historical versus mythic

I had, not long ago, anther player accuse me of making a character with a leadership ability similar to Alexander the Greats, indicating they felt I needed to dial it back a bit. Because the character had a leadership of 7+2 and could lead a unit of 9 men into combat, where Alexander the Great led an army of 50,000 with a single unit of 4,000 horsemen he commanded personally, which by accounts was a single unit, and acted as such, not a collection of units.

Which led me to think: how with the Ars Magica Rules could someone do that? Leadership 4000?

Alexander could command 9 men. These 9 men, in turn could command 8, who in turn could command 7, and so on. Or, start with those 9 men commanding 6 men each, who command 5 men each, and so on.
9*6!=6,480 (closest to 4,000)
Edit:Of course, I'm just assuming that the men under Alexander's command are just shy of his leadership ability.

I seriously doubt that he commanded the 4,000 men personally and directly. The unit may have been his unit, but he still had officers that he commanded that relayed his orders to their subordinates. Single unit is something of a misnomer when you have 4,000 of something...

Where were Alexander's stats defined within Ars?

Indeed. A man to do that would have redefined R: Voice.


They were not, it was simply the claim of this individual that the level I had was so high that it had to be that rare.

And the fact is that Alexander commanded an army of 50,000, and yes personally led a unit of 4000, not a collection of unit, which could reportedly feint and wheel in tight formation (it was a mounted unit) under his personal command- if you are passing commands down the line that simply doesn't work at that speed.

Now admittedly Alexander's armies are not part of mythic Europe, but I think it is necessary to recognize some of the limits of the game system mean that "no, you won't have Alexander the great, now matter how much you think you have abused the system" and that 'the best in Europe' is simply outside of the scope of what the rules model.

I'm not sure he gave his commands vocally as opposed to with a trumpet or similar instrument.

Please give author, book and chapter, so we can check his relationship to numbers.


Let's set aside the 50,000 and focus on the 4,000.

And you can't physically command 4,000 people in a battlefield and expect that kind of perfect response. So, it has to be superior training which allows the officers to instantly understand Alexander's intent and orders, and relay that down to their subordinates, and so on to the lowest of the unit. It has to be superior training, and the Trained Group rules of Ars Magica even somewhat support this notion.

I don't have a big issue with commanding 6 or so senior officers, who in turn each have 5 junior officers, who in turn have 4 NCOs, who in turn have 3 corporals, who each manage 2 grunts... Or however you want to do it.

Away from my SG's books, so I can't be sure, but if I remember Lords of men correctly, it's a case of

1 man leads 9. 9 men lead 7 each for a total of 63, + 1 for the original commander. 9 of those 63 are our 2nd line chaps, so we count those out, and the remaining 54 lead 5 each. That's 270. Let's count those 54 out of that 270, leaving us with 216, each leading 4 men. That gives us 864.

864 + 54 + 9 + 1 is 924 men in total. So 1 man can, via good subordinates, lead nearly a thousand there, ala the roman legions.

According to wikkipedia I was in error from the other source, this one claims he only commanded 400 men personally, and is siting 'Lansdale' (my first source was an online history lesson which did not give sources)
Still, what is the basic argument here? That what was done in the real world couldn't have been done because it doesn't fit in the game rules? fundamentally Ars Magica focuses on small units, not full scale wars. Where standard units are numbered in the hundreds that is more than a single season training together, that is multiple years drilling as a unit.

I guess I don't know what you are asking. You're asserting that Alexander commanded, without any lieutenants 400 men himself. I seriously doubt that ever happened, all armies have a chain of command. It's the only way stuff can get stuff done. By the rules of Trained Group combat, they'd only need to spend a season to work as a group, under Ars. Alexander would train his lieutenants, who in turn change their subordinates, and so on.

I have no problem with treating 400 men, acting under such an arrangement as a trained group. Ars Magica's massed combat doesn't really work under the same paradigm as the small units. Leadership is used to raise the army and in a more abstract manner...

"lead" is a word with many meanings. In the Roman manipular legion, a common organizations was a single legion, consisting of ten or so cohorts, each consisting of six or so maniples, etc, down to the common legionairre. Plus auxiliaries, etc. At each level, a single man personally lead his unit, for example a tribune often led a a cohort, and a centurion lead his maniple, a decurion led his section, etc.

In terms of Ars, only the Decurion acually "led" personally, and did so either with "legendary" leadership, or it broke down further, with two five man sections.

I don't think we can really compare real life "led personally" with Ars "led personally". It's just two different critters.

7+2, however, should not be all that uncommon in Ars. Any sedentary Verditius could easily hit a leadership 9 in their forge circle (Verditius himself had twelve companions, and I doubt he beat ol' Alex in the inspiration department). In addition, artists need high leadership to wrangle their assistants, with the most prolific needing 13 to crank out art in a timely manner (A&A, reducing time by 1/2, pg 125).

It strikes me as completely wrong that mechanically, the very best small unit commanders are wizened old fat men who have barely lifted a weapon in their life.

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As someone who served (occasionally still, in reserves) in an infantry regiment of roughly 300 men, I seriously doubt whether any unit in this size can be effectively commanded by a single person. Even just the out-of-combat routine stuff like organizing a camp or resupply or checking to see everything's in order - that's just not possible without a clear chain of command down to the sergeant level. It just doesn't make sense politically and logistically, in terms of human organization - one person just can't take care of the numerous details one actually does need to take care of to get a regiment resupplied, or do basic training, or so on. In combat, my experience with a modern army, using long-range communications and weapons, may be quite different from an ancient unit's. Still, even if in theory possible having only a single commander would drastically lower the unit's tactical flexibility and capabilities: you can't divide the unit, or have an officer in charge of managing the breach while you lead the vanguard beyond it, or so on. In short, I find it extremely unlikely that Alexander was the only commander of a unit of 400 men, and would attribute such reports instead to the kinds of exaggerations that stories tend to. It may well have been that the unit could function in combat as a single unit under his direct command occasionally, but it'd still have sub-commanders that will start acting like ones when and if needed.

