Double Elephants at BHGS Teams Enfield 2022
Delhi Sultanate vs Timurid
The BHGS Teams returned to Picketts Lock Athletics Stadium (the old budget version, not the Olympic one) in October 2022, but this time avoiding colocation with the LGT (which in practice had turned out to mean standing in a burger van queue behind 1,000 over-caffineated Woarhammer players) by instead slotting in alongside the SELWG show (OK, Sunday only) for a far more historical wargamer friendly scenario of tabletop gaming
The three player teams were made up of two 15mm players and a Big Boys Toys 28mm pool too, and on the basis that the theme for my 15mm pool was At Least 2 Elephants I had picked a Delhi Sultanate army that would allow me to use all three of the armoured elephants in my Bisley cabinets, making their way onto the table for the first time ever. The list for the Delhi Sultanate from the BHGS Teams in Enfield can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
The Armoured Elephants!
In a 6 team round robin tournament my first opponent was Iniaki from Spain and his Timurid army - essentially the same as mine really, but with a greater appetite for Yak milk and Chorizo
The Delhi Sultanate is a cavalry army with some elephants sprinkled in to give it proper punch. Lacking in the classic Moslem army Dailami Mercenaries option you are looking at using some lesser troops to bulk out the Death Stars, but with Impetuous Swordsmen and an Elite Supported Swordsmen Guard unit there is still a fair amount of anti-foot power in the army if needed. I had opted to go for an artillery piece as well, knowing this was an elephant-rich Double Elephants themed competition, so targets would be available aplenty
The terrain, full of plantations (cunningly fashioned by yours truly) had really narrowed the table considerably leaving very little room on the flanks for the Timurids to do their traditional approach of stretching across the table to try and stove in the flanks of the (in this case) Sultanate army
With not much opportunity to do anything dramatic and bold in the centre, the Spanish Mongol Successors had decided to absolutely stack their right wing and were trying to force a whole lot of cavalry down that side of the table to overwhelm, and then outflank the more staid and static Arabized Indian force
The broadly symmetrical Sultanate army was too wide to fit into the terrain itself also, and so had a half-decent cavalry force kicking around looking for something to do on their right flank.
In practice what this turned out to be was quickly and effectively bottling up the Timurids attempts to force a sneaky breakthrough on this by pushing their Light Cavalry at speed through the terrain.
The Timurids had failed to realise that the Delhi Sultanate Heavy cavalry would move up and form a mobile and effective Maginot line which extended across the full frontage of the Ardennes-like Plantation through which their men were trying to emerge
The Timurids - of course - had opted to drag along a load of impressed captured slave peasantry, who found that they had been nominated by their munificent leader to stand in front of the Delhi Sultanate's not so secret weapon, a battery of Heavy Artillery.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Heavy Artillery is a fairly rare sight on the ADLG battlefield, mainly as it is (quite rightly) fixed in place on the battlefield. It can be effective, but you do need a plan which forces the enemy to advance towards it's fixed position - or indeed a plan that sees the enemy tripping up over one another as they try to avoid it.
It is effective, but not massively so - almost everyone it shoots at will have their protection reduced to Zero, making every shot a complete lottery with a straight-up opposed D6 roll to see if there is a hit - giving a 5/12 chance of success most of the time.
It's not as effective against more dispersed targets - LI and LH - but as long as they are a reasonable distance from the target and the guns themselves artillery can also choose to shoot over/through any light troops (so you can't use lights to screen from artillery fire).
The other unique feature is that artillery have a wider arc of fire at long range, making it that bit harder to dodge them
But, they still don't really move, and once in combat they essentially evaporate. So it's not all good!
Yuvraj Singh! Away from the Big Gun, on the Timurids chosen attacking flank a powerful force of Mongol cavalry was assembling, with so many horsemen crammed into the gap that some were even being displaced into the cavalry-unfriendly plantation.
The Sultanate army had initially started with it's "hard to ignore, hard to catch" mini command of just a handful of cavalry on this flank. This was intended to force the Timurids to deploy a decent sized force in reponse to block the Indians attacking here, but without committing too much of the Indian army down this alleyway
The Timurids choice to launch a serious attack here however meant the Indians were seriously outgunned, and the commander of the tiny command sent messages by carrier parrot to his Great Sultan begging for more resources - which soon arrived in the shape of one of the Indians 3 Armoured Elephants
The Timurids were clearly still on autopilot, and stepped forward to get right in the faces of the Indian cavalry. Or, possibly more feasibly, had realised that the arrival of the elephant seriously changed the balance of power on this side of the board, so wanted to have a go at a bit of close range shooting to see if they might get lucky before bugging out in frustration and disarray
Just Who Are These Dudes Then?
The Delhi Sultanate was an Islamic empire based in Delhi that stretched over large parts of the Indian subcontinent for 320 years (1206–1526).Following the invasion of South Asia by the Ghurid dynasty, five dynasties ruled over the Delhi Sultanate sequentially: the Mamluk dynasty (1206–1290), the Khalji dynasty (1290–1320), the Tughlaq dynasty (1320–1414),the Sayyid dynasty (1414–1451), and the Lodi dynasty (1451–1526). It covered large swathes of territory in modern-day India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh as well as some parts of southern Nepal
Virat Kohli! On the opposite, equally terrain congested wing the Timurids were also trying to force their way past a near-identifal Sultanate force of cavalry.
