Monday, 20 October 2014

Battle of the Granicus 334 BC using Ancient Battlelines Clash

This is game 19 in play testing my ancient rules by replaying historical battles.  The latest version of ‘Ancient Battlelines Clash’ is on its own blog page. I am play testing the rules by replaying all the Peter Sides scenarios from his Historical Battles books.  ABC is designed to finish in under an hour on a 2'x2' table.

Version 2 of the rules
This is the first historical game playtest of version 2 of the rules.  After lots of minor tweaks over the last two years, I re-wrote them.  While the rules themselves play 95% the same as the last iteration of version 1 (1.3s for those interested), they are a lot shorter and I think are better written. A lot as in less than half the pages of the previous rules.   Further details of version 2 compared to version 1 can be found in this blog post.
Battle of the Granicus
Alexander crosses the Hellespoint into Asia and it met by a large Persian Army facing him across the Granicus river.
Here are some links of interest that I used to create the scenario:
Wikipedia article
Ancient History Encyclopedia battle description
Junior General battle and rules
DBA Scenario
Clash of Empires scenario
DBM Scenario (also has a link to an alternative DBM scenario)

Scenario changes
Reduced by about third the troops due to my smaller sized table.  However, I roughly halved the spear or pike units as the scenario units are for DBx that assumes in this case that the units will be rear supported, not the case with my rules.


Alexander’s Macedonian
4 Phalangites, battle infantry, phalanx
1 Hypaspists, battle infantry, phalanx, some missile protection, high fortitude
1 Hoplites, battle infantry, phalanx, some missile protection, low fortitude
2 Thracians, auxiliary infantry, high fortitude
3 Psiloi, skirmish infantry, short missile
1 Skirmishers, skirmish infantry, long missile
1 Companions, auxiliary infantry, high fortitude, disciplined
1 Heavy Cavalry, auxiliary cavalry
1 Light Cavalry, skirmish cavalry, short missile
1 General (with Companions)
+1 army command ability

Breakpoint: 11

Late Achaemenid Persian
2 Hoplites, battle infantry, phalanx, some missile protection
2 Heavy Infantry, battle infantry, long missile
2 Psiloi, skirmish infantry, long missile
1 Heavy cavalry, auxiliary infantry, high fortitude, impetuous
5 Heavy Cavalry, auxiliary infantry
5 Light Cavalry,  skirmish cavalry, short missile

1 General with high fortitude cavalry

Breakpoint: 13


Persians on the left, Macedonians on the right.

The river I have classed as a passable river.  In the rules, this means that the river is crossable but counts as difficult terrain for close combat.  Both units in combat are effected by the difficult terrain. There is a bank defensive bonus for the Persian cavalry.  What that means is the Persian heavy cavalry will be at their difficult combat value 0, +1 for defending the bank, A phalangite units difficult combat value is 1. Equal.  The phalangites will have to attack to keep the Persians occupied while Alexander attacks on the right flank.  

Note that is  different to Issus, where the river will be classed as a stream that infers a bank defense bonus but is not counted as difficult terrain.

Greek mercenaries (the one unit to the rear of the Macedonians) are uncontrolled and cannot move until a unit comes very close to them.
The Units on the Persian hill are also uncontrolled.

Neither uncontrolled units played any part in this game, although they do help increase the breakpoint value of the army.

The Game
Alexander move first. and all but the Companions advance to the river edge.

View from the Macedonians after advancing.
On the Macedonian left, Persian skirmishers disorder and pushback Parmenion (the heavy cavalry on the Macedonian left)

Parmenion is pushed back from the river bank.
On the Macedonian right two Skirmishers are pushed back for one Persian pushback.  Alexander is obviously hoping for two being pushed back to make it easier with a breakthrough on that side.

Skirmishers skirmish on the Macedonian right.  The Persians still control the river bank.
The phalangites move across the river to engage the heavy cavalry.  Heavy Cavalry combat value is 1, phalangites 0.  Two centre phalangites retreat.  The lone cavalry that could pursue does not (is is not impetuous, and would only pursue on a 5 or more as defending terrain).

