Parthian Unit Descriptions

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Parthian Unit Descriptions

Post  gamegeek2 on Mon Feb 20, 2012 10:11 am

--- Infantry ---

Thureophoroi tes Anatoles



"Thureophoroi of the East" - The once-modern thureos shield proved extremely suitable to the style of warfare the hill-peoples of the Orient had been accustomed to for centuries. The simple agriculture in which rural communities engaged did not produce nearly enough surplus with which to buy armor; hence many tribesmen would head into battle unprotected. A large shield such as a thureos would cover the body from neck to knees, providing a strong defense for even a conscript with little training, and as such proved ideal for warriors from Celtic Gaul to the Caucasus and beyond.

From behind his shield, an Eastern Thureophoros throws several javelins and wields his spear overhand. Unsuited and untrained for formation fighting, these men can nonetheless form a sort of irregular shield wall in order to last longer against superior opponents, but modernized sparabara such as these are more suited to individual fighting. This makes them useful as a cheap unit capable of flexible operations, filling gaps and flanking enemies, fitting considering the fact that these troops are, at their core, irregular hillmen.

Gund-î Paltâ



Much like their thureos-bearing counterparts, the Gund-î Paltâ are drawn from rural communities that mainly engage in subsistence farming of various kinds. Usually, however, these troops are younger and somewhat less experienced than the Thureophoroi. They fill the role of skirmishers, running out in front of the main lines to pelt javelins at the enemies' ranks, and try to withdraw before they incur any serious damage. Given that they only have a small shield for personal defense, however, this is very likely to happen. As long as you can keep these guys out of melee (especially with cavalry), the Gund-î Paltâ will do their job and wear the enemies' morale down with a hail of javelins and, if need be, serve as meatshields or pincushions.

Shûbân-î Fradâkhshânâ



Slings are cheap and easy to make; the real investment in a slinger is in a skilled man able to hurl a stone accurately, be it at a wolf or at a man. Fortunately for any ruler looking to raise a unit of inexpensive but skilled missile troops, most rural communities and villages have a few old hands capable of hitting a sheep's ankle at 50 meters' distance, and a fair number of young shepherd-boys able to get the stone flying in the right direction.

Slingers were an important force on ancient battlefields; unlike archers, they were able to make do with what they could find in the local environment, though ideally each man would have a number of well-shaped stones ready to loose in battle. Depending on the skill and strength of the slinger, a sling bullet can kill a man in armour by delivering a devastating blow to the head, dealing blunt force trauma through the helmet. And even if you're not immediately killed, sticks and stones will still break your bones.

Gund-î Nîzagân



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 Gund-î Nîzagân 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.

Thanvarê Payâhdag



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 most important part of the Parthian infantry was its archers. These foot archers were among the poorer elements of the various levies of Parthia, and were primarily drawn from the more populous regions of Persia, where a strong archery tradition has existed since before Cyrus the Great led the people of Êrânshahr to greatness. These bowmen are usually placed behind a line of spearmen to lay down fire on advancing enemies or in front of said line as skirmishing troops. These troops are an important component of any Parthian army with a significant infantry contingent, serving to weaken advancing enemies or drive off flankers with hails of arrows.

Shivatîr-î Mardâ



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.

These are recruited from the more settled elements of the Parthian tribal host in greater Khorasan. It seems likely that at least some of these infantry were those Parthians too impoverished to afford to fight mounted or those whose mounted skills had declined as a result of settled life. Regardless, they are superior archers to the Persians, who often have less powerful bows, but are few in number compared to their numerous, long-settled cousins.

Tabargân



The Tabargân 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 Delumioi 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 Kûrush (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 bred toughness.

