Some thoughts on using the Mamluks at the recent Pompey Pillage.
The Pillage is the tournament where the games are played on an 8' wide table and consequently armies are 50% larger than normal and so was at 1875 points for the medieval period. Looking at the models I had and the amount of painting that I would need to to bring my longbow army up to the right size I was rather forced into going into using the Mamluks.
There were 3 units of Sultan's Mamluks (1 mounted and 2 dismounted) which were all superior fighters and shooters. I gave the mounted unit barding. 4 units of Amir's Mamluks (1 mounted and 3 dismounted) all of them were superior fighters and shooters, 4 units of Haqla (1 mounted and 3 dismounted) they were all superior fighters and the foot were open order. Then 6 small units of bow armed skirmishers. Oh and a cannon that really did not a great deal apart from try and block of a flank. Every unit bar the cannon had bows!
Even with a fairly elite army and an 8' table they pretty well spread out across the table.
Game one was against some Crusading knights. On my left there was a major engagement between to two sets of infantry. Fortunately a couple of mounted crusader knights were caught up in the traffic jam of fighting foot and could not get out into open country where they might have been more problematic. On the other side of the field I had shot three bases of another unit of crusader knights and now had the opportunity to charge them with the mounted Amir's mamluk unit. My calculations made me 3 up on the combat before a dice was rolled!!!! So I moved my Sultan's mamluks up behind them (flank exposed) thinking that the worst that could happen was that they Amir's mamluks would be pushed back. However, they Amir's mamluks only had a D4 and were up against lance armed shock cavalry. So despite charging and having first hit, I did nothing and then was totally mullered. The Amir's mamluks broke and fled and the Sultan's mamluks were hit in the flank. Over the next turn everything that was in reach and could fail it's break test did. I lost 13 break points in one turn! Fortunately we were not playing to break point and consequently was able to pull it out of the fire on the other flank as his foot disintegrated in turn, although the crusader passed every break test possible. It ended up as a narrow win to the Mamluks.
The second battle was against an English Medieval army with some Low Country allies which allowed them to field a wagon tabor. The English were suprised to find themselves being out shot The knack facing long bows is to stay at long range (where you can) as the superior shooting pays real benefits whilst not suffering from the -1 to defence from longbows at short range. This time the left flank was mine and various long bow units were shredded and ran away to hide behind a hill. The leadership 10 king was really beneficial in stopping units running away for too long! On the other flank I was gradually getting squeezed by blocks of very heavily armed and armoured foot knights. The game ended before they could get to grips with the more lighty equipped mamluks. It was a draw.
The third game was played using a small part of your force. I did not win the initiative until the last turn of the game. (Not that I had won it very much in the second game either!) This was a killer as my opponent Muslim Indian's had far more units, even if lower quality, than I had. this meant he could pick his fights and some poor cohesion tests soon saw my army disintegrate. A major loss.
Game four was back to using the full army and I was fighting another medieval English and more long bows. Again I was able to out shoot them, but could not really dent the foot knights. It was fairly inconclusive but a narrow victory to the Mamluks.
The final game was against the medieval Welsh. My opponent held back which generally gave me the advantage in shooting and if he had made a general advance could have given me more problems. Again the game ended before a conclusive combat could be resolved. Another narrow win for the mamluks.
So the mamluks had the edge in the majority of the games, but could not find a killer blow. If the games had gone on a little longer then they might have been able to eek out bigger wins. The mamluks generated shed loads of momentum tokens from shooting, but generally did not have the units to go toe to toe with the foot knights, although having shot away the supporting units they might have been able to flank them.
Hopefully, my opponents enjoyed the games, although there was a horrible arrow storm most turns. On the turns on which I did have initiative and could concentrate my firing, life was difficult for my opponent, where my opponent had the initiative I could not concentrate shooting. I had never played with this army before the tournament so had no idea how they would fare in hand to hand and why I did not generally seek to go toe to toe with the heavy infantry except when I had to.
I quite enjoyed the games, but generally prefer to get stuck in with my infantry rather than hang back. It could have been possible to have had some other units but did not have the models for them and that may have helped the balance of the army.