Last Modified 01/20/07
By Jeff Jonas 3-28-01
Spartans in WAB are Drilled Hoplites that fight in Phalanx. The
Phalanx rules specific state that Hoplites in phalanx are limited in "formation
changes", this can cause some conflicts that I will attempt to redress.
Page 14 of AoA.
"The only formation change allowed to a phalanx is an 'about face' (ie, a turn through 180 degrees. Phalanx's may wheel, but may not march or charge it they do so. However, they are allowed to 'drift' (or rather 'slide') one inch to the right when they march or charge."
Unfortunately this wording is a little off tack as turning as defined in the WAB rules on page 15 is a "Manoeuvre", not a formation change at all!
So what's a happy Hellene to do? This doesn't quite make sense, and has led to some confusion... I'm going to try to break down the ruling- then add in a whole scoop of PHB to try to fix things.
First if the phalanx rule is supposed to say "The only Manoeuvre allowed...etc,
Then this would apply to the following sections, Wheeling, Turning, Changing Formation, and Reforming. However, most phalanx players will then complain that there is no chance at all if phalanx's cannot "reform". I agree, in a move-counter -move game like WAB if any unit may reform- then all must be allowed (this is an argument in itself....).
My conclusion is that the Phalanx rules should be clearer if they stated:
The only Turn allowed to a phalanx is an 'about
face' (ie, a turn through 180 degrees. Phalanx's may wheel, but may not march or charge it
they do so. However, they are allowed to 'drift' (or rather 'slide') one inch to the right
when they march or charge. The drift or slide is applied at the end of their move.
A phalanx may not add or remove ranks, however they may reform."
The above would (hopefully) clearly state which of the "Manoeuvre" rules apply and how they are modified by the formation.
Now the Spartans really mess this up, as Drilled they gain some
of special abilities that conflict with being in phalanx. Notably the special rules on
page 120 which state:
"At the start of their movement drilled troops are allowed to turn or change formation by up to two ranks for free"
The other Drilled benefits, ability to decide not to pursue, disengaging without a Leadership test, opening lanes for elephants and Scythed chariots, and being able to FBIGO from any lost combat (AoA), do not conflict with the phalanx rules.
So based on our examination of the turning restrictions above then we can say that the Spartan phalanx may "about face" at the start of their turn and that's it... seems like a rip-off.... all that Drilling and they can't right or left face or change ranks!!!
I guess the question to ask is "why" is this so, and
may a phalanx use "march column movement" instead of being forced into phalanx
all the time... and off to PHB land that will take us!
Xenophon a noted Athenian historian and soldier, and as a "conservative" was a lifelong supporter of Spartan ideas and has preserved some information about their organization and 'maneuverability' in his writings about the Spartan Constitution, some of which is preserved below for you to peruse after we use some of it as our PHB fodder for our arguments!
The key issue for a phalanx is this issue of right and left face. Officers were file leaders at the front, the phalanx fought behind them, the men on the flanks were not expected to lead, thus a phalanx needed to wheel to the right or left ONCE DEPLOYED. Phalanx's in column were much more flexible in how they could react and maneuver, phalanx's deployed in 'batteline' (phalanx) seemed only capable of about face movement.
"if the enemy appears in the rear while they are in this formation, each file counter-marches, in order that the best men may always be face to face with the enemy."
But here's an interesting bit, because this 'counter-march' mirrors the formation the leading officer ends up on the left instead of the right:
"If, however, it seems better for any reason that the leader should be on the right wing, the left wing wheels, and the army counter-marches by ranks until the leader is on the right, and the rear of the column on the left."
This seems to indicate that the Spartans are 'reforming' so they can again get their precious leader on the right flank
The interesting light that Xenophon sheds is that marching to the battlefield from column the Spartans have much deployment freedom , forming either left or right or to the rear quickly, but once in battleline they are restricted to about face, or wheeling.
This is a PHB plus for the Greek player who some say that his phalanxes should never be able to form march column in WAB, it is obvious that the Spartans used this column formation to deploy into their final battle line.