Regardless of the historical realities, however, Ars Magica strangely places very severe limitations on a person's capability to lead directly. In a "low-Mythic" game, I can see it working fine, as explained above, through chain-of-command. But even then, there certainly would be circumstances where the Leader can command many men at once! Ars Magica doesn't model this mechanically well, but I suggest the troupe can just allow them regardless - if the leader sounds his trumpet and all units rise from the ground and charge at once, that's fine; not allowing this because the order is supposed to go through a chain-of-command is just silly. However, the numbers do seem too low for a high-Mythic game; I'd certainly consider allowing Leadership to affect more men (Leadership! ? i.e. 1, 2, 6....) for such a game. Imagine the orc commander, personally leading a few dozen orcs.... yeah, that works quite well thematically, I think, even with no sergeants or such around.

Edit: It might help to think of the number of led-men as those in the general's staff, rather than the soldiers he commands. Still, a modern regiment commander can be expected to lead something like 11 officers, and I'd peg his Leadership as perhaps 6.

There are apparently typos in the wiki entry, which means to refer to

Lonsdale, David J. (2007). Alexander the Great:lessons in strategy. Routledge - p.41. Compare: books.google.de/books?hl=de&id= ... on&f=false

The wiki entry explicitly refers to the tactical command of an ile, not to the immediate command of 400 men: think captain of a company, not sergeant of a squad.


Lets set aside modern versus ancient warfare and the really big numbers and focus on something simple- football.
Depending on whether you call the coach or the quarterback the leader, it is still a team of 11 men who are being led with a single command source,, not a chain of command. I do believe that ancient battles, which largely consisted of groups of men executing the same maneuver at the same time, could be commanded by a single individual far more effectively than a modern military which does not use massed formations. But for a high school coach to be commanding 11 men on the field at age 22 and no assisting virtues does seem to be beyond the supposed 'best' of Ars magica...

Football, as in US Football? I know nothing of soccer.

At the Pro US Football level, there's a headcoach, two coordinators for the offensive and defensive sides, and then there are numerous position coaches, such as quarterback coach, lineman coach, etc. All of the players are trained for their position, and are expected to perform at that position during game time when the head coach, defensive coordinator or offensive coordinator are making the calls. The coaches can't make their calls if the unit hasn't trained together as sub units to perform at peak efficiency during game time.

Even at the high school level, at least around here, we generally have coaching teams of about 6 coaches, including the head coach. On offense, the quarterback isn't really commanding the O-line, he's relaying the play from the head coach, and they are playing to their position, there's probably a senior guy on the o-line who gets asked to make sure people are where they are supposed to be for a given play call. The QB is commanding the wide-outs and backs, and yeah, it's beyond what is possible given the limitations of Ars and the small group. They are two different things, that shouldn't be compared, and it's been amply demonstrated that even Alexander had lieutenants who executed his orders, just by the wikipedia article you site.

He commanded 400 men does not he gave direct orders to each individual man. He gave an order to his nearest lieutenants, or runners and they executed those orders. I'm failing to see how that is less believable or understandable than trying to command 400 men at once.

Uhmm, I'm not that familiar with large-scale-battle rules (from LoM?). But wħere does it say that you need Leadership X to personally lead X men in battle? The closest I could find was that Leadership (at least) X is needed to claim a trained group bonus for a group of X people, under the trained group rules ... but those rules are meant only for small groups -- no more than six combatants to a side.


Does nobody remember that the Ars rules also limit trained groups to six people, regardless of Leadership score?

Game terms and real life terms often collide, requiring us as players to track two definitions for words. In this case, this is happening for "combat leadership" and "trained group."

Yes, Alexander led 400 men at once. (This is in dispute, but I'm calling it true to make the point.) These men responded well to sharply-timed orders, especially regarding mobility. But if this group got into an engagement, would you really model it as "Alexander fights the other enemy commander and any wounds he inflicts are spread 400 times onto the enemies"? Or would you model it with the mass combat rules, where an incredibly strong (but certainly not 400) Leadership fits and assists in a sensible way.

In other words, they were always a "trained group" as we would define in real life, but never a combat group of any kind as defined within the game. It still would take Leadership to pull that off, but more of the "checks against high Ease Factors" kind.

Can you cite that 6 is the limit? I don't see it in the Trained Group section of the main rule book.

Under Groups on page 172 it says Groups are handled together for combat purposes, and may consist of one to six characters, inclusive. I guess some people could interpret this as applying to all groups, trained or not.

But later in Trained Groups, it says the maximum number of fighters is equal to the Leadership Score of the leader, without mention of the limit, and a Leadership score of 7 is not too unusual...

The point is that group combat rules only deal with groups between 1 and 6 combatants. This is stated explicitly at the beginning of the group combat section. And it applies to all groups, whether trained or untrained. If you are dealing with 7 fighters on the same side, either you break them into 2+ groups, or you use another set of rules -- you can't use ArM5 group combat rules, because group combat rules only model groups of up to 6 combatants.

What it later says is that a group doesn't get a trained group bonus (acting instead as an untrained group) unless the leader has Leadership at least equal to the size of the group. Which is very different from saying that you can apply the group combat rules to any group whose leader has sufficiently high Leadership.