Crusader Rex Review

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Crusader Rex is a game by Tom Dalgliesh and Jerry Taylor, published by Columbia Games. It is for 2 players. In this game, players will be taking control of the Franks and the Saracens during the Third Crusade in 1187. They will be trying to control a majority of the 7 Victory Cities. The player that can either control these 7 cities or that controls the most after 6 years in game time, will be declared the winner.

To begin, each player chooses a side. The Frank player takes the orange blocks and the Saracen players takes the green ones. The black assassin block is placed in Masyaf. It is used once the Assassin event card is played. The map is placed between the players. Both players deploy their starting units on the map at either their named seat or at an alternate one. 12 remaining blocks on each side are placed face down as a draw pool for their respective players. All the cards are shuffled and placed face down in a stack. Play now begins.

The game is played over 6 years. Each year of play has 6 game turns, those turns have four phases each. The phases are played in order. They are the Card Phase, Move Phase, Battle Phase and Draw Phase. To begin a new year, each player is dealt 6 cards. In the card phase, both players play a card face down. The cards are then revealed and the higher card’s player is the first player. The cards are either move cards that allow the player to move their units or are event cards that give special actions.

The next phase is the move phase. In this phase each player uses any move cards that they played in the previous phase to move some or all of their units. Units can only be moved once during each movement phase. They also must adhere to road limits as well as group movement rules. Once the first player has made all of their movements, the other player makes their movements.

The next phase is the battle phase. When enemy units are located in the same town, battles occur. These are resolved in a one by one basis. Before battle begins, the defender decides where they would like to deploy any units. Battles are fought over a maximum of 3 rounds. Afterwards any attackers left must retreat if there are any defenders left. Combat is resolved by rolling dice equal to the units current strength. Any rolls equal to or lower than the opposing units combat rating scores a hit. Hits are applied to the strongest enemy unit. There are also special rules for charging, harrying and reinforcement.

There’s a very detailed explanation about siege combat that I won’t get into detail about here. The main thing to note about sieges is that it can last longer than 3 combat rounds.

Once combat is over, the draw phase occurs. In this phase, each player draws a block from their pool. This doesn’t occur on the first year of play or during the Winter Turn. The Winter Turn is when the final card for that year is played. It’s used to move units to their winter quarters. Once the Winter Turn is over, the year advances. Any units face up in the draw pool are turned back over. All the cards are reshuffled and placed back in the deck. New hands of 6 cards are dealt to each player and the new year starts. Once a player controls all 7 victory cities the game is over and that player is the winner. Alternatively if no winner has been decided before the end of the sixth year, the player with the majority of the victory cities at this point is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
This game has a lot of really great pieces to it. There are lots of really bright colored wooden blocks. These are your different units and each one must be stickered. This takes awhile to do but is kinda fun. I don’t know why. The artwork is comprised mostly of shields and crests. It’s very much historically accurate. The maps are rather thin and made of cardboard but they lay flat on the table really well. I’d really have liked there to be thicker maps but it would have made things a pain to deal with. The dice are your standard set of dice. Nothing out of the ordinary here. The cards are very beautiful and look as if they were pulled straight from a stain glass window. I really love the beauty of these cards and think they’re really great looking. The cards are really sturdy and are shuffled really easily. All in all, I like everything that’s included and think that you definitely get a quality product.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook is really nice. It has a lot of historical references all along the right side of the book. There are a few pictures through it. Everything is really easy to read and understand. There’s quite a bit of information to take in but it isn’t that bad. Everything is explained really well including how to read the blocks. All in all, the rules are well made and look really great.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a really great game. It takes awhile to play but is full of great historical battles. The block mechanic is really well done in this game just like in all the other Columbia Games products. The siege combat is a little bit intimidating at first but is easily navigated with the use of the rules. There’s definitely quite a bit to keep up with. The theme of the Crusades is prevalent throughout the game. It’s definitely a very historic game. This game has a rather long play time but don’t let that deter you from what is a really magnificent game. You really have to keep an eye on where the other player is moving their units and try your best to keep them out of those victory cities. I really like playing this and will definitely be playing it again.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Crusader Rex is a medium to light heavy weight war game of historic conflict. The components are really great and the artwork is really amazing looking. There’s a lot to soak in for this game. The theme is very accurate and is prevalent through the whole game. This is a great game for fans of historical games or war games. I highly recommend this for those players. It’s a little bit intimidating to learn but with a little patience it can be understood. It’s a bit long but as far as war games go, it’s pretty much the norm. New players may want to ease their way into this game by trying out one of the easier accessible games first like Julius Caesar. Veterans should have no problems at all though. If block war games interest you, this will definitely get your blood pumping. Give it a try.
9 out of 10

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For more information about this and other great games, please check out Columbia Games at their site.

http://columbiagames.com

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About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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