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Topic Subject:The Art of Phalanx Warfare
Aurelius Scipio
Legionary
posted 21 December 2011 00:18 EDT (US)         
Work in progress, to be updated when I have the time to do so.


You may be asking yourself; "What is the secret to supremacy in Rome: Total War?" The answer is...the Phalanx!

Many factions in Rome: Total War utilize the Phalanx to devastating effect. This is because a Phalanx is almost unkillable from the front. To fully understand this guide though, a Phalanx must first be defined.

The Phalanx



A Phalanx on the march


A Phalanx is defined as a rectangular mass of men packed into tight formation presenting ranks of spears to the enemy. There are two main "types" of Phalanxes, the Greek Phalanx, and the Macedonian Phalanx.

The Greek Phalanx:


In a Greek-style Phalanx, men are tightly packed together with long, thrusting spears in one hand and a large circular shield in the other. These men are called Hoplites due to the large shield they carry called a Hoplon

Hoplites:



A Very well armed and armoured Spartan Hoplite


In practice, Hoplites do not differ between any of the factions in Rome: Total War. These men are all armed similarly, and have certain advantages and disadvantages.

In battle, a Hoplite carried a long, thrusting spear called a Dory, and a large circular shield called a Hoplon. The Dory was generally seven to nine feet long, with a long bronze blade. There would typically be a spiked butt on the Dory for use in anchoring it in the ground against the enemy charge, and to use as a spare point should the first break in battle. The Hoplon was roughly three feet in diameter, and curved inwards. It would perhaps be made of wood or bronze, depending on what a Hoplite could afford. As in Roman society before the Marian Reforms, Hoplites were generally drawn from the middle class, as men had to provide their own equipment. Poorer men generally had their Dory and Hoplon, and perhaps a helmet.

Hoplites of the middle class often were able to add linen or leather armour to their gear, and perhaps a helmet with cheek-guards. The best (and wealthiest) Hoplites could afford bronze breastplates and helmets. It was also common for wealthier Hoplites to wear bronze greaves. Most Hoplites also carried a shortsword called a Xiphos. the Xiphos generally had a blade two feet in length. This shorter sword was useful in the press if the shield wall broke. Spartan Hoplites carried an even shorter Xiphos, usually twelve to eighteen inches in length. This shorter blade was even more maneuverable in the mass or bodies. Alternatively, a Hoplite could carry a three foot long, curved blade called a Kopis. The Kopis was a vicious hacking weapon, more useful in open areas, but perhaps less so in the Phalanx. In Athenian art, Spartans were often pictured carrying the Kopis, as it was considered a "bad-guy" weapon in ancient Greece.

Greek Phalanx Warfare:


In the Greek style Phalanx, men would press tightly together into close formation, lock their shields, and present ranks of spears to the enemy. With the length of the Dory, up to four rows of spears could be presented at the front, with the ranks behind holding their weapons upwards at an angle. This allowed them to be quickly lowered into attack position, as well as providing additional protection against arrows.

The Greeks maintained a list of the "stages" of Phalanx combat, which are the following:

Ephodos: The hoplites stop singing their paeanes (battle hymns) and move towards the enemy Phalanx, picking up speed as they do so. In the moments before impact with the enemy, war cries would be shouted.

Krousis: The two Phalanxes crash together. The promachoe (the men in the front rank) had to be very physically fit to survive the intense forces of the crash.

Doratismos: Rapid spear thrusts to disrupt the enemy and find weaknesses in their formation.

Othismos: The push after most of the spears have been broken. Bloody hand-to-hand combat with swords and pushing shields. This portion of battle was considered the longest.

Pararrhexis: The breaching of the enemy Phalanx and shattering of their formation. At this point (or not long after) the battle would be considered over.


One of the main strengths of the Phalanx, is that it is very difficult to assail from the front. In most cases, a Phalanx had to be flanked to be defeated. To this end, Hoplites often trained to be able to break formation and change direction quickly in combat.


