Organizing the Ottoman Turk army by Dave Mather


As some may know I have one army painted for me every year – which was reward to
myself for giving up smoking a few years back.The 2010 army was Ottoman which
arrived back in Autumn that year – I then spent some time basing and LBM
shields/banners the army before it hit the table – this took me to late autumn –
this was a big army I'd pretty much got all the options all the colours all the
I've kept a record of the list evolution of the army as it went through 3
subsequent iterations to emerge at Derby earlier this month hopefully finely

So I'll walk though in this and 2 subsequent posts how we got from the initial
OOB to the final one. Hopefully some will find this useful.

I wanted first time around to create an open comp list with this army – Britcon
2011 being its likely first comp. Later I could evolve this into specific army
types – the Ottoman is one of those lists that you can alter massively from game
to game – OOBs can be very different.

That, along with the range of figures available, the mailed cavalry – always a
weak spot with me- coupled with the splendour of the army ticked all the boxes.

I often start an army with something akin to its historical deployment –
research on the interwebby thingy lead me to a infantry centre – Akinji to the
front – with Sipahi split on the wings – Tartars and/or Serbs oft deployed on
the wings – sometimes in ambush.
Some initial decisions needed to be made – I wanted the Janissaries and the
Serbs as these were in effect two very solid insertion forces and could form the
hard core of the army with the rest of the army supporting them – I like light
horse/cav so theses would be playing a part as well. You can construct a very
infantry heavy version which Toby has run a few times down the club but I didn't
feel this was what I wanted for an open comp list.

So do I protect the Janissaries with Bd (assuming they need protecting) but that
meant an irr/reg command split would need the C-in-C.

There is a wide choice available for the light horse ranging through the
compulsory 10 Akinji LH(F) to (O) and (S) both regular and irregular – so trying
to balance that would be fun.

The Sipahi – in days gone by one would upgrade the 25% at the drop of the hat
but now that's maybe not so likely – however its 2AP for 1 more ME - In a 4
command regular army that could be a beneficial. So rather than dispense with
them I'd certainly give them a try.

The guns – I have the Venexia guns – a beautiful model – could I not take them –
well at least 1 - ah decisions – those X factor judges don't know real pressure.

The Iayalars could be entertaining – letting 4 run forward as
nuisance (like expendables) – but more a club game strategy than a 4 game open

So after much deliberating and cogitating the first cut list took the field

4 commands with the Serbs as sub looked the way to go – DBMM is at its heart a
game of Pips.

Sultan 1 x Reg Cv(S)
10 Akinji Irr LH (F)
4 Crimean Tartars Reg LH (S)
6 Azabs with Bow Irr Ps(O)
1 Levendant 1x Hd(O)
2 Wagons contribution to army baggage Reg Bge (I)
1 x Pasha Reg Cv (S)
5 Feudal Sipahi (European) Irr Cv (O)
6 Janissaries Reg Bw (S)
1 x Qapakulu Reg Cv(S)
2 Wagons contribution to army baggage Reg Bge (I)
21 ME
1 x Bey Reg Cv (S)
2 x Sipahi with lance Irr Cv (S)
2 Feudal Sipahi (Anatolian) Irr Cv (O)
1 Wagon contribution to army baggage Reg Bge (I)
12 ME
King Vladimar of Serbia Irr Kn (S)
6 x Serbian vlastela Irr Kn (S)
1 Wagon contribution to army baggage Reg Bge (I)
18 ME
Army Baggage
6 x Laden Wagons Reg Bge (I)
12 ME
Ambush stratagem
Total Army ME 88.5

This would deploy with the Sultans command to front – the Tartars extending to
one flank possibly in ambush

The Pasha and the Bey behind and covering left and right with Serbs in ambush-
fits the original historical brief.

Probably not that common to pick ambush with a high aggression army – more the
realm of the low aggression – but it was historical and it's a stratagem I like
- there are several ambush bits to the army – the entire serbs, the beys
command, the janissaries –this helps get troops onto flanks who normally would
not get there

Terrain picks were generally 2 x 1 GH and then ½ woods or orchards etc –
sometimes a 2FE GH - pick one of the flank edges as number to help get
ambushable position.

