H I S T O R I C A L P E R S P E C T I V E

Foundations of Victory:
Reasons for Macedonian Supremacy
BY JIM
IM WERBANETH

Alexander the Great's The Deluxe Edition of The Great
Battles of Alexander partially
illustrates how the Macedonian
conquest of the Persian king accomplished his singular
Empire has no parallel feat. As a tactical game, it throws
little light on his grand strategy,
in Western Military but it does accurately demonstrate
history. In his 1987 how a combination of tactical
genius, daring, and a highly
book, The Mask of developed combined arms military
Command, John Keegan system could dominate the
battlefields from the Balkans to the
vividly placed it into Indus.
perspective: Gamers with experience playing
Alexander quickly see the havoc
Imagine a Highland that the Macedonian system can
wreak on its enemies. In every
Napoleon. Imagine a Bonny major battle Alexander has an edge
Prince Charlie with Euro- over his Persian and Indian
enemies. In two, Gaugamela and
pean ambitions who, having won back Scotland from King George the Hydaspes, the other side has a
noteworthy chance of winning, but
II, sets off at the head of his clans not just to conquer England — a the advantage still lies with the
Macedonians. The Persians in the
mere preliminary — but to cross the Channel, to meet and beat the Issus scenario have less of a
chance. There is almost no
French army on the River Somme, then journey south into Spain possibility that they will beat a
competant Alexander at the
to besiege and subdue its principle fortresses, return north to Granicus, and for the Greeks at
challenge the Holy Roman Emperor, twice confront and defeat Chaeronea, the result is almost
always disaster. If played with the
him at the head of his forces, seize his Crown, burn his capital, and Spartans, the outcome is slight
slightly
less inevitable, but the army
finally depart eastward to cross swords with the Tsar of Russia or commanded by Alexander's father
Philip is still generally the winning
the Sultan of Turkey. Imagine all this compressed into, say, the one.
years 1745-56,
56, between the princeling's twenty-second
twenty and Superficially at least, the reasons
for this tactical domination are
thirty-third
third birthdays. Imagine on his death, at the age of thirty
thirty- simple: a military genius leading an
army better than any opposing it.
two, the crowns of Europe shared between his followers — Lord But a deeper
de examination is in
George Murray ruling in Madrid, the Duke of Perth in Paris, order. For the Macedonian player, it
is necessary to best exploit his
Lord Elcho in Vienna, John Roy Stewart in Berlin, Cameron of side's awesome capabilities, and for
the Persian or Indian side, to better
Lochiel in Warsaw, a gaggle of tartaned chieftans braying for anticipate and cope with them.

whiskey in
n the small courts of south Germany and London garri
garri- Alexander's advantages are
threefold; excellent
soned by a crew of bare-kneed
kneed highlanders. Finally, imagine most command, infantry, and
cavalry.
of the Jacobite empire enduring into the nineteenth century, parts
of it into the twentieth, and its last fragment into the twenty-first.
twenty

he is a king and commander to the fullest. who could not special capability for shock combat. Macedonian formations forma as true phalanxes. real men for eliminating. at low risk. true leaders on the Macedonian side. In this afford the full panoply of the the Agrianians are an important tool light. In the highly person-. including the king. arms regular infantry to attack frontally. or take a form. undermining its cohesion. and but they are hard h for cavalry and the game. it was transformed to a Thus Alexander himself is one of the The Macedonian system inherited standing unit of professional most important assets of the by Alexander from his father soldiers. are mostly ineffective. Most crucial. not just neutralizing. Wherever he and fight with a precision beyond personally engages the enemy is that possible with part-time troops. . of course. a high Moreover. In Deluxe Alexander. the arm of decision. with battlefield and developed it to a armies of Alexander the Great and two main functions. Macedonian system above that of nisms. their size contingent commanders. or any kind of massed react to lower-rated enemy evolution to a higher. Equipment also underwent important changes. This is the standards of skirmishers in the This is reflected in Deluxe Alexander. more effective infantry for that matter. Deluxe Alexander Napoleon. However. the ambitions of a to SPQR players). but. Never to be neglected. Qualitatively. wielding bows and slings. unique for skirmishers. typified by the are dang dangerous to enemy shortcut in the normal order to army at Chaeronea. practice were dominated by. standard. The other is to These units have a troop quality of single. extremely high by the combat. gave the phalanx a correspondingly there are never more than three greater reach. battlefield confrontation intrinsic to increased reliance on. Lesser characters Thee second Macedonian innovation decision. The Greeks. who are responsible for have a more decisive place on the There is a clear parallel between the very specific unit types only. heavily drilled to march Macedonian army. battles. not just the product of flitted about the Battlefield. In Hellenic eyes. they stand out At Chaeronea. eight on the the game recognizes only Granicus. and fought in an extremely sound tactical seried ranks. Lighter armor He is. however. a commander highly-ratedrated enhanced prestige of. These wheeled anachro- anachro enemy leaders. provide a charisma-based bonus in six. Alexander's aggressive hoplite. and maneuverability makes them a aids combat. the leadership is dispersed among seven differences are so profound that Persians at Gaugamela. so beloved by the Persians alized view of leader versus leader the classical Greeks. and. hoplite phalanx. in commands. light infantry were comprised against chariots. confrontation of the Persian King (and upstanding citizens) carried a chariots. By contrast. the young Alexander more important role. a much longer spear that commanders. In the other combat. was the professionalization of the rash bravado. Both were the products of something similar to line reflects this most prominently in distinct military systems. used in this game by the Agrianian javelinists. in this area can directly confront his denigrated by the Greeks. and the Persians and Indians (familiar ultimately served. One is to relay higher degree. radical departure from its Greek survive a charge by enemy High initiative enables a leader to predecessors so much as an hoplites. game. These handicaping them with a lower ability to move any direction but straight ahead. extraordinary individual. One was an and Indians. set the to chariots. For Skirmishers Skirmish enjoy attack superiority enemy counterparts. militia. was hoplite distinct threat to enemy flanks. most likely to be the place where the battle is decided. potentially them. Darius at Issus and Gaugamela was shield and spear. In a game system largely geared to command. not the only leader increased mobility. in the game. Superior charisma in which the bulk of the force. with their decapitatiing the opposing force and of the lower classes. high Alexander's infantry is not a truly An agrianian unit cannot hope to numbers translate into a key asset. portraying the Greek Experienced players should use the ones as double-sized double standard optional rule for Macedonian heavy infantry. the in the Macedonian army. who tend to stay back and harrass with the highest leadership ratings Infantry the enemy with bow and sling.GBoH Historical Perspective Command are leaders outside the chain of recognized that light infantry could command. From a militia formation. fielded armies skirmishers and their preempt them. But they commanders' moves. old pike was replaced with the his host relies on very few sarissa. one that the Macedonian player should exploit for an ability to initiate close is a gifted subordinate. they pose a special danger personal combat factor is a threat to Two innovations.

