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"Hannibal against Alexander?" Topic


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aapch4530 Jul 2014 8:13 a.m. PST

These are my two favorite generals in history. One is the almighty Macedonian who fought to the edge of the world, and wanted to keep going… the other was a genius African who wanted nothing more than to bring Rome to her knees, and nearly succeeded, thus coining the term "Hannibal is at the gates!".

In a pitched battle scenario of Hannibal vs Alexander, who would win?

For all intents and purposes lets assume this is hannibals army at Cannae and Alexander's army at gaugamela.

I'm not sure what would happen, and I don't have an Alexandrian army to test it with.

What do you guys think would happen?

Let me know
Thanks
Austin

Maddaz11130 Jul 2014 8:24 a.m. PST

Alexander… unbeaten and unbeatable!

Because – if there was this match up, Hannibal wouldn't have been able to read up on and hone his skills on the Fighting style of the Macedonian king. – Hannibal rated Alexander the greatest general!

John the OFM30 Jul 2014 8:38 a.m. PST

Like Lee, Hannibal often relied on his enemy's stupidity and arrogance.
Alexander allowed the Persians to choose the arena at Gaugamela, a totally flat table. How did that work out for the Persians. grin
Allowing Hannibal to choose the terrain would be a quite different affair.

Alexander never faced a foe worthy of him, and until the very last, neither did Hannibal. It would be … interesting, to say the least. Could Hannibal have his choice of all the armies he had lead and faced? Seems fair to me to allow him to incorporate the best parts of the Roman system, and then add Spanish, Gauls, Libyans, Numidians, elephants…
In other words, set him loose in a WRG Army List book.
Oh, heck. Give Alex some crazy lists too and GAME ON!
If H can have Romans, let Alex have scythed chariots and Indians, and the best of the Persians. Like he would have had, had he lived.

Who asked this joker30 Jul 2014 8:43 a.m. PST

So all things being equal (Hannibal knows of Alex' body of work and vice versa) it could be an interesting fight. Hannibal would have to capitalize on Alex' aggressiveness laying a trap where he could. Like everyone else, I still think Hannibal is the underdog in this one.

whitejamest30 Jul 2014 8:54 a.m. PST

These things are always going to be extremely subjective, since there are an incredible number of variables, but I would expect Hannibal to be capable of giving Alexander a run for his money. I don't think Alexander showed the same degree of inventiveness in his battles, and Hannibal was certainly a master of ruse and surprise. The Alexandrian style phalanx was a hell of an anvil, but not very flexible. Hannibal did many times defeat large manipular-style armies that a generation later were able so effectively to destroy phalanx-style armies in Greece. I know we shouldn't assume too much transference there, but it is something to consider.

I'm sure a great deal of the outcome would come down to which general allowed himself to be brought to battle on what sort of terrain.

Sobieski30 Jul 2014 9:03 a.m. PST

I'd say we have insufficient data. Key points might be that:
1) Hannibal beat stupid generals with very intelligent tactics. Alexander was no more a fool than Scipio, to say the least.
2) Alexander's army at its best was a crack force with lancer cavalry and pikemen, and a superb range of supporting troops. Hannibal was stuck with a much more limited range of troops, their one great strength probably being their scouting ability with so much good light horse. But Alexander was successful against Scythians too.
3) Alexander never had to confront any enemy with a tactical flair near Hannibal's (in fact, for my money, the really interesting question is whether the Persians could have won if they'd been able to take Memnon as a C-in-C from the start). He did unquestionably show himself as a very adaptable and versatile leader in many different circumstances; but Hannibal had a guerilla leader's genius for creating such circumstances. I don't see Hannibal with his real army defeating Alexander and his Macedonians in a field battle, but what of a campaign? Though Hannibal's failure to march on Rome or bring a siege train to Italy doesn't augur well there. What about Hannibal leading Macedonians against Alexander with a polyglot western army? That I might imagine Hannibal winning; Alexander certainly used a versatile and reliable force to optimum effect, but could he have improvised with the odds and ends that Hannibal got such amazing results with?
I don't pretend to have a clue to this one, really.

