The Pahlava starts out as a nomadic faction, but already transforming into a more settled one. Their armies are mostly made up of horse archers, where a small contingent are heavily armored cavalry. As time goes, the Pahlava will get more heavily armoured cataphracts, even armored horse archers and should they expand into Seleukid territores the Pahlava can raise infantry of improved quality from the subject populations.
Gund-i Nizagan (Parthian Spearmen)These poorly trained, levy infantry are supplied by the great nobles (Azads) from their estates in the more settled regions of the Persian Empire. They are armed with an infantry spear and brown, leather-covered, wicker shield, a smaller version of the old spara (gerron) of imperial days, and a short sword or axe. Their primary order of battle would consist of spearmen fighting in ordered ranks. Groups of spearmen such as these are trained to form rows across and files deep and to march in step. Grouping together bolsters morale and the shield wall helps to neutralize arrows. However, the oft-repeated myth of 'roped or chained' Persian troops is an invention of literature. The Arabic term 'silsilah' is very likely a poetic device meant to imply soldiers organized into close order units. The same term is used to refer to both Sassanid Persian and Byzantine cavalry, neither of which could have conceivably been physically tied together in groups!
Historically, the Parthian Nobility displayed the same distrust of armed peasantry as many other feudal elites, The Nizag Gund were as close as they came to putting that uncomfortable idea into practice, but these foot troops were generally drawn from the poorer classes of Parthian society and were often badly equipped and barely trained. When the indifferent quality of these troops was added to the pace of Parthian warfare, it meant that the Nizag Gund would rarely be committed to heavy action. Their duties would generally include garrison and baggage guard, but they could also form a spear wall in pitched battles.
Shivatir-i Pahlavanig (Parthian Horse-Archers)These cavalrymen are recruited from the clan warriors of Parthia, and originally come from the steppes of Central Asia. Although they now live in Iran, they still learn to ride as soon as they can walk like their ancestors. 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, the Pahlava Shivatir formed the backbone of all Parthian armies. Led by the Dehbed minor nobility into battle, these Bandaka (bondsmen or retainers) rely on missile fire as their primary asset. They used probably the best weapon for the light horseman, which was the composite horse bow. It was similar to the simple self bow but used multiple layers of wood, horn and sinew to produce a stronger bow with a greater draw weight—the force built up in the string that will propel the arrow forward to its target— for a small size.
Dehbed Asavara (Parthian Noble Medium Cavalry)The Dehbeds are noble armoured cavalry, using the Kontos in a two-handed grip and able to charge home if needed. They rely on the composite horse bow kept in a Gorytos on the left side to weaken their enemy before closing for melee. They can afford a better class of equipment than typical horse archers, including a scale corselet split at the sides that hangs to the rider’s waist when he is in the saddle. They also carry lances, and are not afraid to close in for melee if the opportunity presents itself, but are sensible enough not to hurl themselves into the fray against unbroken infantry. The Dehbeds are much cheaper to raise and maintain than Cataphracts or Asavaran and form the majority of shock cavalry. The Dehbed cavalry is a very flexible force, being extremely mobile and able both to provide concentrated archery or when required to charge, fully able to drive home an attack.
Historically, the Dehbeds were the lesser nobility and village chieftains not yet having risen to their more prominent role under the Sassanids, men who led their Bandaka retainers to war. These units of the lesser aristocracy were composed of men of well above average station. The Dehbeds were members of the Azat nobility of Parthia. Descendents of the lords of smaller clans and the chieftains of tribal times, they formed the warbands of the great feudal lords (azat). They were a class of noble warriors, their vassalage to the Parthian King expressed in their duty and their privilege of serving in the feudal cavalry. They would evolve into the Dihqans of Sassanid times.
Zradha Shivatir (Parthian Armoured Horse-Archers)These were the elite of the Parthian kingdom being a unique, highly trained, maneuverable, hard-hitting, heavy cavalry. The use of skirmishing and rapid maneuvers by the shock cavalry became important elements of Parthian battles and the Zradha Shivatir are masters at this. The Zradha Shivatir 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 defenses 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 Parthians 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 Zradha Shivatir were masters at this. The name Zradha Shivatir, means armoured bowbearers.
