Even though being a settled nation and a mountainous at that, Hayasdan fields cavalry focused armies with horse archers & javelin cavalry in almost equal measure and in addition to armored cataphracts. However, infantry is also used widely, alas of poorer discipline and equipment than their Hellenic neighbours. Still, properly used a Hay or Armenian army can still go toe to toe with most foes.
Gund-î Paltâ (Eastern Skirmishers)Armed with nothing but a small shield and a handful of javelins these men risk their lives in closing with the enemy with only the lightest of equipment. These men deploy in a cloud before the heavy infantry dashing back and forth to release their deadly missiles. These infantry skirmishers fought in open formations so as to maximize the number of men able to get a throw and minimize the effect of enemy missiles. Lacking armour, training and heavy weapons these light infantry stand no chance if committed to melee.
Historically, most armies of the classical period found use for poorly equipped levies as skirmishers, very often as javelinmen, as these troops required relatively little training and financial investment, relying mostly on widespread natural skills and scant gear, while still providing some useful service.
Shűbân-î Fradâkhshânâ (Eastern Slingers)Slings are very easy and cheap to make and, yet, they are a respectable weapon. It is for this reason that they are so prevalent among the poverty-stricken hill tribes of the eastern lands. In battle, slingers are used as light skirmishers, troops with no armour or melee weapons but who rush forward against the enemy to pepper them with stones, only to flee when threatened. The best method of releasing a stone from a sling is by an underhand motion. These missiles can leave the sling in excess of 60 miles per hour. A well trained slinger can hurl a stone as far and as accurately as a good archer. The effect when they strike is nothing short of devastating.
Historically, slingers came from the shepherd boys of the highlands who use slings to herd sheep and goats. They stand guard in the upland pastures, and if they see an animal straying, they sling a stone in front of it to ward it back to safety. Ancient hand slings generally consisted of a single long strip of leather or woven wool, with a central "pocket" for the stone. The longer the sling, the greater would be its range. Long-range slings were about 3 feet long.
Thanvarę Payâhdag (Persian Archers)These men are skirmishers only and not inclined to close with enemy troops. These men would have the fully sleeved, long Persian Kapuris tunic. Often brightly coloured these traditional tunics would end just above the knees secured at the waist by a wide woven belt. They would also have a woolen cap, loose trousers and soft felt shoes. They would be armed with the powerful composite bow and a long dagger suitable only for defense. A plain leather quiver would be strung over their back. They would also have a simple woolen cap.
Historically, the mainstay of the Parthian infantry were foot archers. These foot archers almost certainly represented the poorer elements of the various infantry levies of Parthia. The tradition of mounted archery in Parthia and the northern steppe peoples makes it almost inevitable that a massed levy would produce significant numbers of foot archers as well. The station usually assigned to these Parthian bowmen is behind the first line of spearmen and forward of them in skirmishing lines. These troops are vital to any armies plan, harassing and confusing enemy troops as they advanced, and shielding the flanks of the battle line from light cavalry and other enemy skirmishing units.
Kavakaza Sparabara (Caucasian Spearmen)The Caucasus Range: fierce mountains breed a fierce people and these men, drawn from the tribes of the Caucasus, are fierce indeed! For centuries the tribes that inhabit these hostile climes have warred amongst the ominous and noble mountains, and this harsh lifestyle has bred a hardy people. The simple folk of the Caucasus region, men of farms and fields, livestock and grain, are grown into a world where knowledge of sling, bow, javelin and spear are as necessary as the written word is for the Hellenes. A sling will catch them a rabbit, a javelin or bow will keep predators from their flock, and a spear will protect them from their neighbour’s envious eyes. These life-skills, learnt amongst the mountains, make for hardy warriors, braver and more fearsome than the city-folk of the plains below.
These Caucasian Spearmen are armed with a simple spear - held underarm - and a Thureos shield, introduced into Anatolia during the Galatian invasions. They wear no armour, such a luxury cannot be afforded, and instead simply wear the clothes of normal, everyday use: a tunic tied at the waist and loose fitting trousers. When fighting they form a solid wall of shields, their spears a fearsome barrier against oncoming attack. However, these men are not disciplined, they have no formal training in warfare beyond what the most experienced warriors of a tribe can impart, and may break rank leaving gaps that the enemy can exploit. Yet, they do form the backbone of the armies that wage war beneath the shadows of the Caucasus Range, and - perhaps - beyond.
Hai Nizagamartik (Armenian Spearmen)The people of Caucasus region have long been at war for the fertile valleys and rich seams of metal beneath the rock. The harsh climate and the simple way of life have been crucial in breeding a hardy and fierce people. The tribes who owe allegiance to Hayasdan, the cultural successor to the older Urartean kingdom, are no different and are themselves a fierce people. They are Haik - Armenians to the outside world - and descendants of the original Nairi tribes and the migrant Armina people: these tribes, most loyal to the idea of Hayasdan raise spearmen from amongst their most fearsome men to fight in the armies of the Hai Arkah (Armenian king).