Marcus Brutus30 Jul 2014 9:08 a.m. PST

Just to remind responders that it is the commander and his army. I think this battle would be a close run affair and could go either way. I certainly think Hannibal was an equal to Alexander tactically and strategically but perhaps his army not quite so.

wminsing30 Jul 2014 9:23 a.m. PST

I can't even choose; so many good points for and against each general. Overall I agree that the more unified nature of Alexander's force would give him the edge, but I'm not sure that edge couldn't be overcome….

-Will

Axebreaker30 Jul 2014 9:28 a.m. PST

It's very hard to say as Alexander never faced an equal and had an excellent army while Hannibal had some good troops for sure, but still had a mixed bag thrown together and did eventually face a very good commander plus the troops he fought were Romans after all….

I think tactically given the information I've seen I'd have to say Hannibal has the edge in that, however it's hard to rule out the charismatic effect of Alexander and his ability to strike at the right moment.

IMHO anybody's guess and can be argued either way convincingly.

Christopher

Trebian30 Jul 2014 9:29 a.m. PST

Alexander by a long, long, way.

Remember Hannibal may have won victories but he never exploited them. The Romans were impressive as a military force, but Alexander brought down the largest empire in the world at the time.

LEGION 195030 Jul 2014 9:37 a.m. PST

Alexander, better troops, leaderships (other generals)and they all spoke Greek. Mike Adams

DColtman30 Jul 2014 9:38 a.m. PST

Clever Hannibal picks the terrain and sets the trap but the indomitable Alexander fights his way through it anyway. Narrow victory to Alexander.

aapch4530 Jul 2014 9:49 a.m. PST

I see it going both ways.
after posting my question, I've read about both Alexander and Hannibal again to refresh myself…
it seems Alexander excelled against light infantry based armies… IE the Persians and Indians… and even scythians (surprisingly)

Hannibal won by choosing the Terrain and relying on the superiority of his Punic troops, and using his Gallic and Iberian troops as a distraction force.

Hannibal had a good army, it was just hard to control. And was relatively untrained.
Alexander had a great army… but no one of merit to test it against


The data really is inconclusive… I would like to hear more opinions.

By the way, has anybody/will anybody wargame this? I think I will once I get an Alexandrian force together.

Thanks
austin

SJDonovan30 Jul 2014 9:50 a.m. PST

Hannibal for the win. No good reason. It's just the first ancient figures I ever bought were some Carthaginian citizen spearmen (armed, incorrectly it seems, as hoplites) so I've always had a soft spot for them.

nochules30 Jul 2014 10:02 a.m. PST

To be fair they should switch armies after the first battle and then fight again and total up the VPs.

Winston Smith30 Jul 2014 10:16 a.m. PST

Alexander at 36 years old with the army he would have had vs Hannibal at the same age.
There was speculation that Alex wanted to turn west versus Carthage for revenge for them supporting Tyre. As if he needed an excuse.

Johannes Brust30 Jul 2014 10:17 a.m. PST

Alexander..his heavy cav is far superior and better led (by Him)..he usual would win with his cav in the large battle. His lights and light cav should be able to keep Hannibal's light cav at bay…He'd keep the infantry back to fix the enemy and win on the flanks.

Now if he rolls poorly and is killed….

GarrisonMiniatures30 Jul 2014 10:21 a.m. PST

Of more interest, how well would they do against each other if Hannibal had Alexander's army and Alexander had to use Hannibal's.

That army gave Alexander a massive advantage over just about anyone.

Sobieski30 Jul 2014 10:22 a.m. PST

The data ARE inconclusive.

Happy Little Trees30 Jul 2014 10:32 a.m. PST

If only there were some way to model this. Perhaps using small figurines to represent the armies. And there should be some sort of rules agrred upon beforehand.

aapch4530 Jul 2014 10:52 a.m. PST

Happy little trees I think you're on to something….

