Armies from 1066 or later at Irvine 2023
Ottoman Turkish vs Albanian
Having slid precipitously down the table with two defeats it was finally time for the last round of the Skiiing Doh! tournament.
An uninspiring mid table position was secure, so my fingers were all crossed for a chance of playing another Scotsman - but sadly it was not to be, and one of Yorkshire's Finest (admittedly drawing from a fairly shallow well..) ended up across the table in the happy shape of Rob Taylor
Rob was wielding the often tedious Albanians, no doubt similar in construction to the army I had faced at the start of the previous year in Bournemouth, although with an all-shooting, mostly mounted army this time I may have had a better chance of eking out more than a draw from these historical foes of the Sultan
During the Middle Ages, the Albanian armies displayed a remarkable resistance against the Ottoman Empire's expansion in the Balkans. The Albanians, known for their fierce independence and rugged terrain, employed various strategies and tactics to defend their homeland. Here's an overview of the Albanian armies' resistance against the Ottomans:
Guerrilla Warfare: The Albanians utilized guerrilla warfare tactics to their advantage. The difficult and mountainous terrain of Albania made it challenging for large Ottoman armies to navigate and control. Albanian fighters capitalized on their knowledge of the land to launch ambushes, hit-and-run attacks, and guerrilla raids that disrupted Ottoman supply lines and communication.
Strongholds and Castles: Albanians established fortified strongholds and castles in strategic locations to resist Ottoman advances. These strongholds served as defensive positions from which they could repel Ottoman assaults and maintain a degree of autonomy.
Light Infantry: Albanian fighters often consisted of light infantry armed with weapons like spears, bows, and axes. Their mobility and knowledge of the terrain allowed them to engage Ottoman forces on their own terms, avoiding head-on confrontations and instead employing hit-and-fade tactics.
Skanderbeg's Leadership: One of the most famous Albanian resistance figures was Gjergj Kastrioti, known as Skanderbeg. Skanderbeg led the Albanian forces against the Ottomans with remarkable success. He had experience in Ottoman military tactics and used this knowledge to organize his own army, combining Albanian traditions with Ottoman methods.
Cultural Unity: Albanian resistance was fuelled by a strong sense of national identity and cultural unity. This common bond helped unite various Albanian clans and regions against the Ottoman threat.
Despite their resistance, the Ottomans gradually gained ground in Albania over the centuries. Skanderbeg's death in 1468 marked a turning point, and by the late 15th century, the Ottoman Empire had largely subdued Albanian resistance and incorporated the region into their empire. However, the legacy of Albanian resistance against the Ottomans remains a testament to their determination and the indomitable spirit of the Albanian people
The lists for the Ottoman Turkish and Albanian from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Irvine can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
Knowing the Albanians were all about the skirmishing, the Sultan had consulted his Big Book of Battle Maps and somehow managed to conjure up a rather narrowed battlefield down which to hurl the Ottoman cavalry and sweep the hordes of Albanian infantrymen off the back of the board.
Military Units of the Ottoman Army: The Kapıkulu
A river on my left gave opportunity for some more gratuitous advertising for Wargamers Whims, as well as for the fez-hatted Turkic light horse detachment to go off on a jolly looking to cause some trouble by threatening the flank of the Albanian army.
The Albanians countered by detaching a formation of infantry crossbowmen to defend the edge of the stream from Turkic incursions.
Sporrans's a-swinging, all bearing the imprint of Andy Stewart's Shetland wild haggis, the crossbowmen stood firm and resolute, especially having read the preamble text about the importance of cultural unity in their wars against the Turkish foe
The majestic wall of Ottoman horse drove forward in a fashion which can only be described as majestic, lining up and advancing to deny the Albanians all that much room to do dicky-about type things
The Ottomans even had some terrain at which to point the Janissaries and Iyalars, over to the right where a plantation-covered hill sat cunningly in the middle of the battlefield daring anyone to work out what sort of crops Albania would have had plantations of in the 14th Century
Just look how bloody marvellous this looks, with solid lines of my reasonably well painted Ottomans facing even longer lines of sadly far better painted Albanians.