Due to heavier Persian influences - in the Achaemenid days of the Persian Empire Armenia was a powerful and important Satrapy - these men carry light, but large and strong, wicker shields, which offer generous protection from the enemy missiles and makes for a stout wall when in formation. If used in conjunction with their iron-tipped spear, they present an unappealing target to both cavalry and infantry. These men have been trained well, and shouldn’t be considered as hastily raised farmers and herdsmen: they have been trained to keep in formation and not be hasty in their attacks. Yet still, do not mistake these men as equals to the Hellenic infantry of the plains below; they lack the level of discipline of the phalanx units of the Seleukids, and while they may not be untrained farmers nor are they professional soldiers and they should not be expected to stand against overwhelming odds.
Kovkasi Lernain Netadzik (Caucasian Archers)In the mountains of the Caucasus and the highlands below the people have lived a long and healthy existence, sustained as they are from the surplus fruits of the fertile valleys and rich mineral seams. But their history has also seen strife, for their mountain kingdoms are highly prized by those of the fertile crescent below. Not only the spear and sling, but also the bow are used by these hardy mountain-men, who protect their land from foreign looking for dominion and even rival kingdoms within the Caucasus region who seek to expand their lands. Lightly equipped, these archers are used to the trying terrain of the Caucasus and their training is more for light skirmishes than heavy battle upon an open field. Yet though they may find themselves fighting outside of home territory on the flat plains of the lands to the south, they should not be underestimated. Their bows are well made, learnt from the steppe nomads beyond the northern mountains and the Persians who conquered them later. They wear little in the way of armour, a leather jerkin over a warm woolen tunic, which offers little in the way of protection. Other than the bow, they carry a short knife, or other such simple melee weapon as they are not trained for and not meant for combat at close-quarters.
Historically the Caucasus region was not well known for its archery, it was the cavalry that they were famous for. However, they undoubtedly used the bow just as they used the sling and javelin. Xenophon was unlucky enough to find himself at the wrong end of worrying tactics of such a people, the Karduchi, who may have been the ancestors of the modern day Kurds, as he and his force battled through the Caucasus highlands to the southern shore of the Black Sea. Xenophon mentions that the bow the Karduchi used was the three cubits long, whilst the arrow was two cubits itself. Xenophon further reports that "When discharging the arrow, they draw the string by getting a purchase with the left foot planted forward on the lower end of the bow. The arrows pierced through shield and cuirass, and the Hellenes, when they got hold of them, used them as javelins, fitting them to their thongs." Powerful weapons indeed.
Nizakahar Ayrudzi (Armenian Skirmisher Cavalry)Ayrudzi, literally means "the horsemen". These light cavalry are well suited to the mountainous home of the Armenians. These are light cavalry, best used for a harassing role. Armed with a bundle of javelins and protected by a Taka shield, these horsemen have no armour, preferring to use speed to protect themselves. After they use up their javelins, they can close to fight with a spear, though they are really too lightly equipped to stand up to any save the lightest of troop types. While not as long ranged or as tough as Armenia’s nomadic neighbour’s, horse archers, they fill essentially the same role, and any Eastern general would certainly want to include them in their army.
Historically, Ayrudzi cavalry came from the poorer Azats (lesser nobles) and rich Ramiks (peasantry) of Armenia unable to afford better gear, but rich enough for mounted warfare, often a more prestigious service in Armenian armies.
Ayrudzi Netadzik (Armenian Horse-Archers)Armenia, despite its rugged geography, is a land of rich meadows and they are able to support cavalry in great numbers. The horse archers of Armenia tend to fire their volleys while motionless but are very capable of the harassing tactics of the steppe nomads. Indeed, some of these men hail from the Scythians enclaves along the Pontic coast or the grasslands of Atropatene. They are expert archers and expert horsemen, being able to shoot a bow accurately from horseback, and they are the masters of the ‘Parthian shot’, being able to shoot backwards at full gallop. They are best used at weakening enemy formations so that the heavy cavalry can finish them off. Almost impossible to destroy and unwilling to come to grips with well ordered infantry these horsemen use marauder tactics to bring down their enemies. Dense formations of infantry are their favoured target.
Historically, they used probably the best weapon for the light horseman, which was the composite horse bow. Plutarch wrote that Armenian archers were deadly from 200 meters with their devastating hail of arrows. These horsemen are not well suited for hand-to-hand combat and best used in their traditional role. If forced into combat they will do poorly against anyone but a broken enemy.
