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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    eek Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    So, I posted a couple weeks ago about how, by d&d rules, due to stacking AC bonuses from trained fighters with shields marching side-by-side, a phalanx could actually be a really effective formation - to the point of being intimidating even for (mundane) PCs.

    Today, I'm thinking about Alexander the Great's phalanx - in which lightly armored, extremely well-trained infantry were packed much closer together with much longer, two handed spears - and realized that Alexander the Great was a munchkin. He was a PC exploiting meta-game knowledge (Lol).

    Alexander's men wielded 20-ft, 18lb spears (Bigger than Great Spears, for sure, in d&d terms) with 20-inch spear-heads (basically) at either end. They were arranged in columns sixteen men deep and these columns (dekades) were packed tightly, side-by-side. The best and most experienced (higher-level? higher attack bonus?) men would be placed at the front of the column (the back made up of the next-most experienced men) with their spears lowered to attack. The rest would have their spears vertical and would focus on using their body-weight to increase the inertia of the front-line fighters (aid another, anyone?).

    Now, each man would have had at least 15-ft reach (probably 20). So, on approaching the phalanx - or, more likely, being approached by it - one would necessarily incur AoO from 3 men in moving from 20 to 15 ft, another 3 from 15 to 10, and another from 10 to 5. The butt spike on the spear, meanwhile, means that they can still be used to attack from 5 ft. These were all two-handed weapon attacks, so 1.5 STR, big dice, power attack is in play, etc.

    They were so well trained that they could open the formation to let an elephant or chariot scream through and close it back in a second (this happened, multiple times), they attacked on rough terrain, through streams, up hills, etc. and rarely allowed any exploitable gaps to form. So, you know, they were obviously at least level 5-6 (go on, add up the feats I've alluded to ).

    Meanwhile, this was complemented by an elite cavalry. I mean seriously, his cavalry kicked all sorts of ass. Alexander was obviously a Warblade with a whole lot of White Raven.

    Other evidence of munchkinry: He obviously exploited Leadership (otherwise, why dump Wisdom???), he consistently sought out the highest level opponents in any battle, knowing full well the mooks wouldn't give him any real XP, he was working on getting people to worship him so he could gain divine ranks, and he shattered the WBL guidelines by seeking out and defeating NPCs (Darius) who were necessarily wealthy, but obviously unoptimized.

    PS: I'm comparing him to contemporary, real world rivals, not to D&D shenanigans when I call him a munchkin. Obviously, he's using fighters, so....

    EDIT: Sarisae are twice as heavy as Greatspears.
    Last edited by JackRackham; 2012-04-07 at 10:40 PM.

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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    *Clap clap clap*
    This is wonderful
    Please, continue to explain how Napoleon exploited the rules as well

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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    Artillery as self-resetting fireball traps in a setting where people don't exploit magic item creation rules?

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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    Love it!
    makes me wonder what the build of that phalanx would be on paper...

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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    not to mention his abuse of Profession and Craft skills in warfare. Creating a giant ramp to march his army up a mountain, redirecting natural rivers and streams, not to mention the man *Turned an island into part of the mainland*.

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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    Interesting.

    How would you translate Alexander's phalanx (or a more generic optimized, highly-trained elite phalanx) in a low-level world?

    A phalanx made of 1st-level human warriors, for example, would probably exploit Shield Wall and Phalanx Fighting: by using relatively cheap armor (Hide) and a wooden heavy shield, they would have ACs around 21 (= 10 + 1 dex + 2 shield + 3 hide + 2 shield wall + 3 phalanx fighting).

    On the other hand, an elite force of 3rd-level human fighters (Alexander's?) could have access to a total of 5 feats and better equipment. How would they exploit them in the best possible way?

    Apparently, Shieldmate and Imp. Shieldmate provide a shield bonus that, AFAIK, does not stack with the shields.

    Formation Expert requires +6 BAB, so this would be out of the picture.

    Phalanx Fighting only works with light weapons, so the soldiers could not exploit Hold the Line + reach combo.

    What is your opinion?
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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    depending on what books you have access to you could use "Allied defence" from one of the FR books, gives your allies adjacent to you a dodge bones = to what ever you pump into your combat expertise.

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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    Actually, since Alexander's phalanx only had a tiny buckler strapped to their left shoulders, they would probably have the following (by level 2): Combat Reflexes, Deft Opportunist, Power Attack, Hold the Line.

    Now, remember, the guys at the front will have killed hundreds of men. They were typically middle-aged and had been in Phillip's or Alexander's army since they were young men. They have some class levels.