Kôfyârên-î Verkhânâ



Kôfyârên-î Verkhânâ, or Hyrcanian Hillmen are bands of warriors from the various clans in Hyrcania (Northern Iran, by the shores of the Southern Caspian Sea). 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. They represent the basis of the later elite Deilamite infantry who fought like heavy infantry, often pitted against the finest Roman infantry, during the later Byzantine-Persian wars. While the current Hyrcanian hillman begs to differ from the green-clad and sometimes heavily armoured Deilamites of Sassanid times, their weapons of choice remained essentially the same, where their distinguished traditional skills with the tabarzin (Axe) was retained, their javelins developed into a fierce two-pronged combat spear attached to thongs for both skirmishing and melee, and their simple shields developed into a large, oval and brightly painted shields. These men were also given longswords in Sassanian times making them a very versatile infantry, and indeed Sassanian combat infantry where hallmarked by versatility, being equipped for both melee and skirmishing. Usually at the sacrifice of elaborate armour.

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 Delumïoi (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 Kûroush (Cyrus) the Great and overthrew the Medes helping to establish the Achaemenian Persian Empire. Hyrcania 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 Hyrcanians themselves controlled the mountain passes in the region and it seems the different steppe peoples made arrangements with the Hyrcanian rulers to use these passes when they went raiding, often to fall upon peoples the Hyrcanians disliked, and also when retreating back to the steppes. Hyrcania was more or less independent during Seleukid rule (Dubbed “Hyrkania” according to Hellenic naming conventions), while under Pahlavan rule the Pahlava took more direct control, which was the reason the Hyrcanians were often in revolt and Hyrcania was considered an unruly area.

Parthohellenikoi Thureophoroi



These Thureophoroi are quite similar to their brethren from Hellenic nations, and while not always entirely compatible with the cavalry tactics of the Pahlavân, they render good service as garrison soldiers. These men are ideal for installation in the numerous Parthian cities in western Iran and Mesopotamia, as well as in the various 'diz' castles scattered throughout the empire. In set-piece battles they are effective, with versatile equipment and medium armor enabling them to be turned to most tasks, even though they can't guarantee success at all of them. In this sense they fill a role identical to that of the Thureophoroi and Machairophoroi of other nations, but definitively subordinate to that of the cavalry.

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, with infantry mainly being brought into the field for protracted campagins and sieges. Later Sassanian combat infantry may actually be derived not only from the classical Achaemenid traditions, but also from a strong foundation of Greek and Roman-influenced heavy infantry.

Shivatîr-î Dêhbêd



The Parthians maintained an extensive network of 'Diz' or march-castles, which they used to control the borders of their domain and control strategic points. Each of these castles was garrisoned with about 500 men and was under the command of a 'dizpad' (roughly translating as 'marquis'), a nobleman in charge of the defense of that particular area. In additional to limited professional infantry, such as the various forms of Thureophoroi, the Parthians also garrisoned their castles with with levies and well-equipped Dehbeds, members of the lower nobility. Though traditionally inclined to fight mounted, a fortress environment makes this rather unfeasible and hence these dehbeds have taken to fighting on foot with their excellent composite bows, which they can wield with even greater power and precision. For close combat, they rely on a small taka shield and a long sword, typically meant for cavalry use. All this and their high quality scale armour make them excellent garrison troops, able to both shoot down attackers and fight them for every inch of the walls. In a pitched-battle situation, these troops can be used as snipers of sorts, but they are few in numbers and must be protected from heavy enemies, particularly horsemen.

--- Cavalry ---

Shivatîr-î Pahlavânîg



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 favourite target, especially if they can reach an unguarded flank.

Historically, the Shivatîr-î Pahlavânîg 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.

Asavârân-î Dêhbêd



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.

Asavârân-î Âzadân



The Asavaran are the armored cavalry of the Azakt and wealthier elements of the Dehbed 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 forgoed speed and maneuverability in favor of power, especially in the charge which was carried out 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.

Parthia was very much a decentralized state, and despite the high numbers of wealthy nobles, never fielded nearly as many armored cavalrymen as the later Sassanids. This was due to a combination of the lack of centralization and the tendency for Sassanid cavalry to wear less armour and thus be less expensive to field in large numbers. Thus despite its advantage in manpower, Parthia never fielded more cataphracts than the significantly smaller state of Armenia to its west. An enterprising Parthian commander seeking to expand the strength of his heavy cavalry would look to recruit more of these men from the lower nobility and the young, eager but less wealth members of the Azakt nobles, instead of entirely relying on the elite Zrêhbârân 'catatanks' as the main strike-force of his army.