The Macedonian Phalanx:



A Macedonian Phalanx



A Macedonian Phalanx is similar in practice and theory to the Greek Phalanx, with a few key differences. Phillip II of Macedon spent much of his youth as a hostage at Thebes, where he studied military arts under renowned general Epaminodas. Epaminodas had a sound grasp of Phalanx warfare, and was able to change his formations to suit the needs of a battle (rather than just line up and charge). It is likely that Epiminodas' and Phillip's use of the pelta shield and the longer spear comes from the Greek general Iphicrates, who developed the pelta shield for use by skirmishers. In addition to paying special attention to training and drilling his Hoplites, Iphicrates also adopted the strategy of having his Hoplites don these lighter shields and use longer spears which they could wield with both hands now that they had a lighter shield on one arm. It was a combination of Iphicrates' and Epimonidas' (likely influenced by Iphicrates) reforms to Phalanx warfare, that led to Phillip II creating the Macedonian Phalanx. It was the intense training and drilling of the Macedonian Phalangites, along with their equipment, that led to their tactical supremacy over the Greek Phalanx. While most Greek Hoplites (the exception being the Spartans) were citizen-soldiers, the Macedonian Phalangites were professional soldiers.

The Phalangite:


In a Macedonian Phalanx, men were often referred to as Phalangites. This term may be used to classify any man in Phalanx formation, but most Greek Phalangites were simply referred to as "Hoplites." In theory, the correct term for a Macedonian Phalangite is Sarissaphoros, so named for the spear they wielded: the Sarissa.

The Sarissa was a very different weapon from the dory. The Sarissa could be thirteen to twenty-one feet in length, though generally between fifteen and eighteen feet in length. The length of the Sarissa, combined with the weight of the heavier wood it was made from, made the spear all but useless unless held in both hands. With a Sarissa held in both hands, a Sarissaphoros would have a light shield known as a pelta strapped around their neck and shoulders, hanging to cover their left side. Like the Dory, the Sarissa had a bronze butt spike to be used both as a balance and as a backup weapon. Historically, the invention of the Sarissa is credited to Phillip II of Macedon (father of Alexander the Great).

Though it is unknown whether equipment was standardized in the Macedonian military, there was a minimum equipment type expected by all Sarissaphoros, and a fine would be levied if any of the equipment could not be produced on command. Typical armament included: a Sarissa, a pelta, a set of armour (the Kotthybos), a Konos (a conical Macedonian helmet), a set of Knemides (greaves), and a Makhaira (shortsword).

While the Sarissa and pelta were fairly straightforward in design, the Kotthybos is not well understood (perhaps made of linen, though there are historical accounts of men cooking food in their armour, which suggests metal pieces at least). The Konos would likely have been made of bronze or bronze-covered wood. The Knemides were most likely made of bronze, and would cover the shin of each leg. Perhaps strangest of all was the Makhaira. It varied from region to region, and could be curved or straight. Historical accounts suggest that the Makhaira used by Sarissaphoros were straight, and similar in design to the Greek Xiphos.


A Curved Makhaira


Macedonian Phalanx Warfare:



The Macedonian Battle Line


In general practice, the Macedonian Phalanx fought similarly to the Greek Phalanx. The key difference is the length of the pikes, and the training employed. Phillip II of Macedon trained his Sarissaphoros relentlessly to change direction, force march, and hold formation. Both Phillip II and Alexander the Great used Sarissaphoros in their conquests to hold enemy infantry in place while cavalry flanked their position and smashed them against the pike wall. The great length and weight of the Sarissa also conferred a tactical advantage, as more force could be applied holding the weapon with both hands. The length also allowed more rows of spears to be presented to the enemy. A Macedonian Phalanx would present five rows of spears to the enemy, with more held at an angle to be dropped into position at a moment's notice. Generally, the only way to defeat a Macedonian Phalanx was to outflank it or break the formation.

With the Phalanx and its types now defined and explained, we now turn our heads towards Phalanx warfare as it applies in Rome: Total War:

A Note on the Movement of Phalanxes


Moving a Phalanx can be a risky business, so remember these tips to achieve tactical supremacy and utilize the strategies in this guide to their fullest!

1. Phalanx formation is tiring, and not practical for moving. When in formation, Phalangites move very slowly. If you plan on moving a long distance with your Phalanx, be sure to drop Phalanx Formation (by selecting the Phalanx and pressing "F." You may select multiple Phalanxes by dragging a box, or by using CTRL+Left Click and drop them into or out of Phalanx Formation at the same time.

2. When a Phalanx is moving, it isn't defending. There are times when it is necessary to move a Phalanx to assault your enemy, but beware enemy arrow fire! Phalangites drop their shields on the march, and are more vulnerable to all types of enemy attack. If ever the enemy starts to move towards you while you are moving, drop into formation and halt movement immediately. Phalangites can lock shields and present spears quickly, to the detriment of their foes!

