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  Almoravid Reconquista and Riposte in Spain, 1085-1086 Levy & Campaign Series - Volume II by GMT Games   His name was Rodrigo Diaz de V...

Almoravid: Reconquista and Riposte in Spain, 1085-1086 by GMT Games Almoravid: Reconquista and Riposte in Spain, 1085-1086  by GMT Games

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Reconquista and Riposte in Spain, 1085-1086

Levy & Campaign Series - Volume II


GMT Games

  His name was Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, we know him as El Cid. He was given the moniker Al-Sid by the Spanish Moors. It morphed into El Cid, meaning 'The Lord'. The Spanish knew him as 'El Campeador 'The Champion'. What I knew about him for a long time was derived from the 1961 movie El Cid. First things first, he did not resemble Charlton Heston in any way. I must admit to be sorely lacking in Spanish history during the Moors or the Reconquista. I was under the impression that he was from a later century than the Almoravid game is based in. So, I was a little bummed out to find the actual time the game portrays. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the mighty El Cid was actually in the game, and my timeline for his life was completely wrong. I have tried to play the game using a profile look like Heston, much like John Barrymore, but my attempts were futile. You cannot really see the board and my nose was not meant for it. So, just like any good wargamer, at least I hope, my job was to read as much as I could about the times portrayed in the game. As usual fiction beats the cold light of history by a mile, although it is not always the case.

 This is GMT's writeup about the game:

"Al-Andalus, 1085. The western jewel of Islam had broken into pieces. The petty Taifa emirs who inherited the once-mighty Caliphate squabbled and fought, then paid the Christian lords Parias in gold to avoid fighting at all. Alfonso VI, Christian king of a unified León and Castilla, could now put his extorted dinars to work. He would muster a great feudal host—not merely for plunder but to rip out the heart of Muslim Spain. He would seize the ancient Visigothic capital of Toledo and with it the great central plain to declare himself imperator of all Iberia.

But Alfonso would find there was fight left in al-Andalus, as Christian strikes radiating from Toledo were too much for even the emirs in their pleasure palaces to bear. Al‑Mutamid of Sevilla, the strongest among them, would risk the Taifa dynasties’ independence and call to arms a Muslim force unlike any that the Christian Kings had faced. Granada and Badajoz would join him to invite the Almoravid fundamentalists in to save the Muslim faithful. Yusuf, Sultan al‑Murabitun, had secured his Berber empire in Africa and seized a port and fleet just across the Mediterranean strait from al-Mutamid's Algeciras. A titanic campaign for Spain was set to unfold."

This was a promo picture that I just love

 This is what comes with the game:

A mounted game board 22" x 25 1/2" 

• Sixteen Lord cylinders (7 yellow, 9 green) 

• A Lords sticker sheet (apply to cylinders) 

• Sixteen Lord mats 

• One Battle/Storm mat 

• 78 Horse wedges (26 silver [Knights], 23 steel [Sergeants], 10 

blue [African Horse], 19 brown [Light Horse])

• 83 Foot bars (30 steel [Men-at-Arms], 14 blue [African Foot], 

33 brown [Militia], 6 tan [Serfs])

• Three sheets of markers and counters. 

• Four decks of playing cards (26 Christian and 26 Muslim Arts 

of War cards, 27 Christian and 33 Muslim Command cards)

• Two player aid foldouts (summarizing Sequence of Play, 

Commands, Forces, and Battles) 

• A Taifa Politics and Orientation Map reference sheet 

• Two screens 

• Six 6-sided dice (three yellow, three green) 

• A background booklet (not needed for play) 

• This rules booklet. 

Lord Mat

 This game was designed by Volko Ruhnke, who also designed Nevsky: Teutons and Rus in Collision, 1240-1242. That game took the wargaming world by storm when it was released. Sadly, I have not had the chance to play it. However, Almoravid is the second game in the 'Levy and Campaign Series'. It uses much of the same rules and playing as its older brother, but naturally has been fine tuned for this time period in the Iberian Peninsula.

