Macedonian Phalanx

Short History

Alexander the Great conquered much of the known world with a war machine unseen and unrivaled of during his time. The Macedonian army was made up of a phalanx army, companion cavalry and several other troop types innovated by his father Philip II of Macedon(382 BC-336 BC). After Philip was assassinated in 336 BC, Alexander inherited a powerful kingdom with a fearsome army to boot. Most Greek city states by then had been brought under Macedonian hegemony through the brilliant war tactics and diplomacy employed by Alexander and Philip. Alexander expanded his kingdom further by crossing the Hellespont in 334 BC with 42,000 soldiers and invaded Persia where he faced the Persian King, Darius III in three major battles. After successfully conquering the Persian empire, Alexander invaded the Indian subcontinent where he faced the Hindu ruler, Porus and his army.

Alexander used combined tactics that was never seen before in major battles. The clever use of his companion cavalry always turned the tide of any battle into his favor. However, the most spectacular troop type in Alexander's army was the Macedonian phalanx. The Macedonian phalanx was the core formation in Alexander's strategy. The Macedonian phalanx will always without fail neutralize the main body of the enemy. By holding them down, Alexander's companion cavalry would attack from the flanks to break the enemy ranks.

Each soldier in the Macedonian phalanx was equipped with a 18 foot sarissa, a double pointed pike. The soldiers fought in a rectangular close ranked formation of 256 men per speira or unit. In battle, the first five rows of men lowered their sarissa while the remaining soldiers behind held their sarissas upright.

The Miniature Army

The 1/72 figures shown here are from the Hat and Zvezda Macedonian sets.(see below for product.)

1/72 Hat Macedonian Phalanx

The Macedonian phalanx by Hat Productions is a great welcome for collectors. This box concentrated on recreating the glorious Macedonian phalanx fighting formation. If you want the almost complete phalanx look, this is the set to get. The only setback to this set is there are no sarissas(pikes) to accompany the 48 figures. You have have to spend your quality time making your own sarissas.

I can tell you if you want your phalanx to look good, you have to put some effort here. There is a simpler way to make sarissas. You can hammer copper rods into sharpened spear points but that was not the look I wanted to achieve. I wanted a more accurate look for my sarissas which has a spear point and counter weight on each of them.

Another alternative to get sarissa is to get the Zvezda Macedonian phalanx set and use the sarissas that is provided(the plastic is soft and will bent out of shape easily though).

1/72 Zvezda-Macedonian Phalanx

The is set is much better sculpted and have better detail than the Hat Macedonian phalanx. It comes with 37 figures. The setback for this set is that this phalanx formation looks incomplete. Another thing to highlight is about the figures that are holding the sarissas at an angle. The sarissas for this type of figures comes in 2 parts. A hollow plastic rod is needed to join each sarissa together(picture below) and they look really unsightly and unrealistic.


You can fix that by devising a method to make it look good. One way to do it is by making totally new sarissas like the ones I did with the Hat phalanx using plastic broomsticks. Superglue the zvezda spearhead and counterweights onto them. You can also cast green stuff epoxy putty for the spearheads and counterweights. You need to make a two part mold out of greenstuff to cast the spearheads and counterweights. When cutting and assembling the sarissas that is provided in this Zvezda set, be aware that these plastic sarissas can easily get deformed.

Be gentle while you are handling the sarissas. If not, you will need to straightened them constantly to make them look good.

Batch painting the figures.

I normally paint five miniatures figures at a time at one go. More than that and I just lose concentration and the paint job becomes sloppy. Everyone has their own way of doing things. I just find painting five figures at a time less demanding and easier to cope. After I finish with these five figures, I will move on to the next set of five. Find out what works best way for you.


I basically chose the most common colors found from references for the Macedonian army from books and the internet. I did notice that Macedonians had a more varied look within their ranks. Instead of painting all troops using a standard color, I went for the more varied look.


Linen cuirasses were painted with a white base. Stripes and markings on the linen cuirasses were painted mostly in red and some in purple color. Bronze armour breast plates were either painted in gold or bronze.


I used Sand Brown for the base coat and, Basic Skin tone for the highlights. For the shade I diluted some Burnt Cadmium Red and applied into the recesses of the figure.

Metallic areas should be given a black wash for a weathered look. To get more depth in your work when painting, apply a basecoat, then shade and lastly the highlights on your miniature. It takes more time to do it but the end result is truly eye candy.