Granicus (Alexander's Macedonians vs Persians)
The Battle of the Granicus River in May, 334 BC was the first major victory of Alexander the Great against the Persian Empire. Fought in Northwestern Asia Minor, near the site of Troy, Alexander here defeated the forces of the Persian satraps of Asia Minor, including a large force of Greek mercenaries.
The Persians placed the cavalry in front of the infantry, and drew up on the right (east) bank of the river. Accounts vary as to whether Alexander immediately attacked, or crossed the river upstream and attack at dawn the next day.
In any case, the Persians had some cavalry that was in contact with the first Greek units to arrive, but Alexander led the elite Companions on an outflanking charge while the Macedonian foot companions covered the rest of the battle column as it formed up against the Persians. The Macedonian line was arrayed with the heavy Phalanxes in the middle, and cavalry on either side.
The battle started with a cavalry and light infantry feint from the Macedonian left. The Persians heavily reinforced that side, and the feint was driven back, but at that point, Alexander led the horse companions in their classic wedge-shaped charge, and smashed into the centre of the Persian line. The Persians counter charged with a squadron of nobles on horse, and accounts show that in the melee, several high-ranking Persian nobles were killed by Alexander himself or his bodyguards, although Alexander received a wound.
The Macedonian cavalry then turned left and started rolling up the Persian cavalry, which was engaged with the left side of the Macedonian line after a general advance. A hole opened in the recently vacated place in the battle line, and the Macedonian infantry charged through to engage the poor quality Persian in the rear. At this, both flanks of the Persian cavalry retreated, seeing the collapse of the centre. The infantry also routed, with many being cut down in the rout.
Total casualties for the Macedonians was anywhere between 80 and 200. The Persians had 2000 infantry captured, roughly 1,000 cavalry and 3,000 infantry killed, mostly in the rout.
The scenario we played was taken from the WAB supplement "Alexander the great" (AtG) on page 72. We scaled down the amount of models to 75%; we did not have enough models to play it otherwise.
The Macedonians were planning to wait on both sides for the Persian cavalry. At the right time at the right place both wedges on the left and right would strike through the Persian cavalry and attack the infantry in the flank or back. The phalanx would wait on our side of the river to wait for his infantry to make the first move.
The Persian Light troops and cavalry started just behind the river. The Macedonians had the first turn. They quickly deployed their cavalry in advantage positions. On the first turn of the Persians their Greek phalanx arrived on the table edge.
The start of the
battle after the first macedonain movement (this side of the river).
Memnon wanted to cross the river as soon as possible when he noticed that the Macedonian phalanx hesitated. But the massive amount of troops in front of them could not get out of the way quickly. They managed to rout the Macedonian light troops, but were forced back by the phalanx, which the cavalry can not charge.
The Persian massed cavalry movement penalties made the move to the flanks very slow. The Macedonian cavalry could easily outmanoeuvre them. The Persians had hoped that the sheer number of cavalry units (4:9) would eventually break the wedges.
The skirmishers on both sides very quickly annihilated each other.
No one dared to cross the river. But when a Persian cavalry unit was attacked by Hypaspists things really got nasty. Almost all of the Persian right flank started fleeing...and did not rally again. When the Persian flanks began failing, the Greek mercenaries decided that they could not longer wait and attacked. The Macedonian pikes stopped the charge without trouble. Also two Persian cavalry charges on the Macadonian wedges did not do much. Things were getting very dangerous for the Persians.
In the end all the Persian Cavalry was routed.
The Greek mercenaries were about to be surrounded when finally the Persian flanks totally collapsed. The game ended after turn 7. There was no need to count the victory points. The Macedonians lost only one Promodroi cavalry unit. Almost all the Persians were fleeing or destroyed.
The Persians were defeated in the same manner as history tells us the story: the Persian cavalry were no match for the aggressive Macedonian wedge. Their line collapsed totally. In the centre the stalemate between the two Phalanx lines was ended when the Macedonians could get into the flank and/or rear of the Greek mercenaries.
The only troops the Persians could rely on were foreigners. The light infantry and skirmishers, Satrapal infantry and the cavalry could not make a stand against the better Macedonians.
Alexander's aggressive cavalry tactics paid of once again. The wedges were too strong for the Persian cavalry who couldn’t move so fast. The macedonian pike phalanx weren't even decisive in this battle. It must be said that the 16 Macedonian oracles were very welcome in the battle results!
Some things we noticed:
It was the first time we played a Persian army. Maybe the Persians will do things different the next time.