Ghurid infantry

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Andreas Johansson
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Ghurid infantry

Postby Andreas Johansson » Fri Dec 01, 2017 8:09 am

The Ghurid "line" infantry are classed as Light Spear, indeed they're one of the exemplars of the type on the Meshwesh troop types page. Where does this come from?

When they were discussed for the DBMM lists, the only description anyone found of them was Juzjani's, which notes them as using karwah, a thick protective "screen" or "board" (or "breastwork"!) made out of hide and cotton or wool, so thick that no weapon can pierce it and making their ranks look like walls. Modern commentators can't agree if this describes pavises or bulky body armour, but in either case it doesn't sound like light anything.

In DBMM this got them classified as Pk (X) (essentially Pk (I) with pavises), which in DBA more-or-less automatically became bog standard 4Pk. For Triumph! I'd suggest that Spears or even Heavy Infantry would be more appropriate, as there seems to be no record of their spears being particularly long or their formations particularly deep, and the heavy protection doesn't suggest the relative vulnerability to shooting of Pikes or Light Spears. Assuming of course, that you don't know of anything else to support Light Spears.

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David Kuijt
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Re: Ghurid infantry

Postby David Kuijt » Fri Dec 01, 2017 1:18 pm

In the Battle Card system coming soon (nearly complete and ready for release) we have a battle card called "Plaustrella" which is used for a variety of troop types that had a mobile, multi-man-portable, cart-like fortification-thing. The word Plaustrella comes from the examples in three or four battles by the Communal Italians. We could have also called it Karwah, because it fits the Ghurids perfectly. (There are also half a dozen other examples of armies that used this technology, many of which are in the Far East).

Troops fighting with Karwah fight as Heavy Foot with a further benefit against mounted. Here (following) is the draft rules and draft text for Plaustrella. Rules are final but text (the expression of the rules in print) might vary slightly in the released Battle Card information.

12. Plaustrella

Cost: 1 per stand (in addition to the cost of the infantry stands manning the Plaustrella, each of which must be paid for normally).

Rules Change: Stands with plaustrellum/rathamasaula/karwah:
  • may be purchased for troop types (usually heavy foot) differentiated in the army lists. In the Communal Italian army this would be 0-2 stands of Heavy Foot. In the Classical Indian only 0-1 stand. In the Ghurids, any number of Light Spear may be purchased as Heavy Foot with Karwah. These numbers are increased as normal for Grand Triumph.
  • fight as Heavy Foot (including suffering penalties in difficult terrain, even if the original type had no such penalties)
  • are based on 40x40 bases with the plaustrella/etc modeled on the base
  • have a movement rate of 2mu (lose their usual movement rate)
  • are combat factor +5 against mounted rather than the normal +3 Heavy Foot combat factor
  • are shattered by Elephants

Designer’s Notes
Plaustrella are man-pushed spiked carts or other mobile anti-cavalry defenses. The name comes from devices that were used in several battles by the Communal Italians (Milan v. Frederick Barbarossa 1169 AD; also in battle of San Cesario Sul Panaro between Bologna and Parma 1229 AD). Rules for plaustrella would also apply to the spiked carts used in desperation by the Camillan Romans against Pyrrhus, to the Rathamasaula spiked carts used by the Classical Indians, to the karwah wheeled mantlets used by the Ghurids, and several other examples in history.

Warwagons are the wrong fit for these tools of war. Plaustrella are smaller, lighter, more mobile, and require no draft animals; they have no missile fire, and so they would need to be able to be brought into contact with enemy. They seem to be primarily tools aimed at enemy mounted – infantry would have little trouble avoiding their spikes, and would find them nearly as good a protective barrier as the guys on the other sides of them would.

Armies: Later Communal Italian, Camillan Roman, Classical Indian, Ghurid, others.
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Andreas Johansson
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Re: Ghurid infantry

Postby Andreas Johansson » Fri Dec 01, 2017 2:13 pm

What Juzjani describes doesn't seem to be wheeled mantlets - the soldiers "put it on" or "place this upon their shoulders".

The relevant passage in two different translations:
Elliot and Dowson wrote:It is the practice in the armies of Ghor for the infantry to protect themselves in battle with a covering made of a raw hide covered thickly on both sides with wool or cotton. This defensive covering is like a board, and is called karoh. When the men put it on they are covered from head to foot, and their ranks look like walls. The wool is so thick that no weapon can pierce it.

Raverty wrote:The troops of Ghur have a method, in the practise of fighting on foot, of making a certain article of one fold of raw bullock-hide over both sides of which they lay cotton, and over all draw figured coarse cotton cloth, after the form of a screen [or breast work], and the name of that article of defence is karwah. When the foot soldiers of Ghur place this [screen] upon their shoulders, they are completely covered from head to foot by it; and when they close their ranks, they appear like unto a wall, and no missile or arms can take any effect on it, on account of the quantity of cotton with which it is stuffed.

In the 15C, "karwah" apparently meant a hide stuffed with hay rolled in front of troops to protected them from arrows, but this doesn't seem to be the same thing as Juzjani describes and is way later than the Ghurids.

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David Kuijt
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Re: Ghurid infantry

Postby David Kuijt » Fri Dec 01, 2017 3:27 pm

Interesting. However, a covering "like a board" seems more like a mantlet or perhaps a pavise than armor, so "put it on" doesn't fit. Whether or not there are wheels isn't the issue. "Put it on" (in the "wear it" sense) also doesn't fit with a thick raw hide like a board covered both sides thickly with wool or cotton. Unless you're wearing it under your poncho like Clint Eastwood in The Man With No Name, I suppose.

The wheels aren't the issue -- wheels in pre-paradeground terrain off-road would be of limited use, and even wheeled devices in the Napoleonic period often had to be manhandled (carried) by troops any time they were maneuvering off-road.

So a portable screen or breastwork would still be an effective tool making troops more resistant against missile fire or mounted troops, and would slow them down and make them less effective in difficult terrain -- and those are all the things that Plaustrella (the battle card) gives to troops that have them.
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Andreas Johansson
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Re: Ghurid infantry

Postby Andreas Johansson » Fri Dec 01, 2017 3:39 pm

David Kuijt wrote:Interesting. However, a covering "like a board" seems more like a mantlet or perhaps a pavise than armor, so "put it on" doesn't fit. Whether or not there are wheels isn't the issue. "Put it on" (in the "wear it" sense) also doesn't fit with a thick raw hide like a board covered both sides thickly with wool or cotton.

One interpretation I've seen is that it's something like this:

Image

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David Kuijt
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Re: Ghurid infantry

Postby David Kuijt » Fri Dec 01, 2017 3:46 pm

Andreas Johansson wrote:One interpretation I've seen is that it's something like this:

Image


Nice!

People have fought in stupider, but not often. I sure wouldn't want to march far in that (with regular armor underneath), and I wouldn't want to fight in it against anything except mounted archers.

Reminds me a bit of the wooden armor of the Pacific Northwest. In terms of how stupid and awkward it would be fighting in it, I mean.
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