Dice allocation the Sultan High, Pasha Mid, Bey low – Serbs indy

* * *

So the Ottoman have had their initial run outs and we are nearing the end of

We have a few successful games under our belt – I tend to run a new army very
frontally in the first couple of games – to see how strong its frontal
capability is (before we start to blend in the twists and turns)

Now I can't remember detail that far back –In fact I can't remember where I put
the scissors 5 mins ago never mind 10 months ago – but I do remember it
performing admirably – probably against Tims Romanian Franks and some evil Cv S
thing that Dave P would be using.
These games lead to the first revision as the following became apparent –

The Bey cant operate as a "working" pip dump – not with 2 clumsy troops – best
with all regs
Too much cavalry with the Janissaries – it's a nice mix though as the cavalry
can see off or stall the few things the Janissaries don't like. Sub can move
the Janissaries if necessary.
Janissaries rock - I began to "affectionately" refer to them as tecavόzcόler

The Azabs need some work but later.

1 Levedant is stupid even if you only have 1 AP left.

The Akinji can hold up foot for a while whilst the big boys get into position.
Needs big command to soak up the pressure.

The Serbs are scaring everyone – often an open channel on the battlefield as
they plough forward – the opposition desperately getting out of the way – oft
punching air – although sometimes that's puts the opposition squarely in the
Janissaries cross hairs.

Their Karma isn't correct look at the MEs – not enough magic numbers
Although the overall look and feel was encouraging.

So with Xmas looming the Mark 2 was trotted out
Sultan 1 x Reg Cv(S)
10 Akinji Irr LH (F)_
2 Feudal Sipahi (Anatolian) Irr Cv (O)
1 Deli Irr LH(O)
5 Azabs with Bow Irr Ps(O)
1 Azab with Bow Irr Bw (I)
2 Wagons contribution to army baggage Reg Bge (I)
1 x Pasha Reg Cv (S)
7 Feudal Sipahi (European) Irr Cv (O)
6 Janissaries Reg Bw (S)
2 Wagons contribution to army baggage Reg Bge (I)
21 ME
1 x Bey Reg Cv (S)
4 Crimean Tartars Reg LH (S)
1 x Qapakulu Reg Cv(S)
1 Wagon contribution to army baggage Reg Bge (I)
12 ME
King Vladimar of Serbia Irr Kn (S)
6 x Serbian vlastela Irr Kn (S)
1 Wagon contribution to army baggage Reg Bge (I)
18 ME
Army Baggage
6 x Laden Wagons Reg Bge (I)
12 ME
Ambush stratagem
Total Army ME 87

We now have the karma sorted – magic numbers abound. The Pip dump is sorted –
the tartars are nicely ambushable and operate well in support of the Serbs –
occasionally as bait.

I was also experimenting at this time with Skythians at 240AP and LAPs so LH(F)
was a troop type I was getting good experience with. The LAPs were also helping
getting the mounted balance correct especially getting to grips with then
revised tactics v2 was bringing. Which would be the driver for the next
evolution .
The Janissaries were proving good value, the Serbs still tended to be avoided.

Terrain picks very much as above and dice allocation Sultan and Pasha high
average, Bey low Serbs indy.

The Azabs need some work – and the mounted balance isn't quite correct – but we
are heading in the correct direction. The army was winning and proving
difficult to defeat.

Its finest moment wasn't in my hands but rather Jon Smith – I was playing Tim
(before he became the best DBMM player of his generation) but was feeling
somewhat poorly – man flu – id deployed and was about to take turn one when Jon
arrived sans army and game – he was quickly persuaded to take over – the rough
concept was communicated and I slunk home to have an early night with a night
nurse picked up along the way.

I was delighted to find the next day that Jon had whumped Tim. This added to
the believe we were on the right lines.

I was still undecided about the Irr Cv(S) they hadn't worked on the first
tranche but I felt one more go – they moved to the sultans command (his free pip
may help get them in as a reserve whilst allowing the Akinji etc to take

The Serbs needed to be less terrifying so they were reduced and the Janissaries
moved to max with the points made available.