Aspet Hetselazor (Armenian Medium Cavalry)These soldiers are armed with a spear that is used as a thrusting weapon in an overhand grip, rather than as a lance. While this makes them unlikely to mount a charge on their own, it does make the spear far more maneuverable and these men are adept at putting that to use. A deadly Tabar axe is used when the clash of battle eventually breaks the spear. While unable to stand up to a charge of Parthian Cataphracts or shatter a Seleucid phalanx, they can hold their own against medium and light cavalry, or break lighter infantry. A conical Persian helmet of iron with a brightly coloured plume is worn. Their armour is a scale cuirass with scale shoulder guards and stiffened leather pteruges hanging from the waist and over loose, richly embroidered trousers. A long sleeved tunic extending down to just above the knees, is secured by a leather belt. The horse has a stuffed Persian saddle and thick, bright coloured saddle cloth.
Historically, the Armenian Azat were lesser nobles and the Aspet, or knights provided the powerful spine of the Armenia’s cavalry wing, often the prestigious and most efficient branch of Armenian armies
Mardig Sooseramartik (Armenian Medium Infantry)These men, seemingly 'armed in the Roman fashion' to the eyes of Roman witnesses, are highly regarded by all those they face in battle. These troopers are skilled swordsmen or Sooseramartik (soo-seh-ra-mar-teek) as the Armenians call them, who specialize in the frontal assault against spear and pike formations, so common to the ancient world. They use the distinctive bronze-faced oval thureos shield introduced by the Galatians following their invasion of Anatolia many years ago and are well armed with sword and javelin and wear iron scale corselets. Protected with their shields, they would throw their heavy javelins, before advancing to contact. These armoured guardsmen are well motivated and highly disciplined.
Historically, Mardig swordsmen were drawn from those of the Azat lesser nobility unable or disinclined to go to war mounted. The equipment they used and their battlefield tactics, though quite likely evolved without any major Roman influence, appeared to Roman observers similar to their own practices and they recorded it so. In modern times, these comments would give rise to the largely misguided notion of “imitation legionaries”.
Zrahakir Netadzik (Armenian Armoured Horse-Archers)These were the elite of the Armenian kingdom being a unique, highly trained, manoeuvrable, hard-hitting, heavy cavalry. The use of skirmishing and rapid manoeuvres by the shock cavalry became important elements of Armenian battles and the Cataphract Archers are masters at this. The Cataphract Archers are heavily armoured and equipped with lance and bow. This allows them to engage the enemy from afar before making a final charge. These men use concentrated missile fire combined with the mass charge of cavalry to break the will of enemy infantry. Against steady infantry they will employ skirmish tactics peppering the enemy with archery, wheeling away if contact looms, only to rally again as often as might be needed. They would have an iron 'spangenhelm' helmet with mail aventail. An iron scale corselet would protect the torso, partially covered by a richly embroidered felt tabard. Laminated arm guards would completely encase the arms, from shoulder to wrist. Leather gauntlets without reinforcement would be worn to protect the hands, leaving them free to ply their bows. Thigh guards and leg defences of laminated armour attached to quilted cuisses secured to the belt with leather thongs. The horse’s tail would be tied off with a brightly coloured ribbon. He would sit on a large brightly coloured saddle cloth which would be heavily embroidered with geometric designs or animal motifs. They would be armed with the 12' kontos lance and the powerful composite horse bow. A light brown open quiver would be slung on the right side and a separate bow case slung on the left.
Historically, Roman commanders expected to win their battles with a decisive infantry clash. The Armenians however did not accommodate them. The use of skirmishing and rapid maneuvers by the shock cavalry became important elements of Parthian battlefield tactics and the Cataphract Archers were masters at this. The name Zrahakir Netadzik, means armoured bow-bearers.
Nakhararakan Tiknapah (Armenian Noble Infantry)These men are the elite of the Armenian kingdom drawn from the best of those willing to serve in the prestigious Royal Guard. The honour of such a position instils in these men a will of iron. These are armoured Spearmen who are usually capable of withstanding the charge of heavy cavalry, but must be used carefully and should be held in reserve protecting their noble lord. They wear the old Assyrian style conical pointed helm traditional to these highlanders. The short sleeved iron scale corselet worn by these men provides a high degree of protection. They use a large old-fashioned, circular silver shield with an iron rim, similar to the Greek Aspis shield. Exceptionally well drilled and trained, these men have the discipline and organization to do whatever their lord might ask of them and they are full of courage, unwilling to turn their back on the enemy. The Malhazutyun Nakhararakan Tiknapah were traditionally headed by the house of Khorkhoruni.
Historically, the Nakhararakan Tiknapah acted often as palace guards for the royal dynasty itself, but they could also be deployed on the battlefield, where their equipment, training and ethos allowed them to do much more than just act as bodyguards.
