Monday, November 15, 2021

An Alert of Alexanderians*

A Headless Body Production
Venue: On Military Matters Book Store, Hopewell, NJ
Event: Preparation for Historicon
Players:  Phil Gardocki running Gallic
                Alan Kaplan running Alexander the Great
Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, 15mm, 200 points per side.

The Forces:
Alexander the Great, list 40
3 commanders of uncertain qualities, Probably Alexander is a Strategist, but you never know. Thinking on that, it should be a list requirement that you do run him so.
2 Elephants
5 Pike, one Elite
2 Javelinmen
2 Thracians, Medium Sword, 2HW
3 Agrianians, Light Infantry, Javelin, Elite
1 Hoplite
3 Companions, Heavy Cavalry, Impact, Elite
1 Greek Cavalry, Heavy Cavalry, Impact
2 Thessalonians, Light Horse, Javelin
Breakpoint around 21

Gallic, list 89
Led by the Asterix, the competent, Basterdix, the competent, and Obilix, the ordinary. included and unreliable
24 Warriors, Medium Sword, Impetuous
8 Lights, 4 each Javelin and Bow
3 Chariots, Javelin
Breakpoint of 35

Display Conventions: When you see a word bubble "Ouch!", "Ωχ!", this implies a disorder from missiles. Letters in parenthesis represent some value change for the specific unit. For commanders it is s for strategist, b for Brilliant, c for Competent and o for Ordinary, u for unreliable. For troops it is e for Elite, and m for Mediocre. Other abbreviations, Hvy Heavy, XB Crossbow, LB, Longbow, Jav Javelin, 2HW 2 Handed Weapons, B Bow, Kn Knight, HKn Heavy Knight, HC Heavy Cavalry, Md Medium, Sgt Sergeants, LC Light Cavalry, Chr Chariot, Cat Cataphract, Pa Pavise, LI, Light Infantry, HG Hand Gun, FKn Foot Knight, Hvy Spear, Heavy Spearmen.

"XX" implies a unit killed in that location on that turn.

The Board:Alexander rolled the initiative and elected to attack in the plains. 

The weather is good.

Dennis Shorthouse is the proprietor of On Military Matters book service. A delightful book store in Hopewell New Jersey that specializes in military books.


On Alexander's right, is his elephant command
5 Taxis of Pike occupy the center. On the left are his Companion cavalry and supports
Hanging close to the edge of the field is Obilix, with 3 groups of chariots.

Obilix is an included commander. The stand is there to represent which chariot is the commander.

Asterix takes the field behind a double row of war bands.
Basterdix is likewise deployed.

I decided to try a horde army again taking advantage of the point discount for medium swords offered in version 4. That's 24 more points for other things.

The concept here is to lose the entire front row, giving my opponent a satisfying 24 points, then slam him with the second row and pick up his army.

Turn 1:

The elephant command spreads out.
The pike advance at a trot. But for an inexplicable reason, did not quite keep up with the Thracians. Is it a clever ploy? Or just a mistake that offers a small advantage to the defending Gauls.
Alexander's Companions advance at a gallop. They have quality and overlap advantages on their side of the field.
Obilix forms a line and advances
Asterix orders his front line to advance. His second line is held way back.

The second line needs to be more than 1UD behind the main line to avoid disorder from routs. Which would require the second line to move short. Since impetuous troops are "unmaneuverable", moving short requires 2 command points. Asterix rolled a 1 for command, and so did not have enough command points for such a complected maneuver.

Bastardix is paying attention. The Alexandrian line is wider than the Gallic, so his front line slides right. His second line slides left, he even has enough for a couple of flank guards.

God's own measuring stick descends from the clouds. The Gauls are out of charge reach of the pikemen.

And with a lucky shot, disorders Alexanders private Companion with a salvo of javelins

Turn 2:

Charging without the pike would give the Gauls too much of an advantage.
So the Macedonians form up their line in one straight, and in charge reach, line.

And how did this happen? First the Gauls did not deploy on the 5 line, so any calculated advance based on the 10 UD separation of main forces is out the window. Then the advances stopped when the Lights were 4 apart, placing the heavies between 4.5 and 5 UDs apart.

Alex's Thessalonians turn and harass the Gallic right flank.
Obilix squeezes his chariots into an overlap position. Asterix orders a massive charge while bringing up his reserves.

Win, lose or draw, this game is not going the time limit.

And the results are win, lose, tie, lose, and a big lose.

Bastardix also charges!

With a lose, lose, lose, lose,

tie, lose, tie, lose...

13 fights, 1 win, 12 loses or ties.

Now admittedly, in 7 of the 13 fights, Alexanders troops have a 1 point advantage on contact here. And there are some elite and armor advantages, but not winning at least 2 of the fights?

If I average all the effects, the Gauls were going to lose or tie 65% of the fights. And I was OK with that. The odds of losing all 13 fights is just .37%. Winning only one fight in any position, is 2.6%.

Someone can check the math. Losing all 13 fights is .65 to the 13th power. Losing all but 1 is .65 (12 losses) to the 12th power times .35 (for the win) *13.

My probability class was 40 years ago, so I am not sure how to work not winning even two fights. I know it involves with factorials.

But no matter how you look at it, this was just bad die rolls.