3. The ideal Phalanx is one that does not move at all. When a Phalanx moves, formations built of multiple units are very hard to hold onto. Therefore, your flanks may no longer be secure while moving. Nothing ruins your day more than a unit of Egyptian chariots running down your line from behind and causing a mass rout!

Defensive Phalanx Maneuvers


I list defense before offense simply because the Phalanx formation is suited most particularly to defensive formation, and less so to offense. I shall break down the defensive strategies of the Phalanx into four parts: city defense, open ground, bridges, and the Long Line in the Sand.

Note for historically accurate players that some of these strategies could be considered "cheap," and take advantage of the faults of the AI. This guide is for the purpose of Phalanx supremacy as it applies in Rome: Total War, and not in historical accuracy.


City Defense:


When defending a city (or any type of fortification), the most important tactic to remember is to not man your walls. While this may seem tactically unsound, remember that the strength of the Phalanx lies in formation and ranks of spears, which are not utilized while on walls. The best strategy for wall defense if to place a Phalanx behind a gate to trap enemies in the range of boiling oil from the gatehouse. Should the gate be captured, retreat deeper into the city.

The other important tactic to remember for settlement defense is to keep your flanks secure! The best way to do this is to place your Phalanx on the street between houses. Another good way to deploy a Phalanx is on the street on the edge of your town center, as any routers won't go far. This also keeps all troops within range of the general's morale boots, and allows troops to move to other defensive roads on the edge of the town center with relative speed.

When defending wooden walls or forts, it is first important during deployment to count your enemy's rams and predict where they will make contact with the wall. At these points, a Phalanx should be placed to defend the gap in the wall with a row of pikes as soon as the wall comes down. Another tactic that is useful to remember, is to place your Phalanx in such a way as to trap the enemy between two Phalanx, and pincer them between rows of spears.

On no account should your men engage in sword to sword melee unless the numbers are massively in your favor. Phalangites are not as powerful individually, and can be defeated by enemies that would be easy prey to the spear-wall.

So remember Warlord: Never man your walls, keep your formation, and place your men near to the town center for defense.



Open Ground:


Remember that these rules of Phalanx warfare are not only used on the open field, and may be employed wherever you take your Phalanx.

Fighting a defensive battle on open ground is more difficult than fighting in a fortification because there is no building you may use to guard your flanks. When using your Phalanx on the open field, you must first remember the following "rules":

1. Very few enemy infantrymen can take a Phalanx from the front, but guard well your flanks lest your formation be destroyed! Formation is everything to a Phalanx, and with the exception of a few higher-phalanxes (Spartan Hoplites, to name an example) are little match for enemy infantry or cavalry in hand-to-hand combat.

2. Read rule #1 several more times, until it really sinks in.

3. A defensive formation is key to your defense, but remember that the Phalanx is very vulnerable to ranged attack. The close-packed mass makes an easy target for archers, and Phalangites generally have a lower armour rating (especially Macedonian Phalangites) than units that rely solely on melee combat. There are exceptions (Greek Armoured Phalanx for example), but it is a general fact that Phalangites are vulnerable to arrow fire, and especially artillery. The best way to counteract enemy ranged infantry or artillery is with your cavalry. Ranged cavalry is harder to counter, as only other ranged cavalry can catch it.

4. Movement should be deliberate and carefully planned. Moving in a Phalanx is tiring and slow. The best strategy is to keep cavalry on hand to pursue routers, as your Phalangites will never catch them. Ideally, a Phalanx formation is to be set up defensively and not moved at all. Some battles require adjustment of your lines to keep from being overwhelmed, but the deployment phase of any battle is very important. It takes time for a Phalanx to march into place, get into lines, and lock shields. If at all possible, let your enemy come to you. This is the key to defensive supremacy.

These being said, let's look at some defensive formations that a Phalanx may be deployed in for maximum effect:

The Classic Line




Pikes in front, archers behind. Set your cavalry to guard the flanks of the Phalanx. This is a very simple strategy, but is very effective nontheless.

The line can be set up using but a single unit of Phalangites, and requires little time to set up in battle. Useful in most situations.

The "U" Phalanx


Deploy your men in a formation shaped like a "U" with pikes facing outwards. Instead of right angles at the base of the "U," place a phalanx there diagonally to insure that the spear wall doesn't have any large gaps. This formation can be very effective when your back is secured, and when you have archers and cavalry inside the "U" that need to be able to move around without breaking the formation.

To utilize the "U" Phalanx effectively, you should deploy it in this formation during deployment phase. Few enemies will allow you the time to set up an elaborate formation in the middle of a battle, and it will leave your Phalangites vulnerable.