Shivatîr-î Zrêhbârân and Pahlavân-î Zrêhbârân



Perhaps the most feared soldier type in antiquity was the Cataphract, and any nation that could field a force of cataphracts was one to be reckoned with. Originating from Transoxiana, where Hellenistic metallurgy and Alexandros' heavy xyston-wielding horsemen met the cavalry tradition of Eastern Iranian tribes, the cataphract evolved over two centuries into one of the heaviest troopers the world has ever seen. They were superbly equipped and armoured, with a conical helm and attached aventail protecting the head and neck; a corselet of iron scale armour protecting the torso; laminated guards encasing the shoulders and arms; and similar defenses shielding the legs. For weapons, they wielded a bow, a massive, two-handed lance nicknamed the "kontos" by the Greeks and carried a sword or a mace.

Though it may be tempting to refer to them as 'tanks,' this is somewhat misleading. Cataphracts were often as much hindered by their armor as helped by it, thanks to its massive weight; unhorsed cataphracts were extremely vulnerable to enemies and they had difficulty fleeing if the situation became unfavorable. Such was the fate of many of the Seleucid cataphracts at Magnesia, whom Livy says were caught and killed after they were caught unawares and routed by a Roman charge. In addition, the armor limited their utility in close combat, as it quickly fatigued the wearer. The real strength of the cataphract, thus, was in the devastating impact of the charge, aided by the great momentum of the horse, rider, and heavy lance. Well-disciplined infantry would be able to withstand such an onslaught from the front, but lesser enemies would be routed on contact or run before getting impaled or trampled. Any charge by these men on the flank or rear of an enemy produced a quick rout, as demonstrated by the Seleucids at Panion in 200 BC.

Historically, Parthian cataphracts were recruited from the azadân, the great landlords, and the wealthier Dehbeds, or lower nobility. These men were not particularly numerous, but controlled the majority of the country's wealth and large portions of its population. Their riches afforded them the ability to marshal impressive forces for the defense of the kingdom - 400 azadân were able to muster an army of 50,000 men to beat back Marc Antony's invasion of Media Atropatene. The decentralized nature of Parthian rule, however, meant that it would never muster as many armoured horsemen as did the Sassanid regime which succeeded it; by that time, however, lighter armor than that worn by the Parthians had come into fashion, and hence the cost of fielding a heavy cavalryman was less.

Logically, the wealthiest men in society headed into battle in the finest equipment available, and would often bring a large retinue of lighter horsemen with them as a sign of his wealth, for personal protection, and to serve the king. Hence, the cataphract was always accompanied by a larger number of light horsemen, with whom he was used tactically; the horse-archers and javelin cavalry would be used for harassment and weakening the enemy and the cataphracts would charge in for the kill when the moment was right.

Pahlavân-î Grivpanvâr



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.

Pushtîghbânê Shâhigân-î Pahlavânîg



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.


Last edited by gamegeek2 on Sat Mar 03, 2012 1:44 pm; edited 4 times in total
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Re: Parthian Unit Descriptions

Post  Anubis88 on Mon Feb 27, 2012 3:44 pm

Very nicely done. Great work.

P.S.

Tell me once you have finished with the roster descriptions. We will set a time and day, and i'll post the first page of the preview with intro, and you'll post the first reply featuring the unit descriptions.

Agreed?
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Re: Parthian Unit Descriptions

Post  gamegeek2 on Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:22 pm

Certainly.
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Re: Parthian Unit Descriptions

Post  Anubis88 on Sat Mar 03, 2012 2:05 pm

That's a sick roster... sick Smile Damn, i dunno wich faction i'll play first XD
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Re: Parthian Unit Descriptions

Post  gamegeek2 on Sat Mar 03, 2012 2:23 pm

That's not even the full roster, soon enough we'll get to see our Arachosian regionals...
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Re: Parthian Unit Descriptions

Post  Anubis88 on Sat Mar 03, 2012 2:54 pm

I always had a thing for Parhia in EB... Played once till 33 BC Very Happy Second longest campaing... In NOM i'll play them till the end!
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