conservative general Parmenion. Considering the superior The strengths of the Macedonian extremely useful for tasks in numbers of cavalrymen opposing army — command. provided by his army. would have been unrecognizable to conventional. encounter with the Mongols is the they meet in head-to-head battle. create formations of overwhelming standing. in the form of the at least a limited attack. they guard Supporting them is a similar combination. the basic Macedonian tactic in the most obvious exception. refinement of existing methods and to the Greek army. but the topography is not well suited to Alexander the Great at their head to Macedonian phalanx is large-scale cavalry actions. cavalry on the field. Also. not basic innovation. it was the arm size. Greek reckon. in the best-known shred the Greek heavy infantry on cavalry. Everything else some valuable roles. who prefered to rely on the artisans and farmers who filled . But in himself. Europe's predecessor is at Chaeronea. and the Alexander delivered the death blow by the cavalry on the right flank. However. additionally. cavalry. Some of these can be with horses. Issus and to a just slightly lower quality. but overwhelm. with no ratings. But in combination. the vulnerable flanks of their number of light cavalry and line. both pioneered in phalanxes have the capacity to center. they are Cavalry The Thessalian cavalry on the extraordinarily powerful. they are light infantry and skirmishers. But most Historically. make them a force capable of indisputably superior to the Greek rupturing the enemy army with one hoplite infantry. Like the somewhat lesser degree Companions. them moving and to remove though a unit's troop strength is Like the Macedonian light infantry cohesion hits (thus sustaining the arguably the least important and skirmishers. More agile in any battle against the Persians. On the left. the double-depth line advances to occupy the enemy infantry tactics. Even his genius and they are much better at crossing true when the Persians have vision were unlikely to gain him the river than their larger cataphracted Bactrian heavy such a windfall without the means cousins. Moreover. single-hex heavy The cornerstone of the Macedonian Leonidas. infantry. nothing in Alexander's army that hypaspists. p If Persia excels at anything. The blitzkrieg was head of his father's cavalry. and his charisma to not variable in combat. basically. of Granicus. augmented by a such they must assume a special Do you agree with Jim Werbaneth's few infantrymen and screened charge formation for maximum reasons for Macedonian supremacy? by foot skirmishers. Very few military revolutions come phalanx's ascendency over its like a bolt out of the blue. under the older. and which a less linear approach is them for the King of Kings. at first cavalry — are not each sufficient to appropriate. even the Macedonian offensive punch. and elite status. the young prince game is a hammer blow delivered are the result of evolution. Miltiades. These are. their own. as The Macedonians. The armies of the support. For example. The infantry with high troop quality horse is the Companion heavy differences are threefold. instead The quality of the Companions have a wide variety of advantages of the untrustworthy aristocrats makes them a force with which to in combat. is a matter of emphasis and than the phalanxes. when using the Gaugamela. in the glance it appears to be a slender create the empire that th Alexander did Crossing the Jaxartes scenario. It takes his option to form especially imposing that cavalry is the centerpiece of initiative. It is the quintessential technological innovation more example of quality without striking than adding a few feet of In practice. In addition. But it takes the presence of found in heavy infantry. riding at the personally led by Alexander technologies. The Great Battles of Alexander Proper Macedonian phalanxes the heavy infantry's ranks. There was their own. The Macedonian way of war. hypaspists fulfill quantity. while the main infantry founded on tanks and small-unit the scenario. it other flank is a mirror image of the Companions and their lighter is cavalry. their cavalry was charge). In fact. is very similar. In addition. backed up by corresponding Or do you have a different point-of-view? point cavalry was an arm denigrated numbers of light cavalry and Write to C3i with your historical by most democratically. where Described in its simplest terms. to get double-depth formations. more instance from the twentieth century. minded Greeks. like effectiveness. perspective on this subject — Ed. the Thessalian World War I. reed for victory. potency and social enemy in the most critical combats. lancers. Also. are essentially recommended optional rule for cavalry forces. This is especially historically. they are lancers. the Macedonians have the option to in numbers. holds against a Persian offensive. Conclusions both socially and on the field of The best example of the Alexandrian battle. some Macedonian portrayed in The Great Battles of have high-quality heavy infantry of players will find an opportunity for Alexander. the greatly enhanced and augmented just defeat. there are only four units ash to a pike's shaft. most associated with the king. or Pericles. There is heavy cavalry. it has the Therefore there is some irony in furious charge.