    I made a template, basically, using the fighter class and human:

    1: Combat Reflexes
    1: Deft Opportunist - +4 to AoOs
    1: Power Attack
    2: Hold the Line - Take AoO vs charging enemy when he ENTERS threatened area
    3: Expert Tactician
    4. Formation Expert (technically requires 6 BAB but I see no reason why, as it's not that good, and they would have it, for sure)
    6. WF: Sarisa
    6. WS: Sarisa
    8. Cleave
    9. Overhead Thrust

    Honestly, given how much action they saw and given their training, I think the guys at the front couple ranks were probably around level 6. The guys at the back, maybe level 4, and the guys in the middle around level 2. Keep in mind how extraordinarily low Alexander's casualties were. Many of these guys were with him from the time he crossed the Hellespont, all through the conquest of Asia Minor, the Levant, Mesopotamia, India and back. Some had likely been with him earlier when he pacified the Thracians, Greeks, et al and crushed, slaughtered, and enslaved Thebes. The Hyaspists - an elite-of-the-elite group of phalanxmen - probably had slightly better stats and might have reached level 8-9.

    Now, I gave these guys - who were the best a heavily-populated Macedon had to offer, and were drilled like mad - the following stats: STR 16, DEX 16, CON 14, INT 10, WIS 10, CHA 10. The PCs in my world used 42 point buy. In a toned-down world, maybe take 2 off each of the physical stats (although I think you can extrapolate these stats into real-world and I really think what I used is accurate).

    Ultimately, I've got them attacking at 20/15 on AoOs, 15/11 on their turn (taking into account the Aid Another of the men behind them, that's boosting effective strength, which would boost to-hit, probably damage too, but I'm being nice and applying it only to-hit and to resist bull rush, etc). So, a +2 from Wall of Polearms (Formation Expert), a flat +4 from the guys pushing from behind and a +4 to the AoO from Deft Opportunist.

    I used the Great Spear for damage, as the spear heads would be roughly the same, the difference being the reach and weight of the weapon (which would impact damage but, again, I'm being nice). So, 2d6+4 damage (13), with room to power attack against most enemies. An enemy should take 9+ AoOs before they ever reach the line. Assuming even half of them hit (meaning this hypothetical enemy has 30 AC), that's 52 damage. Plenty to drop some foot soldier. 20 AC = over 100 dmg.

    One could argue pretty effectively for a special feat to simulate the effect of the dense thicket of spear heads an enemy would have had to contend with (homebrew) or simply some other circumstantial modifier or another way of tracking to-hit (along the lines of the volley rules, but for melee). I think this is good enough, though. Alexander understood that AC didn't scale and the best way to avoid getting hit was to kill the guy trying to hit you before he could ever take hit shot.
    Last edited by JackRackham; 2012-04-08 at 11:16 AM.

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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    I think it was Philip who pacified the Thracians and the Greeks, but some of the soldiers might still have been the same.

    I think of Alexander and Philip more as grudge monsters. The PCs have been running around in Greece taking advantage of the phalanx formation and beating on all the NPCs with their hoplites. The DM gets frustrated that he can't control his players anymore, so he exploits the rules as well and creates:

    1. Better hoplite phalanxes than the players created.
    2. Light infantry to counter the PCs' hoplites.
    3. Cavalry to counter all of the other units the PCs had.

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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    Quote Originally Posted by sol_kanar View Post
    On the other hand, an elite force of 3rd-level human fighters (Alexander's?) could have access to a total of 5 feats and better equipment. How would they exploit them in the best possible way?
    Phalanx Soldier Fighter Archetype from Pathfinder

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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    Quote Originally Posted by sol_kanar View Post
    Interesting.

    How would you translate Alexander's phalanx (or a more generic optimized, highly-trained elite phalanx) in a low-level world?

    A phalanx made of 1st-level human warriors, for example, would probably exploit Shield Wall and Phalanx Fighting: by using relatively cheap armor (Hide) and a wooden heavy shield, they would have ACs around 21 (= 10 + 1 dex + 2 shield + 3 hide + 2 shield wall + 3 phalanx fighting).

    On the other hand, an elite force of 3rd-level human fighters (Alexander's?) could have access to a total of 5 feats and better equipment. How would they exploit them in the best possible way?

    Apparently, Shieldmate and Imp. Shieldmate provide a shield bonus that, AFAIK, does not stack with the shields.

    Formation Expert requires +6 BAB, so this would be out of the picture.

    Phalanx Fighting only works with light weapons, so the soldiers could not exploit Hold the Line + reach combo.

    What is your opinion?
    As to the Heavy Shield Phalanx you're talking about, more of a classic Greek Hoplite type, they would have taken advantage of shield wall, phalanx fighting, shield mate (of course it stacks with shield AC, that's the point, silly), etc. Keep in mind that archetype had a shorter, one-handed thrusting spear (light weapon) - as did Alexander's men, as a secondary weapon, with a longsword for a tertiary weapon.

