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Campaign Scenarios

Ottoman Expansion in the 1400s

By Darren Buxbaum

In 1071, the Battle of Manzikert marked the beginning of the decline of the Byzantine Empire. Speedy Turkish horse-archers could outrun the heavily armored Greek cataphracts and raided Anatolia at will. With the loss of their territories in Asia Minor, the Byzantines lost a huge recruiting ground for soldiers.

Their solution to this problem was to hire mercenaries. These soldiers of fortune were sometimes Turks from rival tribes or knights from Western Europe. When Emperor Alexis asked for help from his Christian brothers in Rome, Pope Gregory created the Crusades. Unfortunately Alexis opened Pandora's Box and the westerners ravaged the empire. During the Forth Crusade, Venetians captured Constantinople and sacked it. The Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox Christians distrusted each other. As time passed, after every military defeat, a civil war would erupt. One Emperor would be weakened and replaced by a smaller faction.

On the horizon loomed a greater threat. The Ottoman Turks were introduced to the region during one of these civil wars in 1345. They were called upon two more times and on the third they captured Gallipoli and were here to stay. The Ottoman Sultans took advantage of the destruction of central authority within the Byzantine Empire to capture many of its territories. The Ottomans under Sultan Bayezid conquered Bulgaria, Serbia, and Macedonia, Albania and the Sultan had his eyes on Constantinople. They made many raids north of the Danube as well and destroyed a few crusading armies.

Everything came to a screeching halt in 1402. At the Battle of Ankara, Timur Lenk captured Bayezid. The Sultan died a month later without naming a successor. Civil war ensued and conquered lands rebelled and declared their independence.

Will the Ottomans suffer the same fate as the Greek Empire? On 5 July 1413 on the battlefield of Camurlu, Mehemmed, one of Bayezid's sons, killed his brother and claimed the throne as Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. This is where this campaign begins.

The Campaign Game

The Ottomans are overlords of the Bulgarians. The Rumelian Beylerbey is the general for the Bulgarians. The Imperialists are the overlords of the Hungarians. This is due to the fact that King Sigismund is not only the Holy Roman Emperor but also the king of Hungary. Instead of concentrating on his Hungarian affairs, he puts his champion to guard his borders, the Transylvanian viovode, Stephan Laszkovic and then Janos Hunyadi. Serbia is independent, but has a one year alliance with the Holy Roman Emperor. This is to simulate Stephan Lazarevic swearing homage to Sigismund and being inducted into the "Order of the Dragon". After the year is over all bets are off and it is up to the player to decide where he will go.

Albania is independent, but has a one year alliance with the Ottomans. This is in place to represent the independent warlords dealing with the Sultan in their own internal struggles. To further reinforce this, I chose John Castriotes as the dominant warlord of the region. His son, George (aka Skanderbeg), was a political hostage serving in the Janissaries to cement this relationship. If John dies, one can use Charles Thopia from Durres or George Balshan from Shkoder. After one year, like the Serbs, all bets are off. Besides it may be in the Albanians best interest to remain aligned with the Sultan to kept the Serbs at bay.

I chose to start the game this way to give the players a historical starting point. After that, they can go their own way. It also evens the playing field, so the weaker armies aren't destroyed right off the bat (i.e. , Bulgarians and Albanians).

The player profiles are handed out to each player before the campaign begins. This way players get a feel for the military and diplomatic situation before the game begins.

Army Lists

  • Ottomans: 4x3Cv*, 2x2Lh, 2x4Bw, 2xArt, 1x3Kn or 2Lh, 1x2Ps

  • Bulgarians: 3x3Cv*, 6x2Lh, 2x3Ax or 4Sp, 1x2Ps

  • Imperialists: 4x3Kn*, 4x4Sp, 1x4Cb, 2x2Lh or 4Cb, 1x2Ps

  • Hungarians: 3x3Kn*, 3x2Lh, 2x4Sp, 1xWWg or 4Cb, 3x2Ps

  • Serbians: 4x3Kn*, 2x3Kn or 2Lh, 1x4Sp, 2x3Ax, 3x2Ps or 3Bw

  • Albanians: 5x2Lh*, 1x3Bd, 3x3Ax, 3x2Ps

* Contains general's element

Game Map

About the map, the hex grid isn't for units of measure, but rather for the irregular shapes it could help me create. Movement is from border to border.

Players start the campaign in control of the following cities:

Ottomans: Edirne*, Thessaloniki and Varna
Bulgarians: Turnovo*, Vidin and Sofia
Imperialists: Vienna*, Sarajevo and Zagreb
Hungarians: Buda*, Tigorviste and Cluj
Serbians: Belgrade*, Skopje, Kotor and Pec
Albanians: Kroje*, Shkoder and Durres

*Capital city

Campaign Mechanics

Use DBA 2.0 campaign rules as modified below.

At the beginning of each spring round, players roll a d20 to determine order of play. Highest number rolled goes last. Each turn represents a season beginning with the spring of 1414. All armies begin in their capitals.