The Mighty Schiltrom




Place your Phalanxes in such a way as to have pikes facing in every direction with the formation in a shape resembling a circle. This requires quite a few men to pull off, but it is very effective when you are surrounded or expecting enemy reinforcements. Place any archers or artillery inside the ring of spears. Cavalry isn't well advised in this formation, as any cavalry running through the spear-wall will disrupt the formation, to possibly fatal results. It is best when using the Schiltrom to place cavalry outside the ring (except the general) and skirmish with them.

This formation is only practical when created during deployment phase. It is highly unlikely that your enemy will allow you time to create a ring of spears while they're advancing.

The Inverted Line


This formation involves placing Phalanxes back-to-back so as to have pikes facing in two directions in a rather long line. They do not have to literally be back-to-back, as a space between for archers and artillery can tip the scale in your favor.

This formation can be set up fairly quickly in battle if it becomes clear that the enemy will attack only from two sides, or doesn't have enough men to engulf your line. It is important to keep cavalry or infantry on your flanks to protect your Phalangites, as a charge down the line from the side could have disastrous results.

The Box Formation


Deploy in a box, diamond, or rectangle. The goal of this formation is to have spears facing in four directions and for the flanks to meet at the corners. Archers and artillery should be placed within the box, but as with the Schiltrom cavalry can be a liability.

This formation doesn't require as much time to prepare, or as many men as the Schiltrom. This makes it far more viable to set up in the heat of battle.

Note that any of these formations are just general concepts, and can be modified and combined to fit any situation.

The Bridge Defense:


The Bridge Defense is perhaps the simplest Phalanx action that can be attempted. This tactic can wear down enemy troops while barely touching yours, and is great for taking down the large stacks spawned by Egypt on VH Campaign difficulty.

To begin, leave a Phalanx army on a bridge at the end of your turn. This insures that they will get to defend the bridge no matter which side they are attacked on. Deploy your Phalangites in an inward-facing "U," an inward-facing box, of the infamous Bridge "V."

For the "V" formation, place men on the bridge head in an inward-facing "V" with a single unit behind them with pikes facing forward. This will resemble the "V" being underlined. It is most effective to have the "V" two units deep, as men can be lost to enemy arrow and artillery fire. If your enemy feels that they have a tactical advantage in numbers, they will charge directly forward into your trap, most men being killed before they have a chance to fight back. This strategy is particularly useful for the Seleucid Empire when fighting Egypt, as Egypt can field very large armies at a moment's notice. (I once took out four and a half thousand Egyptians while losing only 11 men.)

The Long Line in the Sand:


This strategy is incredibly effective, but to fully understand it, read the article written by dad_savage. This is where I learned the strategy, and it has served me well.

http://rtw.heavengames.com/rtw/strategy/battle/the_long_line_in_the_sand/index.shtml

This concludes the section on Defensive Warfare. Next will be Offensive strategies, maneuvers, and formations.

Offensive Phalanx Maneuvers


In their essence, every battle that involves a Phalanx is a defensive battle, even on the attack. Offensive Phalanx maneuvers are possible, but require much more planning and thought to carry out than defensive maneuvers. I will cover most of the same key points for offense that I did for defense: City Assault, Open Ground Assault, Taking a Bridge, and sallying from a fortification. Unfortunately, the Long Line in the Sand is almost useless offensively, though it still remains a powerful defensive formation. Always know this key factor though: If the enemy never does charge, you will have to break upon their line on their terms.

City Assault:


When taking a fortification held by your enemy, you must first identify if there are any reinforcements nearby. An army appearing behind your lines will require you to fight both defensively and offensively, which will be covered later in this guide.

When taking a city, there are several phases that battle follows:

1. The Advance to the Walls

This is the simplest part of assaulting a city with your Phalanx. Enemy arrow fire is to be expected, as are casualties. Greek Hoplites are better able to survive these arrow barrages than Macedonian Phalangites, but the one-and-a-half strength battalions of Macedon can afford to lose a few men. When advancing, it is important to start your advance with first your rams. It is not recommended to take your Phalangites up ladders or towers, as they may not be able to stand in the melee without their formation (Spartan Hoplites, Sacred Band, and a few others are exceptions to this, and can storm walls). It is far better to go through wooden walls with rams, or under stone ones with sappers. Rams will lead only to death by boiling oil and enemy arrow fire while you wait for the gate to break. The lesser armour of the Phalanxes cannot take this, and casualties will be high. When the walls are breached through whatever means are necessary, place your men in a line at the breach in the wall and see if the enemy will be goaded into a charge (so long as you are not under heavy arrow fire). When you enter the city, form a box with the wall and the buildings behind it for two sides, and Phalanxes on the other sides. This gives a relatively safe position to bring more men into the city, and will prepare you if the enemy decides to counterattack. In it's essence, every battle with a Phalanx is defensive, even on the attack.

