Alexander's Army prepares for action. Alexander and Kleitos to the fore.
The Granicus was the second of our big Christmas battles, one that saw the regulars joined by no less a personage than The Old Metal Detector of Vintage Wargaming fame.
The scenario was originally to have been based on the one in Charles Grant’s book Ancient Battles for Wargamers. However, Grant took Peter Green as his guide in setting up his refight. Professor Green argues that Alexander did not attack directly across the River Granicus, but carried out a night march that brought him over to the Persian bank upstream of Arsites and Memnon. In this version the battle is fought on a flat plain with the Granicus on Alexander’s right flank. I decided to reject this in favour of the more traditional interpretation given by Alfred Burne in his excellent little book Alexander and the Hellensitic Empire (1947) and also used in the Osprey Campaign Granicus. My feeling is that Alexander, young, natural impetuous and with the adrenalin pumping, would have wanted to attack the Persians as soon as possible. On a more practical note, from a wargaming point of view an attack across the river seemed more interesting – there are plenty of ancient battles fought on flat, featureless plains.
In the spring of the year 334, leaving all enemies at home dead or mortally paralysed, Alexander marched for the Dardanelles. He crossed the Hellespont and after a diversion to visit the tomb of Achilles at Troy headed northwards up the Phrygian coast before cutting east near the town of Lampsacus.
Alerted to his progress the Satraps of Persia’s western provinces gathered their forces at the River Granicus. Amongst them was the experienced Greek mercenary general Memnon of Rhodes. Memnon was theoretically commander of all the Great King’s forces in the West, but he struggled to convince the Persian nobles of that fact. Annoyed by the Greek’s offhand assessment of Persian fighting capabilities, they elected to ignore his proposed scorched earth policy of retreat and harassment in favour of facing Alexander head on.
True the Greeks had defeated the Persians in every pitched battle they had ever fought against them, but that had been on fields of their choosing, on terrain that negated the power of the Persian horsemen. Now the Persians would pick the field, one suitable for the manoeuvre of cavalry and they would teach the Greeks and their arrogant boy-king a lesson. They would route his army and kill him.
Under the command of Arsites, Lord of Hellespontine Phrygia, a Persian army containing both the son-in-law and the brother-in-law of King Darius along with dozens of other Iranian aristocrats awaited the arrival of the invaders on the eastern bank of the River Granicus a few miles upstream from the Sea of Marmara. They were eager for combat, almost as eager as Alexander himself.
(Macedonian phalanxes, with covering fire provided by Cretan archers. The main phlanx in the photo is made up of Garrison 20mm Boetian hoplites ably converted and painted by Ray McGarry)
Macedonians move first
Individual command figures add plus one to all charge morale throws and 1D20 to combat dice roles. Alexander adds 2. This may be combined with other Macedonian leaders (for example with Kleitos and Alexander attached the Royal Companions would add 3D20 in melee)
It was summer and the Granicus was very low. It offers no obstacle to cavalry or light infantry but close order infantry must deduct 4cms from movement when crossing it.
Phalanx fighting while crossing the river deducts 2D20 from combat dice throws.
Persian unit movement. All Mercenary and noble units can move each turn. Other Persian and allied units must throw above the number of hits they have suffered on a D6 in order to move.
Garrison 20mm Persian Mercenaries. The ones nearest are the Ionian hoplites.
The Macedonian Army
Figures marked * are commanders, each will be represented by an individually based figure.
Phalanx I (From Elymiotis) Koinos*
Phalanx II (From Orestis & Lynkestis) Perdikkas
Phalanx III Amyntas
Phalanx IV Philip
Phalanx V Meleagros
Phalanx VI Krateros*
Each phalanx contains 40 figures
Koinos commands the right side of the centre, Krateros the left side.
Unit I (The Agema) elite guard unit Nikanor*
Each unit contains 24 figures
Each unit contains 20 figures
Agrianes Javelins I
Agrianes Javelins II
Each unit contains 12 figures
The Companions Officer
Companions I (Royal squadron) elite unit “Black” Kleitos*
Overall command of Companions Philotas*
Thessalian Cavalry Parmenion*
Greek Cavalry Philip son of Menalaus
The Prodromoi (pike armed) Ariston
All units consist of 16 figures
Parmenion commands the left-wing of the Macedonian army and is second in command to Alexander, Kleitos commands the right wing.
The Persian Army
Commander: Arsites Satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia*
Memnon of Rhodes*
Mithrobarzanes Satrap of Cappadocia*
Spithridates Satrap of Lydia*
Commanded by Omares
Phalanx units of 24 hoplites
Mercenary Light Troops
Light units of 12 figures
Persian Noble Cavalry
All close order heavy cavalry with armour and half-armoured horses.
Other Close Order Cavalry
All cavalry units contain 16 figures.