One of many of the Player's Aids

 As mentioned, the map is mounted. However, that is just like saying the Mona Lisa has a frame around it. It is a beautiful pseudo-medieval map of some of the Iberian Peninsula. Movement on it is from point to point, but the points are mostly cities that are done in an elegant style. It looks like a map that might have come from an early edition of Lord of the Rings. The Lord Maps are like army holding boxes from other games. They look like oversized square coasters. They are not overly adorned, but work well with the other components. The four Decks of Cards do not have much art on them, but again work with the rest of the game parts. They are very easy to read and follow. There are three hard stock Player Aids. They are also in full color. Two are a four-page foldout for each player. One page is for Commands, and the others are for Forces, Strongholds, Battle & Storm, and the Sequence of Play. The third Player Aid has a map of the game to see where the Lords from both sides start on the map. The other side is for the Taifa Politics. The Rulebook is in full color and large type. It comes in at thirty-five pages. However, the rules themselves are only 23 pages long with the rest being the scenarios. There are five scenarios and the Campaign Game. The Background Book is worth its weight in gold. The first eighteen pages are filled with Examples of Play. From there until page forty-eight is a history of how the events came to pass. It also has small biographies of each of the Lords in the game. This part of the booklet is worth the price of admission alone. Then comes a separate write up for every one of the Arts of War Card deck. The counters are large sized and easy to read. They also seem tough enough to take a lot of game play. You do have to put sixteen stickers on their respective round Lord wooden pieces. GMT Games was very nice in adding another sixteen stickers as spares. The piece de resistance is the two-fold out screens for each player. The outside of the screens looks like a medieval tapestry. The inside has all of the different Lords on each side and their flags. The separate pieces are excellent, but the entire ensemble is wonderful to behold. You will be playing this game in style.

Picture of some of the Cards

 So as I mentioned, I had some reading to do before actually getting down to playing this game. It is absolutely essential for me to know the history behind the times/campaigns of the games I play. I want wargames to not only play well, but also to put the player into the shoes of the adversaries as much as possible. Nothing turns me off on a game more than feeling that you could put Cataphracts or Tanks on the map and it would feel the same. With this game we have nothing to worry about in that sense.

The Lords that play in the game

  This is the 'General Course of Play':

"In Almoravid, two players (or teams) take the roles of Christians (yellow) and Muslims (green), respectively. The Christian and Muslim sides are Enemy to one another. The Christians represent the rising kingdoms of northern Spain and their allies. The Muslims comprise the dynasties ruling a patchwork of Andalusian emirates and their allies, including an Islamic Berber army from Africa. 

In turns covering 40 days (a traditional period of military service), Christian and Muslim players will levy lords and vassal forces, gather transport, and recruit capabilities. Each lord’s forces and assets are laid out on a mat. The players then plan and command a 40-day campaign with their mustered lords. A cylinder on the map represents each lord, while markers on a calendar show how much time remains in the lords’ service, influenced by hunger, pay, and success or failure on campaign.

DESIGN NOTE: Christians and Muslims in medieval Iberia warred not only on each other but on their co-religionists. 

“Christian” and “Muslim” in this game refer to the player sides, even though each side features adherents of either religion."


 You will find a Sequence of Play on two of the Player Aid Cards:

 I never had the chance to play Nevsky, so I was a total tyro to the Levy & Campaign Series. I did not have any problem in learning the rules. It does have some rather simple game concepts. The problem I think people will have with the game is its adherence to history. This is a game where you have to think and play the long game. Getting your different Lords to do what you want is chief among your worries. The game is based on the medieval realities. You will need wagons and mules, and then sometimes when you have them your plan goes poof. The Taifa (Muslim Lord) Politics will also make you lose some hair. Do not get me wrong, these are all good if not excellent points in the games favor. If you are looking for a game that puts you in the shoes of a Lord in medieval times, look no further than this series. If you are looking for a game where you can do what you want with your pieces at any time, then look away. 

These are from the Vassal Module, but the game pieces look the same

 This game is another in a growing line of games that are a cross between a Euro game and a wargame. This does not mean that you get the worst of both parents. The DNA in these types of games seem to mesh only the good parts of both. So, you not only get a 'real' stimulating wargame. The game and its components are a sight to behold to old grognards eyes. Thank you very much GMT Games for letting me review this excellent game. Of course, I also have to thank you for once more giving me another chapter of history to read about. By the way, in reality El Cid was a mercenary who fought for both sides, and this is in the game.

 For those of you who are not aware these two Deluxe Editions of older games have been released by GMT Games:

Great Battles of Julius Caesar - This contains both 'Caesar: The Civil Wars, and 'Caesar: Conquest of Gaul'

Musket & Pike Dual Pack - This contains both 'This Accursed Civil War', and 'Sweden Fights On'


GMT Games:

GMT Games

Almoravid: Reconquista and Riposte in Spain, 1085-1086:

 GMT Games - Almoravid: Reconquista and Riposte in Spain, 1085-1086