2. The Fight for the Walls

If you have now entered the walls and the enemy flees towards the town center, you must survey the battlefield and take stock of the enemy. Naturally this does not apply to wooden walls or palisades. If the walls are strongly held, ignore them! Advance into the center street of the city (the one that leads directly to the town center) and place your men in Phalanx formation using the buildings to guard your flanks. If the men on the walls are a threat, place Phalanxes behind you to guard against the threat. If the walls are sparsely held (or not held), capture them to allow your other men to enter the city more easily.

3. The Battle in the Streets

Before you advance far down the center street, first see what type of troops you are fighting defensively. If the enemy is fielding Phalanxes, or are in massive quantities, it may be beneficial to break your army into groups and assault down different city lane simultaneously so as to pincer the city center.

This is the most crucial step of Assaulting a City. With your Phalanxes now placed before you on the center street of the city, advance them cautiously. Halt any movement at the first sign of an enemy charge. Even though you are assaulting the city, you are still in defensive formations. This is the key to the Phalanx's strength. To goad the enemy into a charge, place archers, skirmishers, slingers, or artillery behind your Phalanx line to bombard the city center. Advance until you have reached the city center, and place your men on the road at it's edge.

4. The City Center

This step is dependent on whether or not you have advanced down one road or many, and whether or not you have ranged troops or cavalry. If you have ranged troops, exhaust all ammunition on the city center before you advance to soften the enemy. If you have cavalry, send it around to a street that leads towards the city center easily, but that you do not have heavily defended. This will allow your cavalry to sweep into the flanks of the city center while the defenders are engaged with your Phalanx. Done correctly, this will pincer the defenders between your troops. If you have advanced down multiple roads, slowly advance one road at a time into the city center in an ever-shrinking circle. If you have placed all of your troops on one or two roads, advance them slowly into the city together (you may need to give orders while paused). Above all, keep your formation intact! If at any point the enemy begins to charge, halt movement immediately!

Open Ground Assault:


In the section on Assaulting a City, I mentioned that you should stop your Phalanx at any sign of the enemy charge. This is why: When your Phalanx is moving, their shields are down at their sides and their spears are not set. As soon as the order is given to stop (by clicking the hand icon on the command bar), they will halt their movement, raise their shields, and set their spears. They can accomplish this very quickly. The main point of an advancing Phalanx is to goad the enemy into a charge and turn it back into a defensive battle in your favor.

There are few formations that really work well for advancing with a Phalanx. Any elaborate defensive formations (like the ones listed above) will break apart with any movement. There are three main formations that work well for assaulting an enemy position with a Phalanx, and they are:

The "V" Phalanx


This Phalanx formation can be found in the article written by Cheesewiz.

http://rtw.heavengames.com/rtw/strategy/battle/macedonian_phalanx/index.shtml

Other than the "V" Phalanx, the only real assault formation is:

The Line


Whether you set up a single line with archers behind or several, advancing in a line is the only formation that will hold together. As with the City Assault, the goal here is to turn the battle into a defensive one in your favor. Do all in your power to goad the enemy into a charge.


Without any real formations to go by, this type of warfare is most open to interpretation. Just remember the rules outlined in the section Open Ground (Defensive Maneuvers), the rules for dealing with different types of troops, and always remember these two key factors: Guard your flanks (ALWAYS), and halt your Phalanx (to turn the battle defensive) as soon as the enemy charges.

Assaulting from a Fortification:


There are times when you will find that the enemy is content to wait for you to starve rather than engage you in honourable combat. Aside from speaking volumes to their cowardice, this presents a unique tactical challenge. The goal when sallying from a fortification is to turn the battle into an offensive open ground battle. This can be difficult, as the enemy has an opportunity to assault you as you leave the gates. Use the strategies outlined in various parts of this article to goad your enemy into attack range of your walls, as your towers and any archer you have will greatly aid you in your battle. Cavalry is a great boon to have here. If you are forced into an assault from a fortification, hit first one side of the enemy and force them to turn their line to suit you. If this fails or is impractical, a pincer maneuver is always an option.

