「奇岩会戦」 (Kigan Kaisen)
“Battle at the Unusual Rock Formation”

After ratcheting up the political machinations and international competition for weeks on end, it only makes sense for Altair to finally explore the more “personal” side of geopolitics. When diplomacy fails and negotiations stall the only option left is force of arms, and in that scenario there is no room for hesitancy. Altair might be all about the strategy, but it certainly has not forgotten about the tactics.

While not the most objectively entertaining of battle scenes, Balaban’s attack was particularly interesting for all the little things it featured. We saw everything from the importance of formations to the effectiveness of technology and even the art of deception. The critical elements, however, lay in the differences of leadership. Mahmut won this battle not because of any superior strategy (at its core it was remarkably basic), but because Balaban never tried anticipating his enemy’s. Reading one’s opponent is a ubiquitous concept in more than just warfare, but it’s repeatedly brought up because it’s true: correctly predicting your opponent is what wins you the game. Balaban lost because he forgot this key aspect, single mindedly focused on selfishly obtaining (vain)glory and honour while completely discounting Mahmut. Sometimes pure force of will can overcome such things, but not when you deliberately handicap yourself in the name of fame. Because Balaban chose pride over efficiency he paid the ultimate price. Winning through deception and trickery may not be pretty, but the objective of war is never aesthetic appeal—it’s victory.

Not to be discounted though is Mahmut’s own role in the affair. Balaban may have screwed himself over with his delusions of grandeur, but Mahmut ultimately gave him the opportunity to indulge, and did so with style. Seriously, Mongol-style smoke screens, feigned retreats, and taunting of the enemy? Please Altair, I can only take so much in one sitting. This, however, doesn’t include the very obvious inspiration drawn from the battle of Cannae, complete with double envelopment and bolstered concave infantry lines. Sure it might have been referenced a little too heavily (even Hannibal had a smoke screen), but I’m not about to turn my nose up at how well it played out. Not only has Mahmut now proven himself a force to be reckoned with, he has also upstaged Zaganos by both defeating the main ringleader and doing so with no external support. Whether Zaganos likes Mahmut or not (it’s not entirely clear), Mahmut is going to get all the accolades and likely return to being a fulltime pasha—the spymaster probably won’t appreciate that too much. Plus with a new pair of well-placed friends and a free hand to decide the fate of the remaining dependency sultans, Mahmut right now has more power than he knows what to do with. Once the kid finishes cleaning up the mess and returns back home, it will be incredibly interesting seeing what the Stratocracy’s council has to say to its banished member.

With the civil war arc more or less complete and Mahmut on his way back to a position of authority (probably), it’s quite unclear where Altair plans on heading next. Turkiye may have resolved its internal unrest, but by having upset a ravenous empire and thwarted Louis’ personal ambitions yet again, you can bet the drums of war will not remain silent for long. Mahmut’s redemption ensures it.




    1. I saw that bit, considering how Mahmut has been portrayed up until now though it makes some sense. The kid in the show hasn’t really been that “sinister” yet, having him do it now would seem out of place. Good or bad, the writers probably want to build up to it more slowly.

      1. It’s not a complaint and I could understand why the animators made that decision. Though in the manga it made Mahmut quite badass, it was quite contradictory to his character.

  1. There’s two parts to the battle that’s a bit too unrealistic. Firstly the part where infantry appear from the ground with spears to ambush incoming calvary. When did they get the time prebattle to lay the ambush? The location being midpoint of the two sides meant this would likely took place in full view. How does that happen?

    Secondly the yatecheri (sp) aka ikemen brigade were using what looked like steel or metal shields. How did those shields get easily pierced by slug balls fired hundreds of metres away? The effective range of flint lock muskets was never more than a hundred metres and penetrating steel armor at the end of their range is very unlikely.

    1. Your right, but

      1.st: It’s Anime Magic

      2.nd: These Steel Shields was not pure like today. Perhaps they break easier because this metal is impure for today standards. So, yes. The Bullets could peirce trough.. also.. look 1.st

    2. Only the pikemen suddenly jumping out of the ground irked me, I could believe it if they emerged from a trench, but we saw nothing of the sort after they appeared. Also pikes are only effective against horses if planted into the ground—you’re going to get run over quickly if you simply hold them in your hands.

      As for the shields probably just chalk it up to artistic license. The muskets are meant to be a radical invention here, so I guess Altair decided to treat them like Civilization does: a total game changer.

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