Jaucelme Chassagnoux
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Orléans
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Here’s another battle from Devil’s Horsemen, and I am still playing solitaire with simple Great battles of history rules. A large Mongol army had invaded Syria after having destroyed the Abbassid caliphate in Irak. The major part of it left the area because of the death of the great khan Möngke. The Mamluks (the new rulers of Egypt since 1250) led by sultan Qutuz attacked the Mongol forces left in Syria (the battle actually took place in modern days Israel) led by Ketbugha.

Both armies consist entirely in cavalry. The command system gives an advantage to the Mongols, since Ketbugha can activate the heavy cavalry and most of the light cavalry simultaneously (even if only one of these two formations is put in command and can move adjacent to the enemy). So the light cavalry can fire at a range of two during the same turn as the heavy cavalry can fire and/or shock attack. Nevertheless, the Syrian contingent (3 counters) is the weak point of the Mongol army, with low quality ratings and a propensity to defect when activated. The Mamluks have their own advantages. They have a little advantage in numbers. They have more opportunities to seize the turn. Most of their light cavalry has the shower fire ability, which means that they are almost certain to inflict a hit at a range of 2.

The Mongol army is blocking a narrow valley. The Mamluk plan is to direct their attack against the feeble Syrian contingent on the Mongol left (they knew it, they had spies) and then maybe turn the enemy.



Numbers refer to the activations.

1/ Qutuz is activated, the Mamluk reinforcements enter the map (heavy cavalry in front, light cavalry behind).

2/ The Mongols pass.

3/ Qutuz (Mamluk heavy cavalry). Bedouin lancers and Mamluk heavy cavalry rout one of the Mongol vanguard light cavalry.

4/ Baydar (Mongol vanguard). Hit and run. 2 of the Mamluk heavy cavalries react and advance towards the Mongol line.

5/ Baybars (Mamluk light cavalry). The light cavalry advances in turn. Attention is paid to the positioning of the units, so that everyone stays in command.

Flight points: Mongols 7, Mamluks 0.



6/ Ketbugha (Mongol heavy cavalry in command and light cavalry). The 2 advanced Mamluk heavy cavalry are eliminated.

7/ Qutuz. The Mamluk heavy cavalry strikes back. 2 Mongol and 1 Syrian heavy cavalries and 1 light cavalry from the vanguard are eliminated. Baybars fails his turn seizure attempt.

8/ Ketbugha (light cavalry in command and heavy cavalry). Hit and run. A Mamluk heavy cavalry eliminates a Mongol light cavalry after a reaction against agression.

9/ Ketbugha (turn seizure, Mongol heavy cavalry in command and light cavalry). A Mamluk heavy cavalry is eliminated by missile fire, another one after shock.

Flight points: Mongols 36, Mamluks 27. Sorry, I forgot the picture.

10/ Baybars. Qutuz fails his turn seizure attempt.

11/ Ketbugha (Mongol heavy cavalry in command and light cavalry). 2 more Mamluk heavy cavalries are routed. Ketbugha fails his turn seizure attempt.

12/ Qutuz. A Mamluk heavy cavalry has to make a mandatory attack and is eliminated. 2 Mongol heavy cavalries and 1 light cavalry are routed. Baybars fails his turn seizure attempt.

13/ Ketbugha (Mongol heavy cavalry in command and light cavalry). One more Mamluk heavy cavalry is eliminated. Ketbugha fails his last turn seizure attempt.

Flight points: Mongols 55, Mamluks 54.



14/ Baybars. The Mamluk heavy cavalry is decimated (8 losses so far) but the light cavalry is intact. It’s time to perform successive missile attacks to eliminate the targets. It can be done at a range of 2 with much efficiency because many units have the shower fire ability. 3 Mongol light cavalries and 1 cataphracted heavy cavalry are routed. The Mongols army flees (80 flight points, 70 needed). The Mamluks are still far from their flight levels (54, 90 needed).



Find more after action reports in: Wargaming great battles of history
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Chris Buhl
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I recently listened to the excellent 5 part podcast Wrath of the Khans, by Dan Carlin. He talked about this battle, and two things he mentioned come to mind reading this report. One is that, in order for anyone during that time to stand a chance against the Mongols, they had to have some steppe archer tribes as part of their force. If they didn't, they just couldn't deal with the Mongol horsemen. And the Mamluks were a steppe archer tribe. It seems that in your game, it was them using similar tactics to the Mongols that won the day.

The other interesting thing, IIRC, about this battle is that, as you mentioned, the Mongol army had mostly gone home after Genghis' death. So the "win" was really against more of a scouting force than the entire Mongol horde.

Thanks for doing some battles with this game, from this time period. It whets my whistle to try it myself at some point.
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Jaucelme Chassagnoux
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fatgreta wrote:
I recently listened to the excellent 5 part podcast Wrath of the Khans, by Dan Carlin. He talked about this battle, and two things he mentioned come to mind reading this report. One is that, in order for anyone during that time to stand a chance against the Mongols, they had to have some steppe archer tribes as part of their force. If they didn't, they just couldn't deal with the Mongol horsemen. And the Mamluks were a steppe archer tribe. It seems that in your game, it was them using similar tactics to the Mongols that won the day.


It is true that with the Mamluks I had the impression to play a second Mongol army. Their light cavalry matches that of the Mongols.
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