Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Alexander versus Hannibal

On TMP a while ago someone posited a what-if scenario pitting Hannibal's army from Cannae against Alexander's from Gaugamela.

Trebian from Wargaming for Grown-ups gamed out the battle using the AMW rules and I decided I'd like to try the same with Lost Battles.

The catch is that I don't really have the right cavalry or mercenary foot for Alexander's army, but I've decided that I may as well just do the battlet anyway. Who will really care if the Prodromoi are played by Thracian lights and the Companions are from another era? (don't answer that - it's a rhetorical question!)

I'm going to use Alexander's army as writ in Lost Battles, and have adjusted Hannibal's units to allow them to fit into a troop multiple of 6 rather than the multiple of 8 that is used at Cannae. In practice, this means that Hannibal's army gets three units more than it has in the Lost Battles roster for Cannae.

How do the forces stack up?  Let's take a look.

Both Alexander and Hannibal are 40,000 strong in infantry, but Hannibal has numerical superiority in the cavalry arm, fielding 10,000 to Alexander's 7,000.

Alexander has two units of Hypaspists, classed as veteran heavy infantry, and three units of foot companions, classed as average phalangites. The mercenary and Thracian foot become six units of average heavy infantry and the reluctant Greeks are classed as levy heavy infantry. The Agrianians and archers merge into one unit of veteran light infantry while the Cretans and Illyrians combine into one average unit.

The Thessalians and Companions become five units of veteran heavy cavalry, the Greeks Thracians and mercenaries make another average unit, and the Prodromoi and Paeonians make up a single unit of average light infantry.

Alexander joins the Companions as a brilliant leader and Parmenion controls the foot as an average commander.

Turning now to Hannibal, his Libyans are represented by five units of veteran heavy infantry, his Celts and Spanish by seven units of average heavy infantry, and his assorted light foot become two units of average light infantry.

The Spanish cavalry take the field as two units of veteran heavies, the Celts and remaining Spanish make up three units of average heavies and the Numidians provide two units of average lights (the cavalry numbers are a little fudged here - I've gone with three units of average heavy cavalry, but the third unit could equally well be classed as light cavalry).

Hasdrubal commands the cavalry as an average leader and Hannibal prowls the infantry line as a brilliant commander.

Both sides therefore have twelve units of heavy foot, two units of light foot and seven units of cavalry, with Hannibal fielding two as light cavalry to Alexander's one.

Both sides are exactly equal in fighting value with 94 points each. Hannibal has better quality in the infantry and Alexander the edge in cavalry.

My crystal ball tells me that Hannibal will deploy fairly symmetrically, as at Trebbia, whereas Alexander will refuse a flank and try to stack one wing.

It should be an almighty tussle!!


  1. Really interesting match up. I reckon Hannibal was the greater general; he certainly faced a tougher opponent, and had less promising troops to lead.

    1. I've always tended to think Alexander was the greater of the two, but then he didn't have to fight Romans, so these days I'll sit on the fence and say they'd be fairly evenly matched!

  2. Rhetorical question, how would that matchup turn into Impetus? Just for sake of completeness of this interesting research... :)

    Anyway, something that catch my eye. How heavy infantry is qualified in Lost Battles? Theoretically, if one compares Spanish scutarii and especially Gauls to Libyans, or to another known period heavies, such as Roman legions (or Macedonian pike), how they qualify as heavy? [perhaps it depends on definition of heavy of course - one could expect it to refer to the method of warfare/shoving contest/shock, more than weight of equipment carried]. Yes, Gallic war bands are heavy, if one looks in the (dis)organization of only Gauls themselves, but then again, how heavy they are compared to Libyans (or other orderly formed armies) for example?

    Nevertheless, interesting matchup - would be curious to see if Macedonians are able to use proven hammer and an anvil method...

  3. Not too sure how it would go into Impetus as I haven't played it enough to know.

    Heavy infantry in Lost Battles - now that's a good question! There's your standard HI (Gauls, Iberians, Carthaginian citizens) and then you've got variations for hoplites, phalangites and legionaries, with these types using a different rules for fighting ability, stickability, and manoeuvre. There are three morale classes as well, so there's quite a bit of room for tailoring troop types.

    Thanks for your comments! Cheers, Aaron


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