I wargame this period specifically because of the great wargame rules I’ve found for it: Ironbow, produced by the always-wonderful Perfect Captain.
When using generic rules like DBA the crusades seem to me to be a quite boring period, slow but powerful knights versus fast but gentle horse archers. But maybe this is because I’m comparing them to a ruleset that has lots of historical flavour and detail. Ironbow is pretty easy to learn, and yet, it has so much historical detail. Different armies have different army morale, different troops react differently to different threats and fight differently against mounted or dismounted enemies. European knights are prone to charge any enemy horse archers that shoot at them, with or without orders. Crusaders who have been in the Levant a little longer tend to be a bit more disciplined.
But I also enjoy the period for it’s own attractions- the fading and then resurgant and then fading again Byzantine empire (which was essentially the Roman empire relocated to the East), the doughty underdog Armenians, the all-powerful Crusader fighting monks, and the deceptively dangerous Muslim horse archers.
The Byzantines, Armenians and the Crusaders (primarily for their Templars and Hospitalliers) are my favourite armies, because it’s their history or their troops that appeal to me.
I haven’t got much in the way of figures painted up yet unfortunately, but I have been using BattleChronicler with great success.
This is hopefully going to become a regular staple for me, with or without figures!
Reports from the Front!