How to use Mamluk Egyptian

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How to use Mamluk Egyptian

Post by grahambriggs » Tue Aug 14, 2018 6:07 pm

- very long post -

How to use Mamluk Egyptian

I won Britcon with Mamluks this year and I thought I’d give a detailed account of how the army works under version 3.
Firstly, why use Mamluks? The competition was restricted to any army post 1050 AD with 900 points and relatively lengthy (3 and a half hour) games. I expected to be umpiring and while that’s not too onerous it can take a bit of time out of the later games as people get tired and there are more calls. It’s a six game tournament, and the scoring system rewards aggressive play (you get more points for breaking enemy BGs than you lose for your own BGs breaking). That means, crucially, that if you lose your army in one game you can still win the competition by breaking four other armies and getting a winning draw. So, I needed an army that was capable of that, and could do it within three hours of game time.
Thinking of what other armies will be there is the next step. At 900 points, some of the heavy foot based armies are viable (and as it turned out were popular). Also, longbow and men at arms type armies can be very effective. And of course, massed heavily armoured knights with a supporting cast work well (not really any of these entered as it turns out). The various shooty cavalry armies are viable, though 800 points is a bit better for them as there’s more room on the flanks.
Just as important is what probably won’t be there. I thought elephant armies unlikely. 16 elephants costs 400 points. They really need an IC and a couple of TCs at least; 540 points. After that their support cast is of weak troops, at least when they are in the open. Playing at 800 points this isn’t too bad, but at 900 you have 360 points of targets, which is too much – the extra 100 points is effectively wasted. Plus, elephants are vulnerable against heavy foot with pointy bits. Armoured knight based armies are probably out as well – too many bad match ups. I didn’t see any armoured knights or elephants.
I didn’t want to take a heavy foot army as I’ve found in period they struggle for big wins, especially if I’m umpiring (though I needn’t have worried, there were no more than a couple of dozen calls in the weekend and most were easy to sort out). Longbows were tempting but I find it hard to properly concentrate fire with them as they’re a bit vulnerable in the open. A big punchy knight army was tempting but a bit of an obvious choice and I thought many players would have counter-measures planned.
I decided to go with a shooty cavalry army. No armoured knight armies (which are bad news) kind of made up my mind. There are quite a few to choose from. Ottomans are very good but I’ve not used them and it needs co-ordination between the Janissaries and the cavalry which means you need to have used the army quite a lot. Of the others, I’ve used Mamluks before and they’re always quick, fun, and have a quality edge. I went for them.
The army list and how it works. Most opponents look at the Mamluk list and assume it’s another shooty cavalry army that’ll skirmish, skirmish, skirmish, try and disrupt something and then maybe try for a breakthrough. And it can do that; but it can do things that other shooty cavalry armies can’t. It can charge people and break them frontally, which can be a nasty shock.
In deployment order:
8 poor LF Bow, 4 average LF firearm. 2x4 protected undrilled average cavalry bow sword.
3x4 LH average lance, sword unprotected. 4 drilled MF average crossbow
3x4 superior drilled armoured cavalry bow sword
2x4 elite drilled armoured cavalry bow sword, 2 Heavy artillery, drilled
Terrain types: Agricultural, Developed

How does this lot work then?
Almost half the points in the army are in the five units of really good cavalry. So, not surprisingly, the plan revolves around them and in particular on the two elite units, which are worth their eye-watering cost of 23 points a base. The rest of the army is there to allow those 20 good bases to get to their target and do their thing, and to tie up and threaten as much of the rest of the enemy army as possible. With the exceptions of expensive heavy foot and heavily armoured knights, there’s not a great deal that relishes a match up against the good cavalry, and the enemy tough guys can’t be everywhere and they are all slower than the cavalry
With an initiative of 4, the army usually invades and chooses the lightest terrain. If it defends, there’s no ghastly terrain option either. With a field commander, a flank march is a good option. If I use one, I usually put a superior cavalry unit and a LH unit with him and write it down before the opponent comes to the table (so I can just add “L”, “R” or cross it out) so it’s less obvious.
The camp goes down either in the middle or where the terrain shields it a bit. The undrilled cavalry go in the middle and their job is usually to rush forward and slow down/keep honest the enemy centre. The light foot do the same, though the firearms can be handy with the other shooting to take enemy morale down.
The light horse are really there to drive in enemy skirmishers to start with but then are very good in the slowing things down role, and later might get to hit flanks. The MF Crossbow are surprisingly useful in this army. They’re cheap at 28 points, reasonably manoeuvrable and hit heavily armoured troops on 5s. Also, they look feeble. People tend to size them up as a target, or think they’ll just stay at the back.
Next down are the three armoured superior cavalry units. By now there’s usually a fair view of how the enemy is deployed. I’ll want at least two involved in the main attack, perhaps three.
Last down are the two elite cavalry units and the artillery. The elites are often lined up opposite the target flank as usually the enemy deployment is now. Usually, I’ve picked that before deployment starts. It’s the one without too much defensible terrain. And it’s often got a flank march on that side as well. It takes a brave or rash opponent to deploy all the way to the edge of the table in the face of elite armoured cavalry to the front and a rapidly arriving flank march to the side.
The artillery is surprisingly good value at 40 points for a unit of battle troops. It often deploys quite near the attack flank as the enemy centre tends to wheel out to that flank to relieve the pressure on the enemy flank units, so it eventually gets to start pinging away. It doesn’t usually achieve that much and quite often dies but it’s another threat the enemy has to be a bit concerned about.