Urging themselves forward with thoughts of Big Jock Stein's deep fried grouse moor, both armies closed on one another and started to trade the arrows and javelins of outageous fortune at rather close ranges, each seeking to eke out a small advantage from the pre-combat rounds of dice rolling before the real meat (most probably lamb) and drink of the battle got underway
But, Rob's Albanians had clearly not read "Dicky About's Big Book of Albanian Tactics" - the Elite Medium Impact cavalry suddenly charged through their own skirmish screen (having sneakily nipped a spare Light Horse around the back of the Ottomans beforehand) and piled into combat.
The Ottomans were however all up for this, relying on their shining armour to deflect the initial impetus of the Albanian charge, and then grind the Adriatic-hugging horsemen to dust over the next few rounds of close quarters fighting
Scotland's Poet Laureate
OK, perhaps they weren't quite so up for it as the Sultan had hoped
Suffering some catastrophic initial round of combat dice rolls the supposed creme de la creme of the entire Ottoman army instantly began to suck up a punishing amount of losses right from the get-go
This pathetic effort would make their long term plan rather harder than it was only moments before
Urging themselves forward with thoughts of Rod Stewart's whisky-soaked bottle of Irn Bru the Albanians spirits surged, their martial prowess yet again bolstered by a devotion to the green hills, fertile plains and picturesque fishing villages of their homeland by the shining clear seas opposite the package holiday fleshpots of Corfu island
Dancing a jig and reel to the tune of Robbie Burns' highland cattle-loving pile of broken whisky barrels, the Ottomans fought bravely on, with all of their cavalry now engaged at blade-flashing distances with enemy horsemen and infantry and the Ottoman Janissaries pushing forward on the far flank.
But, the handful of Albanian Knights had broken through a lightly defended centre with ease, and were even now roaming free in the metaphorical backstreets of the Ottoman army's tabletop Istanbul, ready to spread out and cause chaos to the fully engaged Turkish forces
As the knights slammed into their flanks, the morale of the Ottomans crumbled faster than a Turkish Delight on the back seat of a stationary car a hot summers day.
The Albanians now had the upper hand seemingly everywhere, breaking through the Ottoman line and rolling it up carpet-style simultaneously
On the opposite flank the Ottomans were faring little better as things started to go wrong for them in pretty much every possible place that could happen.
Some half-hearted victories running down Albanian crossbowmen would prove to be comfort as cold as an Albanian winters' night for a Turkish horseman when faced with the prospect of a good Albanian Knighting from the left flank.
Sporrans's a-swinging, all bearing the imprint of Alan Cutner's havering Loch Ness Monster's fossilized testicles, and in many ways channelling the desperation of the latter stages of the previous game, the Ottomans sought to re-establish some sort of coherent line to face the incoming assaults of Albanian Knights and cavalry from the unopposed centre of the table
As many of the men fell under the baleful influence of Robert The Bruce's highland pint of Heavy, the Albanians simply finished off pretty much everything that had once been carefully arrayed on the Ottoman left flank.
That initial round of combat had proved impossible to recover from, and as hordes of Albanian skirmishers wafted around the battlefield adding overlaps and rear attackers to the already-dominant display by the handful of Knights and bowler-hatted cavalrymen the game was pretty much afoot already
On the opposite flank the only remaining combat troops were the Janissaries and Iyalars, their mounted contingent having been swept entirely from the field
On hearing the distant refrain of a bagpiper playing a mournful lament about Murrayfield Stadium's Glaswegian wild haggis, Ottoman light lancers, resplendent in their Cooper-esque Fez headgear, snuck past the rearguard of the Albanian army and recorded a pointed counterstroke, running down the Albanian baggage and taking the enemy's collection of post-battle celebratory fireworks with them back to Istanbul.
Yes, indeed - the Albanians may be well on track to win the battle, but with their fireworks all stolen there still would be no Tirana Boom Today.
Sottish National Anthem II
Things were now all getting rather sad, as the Turks own baggage came under threat from marauding Albanians.
