Alexander vs. Darius

The Battle of Issus  333 BC
by Jeff Jonas

Part I: The Campaign and Battle       Part II: The Battle as a Wargame

Part III: Duncan Head's analysis and sources      Part IV: Sources and references



Agrianian javelinmen drive the Persian light troops into the hills.

Part II: The Battle as a Wargame

Set-up
The initial scenario is presented with a ten foot by six foot table in mind. The forces are roughly at a ratio of 1 figure equals 100 men. Some units may be lower than this, and some (such as the Persian levy) may represent denser formations. The units are derived in most part from the OOB presented in Part I.
Part III offers plenty of information to try out, if my analysis doesn't excite the reader. most of the compromises are related to game presentation, to fit WAB's peculiar game style. The large amount of miniatures needed will suit this mostly for team play.   A few scenarios will be presented, an unbalanced "historical" scenario in which the Persians are roped into their historical mistakes, and  looser "gamey" scenarios which allows a more balanced game, but shift the edge to the Persians.  Finally a smaller OOB is presented for play on a six foot wide, by four feet deep table, for those who just wish to play the game and gain an introduction to the battle.

All troop listings are taken from "Warhammer: Alexander the Great."  Army points are not considered from the OOB, although in a free form game on a six foot table both sides could play out with up to 2500 pts. and pick their own army composition, but this can really challenge the Macedonians.

Terrain Diagram

Diagram 1:
The terrain is laid out based on the diagram below. The gridlines represent a one foot square each. The following terrain types are in play:

 

Coastline: Defines where the ocean begins, Ocean is impassible to all troops.
Marshy Channel: This area only obstructs march and charge moves... units may only move their normal allowance if they cross the marshy channel during their move.
River: This part of the river has no effect on game play.. the river was wide but not deep in these places.
Ford:  Cavalry may not "march move" across this terrain. Only normal moves are allowed. Cavalry may charge across the river but may only move their normal movement allowance, and lose any special formation effects the turn they charged. In effect a wedge flattens out if charging across the rockier parts of the river, and massed cavalry loses its rank bonus.
Rocky River: Cavalry may not declare charges, or  march move at all across this terrain. Only normal moves are allowed, and the river counts as an obstacle.   In any case where a cavalry unit is forced (via pursuit) to charge across the stream a wedge flattens, and massed cavalry loses its rank bonus. Formed infantry may not march move across the river in these places, but it does not count as an obstacle for them normally.
Low Escarpments: This terrain is on the Persian side of the river only. Formed units lose their phalanx benefits if attacking up the escarpments, from the river side. Attackers and defender's retain their rank bonus.  Units defending behind are not affected, and attacking down towards the river are not affected. These escarpments do not affect movement, but add +1 to the Combat Result of the defender if any attacker crossed escarpments to attack. Once a unit defending an escarpment loses a round of combat , it loses the +1 bonus, as it has been pushed off the crest.

High Escarpments: This terrain is past the ford into the hills to the table edge. Cavalry may not cross this terrain, unless forced into it by rout or pursuit.   Formed units lose their phalanx benefits if attacking across the escarpments, from either side. All units lose rank bonuses, if attacking across. All formed troops pay twice the normal movement costs  in this terrain.
Low Hills: The light brown terrain is the high ground as it gradually undulates upwards towards the Amanus range. The hills only affect Line of Sight and do not confer any combat results bonus.
Higher hills: The darker brown areas represent the steeper slopes inland. These count as hills for combat results. Formed troops may not march move or charge across this steeper ground.
Light Woods: This represents rough scrub and low trees. These count as light woods and obstruct Line of Sight, and obstructs movement.


Diagram 2:

The units in play are deployed according to the map above. Persians are in pink. Macedonians are in blue. The numbers correspond to the OOB manifest that follows.


Orders of Battle

The following OOB is presented as a suggestion only. Obviously it will be a rare even that allows players to gather a thousand miniatures for a single game. Feel free to use this as a guideline. Mike Bruck offers a "safe and sane"  OOB that he built from this info, which is presented later.

