Siamese; 1300 A.D.


The Grand Army of his most royal and regal highness, Ramanashana I, defender of the Thai, descendent of the great kings of Nan Chao, protector of the Virtuose, victor over the Khmer, Cham, Burmese, Nan Viet, Malay, Monkot, Yuan and other tribes to small to note and to numerous to list. (Siamese, 1300, list 40, book 4)

So, you want an elephant army. Well, the Siamese army has them. It has lots of elephants, well supported by light troops. Its strengths are its size and elephants, and its rough going abilities. Its disadvantage is that it is slow, and extremely unwieldy, and has no horse to speak of.

Army Overview

The Thai army is composed of elephants and support troops.

The list:

The warbands give you the ability to fight heavy infantry armies,  the auxilia receive support from psilio, so you can at least stand up  to light horse and cavalry armies. Unfortunately, you must take either  all warband or all auxilia, so balanced armies will cause you trouble.  The 8 superior aux, backed up by psilio and interspersed with  elephants, can form an excellent center. The Cav(I) are, well, Cav(I).  They are vital to the army, but probably the toughest thing to use  well. The archers should almost always be taken as psilio, archer(I)  are too slow and unwieldy to be of much use. 

General Notes on the army:
The main thing to remember about the Siamese army is that it is big, and it is clumsy. Commands tend to be wide, and they move in the direction they started the game in. If the elephants are concentrated in one location, they get screened, and the Siamese infantry get massacred elsewhere. If the elephants spread out, then the whole army is much tougher, but now it only goes in the direction it started in.

Constructing an army: What sorts of troops?
The first thing that must be decided is what sort of opponent are you fighting. If you are fighting a heavy infantry army, or an army with lots of cheap archers, you probably want to take the fast warband (24 minimum) option. When unsupported, the warbands are vulnerable to knights and light horse, but elephants terrorize the first and can hold their own against the second. You have the psilio to deal with enemy skirmishers, and only blades are tough enough to stand up to your doughty warbands, and your elephants can always blow holes in their lines. Archers will kill some fast warbands as they charge, but the warbands at least have the smarts to close quickly, saving you pips that will be needed to manage the elephants.....

If you are fighting a primarily mounted army, take the auxilia option instead. The auxilia get rear support from psilio, so they can stand up to cavalry, and chase off most light horse. Knights will quickly destroy them, but elephants will kill knights even more quickly. Archers are not a good choice for the Siamese. They only move 100p, and elephants move 150p, so if they are in the same command a 100p move straight forward will cost 2 pips. Unless you are willing to completely concede the initiative to your opponent, the archers just don’t work well with anything else.

Once you have your elephants and Auxilia/psilio or warband/psilio, you need to round the army out with the guards infantry (Aux(S)) and the Cavalry (Cav(I)). The guards are an excellent choice if you took warbands, at least one block of troops can deal with light horse without getting bollixed up. The cav(I) are the most difficult troops to use. They are the only troops you have that can respond quickly to threats, flank marches, holes in the line, etc. Unfortunately, this means that you are throwing your worst troops (hell, the worst troops for the cost in the whole DBM system) into the sector of the battle where you have the most trouble. Dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t.

Command organization and deployment:
I usually build my 400 point army around four commands, a strike command to charge the enemy baggage, two smaller commands to hold flanks, and a Malay ally to make my opponent sweat.

The strike command has an elephant CinC, four aux (S), four elephant(O), seven psilio(O), and then some filler aux(O) who guard the camp or set up in ambush. I intersperse the elephants with an aux, making sure the flanks are anchored by elephants. An elephant on the flank is vulnerable to being turned and recoiled, but is less so then an aux. Besides, nothing is as annoying as losing an elephant to a recoil.

The other commands have an elephant general and one other elephant, again guarding the flanks, and a line of aux(O) supported by psilio(O). They can stand up to anything but archers and knights, for a while anyway. ....

The tactics to use depend upon the army you are facing, which I will go into below. Some general notes are in order beforehand, however.

Always deploy an elephant on the flank of each command, to hold the line together. Loosing elephants to recoils is just to painful to contemplate. Make sure all elephants have a psilio supporting them. They are invaluable in driving off other light troops, and can pass through the elephant to screen troops ahead of it, letting the elephant flank attack lines that it has created a hole in.

Against any cavalry army, consider taking the camp fortifications. This gives you a safe place to put auxilia and the baggage, leaving your elephants free to roam. Taking archers is an option, but a difficult one. Elephants do well against horse and light horse (despite the light horse quick-kill), but they don’t mix well with archers. Simply put, if you mix archers and elephants in the same command (and elephant generals means you will), be prepared to not move much.

Be creative with the Cav(I). They are fragile, expensive (for what they can do), and prone to getting into trouble they can’t get out of. That said, for the Siamese army they are like gold. Put them in the woods as an ambush, and charge his psilio who try and screen you. Double them up to attack his light horse. Put one far in front of your army to screen while you lumber forth. Just remember, they die sooo easily...

The joint between two commands is often the strongest part of your line. If there is an elephant on the flank of each one, you have two elephants lined up, and two die rolls of pips to play with. If you are ever going to have a pip advantage over your opponent, this is where it will be.

Be aggressive. Unless you are fighting 100 german warbands, or 45 frankish knights, your opponent can redeploy faster then you can. Give him the time, and every elephant will face an aux, every aux a knight or blade, and he will still be getting around your flanks......

Fighting armies:

Light horse armies
Take the camp fortifications, and put troops in it. Take lots of elephants, and point them at his camp. Charge. He will try and pick away at your flanks, let him. Your goal is to get to his camp and trash it. You won’t, but that is because he will eventually have to stop you. Now, just hope your elephants can stomp him before he quick kills you. This plan has almost worked for me several times.

Knight armies
Irregular knight armies are simple. Charge elephants at his knights and enjoy the fun. Regular knight armies are much more difficult. His knights can maneuver to kill your infantry, and they usually have the psilio to kill elephants. The best bet is to charge him before he can redeploy to get the matchups he wants. This battle is usually closer then you would think...

Light infantry armies:
Take your own light infantry, and fight him straight up. The archers may be a good option here, with the command problems mentioned above. Use the elephants to screen cavalry, let your infantry do their job.

Heavy infantry Armies
Take the warbands, and use them with elephants. Use the elephants to drive him back, and then let the warbands exploit the overlaps.

If, after all this, you still loose more often then you win, don’t despair. This is not an army for the faint of heart, or for the anal-retentive. Get the elephants out there, and have at ‘em. I have not won very often with this army, but I only got massacred once. No matter how overmatched you are, somewhere, an elephant is going to get lucky, make a hole, and stamp its way to glory. As you will see from my battle below, I loose more often then I win. However, I only once lost 10-0, and in most of the battles, I was fighting tournament level armies.

Notable battles:

Sukothai vs. Juan Chinese
My second battle. I had rough hills on the left, and gentle hills on the right. The Juan put archers and blades in ambush on the rough hill, and hid a cavalry command behind the gentle hill, his center was composed of a huge block of archers. I charged between the hills, except for the warband command I lost control of in the first bound, who charge up the steep hill. Only 5 of the 9 who charged made it into contact, but they cut up the swordsmen deployed there when they did. It was too late, however, as his bow disrupted my elephant/warband line so badly that a well-timed cavalry charge into my right flank broke my army in short order. A 9-1 loss.

Sukothai vs. Abassinad Arabs.
He had a long battle line. I had a longer one. My center held, and I rolled up his flanks. His cavalry tried to get around one flank, but his pips were terrible, and my elephants got in amongst his cavalry to deadly effect. A 10-0 victory

Sukothai vs. Juan Chinese
A rematch, with a an open battlefield except for a large forest on my left, and a small forest on my center left. Both of us deployed facing each other in the large open area on the right and center. The Juan sent a command of Mongol light horse through the gap between the woods, only to be caught by the charge of my Thai cavalry that deployed in ambush in the woods. The Thai Cav(I) made short work of the Juan LH(S). Meanwhile, a nasty fight broke out in the center, where I quickly lost a general to psilio, but came back strong and almost broke his center. However, a charge by his left flank Cavalry broke my right wing, and the battle ended shortly thereafter. An 8-2 loss, but the charge of the Cv(I) made it feel like a victory.

Sukothai vs. Huns
A shallow river ran through across the battlefield, a deep one ran up my right flank, and the weather was foggy. I deployed three commands opposite the river across the center, and one on the far side of the deep river. The Huns deployed one command opposite my one command, and his other two so that they could take up a position behind the shallow river. I got lucky pip rolls, and got to the river as he did, and got a few elephants across it. Meanwhile, my command on far side of the deep river pushed him back. His pip rolls for that command were so bad that I eventually pushed him off the map. Unfortunately, he killed me at the shallow river, when I rashly tried to charge one command across before support from the other two commands arrived. A 9-1 Loss.

Sukothai vs. Ottoman Turks
Terrain played little part in this battle. His initial charge with Mongol allies into my left flank, anchored by a built up area, turned into an ugly melee with bad deployment by both of us. My cavalry got lost in my own built up area, but I killed his Cv(S) general, and demoralized his command, with a horde(I) (we think that I must have fed his horses poisoned grain). His bow and artillery caused me fits in the center, and we eventually called it a draw.

Thai vs. Huns
Again, two rivers, one up the side and one up my right flank. I deployed nothing on the right flank, instead left a command to hold that river, while the rest of my army moved to the river in the center. The Huns formed a line of LH on the far bank, and waited for me, they had a command of knight allies on my far left. The knights went impetuous and charged, whereupon my elephants and Cavalry destroyed them. I then moved my main command across the river to push through. We now simply call this battle the massacre at the river. I have never seen so many six-ones.... An 8-2 loss.

Thai vs. NKE
I took aux instead of warbands. His bow massacred my aux. I lost six out of eight Cav(I) upon the first contact with his army. In total I killed two psilio and one bow. My only 10-0 loss.

Thai vs. Summerians.
I took aux with the Thai, but added in a Malay contingent of Wb(S). He began deploying his knights to face my infantry, but lucky pip rolls let me get into him before he could complete it. A general melee resulted in my losing both my center commands, and he lost his center. As my Malay stormed his built up area, his Cv(I) surrounded and attacked my lone remaining general. Despite being outnumbered 6-1, the general (miraculously) killed enough Cav(I) to get me a 6-4 win.

Originally written in August, 2000

Last Modified; August 26, 2007