    I don't feel like looking it up again, but a lot of these fighting-in-formation boosts to AC stack with themselves and each other. Long story short, it's not hard to get 30 AC out of a breastplate and shield by level 2-4 and have a nice bonus to-hit to boot. even this type of formation would be pretty scary for Joe Adventurer until 5-6th level.
    Quote Originally Posted by Anxe View Post
    I think it was Philip who pacified the Thracians and the Greeks, but some of the soldiers might still have been the same.

    I think of Alexander and Philip more as grudge monsters. The PCs have been running around in Greece taking advantage of the phalanx formation and beating on all the NPCs with their hoplites. The DM gets frustrated that he can't control his players anymore, so he exploits the rules as well and creates:

    1. Better hoplite phalanxes than the players created.
    2. Light infantry to counter the PCs' hoplites.
    3. Cavalry to counter all of the other units the PCs had.
    Alexander had to re-pacify them when Philip died. That's what I'm referring to. And, yes, some of the most veteran guys had definitely been with Philip.

    EDIT: I use the mechanics, but I have no problem correcting obvious flaws in design when we're talking about the real world +6 BAB for formation expert?? Poppycock! Some of that is 1st-day soldier stuff!
    Last edited by JackRackham; 2012-04-08 at 11:33 AM.

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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    Quote Originally Posted by JackRackham View Post
    I don't feel like looking it up again, but a lot of these fighting-in-formation boosts to AC stack with themselves and each other. Long story short, it's not hard to get 30 AC out of a breastplate and shield by level 2-4 and have a nice bonus to-hit to boot. even this type of formation would be pretty scary for Joe Adventurer until 5-6th level.
    Unless Joe Adventurer is a wizard with grease and burning hands.

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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    The light-shield-and-lance phalanx is both flavorful and effective! :-) Also, I agree that the frontline soldiers could probably be 6th level, it makes sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by JackRackham View Post
    As to the Heavy Shield Phalanx you're talking about, more of a classic Greek Hoplite type, they would have taken advantage of shield wall, phalanx fighting, shield mate (of course it stacks with shield AC, that's the point, silly)
    Uhm. Apparently, no, it does not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Miniatures Handbook, pag. 28
    Shieldmate
    You can protect those near you with your shield.
    Prerequisite: Base attack bonus +1,
    Required for: Improved Shieldmate (MH) ,
    Benefit: When you are using a shield with which you are proficient, friendly creatures adjacent to you get a +1 shield bonus to their Armor Class. If you are using a tower shield, those creatures get a +2 shield bonus. The creatures lose the bonus if they are no longer adjacent to you, if you're grappling, or if you're stunned, paralyzed, or otherwise unable to take actions. This shield bonus doesn't stack with other shield bonuses the allied creatures may have.
    Quote Originally Posted by SRD
    Armor/Shield Bonus: Each armor grants an armor bonus to AC, while shields grant a shield bonus to AC. The armor bonus from a suit of armor doesn’t stack with other effects or items that grant an armor bonus. Similarly, the shield bonus from a shield doesn’t stack with other effects that grant a shield bonus.
    So, that is why I was wondering if there is some other WotC/Paizo feat to rise the AC of a phalanx.

    I don't feel like looking it up again, but a lot of these fighting-in-formation boosts to AC stack with themselves and each other. Long story short, it's not hard to get 30 AC out of a breastplate and shield by level 2-4 and have a nice bonus to-hit to boot. even this type of formation would be pretty scary for Joe Adventurer until 5-6th level.
    I agree, and I think it would be extremely interesting to have (almost) complete, correct, coherent statistics for low-level (1st-4th) phalanx warriors/fighter of a kingdom, that might be used when facing bigger threats (monsters or PCs :-D).

    EDIT: I use the mechanics, but I have no problem correcting obvious flaws in design when we're talking about the real world +6 BAB for formation expert?? Poppycock! Some of that is 1st-day soldier stuff!
    I see your point, but I would like to see what can be done with the material that has been released by WotC/Paizo before going homebrew.
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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    what is Overhead Thrust?


    and do not forget the massed charge teamwork...when 20 people charge (with another 10 behind who aid...), it should be enough to hit even the most powerful adventurer... I think I will build a lowlevel phalanx as an cr13 boss...

    now put a bard somewhere, and some bowmen in the back.

    and give the frontline one lvl crusader, for ironguards glare. My cr11 party had a hard time dealing with 3 ogres built like that, what would they do against an army...

    you still have to counter some spells.

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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    so, add a bard or two, a mage or two, and obviously a cleric or two to your mob of trained guys and you have a brutal wrecking ball of a force!

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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    Quote Originally Posted by sol_kanar View Post
    Uhm. Apparently, no, it does not.
    Ah, didn't catch that.