 

 

Persian Issus OOB

 

Unit# 

Type

Models

Commands

A

Darius, General, Great King  in chariot, bow, javelin

1

(6,11,15,26,27,28,29)

B

Nabarzanes, Sub-General, heavy armor, throwing spear, armored warhorse

1

(1,2,3,4,5,9,10,22)

C

Rheomithres, warhorse, (may dismount), attached to unit 7

1

(7,8,16,17,18,19)

D

Unnamed Satrap, warhorse, (may dismount), attached to unit 25

1

(23,24,25)

E

Thymondas, Greek Polemarch, heavy armor, horse (may dismount), attached to unit 13

1

(12,13,14,21,22)

 

 

 

1

Misc. Cadusian/others, Colonist horse,   L/S/M , throwing spear  

10

2

Barcanian Colonist horse, L/S/M, special*, bucklers
*Armed with axes and small shields. These count as hitting at S4 during the first round of hth combat.

12

3

Persian horse, L/S/M,  throwing spear

16

4

Armored Persian horse, L/S/M, 1/2 barding, throwing spear

16

5

Armored Kappadokian Persian horse, L/S/M, heavy armor, 1/2 barding, throwing spear

12

6

Persian Kinsmen. L/S/M, Heavy armor,  L/S/M, throwing spear

10

7

Hyrkanian Satrapal cavalry, L/S/M, throwing spear

8

8

Median Skirmish cavalry, L/S/M, javelins

8

 

 

 

9

Kardaka light infantry*, L/S/M, shield, spear, javelin     

24

10

Kardaka light infantry*, L/S/M, shield, spear, javelin             

24

11

Kardaka hoplites, L/S/M, light armor, large shield, thrusting spear      

24

12

Greek Mercenary hoplites,   L/M , large shield, thrusting spear 

24

13

Veteran Greek Mercenary hoplites, L/M ,light armor, large shield, thrusting spear         

24

14

Greek Mercenary hoplites, L/M, large shield, thrusting spear  

24

15

Kardaka hoplites, L/S/M, light armor, large shield, thrusting spear    

24

16

Kardaka light infantry*, L/S/M, shield, spear, javelin               

24

17

Kardaka light infantry*, L/S/M, shield, spear, javelin              

24

18

Skirmishers, javelins, buckler

12

19

Mardian archers*, L, bow

16

20

Greek peltasts, L/M, javelins, pelta

12

21

Greek peltasts, L/M, javelins, pelta

12

22

Skirmishers, bow

12

23

Skirmishers, javelins, buckler

12

24

Skirmishers, javelins, buckler

12

25

Takabara, javelins, L/S/M, buckler

16

 

 

 

26

Satrapal Levies**, L/S/M, javelins, buckler

36

27

Satrapal Levies**, L/S/M, spears, buckler

36

28

Satrapal Levies**, L/S/M, spears, buckler

36

29

Satrapal Levies**, L/S/M, short bows

36

 
Total: 595    Characters:5    Infantry: 288    Light Infantry: 210   Cavalry:92

 *    Units marked may not operate as skirmishers.
**  Units represent many more than 1:100 troops, and are subject to special rules.

 

 

 

Macedonians Issus OOB

 

Unit# 

Type

Models

Commands

A

Alexander, General, on warhorse, heavy armor, xyston (may dismount)

1

(1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12)

B

Parmenion, Sub-General, on warhorse, heavy armor, xyston (may dismount)

1

(16,17,18,19,20,21,22)

C

Coenus, on warhorse, heavy armor, xyston, Hipparch (may dismount)

1

(13,14,15,23,24,25,26)

D

Craterus, light armor, shield, pike, Taxiarch on foot, attached to unit 22

1

E

Attalos, light armor, shield, javelin, Taxiarch on foot, attached to unit 2

1

F Nicanor, light armor, shield, javelin, Taxiarch on foot, attached to unit 10

1

 

 

 

1

Agrianian slingers             

6

2

Agrianian javelinmen, L, javelins, 

8

3

Agrianian javelinmen, L, javelins,

8

4

Greek Mercenary cavalry, Companion cavalry detachments,  L/M, heavy armor, xyston

