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Building Alexander’s Macedonian Army in Warhammer Ancient Battles

The "Alex and his Successors" list from the Armies of Antiquity (AoA) supplement covers just about every type of troop available to the Phalanx style armies that sprang out of Macedonia. Alexander’s actual army that conquered Persia can be recreated from this list but you do need to fudge a bit.  The following is a guideline as to how to build this army and still be true (kind of)to the list- with a few minor changes it can be done. Alexander’s army was very diverse and therefore hard to describe in WAB "large unit" terms. As Charles Grant once wrote in his classic work "The Ancient Wargame", "So, if one wishes to reproduce an Alexandrian army of all arms at its peak, then the war game must be a fairly extensive one with armies certainly of 250 to 300 figures minimum-or such is my own feeling on this point ".

That being said, the following is a description of how I would build an actual WAB Macedonian army of 2000 pts. This force is going to need about 130+ models, which is a darn good starting point!  Historical ratios will be followed as close as possible but on this scale it will be impossible to include all of Alexander’s famous regiments so some will have to be "brigaded" to recreate this army. If you wish to see some actual hypothethical Army Orders of battle then check out those on the WABMac page.

First I would select the Army General, I’d like the Army battle standard, but I know I wont be able to squeeze him in this "historically" organized force (It may be better to deduct the Thracian cavalry and have a Battle standard- this is where I disagree with the restrictions on the light cavalry list- a player should always be able to take his first unit as the elite type). The commander himself is tooled up with heavy armor, rides a warhorse, and is wielding a spear (for all my cavalry I've opted for the Xyston - which was a long thrusting spear. Alexander is sometimes depicted in art carrying the longer Sarissa like some of his light cavalry but in actuality he is described fighting with spears from horseback-- so it's the Xyston here!). Also most cavalry did not use shields in this era, the heavy Companions preferred to wear heavy cuirasses, helmets and greaves.

1x General, Heavy armor (+4) spear (+2). Warhorse (+4). (175+10 x 1)= 185
-----------------------------------------------------------------Total Characters= 185
Total= 185 pts

Next I would deal with the cavalry:
The Macedonian cavalry was balanced usually half on the right flank of the phalanx and half covering the left. The Companions and Paeonians will stick close to the King on the right flank. The Thessalians and Thracians are armed with javelins to encourage them to act defensively!

6x Royal Guards (Companions) Ldr/Mus/Stnd, thrusting spear (-1 no kontos), heavy armor (+4). (31x 6 +15)= 201
6x Shock Cavalry (Thessalians) Ldr/Mus/Stnd, throwing spear and javelins (+1), heavy armor (+4). (30 x 6 +15)= 195
6x Elite Light Cavalry (Paeonian Scouts) Ldr,  javelins (-2 no shields). (22 x 6 +5)= 137
6x Light Cavalry (Thracians) Ldr, javelins (-2 no shields). (15 x 6 +5)= 95
--------------------------------------------------------------------Total Cavalry= 628 pts
The new Total= 813 pts

After this, on to the Infantry:
The big decision here is to decide if you want your Hypaspists to be "heavies" or "super Peltasts". Usually the ratio of Phalanx to Hypaspist was about 3:1. So Ii'm going to need to keep the guards down to 20 or less figures.
In most situations I like using the "Royal Guards" (heavies) option, but in a 2000 points game this is too many points to drop in one pot. So to save some points I’ll bring them as "Super Peltasts", because at this scale, I want their mobility more than I need another big phalanx.

16x Hypaspists, Ldr/Mus/Stnd, thrusting spear (+1), light armor (+3). (16 x 18 +15)= 303 pts.

You gotta love Phalangites if you play Macedonians! I want two units of 30 figures to scare my opponent shitless!

30x Regular Phalanx, Ldr/Mus/Stnd. (30x 10 +15)= 315 pts.
30x Regular Phalanx, Ldr/Mus/Stnd. (30x 10 +15)= 315 pts.
------------------------------------------------------------------Total Phalanx/Hypaspists= 933 pts.
Total up to now= 1746 pts

Starting to add up! But we still have plenty of point’s left to support our phalanx with Skirmishers and Peltasts. First I want a top notch unit of peltasts to cover the right flank… these will be my Agrianians, assisted by some Thracian javelin men, with some "Macedonian" (read Mercenary) archers. On the left I want one unit of Thracian Peltasts, a unit of javelin skirmishers and a unit of "Cretan " archers from the Greek army list as allies. Lets see if what I get for 254 points.

Right flank screen:
12x Peltasts (Agrianians) added shields (+1). Ldr/Mus/Stnd (12x 8 +15)= 111 pts.
6x Mercenaries (Mac. Archers) added bows (+1). (6 x 6)= 36 pts.

Left flank screen:
10x Cretan Archers (Gk. Allies), added shields (+1), bows for free (they lose their javelins). (10x 7)= 70 pts.
6x Mercenaries (Illyrians) added shields (+1) (6 x 6)= 36 pts.
--------------------------------------------------------------------Total Light Infantry= 253 pts.
Grand Total= 1999 pts

Well, I didn’t get those Thracians with their nasty Rhomphaias or those extra javelin men into this list!! (They must’ve stayed back and guarded the camp!) I do feel that I have created a decent sized and organized Macedonian Army. Although some of the units will be rather brittle due to the 5 models or less rally rules. (We dont like this rule so we play that a unit has to be reduced to less than half or 5 models before it cannot rally or auto breaks, this allows for more "penny packet" units which gives this army some flavor).

Caution: this army when well handled could be very dangerous!

Players wishing to have more punch in a tournament setting with less need for "historical" balance may wish to combine the cavalry regiments into two units, one heavy and one light. Also players may wish to have a unit of light lancers instead of the Paeonians- but you will have to trim somewhere!  Some scraping here and there and you could just squeeze in the Army Battle Standard (maybe try 24 figure phalanx's!).  But Charles Grant was right, to really field a good representaion of Alexander's army, one needs to be playing in the realm of 4000 pt games!!

Next I’ll get on to purchasing and organizing the miniatures to build this force.

Hope this helps somebody out with their army selection!

Questions or Comments Email:


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Created by Jeff Jonas 08/99

revised 01/20/07