This period is a great period to wargame, for a number of reasons.
It is a period rich in history- some
of the most famous individuals from medieval history ended up fighting
in the Near East: e.g. Saladin, Richard I, Baybars, St. Louis, Frederick
Armies weren't all the same- the armies
of the Islamic Near East- or Turco-Mongolian Central Asia- or the Latin
West- all had different doctrines. They were organised, deployed
and employed differently.
No army was dominant- each army-type
had strengths and weakenesses.
Warfare had changed- the influence of
the Classical era had almost completely disappeared. Armies had responded
to the Turkish invasions and Arab conquests to move on to a new pattern
of warfare. Many battles were also relatively small compared to the
'large' battles of the classical period. This makes table-top games for
this era often quite manageable.
Many wargame rules however, generate
a poor representation of warfare in this period. Many generic sets
are centered on the classical period. In effect, you are forced to
use say a Mamluk army 'like' it is a bunch of Romans-on-horseback.
Apparently the Arab achievement of conquering an area from Samarkand to
Spain and holding it for a few centuries, does not indicate any indigenous
military talent of their own.
The major challenge with writing
rules for this period is Islamic warfare. You can't get Crusading
warfare right, if you can't get Islamic warfare right. This means
you have to use Arab military manuals and histories. A lot of rules
clearly do not use this source material. In the end, these rules
represent Muslim armies as either Byzantines in funny clothes, or
some Hollywood fantasy-army.