Zradha Pahlavans (Parthian Cataphracts)The heavy Cataphract cavalry provides the hammer which forces infantry to stand their formations, providing the horse archers with the perfect target. If the enemy should break ranks the shock tactics employed by the Parthians on their armoured mounts were lightning quick and brutally efficient. These are the men that in Parthian armies were expected to deliver the crushing blow that brought victory. The arms they wield are the lance for shock action and the heavy mace to bludgeon armoured opponents. They are superbly equipped with a conical helm and attached scale aventail. A corselet of iron scale armour would protect the torso and laminated (banded) arm guards would emerge from the shoulder, completely encasing the arms down to the wrist. Thigh guards and leg defenses of banded armour would be attached to quilted cuisses secured to the belt with leather thongs.
Historically, a Cataphract charge was generally less impetuous than the charges of the feudal knights of Western Europe, but very effective due to the discipline and the concentrated mass of troops deployed. Any army consistently faced with the light horse tactics used by the steppe peoples tended to adopt a very cautious approach to battle. Zradha Pahlavans means armoured heroes, and the cataphracts were at Carrhae and in every Parthian army recorded victory.
Azad Asavaran (Parthian Noble Cataphracts)The Asavaran are the elite cavalry of the Azakt nobility. On the battlefield Asavaran nobles are often used to break through an enemy line after it has been weakened by archery, carrying all before them in a disciplined, dangerous charge. They are equipped as armoured lancers wearing heavy bronze scale corselets, and trained from birth to charge with lances in a tight knee-to-knee formation. Laminated vambraces would protect their arms and legs, a flexible armour of overlapping leather or bronze bands They do not bother with shields as both hands are needed to manipulate the two handed Kontos lance and the straight Iranian longsword. These Parthian nobles are superb horsemen, who can put most infantry units to flight. Mounted on the strong Nisean breed of horse these heavy cavalrymen, while not the equal of the Cataphracts, cannot be ignored.
Historically, the Asavaran used tactics of speed and maneuverability, especially in the charge which was carried out at a full gallop in tight formations. They wore cloaks that could also be used for concealment, as they were at least less conspicuous than the armour underneath and fit in well with the brightly outfitted horse archers. They had large flat golden collars around their necks, marking them as Parthian nobles. The leather bridles and harness trappings would be red or light brown colour and the bit of iron or bronze. Large saddle cloths were brightly coloured red or crimson, heavily embroidered with geometric designs or animal motifs.
Spahbade Pahlavanig (Early Parthian Bodyguard)The Spahbade Pahlavanig, literally ”Parthian general”, rode out to war with a bodyguard retinue consisting of fiercely loyal men, accustomed since early childhood in the skills of riding the horse and practical archery. These are the finest men mustered by the Pârnî tribe, and naturally the harsh steppes produced men of certain toughness, these being the handpicked champions emphasizing the martial ardour of the Pahlavân. They ride the most magnificent Nisaean chargers, ideal for the shock cavalry task, and they are beyond their famed skills in horsemanship armed with the finest equipment of the nomadic Pahlavân armies. Their primary weapon, the kontos or literally a "barge-pole" in Greek, was a devastating lance, thicker and longer than the Hellenic xyston, held with two hands and in the hands of a skilled cavalryman could easily penetrate armour. Other than the kontos they are also armed with a Scythian-style longsword, and composite bows. They are magnificently clad in the long "Web-like" cataphract armour of lamellar, extending from the neck and shoulders down to the lower calves, effectively covering almost the entire body. Their heads are adorned by a modified Greek-style helmet, carrying the torch of an infamous earlier Scythian practice of capturing enemy equipment. Their strong mounts are armoured by the classical Massageto-Persian style of chamfrôn and peytrel, though also lamellar rather than scale. Though the equipment was by no means strictly uniform, being the retinue of a wealthy, and influential general, it is reasonable to believe that the appearance of the regiment was kept at the very least somewhat consistently.
