Thursday, September 22

Age of Empires

Last night, I was able to catch this incredibly cool new show on Discovery Channel called Battlegrounds: The Art of War. This series of one-hour long specials takes into detail a decisive battle in history, recreating the events and the tactics that led to a glorious victory for one side, and terrible defeat for the other. What makes this special, well, special, is the apparent use of some graphical engine- perhaps similar to the MASSIVE program used in the LOTR flicks to recreate the battles as they looked back then.
The first episode was about Alexander the Great, and his decisive battle at Gargamela (if I'm not mistaken)- the final battle between him and the Persian Emperor Darius (which I find out after all this time to be pronouced as Dar-eye-use, not D-ahr-ee-you's). The odds seem incredibly off-balanced; the Persian army stands at about 200,000 men, supported by deadly scythe-bladed chariots. The Macedonian army on the other hand, consists of about 40,000 men.

However, while the Persian army is vast, it is also made up of various factions from all over the place, with different languages, weapons and leaders. Most of its soldiers are also un-armored conscripts and levies. On the other hand, the Macedonians are professional troops- disciplined, armored and totally dedicated under a charismatic, brilliant leader. They also have the Phalanx, a seemingly invincible battle formation that is basically a meatgrinder on the battlefield. It's pretty incredible to see how Alexander's new tactics work- ranging from a special formation that totally renders Persia's scythe-chariots useless... to a brilliant cavalry movement that opens up a gap in the Persian army's lines enough for a charge at Darius himself.
The battle of course ends with Alexander winning for himself forever the title of 'the Great'. Even today, the young conqueror (who basically mastered the known world before he turned 30) is seen by military tacticians as perhaps the greatest military mind of all time. Whoa. How's that for a resume?

The special continues throughout the week. Darn, I'd love to have this series on VCD or DVD. Pretty cool history. Heh.

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