Alexander the Great * Warhammer Ancient Battles

Warhammer Ancient Battles (WAB) : Alexander the Great (AtG)
20 years 2003-2023

Part I: The artwork of Warhammer Historical: Alexander the Great 
Alexander the Great

As we get closer to the 20 year anniversary of the Alexander the Great WAB supplement, (2023), I wanted to revisit the joy of the artwork. Later on I may wax nostalgic about the miniature photos and the process of writing, and the years of gaming that have resulted from the project started so long ago, while my main job was making video games.

Giuseppe Rava painted a number of excellent covers for Warhammer Historical Wargames publications. He really knocked it out of the park on both the Shieldwall and Alexander the Great books. I was so lucky to have this dramatic art as the cover of my book. I have no doubt the cover art sold out the volume! The image captures the action, speed and hard hitting charges of Alexander riding on his faithful steed Bucephalus, at the head of his Companion cavalry.

My interpretation of his painting is this is Alexander at the Granicus. Alexander's first dramatic and successful battle against the vaunted Persian cavalry. Some sources say he charged toward evening and defeated the Persian cavalry then their infantry. The sunset breaking in the clouds signals Alexander's hasty charge late in the day. Or is it symbolic of the dawn of the Macedonian Empire?
Since this is his first battle in Persia he would be wearing the long sleeve tunic that many Macedonian and Thessalian riders are often depicted in. Later on he incorporated more Persian Empire trappings and had access to more colorful captured saffron and purple robes and cloaks. I feel that Giuseppe Rava has captured the buff, brown and gray cloaks and tunics of Alexander's early riders. He has depicted Alexander bareheaded with his hair flowing like a rock star. Obviously a romanticized portrait, but based on historical busts, sculptures, and the famous "Alexander Mosaic" at the House of the Faun in Pompeii.

Next the art of Jonny Hodgson who filled in the story with some very nice pencil drawings.

Jonny Hodgson captures the fury and terror of Alexander's battle against King Porus' stampeding
elephants in his Indian campaign.

Jonny carefully followed my rough sketch maps and made these cool "gamer friendly"
battle maps that show the movements and the general location of troop types.

A study of Alexander on one of his tired war horses after s fierce charge. Horses
were ridden into the ground in battles and pursuits of the foe.
Alexander is shown wearing the triple plumed Lion Helmet seen on coins and sculptures.
His horse has a detailed representation of the blanket cloth and a leopard skin shabraque.
The Greek style bridle is also carefully drawn from sources.

Here Jonny follows my text, but invents a controversy. Nobody knows for sure if the split sarissa (pike)
was carried this way. In fact the split pike with a metal sleeve is based on very little evidence. Twenty years later
we still do not know for sure if this was a common feature. However, reenactors and new scholarly
attempts to ferret out the answer are ongoing, and currently the sleeve is winning the fight.

One thing for sure is this drawing does capture the idea that the Macedonian infantry carried their own supplies,
which made them able to out march their enemies burdened with animal carts
carrying their supplies. Alexander's army could out ride and out march every enemy until they reached
the vast plains of the steppe nomads in Bactria/Sogdiana. Even then Alexander devised flying columns
to hem in the nomads, but it was his longest campaign.

Phalangite reenactors with sarissa sleeves:

Further reading:
A great big book on everything known or to be known about Macedonian phalanx and sarissa (pikes).

Next Up: