No lack of lands to conquer - Chapter I Philip II of Macedon was not a poor strategist by any standards, but his decision to go to war with the vast Achaemenid Empire was to be his downfall. Even less was he a poor soldier, yet the brief campaign shattered his reputation, and indeed nearly toppled the state which he had done so much to transform. Macedonia had changed from a modestly sized Balkan backwater to a strong, militaristic and expansionist kingdom under Philip's rule. Having come to power in 359 BC after the untimely deaths of his brothers, he held on to it through wise but bold leadership. He worked hard to improve military standards, using combat experience with neighbouring nations and tribes to tune the Macedonian army into a powerful instrument. Notably, the Macedonian cavalry had played a key role in many of his successes, although his disciplined infantry phalanxes also outmatched their opponents. These victories over his minor neighbours had been eclipsed, however, by his defeat of the Greek states to the south at the ferocious battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC. No longer would Macedonia be treated like a poor relation of the 'true Greeks' of Athens, Sparta, Thebes and the others, but rather as their effective ruler. From 337 BC, preparations were underway to form a united Greek army to invade the Persian Empire. For so long, it had been the lot of the Greeks to be on the receiving end of Persian invasions, and each time the various states had in desperation joined forces and narrowly beaten them off. But while Thermopylae, Salamis and Marathon were unforgettable names in Greek history, they had spent far more time fighting each other than they had the Persians. Any attempts which had been made had invariably met with little success, suffering from poor organisation, a lack of numbers and most significantly, disunity and rivalry among both the men and their leaders. Now, though, Philip was master of most of Greece, with the notable exception of Sparta, whose grim reputation had perhaps dissuaded him from trying to bring them into his 'League of Corinth'. But Spartan rejection or not, Philip pressed on. The invasion was planned for mid 337 BC, with troops drawn from across much of Greece. Some states were reluctant to take part, but realistically they were in no position to stand up to Macedonian might. And of course, at the end of the day, what true Greek would flinch at the chance to strike a blow at the old enemy of Persia. Differences could be set aside for now, as this was an adventure for all, and with a very real chance of success. The numbers would not be in their favour, but in spirit, and perhaps more importantly in equipment, the Greeks would have the edge. Philip had implemented a series of reforms, having learned from his own military experiences over the past 20 years, and studied the planning and tactics of others. Macedonian troops were fitted out with the most effective weapons, from the lengthy sarissa to the humble slingshot, and were well-versed in their use due to regular training and mock combat. The cavalry were also in fine condition, as Philip had frequently raided the lands to the north to capture high quality cavalry chargers, as well as putting considerable time and effort into a horse breeding program. Not all of these benefits were available to the non-Macedonian contingents, but where possible they being introduced in an attempt to boost the qualitative advantage even further. Whatever the Persians had lying in wait for them, the Greeks could fight back with confidence in their equipment and fighting ability.