Thanks
Austin

Old Pete30 Jul 2014 11:42 a.m. PST

Have both forces in 15mm, both are fun to use. Have read a great deal about both commanders, think they would be equally matched.
Try both armies against Republican Romans, however if well handled either army can beat the Romans?
Prefer the Macedonian Army, suits my style of quick aggressive
gaming.

mbsparta30 Jul 2014 12:20 p.m. PST

Alexander wins !!!

When all the smoke cleared, Hannibal, like Rommel, was just a loser.

The real question should have been "how difficult would it have been for Alexander to beat Hannibal?"

Mike B

Trebian30 Jul 2014 12:53 p.m. PST

"When all the smoke cleared, Hannibal, like Rommel, was just a loser."

Exactly. All those battles and achieved nothing. Then stuffed by a Roman General we're not even discussing.

Marcus Brutus30 Jul 2014 1:00 p.m. PST

The question was a one up battle, not a campaign of several decades. But speaking of campaigns what Hannibal did in bringing the Roman Republic to its knees and keeping an army together in a foreign land for 14 years is beyond anything Alexander ever did.

Big Red Supporting Member of TMP30 Jul 2014 1:37 p.m. PST

Alexander by a field goal in the 4th quarter.

warhorse30 Jul 2014 2:51 p.m. PST

Wasn't it rumoured that at some point, Hannibal and Scipio Africanus ended up discussing their careers, and Scipio asked who Hannibal thought was the greatest general of all time. I think (IIRC) Hannibal stated "Alexander the Great", with Hannibal second, and Scipio Africanus third. Scipio asked "What if you had won at Zama?". Hannibal then said "Then I would have been the greatest, and Alexander second".

But (a) I don't know if I am recalling it correctly, and (b) I don't know if that really did happen.

warhorse30 Jul 2014 3:10 p.m. PST

I think of more interest to me is: would Alexander have beaten Scipio at Zama, and gone on to take Rome? Come to think of it, if Alexander hadn't died, would Rome ever have become a Great Power?

Unlike Hannibal, Alexander was very good at, and was always prepared for, siege warfare, and could have taken Rome. Heck Alex and his Macs did it all: pitched battles, river assaults, sieges, assaults on fortified positions, mountain warfare, mobile guerilla campaigns, key marriages, politics, building cities.

Here's the dead giveaway: Hannibal left no permanent mark on the Roman political, military or economic landscape whatsoever. He was indeed a loser, with no diplomatic skill, no ability to influence the Senate at Carthage, a cavalier and irresponsible attitude to logistics (like many amateurs who are tactically gifted, but that's as far as it goes) and a stunning lack of ability to motivate armies to his cause. Which is why he had to rely so heavily on mercenaries.

He took off with a renegade army to take up his dead father's personal quarrel with Rome, and dragged his whole country into a war no one wanted. He was neither a builder, nor a visionary. He was, in my view, even less adept than ISIS at managing a campaign, and seemed to blunder around his target landscape with no coherent plan.

Ultimately he was a crappy Phoenician general with a now out-of-date navy, who got lucky facing some of the dumbest military commanders ever to take the field of battle… And because he was Phoenician, he had no real friends (LOL…). His Bithynian pals finally sold him out to Rome for cold, hard cash-ola, and he killed himself, rather than die in the Circus like a runaway slave.

Alexander, now he died brilliantly. With controversy, rumours of poison and witchcraft, and all manner of speculation, and having left no clear successor. He knew how to make an exit.

But this is entirely my opinion, and hopefully, like Kermit the Frog's views on just about anything, not to be taken seriously by the international community!

skippy0001 Supporting Member of TMP30 Jul 2014 3:34 p.m. PST

It would be more interesting if both of them were drunk.

kreoseus230 Jul 2014 4:02 p.m. PST

Hannibal was far superior to any commander Alexander faced, Barca for the win

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP30 Jul 2014 5:00 p.m. PST

Gotta go with Alex the Nifty.