Taking a Bridge


This is the worst nightmare of any Phalanx-using commander. Survey the enemy positions, what does the enemy have? If they have their own mass of Phalanxes, the battle is now more difficult. All is not lost however, as the battle can still be won! The best way to accomplish this is to first bombard the enemy with any and all ranged units you have. See now if the enemy is right against the bridge. If the enemy has little or no cavalry, send your own cavalry across and (carefully!) edge it around the enemy Phalanx. Even if the enemy does not deploy a Phalanx, this is still an effective tactic. Now, you must advance. This is difficult, tedious, and annoying. In practice, it is similar to advancing down a street towards a town center. The only advice that can be offered here is to halt your phalanx when the enemy charges. When the lines meet, charge your cavalry into the flanks of the defenders. With luck, this will cause a mass rout.


Tips on Offensive Maneuvers:


Because of the complexity of Offensive Maneuvers, it is prudent to offer a few general tips here on their execution.

1. The ideal battle is a defensive one, but offense is a powerful tool. There are times when the enemy will not break their line and advance, even when you halt your Phalanx in their faces and so you are forced to assault their line. This is best accomplished by a simple pincer with cavalry and Phalanxes.

2.Enemy ranged cavalry is as dangerous to an offensive Phalanx as it is to a defensive Phalanx. Remember that they will eventually run out of ammunition. Before assaulting an enemy line, it is prudent to kill as many enemies as you can with your own cavalry and ranged units, prioritizing first enemy ranged units, and then enemy infantry.

3. Guard your flanks. ALWAYS.

The Death of the Phalanx


The absolute simplest way to destroy a Phalanx is to flank it. This has been evidenced both in Rome: Total War. and in history. I call now to example the famous Battle of Marathon (490 BC), in which the Greek City-States defeated the First Persian Invasion of Greece:

The Battle of Marathon:


The Armies:


Athens: Three different accounts (Cornelius Nepos, Plutarch, and Pausanias) give figures ranging from nine to ten thousand Athenians and one thousand Plateans. These numbers are considered to be generally accurate.

The Persian Empire: Historical accounts differ significantly in describing the size of the Persian forces at Marathon. Herodotus claims that the fleet sent by Darius numbered six hundred Triremes. This gives no indication of how many transport and support vessels accompanied the fleet. Some have suggested that the figure of six hundred was a combined number both of Triremes and transports, while others claim that there were cavalry transport ships not included in the figure of six hundred. Whatever the true number may be, suffice it to say that there was a significant Persian Navy.

For ground forces, the numbers differ even more radically between accounts. Herodotus gives no figures for the Persian infantry, describing them only as "a large infantry that was well packed." Cornelius Nepos claims the Persian numbered around two-hundred thousand infantry and ten thousand cavalry, while both Plutarch and Pausanius give figures of three-hundred thousand infantry. Plato asserted five-hundred thousand infantry, as did Lysias, and Justin claimed six-hundred thousand infantry. These numbers are considered to be wild exaggerations. The most likely scenario is this: Herodotus (who is apparently the only one who can count) tells us that each Trireme in the Second Invasion of Greece (ten years later) carried thirty extra Marines in addition to the standard fourteen. Using this figure, it is probable that the Persian fleet could have transported eighteen to twenty-six thousand infantry, with a modern consensus generally being considered in the neighborhood of twenty-five thousand. In addition to this infantry, the Persian cavalry is considered to have numbered near one thousand.

The Battle:


With these figures, the Athenian Army is easily outnumbered 2:1. Because a defeat at Marathon would mean the annihilation of Athens, and because the Athenians had no reason to seek battle, they stayed on the defensive. The Hoplites were also vulnerable to flanking by cavalry which made offensive maneuvers risky. This also kept the Athenians defensive leading up to the battle. The Athenian army could not expect Spartan reinforcements for at least ten days (the Persians landed during the Carneia, a sacred time of peace. The Spartans refused to march until is was over), and hemmed the Persians in at the Plain of Marathon, blocking the exits to the plain. As the Athenians were waiting for reinforcements, and the Persian infantry was no match for a Phalanx head-on, both sides were locked in stalemate for a time.