Historically, not much is actually known about how the earliest Parthian, or more accurately, the Aparnî heavy cavalry may have looked like. There are some controversial exhibits, such as the Orlat battle-plaques as well as the mints of Indo-Scythian rulers, as well as earlier Achaemenid, Scythian, Massagetae and even Hellenic influences. The interpretation shown here is a mélange of different cultures, with especially Persian and Scythian influences emphasized, as both had the knowledge and the technology of making lamellar armour, with traditions of horse armour (Zęn-Âbzar) also deeply rooted in Iranic equestrian traditions. Though an extra-heavy cavalry, they are more comparable in class to the earlier Achaemenid Hűvakâ and the extra-heavy Successor heavy cavalry, than to the later Parthian super-heavy cavalry. The decisive difference, rather than armour to said cases would have been horsemanship.
Grivpanvar (Parthian Late Armored Elite Cataphracts)The Grivpanvar are nobles from the highest level of cataphracts that the Pahlava have to draw on. The elite of the clan host form this armoured fist that represents one of the most powerful armoured cavalry the world has ever seen. They deploy in the heaviest armour available and use the kontos as their primary shock weapon. Armoured in iron lamellar corselets, covered by a leather tabard, laminated leg and arm guards and with iron shining from the scale horse barding, these are truly men of iron, in bright armour for horse and man. The horse bearing such loads must be both large and strong, and both the Parthians and Achaemenid Persians bred just such horses, the Nisaean breed of Persia.
Historical evidence suggests that the Parthian, heavily-armoured Grivpanvar were, at least partially, a product of military influence from the Central Asian steppes which had inherited the armoured cavalry traditions of the Massagetae and the late Achaemenid Persians. Their name derives from the Pahlavi griwban "neck-guard", a helmet armour guard, from whence "Grivpan" warrior. In the 3rd century AD, the Romans would begin to deploy such cavalry calling them clibanarii, the name thought to derive from griwbanwar or griva-pana-bara.
Sahigan Pahr (Parthian Late Bodyguards)These are the best of the best, parthian horsemen, hand picked by the Parthian General as his personal guard. These are the men that in Parthian armies are expected to deliver the crushing blow that brings victory, and even elite infantry will think twice before standing up to their ground-shaking charge. While limited in number, they are very effective due to the discipline and superior equipment They are eager to prove their worth to their king, thereby gaining glory, wealth and renown. They would have large flat golden collars around their necks, marking them as nobles. They are mounted on the excellent Nisean horses, strong enough to carry these heavily armoured riders, surpassing even other Cataphracts. They are extremely loyal, a somewhat rare occurrence in Parthia due to clan infighting between the nine tribes.
Historically, only the king, great nobles and their dependents could afford such tremendously expensive equipment and a horse capable of carrying it easily, so it is not surprising that the clothing of these men was richly coloured and ornately embroidered. These great landowners were directly subordinate to the clan princes of the seven great clans of Parthia. Asavaran nobles had feudal obligations and were expected to provide themselves and a predetermined number of retainers for service in the army of their overlord. The size of this retinue was usually determined by the amount of land held.
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.
Gund-i Palta (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.
Shuban-i Fradakhshana (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.
Thanvare Payahdag (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.
Nizagan-i Eranshahr (Persian Archer-Spearmen)Armed with spear and bow these troops are not well regarded by their Greek masters having formed the bulk of the Old Persian army defeated by Alexander the Great. Seen as skirmishers and auxiliaries with the heavy Greek infantry forming the battle line. These Iranian Spearmen are recruited from the eastern reaches of the Iranian plateau and are very common in the armies of Baktria. They are the backbone of the traditional tribal militia and form a major part of the Baktrian tribal levy. They are armed with the traditional Iranian weapons, an 8' spear and a composite foot bow. A large decorated brown leather quiver of arrows would be slung on the left side with the bow case on the right. A long plain yellow tunic with close fitting sleeves at the wrists. The tunic would be held with an narrow embroidered Parthian linen belt. Trousers are worn under the tunic and are close fitting. Soft felt ankle shoes are secured with leather or fabric straps.