Nakhararakan Aspet (Armenian Noble Cataphracts)These Armenian Heavy Cavalry are disciplined, aggressive and capable. The Armenian cavalry was well known for its valor and these heavily armoured Cataphracts are no exception. Using lance and mace these horsemen are a formidable force on the field of battle. The standard equipment of the Armenian cataphracts would have included an old style conical Assyrian helmet of iron with a scale aventail. They would have an iron scale corselet protecting the torso. Complete laminated (bands) arm guards would emerge from the shoulder, encasing the arms down to the wrist. Leather gauntlets reinforced with mail would be worn to protect the hands. Thigh guards and leg defenses of scale armour attached to quilted cuisses secured to the belt with leather thongs. A heavily embroidered saddle cloth would be used.
Historically, the Armenian Royal Cataphract Cavalry are recruited from the Nakharars, the high nobility of Armenia and these men are the armoured fist of Hayastan. The tactical use of armoured lancers in conjunction with horse archers was one of many the things that Parthia and Armenia shared. Such tactics were later used by Tigran and the Armenian cavalry, against the Romans. Sallustius Crispus wrote that in the Armenian army in particular the regiments of horsemen were 'remarkable by the beauty of their horses and armor'. Xenophon mentions the finely bred Armenian horse which he says was smaller than the Persian type. This seems to describe the horse now referred to as the 'Caspian' horse which has been recently recognized in Iran as an ancient breed. Although, only about 12 hands in height, when compared with the images of early Persian horses, it has the same small ears, prominent forehead and cheekbones and large nostrils.
Khűveshâvagânę Shâhvâr (Armenian Early Bodyguards)The Khűveshâvagânę Shâhvâr used to be the most expensively attired cavalry in the world, and were indeed the sign of the equestrian power of the Achaemenid world order. With the coming of Macedonian cavalry tactics, the Khűveshâvagânę Shâhvâr have undergone several changes. The final product is an extra-heavy cavalry unit, magnificently equipped with the finest technology mustered by the Achaemenids and their successors in Hayasdan and Pontos. Financed by the royal treasuries, they have been made into a contingent of specific honour, The Kinsmen. Armed with a xyston, and a machaira or mace along with the deployment in column formation, this unit is purely equipped for melee combat, like the later cataphracts. The mount being barded with peytrel, chamfrôn and the parameridia or armoured saddle, make this unit a particularly headstrong opponent worthy of respect.
With the fall of Persia proper the Khűveshâvagânę Shâhvâr who once served Achaemenid throne can no longer be called "Royal", in the mountains of the Caucasus and the foothills of Kappadokia, the Kingdoms of Hayasdan and of Pontos still maintain far smaller contingents of these devestating cavalrymen to serve as personal bodyguards to their Kings and Princes. Heavily influenced by Persian technology and military training, these heavy cavalrymen still equip themselves in the style of those "Kinsmen" of Achaemenid Persia. Armed with a xyston and a machaira or mace this full-contact unit can mount a terrible charge, wreaking havoc upon the enemy and additionally being clad entirely in bronze and the horse being armoured with an exotic combination of chamfrôn, peytrel and the parameridia, it must certainly have been a most impressive unit, both an ornament to whomever affording these warriors and a fearsome enemy. However, the Kingdoms of Hayasdan and Pontos cannot claim at all to be as rich as their Achaemenid predecessors and thus the numbers of these royally funded cavalry are small indeed; they can only be maintained as the personal bodyguards of the men of the Royal Houses of both Kingdoms. Yet even in such small numbers these men and their horses are devestating upon the battlefield, able to turn the tide of the battle with a single charge. Truly these are warriors to contend with!
Historically, the late Achaemenian heavy cavalry was an amalgam between Iranian horsemanship and an increasingly higher need for resilient and headstrong cavalry for shock tactics. Chariots, in particular scythed were most fearsome with a ample support, specifically heavy cavalry. The cavalry reforms of the latter half of the 5th century reached its apex during the patronage of the Persian Commander-in-Chief Pharnabazus, distinguished through Xenophon as a capable general, where the Persian "Cuirassiers" were not lined up for close combat but rather organized in columns for a sustained momentum in a charge. In accordance with the relief of Bozkir and some clear depictions of a parameridia (The armoured saddle), and earlier mention of horse armour in the form of peytrel and chamfrôn (As a nose-plate), this cavalry must have been quite heavily armoured. This cavalry, other than being depicted as the bodyguard of Cyrus The Younger during the civil war of Achaemenid Persia, was about to get a second overhaul, a step closer to the heavily armoured cataphracts of later Iranian dynasties. By then, the Persian army was beginning to become more Hellenized, which included certain Greek sabres.
