(Persian battle lines. PBs Dahae horse archers in the foreground. S range Assyrian horse archers just beyond them)
On an autumn afternoon in AD331, on a featureless plain that had been specially flattened to allow full use of his chariots and cavalry, Darius the Great King awaited the arrival of Alexander and the Macedonians.
Having tired of the pitiful performance of his native foot soldiers, Darius had more or less abandoned infantry altogether, focusing instead on the more reliable and courageous horsemen from the North and East of his Empire. In his battle line were mounted Bactrians, Scythians, Armenians, Cappadocians, Hykranians, Parthians and Indians, to the front of which were arranged hundreds of scythed chariots and a small group of elephants.
A few days before Darius had made one final attempt to bring the war to a peaceful conclusion, offering the Macedonian invader all the land west of the Euphrates, 30,000 gold talents and the hand of one of his daughters in marriage. The offer had been summarily rejected. “Asia can no more support two monarchs, than the earth could survive with two suns,” Alexander had told the Persian envoys. If the king wanted to hold onto his crown, he would have to fight.
(The Macedonian battle lines from Alexander's left. Garrison 20mm Greek light cavalry and PBs mercenary peltasts in the foreground)
When Alexander arrived at the crest of a low hill that looked across to the Persian battle line he may, momentarily, have wondered if he had made the correct decision. The fading sun reflected off thousands of spear points and from the scale armour of horses and men. Darius’ cavalry outnumbered his own by at least 4-to-1.
Instead of launching an immediate attack as he had at the Granicus and Issus, Alexander spent the rest of the day reconnoitring the battlefield, then retired to his tent to draw up his plans….
The exact make-up of the Persian Army is – predictably - open to doubt. I have opted to take Peter Green as my main guide mainly because his interpretation is likely to give the best wargame.
(The Macedonian centre. PBs phalangites with Cretan archers and Agrianina javelins skirmishing ahead. Behind them Garrison 20mm Greek hoplites guard the baggage)
6 x 40 Phlangites 240 figs
2 x 24 Hypaspists 48 figs
3 x 20 Peltasts 60 figs
2 x 12 Cretan archers 24 figs
1 x 12 Macedonian archers 12 figs
2 x12 Agrianian javelins 24 figs
1 x 12 Macedonian Javelins 12 figs
6 x 24 Greek Mercenary Hoplites 144figs
2 x 16 Companions 32 figs
4 x 16 Greek Light cavalry 64 figs
1 x 16 Thracian cavalry 16 figs
Total: 544 infantry
(Persian battle lines from Darius' left. The cavalry stretched from one end of the 13 foot long table to the other, though, as we shall see, this long frontage proved problematic for the Persians.)
1 x 40 Immortals 40 figs
2 x 24 Mercenary Hoplites 48 figs
2 x 20 Mardian archers 40 figs
2 x 12 Light archers 24 figs
5 x 16 Horse Archers 80 figs
5 x 16 Light Cavalry 80 figs
7 x 16 Heavy cavalry 112figs
3 x Indian elephants and crew
20 x Scythed chariots and crew
Total: 142 Infantry