Pikes advance, melee and the centre two retreat. The grey javelins mark a unit as disordered.
Not much happening on the Macedonian right, and a continuing inconclusive melee in the centre between cavalry and phalanxes.  The Cavalry is not going to advance across the river, and those in contact remained in melee.

On the right skirmishers interchanged some fire, and a few skirmishers lost on both sides.  The Companions entered into the fray - Skirmishers retreat and Companions followed up...

Alexander finally crosses the river and charges the skirmishes, who rout.
...and the skirmishers rout.  No damage to the Companions as high fortitude with general (a 1 would have disordered them but no such luck for the Persians).  The Companions do not pursue (they are disciplined and with a general; a 5+ would have forced them to pursue).

The Hypaspists rout after combat with the Persian heavy cavalry with Darius.    More phalanxes are falling.  Parmenion manages to force a skirmish cavalry to retreat, but are pushed back themselves under missile fire.

Darius's heavy cavalry, and an adjacent heavy cavalry, cross the river and rout another disordered phalanx.
The heavy cavalry cross the river
Only one phalanx unit left.

Darius routs his opponent and continues across the river.
But Alexander is coming....

See Alexander at the top right coming in to the flank.
The Persian heavy cavalry over the river cannot about face as already disordered and so will have to wheel to turn - this will take 4 moves

Alexander hits other Heavy Cavalry in flank.

Alexander hits a heavy cavalry in the flank.
Alexander/Companions are CV2 +1 high fortitude -1 single unit -1 disordered +2 general +2 flank attack +2 shock = 7 Vs Persian CV 2 = +5.
First die roll 5. Total of 10 - destroyed.

Alexander charges into the next cavalry unit.
Pursues into the flank of the next Heavy Cavalry and rolls a 6.

Alexander charges into the third heavy cavalry (and stops).
Pursues into the third heavy cavalry and roll a 2; total of 7 is a disorder.  The rolling up stops.

Peltast advances as now the heavy cavalry is attacked in flank, it counts as flanked against all attacks.

Peltast charges into the flanked unit.  it will rout, and does.
The melee results in the heavy cavalry getting a depleted results that is a destroyed.

Parmenion advances and the skirmisher runs away (finally).

Last phalanx is destroyed (a Persian 6 on the die);  and Darius rallies.

Alexander charges a Heavy Cavalry (that turned last turn, expecting the charge).

The last Persian heavy cavalry unit has time to turn to take the charge from Alexander.  It did not help against the might of a die roll of a 6.
Alexander rolls a 6 for melee. Persian cavalry routs.  Alexander pursues into the rear of a skirmishers that also retreats...into the front of Parmenion that charges them and the skirmishers routs.

Parmenion charges into the skirmisher that Alexander has forced to retreat.
The Persian have reached their army breakpoint and game is over, victory to the Macedonians.

End game.
In hindsight, Alexander should have go in on the right flank immediately after the first turn skirmish clash did not work.

It took awhile to make sure the rules worked for river crossing and I am happy with them (today - tomorrow it may change!).  Uncontrolled units work as planned. The new unbloated  version 2 of the rules are working well.  No errors caught so far but it needs more games to make sure - there are always some that creep in.


  1. A nice Macedonian victory and a great report...good job!

    1. Thanks Phil. I normally am going for the Persians but in this game I found it hard to do so. Maybe it is Alexander's charm getting to me!

  2. Thanks for posting, Shaun - hard fought indeed.

    1. Paul, it was actually very close - the phalanxes did all disappear. If Alexander had been delayed another turn or two, it may have gone the other way.

  3. Lets try again. My post got eaten!

    Good report as always Shaun. Did you use the moves that each commander used during the battle or did you just formulate a plan for each side and went for it? I'll give the rules a good read this week.


    1. I hate eaten posts too so know how you feel.

      I don't use the moves the commanders use, nor do I use my programmable opponent. However after seeing up the battle and determining a plan for both sides, it often looks very similar to that the commanders of the day chose. It is what I like about replaying the historical battles - you get a little inside the mind of the generals, the problems they faced and why they chose to deploy and act the way they did.