During 372 BCE, Datames replaced Pharnabazus as the Commander-in-Chief of the Persian armies, and other than being accredited for the concept of a Persian hoplite'esque troop type, the Cardaces, Xenophon in his written work "Horsemanship", does not only recommend the parameridia, but also lauds an invention called "The arm", a very possible and likely addition of laminated armour, or as they are called in Greek, the "cheires". It is often suggested that Seleucid heavy cavalry came to adopt the banded/laminated armour for the arms from the Achaemenians. However, before the demise of the Achaemenians, a third reform was made during the reign of Darius III Codomannus, after the battle of Issus. Modelled after previous Achaemenid as well as Bactrian style armour, and combined Sakae and Macedonian cavalry tactics, the Hűvakâ of Darius was an interesting, but nonetheless fearsome amalgam. By the end of the Achaemenid dynasty, the Persians had two types of shock cavalry, the most popular undoubtly the scythed chariot often pulled by armoured horses and lead by heavily armoured crew. The second being an exotic variety of extra-heavy cavalry, household but also recruited from the Bactrians, Massagetae, Sakae, Cappadocians, Armenians and even westernly Scythians. The interesting aspect is that instead of completely relying on local traditions, the Achaemenians pursued their own reforms of the heavy cavalry. While for most of its lifespan being more of a extra-heavily armoured skirmisher cavalry with the ability to mount a charge in column formation, it evolved into a unit meant for full contact. It was aptly named the "Hűvakâ", meaning "The Kinsmen", something translated by Pahlavî as "xwesawand" or "Khűveshâvagân".
Naturally this would also require not only great physique and vigour of the mountee, but the requirements of the mount would be more strict as well. A horse, able to support a heavily armoured rider and some barding needed to be heavy-boned, tall, and muscular. Historically, by the end of the Achaemenian era, Persian emperors were given tribute, often in the form of horses. Cyrus The Great himself valued horses besides good weapons and chariots, as quoted from Herodotus. The main breeds for heavier cavalry were the Cappadocians, as earlier trained to serve as mounts for the famed Lydian lancers and subsequently the Perso-Hellenic kingdom of Pontus, as well as the Armenian horses known for their resilience, and finally the Mede and Parthian (Nisaean) breeds, in which especially the latter was not only known as perhaps the bulkiest of horses but also remarkably speedy, said to outrun the Iberian horses used by the Romans. Therefore it would seem that Achaemenian cavalry tradition formed the basis of subsequent Armenian and Pontic heavy cavalry, as well as providing the Seleucids with a vast range of not only heavy cavalry auxiliaries but also a variety of mounts. The Armenians and the Persian nobles of Pontus, being greatly influenced by Persian trends would most certainly have continued the tradition.
As a means of support for chariots, it could facilitate the sheer violence of the chariot charge as written by Xenophon: "The soldiers had got into the habit of collecting their supplies carelessly and without taking precautions. And there was one occasion when Pharnabazus, with 2 scythed chariots and about 400 cavalry, came on them when they were scattered all over the plain. When the Greeks saw him bearing down on them, they ran to join up with each other, about 700 altogether; but Pharnabazus did not waste time. Putting the chariots in front, and following behind them himself with the cavalry, he ordered a charge. The chariots dashing into the Greek ranks, broke up their close formation, and the cavalry soon cut down about a hundred men. The rest fled and took refuge with Agesilaus, who happened to be close at hand with the hoplites." (Xenophon Hellenica IV,1,17-19)
Hye Sparapet (Armenian Late Bodyguards)The Hye Sparapet, the loyal cadre of Nakhararakan Aspet who exclusively serve the Royal Princes and the Hai Arkah (Armenian King), are among the fiercest warriors known to Hayasdan; unbowing in the face of certain death, unquestioningly loyal to their King. Fully clad in the most well crafted of armours, these men are a fearsome sight on the battlefield, bolstering allies and weakening the resolve of their enemies. Their armour consists of a conical helm, in the Assyrian-style, with an aventail guard to protect the neck; an iron scale corset covered with a decorative leather tabard; and banded arm and leg guards to protect the limbs from harm. The Hye Sparapet, armed with a two-handed lance, can be the decisive force on a battlefield, routing enemies with a single charge. If, however, they get bogged down in combat their maces will crush the enemy beneath them, crumpling all but the hardiest of armours and stoutest of shields. For greatest effect the Hye Sparapet should be used at the defining moment of a battle when all other forces are committed to the fray, charging into the flanks or rear of an enemy in an effort to break them.
Historically, the Armenian lords assembled a strike force of heavily armoured men to comprise their personal guard. Those warriors were fiercely loyal and courageous. However, their limited numbers (they were very expensive to equip) severely constrained their tactical impact.
Pantodapoi (Hellenic Native Spearmen)The most basic and numerous of the infantry units used by the non-European Successor States were the Pantodapoi infantry. These men were called from a variety of nationalities and were usually settled in certain areas for garrison duties and the like. There were Jews, Syrians, Cilicians, Persians, Assyrians, Native Egyptians, and many other peoples counted among their number. They are not particularly reliable soldiers, but they are certainly better than their eastern counterparts. They can give a good account of themselves in battle if deployed properly. They wear no armor, and have only a light shield for protection, so most other infantry will slaughter them in droves. They can fend off light cavalry for a time, if need be.