Alex made his victories decisive, final, and effective. Hannibal didn't, and lost in the end as a result.

evilgong30 Jul 2014 5:03 p.m. PST

Can Alex bring his captured Indian elephants?

In toy soldier games Alex's Pike beat the Punic heavy infantry, his heavy cav beat the enemy too, so a table-top Hannibal needs to get his Elephants to neutralise the Masso Cav and light troops to pester the phalanx.

Most equal points games seem to have the Carthos with an edge in Light cav and rough-terrain infantry.

Hannibal looks trickier and Alex more determined and a risk taker.

David B

Korvessa30 Jul 2014 5:43 p.m. PST

What everyone always forgets is that Alexander was the head of state, Hannibal was not. Alexander was free to mobilize his army and national resources however he wanted; Hannibal was stuck with what his country gave him, which wasn't much.
This is a tremendous advantage for Alexander.

Second, the only sources we have on Hannibal were written by his enemies. That clouds the issue.

Persia was not Rome. If Darius had been in charge of Rome, they would have surrendered too.

Alexander inherited a first class homogeneous army from his pop. Another advantage of being monarch. Hannibal started from scratch.

Hannibal excelled at forcing his enemy to fight on his terms. Alexander didn't need to do this. I don't see Hannibal storming a river – he would have found a way.

Alexander and his army in a straight up fight, but I don't see Hannibal letting that happen.

If you'll excuse an American sports analogy,the team with the best QB doesn't always win the championship.

Sobieski30 Jul 2014 6:32 p.m. PST

I have always understood that Pyrrhus of Epirus was on Hannibal's list in second place, and Hannibal himself in third. We tend to forget this because we all remember Hannibal and Alexander as brilliant commanders, whoever was better, whereas only classicists and wargamers know who Pyrrhus was, and we seldom remember much more than a woman's dropping a brick on his head and his contribution to our language.

Personal logo Bashytubits Supporting Member of TMP30 Jul 2014 6:37 p.m. PST

What Korvessa said. A very good summation.

Boone Doggle30 Jul 2014 7:10 p.m. PST

Agree with Warhorse.

Boone Doggle30 Jul 2014 7:16 p.m. PST

The original post only asks a very specific question though.

A pitch battle between Hannibal with his Cannae army and Alexander with his Gaugamela army.

That removes from the discussion much of Alexanders greatest strengths and Hannibals greatest weaknesses.

A much closer contest.

JJartist30 Jul 2014 10:05 p.m. PST

On paper Alexander's army at Gaugamela and Hannibal's at Cannae are similar in size to each other so that's a fair start. Hannibal has an edge in cavalry numbers and has in his Numidians an effective flypaper light cavalry similar to the Scythians that made Alexander miserable for more years than the Persian campaign lasted.

My reckoning is that what happens on the tabletop often represents the cavalry very well for this kid of "what if" game. Alexander's heavy lancers will defeat some of the Celts and Iberians but may have a harder time with Hannibal's elite heavies… plus as I said Hannibal has more shock cavalry than Alexander, so Alexander may find himself in a similar attrition cavalry battle against superior numbers that Pyrrhus faced at Heraclea. The Numidians would probably have difficulty with Alexander's shock light cavalry, but would swarm his other light cavalry. My edge is to Hannibal in the cavalry actions.

Light infantry and skirmishers and missile troops. In this both sides have a large force that is most likely to nullify each other. Hannibal's Slingers balanced by Alexander's Cretans. Libyan Javelin maybe only slightly inferior to Alexander's Thracians and Agrianians. I say push here-- neither side gains an edge.

Elephants, even, unless Alexander trumps them with war machines. The key advantage for elephants is they can nullify cavalry wings… so Alexander's elephants might nullify the Numidian advantage, whereas Hannibal's may nullify the Macedonian heavy cavalry… elephants are a push- neither side has many and Hannibal had none at Canae, and Alexander never used them in battle.

