second chance games

Search This Website of delight

  Saladin by Shakos Games  His correct name is Al-Nasir Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub, but we in the West know him as just Salah ad-Din or Sa...

Saladin by Shakos Games Saladin by Shakos Games

Saladin by Shakos Games

Saladin by Shakos Games



Shakos Games

 His correct name is Al-Nasir Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub, but we in the West know him as just Salah ad-Din or Saladin. Once this brilliant man became leader of both Egypt and Syria, the Crusaders' days in Outremer were numbered. In fact, after he took back Jerusalem, the Crusaders were left with only a small strip of land on the coast. One of the reasons that the Crusaders had been as successful as they had was because the potentates of Egypt and Syria were mostly busy fighting each other (sometimes with Crusader help), instead of the Crusaders. The three way power structure helped the nascent Crusader Kingdoms when they needed it most.

 This is a brand new series by Shakos Games. So, I will let them speak for themselves about it:

"This series will present for each opus a legendary medieval leader and two battles highlighting them. Saladin, first opus in the series, is a game intended to recreate the famous battles of Hattin and Arsuf where Saladin was opposed to the crusaders troops of Guy de Lusignan and then those of Richard the Lionheart. In Saladin take over one of the armies that fought each other. Order your horsemen to harass the crusaders ranks or launch a devastating charge with your heavily armored knights. Saladin is an epic game designed for history and strategy fans.

Will you be able to lead your men to victory ?

Saladin is a historical wargame for 2 players. Having chosen one of the two battle scenarios and set up the game, each player, in turn, will order one of their Banner. They will make them fight in order to disorganize those of their opponent. For this it will be necessary to spend Order tokens, the number of which will decrease at the beginning of each turn. The player who will manage to preserve the cohesion of their troops by retaining the precious Order tokens will be declared the winner."

Arsuf Map

Hattin Map

 The box it self is a small one. It measures roughly 9"x7". You know what they say about small packages. Let us see what comes in the box:

 1 Double Sided Mapboard
 28 Banner Cards - 14 for both the Ayyubids and Crusaders
 4 Leader Cards - 2 for each Battle
 115 Wooden Bars (Lances) - 59 for the Ayyubids, and 56 for the Crusaders
 26 Wooden Order Tokens - 13 for each side
 1 Shield Wall Marker for the Crusaders
 1 Fire Wall Marker for the Ayyubids (for the Hattin scenario)
 6 Combat Die - 3 for each side
 1 Rulebook


 The mounted mapboard is 11 3/4"x16 1/2", give or take. As you can see, the mapboards are a bit busy looking. The scenes and terrain are done in a pseudo-medieval looking style. However, given the style of the game it works quite well. The wooden tokens are well done and look uniform. The cards are very large at 2 3/4"x4 3/4". The Leader Cards are very nicely done, and have a picture of each leader on one side. The Rulebook is twenty-three pages long and is extremely colorful and easy to follow. 

 "The Sequence of Play:

A turn is divided into four phases:

• Chaos

• Initiative

• Activation

• Redeployement


Starting with the player with the initiative, players will chain activation in turn or pass. A player can pass only if all their Banners and Leader cards are on their Ordered side. A player who has passed can no longer take activation, their opponent will then be able to perform several successive activation until they pass. Upon activation, the player activates a Banner or their Leader.

Activating a Leader

By activating a Banner the player must in order:

1. Choose an Action on their selected Banner card.

2. Spend the necessary Orders.

3. Choose a valid target for this Action.

4. Ask if the targeted Banner performs a Reaction, if possible. In this case solve the effects of the Reaction and proceed to step 7. A Banner that performs a Reaction remains on its Deployed side.

5. Simultaneously apply the effects of the Action to the targeted Banner and the acting Banner by rolling the indicated Combat dice if needed.

6. Move the Lances on the game board if there is a status change of the Banner.

7. Turn the Banner card on its Ordered side if it was on its Deployed side. Leave the card on its Ordered side if it was already on that side.

Activating a Leader

By activating a Leader the player must in order:

• Choose on their Leader card one of the available Actions.

• Apply the effects of the Action.

• Turn the Leader card on its Ordered side."

 Normally I have the ability to take longer with a game, for research and play, than I have had to inspect this one. This one is going into KickStarter in just a few weeks, so Shakos Games asked me to take a look at it before then. I was surprised at the size of the game, and the way Shakos games had implemented it. I had reviewed their Napoleon 1807 (link will be below), and I was very impressed with how they had combined the flash of a Euro game with a very deep wargame. So, I was expecting to find a large game with a lot of panache. However, I have learned not to judge a book by its cover, especially with wargames, so I dove right in. Saladin is very deceiving as a game. Its small footprint and setup makes you think that you are getting a simple beer & pretzels game. The game, in reality, is much more nuanced than that, and much deeper. It is simple enough for Shakos Games to tout it as a learning tool. They describe the game as follows:

"This game is designed to act as a fun and highly instructive working model of historical events. Engaging with the game will encourage any child to understand why certain important events occurred, as well as what may have happened if different decisions had been made. Easy rules and attractive components will help the younger player ease into the educational and sociable pastime of historical gaming. Enjoy the game!" 

 I really couldn't agree more. I love truth in advertising. Thank you Shakos Games for letting me take the game out for a spin.


Shakos Games:

Shakos | Historical board games


Saladin | Board Game | BoardGameGeek

My review of Napoleon 1807:

Napoleon 1807 La Campagne de Pologne by Shakos Games - A Wargamers Needful Things