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I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.

The Companion Cavalry were the formidable shock troops of the Macedonian military under Philip II and his son, Alexander the Great. They were elite heavy cavalry that, under Philip, served as a bodyguard unit close to the king and under Alexander were expanded into a full-scale military role.

The Companions trained extensively with high-quality arms and armor supplied specifically for them - their primary weapon, the xyston, gave them the effect of maximum impact when charging into a mass of enemy troops. Alexander often led his Companions personally, employing a wedge formation to drive directly into fortified enemy positions. Against an unprepared or ill-equipped foe, such strikes could prove decisive.

Alexander's preferred tactic of hammer and anvil relied on holding the Companions in reserve while he held the enemy army in place with his infantry and then swinging the cavalry around the back to pin the enemy from both sides. Ultimately, though, with Alexander's death and the collapse of his empire, the leader of the Companions was convicted of treason and executed, leading to the dissolution of the group.

Battle vs. Sipahi (by El Alamein)[]

Companions: TealTealTealTealTeal

Sipahi: BrownBrownBrownBrownBrown

The swirling sands of the Middle East curve into a light dust storm in the early afternoon. Through the audible hiss of the wind thunders the pounding of hooves and the piercing glint of a stab of sunlight reflecting off armor through the air. Five Companion cavalrymen of Alexander the Great's army are on a forward scouting patrol, scoping out the area to find a suitable patch of open land for battle. The squad leader brings his horse to a stop and his men follow suit. Squinting through the dust, he makes the shimmering form of several mounted skirmishers fast approaching. He raises his xyston and gallops off to the right, his men following close behind, preparing an ambush.

The mounted skirmishers are five Sipahi soldiers on a long-distance journey to relay a message to Suleiman. They ride silently and endure patiently, calm and collected in their element. The leader dons a red scarf that wraps around his face and protects it from the biting grains of sand that whip into his face as he rides into the wind. It masks the sound of the Companions approaching until they are almost already upon the Sipahi. Turning his neck, the Sipahi captain can only roll off of his horse to avoid a thrust of a xyston spear. One of his men is not so lucky, being completely run through and picked up into the air with the momentum of the blow. The speared Sipahi slides downward off the shaft and lays in a puddle of his own blood, which the dry sand eagerly laps up, leaving only a faint brown stain beneath the fallen warrior. Brown The Companion responsible awkwardly pulls the spear out of the corpse and rides in a wide circle, ready for another charge. 

The Sipahi leader rapidly mounts his horse and urges it away from his men, who are bunching into a tight circle as the Companions charge. Javelin in hand, he sends the missile flying through the air. The projectile sticks itself into the chest of an approaching Greek horse, and the beast tumbles forward, throwing its rider violently from the reins. As the fallen Companion pushes himself up, a lance thrust meets him between the shoulder blades and sends him sprawling facefirst to the dirt. Teal The second Companion charge is not as effective - the Sipahi had rallied themselves and the shock of impact is lessened. A savage close-quarters melee ensues. 

Two of the Sipahi break away and circle outward as their captain enters the fray, Kilij unsheathed. A forceful swipe of the curved blade bounces off of a Companion's breastplate - he doubles over, winded. As the Greek soldier sits back up in the saddle, the Kilij swings fast once more and the Companion's head flies from the neck. Teal Blood fountains from the opening in the wound as the headless corpse gives one brief spasm before slumping to the side. Another Companion rides by with his Kopis and chops down on the Sipahi captain, leaving a deep laceration in the crook of his elbow. The captain drops his Kilij and urges his horse elsewhere as the angry Greek follows. Meanwhile, the two Sipahi who had circled away re-enter with momentum, lances at the ready. The two Companions trapped in the melee break away and urge their horses away, wheeling around with swords unsheated. One of the Sipahi's spearpoints glances off the side of the Companion's breastplate, but he parries the oncoming chop of the Kopis with his shield. The other Companion rides in close with his Xiphos and pressed the blade in between the leather of the Sipahi's armor. The short sword drives all the way through up to the hilt. Brown

The sandstorm kicks up more violently as the two groups ride away for another charge. The Companions ready their Xystons as the Sipahi skirt away under the cover of the storm. Plowing forward relentlessly, the three remaining Companions are startled as a barrage of javelins flies through the sandy air. The lighter Sipahi weave through the Companions, swinging their Kilij swords, which are negated by the heavy bronze of the cuirass. One of the Sipahi, with his mace, swings down the heavy club and crumples a Companion's head through the helmet, blood trickling down from inside his helmet. Teal No sooner has he done this, though, than is the Sipahi slain by a Xyston slamming through his gut. Brown The Ottoman soldier lurches forward painfully over the spear and slides off his horse. 

Battered by the storm and worn out by the protracted skirmish, both groups begin to show the beginning stages of battle fatigue. However, the Sipahi manage to rally for one final spirited charge while the Companions muster their best defense. With swords drawn, both sides make one last, glorious charge through the sand. With a flash of blades, one of the Sipahi finds his guts spilled on the front of his horse's neck and on the dust below, but he is not dead. Meanwhile, the two captains are engaged in vicious hand-to-hand combat, both dismounted. Grunting in pain, the disemboweled Sipahi wheels his horse around and throws his javelin at the Companion responsible for his injury. The projectile finds its mark, right in the back of the soldier's neck. Both men tumble from their horses simultaneously. Brown Teal The Siaphi captain, sword-arm severely wounded, swings his mace down on the Companion captain, but the close confines of the fight make landing a hit difficult thanks to the long shaft of the mace. The Companion's Xiphos fares much better in such tight spaces, and he thrusts into the Sipahi captain's stomach. A lucky slide of the blade against the leather armor deflects the blow, giving the Sipahi captain the time to push his opponent back with his shield, still strapped to his arm. The Companion stumbles back, before recovering and holding his Xiphos out at arm's length. The Sipahi captain grimaces as a sudden flare of pain shoots up his arm right as the Companion rushes forward. Pushing through the pain, the Sipahi slams the mace with all his force down on the approaching Greek's knee. The limb is shattered in an instant and the Companion falls like a stone, roaring in agony. The pain is brief - a second strike mashes his skull into a bloody pulp. Teal

The sandstorm whirls quietly through the air as the sounds of the battle die down. The Sipahi captain's ragged breathing mix with the faint dripping of his blood onto the ground. Turning back, he manages to pull himself onto his horse, and the beast obediently continues on its way. After all, the mission comes first.

Expert's Opinion[]

Although the Companion cavalry had far greater combat experience with Alexander the Great, and were more forceful as shock cavalry, the tactical flexibility of the Siaphi, combined with their slightly superior metallurgy and lesser fatigue rate, allowed the Ottoman horseman to snatch a close victory.

To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.