Historically, the Pantodapoi were a group of various nationalities that were used as a militia levy and defensive group for towns and villages prone to raiding. While the name is conceptual (meaning, from everywhere), they were a standard fighting force of the day. They were trained rudimentarily, but had enough training to be counted as superior to many militia levies. They had some experience fighting off nomadic raiders, so they can be useful against light troops and some light cavalry.
Skuda Fistaeg Fat Aexsdzhytae (Scythian Foot Archers)These Skythian archers often carry a slightly larger version of the composite bow that their fellow cavalrymen employ. This fact, together with the advantage of shooting from a more stable platform than a moving horse, tends to give their missiles somewhat longer range and more power than those typically shot by horse archers. To some extent, they compensate in this way for their comparative lack of mobility. Certainly, substantial numbers of foot bowmen can make sure that horse archers stay away from the area of the battlefield where they are deployed or inflict substantial damage on them, should they be foolish enough to engage in a protracted missile exchange. Of course, they will not be able to catch and destroy the elusive riders if the latter decide to avoid the arrow duel. In that regard, it is important that these archers are not lured too far away from supporting heavier infantry or cavalry whether in the pursuit of horse archers or for any other reason. They are not well outfitted for hand to hand combat, as all they carry is a short sword or small pickaxe and no armor but their thick jackets and bashlyk felt caps. If unsupported, they will be easy prey for cavalry, or aggressive infantry fast enough to catch them.
Along their history, the Skythians of the northern coast of the Black Sea underwent a process of settlement and sedentarization. The phenomenon had started quite early, as Herodotos already spoke of farming Skythian groups, but it seems to have picked up pace as Sarmatian pressure pushed the Skythians out from much of their former lands and restricted them to a much reduced territory (the western part of the Crimea and the lower Dniepr) that could not have supported a large nomadic population. This process resulted in Skythian armies fielding increasing numbers of foot troops. A good portion of those seem to have been bowmen, as many settled Skythians still favored their traditional weapon.
Doryphoroi Pontikoi (Pontic Light Spearmen)Doryphoroi Pontikoi are raised from peoples that live around the Azov Sea and the northern coast of the Black Sea and that have been subject to substantial Greek influence. This includes both original sedentary Maeotic and Sind tribes, settled groups of former nomads such as Scythians or the Sarmatian Siracae and also the Greek towns of the area. The non-Greek populations of the region have been long subject to substantial Greek influence, which is quite evident in, for example, the large oval shields of the thureos type that these infantrymen carry. That shield is typically their only protection. To it, they add spears and short swords. Thanks to their shields, they may face the many archers that their potential enemies are likely to field with some confidence and their spears allow them to fend off the light cavalry that is also common among their foes. They will also hold their ground against infantry similar to themselves. However, truly heavy cavalry, not to mention quality heavy infantry will get the better of them sooner rather than later.
Historically, by the 3rd century BC oval shields with long spines and spindle-shaped bosses spread and became common into the areas around the north coast of the Black Sea. The whole region had long maintained strong connections with the Greek world and this particular process followed military developments in the Hellenistic world. Infantry men equipped with oval shields and spears became common among the diverse ethnic groups that inhabited the region and for several centuries they formed part of the armies of a variety of nations including the Pontic and Bosporan kingdoms, Scythians and Sarmatians, Greek colonies of the area and Armenia.
Kardakâ Arteshtâr (Persian Hoplites)The Kardaka are armed with the Iranian longsword, and a long thrusting spear. These guards also carried the large hoplon-shaped shield known as the Aspis. The armour to protect the torso was usually composed of iron scales and was worn over a brightly decorated tunic hanging down to just above the knees, however this was far from uniform so any rudimentary armour, including bronze scales, linen and even quilted cloth could suffice depending on individual wealth or the available equipment of the local armouries. As the Kardakâ, originally a late Achaemenid imitation of a hoplite, grew to become gradually more Hellenized, in particular during Seleucid times where the linen corselet also known as the linothorax became more popular. Their grey iron helm would have a slightly oval thimble shape though here it is shown as an Eastern version of a modular Attic helmet, with protection for the neck, particularly popular around Lycia and Cilicia. They would have loose trousers and short light brown leather boots. They would also have a thick linen cloak of dark blue or deep red. Well drilled, close order infantry these men form the core of most eastern armies. They were however relegated to garrison duty in Parthian service. They are capable and disciplined troops.