In the end, several sources (including Herodotus) confirm that the Athenian army attacked the Persians before the Spartan force arrived. Since no accounts of the battle mention cavalry actually taking part, it is assumed that the Persian cavalry left Marathon for an unspecified reason (some say that the Persians were leaving, and that the Cavalry was loaded onto the ships first, or that the cavalry was loaded onto the ships to find a place to flank the Athenians) and the Athenians took advantage of this to attack. A second theory claims that the Persians attacked the Athenians, which makes sense both if they knew (or suspected) that the Athenians were expecting reinforcements, and their supplies could not afford to wait at Marathon indefinitely. Whatever the case may be, the Athenian and Platean Hoplites are reputed to have slain near six-thousand, four-hundred Persian forces at a loss of less than two-hundred of their own. This resounding victory in the Greek's favor would not be repaid until the Battle of Thermopylae, ten years later.


The Battle of Thermopylae


As most readers are probably aware, the movie 300 is based (VERY loosely) on the Battle of Thermopylae between the Spartan-led forces of Greece, and the Persian forces of Xerxes. While the movie is as inaccurate as a blind, deaf, feverish marksman with his hands tied to his feet, it does illustrate the superiority of Phalanx Warfare. To avenge the defeat of his father Darius, Xerxes led his men to Greece to conquer the entirety of it. To make a long and much-debated story short, roughly ten thousand Greeks (led by Leonidas of Sparta with his three hundred Spartan hoplites) held position at Thermopylae against the Persian Army (estimates range anywhere from seventy-thousand to three-hundred thousand). Numbers may overwhelm, but for three days the Greeks held their line, pushing back many times their own number. It was only after the Greek traitor Ephialtes led the Persians around to outflank the Greeks that Thermopylae could no longer be held. This is when Leonidas made his final stand with his Spartans (and some historians argue as many as fifteen hundred total troops) to allow the rest of the army to withdraw.

[This message has been edited by Aurelius Scipio (edited 05-20-2012 @ 11:13 PM).]

AuthorReplies:
Terikel Grayhair
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(id: Terikel706)
posted 21 December 2011 02:26 EDT (US)     1 / 21       
You can see here for some helpful tips!

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Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
Aurelius Scipio
Legionary
posted 21 December 2011 03:44 EDT (US)     2 / 21       
Indeed, I plan on drawing inspiration from many of the guides already posted and consolidating them (authors of their respective works to be credited). Screenshots will also be added in time before it is to be presented to the chopping block.

[This message has been edited by Aurelius Scipio (edited 12-22-2011 @ 04:55 AM).]

Agrippa 271
Legionary
posted 22 December 2011 23:09 EDT (US)     3 / 21       
Very good start, I love the historical accuracy. You may want to talk about how a phalanx may be defeated in-depth, especially with the Roman manipular/cohort style that ended the phalanx's domination of the battlefield.

Death is a (vastly) preferable alternative to communism.
"Idiocy knows no national or cultural borders. Stupidity can strike anyone, anywhere." -- Terikel
Aurelius Scipio
Legionary
posted 23 December 2011 02:13 EDT (US)     4 / 21       
That is a good suggestion Agrippa, I will do so near the end of the guide.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 23 December 2011 02:41 EDT (US)     5 / 21       
Some notes, corrections and tips:
(Format your words, my suggestions)

seven-nine feet
seven to nine feet

In thoery
In theory

so named for the spear they wielded known as a Sarissa.
so named for the spear they wielded- the Sarissa.

thirteen-twenty-one feet
thirteen to twenty-one feet

Tips for research:
Reforms of Iphicrates
The syntagma- basis of the flexibility of the Macedonian phalanx
Philip II

Looking good so far.

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
General Sajaru
Tribunus Laticlavius
posted 23 December 2011 03:58 EDT (US)     6 / 21       
(Spartan Hoplites, to name an example)
Perhaps Spartan Hoplites, for example?

For the subheadings under Open Ground, you might want to use bold instead of underlined. Alternately, you could bold and underline the bigger section headings.

For the Inverted Line, I would add that if you place the units on the end so that they overlap, your flanks are less vulnerable.

Otherwise, it looks good, and is a nice article.

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction." - Ronald Reagan
"Judge them not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Pick up a rifle and you change instantly from a subject to a citizen." - Jeff Cooper
"I like my enemies like James Bond likes his martinis- shaken, not stirred."
My first book, The King's Own
Aurelius Scipio
Legionary
posted 23 December 2011 16:52 EDT (US)     7 / 21       
All valid points. I will take them into consideration as I expand. I will be writing in a bit on history and the downfall of the Phalanx after I add in the screenshots.

[This message has been edited by Aurelius Scipio (edited 12-23-2011 @ 10:12 PM).]

