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Got a few more kids who dropped out on me on my high school team’s roster. Stuff’s getting real tough looking ahead for next season. Schedule came out this week, and the first game up is against all the farm kids. Giants, every one of ’em. Gotta figure out how to bulk up the 20 kids I have left to take ’em on. And failing that… maybe bribe the drug tester? Get the little guys all hopped up and let ’em loose at their opponents ankles. If you think it’s immoral… well, that’s your problem for spending too much time thinking, and not enough time doing! Just taking a page outta the central Asian history books. Sometimes headlong crazy charges end up working super well! It’s all we’ve got left in the playbook, really. QB still can’t throw a fucking pass, after all.
Country of origin: Central Asia
Purpose built: To capture the city of Delhi
Years used: 1398
What is it? In the late 14th century, nomadic Turco-Mongols, led by the great general Timur, also commonly known as Tamerlane, sought to reclaim the glory that was Genghis Khan’s Mongol empire from 150 years previous. As the armies swept all across central Asia, they fought dozens of battles, conquered cities left and right, and claimed thousands of square miles of land as they expanded their new empire. Under Timur, the Timurid Empire stretched all the way from eastern Anatolia, all the way to the Indian Ocean and as far north as modern-day Uzbekistan.
It took Timur years to conquer much of the former Persian empire, having to deal with a plethora of fractured opponents along the way; some of his most significant early victories include wins over the northern Mongol Khan Tokhtamysh, which reduced Timur’s former ally to a mere fragment of his former military strength. As the Timurid armies swept east, they crossed into northern India in late 1398 with the intention of smashing the Delhi sultanate and seizing the city of Delhi as their own. That said, the Sultan Nasir-ud-Din Mahmud Shah Tugluq was a formidable opponent, and the city of Delhi was one of the largest and most prosperous on the planet during this time period.
Standing in the Timurid armies’ way were not only large infantry, cavalry and archer divisions, but also 100 war elephants, armed with metal plating and, according to some accounts, swords attached to their tusks (other accounts also say poison tips). Many of Timur’s men, notable the Tatars from the lands west of the Caspian sea, were very unaccustomed to elephants, and thus were very afraid of the mean-looking animals. In response to this, Timur instructed his armies to dig trenches and wait. Next, he took hundreds of camels, loaded them up with as much wood and straw as they could possibly carry, and then set them on fire. Yup. As the camels were poked with spears, they charged at the Sultan’s war elephants, hoping to neutralize the giant beasts quickly and efficiently.
Why didn’t it work? Ah, that’s the thing. It did. Insanely enough, the sight of the flaming camels charging head-on completely spooked the Sultan’s elephants, causing them to run away in panic, breaking the Tugluq ranks and letting the Timurid armies score an easy win. Without an organized defence, Delhi was sacked, and besides the military deaths, about 100,000 unarmed citizens were also decapitated, with the heads placed into giant towers on top of each other. It was an absolute bloodbath that took nearly 100 years for Delhi to recover from, population-wise.
What could make it better? I mean… If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? Nah, fuck that. Flaming camels is complete lunacy. That’s even crazier than any of the other stuff Timur’s army did. According to some estimates, his armies was responsible, in form or another, for the deaths of 17 million people, or 5% of the entire world’s population, during the late 14th century. I mean… why not just use archers… at which the Mongols were known to be extremely proficient? Or trebuchets, which could be set back a great distance from the rest of the attacking armies’ ranks? I guess those were clearly just far too logical for Timur. But hey, I mean, he got the job done, right?
So there ya have it. Without much else for me to do this summer, gotta get to work on beating the drug testing. Failing that, I’m sure a branding iron, applied gently before each half, will have the same results otherwise. Wish me luck as I bide my time, waiting to return to the NFL once more!
Thanks to everyone who’s enjoyed this series over the last few months – it has been a real treat for me to get to tag along with Coach Mornhinweg as we explore the nuances of fullback draws, oversized egos, and ridiculous weapon design principles. The [DFO] CFL Beat returns next week in this same timeslot – I look forward to once again bringing you news about the best football that Canada has to offer, and also the Montreal Alouettes. – The Maestro