Historically, the vast Iranian plateau gave rise to a form of infantry rarely seen in the west. Armed with 8' spear and composite short bow these infantry are well suited to conditions in the east facing nomadic enemies relying on long range archery to which they men are well able to respond. Nomadic cavalry is reluctant to engage close order troops and these men can fill both roles. They are versatile and can be dangerous if used properly. They are however no match for heavily armored infantry. Individually, they are skilled but not outstanding warriors, but their versatility ensures that they will be useful to any commander. These men however, prefer to rely on archery to inflict harm on the enemy. They can hold the line against weaker infantry and cavalry but they cannot be relied upon to put up an extended fight if the situation is not in their favor.
Tabargane Eranshahr (Eastern Axemen)The Tabargan are steadfast warriors, aggressive and impetuous in temperament, valued by Iranians, and Hellenes alike for their ferociousness and courage. These hillmen are recruited as irregulars from the mountains of Iran, not least from the Zagros and Elburz ranges, areas that breed toughness and have done so for centuries. Though certainly not as disciplined as Hellenic heavy infantry, nor even comparably attired, They are armed with the Sagaris, or the "Persian pick-axe" (Ironically being Scythian in origin) which they wielded with skill, and a bundle of javelins, they were prepared for guerilla warfare tactics such as ambushes, surprise attacks and particularly fond of broken terrain where disciplined troops accustomed to fighting in formation would fare badly. This is facilitated by their light attire, as they bear no armour and the only true means of protection is a light shield, nimble movement and dauntless impetus, casting themselves into the fray. Distinguished by traditional Iranian highlander garb such as the Kyrbasia cap, baggy trousers, a woolen tunic, boots and a thick sheep-skin jerkin, these tough hillmen could almost be mistaken for shepherds or nomadic herders. However these hardy hillmen are nothing to scoff at, as the pick-axe could puncture helmets, and penetrate bronze and iron armour. The Tabargân were no less skilled with their javelins, in which the usage of javelin-thongs increased the stopping power and accuracy of the javelin, giving it a spin during flight. Using them properly, they will give a good account of themselves. Using them poorly on the other hand may prove suicidal and their dauntless bravery may quickly turn into fragile bravado.
Historically, the northern Iranian highlands are known for their hardy mountaineers who held all transgressors at bay. These men of the mountains were lightly ruled by all Persian Grandees who valued their warrior skills over what meagre income their mountain homes might bring. These men would be recruited from the warlike Gîlânî and Dailamî tribesmen of Verkhânâ (Hyrcania), and other similar peoples of northern Media. The earliest origins of these people are unknown, although the Dailamites could be the descendants of such ancient peoples as the Delumďoi (Delumioi) and Karduchoi (Kadousioi or the Cadusians) mentioned by Ptolemy in 2 AD. Classical historians mention Dailamites, 'Dolomites' or other very similar names repeatedly and their name is particularly mentioned in context with the later Byzantine Varangian Guard. Due to the mingling of migrant tribes with the indigenous residents of the region, several new clans were formed, of which, the two tribes of 'Gill' and 'Daylam' formed a majority. In the 6th century BC, the inhabitants of Gîlân allied with Kűroush (Cyrus) the Great and overthrew the Medes helping to establish the Achaemenid Persian Empire. The Dailamites would later during the Sassanid dynasty form a core of heavy infantry with fine equipment including brightly painted shields and two-pronged javelins, meant to be pitted against the finest Roman infantry. However, that is a long way from the continuously more declining irregular force, the Takâbarâ as they were called by the Achaemenids, and in Parthian history, the Tabargân are merely the residue of the Iranian highlander spirit, not exclusive to the Elburz range but to all areas of Iran where the environment breeded toughness.