In WAB a Drilled Spartan phalanx in column has freedom of all it's "maneuver " skills while in column, but loses some when in formed in phalanx. In fact a column may actually turn or change ranks for free , thenceforth becoming a phalanx. A phalanx could then 'reform' back into column if it needed later.
For example a Spartan column of three figures wide by 6 figures deep, is in column, it could triple march and wheel to its front. At the start of this unit's next turn it may left or right face and become a phalanx and then charge the enemy. The diagram below shows how the Spartans can maneuver from column into battleline quite freely.
So, my conclusions are that the Spartans are able to march in column, which is based on PHB brought forth by Xenophon (A full reading below for those who wish!) While they are in columns they have the full repertoire of Drilled skills (or 'stupid -insert Drilled troop type here- tricks' as some have called them). They may use these 'tricks' to reform in phalanx, but once in phalanx they may not left or right face, as even Xenophon says this isn't possible without lots of countermarching... but the fact the phalanx is trained to countermarch should allow them to reform.
The blessings that I have enumerated so far were shared by all alike in peace and in war. But if anyone wishes to discover in what respect Lycurgus' organisation of the army on active service was better than other systems, here is the information that he seeks.
The Ephors issue a proclamation stating the age-limit fixed for the levy, first for the cavalry and infantry, and then for the handicraftsmen. Thus the Lacedaemonians are well supplied in the field with all things that are found useful in civil life. All the implements that an army may require in common are ordered to be assembled, some in carts, some on baggage animals; thus anything missing is not at all likely to be overlooked.
In the equipment that he devised for the troops in battle he included a red cloak, because he believed this garment to have least resemblance to women's clothing and to be most suitable for war, and a brass shield, because it is very soon polished and tarnishes very slowly. He also permitted men who were past their first youth to wear long hair, believing that it would make them look taller, more dignified and more terrifying.
The men so equipped were divided into six regiments of cavalry and infantry. The officers of each citizen regiment comprise one colonel, four captains, eight first lieutenants and sixteen second lieutenants. These regiments at the word of command form sections sometimes (two), sometimes three, and sometimes six abreast.
The prevalent opinion that the Laconian infantry formation is very complicated is the very reverse of the truth. In the Laconian formation the front rank men are all officers, and each file has all that it requires to make it efficient.  The formation is so easy to understand that no one who knows man from man can possibly go wrong. For some have the privilege of leading; and the rest are under orders to follow. Orders to wheel from column into line of battle are given verbally by the second lieutenant acting as a herald, and the line is formed either thin or deep, by wheeling. Nothing whatever in these movements is difficult to understand.  To be sure, the secret of carrying on in a battle with any troops at hand when the line gets into confusion is not so easy to grasp, except for soldiers trained under the laws of Lycurgus.
 The Lacedaemonians also carry out with perfect ease maneuvers that instructors in tactics think very difficult. Thus, when they march in column, every section of course follows in the rear of the section in front of it. Suppose that at such a time an enemy in order of battle suddenly makes his appearance in front: the word is passed to the second lieutenant to deploy into line to the left, and so throughout the column until the battle-line stands facing the enemy. Or again, if the enemy appears in the rear while they are in this formation, each file counter-marches, in order that the best men may always be face to face with the enemy.  True, the leader is then on the left, but instead of thinking this a disadvantage, they regard it as a positive advantage at times. For should the enemy attempt a flanking movement he would try to encircle them, not on the exposed but on the protected side. If, however, it seems better for any reason that the leader should be on the right wing, the left wing wheels, and the army counter-marches by ranks until the leader is on the right, and the rear of the column on the left.  If, on the other hand, an enemy force appears on the right when they are marching in column, all that they have to do is to order each company to wheel to the right so as to front the enemy like a man-of-war, and thus again the company at the rear of the column is on the right. If again an enemy approaches on the left, they do not allow that either, but either push him back or wheel their companies to the left to face him, and thus the rear of the column finds itself on the left.
Preferred URL for linking to this page: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=Xen.+Const.+Lac.+11.1
Created by Jeff Jonas 03/01