The Seasons

  • Spring -- A player collects taxes (1 coin per unpillaged territory and two per capital he directly controls. An overlord does not collect taxes from his vassal's territories only captured enemy cities). Also a player calls a muster to replentish his army (one element per territory and two for his capital under his direct control, not his vassal's). There aren't any sea movements, so regular campaigning begins.

  • Summer -- Regular campaigning resumes.

  • Autumn -- Regular campaigning continues, but all armies must seek winter quarters at the end of this round. Winter quarters are found in a friendly city or a city that a nuetral/independant player allows another army to reside there.

  • Winter -- All armies are in winter quarters. If not, then they lose 1-6 elements due to disease, starvation, desertion, etc... Also if an army doesn't perform any kind of milatary action during the year (battle, siege, successfully sent an allied contingent, or pillage), then it loses two elements due to pro found peace and neglect of his army.

Phases Within Each Campaign Season

Phase 1: Movement -- Each player moves his or her army. An army moves through 2 friendly territories or one enemy. If a player moves through one friendly territory and the second is an enemy one, he must stop at the border (on the friendly side) and wait the next season to invade. Everyone takes a move before phase 2.

Phase 2: Diplomacy -- Each player practices his diplomatic skills with the other players (make alliances. truces, hires troops, asks for help, etc.).

Phase 3: Action -- If in an enemy territory an action takes place by that army.

  • Pillage: A commander may opt to pillage the territory and gain 1-4 coins. This territory in turn cannot produce taxes the next spring and must wait one year to do so (even if the same army captures it). When a player pillages a territory, the money goes into his camp. At the resupply turn, he then can spend it. If there is money left over, it remains in the camp until the player reaches his own capital. Then the coins can be placed into his coffers. If the raiding player is involved in a battle and loses his camp, the attacker that captured the camp receives all of the coins in it (even if the raider recovers his camp, the coins are lost). A player cannot pillage his own territory.

  • Siege: A commander may choose to siege the city of an opponent who has elected to stand seige. The besieger must roll a 6 to capture the city if the enemy's field army is inside the city or a 5-6 if it is not present. If successful, he will capture the city and destroy the enemy's army inside. If the attacker is unsuccessful, the he loses 1 element of his choice. The siege may continue until interrupted by winter or until the beseiger is defeated in a field battle. The score needed to capture reduces by one per season the siege lasts. An army cannot retreat to a city that is being besieged. If the city captured is the capital, then the conquered become your vassal.

    Siege of Constantinople: The Ottoman Army must roll three 6 s are to capture this city. They do not have to be consecutive. This city has no standing army and is virtually impenetrable. The Ottomans are the only army that can siege this city. If the Ottomans capture the city, they gain 10 prestige points and 1-6 coins, plus the cityd becomes their new capital (which generates 3 coins per spring), thus reducing Edirne to a regular city status.

  • Give Battle: The defender chooses the terrain and the attacker rolls to see which side he comes in on. The two armies fight each other. Victory is achieved when your enemy looses 4 elements (2 plus camp and followers) or kill his general. If an allied contingent s commander is killed, the remaining elements march off of the table from that contingent.

    Allies: Allies or vassals can only solicit troops to their overlord/ally, if they are in an adjacent territory. They must roll a 6 to arrive on the side appropriate to their geographical entry point to the battlefield. Also they arrive in column with their general leading the group. If this general dies in battle, the rest of the contingent marches to the closest edge to leave the field. These elements lost count towards the victory conditions. The maximum numbers of elements a player can send are 3 and have no camp.

    Results: Loss of general and/or camp results in loss of 2 additional elements due to demoralization. Losing army retreats to friendly territory or is destroyed. The victor gains the territory. If that territory is the capital, your enemy becomes your vassal.

  • Phase 4: Resupply -- Each knight or Artillery unit costs 2 coins. All others cost one. During the spring season, each territory under direct control produces one element and one coin (two for capitals). Also at the end of the fall round, all armies must find refuge in a friendly city for winter quarters and to resupply. If an army cannot make it to a friendly city, then it will lose 1-6 elements (roll D6) due to starvation, disease, desertion, etc., during the winter round.

Prestige Points

  • Difference between number of elements lost in battle: 1-4pts
  • Kill enemy general or sack his camp: 2pts each
  • Age of Chivalry- kill an element using a knight: 1pt
  • Fanatical Light horse- kills a knight with a light horse: 1pt
  • Destroy a piece of artillery: 1pt
  • Player Objectives (see below)

Player Objectives

  • Ottomans:

    Capture of Belgrade or Kroje: 5pts each
    Capture of Vienna or Buda: 7pts each
    Capture of Constantinople: 10pts
  • Bulgarians:

    Capture of Belgrade: 5pts
    Keeping all invaders out of Bulgarian and Ottoman territories: 1pt per year
  • Imperialists:

    Capture of Edirne: 7pts
    Capture of Turnovo: 5pts
  • Hungarians:

