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The Sarranid Sultanate is a new empire introduced in Mount&Blade: Warband. It isn't regarded as one of the most popular Factions, simply because of its troop selection. The Sarranid army is difficult to use if you don't know how to play to their strengths. The Sarranids wear light armor, which means they are dispatched fast. But with the right know-how, they can kill the opposition faster in comparison. They move faster on the world map, and while not as fast as a Khergit warband, are still very speedy.
Using the Sarranid SultanateEdit
In the beginning, if at war with the Khergits, they may lose Ahmerrad or Durquba and perhaps a few castles. They may rush to take Swadian or Khergit lands, and three things may happen. One is, they rush in and take a castle, while a larger enemy force rushes in and captures them or captures a city. Two is, A large fight between nations is fought, which Swadians they may win, or possibly Khergits, but most times a Rhodok force will win. Third and least common is that they will rush in, take over a fief, and come back flawlessly. Their infantry can make this happen with powerful throwing weapons, but their archers won't be too much help.
The Sarranids have a unique advantage: they start out with four cities like the Khergits, Vaegirs, and Swadians, but only border one other nation. This means that you will almost always fight only one significant opponent at a time. Better yet, your main rival are the Khergit - the most easily conquerable nation in the game. Your enemy will harass you in open fields and constantly loot your villages, but the extremely weak Khergit infantry will not be able to capture well-fortified important locations. You, on the other hand, should travel in tight war-bands (either with your marshall or with nobles who are friendly to you) and use your better balanced units to quickly take over Khergit towns and castles.
Unlike the Khergits, Rhodoks could pose a serious threat should they come near your cities, especially because the closest city to their land is your capital, Shariz. Therefore, you should switch tactics and engage the Rhodoks as if you were a Khergit - use more horsemen (to counter their infantry) and attack them in the open, looting their villages and harassing them at every turn. Initially you should only try to buy time until a ceasefire is declared, but once the Khergits are out of the picture, you could advance to Rhodok lands using either better infantry recruited from other kingdoms, or simply with much larger numbers (bolstered by your newly acquired Khergit towns - but remember that Khergit troops are merely there to overwhelm and act as a meat shield for your Mamlukes). Eventually even the powerful Rhodok Sharpshooters will have to yield to your relentless onslaught. The same strategy can be employed against Swadia, Vaegirs and the Nords.
On the battlefield, a Mamluke is argued to rival the powerful Swadian Knight. They can make quicker turns, wear very thick armour, and their heavy iron mace can deal blunt damage. The damage is less, and the blunt damage is not always good, but can be useful for capturing prisoners. However, their armour is slightly worse than the Swadians, so is their polearm skill. On foot, a Sarranid Guard, while it may have longer ranged throwing weapons than a Nord, is no match in hand-to-hand melee. Sarranid Guards are probably the worst top tier soldier in the game, worse than the Khergit Lancer and Nord Veteran Archer. Their archer doesn't really play to their role as an archer, so Vaegirs will outshoot them, but a Sarranid archer can double as infantry if the player is desperate. Note that this is still not recommended.
The Mamluke is one of the two most powerful horsemen in the game. As such, their main tactic is to charge into the fray, relying on their excellent armor to carry them through, even when surrounded by lesser enemies. Mamlukes carry shields which offer them even better defense in prolonged melee, whether on foot or on horseback. As a consequence of this, Mamlukes can also serve as the heavy infantry of the Sarranid Sultanate, being the only horsemen that are just as useful dismounted. Armed with iron maces, Mamlukes can smash through castle defenders, making way for weaker troops to pour into the gaps. They still have trouble attacking castles of Nords or Rhodoks, the Swadian Knight may be better because the Morningstar can crush through blocks more often, rendering most Nord and Rhodok shields' useless.
Sarranid Master Archers are a unique mix of archer and light infantry. In the open, they can decimate unprotected troops or dismount fast cavalry like Khergit Veteran Horse Archers. Heavy cavalry or infantry are much better protected against Master Archers' arrows and will destroy them if they reach them. Therefore, the best tactic for these archers is to plant them on a hill and let them do their thing while you and your Mamlukes monitor the situation. If light infantry or fast horses try to approach you need not do anything - the archers will either kill their enemies or weaken them sufficiently to take them out in melee. If they are approached by heavy infantry, the enemy will raise their shields to absorb the incoming arrows - this will slow down the enemy and will give you time to regroup your cavalry and charge at the unprotected rear and flanks of the enemy infantry (don't forget to order your archers to hold fire a few moments before so that you won't be peppered by your own troops).
Sarranid Guards are the weakest of all elite infantry, and probably, all elite troops, and are of little use in any battle. They cannot hold a shield wall (not surprising - they have small or no shields) thus they cannot approach enemy ranged units without being killed. They do, however, have Jarids with which they can annoy enemy forces. Since Jarids have a longer range than many other thrown weapons, you could move them with cavalry, stop them some way in front of the enemy and let the Jarids fly. The enemy will then raise their shields, giving your cavalry an opportunity to attack from the flanks. But they can and will still maneuver to defend against cavalry when your Guards run out of Jarids, which is very fast. Nevertheless, using Guards in this way is a chore since you'll have to hide behind mountains on approach to avoid any arrows and bolts and it isn't really worth it. Alternatively, you can leave them behind your archers (hidden behind some nearby obstacle, or better yet, a slopping hill) to surprise any enemy that nears your archers (again, high speed may help them intercept the enemy). Regardless, Guards are the weakest link in the Sarranid army and other units should be considered before you decide to employ them.
When trying to take a castle, you could use the archers as melee fighters in the initial charge (in combination with Mamlukes), and then order them to hold their ground and open fire on the nearest ledge overlooking the defender's spawning point while your Guards and Mamlukes hold a protected choke point to prevent the defending infantry from reaching your archers. The biggest problem is that if the enemy does a sit-and-wait, then Sharpshooters or Marksmen will easily take out your archers and maybe even most of your infantry and cavalry if you play on full damage. Mamlukes are the exception to this.
All Sarranid elite troops are either equipped with, or have a high chance of being equipped with, a blunt weapon. If you order your troops to switch to blunt weapons most of them will comply and will help you take as many prisoners as you want. The Mamlukes are one of the few elite horsemen (others being the Slaver Chiefs and Khergit Lancers) that are armed in this fashion, meaning you'll be able to maintain a good charge even though Mamluke's are better for flanking. The superior horses and equipment of the Mamlukes makes them better suited for this task than even when you set out to capture prisoners, without giving much more thought to micromanaging your troops than any other unit in the game. Note that prisoners will slow you down and can escape. You also lose morale if you recruit them.