6

5

Companion cavalry, L/M, heavy armor, xyston

10

6

Agema Companion cavalry, L/M, heavy armor, xyston

10

7

Macedonian archers, L, bow

12

8

Prodromoi cavalry, (Combine lancers and Paeonians, half lancers) L/M, sarissa

8

9

Greek Peltasts, L/M, javelins, shield

12

10

Agema Hypaspists, L/M, shield, light armor, thrusting spear (phalanx) or javelins (light infantry)

16

11

Hypaspists, L/M, large shield, light armor, thrusting spear (phalanx) or javelins (light infantry)

16

12

Agema Pezhetairoi, L/M, Coenus’ battalion, shield, mixed armor, pike

24

13

Pezhetairoi,  L/M, Perdikkas'  battalion, shield, mixed armor, pike

24

14

Pezhetairoi,  L/M, Amyntas’ battalion, shield, mixed armor, pike

24

15

Pezhetairoi,  L/M, Ptolemy’s battalion, shield, mixed armor, pike

24

16

Pezhetairoi,  L/M, Meleager’s battalion, shield, mixed armor, pike

24

17

Mercenary skirmishers, L, (Thracians) javelin, buckler,

16

18

Cretan archers, shield, bow

12

19

Thessalian Pharsalian cavalry, L/M, heavy armor, spear and javelins

10

20

Thessalian cavalry, L/M, heavy armor, spear and javelins

9

21

Allied Greek cavalry, L/M, heavy armor, thrusting spear

8

22

Pezhetairoi, Craterus’ battalion, L/M, shield, mixed armor, pike

24

23

Greek League hoplites, L/M, large shield, thrusting spear  

32

24

Mercenary hoplites, L/M large shield, light armor, thrusting spear

32

25

Veteran mercenary hoplites, L/M large shield, light armor, thrusting spear  

32

26

Mounted Grooms, javelins

8

 


Total: 464    Characters:6    Infantry: 296    Light Infantry: 93    Cavalry:69

 



A Historical Scenario

The game will not develop like the historical battle unless some constraints are imposed on the players. Again these may be used in total, or players may choose which special rules to apply to their games. Set up according to the diagram above. The Macedonians always take the first move.

Special rules: Players should use all the AtG special rules for Persians and Macedonians.  The Great King rule must be used. Alexander may re-roll one of his side's Oracle pools.

Oracles: The Macedonian player has three pools of Oracles. Alexander gets 2D6. Parmenion gets 1D6 and Coenus gets 1D6. Parmenion and Coenus may only play their oracles on their own command within 12". Alexander may play or add oracles on any units within 12", even those under another commands, up to the normal limits. At the start of the game Alexander may give up to 2 oracle points to each sub-general. A Commander's oracles may not be used if he is fleeing or killed.

Multi-Player:
Certainly one of the best ways to 'simulate' command and control issues is to have multiple players move and control their troops. Issus is a great multi-player scenario as the action can be broken up into wings in which each commander can focus on the threats in front. On the OOB above each General or Subordinate General's or officer's command is listed to the right. (See page 10 for Sub-Generals rules)

1) Players may not swap troops with other players. Other players will only gain control of another player's troops if the model representing that character is killed or runs off the table.
2) Players may elect to set up a 5 minute conference talk period before their turn starts, after this there is no more talking between them unless their character models are within 12" of each other. Players may talk amongst themselves freely during the opponent's turn, but should not confer away from the table.
3) Persian player C and D may be combined into one command.
4) Each player's command can be kept track of for a 50% edginess point. Once the command no longer has 50% of its models on the table, then the remaining units must take all leadership tests using 3D6

Persian Command paralysis: The Persians seemed to be in disarray as the battle started. They made no initial movement to counter Alexander's actions. On the first turn only Command D is active and may move or declare charges. On turn two, command D, and up to two other commands may move their troops or charge, chosen by Darius. On turn three all Persian commands may move and charge normally. All units may counter-charge, react to charges, and shoot normally.

Persian Light Infantry: Kardakes and Mardians may not skirmish. Only Takabara may skirmish and reform.

Persian Levies Infantry: The units of levies may not move, charge, shoot, or reform, unless they pass a leadership test each and every time they wish to do so. In the case of a charge passing this check also passes any 'fear' tests. Players may well wish to not even put these troops on the table. However, the Persian player should mark where they are deployed with deployment trays, or some other method to show that these troops are still blocking movement. Assume the units do not move, but only will leave if they fail panic an they are immediately routed off, no longer parked on the table edge. If the invisible levies rule is chosen, then remove one unit of Alexander's Greek League hoplites to compensate.