Would the Ottoman army fall to defeat as a result of their hareem being captured, or would any of the myriad of other terrible situations put paid to their Balkan expansionism this year instead?
After drinking a pint of Heavy that tasted as if it was made from the tears of the Crankies' Glaswegian upraised kilt, the Albanian Commander decided that punishing the cheeky Ottoman baggage-stealers would be the best way to bring the game to a close.
With a fearsome charge the fez-wearers were removed from play, although all hope of any sort of redemption from this battle had in fact long since fled anyway
The Result is a crushing defeat
Read on for the post match summaries from the Generals involved, as well as another episode of legendary expert analysis from Hannibal
Post Match Summary from the Ottoman Turkish Commander
Today, I, Sultan McTavish stand before you to address the recent turn of events in our campaign to conquer Albania during the Middle Ages. While it is undeniable that we have faced setbacks, it is essential that we understand the complexities of this situation and the challenges that befell us.
Albania, a land of rich culture and breathtaking landmarks, has proven to be a formidable adversary. Our valiant Ottoman army, which has conquered vast territories, was met with unforeseen challenges on Albanian soil. The swift and relentless attacks of Albanian horsemen, akin to the fierce rapids of the Lumi Buna river, took us by surprise.
Our army, accustomed to victory, found no answer to the agility and courage of these Albanian riders. Like the formidable mountains of the Albanian Alps, they stood tall and unyielding in our path, impeding our progress.
And then there were the Albanian knights, whose valor and prowess on the battlefield were reminiscent of the grandeur of Krujë Castle. Our forces, unprepared for such fierce resistance, faltered like leaves in the autumn breeze.
However, I must emphasize that the Janissaries, the elite of our army, emerged from this ordeal with honor and credit. Their resolve and unwavering loyalty were like the enduring traditions of the Bektashi Order, a beacon of strength in our darkest hours.
It is not my fault, nor the fault of our empire, that we encountered such resolute opposition. Albania, with its unique culture and formidable terrain, was a puzzle we could not solve. But let us not dwell on this temporary setback.
Our Ottoman Empire, as enduring as the historic Gjirokastër Fortress, shall rise stronger from this adversity. We shall learn from our experiences and adapt our strategies. Just as the ancient city of Butrint stands as a testament to resilience, so too shall we endure.
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
This hapless Ottoman Sultan, whose name shall not even grace my lips, has proven himself to be a mere blunderer on the battlefield. Had I been in command, with my unparalleled brilliance as a military leader, the outcome would have been vastly different.
I am reminded of the Albanian adage, "Kur hiqet duart, hiqen dhe leshrat" - When you remove the hands, the feet follow. In this case, when you remove leadership, the army follows suit. The Sultan's lack of vision and tactical understanding allowed the Albanians to prevail.
Oh, Sultan, your leadership was as effective as trying to navigate the treacherous waters of Lake Skadar without a paddle. Your inability to adapt to the Albanian strategy was as laughable as trying to milk a bull, a task more suited to a fool than a military leader.
I find it amusing that you, Sultan, allowed yourself to be outsmarted by a people whose very essence is marked by resilience and cunning. The Albanians, with their storied history of resistance, must have seen you as a lamb among wolves.
Had I been in your position, I would have dismantled the Albanian resistance with the precision of a surgeon extracting a tumor. I would have employed tactics that would have left them baffled, wondering if I possessed the wisdom of Pyrrhus himself.
In conclusion, it is clear that the Sultan's incompetence and ineptitude have tarnished the reputation of the Ottoman Empire, and that his mind is like a barren field in the Anatolian wastes, where not a single seed of wisdom doth grow. I, Hannibal Barca, offer my condolences to the great empire for having such a pitiful leader at its helm.
Let this be a lesson to all who dare to lead armies into battle: it takes more than a title to be a true military genius. One must possess the strategic acumen and tactical brilliance that history remembers, qualities that, alas, the Sultan sorely lacks.
Long live the legacy of Hannibal, the true master of warfare, and may the Ottoman Empire learn from its mistakes and strive for greatness once more.
That's the end - so why not go back to the Match Reports Index and read some more reports?