The difference was that this time the Timurid force was almost totally comprised of normally-skirmishing Light Horsemen, so lacked the fighting power to force their way through the Sultanate defensive line
The other difference appeared to be that even so, these Timurids had their shooting goggles firmly in place and were effectively eroding the supposedly more resilient army from India at a pace
Views of the Red Fort in Delhi (taken in 2006)
The flank attack had still not withdrawn from the open terrain on the opposite side, but javelin-armed almost Mughal Indians had at least forced them all into the open and out of the terrain by now. The Timurids still had a lot more troops than the Indians however, and so in their rush to try and block up the gap the Indian reinforcements were as a result now arriving in theatre in a more haphazard way than British and American paras landing at Arnhem.
Delhi Sultanate Invading Southern India
It was just too tempting for the Timurids to resist. Attacking the Moslem warriors in the flank before they had time to sort themselves out, one unit of Timurids charged home - only to see all his buddies fall back in relatively good order
Anil Kumble! Perhaps this was not the opportunity to lead an army-level tremendous game winning charge that he had been promised by his now self-absented leader after all?
The general Timurid advance in the centre had now started to unstitch itself at the seams, with the challenges of marshalling an eclectic and difficult to coordinate mix of troops being compounded by Sultanate horsemen driving back the lightly-equipped left wing of the Timurid attack
At the same time one of the Sultanate's three elephant Corps decided now was time to step forward and join the fray, piling pressure and loosing arrows in the direction of the Timurids own pachyderm division
With the Timurid Light Horse successfully driven back too, the elephant rich forces of Delhi now felt they would soon have gaps and flanks to exploit as the Mongol Successor army advanced.
And so it proved! The disjointed Timurid army found itself unable to protect all of its (rather limited number of) capital troops, allowing the Delhi Sultanites to swarm forward and mug a by-now isolated Timurid elephant and drive Guard cavalry and it's own Pachyderms deep into the heart of the Timurid line
With the Armoured Elephant leading the way the Indian forces were also now starting to drive back the Timurids on the left flank too
The mighty beast in its psychedelic blanket finery was like a nuclear bowling ball glowing with toxic curry flavoured radiation careening towards the ninepin riders of the Great Khan's bodyguard, and by golly they didn't like it up 'em!
Try as they might, the Timurids simply had no answer to the elephant on this flank. Coordinated shooting seemed to draw a blank, and was inevitably followed by incoherent evasion and fleeing in terror as the Indians stepped up behind the War Beast and its ever-flailing trunk
The game was rapidly drawing to a conclusion as the table started to run out for the retreating Timurids, and their tiny army slumped agonisingly close to defeat.
Views of the Red Fort in Delhi (taken in 2006)
The Timurids had frittered away their Khan's Guard in an ultimately unsuccesful rearguard action against a nemesis-level opposition force, leaving the Delhi Sultanate with what had proved to be a decisive advantage in the rest of the park. With a couple if hit points to spare the Indians inflicted the final ignominy of defeat against the Timurids light horsemen
Mongols vs The Delhi Sultanate
The Result is an 82/28 Victory for the Delhi Sultanate, in which only the repeated stubborn failure of a lone Sultante light horseman to rally off his one hit served as a fly in the Indian Ointment of Success
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition, or 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 Delhi Sultanate Commander
What a fantastic aloo gobi of a vistory to start the weekend. The Timurids looked dangerous, but the clever use of terrain practiced when moving spice and pickle trays around a restaurant table stood my Delhi Sultanate boys in good stead and frankly once the main courses arrived we never looked back
I am indeed the Sultan and effectively the King and I will be "King-fishering" with the best of them as we celebrate this great success for weeks and days into the future.
Even the impressed peasants were not too much of a problem for my well drilled army in a game where terrain and deployment allowed my gunners to really shine
Can you believe I held back and played a sort of careful defensive game to get the best out of my troops? A true Curry Miracle if ever there was one !
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Hannibal Reply 1
You dimple-brained Delhi-ite devil worshipper, thinking that this was a war that you won when in fact it was one the opposition contrived to throw away by adopting a plan to force a passage down your side pocket which the shuffling of one of your three ridiculously attired elephants alone was able to stymie
And that simple move you almost managed to mess up in your putrid Punjabi patheticism. How on earth did you manage to present the flank of some Medium Swordsmen to the enemy? What would a monkey know about the taste of ginger? Your over-cocky command structure had nowhere near enough points to move the troops where you needed them. A case of curried confidence beating common sense in the balti pan f your military mind.
You are a man who doesn’t know how to dance, but says the courtyard is crooked, and the spirit of Biryani almost buried you here, and so let's hope that the next courses in this thali of moral turpitude will taste a little better when we get to the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition