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Battle Scenarios

The Battle of Mohacs (1526 AD)

By Mark Kyriss

This was the critical battle that sealed the fate of Hungary, which had been the "Shield of Christianity" against the Ottoman menace for over 200 years. King Louis II of Hungary brought roughly 50,000 men to stop an Ottoman army under Suleiman the Magnificent numbering almost a million. Trapping the Ottoman march column north of a river, Louis selected ground where he could separate the lead (and most important) part of Suleiman's army from the rest by using the river (south of our map) and a sheer terrace dropoff (made impassible by rain) to a plain. Unfortunately Louis learned that terrain works two ways! After this fight, Hungary ceased to exist as an independent nation until 1920.

The Armies

166. Later Hungarian: 3x3Kn (one Gen), 3x2LH, 2x4Sp, 3x2Ps, 1x4Cb

160b. Later Ottoman: 4x3Cv (one Gen), 3x2LH, 2x4Bw(Janissary), 2xArt, 1xPs

The Historical Battle

Due to the Hungarian deception of setting up camp (the battle was fought close to dusk), the Ottoman forces north of the terrace (especially Ibrahim's left wing Sipahi Timariot which were guarding the baggage) began to unsaddle their horses and pitch camp as well. Louis' scouts reported this, and in heroically typical fashion, Batthyani's knights (on the Hungarian right) charged forward to destroy them. The Hungarian center (under Louis) began advancing forward, followed lastly by Perenyi's left wing, thus creating an "echelon left" with the army.

Batthyani's knights destroyed Ibrahim's Timariot before they could effectively mount up, and began to loot their baggage. As Louis' main body ground forward, his light horse and skirmishers drove off the Ottoman skirmishers, and began to receive intense fire from the entrenched Janissaries and a large number of entrenched artillery. For unknown reasons, Perenyi continued to lag behind with the left wing (bad pip rolls, undoubtedly!) As the Hungarian center was in danger of being demolished by massed ranged fire, Louis ordered Batthyani to wheel toward the Ottoman center and flank the Janissaries.

This could have won the day for the Hungarians except for two things: 1) the terrace dropoff that separated the Ottoman vanguard from its main body also limited the room for the Hungarian knights to "wheel" within, so that Batthyani had a hard time massing his knights against the Janissary line; 2) Suleiman directed the Ottoman engineer corps to rapidly lay down improvised "ramps" to enable the Sipahis on the terrace to join in the fight. Suleiman charged down onto Batthyani's flank and demolished him, and the right flank Anatolian Timariot's sipahis charged down and routed Perenyi's left wing. This left Louis (who could not see all of this in the dim light) to continue to grind forward against the guns and bows of the Ottoman center, only to be destroyed.

At the end of the day, Suleiman held the ground, upwards of 50,000 Hungarians and German mercenaries were dead, and King Louis II was run down and slain in a creek north of the battlefield, ending the Hungarian dynasty. Most of the Hungarian survivors were light horse who were able to flee.

Within three years, the Balkans were totally within the grasp of Suleiman, and Vienna was under siege.

Deployment

As per the map for a historical refight. Hungarian baggage can be set up as the Hungarian player desires. To give both sides options, I recommend that the Hungarians setup anywhere along their baseline per normal setup rules, but that the Ottomans keep the historically set-up elements north of the terrace (but allowed to place them as they see fit) and the elements south of the terrace dropoff set up there (again as the Ottoman sees fit).

Game Map (ASCII)


           ===============Hungarian Baseline================
           . . . . . . . . . . KG. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
           . . . . . . . .  Sp Cb.Sp . . . . . . . . . . . .
           . . . . . Kn. . .Ps.Ps.Ps. . . Kn . LH. . . . . .
           . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
           . . . . . . . . . LH.LH . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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           . . . . . . . . . . . LH.LH . . . . . . . . . . .
           . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . M M
           . . . . . Cv* . . Bw.Bw.Art.Art.Ps. . . . . M M M
           c c . . . . Bag . . . . . . . . . . . . . . M M M
           h h c c c c c c c c c c . . . c c c c c . . M M M
           h h h h h h h h h h h h c c c h h h h h c c M M M
           h h h h h h h h h h CvG Cv h h h h  Cv.LH h c M M
           =============Ottoman Baseline====================

SCALE: The space between each dot/letter is one inch.

TERRAIN KEY:

.=Good Going (Good Going)
h=Gentle Hill (Good Going)
c=Cliff (Impassable)
M=Marsh/Bog (Bad Going)
KG=Knight General (Hungarian)
CvG=Cav General (Ottoman)

Terrain Notes

As stated earlier, the terrace dropoff (listed as cliff on the map) is a sheer dropoff, impassable except as below.

Special Rules

The asterisked Ottoman Cv unit begins the game facing, and in frontal contact with, the baggage (to represent their initial disarray). The Cv can be moved as normal beginning on game turn three. The baggage are immobile.

The Ottoman engineer corps (not represented on the map) can place one single-element-wide "ramp," that will allow a column of elements to traverse the cliff as if it were good going, on any Ottoman game turn that the Ottoman player rolls a 6 on one d6. He may place a total of two ramps in the game, anywhere along the cliff, and these may be held from being placed (once a 6 is rolled for their creation) until a turn of his liking.

Victory Conditions

As per normal DBA, with one exception: the baggage only counts as one element if destroyed, as this was not the total baggage of the army. This baggage element does not include any camp followers or guards, as that was what the Rumelian Sipahis were doing!

Background Resources

There are very few accurate eyewitness accounts on this battle, as few Hungarians survived, and the Ottoman accounts blow everything out of proportion as "just another of Suleiman's great triumphs." The best one is the English translation of "The Fall of the Medieval Hungary: Mohacs 1526-Buda 1541" from the original Hungarian, in its entirety at www.net.hu/corvinus/warso (especially Part II at corvinus/warso/warso19 thru warso25).

Author's Notes

This is a pretty balanced scenario, with both armies roughly equal in "+'s." Hungarian knights can be destroyed by Ottoman LH and Bw, and Hungarian Bw by Ottoman Cv and LH. Conversely, Ottoman Bw can be killed by Hungarian Kn and LH, their Ps by Kn, and their Artillery by anyone in contact. The greatest challenge is the use of terrain by the Hungarians to separate the Turks, and the use of the same terrain to surprise the Hungarians at the right time. Enjoy.


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Last Updated: April 8, 1999

My thanks to Mark Kyriss for developing this battle scenario for DBA. Questions, comments, and feedback are welcome. Sent them to my attention at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.