Daha Rog Baexdzhyn Aefsad (Dahae Skirmisher Cavalry)These Dahae skirmisher cavalry are best used in a harassing role and can be very useful in tempting enemy heavy cavalry to mount a charge in a vain attempt to catch them. They carry an abundant supply of javelins in saddle-cases. The traditional role of mounted archers is well known, but the heavier javelin is more dangerous to armoured opponents. These wild tribesmen fill a vital role in the clan host. While they do make excellent skirmishers, this is not their only calling. They are warriors of the steppe and wield spears with skill and courage, willing to close with the enemy when the odds are in their favour.
Historically, the Daha tribes of eastern Iran are part of the vast conglomerate of Iranian-speaking steppe nomads and members of the great tribal amalgam that spawned the Parni tribe, better known to history as Parthians. By 270 BC the Dahae had spread into northern Margiana, Sogdiana and south of the Aral Sea. While they fielded many horse archers, the javelin was commonly used as well because it had greater piercing power and heavier equipment was getting more and more common on the steppe.
Daha Baexdzhyntae (Dahae Riders)Dahae Riders carry a long spear and a shield besides their bows and are willing to press home a charge if circumstances are right. Even more significantly, they maintain a very useful tactical flexibility as they can skirmish and put their bows to very good use against solidly formed enemies that would repulse a headlong charge. As such, they are some of the finest light horsemen available to the Arsacid Kings of Parthia, the Hellenistic monarchs of Baktria, powerful nomadic rulers or anyone who manages to have them as either mercenaries, allies or nominal subjects.
Historically, the Daha, which is the Persian word for "robbers", were a tribe who held the lands to the northeast of Persia. The Parthians themselves were a branch of this people. In common usage the term was used to denote any of the nomadic raiders who made life difficult for the settled peoples of Persia. These raiders would descend on Persian settlements and villages to pillage and burn when the opportunity presented itself. They would be mounted on the steppe pony, renowned for it's courage and endurance. These animals only needed to be watered once a day, and they could dig for grass under the snow, which eliminated the army's need to carry feed. These are strong animals, twelve or thirteen hands high, with powerful chests and necks, large hook-nosed heads and well-built legs; they had a very fast gait. they were hardy and invaluable for long distances. astride small shaggy ponies Many of these horses could carry their masters a hundred miles between dawn and sunset and the same horse would pass the night unsheltered, in pouring rain and sub-zero temperatures, without taking harm from these harsh conditions. As such they are some of the finest light horsemen available to the Arcsacid Kings of Parthia.
Daha Uazdaettae (Dahae Noble Cavalry)The Daha Uazdaettae are the elite of the Dahae tribal confederacy and are usually seen leading the tribal host to war. They are not above service to more settled peoples as this will often grant them the means to better equip themselves for war. These noblemen can harass an enemy line like skirmishers and charge into unprotected flanks and rears when the opportunity presents itself. They are equipped with a hardened leather scale cuirass or the occasional bronze or iron scale ciurass taken in raids. Daha Uazdaettae are equipped with composite bow and lance making them a versatile and dangerous foe. These men wield lance and bow with supreme skill and courage, closing with the enemy when the odds are in their favour. This gives them a tactical flexibility as they can skirmish and put the bows they carry to very good use against solidly formed enemies that would repulse a headlong charge.
Historically, the Dahae tribes of eastern Iran are part of the vast conglomerate of Iranian-speaking steppe nomads and members of the great tribal amalgam that spawned the Parni tribe, better known to history as Parthians. The Dahae (Old Persian Daha = "robbers") were a tribe who held the lands to the northeast of Persia. Nomadic warfare among these peoples remains firmly based on horse archery and skirmishing.
Marda Shivatir (Mardian Archers)These infantry troops lack the speed and manoeuvrability of horse archers, instead relying on their powerful long composite bow. They are only lightly armoured with a quilted linen cuirass worn over a brightly embroidered long sleeved tunic. Trained from birth in the use of the deadly eastern composite bow, these men know their worth and are often to be found among the Parthian garrisons and in their field armies.
