Double Elephants! at The BHGS Teams 2022
Delhi Sultanate vs Seleucid
After a trek around the North Circular, and a stellar quality and well priced Thai meal at a local restaurant I didn't even know existed beforehand suddenly it was Sunday morning, and the day of the SELWG show as well as an extra bonus. My opponent was the Swedish Maestro, A Man Called Fred (other Freds are also available).
I'm sure I've told you about Seleucid before. Great toys, almost too much choice, you get the gist..
Sunil Gavaskar! It would seem that one of the two armies had elected to fight this battle in the Indian jungle, emulating Alexander in that film version with the Irish Makedonians I guess.
The end result had been a vastly irritating impassable lake falling almost in centre of the Seleucid deployment zone, fixing the Successor forces to an obvious start position from which they had to deploy almost as if emerging from sleep in their camp after being surprised overnight by the sudden appearance of the Sultanates forces
Anil Kumble! The Successors struggled out of bed and out of the terrain as the Indian army took full advantage of their first mover position to race forward and fix the enemy army in place before they could fully deploy
Views of the Red Fort in Delhi (taken in 2006)
The Seleucids were unfamiliar with the concept of gunpowder artillery, presumably as a consequence of Alexander's failure to carry on through India into China, and the Delhi Gunners were keen to explain it to them in great detail
The huge cannons barked out repeatedly as the dense columns of ex-Greek infantry and elephants shook off their overnight slumbers and tried to shake their line out as well
Virat Kohli! The Indians were content to let the Phalanx inch forward, knowing the more rounds of shooting they would get in before combat the better
As they emerged past the lake, the Seleucid army started to unroll it's dense mass of fighting troops into something akin to a normal battle line. The Indians however were already in position to take anything that could be hurled at them - the stage was now set for battle.
Just Who Are These Dudes Then?
The army of the Delhi Sultans initially consisted of nomadic Turkic Mamluk military slaves belonging to Muhammad of Ghor. The Alai era ended the Turkic monopoly over the state and shifted the military towards a more Indian military style of warfare which replaced the Ilbari Mamluk style. There are hardly any more references to newly recruited Turkic slaves in historical accounts, and Indian slaves were preferred towards the end of the 1200s as the new nobility wished to reduce the power of the Turkic slaves after the overthrow of the Mamluks.
A major military contribution of the Delhi Sultanate was their successful campaigns in repelling the Mongol Empire's invasions of India, which could have been devastating for the Indian subcontinent, like the Mongol invasions of China, Persia and Europe. Were it not for the Delhi Sultanate, it is possible that the Mongol Empire may have been successful in conquering India.
Krishnamachari Srikkanth! The Xystophori Companions were regretting their efforts to be clever and sneak out of the woods
The Indian forces were sufficiently numerous in the battle that they had men, horses and elephants to spare after facing of the main body of the Seleucid army in it's deployment defile, and many of those excess forces were already neatly arrayed against the Seleucid cavalry and pouring well aimed arrows at them from a distance the second they emerged from the woolly forests
The Seleucids didn't really like this "stand and be a target" thing, so instead hurled themselves forward into the Indian line hoping to break though (or go home quickly I guess!)
In the centre the Phalanx had continued to press forward towards the waiting Indian line, coming under gunfire all the way.
This had separated it somewhat from the supporting Death Stars though, as a combination of blocking attacks from the Indian's own elephant corps, and the threat of being outflanked by irritating Sultanate cavalry had rather becalmed some of the Seleucid Pachyderm forces
The Phalanx would soon need to fight their battle alone
The almost-Companions charge had actually worked - well, almost! Perhaps not a decisive breakthrough, but with the two sides locked in a longer struggle than either had expected, the main body of the Seleucid centre had managed to join up with the ambushing horsemen to form a pretty solid line of combat with Pikemen now joining in the fray as well
Views of the Great Fort in Agra (taken in 2006)
The Phalanx's drift to their right had left the Seleucid centre somewhat devoid of troops, and allowed the full fury of the Indian swordsmen's charge to wreaking havoc
Crashing into an isolated block of Phalangites the fanatical warriors simply blew the gunfire-battered pikemen away and carried on their angry rampage into the heart of the Seleucid army
L'Art de la Guerre hint - The Indian Impetuous Swordsmen have Furious Charge capability, giving them the an extra hit against all foot if they win in the first round. Against a Phalanx this gives the following set of odds and outcomes
The well padded Sultanate elephants, supported by accurate gunnery, had by now blown away the pachyderm corps of the Successors, leaving the Sultanate's beasts free to trample their way through anything and everything in their path
Views of the Great Fort in Agra (taken in 2006)
Casualties were also being traded on the left, as the fighting grew prolonged and both sides started to feel increasingly bogged. This was a perfectly acceptable outcome for the Indians though, as on the rest of the park they were deep into mopping up isolated pockets of enemy troops to push the Seleucids toward defeat
The Seleucid centre was swept clean by aggressive Indian attacks as the bowmen and cavalry left standing after the destruction of their elephant protectors had nowhere to hide against the tide of Sultanate warriors and pachyderms sweeping the table clean of Successor forces
The Seleucids slump to defeat, and the result is a win for Delhi!
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
Well, I certainly won the war in that one, and Mamma Mia what a victory that was! They will be choking on their pickled herrings in the Macedonian Successor camp tonight (and why not, who doesn't choke on pickled herring even at the best of times!).
What we all wanted to know before that game started was "What's the name of the Win?" and I think I showed everyone that it was called The Delhi Sultanate. The awful terrain gave my erstwhile opponent less routes out of their deplyment area than there are major 2-lane roads out of Lapland, and with only cavalry rather than reindeer to herd through the forests even that bold and brave effort to get back into contention ultimately came to naught too (Fernando)
Knowing me, knowing you, you will no doubt be happy that to see that the elephant Death Stars also managed to do the business in spectacular fashion, catching the Phalanx mid way through a partial saucer separation with more of an element of surprise than if they had marched into the rear entrance of the Seleucid capital across a frozen great lake or medium sized sea
At the end of the day I took the Seleucids down so hard that I am sure the sub-commanders will be asking King Seleucus "Does your mother know that you're out?" tonight around the campfires. His only answer will be to tell them that the winner always takes it all...
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
What a win founded on good fortune - the impassable terrain meant to narrow that battlefield fell in a place that made the Seleucids task all but impossible, giving full rein to your horsemen and making it hard for your gunnery team to even think about missing with a single shot. Killing an elephant at long range purely by gunnery is a rare thing to achieve but is more to do with the landscape than your military expertise
I am sure however you could have done better and fully trapped the Companions in the terrain with little more focus - your jungle skills are sadly lacking for such an elephantin army, and as such you will know that a person who misses a chance and the monkey who misses its branch can’t be saved.
The taste of over-fried pakoras lingers long in the mouth, but I am sure the false glory of this win will loom even larger in your mind, and will taste even more of ashes when your inevitable come-uppance comes around again very soon no doubt
Let us then all sit back and see what terrain you have to lose badly upon in the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition