Alexander vs. Porus
Modeling the
Battle of the Hydaspes using Warhammer Ancient Battles
Historicon Demonstration Game July 2003

This scenario is based on   Alexander the Great gaming supplement's Hydapses scenario. It shows how  a 'monster' game can be scaled down to a more manageable game that can involve three to four players per side. The game presented at Historicon had three players and one coach per side.

Alexander the Great invaded
India in 326 BC at the head of a large army of Macedonians, Persian and Indian allies and retainers. The Indian King Porus met his advance at the River Hydaspes (Jhelum) near Haranpur in modern Pakistan.  This would be the first major battle between a western army and Indian elephants, and was one of Alexander’s toughest battles.                                                             
The Game Scenario:

This game is played using the Warhammer Ancient Battles ruleset.  The Macedonian and Indian units and their stats are gleaned from the Alexander the Great Warhammer

Ancient Battles supplement.  The troops and units are representational in scale and are calculated to give a good game, not necessarily represent troops in balance ratios.  Generally the Macedonian side under Alexander is roughly based on a 1:100 ratio, whereas the Indians of Porus are less well defined, with one infantry and cavalry man representing about 200 real life soldiers. Chariots and elephants each represent twenty or more real beasts or mounts.


Up to six players are recommended, three per side.  One Indian player will take the role of Porus who is the army general, his Son Spitaces commanding the left wing, and the Master of Horse is in command of the Indian right wing.

The Macedonian side has Alexander in command, with Tauron in charge of the center, and Coenus leading the left wing.  Players may only move or shoot units in their own commands, Alexander and Porus may detach their own forces to other players as they see fit, but the subordinates cannot take control of player’s troops, unless given permission by the commander in chief. If the Army general is killed then command will go to the subordinate commanders.


The terrain is mostly a flat sandy plain with the Indians formed with their left flank on the muddy banks of the Hydaspes. The river itself, is impassible.  The game is best played on a ten foot wide table with five feet of depth needed.  An area 6" from the river edge counts as ‘muddy ground’ and a movement obstacle but does not affect line of sight. The ground rises toward the Indian right wing and one low hill with light woods connects to the foothills in the distance.


The armies are deployed as shown on the diagram at the end of this packet. The Macedonian player may decide to move Coenus’ forces to the Optional Coenus deployment area at the start of the game, this does not count as movement. Macedonian Reinforcement troops arrive on the first turn in the designated area on their baseline, they may march move that turn.  

Special SCENARIO Rules

Macedonian troops, excepting skirmishers, are not ‘Used to Elephants’. Companion cavalry and mounted characters that flee from an elephant charge, stampede or Terror may attempt to rally and reform immediately at the end of the movement.  If caught by the elephants they may only hit on sixes with no extra weapon strength.  If caught by other troops involved in the same declared charge, they will turn and fight, but may not counter-charge.  If an elephant would force these units to retreat off the table edge they get a chance to rally, if they fail they are removed. If they succeed, they rally on the table edge.

Alexander will always fight an elephant rather than be destroyed outright or flee off the table edge. Even if the unit he is with scatters, in this case he will fight on! Alexander may always rally even if he is with a unit that may not normally be allowed to rally, in this case the unit continues to flee but Alexander is separated out.

Thracian and Agrianian skirmishers may use axes against elephants.  They gain +2S against elephants but lose their shield and must strike last if they choose axes. They only gain this bonus agianst elephants.

Porus rides an extra stubborn veteran elephant, if Porus is defeated in hand-to-hand or fails a Stampede check, the royal elephant will back up 2D6" towards his baseline, facing the enemy. His beast will not stomp Indian troops, and they automatically part to let the elephant pass through. Each turn he rolls 2D6 and must fallback that amount. The elephant will halt from exhaustion three turns after it began to back up. After that, the beast and passengers may only turn in place and may not move or charge. The crew will fight normally but the elephant will no longer fight. If Porus is killed, the elephant stampedes.

Indian crew and characters riding on elephants or chariots use longbows instead of composite bows for this scenario. All bow armed infantry use the long bow.

Special rules for the Indians apply and the Macedonians from the Alexander supplement.


The battle rages until one side is demoralized when only 25% of the original models are still on the table.
If Alexander or Porus is killed then their side cannot achieve anything but a drawn result. If Alexander is killed Porus may claim a decisive victory.
If the game lasts until Turn 7 the game will end on a D6 roll of 4+.


The Legend never Dies!

If Alexander is killed or run down in pursuit, roll on the Alexander following chart after the game to see if he survives his wounds.  (Note: this does not affect victory points in any way, it is just fluff to enhance a scenario or series of games).  After the battle, roll a D6:

1-or less: Alexander amazingly gets up and rides through camp, rallying the mournful Macedonian’s spirits... He is a God!!! We will follow   him to the ends of the earth!

2: He asks for water after two days of fever, the army refuses to believe he is alive, roll again with a -2 modifer on this chart again.

3: Alexander lies in a coma, his surgeons feel he could improve, word is sent to the army that he will live, roll -1 modifier on this chart again.

4: The King lies in a fitful coma, his surgeons have no words of encouragement, the news is guarded from the troops, roll again!

5: He breathes in gasping fits, his skin is a gray pallor, and rumors run rampant that he is dead, roll again add +1 to the die. Already Meleager  and Perdikkas are scheming…

6+ : Alexander wakes and grasps the hand of Polyperchon, who asks "who shall inherit your empire, sire?", Alexander rattles, "To the strongest... I expect great funeral games to come from this"... and falls back, his hand drops, he breathes no more.