Time for the Mark 3 - it was getting close enough that it was time to name the
generals as the overall doctrine was working and its all now about fine tuning.
Sultan Peppa 1 x Reg Cv(S)
12 Akinji Irr LH (F)_
2 Sipahi with lance Irr Cv (S)
3 Azabs with Bow Irr Ps(O)
3 Azab with Bow Irr Bw (I)
2 Wagons contribution to army baggage Reg Bge (I)
1 x Pasha N'da Reg Cv (S)
7 Feudal Sipahi (European) Irr Cv (O)
8 Janissaries Reg Bw (S)
1 Deli Irr LH(O)
2 Wagons contribution to army baggage Reg Bge (I)
24 ME
1 x Bey Vorblud Reg Cv (S)
4 Crimean Tartars Reg LH (S)
1 x Qapakulu Reg Cv(S)
1 Wagon contribution to army baggage Reg Bge (I)
12 ME
King Vladimar of Serbia Irr Kn (S)
4 x Serbian vlastela Irr Kn (S)
12 ME
Army Baggage
5 x Laden Wagons Reg Bge (I)
10 ME
Ambush stratagem
Total Army ME 85
Terrain and dice allocation remained much the same

Plans for Britcon had fallen through and the army had moved back to the shelf -
A new option was needed to try the army in anger - mmm wonder if Pete and Chris
are going to Derby and would like a third player. That would spur me on to do
the final tune and it was about time I played in a GB 2 day comp.

* * *
Armies getting there – but we need a comp to use it - exchange of emails took
place around April with Pete and Chris and they kindly let a lowly ranked Gecko
into their team.

So in that exalted company we needed to make sure we had the army tuned as best
we could as we weren't going to be at home to Captain Cockup.

We now moved into final play testing – the poor Sipahi Cv(S) didn't make the
grade – useful for the ME but too much of a manoeuvre liability in the overall
game plan. They along with the Azabs prevented the command deploying on the
flank zone - the initial frontal deployment was then generally revised –
rather the ability/option to deploy the sultans command on an entire flank was
being exploited -

The Akinji could do with some more manoeuverable heavy support.

The Bw(I) snipers didn't work – too pip intensive for that style of command

Serbs worked well - enough to do the business if delivered correctly but less
likely to be avoided

Didn't like the generals name – Time for google translator

Too much cavalry with the Janissaries – so move around and split that more
evenly shuffle the cavalry's long range support/flank lockers/gap fillers

Final shuffle and the list evolved into
Sultan Peppa 1 x Reg Cv(S)
10 Akinji Irr LH (F)_
2 Deli Irr LH(O)
4 Feudal Sipahi (Anatolian) Irr Cv (O)
1 Azabs with Handgun Ps(S)
5 Azab with Bow Irr Ps (O)
2 Wagons contribution to army baggage Reg Bge (I)
1 x Bey Vorblud Reg Cv (S)
8 Janissaries Reg Bw (S)
5 Feudal Sipahi (European) Irr Cv (O)
2 Akinji Irr LH(F)
2 Levendant Irr Hd (O)
2 Wagons contribution to army baggage Reg Bge (I)
24 ME
1 x Pasha N'da Reg Cv (S)
4 Crimean Tartars Reg LH (S)
1 x Qapakulu Reg Cv(S)
1 Wagon contribution to army baggage Reg Bge (I)
12 ME
Prince Nagao Budala of Serbia Irr Kn (S)
4 x Serbian vlastela Irr Kn (S)
12 ME
Army Baggage
5 x Laden Wagons Reg Bge (I)
10 ME
Ambush stratagem
Total Army ME 85

This was much more balanced and tuned to what it wanted to do – The Azabs were
now part of a flank deployment – possibly in ambush – would have liked a couple
of Reg Ps(S) with them but couldn't work out how (without mucking up the

The commands and forces in the commands now work in conjunction with each other.

There was enough cavalry with the Janissaries to stave off anything that they
didn't like – the serb/tartar combo was working well – there was a danger that
the 2 smaller commands could go down to a -2 domino but that was a risk I felt
worth taking.

The light horse all worked with each other allowing the correct LH to be
funnelled in where needed – eg take advantage of QK/ factor 4 v infantry and
longer moves where appropriate – you can worry your enemy when with the high
dice your Akinji suddenly explode in several directions threatening

Dice allocation and terrain stayed much as was from the beginning – I need to be
aware of reallocating the dice if the Tartars were needed to go into
pursuit/rear assault – especially if one command had been battered a bit and
needed to retire.

In the 10 month period I used this army prior to Derby I think it was only
defeated once out of about 14 games – and that was week before Derby in a very
strange game against Dave P and Toby – broke their Yuan Chinese Cv(S) command
early - think we all thought it was 2 -3 moves to victory but it all slowly
somehow unravelled – Daves suicide charges kept coming off – pips dried up for
me to press home and the next thing I knew id lost – not sure who was most
surprised but a good lesson and brushed any cobwebs of complacency away in
advance of a big comp.

So the army was set – one last practice against Adrian with Patrician the Monday
before and off we went with a confident air that we could punch a little above
our weight.

Quick synopsis of games

10-15 v Ians Inert MIR – terrain landed well for Ian 2 woods protecting flanks
and rough hill slap bang in centre. Serbs tried to break the line – supported
by the Janissaries. Janissaries withdrew under artillery bombardment leaving
the serbs with minimal LH support – their first charge took out 4 legionaries
but then stalled and they died – only the Clown Prince himself came back.
General Turkish withdrawal and faff around ensued.- (aka catch me Titus if you

Game 2 23-2 V Steve Scotts English WotR– dazzle helped greatly the sun shinning
in the English face – cock up over initial start of dazzle – Basically Turks
came out the sun and swept initially the Welsh etc away – then broke the mounted
Kn(I) etc on the other flank.

Game 3 15-10 v Chris Jolleys English HYW open field – Akinji etc withdrew from
main body of English – Good pips saw the Serbs and Tartars begin to envelop the
flank command - - knocking out longbowmen from flank and rear – then race game
to try and break the army whilst getting away from his knights – I feel just
short of the last man at arms – Chris had just got to my baggage.

Game 4 13-12 v Lawrence and his Greeks with very nice wagons – owing to a
communication issue the game started late – Lawrence rushed at me – I screwed up
the Azab redeployment – poor pips in first couple of gos didn't help – Serbs
finally charge downhill and murder death kill ensues – Akinji suffer against
chariots –Sultan gets 5-1d –oops - its how it goes he needed to be in the line-
you take the risk prepare to take the punishment - command breaks – Serbs break
command back – Janissaries being slowly pushed back by hoplites – I suspect I
rode my luck there (sure Lawrence will tell me to what % with multiple decimal
places ;-))

Time called – probably with Lawrence in the better position – fine scrap though.
Note to self – don't have a sneaky ambush and then leave your deployment map in
full view.

Great comp – 6th= and a gonk for 2nd in the team - 4 great and varied games.
Really enjoyed it – as ever the banter was exquisite at times and excellent
organisation by Neil Sutherland - he of the sunny rather than sonny disposition
. The cool and calm way he dealt with Tim's 13-12 score initially being the
wrong way round was a veritable example to other organisers.

Only sour note was cocking up the initial bit of the dazzle but I don't think it
made much difference as we were moving rather than engaged in combat for first
few bounds .

On way home I was mulling what if any lessons I learnt from Derby and hence what
changes but none spring to mind. Id enjoyed playing with the army from the word
go – through all its evolutions.

Ill certainly be back next year - open or otherwise - hopefully did enough to
ensure Pete and Chris will want me.

So list locked and saved – filed under fun army to be used in Open comp with
reasonable chance of success – I can now experiment with it at the club(s) –
running different options – next thing to do is to work out the optimum Book 4
only variant – but that'll need to wait – this years army is back so its time to
start work on getting that to table. Intriguing mix of generals – expensive
but I suspect very pretty ally for the 4th command if required – men in mail on
horses – heroic romance- lots of choices - here we go again.

You just gotta love this rollercoaster game

Kind Regards

David Mather