The Macedonian phalanx, hypaspists and reserve Greek mercenaries and League troops would most likely be more than a match for Hannibal's Celt's Iberians and Africans. But Hannibal's army at Cannae is at least equal to Alexander's in seasoning, and in tactical finesse somewhat more advanced. Plus the Macedonians would not have faced Celtic charges or thrown heavy spear and sword tactics before. So I would give the Macedonian infantry an edge but not a clinching authoritative edge.

So given that off the cuff analysis, I say the end result comes down to whether Alexander can keep his flanks secure of cavalry and "trickery" by Hannibal's heavy infantry pulling off some crazy flank march Bleeped text that nobody could guess….

So that's where I throw it-- to the commanders. Can Alexander neutralize or overcome the Punic cavalry edge? Can Hannibal hold the phalanx and deliver a sneaky flank attack that breaks Alexander's momentum?…

So I say.. to the tables gentlemen.. to the tables…

Trebian31 Jul 2014 9:11 a.m. PST

Okay then. I've just set up the two armies on my table (adjusted so they're the same number of units (about 22 per side c400 figures).

Taking the Orbats & deployment from Lost Battles and will be using AMW, with a few modifications. Will run it solo hopefully tomorrow and then blog the results.

aapch4531 Jul 2014 9:49 a.m. PST

Trebian I'm so excited to see those results!

Thanks
austin

Marcus Brutus31 Jul 2014 10:28 a.m. PST

One game won't really settle anything when dice are involved. Perhaps refighting the battle ten times might yield some conclusions. In LB the orbats are determined for each battle and Sabin warns in his book not to necessarily cross compare armies. With that said I'd still be interested in hearing the results of Trebian's refight and any other for that matter.

kreoseus231 Jul 2014 11:43 a.m. PST

If we all play it out with different rules and post the results ,it might be interesting to see what the outcome is. I will use basic impetus and then swap armies and play again. I think Hannibals earlier army (with elephants ) may be more effective than his force at cannae

Dagwood31 Jul 2014 12:12 p.m. PST

I have played this many times. "Alexander" beat me every time. Which mainly proves that I am no Hannibaal

evilgong31 Jul 2014 11:31 p.m. PST

Alex at Gaugemela had 7000 cav and 43,000 foot.

Hannibal at Cannane had 10,000 cav and 40,000 foot.

So indeed to could come down to a penalty shoot-out.

If they both deploy as historical (but would they?) Hannibal's Gallic and Spanish cav on his left face Alex and his companions which is possibly where the issue would be decided.

The other flank might develop as at Guagemala, with Parminio fighting to delay.

I guess both sides would need to quickly re-think their infantry tactics as soon as they see the other side's intention.

Regards

David F BRown

Trebian01 Aug 2014 3:46 a.m. PST

Half way through the game. Hannibal has lost both flanks, it looks like.

Shock result possible in the centre.

wminsing01 Aug 2014 5:44 a.m. PST

If they both deploy as historical (but would they?)

Yes, that's the rub; both are probably smart enough to adjust to what they think the other guy might do….

-Will

Sobieski01 Aug 2014 5:56 a.m. PST

A refight might do a fair job comparing the armies. Gentlemen, a little humility otherwise; most of us are neither Alexander nor Hannibal.

Marshal Mark01 Aug 2014 6:59 a.m. PST

Actually I think many of us would be better at the tactical command side than either. How many pitched battles did either general command? Just a handful, certainly less than 10. How many battles has the average wargamer played? Many times that amount. We have the luxury of being able to make mistakes and learn from them, of playing the same battle over and over and trying different tactics. To real generals such as these, one mistake, one lost battle, would often mean the end of their career.

Trebian01 Aug 2014 7:02 a.m. PST

The results of the Northamptonshire jury are in: link

warhorse01 Aug 2014 7:37 a.m. PST

Hannibal seems to have been good at battles. Alexander was a god of war, though. It is absolutely correct that they are not comparable. Hannibal was a commando raider, Alexander a conqueror.

The ultimate test though is: could Alexander have beaten Rome with Hannibal's army? Could Hannibal have conquered the world with Alexander's?

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