Sunday today was great. The weather was nice and after the vacations period has now really come to an end it was time for a game of Hail Casear again. This time Alexander against Poros and we based the terrain roughly on the battle of the Hydaspes. We treated the river as difficult going and an area terrain since it was a sizable but fordable river. Alexander with his army on the one bank and Poros in the other.
Building an Alexandrian Macedonian army and also the army of Poros is a bit of a puzzle in HC, but an interesting one. I think that for the first time in more than 30 years of gaming that I field the army of Alexander and, most importantly, Alexander! Still, most units like the peltasts are light only and therefore very vulnerable. This is an army that requires care and skill. An Indian army also is not ye perfect optimized army of the old days. No, one has to abide to the percentages which means one has some truly scary bits and sufficient other men that one is seriously concerned about with the prospect of facing a phalanx, to name just one big tough brick that Alexander might throw through your window.
I played Alexander with his merry men and decided to deploy most of the army behind a piece of jungle. I wanted to keep my options open and see what Poros was planning. The Indian army was deployed in a extensive battle line, heavy chariots on the left and elephants as a strategic reserve behind the centre.
I moved the phalanx toward the river and facing the chariots. Poros mirrored this move by pushing the chariot command forwards. The Indians clearly had had a better breakfast since they dashed forwards and reached the river first. At the river Crassus, the macedonian commander of the phalanx, took his time deploying his entire command. The hopites were in second line because of the narrow initial deployment zone and now were needed to extent the line before engaging the Indians. The idea was to cover the Indian line and pin it. Then move Alexander with the cavalry through a gap around the Indian flank and hit hard. But Crassus took to long. Poros observed that shooting was nice but unimpressive against the phalanx. He ordered his command to cross the river, only to find out that chariots cannot go in difficult going… bummer!
By now most of the Indian army had advanced and formed a well deployed line. The opportunity had passed. So Alexander decided to use his superior mobility and command rating. The phalanx was ordered to move back outside of bow range and the cavalry turned about and dashed for the other Indian flank moving behind the jungle. The idea was that it would take the indian army more turns to follow this move and redeploy their army. It was not to be. Poros simply ordered his chariots to retreat all the way back to the foothills and wood, reordered the other parts and that was that.
Seeing the nimble command system of Poros Alexander understood that this was not to be a subtle outmaneuvering game. Poros was retreating to far from the river which seemed to result in a large open field between the Indian army and the river. So Alexander decided to turn about once more.
The phalanx was ordered to advance to the river and once there have one of the phalanx units cross it with a follow me order. This in order to have at least one formed unit across that could then cover the advance of the other units. Again Crassus dragged his feet, again, and again and again. Poros was by now all the way to the back of the battle field. He watered his horses, scrubbed his elephants, fed his men and polished the light metal wheels of his chariots. He had all the time of the world.
Crassus was now ordered to change gears and push the entire phalanx across. The distance between him and Poros was sufficient. Slowly the phalanx advanced. Behind them Alexander with his cavalry. Poros saw this, threw his roasted chicken away and ordered the advance once more. The elephants now in the front line, the chariots to their left and infantry oblique to their right. Some skirmishing rhodian slingers inflicted hits on an elephant. The phalanx was across the river and just within range of the Indian archers, but the bows were of no effect. Again most of the Macedonians were slow to respond to orders while the Indian army move swiftly. Alexander then took a decision to make a dash with the phalanx in order to pin the Indian army for a few turns which hopefully would allow for him to carefully deploy the hetaroi and then press the big red button. The phalanx understood what was to be done. They rushed forwards hitting the elephants and a unit of Indian infantry. Both their flanks were unsupported while the indians were well supported. The task of the phalanx was not to break through, but to hold out. The combat was brutal with heavy losses on both sides. Some of the Indian chariots further to the left charged the hoplites. Dust filled the air while the sun was starting to set.
The phalanx held firm for a few turns but then started to show signs of yielding. The rest of the Macedonian army was still not well placed. Alexander knew he needed a gamble. He ordered follow me! Together with his hetaroi he rushed forwards into the indian infantry. They made it through the withering hails of arrows, they crushed into the indian line but failed to break through. They bounced back… and left Alexander dead on the ground. The phalanx also yielded signaling the defeat of the Macedonians