Agrippa 271
Legionary
posted 24 December 2011 00:33 EDT (US)     8 / 21       
Good information, a lot of stuff in this article is stuff I have never used or haven't even known about. Up until now, whenever I have assaulted cities with phalanxes, I did it rather poorly. Very good read. Keep up the good work.

EDIT: Nice pictures too! Must have posted just before you put them in.

Death is a (vastly) preferable alternative to communism.
"Idiocy knows no national or cultural borders. Stupidity can strike anyone, anywhere." -- Terikel

[This message has been edited by Agrippa 271 (edited 12-24-2011 @ 00:34 AM).]

Aurelius Scipio
Legionary
posted 24 December 2011 10:49 EDT (US)     9 / 21       
Assaulting a city with a phalanx is a rather messy business. Unfortunately, there isn't any choice when playing factions like Greece or the Seleucid Empire. As for the pictures, how would I go about making them bigger?

[This message has been edited by Aurelius Scipio (edited 12-24-2011 @ 04:37 PM).]

Agrippa 271
Legionary
posted 30 December 2011 17:32 EDT (US)     10 / 21       
...(the Persians landed during the Carneia, a sacred time of peace. The Spartans refused to march until is was over)...
"is" should be "this".

Death is a (vastly) preferable alternative to communism.
"Idiocy knows no national or cultural borders. Stupidity can strike anyone, anywhere." -- Terikel
Aurelius Scipio
Legionary
posted 04 January 2012 01:03 EDT (US)     11 / 21       
Hopefully, I will be able to work on this again soon. I've been battling a computer virus for quite a while, and haven't been able to work on it.
Agrippa 271
Legionary
posted 04 January 2012 22:23 EDT (US)     12 / 21       
Stinks. Its very interesting. I look forward to reading more.

Death is a (vastly) preferable alternative to communism.
"Idiocy knows no national or cultural borders. Stupidity can strike anyone, anywhere." -- Terikel
Aurelius Scipio
Legionary
posted 05 January 2012 00:50 EDT (US)     13 / 21       
I certainly hope to expand it. Now, how do I make the screenshots I post larger?
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 05 January 2012 01:33 EDT (US)     14 / 21       
Bigger is not always better when applied to pics in articles.

Anything wider than 600 pixels gets clipped in order to fit the screen.

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
Aurelius Scipio
Legionary
posted 08 January 2012 00:19 EDT (US)     15 / 21       
Thank you, I will remember that. As for the size, I just want them a bit larger so that they can be seen better
Aurelius Scipio
Legionary
posted 20 May 2012 22:46 EDT (US)     16 / 21       
Aurelius Scipio lives again (the college semester was brutal)! Hopefully, I will soon finish this article that it may be posted. As it is, I confuse the heck out of myself with image hosting. If anyone is willing to take pictures of the maneuovres listed above and post links to them, I would be very grateful.

[This message has been edited by Aurelius Scipio (edited 05-20-2012 @ 11:15 PM).]

General Sajaru
Tribunus Laticlavius
posted 20 May 2012 23:27 EDT (US)     17 / 21       
I could possibly do that this coming weekend, once I get back to a computer with Rome on it.

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction." - Ronald Reagan
"Judge them not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Pick up a rifle and you change instantly from a subject to a citizen." - Jeff Cooper
"I like my enemies like James Bond likes his martinis- shaken, not stirred."
My first book, The King's Own
Aurelius Scipio
Legionary
posted 20 May 2012 23:30 EDT (US)     18 / 21       
Please and thank you. My screenshot abilities are severely lacking.
Aurelius Scipio
Legionary
posted 19 June 2012 21:46 EDT (US)     19 / 21       
Of course if it isn't one thing it is another. I haven't been working on this guide because my house was condemned. To top it off, I'm now returning my computer and getting a better one, so it could be a while before I get back to it. Just wanted to let you guys know that I'm not gone.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 20 June 2012 01:41 EDT (US)     20 / 21       
No worries.

Oh, and some of those pics look like they came out of books. Make sure you credit the books/sources. Gameshots are okay, and bookshots/online pics are okay for stories, but for articles we like sources.

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
Awesome Eagle
Spear of Mars
(id: awesomated88)
posted 16 August 2013 06:36 EDT (US)     21 / 21       
Really late, but Two day rule implemented. Any concerns, additions or subtractions to be made? Speak up..

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it- George Santayana
History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are- David C. McCullough
Wars not make one great- Yoda
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