Alexander’s Army:

Right Wing:
Alexander the Great
(Army General) (mtd) (A)
Battle Standard) (mtd) (B)

10x Agema Companions  incl. Ptolemy (1)
10x Hephaestion's Companions incl. Hephaestion (2)
10 x Dahae horse archers (Skythian horse) (4)
10 x Skythian horse archers (Skythian horse) (5)

24x Agema Hypaspists Phalanx silver shields (6)
12x Agrianians (8)
12x Cretans (9)

10x Bactrian and Sogdian Cavalry (Hippakontistai)  (19)


Tauron (Taxiarchos) (foot) (C)
24x Hypaspists Phalanx (7)
25x Antigenes Agema Phalanx (11)
25x  Cleitus' Phalanx (12)
12x  Agrianians (10)
12x Thracians (13)

25 Gorgias' Phalanx (16)


Left wing:
Coenus (Strategos, Sub-General) (mtd) (D)
12x Macedonian archers  (14)
12x Thracians (15)
10x Coenus' Companions  (3)

Meleager (Taxiarchos) (foot) (2)
25x Meleager's Phalanx  (17)
25x Attalus' Phalanx  (18)


Porus’ army:

Left Wing:                                                                                                                                                  
Spitaces, son of Porus (Senapati)(Subordinate General)(Large chariot)
 (C) (7)
1x Indian War Elephant  (10)
8x Elephant escorts  (5)
2x Large Chariots  (7)
3x Light Chariots  (6)
8x Unarmored Indian cavalry  (8)
8x Unarmored Indian cavalry  (9)
20x Mercenary Spearmen   (12)


(Danda) (Army General) (Elephant)  (A) (3)
Master of Elephants (Army Battle Standard) (Elephant)  (B) (2)
1x Indian War Elephant  (1)
1x Indian War Elephant  (4)
8x Elephant escorts  (11)
30x Hereditary mixed Swordsmen/Javelin/Longbows (13)
30x Hereditary mixed Swordsmen/Javelin/Longbows (14)
36x Guildsmen mixed Swordsmen/Spear/Longbows (17)
36x Guildsmen mixed Swordsmen/Spear/Longbows (18)


Right Wing                                                                                                                                                                    
Master of horse (Padika)(mtd in Large chariot)  (D) (21)
1x Indian War Elephant  (15)
8x Elephant escorts   (16)

2x Large Chariots  (21)
3x Light Chariots  (20)
8x Armored Indian cavalry  (22)
20x Mercenary mixed Swordsmen/Spear/Longbows (19)



Hydaspes Background:

Alexander the Great invaded India in 326 BCE at the head of a large army of Macedonians, Persian allies and retainers. The army encountered fierce resistance in the north as it moved towards the Indus from Bactria (modern day Afghanistan, and Kazakhstan).  Ostensibly Alexander’s goal was to bring the eastern provinces of Persian Indian back into submission, but mostly this was just an excuse for further conquests and pushing the frontiers of his already legendary career.  When his lands were invaded, Prince Ambhi of Taxila submitted and became Alexander’s ally, but the neighboring rulers did not. King Porus of the Paurava lands resisted. Alexander marched his armies south and Porus arrayed his forces along the river Hydaspes (Jhelum) near the modern town of Haranpur.  Porus covered the river crossing point with elephants as he awaited reinforcements from Abisares, the rajah of Kashmir.

Alexander’s brief experience with elephants revealed to him that a typically bold lightning style assault across the river would fail, as his horses were not accustomed to the elephants. After a number of feints Alexander was able to secure a crossing upstream from Porus’ main force and gained a bridgehead.  Porus sent one of sons with a force of cavalry and chariots to contest this force.  The night before had been one of heavy storms lightning and heavy rainfall, the ground was still soggy when Porus’ son came upon Alexander’s forces.  Alexander quickly attacked and routed these advance guards as their chariots became stuck in the mud and were riddled by the horse archer arrows of Alexander’s Skythian allies.

Porus’ son was killed and the remnants retreated towards Porus who was advancing with most of his army to face Alexander.  Alexander’s general Craterus held the crossing points in force, and Porus needed to leave some troops behind to cover the river crossing.  As Porus’ force organized itself on a sandy plain with his left flank on the river Hydaspes, Alexander’s cavalry rushed out to meet them.  At first Alexander intent was to charge the enemy left wing immediately, but seeing the Indian elephants (described as being between 120-300 in number by various sources) in front of Porus’ lines made him think twice.

Alexander, a little less rash than earlier in his career, waited for the phalanxes and hypaspists to arrive, then launched an attack on the enemy left wing with his horse archers.  He sent Coenus and his Companion cavalry to encircle the enemy lines.  While this was happening the Indian cavalry charged the horse archers, eventually coming into contact with Alexander’s Companion cavalry.  Coenus intervened charging the Indians in the rear and the Indian horsemen bolted back to their elephant screen. The Macedonian cavalry could not get near the elephants and the Indian cavalry rallied.  Porus saw this pause as an opportunity to charge with his elephants. These forced back the Companions and came into contact with the phalanx and their covering light troops.  

Alexander directed the archers to shoot the mahouts, and his light troops engaged the beasts with their axes.  Some angered elephants crashed into the phalanx causing mayhem, others threw the men they could catch onto the phalanx’ spears.  Eventually the tired and wounded beasts were herded off by the phalanxes who locked shields and marched forward… many elephants stampeded back into the confused and huddled masses of Indian infantry.  Porus was wounded and retreated on his elephant as well.  Surrounded and thrown into disorder, the Indian army collapsed. Porus fought on till the bitter end, and only surrendered to Alexander once he was assured he would be treated as befits a King.

This long and bloody battle was one of the last Alexander would fight, and was the first major clash between western armies and war elephants. The victory was costly and eventually the thought of further elephant battles wore down Alexander’s battle hardened troops. Shortly thereafter they mutinied and forced him to turn back, ending the expansion of his empire.

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