Historically, the Persians may among nations, undoubtedly be placed in the first rank of archers and, the Marda Shivatir are their elite. They are recruited from the more settled elements of the Parthian tribal host in the core of the Parthian homeland and surrounding regions. It seems likely that at least some of these infantry were those of the Parthians too impoverished to afford to fight mounted or those whose mounted skills had declined as a result of settled life to such an extent that it was no longer possible for them to serve in their traditional role.
Verkhana Kofyaren (Hyrkanian Hillmen)Verkhana Kofyaren, or Hyrkanian Hillmen are bands of warriors from the various clans in Hyrkania or northern Persia. These men are highly adept at guerrilla warfare and can serve a general, be he Hellene or Iranian, as fierce light infantry. They wear simple tunics and are armed with spears, axes and shields. They are fierce warriors and will give a good account of themselves, but more elite, disciplined infantry will come better out of it in combat.
Historically, the north Iranian highlands are known for their hardy mountaineers who have held all comers at bay. These men of the mountains were lightly ruled by all Persian Grandees who valued their warrior skills over what meagre income their mountain homes might bring. These men would be recruited from the warlike Gilani and Daylami tribesmen of Vehrkana (Hyrkania), and other similar non-iranian peoples of northern Media. The earliest origins of these people are unknown, although the Dailamites could be the descendants of such ancient peoples as the Delumďoi (Delumioi) and Karduchoi (Kadousioi) mentioned by Ptolemy in 2 AD. Classical historians mention Dailamites, 'Dolomites' or other very similar names repeatedly. Due to the mingling of migrant tribes with the indigenous residents of the region, several new clans were formed, of which, the two tribes of 'Gill and 'Daylam' formed a majority. In the 6th century BC, the inhabitants of Gilan allied with Koorush (Cyrus) the Great and overthrew the Medes helping to establish the Achaemenian Persian Empire.
Hyrkania itself was mainly rough and hilly which in turn (and also because it was relatively poor) meant the nomads of the Central Asian steppes bypassed it. The Hyrkanians themselves controlled the mountain passes in the region and it seems the different steppe peoples made arrangements with the Hyrkanian rulers to use these passes when they went raiding, often to fall upon peoples the Hyrkanians disliked, and also when retreating back to the steppes. Hyrkania was more or less independent during Seleukid rule, while under Pahlavan rule the Pahlava took more direct control, which was the reason the Hyrkanians were often in revolt and Hyrkania was considered an unruly area.
Kardaka Arteshtar (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.
Asabaran-i Madaen (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.
Asabaran-i Hauravatish (Arachosian Skirmisher Cavalry)These horsemen from Arachosia are best used in a harassing role and can be very useful trying to tempt enemy heavy cavalry to mount a charge in a vain attempt to catch them. They would be wearing the Persian Kyrbasia, a soft grey-white cloth cap extending down around the neck, made of fabric and able to be pulled down over his face when marching through desert regions. They would wear dirty grey sheepskin coats with bright embroidered trim. They would wear baggy embroidered dark red trousers and knee high, brown leather boots. A coarse rain resistant felt cape, or cherkesska was also donned in winter. Also worn was a leather belt with elaborate buckles, which are decorative in themselves and used to support weapons. They would have a spear and 3-4 javelins in two embossed leather cases mounted just behind the saddle on either side. Up to as many as 6-8 such javelins cold be carried in all the cases. Their protection would be enhanced by a small crescent shaped 'Taka' shield. The brightly coloured saddle cushion would be u-shaped and made of sheepskin or cloth and stuffed with straw.