The army in practice.

Vs. Seljuks
A dreadful journey from Kent to Manchester saw us late and facing Seljuk Turks, with an inexperienced player in command. They had shooty MF in terrain and put their cavalry in skirmish formation. Due to inexperience though, they put a second line of cavalry behind the first. I was able to put six units of my cavalry against the front line. Advance, shoot, charge, and the first line routed through the second that got carried away as well.

Vs Medieval German City Leagues with Swiss

Clanky armoured foot. That’ll be a flank march then. A long line of armoured average defensive spear, then a Swiss ally (8 pike, 2x8 heavy weapon). Then two eights of armoured heavy weapon all the way to the table edge two deep. The elites hit the end heavy weapon unit as the flank march turned up and killed it. The flank march went off to slaughter some filler to the rear and the baggage while the elites rolled up his line.

Scots Isles and Highlands

A big army of three deep protected average heavy foot with cheap rear support with a couple of 8s of protected offensive spear and some MF impact foot on the flanks. Again, we had to try and knock a hole in the flank as it was too tough frontally. Wary of the flank march he had left a 6 MU gap on the flank. The flank march and elites arrived in position on the flank quickly, taking out a MF unit and the baggage. That gave the heavy foot time to come across to shore up the position, led by the 16 offensive spear with a few of the heavy weapon units in tow. All the while our protected cavalry were tying down the Scot centre. We cracked the flank eventually through shooting and charges once one of the spear went into orb and picked up a few units there plus one or two in the centre but didn’t break the army.

Ottoman Turk with Serbian

The Ottomans are a tough match up as the Janissaries and Serbs are potent. Fortunately they also had six units of skirmishers, so only four units of cavalry. The lance LH drove back the Turk skirmishers leaving all seven units of my cavalry against 4 cavalry units and the knights before the Janissaries could get into the battle. The knights would have been a big threat but being heavily armoured were too slow. As the cavalry crumbled the knights succumbed to massed bow and crossbow fire followed by flank attacks. The final act was the Janissaries finally arriving in a charge only to be very unlucky and end up routed.

I made a number of mistakes in this game and took a heavy defeat. I foolishly narrowed the table and compounded it by flank marching on the side that the elites weren’t on. We were reduced to the fool’s chance of stretching them as for as we could and trying to shoot/charge holes against two deep pike and we were crushed like bugs.

Medieval Scots in Europe

A potential problem army as it can have lots of heavily armoured foot. I was relieved to see 12 fortifications go down, followed by 5 longbow units in the first deployment (he had all 64 bases of longbow allowed). This turned out to be good news as 36 point on FF and 17 BGs in the army meant he didn’t have any heavy armour and the heavy weapon heavy foot were armoured average in BGs of 4. There was a gentle hill on one side of the fortifications and brush on the other but the extreme flanks were clear. We chose to go at the flank with the brush as charging up a hill is too hard. The protected cavalry couldn’t do a hold up job against massed longbow (suicide) so the skirmishers got that job which meant all the cavalry (including flank march) went for the flank with brush. Soon enough 9 superior bow dice had killed a BG of 6 longbow who were in the rough, and the elites had charged into and killed a couple of heavy foot units. Two more enemy units got overwhelmed shortly after and the flank was gone. The exploitation of that into the camp and the flank of the centre broke the army.
I won the competition by a couple of points while the Swiss that had beaten me came second. My thanks to Duncan Thompson, Dave Ruddock, Brian Espie, David Cutner, Paul Bartlett and Steve Brown for an excellent weekend’s gaming and to Tim and Kev to running the show perfectly.

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Re: How to use Mamluk Egyptian

Post by Intothevalley » Tue Aug 14, 2018 7:34 pm

Really interesting read - thanks very much for posting!

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Re: How to use Mamluk Egyptian

Post by grahambriggs » Tue Aug 14, 2018 7:55 pm

Intothevalley wrote:
Tue Aug 14, 2018 7:34 pm
Really interesting read - thanks very much for posting!

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Re: How to use Mamluk Egyptian

Post by Greuthungi » Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:28 pm

Great post, thank you. I wanted a Mamluk Egyptian army back in WRG 7th edition days, and have used it with DBM and FoG, but never thought of a strategy this intricate. Wonderful explanation.

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Re: How to use Mamluk Egyptian

Post by shadowdragon » Tue Aug 14, 2018 9:00 pm

Thanks for writing up your thoughts on the army and the tournament battles. Really useful.

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