Friday, March 8, 2013

Through The Ages - Card - Alexander the Great

This is a series of blogs written about each card in Through The Ages.  To find more, simply click on "Cards" label.
Alexander The Great
A country on the brink of collapse, a people in turmoil, and the threat of invasion by any of its neighbors.  The king and military of 4000 men were dead after a disastrous battle, and the vacant throne was attracting many claimants   This was the state of affairs of Macedonia around 359 BC when one of the king's sons rose to power.  One year later the internal threats were eliminated, its borders secured, and the military reorganized.  Through diplomacy, marriage, and military conquest, the country of Macedonia grew from a collapsing nation to a military might.  That leader's name was: Phillip II.

Under Phillip's leadership, Macedonia grew to a great power which threatened the might of its strongest neighbors: Persia.  In 336 BC Phillip invaded Persia.  His army was now a well oiled machine.  Professionally trained and experienced, the force seemed unstoppable with Phillip's will guiding them.  At a wedding celebration, Phillip was assassinated.  Whether by a man driven to madness, or a plot by his son, the man who turned Macedonia around was dead.  The Persians waited to see if Macedonia would collapse, or at least fall back into less militaristic ways.

But Phillip's son, Alexander III, inherited his father's throne, the military that went with it, and the teachings of Aristotle (another leader in Through The Ages).  If the hope was Phillip's death would halt the expansion of Macedonian rule, the world was mistaken.  Alexander ruthlessly executed all his internal opposition.  Seeing a moment of potential weakness, the Thracians, Illyrians, and Greeks rose up to rebel.

With incredible martial awareness, Alexander defeated the Thracians in a series of battles and a week later, after marching across Macedonia, defeated the Illyrians.  Rumors of Alexander's death raised the spirits of the Greeks, who were severely disappointed when Alexander appeared with his army outside the gates of Thebes.  The rest of Greece held its breath and awaited the outcome as Alexander's army laid siege to Thebes.  Thebes fell.  The city was razed to the ground, it's citizens killed or sold into slavery. The will of the Greeks crumbled and accepted the rule of their new ruler.

Under his rule the Macedonian nation became an empire.  Alexander and his armies conquered Asia Minor, the Persians, and all armies in his way until the empire stretched to the Indus River in modern day Pakistan.  Eventually it was Alexander's men who demanded he return to Macedonia rather than march further east.

Alexander was a master of all aspects of martial warfare.  He understood logistics, supply, and morale.  His army moved fast and maintained discipline.  They were adept at fighting in defense, in attack and in laying siege.  During his Eastern march, Alexander was never defeated in a battle.  Today, many cities bear some version of Alexander's name: Alexandria, Egypt; Alexandira Asiana, Iran; Iskandaria, Iran; and more.  Through Alexander, Greek influence spread well beyond Greece and into Asia.  Alexander set the stage for the coming of the Roman Empire, although it was his father, Phillip II, who gave the Western World its greatest (arguable) contribution to military might: Heavy Infantry.
Game Stats
Alexander the Great is not as effective in the game as he was in real life. He is overshadowed by many other Leaders: Julius Caesar, Aristotle, and Moses.  Every unit dedicated to Military grants an additional strength.  True to the real life namesake, Alexander could stand evenly with any other military leader in the game with this ability.
Alexander's statistics, perhaps more than any other leader, stresses the importance of concentrating on Economy over Military in the early game.  Nearly 70% of the games he appears in result in the player achieving 3rd or 4th place.  Less than 7% of his appearances result in a first place win.

I believe Alexander should best be taken as a counter to Julius Caesar.  Despite having an obvious military advantage, the player should concentrate on economy first and military second.  The temptation with Alexander is to force an early military arms race.  Although the player may win the short term race for Age I, once Alexander leaves play the player will discover they are at a military disadvantage.  Furthermore, the other players will be filled with vengeance.

Overall, I recommend passing on Alexander.  It is my opinion there are more effective Age I leaders available than Alexander at Age A.   If considering Alexander, try passing on him and choosing an Age I leader instead just to see if they perform better.  In short, Alexander is an enticing Mousetrap, luring the player in with great promise only to crush the player's hopes of victory.
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