Turn 3:

But the luck can turn, and did. Destroying the elephant escort was expected, but disordering both elephants was excellent. Add to that two successful missile shots on the javelinmen in the field.
Losses were expected, and that is what the second line is all about.
The warriors in standing in front of the Companions were a write off anyway. The fact they have not cratered yet is a bonus.
Obilix orders his chariots into rough ground.

There is a method to my madness. The Javelinmen were disordered, so the numbers were not quite as bad as it seems. The Javelinmen were ZOC'ing all Obilix's chariots. The purpose of this charge was to remove the ZOC on the third chariot. The chariots really only need to survive here.

The third chariot flank charges an elephant, which then routed, rampaging into the next elephant, collapsing Alexanders right flank!

The next wave of Gauls begin their charge. Another favorable dice off almost destroys a taxis of pike.

More fresh troops, another pike is put back on it's heels.

But that Hoplite unit is a hero. They have taken two furious charges and repulsed both of them.

Gallic loses are high. Their demoralization level is at 19. While most armies would be almost done at this point, the Gauls are only just over half way there.
Alexander's army's demoralization level is 15 out of 22

Turn 4:

It looks like Turn 4 didn't get photographed. So on to Turn 5.

Basically the grind continued, with losses on both sides.

 Turn 5:

A chariot is destroyed, Obilix is nearly captured. But the Pike's flanks are now turned as well.
In the grand melee, 2 more taxis of pike have been destroyed, but the Companions have finally finished off their foes, and are free to maneuver.
Taking the Alexandrian's demoralization level to 18 of 21.
The Gauls are at 35 of 35.

So what went wrong?

The luck on the turn of contact pretty much sealed the game. The Gauls only winning 1 in 13 dice offs.  When the dice started favoring the Gauls on the following turn, Pike units started crumbling, the elephants routed. It was a serious hit for Alexander, but not enough to take them over the line.

If on turn of contact, just a second win had occurred, anywhere else in the line, that could have turned the battle. Considering that just the one break the Gauls did get lead to the destruction of 5 units.

So, all in all, I think the tactic of having a reserve line to charge the center is workable with these guys.

*Do you know how many words begin with "Ale" and not "Alex", not a lot...


  1. Great battle report.

    A few thoughts:

    1. Could you have used your LI against the elephants?

    2. I think the second line is a great idea but you probably don’t need a “full” second line, maybe 14-18 in the front rank and 6-10 in the second. This will give you a bit longer line to help get overlaps on the ends while still leaving a substantial reserve to help plug gaps, etc. as they develop in the front line.

    3. I wonder if the HI or MI Gauls are the way to go, or maybe mostly heavies for the front rank while reserves are medium - or is that just too tough to coordinate? Or even if not is it just diluting the massive numerical advantage the army needs to win a battle of attrition. Still the extra cohesion point of HI is attractive, as is their better ability to stand up to knights, etc. - you could even get a couple armored Soldurii to grind away at pike phalanxes.

    4. Are chariots or MC, being non-impetuous, a better reserve than warbands? Did you run into any issues with impetuosity causing you problems?


    1. I guess the idea is that with two ranks of medium infantry, you have six cohesion points vs 4 per unit frontage. It would appear that Phil's philosophy was that that would be sufficient.

      I'm not so much an ADLG player (although I have had several fun games now) but I think the principle of going deep with the Gauls is a good one. Most ADLG games I've seen and all the ones I've played almost religiously prioritise width over depth, so it was interesting to see this game played the other way around. And sad to see it wasn't rewarded with a win . . .

      The first ADLG game I ever played (I drew against a skilled player so beginner's luck) pitted me using EIR vs Gauls led by Vercingetorix (a strategist). He went for quality over quantity - heavy infantry rather than medium. The legionaries ground them down. I don't know how well I would have done, had he had a second rank, even if they had all been medium. But then, my auxilia would have presumably had an easier ride ...


    2. LI verses Elephants wouldn't have happened, as he had LI in front of them. That would have resulted in an LI on LI fight. I know the elephants have the advantage over the Warriors, but I was relying on two ranks to defeat them.
      My thought was, if I don't lose 24 points, I cannot win.
      The mix HI and MI is intriguing. The HI cost 8 to the MI's 6. I'll have to look at the book to see if it's all or none.
      Having the chariots as a second shot as reserve is also interesting. They cannot form a common battle group with the main line, but also they can react faster to breaks in the lines.

    3. I think the chariots/cavalry in this case, when you can go so deep with the infantry, are better on the wings. Due to their mobility they can be held back in reserve there and potentially plug gaps in the main battle line if need be or be used to outflank.

      Ps. Mine are still awaiting paint . . .


  2. Re making the strategist compulsory, I agree that if you're using Alexander it should be [he is compulsory in the DBMM lists... ;~} ], but does the Alexandrian list have to be led by Alexander or does it cover battles by some of his subordinates?

    1. I don't think the list writer was even thinking in terms of armies not commanded by Alexander (which would generally have a lot less Macedonians and a lot more mercenaries). Perdiccas commanded the royal army from Alexander's death up to his own death (when the list ends), so there is at least one historical alternative to Alexander as the CinC.

  3. Very enjoyable report with an entertaining match up!

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