4 Player Aid cards
    Designed by Richard Berg  and Developed by Neil Randall.

  • Customer Reviews
    # of Ratings: 11
    1. on 11/18/2012, said:
    Was looking for something of an update of SPI's 'The Crusades.' This game fits the bill. The rules are what I expect from a Berg game as he has tendency to roll-on with his designs. Topic is welcomed and playing with another that is also interested in this history makes for a fine day of gaming. The First Crusade game definitely rises to the top though the 2nd and 3rd Crusades can be interesting.
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    (3 people found this comment helpful, 1 did not)
    2. on 11/27/2009, said:
    My gaming group likes this game. The time period is very interesting and the variable initiative gives it lots of flavor. The one "Big" draw back is the confusing rule books. They were clearly not proof read well as they contain numerous spelling and syntax errors. The rules also fail to clearly explain certain aspects of the game. Only through some long game sessions were we able to figure out what was being explained. We do like the game and plan on playing it for a long time to come.
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    3. on 11/8/2008, said:
    great game. maybe a little bit "tangled" rules, but a very welcomed issue
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    4. on 9/1/2008, said:
    I like the subject matter and the game looks very good, but the rulebook is pretty darn confusing. Where are the living rules that were promised!
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    5. on 5/9/2008, said:
    Rulebook difficult to understand and living rules that were promised still not posted. disappointing
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    (1 people found this comment helpful, 3 did not)
    6. on 10/15/2007, said:
    Berg hits another home run! It's an interesting subject and this game makes for interesting play.
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    (1 people found this comment helpful, 4 did not)
    7. on 9/25/2007, said:
    Another great title from Richard Berg and Neil Randall. This game scales well from 2-7 players and is certainly an interesting game.
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    (4 people found this comment helpful, 4 did not)
    Showing comments 1-7 of 7