Game Length: The game should  last at least six turns.  After that twilight sets in. If Alexander hasn't won by then, he deserves a draw!

Optional rules: Players should consider using the mixed armor rules for this scenario.

Victory: Darius wins if they draw, or kill Alexander... Alexander wins if Darius is killed, routs off the field, and/or the Persian army is reduced to break point.

 

 

A Limited Deployment Scenario
This game will allow the Persian player limited freedom to thwart Alexander. Each player deploys his commands within their deployment zones.  The Macedonians always take the first move.

Deployment: Commands must deploy with some portion of each unit within 12" of their commander. (Commands may not be spread out all over the table, they must stay within command at the start at least).  Each side must deploy one unit from each command with the Persians going first. Thus the Persian player will deploy 5 units first, then the Macedonians will deploy at least three units, each from a different command. Characters deploy last as one selection.

Persian units deploy behind the Pinarus river. Command D must deploy in areas E8, E9, F8, F9. Macedonian troops are deployed in their deployments zone. Skirmishing foot may deploy outside the box but must stay within 4" of the deployment zone in Row E.  Units 1,2,3,4 may deploy in area F7.

Oracles: The Macedonian player has three pools of Oracles. Alexander gets 2D6. Parmenion gets 1D6 and Coenus gets 1D6. Parmenion and Coenus may only play their oracles on their own command within 12". Alexander may play or add oracles on any units within 12", even those under another commands, up to the normal limits. At the start of the game Alexander may give up to 2 oracle points to each sub-general. A Commander's oracles may not be used if he is fleeing or killed.

Game Length: The game should  last at least six turns.  After that roll a D6,

Add in other scenario rules above to taste, or leave them off to give the Persians an extra edge.

Victory: Use normal victory conditions. If Alexander is killed then the best the Macedonians can achieve is a draw..

 

A Free Deployment Scenario
This game will allow the Persian player full freedom to thwart Alexander. Each player deploys his commands within their deployment zones.  The Macedonians always take the first move.

Deployment: Units may be placed anywhere in their deployment zones as described above. Troops may deploy irrespective of command restrictions. Persian cavalry and light infantry (but no Kardakes)   may deploy  within 6" of the river, on the South side.

Oracles: As above.

Game Length: As above

Add in other scenario rules above to taste, or leave them off to give the Persians an extra edge.

Victory: As above.

 

Mike Bruck's "Safe and less insane" scenario!

Try the scenario rules with the following OOB and a table scaled down to 6-8 feet by 4-5 feet. Mike suggest this for gamers  to wet their whistles for the big game!


Here is my Mike-sized WAB OOB taken from your article (at 1:200)

Persians:

Darius
2x20 Kardaka Hoplites 
2x24 Kardaka Light Infantry
2x6 Mardian Archers 
2x25 Greek Hoplites
2x15 Persian Heavy Cavalry
1x10 Median Cavalry
2x12 Takabara Light Infantry
2x32 Levy Infantry (or use the invisible levies rules above and remove the Greek League Hoplites below)

Totals: 278 Models; 1 chariot (with Darius), 40 Cavalry, 238 infantry

Macedonians:

Alexander
Parmenion
1x10 Thessalians
1x15 Thracians
1x6 Cretan Archers
2x30 Center Phalanx (pike)
1x18 Hypaspists
1x10 Companions
1x6 Macedonian Archers
1x8 Agrianians
1x15 Mercenary Peltasts

1x25 Greek League Hoplites
1x25 Greek Mercenary Hoplites


Total: 200 Models; 2 characters, 20 cavalry, 178 infantry

(Jeff note: Use the commanders in the high OOB as unit leaders in this sized game.. so Nabarzanes would be the leader model in the Persian cavalry. Coenus would be the leader of the Agema Pezhetairoi... etc.)

A free choice and free deployment scenario
Allow both sides to choose their armies within 2.5K for the small table, and within 5 k each for the big table.

 

 

 

 

Questions or Comments Email: jjartist@earthlink.net

 

 

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01/20/07