Historically, these troops were a late imperial Persian attempt to make a native Hoplite like infantry. These men come from the old Persian core Satraps of Persis and Media, willing to serve the Seleucids as easily as the encroaching Parthians. They are versatile in the sense of providing a reliable platform, fending off cavalry and faring decently in close combat, without being restricted by the inflexible Macedonian phalanx, making them some of the finest infantry to the disposal of the Pahlavân. Still it must be remembered that while they can give a good account of themselves as heavy infantry, they will likely turn out to be inferior to comparable Hellenic infantry, and should therefore be used a little bit differently by Eastern armies who rely more on cavalry; The Kardakâ may rather be used as an auxiliary rather than as the backbone of an Eastern army. The Kardakâ or Cardaces/Kardakes as they were called by Greek sources were subject to a wide range of different accounts regarding their combat performance, between being mediocre to full-fledged elites and equally their equipment, in particular their shields ranged from the hoplon to the more traditional wicker shields. Though it can be argued that the Kardakâ must have retained some uniformity during Achaemenid times, with the royal treasuries withdrawn and being deployed by Eastern nations who have rather turned their eyes towards cavalry, they do also inevitably represent a continuously declining unit type.
Bydirag Baexdzhyntae (Steppe Riders)The Bydirag Baedxzhyntae (Steppe Riders) are light horsemen and are often found in the employ of settled nations. Light cavalry such as this is designed for scouting, screening your army, disrupting an enemy’s formation, wearing his morale and numbers through archery and, eventually, pursuit. The weapons that they use are the bow and arrow, but they also carry spears and small shields. In a pinch, they can be used for shock action, but this will yield poor results against unbroken infantry. They are trained in archery from childhood and ride with ease and grace atop their small, but trusty steppe pony.
Historically, mounted archers came from the steppes north and east of the Black Sea. They formed the bulk of the armies of different groups of what are broadly called “Iranian nomads”, but, as they expanded, their paticular methods of warfare, together with other aspects of their culture, were transmitted to other peoples. Thus horse archer like the Bydirag Baedxzhyntae were also present among, for example, the diverse peoples that dwelled on the European Caucausus and its neighboring areas. The settled powers to the south, such as Pontos and Armenia, valued greatly these mounted warriors and, caring little for their precise ethnic adscription, included then in their armies as either mercenaries, subjects or allies whenever they had the chance.
Kartvelebi Dashna-Mebrdzolebi (Georgian Swordsmen)These Kartvelebi Dashna-Mebrdzolebi are fierce professional soldiers of the tribes who were born of Kartlos, the great hero of the Kartvelebi (Georgians). They are armed with javelins, a versatile and widely used weapon, a short sword and a Thureos shield, made popular in the Anatolia region with the coming of the Galatians. As true warriors they understand the need for protection and wear a studded-leather coat over a thick woollen tunic. Highly trained and experienced, these men are shock troops of the highest calibre; fierce and brave they are best used to break the enemy formation from the flanks or rear as their charge is fearsome. However, do not underestimate their ability to hold rank and withstand a charge themselves; truly these Dashna-Mebrdzolebi are versatile fighters.
Historically, life in the Caucasus Mountains bred a fierce people and the men of the Kartvelebi tribes - born of the loins of Kartlos, the great hero of old - were no exception. For centuries the Kartvelebi had warred amongst the competing tribes of the Caucasus and their rugged lifestyle, and the equal toughness of the terrain they inhabited, gradually honed them into a truly hardy people, well disposed to combat and harsh conditions. After being brought together beneath the dynasty of the Pharnavazian kings and they posed an increased threat to the neighbouring tribes and kingdoms of that region, particularly Hayasdan, their long standing enemy. Beneath the Pharnavazian dynasty Iberia survived as an independent kingdom until 93 BCE, when Arshak, a prince of Hayasdan, overthrew Pharnajom and established his own dynasty. Pharnajom’s son would a later take back his father’s throne in 32 BCE and the second Pharnavazian dynasty lasted well into the
Mada Nizhak Asabara (Median Skirmisher Cavalry)The ancient homeland of the Medes gives rise to these light cavalrymen whose first weapon of choice is the javelin. These horsemen are skilled at skirmishing and are also adept at closing in for the kill against disordered enemies. Mounted on a swift horse, armed with nothing but a small crescent-shaped 'Taka' shield, short spear, and a handful of javelins these swift moving horsemen can be deadly.
Historically, the Iranian people of the Mad, Medes to the Greeks, inhabited this rich land, a high mountainous plateau and once the centre of a powerful empire. Older than Parthia, older than the Achaemenid Empire, Media has always held centre place in any of the great kingdoms of the Iranian lands. The rich pastures of Media and Persis were not conductive to the free ranging lifestyle of the nomad. These light horsemen from settled populations took the place of nomadic light cavalry.
