View Full Version : Macedonian Battle Tactics


RJMooreII
Apr 05, 2011, 03:33 PM
This is inspired by my inability to capture a wall in Tin Soldiers: Alexander the Great but it's also a genuine historical question.
Here is a typical Macedonian battle order:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ee/Macedonian_battle_formation.gif
Question 1: What do the irregulars and skirmishers do?
Question 2: Where do they go once battle closes?
Question 3: Why does the video game insist on deploying my Cataphracts to the left instead of to the right?

The last one isn't a historical question, but it's annoying.

Ajidica
Apr 05, 2011, 03:40 PM
1. Keep the enemy skirmishers away and try and kill as many enemy troops as possible before the battle line meet.
Plus they also serve as scouts keeping the enemy away (they have to send forth their light troops to deal with the skirmishers before continuing) and other assorted roles.

2. Not sure. Probably to the flanks to provide missile support. (I'm not sure if Alexander had them, but the Diadochi used some very heavily armed Pelasts as shock troops who would either lead a breakthrough or support a line.)
3. I dunno.

Dachs
Apr 05, 2011, 03:41 PM
Question 1: What do the irregulars and skirmishers do?
Toss stuff at the enemy to annoy them. "Stuff" here could mean rocks (slingers - sphendonetai) or spears. There are varying degrees of skirmishers, as well, in terms of how much armor they have. Some skirmishers are just dudes in tunics with spears (akontistai), some have a fair amount of armor and a shield (peltastai) and some are heavily armored enough to form part of the main battle line, akin to Roman velites or hastati (thureophoroi).

They also play a significant role in dealing with elephants.

Skirmishers can actually win battles, too. At the Battle of Issos in 301 BC, the grand allied army's skirmishers defeated those of Antigonos Monophthalmos and then began to bombard his syntagma with spears at fairly close range. While attempting to rally his troops, Antigonos was killed by a javelin and his army disintegrated, extinguishing the most powerful of the empires of the Diadochoi.
Question 2: Where do they go once battle closes?
Depends on the battle, but generally "wherever they're useful". Some skirmishers have the armor to fight in the battle line, and some don't. Sometimes skirmishers will move to the flanks to help the cavalry in their fight against the enemy cavalry. Sometimes they'll just pull back and rest behind the syntagma, because that stuff's hard work. You get the idea.
Question 3: Why does the video game insist on deploying my Cataphracts to the left instead of to the right?.
Bad coding?

RJMooreII
Apr 05, 2011, 03:50 PM
So is cavalry the main anti-cavalry unit? I know that massed pikemen can withstand a cavalry shock, but are cavalry the main people who engage cavalry?

Dachs
Apr 05, 2011, 03:55 PM
So is cavalry the main anti-cavalry unit? I know that massed pikemen can withstand a cavalry shock, but are cavalry the main people who engage cavalry?
Kinda. Cavalry fights can also involve skirmishers and whatnot, and sometimes, in special cases, light or heavy infantry (you see more of this in Roman warfare). But for the most part, cavalry fight cavalry first.

RJMooreII
Apr 05, 2011, 04:02 PM
Sounds good. Hopefully I can capture this damn city wall now.
Thanks.

Ajidica
Apr 05, 2011, 04:07 PM
Do take note that historical tactics rarely work in video games. Darn barbarian peasants don't rout fast enough when fighting my Praesental Scholae.

RJMooreII
Apr 05, 2011, 04:09 PM
Do take note that historical tactics rarely work in video games. Darn barbarian peasants don't rout fast enough when fighting my Praesental Scholae.
True enough, but this is basically a miniature war game. It's fairly close in most circumstances. Such tactics would, of course, be useless in most RTS games which are just a case of 'MOAR FIREPOWER'.

Ajidica
Apr 05, 2011, 04:13 PM
If you are interested in ancient warfare, I have a couple books from a while back that were fairly interesting. I'll see if I can dig them up.