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Crackpot Mailbox: The Khan is Summoned from his Barrow Mound—by a Wargamer?
© 2019 James LaFond
Sun, Dec 1, 6:58 PM (6 days ago)
Please forward this missive to the Khan when he is available,
O Great Khan,
While His Eminence was on campaign in the Four Corners of the Earth, His Royal biomancer-slaves in the fetid swamps of Vendhya have bred a new species of warmount, the dragonhawk. It is a carnivorous flying reptilian capable of carrying 2 lightly armed men or 1 heavily armed man. They have powerful legs which can claw or be fitted with blades. On land they run as fast as horses (when not fitted with blades) and bite like crocodiles.
Although we have many slaves to feed them, we don't expect to field more than 80-100 warhawks at a time, because they require meat. You could take 500 with you, but you'd have to win every battle, and feed them the dead. They do not like the cold, and require 12 hours of sleep in the cold months of temperate zones. In warm climates they are energenic and require 4 hours of sleep.
We, your fat generals, would like to know how you plan to deploy these mounts against various armies, to improve the efficiency of our preparations.
Thank you,
Polynimbus, fat general

Do not despair, Subadai was fat—we had to have him dragged around in a cart because not even a Frankish horse could haul his carcass. Yet he felled the armies of Armenia, Georgia, Kiev and Muscuvoy with only two tumans [divisions of 10,000 riders.] These flying ostrich-crocodiles appear to be ideal for taking Egypt, India and the peninsulas of the Middle Sea. A single armored rider is only desirable for sieges, in which he will be dropped off on towers to hold stairwells as the steed clears the battlement and then retires.
Also for sieges, rooftops and other inaccessible eminences might be accessed by two archers so that they may fire down on defenders from behind. For both of these siege gambits the dragonhawks must be trained to return to their master like a falcon, with a meat wagon serving as their perch.
Now, let us examine your queries concerning various upstart forces.

-versus Imperial Legions
The beasts should be rested by day and then sent out to the roman Fortress which the fools build every night—every winged one of them, to clear the walls in one swoop, feasting upon the sentries as they perch above and then flying off for the first night.
On the second night the murderous engineers will have the walls manned in force. So the lone, unarmored riders of the flying steeds will swoop in with two buckets of smoldering pitch each and drop them on the tents, most specifically the tent of the general. Then, in the general confusion, each steed will seek a single morsel from those remaining on the walls and then fly off just out of bowshot to devour him.
By alternating these two methods one could use your beasts to demoralize the enemy.
Since the Romans are weak in missile weapons, I would then harry their van and rear with steeds with but one light bowmen to scatter their horsemen with arrows and then swoop in to snatch a rider for feasting. Snatching such vicious food should consist of a short flight over tree tops where the horseman will be dropped into them. Some will lunge through tot heir death, some be impaled or tangled in the tops and others survive as wounded. After this has been done by a troop of winged terrors the archers on hawk-back could shoot the dangerous tree fruit and their beasts could swoop in to feed.
In general, I will be recommending using the enemy as the food source in such foraging attacks rather than giving main battle.
Against elite legions, I suggest using the beasts to seize cohort and legion standards while the enemy is in marching files and then dropping the standards in terrain, such as swamp and towering alpine rocks, unsuitable for legion maneuver and snatching the very best men who will be sent to retrieve them and eating the seed corn of the enemy.

-versus Alexander's Phalanx
Use your winged beasts to snatch Alexander from his tent at night.
Bring the brat king to me in chains so I can lose to him in chess on a daily basis. He's such an egotist, he will not permit himself to lose and will fail to realize that losing to me is his only method of release and will linger in torment. We will dress a Chinese actor in his lion helmet and send him winging over the army declaring that Alexander is now among the gods and he fights on a higher plane and bids them return to their goat sheds.

-versus Apache Horseman
Hunt them like tigers, a sport reserved for my officers, who might test their archery from the backs of their winged steeds.

-versus Mongol horse archers
I'm not some self-hating Caucasoid ape who would dash the flower of our manhood to oblivion in industrial brother wars, thankyou, least of all arm you civilized sorcerers with the methods for using your foul beats to overcome the men of the steppes!

-versus drunken Irish brawlers
As the falconer who handles eagles does, by espying his quarry from afar and sending his bird of prey for the fox. Indeed, training the young Dragonhawks to hunt foxes, who, like the Irish are often red of hair, will be a useful method for rearing your giant falcons.

-versus Viet Cong gorillas
Use these Dragonhawks in flights of four, to insert Long Range Recon Patrols astride the enemy lines of communication and to supply and reinforce and evacuate firebases.

-versus Napoleon's 1807 army
This army never developed from the revolutionary force which foraged off the land, into the traditional musket army which depended on chains of magazines for supply. Therein resided its strength and its weakness, that it could rampage across the world feeding itself off the unwanted contributions of neutral and enemy populations. When such a force has to retreat along its line of recent advance, such as out of Russia in 1812, it starves. I would use the dragonhawks as counter-foraging forces, harrying the light horse such as hussars, armed only with sabers and pistols, by having the single rider shooting men out of the saddles and the steeds snatching a feathered rider and flying him off to a feed station, some high place, where the fresh hussar meat is cached for the feast of the steeds. Eventually musketeers will have to be dispatched to escort foragers, slowing the process of feeding the Napoleanic beast down. Once this has happens, your foraging beasts should be pulled back and those with a rider carrying buckets of pitch should be sent after the artillery train and the infantry supply wagons with their barrels of powder and cases of cartridges to ignite the caissons and wagons.
Once main battle is joined, use the flying steeds to drop 2-pound shoots on columns of infantry from 500 feet, effectively out of range of any rifles present among the light infantry.
Overall, these beasts should only be used in northern climes in summer and be employed against the warm nations by the sea. The best use of such flying beasts in my service would be to be sent with single riders, to the base camp of the marching army to abduct concubines, dancing girls and princesses for Khanic enjoyment.
Also, since the buggers are hungry and run quite fast, captive lords who are not amicable in giving submission, or who have mistreated our envoys or insulted The Khan, should be sent running across the steppes while we sit our horses, and our giant, ravenous chickens are sent running after them one-to-one to rip them apart and serve the rude with their just deserts.
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