    Capture of Edirne: 7pts
    Capture of Turnovo: 5pts
  • Serbians:

    Capture of Turnovo or Kroje: 5pts each
    Capture of Edirne: 7pts
  • Albanians:

    Capture of Pec or Kotor: 3pts each
    Keeping all invaders out of Albanian territories: 1pt per year

Later Ottoman Turks

Objectives -- As Mehemmed I you have eliminated your rival, Musa, in your claim as Sultan. After 11 years of anarchy, your Balkan despots have found some independence. Your Serbian vassal, Stephan Lazarevic, has gone so far as join King Sigismundís Order of the Dragon. This knightly order was formed in order to gather soldiers in a crusade against you. Also, Albania has broken away as well. Albanian warlords are warring with each other as well as Serbs and Italians. They may look forward to your help or join forces to resist you. The Serbs and Albanians must be brought under your control. Bulgaria is firmly in your grasp. You have placed your loyal Rumelian Beylerbey as their Tsar. When your vassals become obedient despots, you can turn your attention to besieging Constantinople.

Army Composition -- 4x3Cv*, 2x4Bw (Janissaries), 2x2Lh (Akinjis), 1x2Ps (Azabs), 2xArt, 1x3Kn (Serbs) or 1x2Lh (Albanians or Wallachians)

Territories or Cities -- Edirne (capital), Varna and Thessaloniki

Vassals -- Bulgaria is incorporated into your system with the Rumelian Beylerbey ruling their lands.

Later Bulgarians

Objectives -- As the Rumelian Beylerbey, you have the Sultanís favor. You are instrumental in Mehemmedís success. You must protect yourself and Ottoman territories from Serbia and Western Crusaders. Personal gains are welcomed, but are second to the Sultanís demands. Taking territories along the Danube would prove vital to lead attacks into Hungary. An essential city is Belgrade.

Army Composition -- 3x3Cv*, 6x2Lh, 2x3Ax or 4Sp (city militia), 1x2Ps

Territories or Cities -- Turnovo*,Vidin, and Sofia

Vassals -- You have no vassals, but you are a vassal to the Sultan.


Objectives -- As Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund, you have declared a Holy War against the infidel Turk. You have formed the Knightly Order of the Dragon for this purpose. Members are Janos Hunyadi, Vlad Dracul, and King Vladislav of Poland and Serbian Prince Stephan Lazarevic. You may even be able to persuade the Albanians to your cause. The Serbian Prince has formed an alliance with you for one year. Janos Hunyadi is your most trusted vassal.

Army Composition -- 4x3Kn*, 4x4Sp, 1x4Cb, 2x2Lh or 2x4Cb, 1x2Ps

Territories or Cities -- Vienna (capital), Zagreb and Sarajevo

Vassals -- Hungary is your vassal with Janos Hunyadi leading their army.

Later Hungarians

Objectives -- As Janos Hunyadi, you are the protector of Christendom from the Turks. You are in charge of the Kings troops in Hungary. You must keep on good terms with the Serbians, and then you should campaign in Bulgaria. Then onward to Edirne to knock the Turks out of Europe! You must save Constantinople.

Army Composition -- 3x3Kn*, 3x2Lh, 2x4Sp, 3x2Ps, 1xWWg or 1x4Cb

Territories or Cities -- Buda (capital), Cluj and Tigorviste

Vassals: You haven't any vassals, but you are a vassal of the Holy Roman Emperor.

Later Serbians

Objectives -- As Prince Lazarevic, you have taken advantage of the turmoil within the Ottoman Empire. First, you have signed a treaty with Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund. That will make you his ally for one year. Second, you have moved your capital from Skopje to Belgrade to improve your position with your ally. Your position is one of damage control. You have the most to lose since you have the most territories. You have an old score to settle with Bulgaria, but Albania may make a move on Montenegro and/or Kossovo. Most of all the Sultan wants your head. What is your move?

Army Composition -- 4x3Kn*, 2x2Lh or 2x3Kn (Bosnian or Croatian allies), 1x4Sp, 2x3Ax, 3x2Ps or 3x3Bw

Territories or Cities -- Belgrade (capital), Kotor, Pec and Skopje

Vassals: You have no vassals.


Objectives -- As John Castriotes, you are one of three major warlords in Albania. You have gotten cooperation with the other two for now. In doing so you have thrown off Turkish rule. Your son, George, is fighting for the Turks only so that you may keep your ancestral lands. So you have a one-year treaty with the Ottomans. Your big threat now is Serbia. You have large populations of people that live in Montenegro and Kossovo. You may ask for the Sultanís help, but you donít want his troops to stay. You could also ask for help from Holy Roman Emperor but you arenít aware of his stance with Serbia is. The main task is to keep your people free.

Army Composition -- 5x2Lh*, 1x3Bd, 3x3Ax, 3x2Ps

Territories or Cities -- Kroje (capital), Shkoder and Durres

Vassals -- You have no vassals.

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Last Updated: April 1, 2001

Questions, comments, and feedback are welcome. Sent them to Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.