Historically; Armed chiefly with javelins these horsemen hail from Arachosia, Bactria, Sogdiana, and similarly equipped light cavalry was supplied by the levy from Persis and Media. The flexible nature of this light cavalry makes them well suited to the fluid, aggressive style of warfare so common on the eastern frontiers. 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. Their small, nimble mountain ponies can negotiate most terrain easily, and they're capable enough to survive contact with the enemy, but their strength remains in maintaining their loose style of fighting. Equipped with javelins these cavalry would advance on their target at less than a gallop. As each rank came into range, these warriors would turn away, hurling their javelins at the target, and retire to safety before the enemy could retaliate. The result is often a swirling mass of charging and counter charging horsemen as the light horse would reform to charge again.
Kofyaren-i Kavakaza (Baktrian Light Infantry)Many Iranian peoples inhabit the hills and mountains around Central Asia. As the nomads advance into these lands, they often avail themselves to these tough hillmen who can operate in lands that even a steppe pony may have difficulty. Armed with javelins and an axe, and armored only by a small buckler, these soldiers, like most Eastern infantry can not hope to survive in a fight against either settled infantry or nomadic cavalry. Even so, they can do heavy damage against unwary opponents, and are far more manuevarable than armor-laden heavy infantry. Willing to fight for most people who control their lands in return for money and booty, they can help the often infantry-challenged nomads even the odds in more conventional battles as well as sieges.
Historically, Baktrian hillmen or at least soldiers like them have been around in the same lands for many years, serving the Persians and now the Greeks. From the earliest states to emerge in Central Asia to the recent establishments of Hellenic kingdoms, troops like these have often been levied for support infantry duty or just to fill the ranks of the army with greater numbers.
Pantodapoi Phalangitai (Hellenic Native Phalanx)Pantodapoi Phalangitai are the standard levy of the Seleukidos Kingdom and others influenced by the Diadochoi, including Pontos. They are tough and reliable infantry, but are prone to rebellion and discontent, and are hence more expensive than their Makedonian contemporaries. They are mostly levies of Iudaioi, Syrioi, and Persai descent that are co-opted into the army. They fight as pikemen, with a soft leather cuirass, pikes, round Illyrian style shields and Phrygian caps. This makes them a viable pike unit, though they are less disciplined and more prone to flee than more reliable Hellenes and Makedonians that make up the Pezhetairoi. They can be counted upon to present a solid wall of spear points to the enemy, but their lack of discipline and intensive training makes them even more prone to a flanking attack.
Historically, the Seleukidoi and others used pike levies from their various subject peoples to make up parts of the battle line that were facing the enemy's least valuable troops. They gave decent accounts of themselves at many battles, but were the first line to break in the disasters at Raphia against the Ptolemies and in Makedonia against the Romaioi. They made up more and more of the Seleukidos battle line as time went on, due to the dwindling number of Hellene recruits that the army could draw upon for the pike units (most went to the more elite units), and more and more Asian peoples were put into the Pezhetairoi class and given land grants, to make up the loss, yet these more unreliable formations were still used in many places.
Parthohellenikoi Thureophoroi (Parthian Hellenic Infantry)These Thureophoroi are little different from their brethren of Hellene nations, and while not particularly compatible with the fleet nature of the horsemen of the Pahlavân, rendered good use as garrison soldiers of the numerous Parthian cities in western Iran and Mesopotamia, descended from Greeks, even deported or captured Romans and possibly the local Chaldaeans. In the event of siege, their defensive value against both infantry and cavalry, their versatility makes them some of the most reliable infantry available to the Parthians.
Armed with a thrusting spear, along with the large and robust thureos shield, they have their qualities as a defensive force keeping both a strong front against infantry and as a reliable counter against most cavalry units, along with the javelins, softening up the enemy’s lines. Their relatively light armour, of quilted leather or linen along with their helmets indicate that these infantry are of the medium class; Able to skirmish but at the same able to fight as heavy infantry. Duly noted is that while they are quite reliable, Parthian commanders were trained to command cavalry, and with Hellenes and Romans having a more deeply rooted martial tradition for infantry, the Parthohellenikoi should not be considered a decisive element in Parthian warfare.
In the wake of Parthian conquests and Seleukid decline, an already established Hellenic infantry tradition could not find itself compatible with the equestrian armies of the conquerors. Especially in the western regions of Iran proper, Mesopotamia, Syria and the Levant, the tradition could not be entirely discarded in favour of the classical Parthian military organization. It was not uncommon that non-equestrian troops or mercenaries were used by the Parthians in special circumstances, which would entail light infantry, foot archers, phalangites or sometimes even rebel legionnaires, but in most cases they were confined to garrison duties. Due to a large numbers of Greeks and Non-Iranians in the western reaches of the Parthian empire, there would also have been a local garrison reflecting the local martial traditions. Later Sassanian combat infantry may actually be derived, not only from the classical Achaemenid traditions, but also from a strong foundation of combat infantry from Greek and Roman influences.
Elephantes Indikoi (Indian Elephants)Imported from the regions around the old Eastern Persian provinces, Elephantes Indikoi are an exceptionally valuable resource in combat, very popular among Alexandros' Diadochoi. Towering over most other creatures, they can easily scare men and horses alike, with both their size and smell, though elaborate bells and trappings often add to their intimidation. Such corps are directed by their own mahouts riding behind their heads, often a native of their own country who has spent at least two years training his beast from capture. The mahout is armored to better protect against the obvious assault that generally comes against him, launched to bypass the thick natural armor of his mount.
Elephants are best used as cavalry screens for your army, where their presence can scare away enemy cavalry. They can also be used to ram through an enemy battle line, though they are less useful when faced with loose order or phalanx infantry. Pyrrhos of Epeiros even innovated a tactic of flank screens when he fought the Romans at Heraklea. Beyond their obvious use against enemy infantry or cavalry, they can also be used in siege combat; battering down gates, though they're highly vulnerable to better prepared installations. Their greatest vulnerability is against skirmishers, slingers and archers, who can pepper them with missiles - eventually toppling them by virtue of their cumulative impact. To counter the effect of enemy skirmishers, it is often wise to array your own in opposition, or to maintain constant attacks upon each individual group.
Historically, the use of elephants in war was largely contained to India, but after the battle of Hydaspes that changed. Though Alexandros never cared over much for the animals, his successors were very much in favor of their use, organizing their own elephants into a distinct corps under their own "elephantarchos". These "Elephantes Indikoi" (Indian Elephants) were imported for war in the West from the old Eastern Persian provinces around Baktria, Gandhara, Sattagydia, and Sind - though most originally hailed from the regions directly around the river the natives call the Sindhu. In the first wars of succession, each Diadochoi had a contingent of Indian elephants and Indian mahouts, who stayed on where they taught the Hellenes how to capture and train elephants for war. Such forces had been wreaking havoc on battle lines for centuries within the armies of Indian Rajas, and the Diadochoi used them on an equal scale (the first substantial group supposedly numbered 500 elephants total, granted to Seleukos I Nikator by his new ally Chandragupta Maurya, called "Sandrokottos" in Greek), attaching substantial political power to their possession - some officers gained temporary power and success simply by this virtue (most notably, the Eastern Satrap Eumenes).
Despite their great usefulness when properly employed, it was not unusual for elephants to cause defeat for those who employed them. If an enemy was clever enough to devise their own means to combat elephants, as was the case at the battle of Gaza when Ptolemaios planted an ‘iron spiked minefield’ to ward off elephants, or when Caesar properly utilized slingers and Scipio gaps between his infantry cohorts to channel the elephants, they could be defeated and even turned against their masters. Even pigs were used on occasion, released among elephants who were often scared of their comparatively small, darting forms. However, despite the many different weapons and stratagems being devised to fight them and the huge expenses required to maintain them, the elephant was still considered a valuable asset, maintained widely. The Arche Seleukeia even developed a corps of ‘elephant guards,' whose task was simply to defend the beasts in combat.
Other non-Hellenic powers also used Indian elephants in war, but it seems not to the same great extent. These powers started using elephants when they gained control of Indian provinces, such as the Pahlava, Kushan Empire and the Indo-Saka kingdoms.