Skuda Fat Aexsdzhytae (Scythian Horse-Archers)Scythian Horse Archers are not different to their many counterparts in their approach to battle. Only lightly protected and often with little more than a short sword as melee weapon, they rely instead in the power of their excellent composite bows and the speed and endurance of their sturdy steppe horses (and possibly the use of remounts). With these tools, they torment foes that cannot catch them or shoot back (or are outranged) with arrows until mounting casualties, exhaustion, sheer frustration and, perhaps, a rightly-timed charge by the core of heavier cavalry that often accompanies the horse archers, bring about the collapse of the enemy. Then, they will be eager to join in the pursuit and, thanks again to the speed of their mounts, they will be ruthlessly efficient in this task as well. Routing foes pursued by them have only very slim chances of escaping. As a part of a combined-arms army, they can harass an enemy, disrupt its formations and, with feigned flights, lure their troops to cunning ambushes. A judicious commander will seek to benefit from the strengths of Scythian Horse Archers and to minimize their weaknesses by deploying them in loose formations, in terrain that does not hamper their movement and by wisely keeping them out of hand-to-hand combat until the time is right.
Historically, the Scythians were largely responsible of first impressing on the minds of the settled peoples the image of the wild, steppe horse archer visiting destruction upon civilization. To some extent, they were preceded in this by the Cimmerians, but the extent and consequences of the Cimmerian invasions, large as they were, did not reach the scale of widespread devastation associated with the Scythians. In the 7th century BC after having subdued Media for some time and having contributed to the definitive fall of the Assyrian Empire, the Scythians poured over Mesopotamia, Western Asia Minor and the Near East ravaging and plundering as they went. Before crossing back the Caucasus and returning to the steppes, they would reach the very doors of Egypt, where Pharaoh Psammetichos paid a heavy tribute to see them depart. They wreaked major havoc that has left a diversity of lasting memories. The texts of the prophet Jeremiah in the Bible, the many Scythian trilobate arrowheads of cast bronze stuck in the brick walls of burnt cities over a very wide area, the writings of Herodotus or the city named Scythopolis (modern Beth-Shean in Israel) are some of the most conspicuous ones. Later, in the 6th century BC, Darius I, Great King of the Achaemenid Persian Empire, would claim retribution from past wrongs as the reason for his invasion of Scythian lands in the northern Black Sea coast. The invasion ended up in failure. Herodotos' account of that campaign is a textbook example (possibly the first recorded instance) of the application of the strategic retreat and scorched earth tactics and of the difficulties and dangers associated to fighting steppe nomads in their home turf.
Toxotai Syriakoi (Syrian Archers)Toxotai Syriakoi are armed with composite bows, which make them a class above most archers. They have long ranged bows and carry a good amount of arrows, and know how to use these bows through centuries of tradition in their homelands and a constant need to supplement their poor diets with meat. They are good soldiers, but suffer from a morale problem since they are a subjugated people. They can be expected to use their arrows to devastating effect, but when engaged in melee, they will be cut down in droves.
Historically, Syria has been famous for its archers for thousands of years. These men took part in almost every major Near Eastern war since the early Assyrian kingdom used them as auxiliary troops. They have been a decisive arm on the battlefield time and time again, so long as they are supported by good infantry. A sensible commander will take their strengths and weaknesses into account before using them.
Asabârân-î Mâdâën (Median Medium Cavalry)In the Seleucid and Bactrian armies, these medium Median cavalrymen are very prevalent. Descended from the lesser Persian nobility they now render good service to their new masters. They are excellent medium cavalry, capable of skirmishing, charging, and fighting fairly well in melee. These cavalry are raised from the old Persian estates that had not seized by the Macedonian invaders. They are equipped with a cavalry spear and the single bladed Tabar axe with a vicious back-spike, well capable of penetrating heavy armor. The battle-axe was often used, especially by North Iranians. The spear was usually used over arm as a thrusting weapon. The shield used by these horsemen was the crescent shaped Scythian Taka shield. A conical Persian helmet of iron is worn with brightly colored helmet plume. Their armor is a scale cuirass with scaled shoulder guards and stiffened leather pteruges hanging from the waist. Loose richly embroidered trousers and a long sleeved tunic extending down to just above the knees, is secured by a leather belt. The horse has a stuffed Persian saddle and thick, bright colored saddle cloth. The tails were tied up to prevent it being grabbed by the enemy. The forelock was left long and tired with ribbon to form a plume above the head.
Historically; The Macedonians came to Persia as invaders, sharing neither a common culture nor a common enemy. These lesser nobles are quick to make cause with any rebel, and the Greek upper class know this well. The Seleucids, and Baktrians intent on Hellenizing Iran, cannot rely on these men who are descended from a proud tradition, the Huvaka, Kinsmen cavalry who had faced Alexander the Great during late imperial times. It is for this reason that the Greeks often preferred to rely on mercenaries and Greek settlers, but these men are still able to be used in some roles and are conscripted in times of need. Some of these minor noble houses have intermarried with their Macedonian overlords and are thus somewhat more loyal than their neighbours might be. Still, they are often present in native revolts, due to the fact that they can often lead these revolts and have fewer opportunities due to their Iranian blood.