    EDIT: To some of the others, yes, obviously magic and even TOB negates a large portion of what I was talking about. That's why the disclaimer was there on the first post. Also, I have an Alexander-esque NPC in my campaign world and he's a Warblade (with mostly mounted feats), making use of some of the very mechanics some of you've mentioned with his cavalry.
    Last edited by JackRackham; 2012-04-08 at 12:24 PM.

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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    Quote Originally Posted by JackRackham View Post
    Ah, didn't catch that.
    it SHOULD stack but doesn't :(

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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    Oh, Overhead Thrust is a feat allowing one to take AoO on big things or flying things that are trying to trample you or run you into the ground in some way.
    Quote Originally Posted by Phaederkiel View Post
    and do not forget the massed charge teamwork...when 20 people charge (with another 10 behind who aid...), it should be enough to hit even the most powerful adventurer... I think I will build a lowlevel phalanx as an cr13 boss....
    Where is this mechanic? I couldn't find it, so I was pulling a guesstimate from where the sun don't shine. Is it PF?
    Last edited by JackRackham; 2012-04-08 at 12:32 PM.

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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    Quote Originally Posted by ojayaba View Post
    it SHOULD stack but doesn't :(
    I think the intention is more for helping shield your non-shield-using ally.
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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    I guess the problem with using buckler + long spears as your defense would be guys throwing javelins at you. So cavalry will take care of them, you say? But what if those javelin throwers are also highly trained, shield wall using professional infantry, and the only difference between them and a phalanx is that they use bigger shields and short swords?

    Man, if that happened, the phalanx might be in trouble.
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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    Quote Originally Posted by GoodbyeSoberDay View Post
    I guess the problem with using buckler + long spears as your defense would be guys throwing javelins at you. So cavalry will take care of them, you say? But what if those javelin throwers are also highly trained, shield wall using professional infantry, and the only difference between them and a phalanx is that they use bigger shields and short swords?

    Man, if that happened, the phalanx might be in trouble.
    I see what you did there

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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    Quote Originally Posted by GoodbyeSoberDay View Post
    I guess the problem with using buckler + long spears as your defense would be guys throwing javelins at you. So cavalry will take care of them, you say? But what if those javelin throwers are also highly trained, shield wall using professional infantry, and the only difference between them and a phalanx is that they use bigger shields and short swords?

    Man, if that happened, the phalanx might be in trouble.
    Actually, the small forest of spear blades overhead provided the phalanx with a limited degree of protection against missiles.

    That, and, a short sword is not nearly as useful against cavalry as a wall of spearheads.
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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    Quote Originally Posted by Voyager_I View Post
    Actually, the small forest of spear blades overhead provided the phalanx with a limited degree of protection against missiles.

    That, and, a short sword is not nearly as useful against cavalry as a wall of spearheads.
    I suppose if I was going for total accuracy I should have mentioned that the javelin throwing swordsmen would have auxiliary spearmen guarding the flanks, and that both sides had peltasts/thureophoroi and cavalry, but that would have obscured my allusion
    Last edited by GoodbyeSoberDay; 2012-04-08 at 04:19 PM.
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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    Quote Originally Posted by JackRackham View Post
    Alexander the Great was a munchkin.
    Of course he was a munchkin, he conquered most of the known world. Well, known to him anyway.

    The most successful warriors/armies tend to be those who use what works, not what makes sense for the story.
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    Also fixed the money issue by sacrificing a goat.
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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    Due to the sheer length of the Sarissa, I'd also propose adding EWP: Awl Pike for 15(!!!) foot reach.

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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
    Of course he was a munchkin, he conquered most of the known world. Well, known to him anyway.
    And promptly died.

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
    The most successful warriors/armies tend to be those who use what works, not what makes sense for the story.
    These are historical warriors. They literally can't avoid making sense for the story.
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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    Quote Originally Posted by HeadlessMermaid View Post
    These are historical warriors. They literally can't avoid making sense for the story.
    Nah, the story is to make sense of them.
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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    Good thing Alexander had light infantry, cavalry and sarisophoi (cavalry with sarisa) to provide an effective screen as the phalanx advanced. :)

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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
    Nah, the story is to make sense of them.
    I'm totally going to use this logic next time someone bugs me about optimization and roleplaying.

    "The story is about my character doing what he does best. You think the phalanx was used for the cool narrative effect, or because it was the best thing available?"

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    Default Re: Alexander's Phalanx by D&D rules

    Quote Originally Posted by HeadlessMermaid View Post
    And promptly died.
    DM fiat.
    The DM was obviously trying to tell a story, that Alexander ruined with his munchkiness.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaeso View Post
    Unless Joe Adventurer is a wizard with grease and burning hands.
    Problem is that the DM chose, for some odd reason, to base the campaign in a magic-less world.
    Which makes no sense IMHO. I'd accept a modern world setting without magic, or a space-opera, but a fantasy setting? Bah!

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