Chaeronea (Philip II vs Greece)

The Background

In 338 BC Philip II from Macedon faced the united Greeks for the third time. Twice had he lost the battle against the Greek Hoplites. But Philip was a cunning soldier. He had totally changed the way the soldiers of Macedon fought for the last decades and his two failures against the Greek must have contributed to these changes.

Now, near the temple of Chaeronea his new Macedonian phalanx stood against the heavy hoplites of the Greek, that had won even against the vast armies of the Persian king of kings, and was professionalised in the Peloponnesian wars. But Philip had something new up his sleeves; his phalanx didn't use the ancient thrusting spears of the hoplites. No, they were equipped with pikes. This gave them the advantage because these pikes were much longer. Also his cavalry was much superior to that of the Greeks. The Greek Thessalian cavalry was the only cavalry that could stand against the Macedonian companions, but Thessaly had fallen into the hands of Philips not so long ago.

The young son of Philip, Alexander III, held his first real important command that day. He had fought some campaigns in the north against the Illyrian and Thracian barbarians, but now his ambitious father had given him command of a part of his army.

(Alexander's Cavalry wing)

As history tells us, Alexander broke through the lines in the centre and disrupted the left Greek wing. But in a wargame scenario things sometimes work out otherwise...


The Scenario

The scenario is based upon the description from the WAB supplement 'Alexander the Great'. And looked something like this:

Special rules:

  • Athenians must charge if they fail a leadership test.
  • All hoplites, cavalry and phalanx units have light armour. The rest doesn't.
  • The Greek Cavalry has heavy armour.
  • One Theban unit is drilled.
  • The Macedonian cavalry may be placed on another spot as historical place.
  • The rest of all units must be on their historical wing or centre.
  • No oracles.
  • Normal standards in formed units. No army battle standards.
  • Alexander (as a strategos in the cavalry) and Philip (in the phalanx) as a general.
  • The Greek have their general in their cavalry.
  • The Greek set up first.

The Setup

This is how the battlefield looks:

The Greek (AoA list):
  • 2x24 allied hoplites
  • 3x24 Theban hoplites
  • 2x24 Athenian hoplites
  • 1x6 Greek cavalry
  • 1x12 bows
  • 1x12 javelins
  • 1x12 slings
  • 1x16 peltasts








The Macedonians (Alexander the Great early list)

  • 6x24 phalanx
  • 2x9 companion cavalry
  • 1x9 Agema cavalry
  • 1x16 hypaspists (LA, drilled, stubborn)
  • 1x12 skirmish
  • 1x8 Creatan archers
  • 1x12 Thracians
  • 1x16 Agrianians (jav)
  • 1x10 bows
  • 1x12 skirmishers





A Battle report

We played this scenario. Don played the Greek army and Arvid Kappe and I played the Macedonian side. Here is the result:

The (Macedonian) left wing and the centre

Thracians are daring the Greek to attack
(Foundry miniatures)

Because the Greek player started, the Macedonians thought it best to keep their left wing and centre a little bit back. The Cavalry on the right wing should roll up the Greek left wing easily, and then the centre and rear would be vulnerable to attacks from the victorious Macedonian cavalry.

The Macedonian companions were under the command of Alexander III, would would soon become Alexander 'the great' so victory was certain...

Slowly the Macedonians advanced, a little faster in the centre and holding back a little on their left.

The Greeks had seen the possible trouble and tried to come in contact as soon a possible. In that manner, even if the would loose their left flank, they might win on the right an centre. After all, they had won twice before against Philip.

But the cavalry under the command of Alexander did worry them. In the end they decided to draw back the Athenian phalanx a little to prevent the Macedonian cavalry from encircling them.




The Macedonian right wing

On the Macedonian right wing the whole might of Macedon and Thessaly stood against the poor cavalry of Greece. Outnumbered  many times, the Greek cavalry had only one strong point: their general Chares had joined them. And he knew as no other that defeat was no option for the survival of the Greek culture.

Three Macedon cavalry wedge formations attacked. Fierce fighting started and for long it wasn't clear who was winning and who was fighting who.

But than disaster struck for the Macedonians. The resistance of Chares was to much for them. After the charge they got struck in the battle, and they were baffled by the rigidness of the Greek cavalry. The started hesitating and began to fear this battle would end up in a third defeat. The turned and fled. Chares saw his chance and charged the unit with Alexander III. And he killed the son of Philip II, king of Macedon. The word spread through the Macedonian lines. 'The son of Philip is dead.'

Now the whole army lost their will to win, and the Greek hoplites closed in to take advantage of the wavering Macedonians. Philip, devastated by the news of the loss of his son, gave the order to retreat. What started as an organised drawback soon ended into a wild flee towards the frontier of Macedon.

The Geek army had won for the third time. Philip would never dare to invade Greek territory for sure!

The Greek general Chares in a struggle
to the death with Alexander III
(Foundry miniatures)


The Result

The battle ended in a clear victory for the Greek. Alexander killed, and the prospect of Philip II conquering the Greek nations and combining their strength against the arch enemy of the Greek people - Persia - was destroyed forever.

Without his son Alexander 'the Great' the Hellenistic period in history would never emerge and this dream died with the death of Alexander III of Macedon.

At least, that what happened in this replay. We all know what actually happened...


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