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Thracian

Thracian

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Historical Overview Section

The Thracians first appeared about 1500-1200 BC and fought as allies of the Trojans in the Trojan war. Divided into separate tribes, they did not manage to form a lasting political organization until the Odrysian state was founded in the 5th century BC. The Odrysian kings were the only ones to unite (nearly) all the tribes and overran Macedonia in 429 BC with a supposedly 150,000 strong army. According to the ancient sources, which are limited, the mountainous regions were home to various warlike and ferocious tribes, while the plains peoples were apparently more peaceable, owing to contacts and influences from the Greeks. Throughout the 6th century BC, Thracian infantry was heavily recruited by Greek states and large deposits of gold and silver were mined. Thrace south of the Danube (except for the land of the Bessi) was ruled for nearly half a century by the Late Achaemenid Persians under Darius the Great, who conducted an expedition into the region from 513 BC to 512 BC. Before the expansion of the kingdom of Macedon, Thrace was divided into three camps (East, Central, and West) after the withdrawal of the Persians. A notable ruler of the East Thracians was the overking Cersobleptes, who attempted to expand his power over many of the Thracian tribes.

The region was conquered by the Alexandrian Macedonian army of Philip II of Macedon in the 4th century BC and was ruled by the kingdom of Macedon for a century and a half. During the Macedonian Wars, conflict between the Late Republican Roman Empire and Thrace was inevitable. The destruction of the ruling parties in Macedonia destabilized their authority over Thrace, and its tribal authorities began to act once more on their own accord. After the battle of Pydna in 168 BC, Roman authority over Macedonia seemed inevitable, and the governing of Thracia passed to Rome. Neither the Thracians nor the Macedonians had yet resolved themselves to Roman dominion, and several revolts took place during this period of transition. The revolt of Andriscus in 149 BC, as an example, drew the bulk of its support from Thracia. Several incursions by local tribes into Macedonia continued for many years, though there were tribes who willingly allied themselves to Rome, such as the Deneletae and the Bessi.

The next century and a half saw the slow development of Thracia into a permanent Roman client state. The Sapaei tribe came to the forefront initially under the rule of Rhascuporis. He was known to have granted assistance to both Pompey and Caesar, and later supported the Republican armies against Antonius and Octavian in the final days of the Republic. The familiar heirs of Rhascuporis were then as deeply tied into political scandal and murder as were their Roman masters. A series of royal assassinations altered the ruling landscape for several years in the early Roman imperial period. Various factions took control, with the support of the Roman Emperor. The turmoil would eventually stop with one final assassination.

In 279 BC, the Gallic Celtic Gauls advanced into Macedonia, Southern Greece and Thrace. They were soon forced out of Macedonia and Southern Greece, but they remained in Thrace until the end of the century. From Thrace, three Celtic tribes advanced into Anatolia and huddled closer together to form a new kingdom of the Galatians. The Thracians also formed the ancestors of the Dacian or Carpi tribes of modern day Romania, where body odor issues in the warn summer Transylvanian evenings ensured that they kept to looser formations.

In book 7 of his Histories, Herodotus describes the equipment of the Thracians fighting under the Persians: "The Thracians went to the war wearing the skins of foxes upon their heads, and about their bodies tunics, over which was thrown a long cloak of many colours. Their legs and feet were clad in buskins made from the skins of fawns; and they had for arms javelins, with light targes, and short dirks. This people, after crossing into Asia, took the name of Bithynians; before, they had been called Strymonians, while they dwelt upon the Strymon; whence, according to their own account, they had been driven out by the Mysians and Teucrians. The commander of these Asiatic Thracians was Bassaces the son of Artabanus."

Owing to their martial reputation, the Thracian tribesmen were much used as mercenaries by the Greek kings of Syria, Pergamum, Bithynia, and other regions. Thracian mercenaries were always in demand, as they were fierce fighters, especially in rocky or hilly regions similar to their homeland. They were however considered a bit expensive at times, and liable to switch sides. The principal Thracian weapons in the fifth and fourth centuries were the spear and the knife. Much earlier Thracian infantry had been armed with axes, while their leaders rode chariots. Thracian light infantry could be armed with javelins, slings, or bows, with javelins predominating. Thracian warriors, particularly the hillmen, were especially famous for an unusual weapon which combined elements of sword, sickle and polearm, which was called the Rhomphaia, and was carried increasingly by Thracian infantry in the centuries following Alexander the Great's death until it became a trademark of the mercenary Thracian peltast. Even the Romans dreaded this fearsome weapon.

Cavalry armament for all Thracians except the Getae consisted of 2 cornel wood javelins that could be thrust with or thrown. They also carried the typical Kopis. The Getae often used bows instead of javelins, and the akinakes instead of the kopis. Thracian tribes also used more exotic weapons such as spiked axles, or carts rolled down steep hills, but these interesting options are not allowed in the rather stiff-necked ruleset which is FoG. Thracians were known for their hit and run tactics consisting of random melee attacks followed by quick retreats. The backbone of the Thracian military were the Thracian Peltast, a type of light infantry that was equally at home fighting hand-to-hand and at a distance (throwing javelins). Peltasts were unarmored except for their curved shields. They carried some form of short sword or melee weapon and an assortment of javelins. The wealthy nobility wore helmets with pointed tops in order to accommodate their top-knot hairstyles.

Using the army under FoG

  • Generally the Thracians are used as their Roman Client incarnation, creating a version of the Dominate Roman Swarm, with large numbers of small MF units overwhelming the enemy and attackng their flanks supported by LH with bows and javelins. Its not really a Thracian army, but hey, who cares?
  • Selecting a few offensive Spear classification gives the MF Thracians a reasonable chance of standing up to mounted in the open, especially when the opportunities to provide rear support and an Inspired Commander are taken.
  • For the non-romanized version a favoured tactic is to have a mix of lots of HvyWp? and Spear armed battle groups and hope to grind down an opponent in a war of attrition across a wide front across both open and rough terrain - few opponents can match the Thracians as a RGo force and you shoudl be able to overwhelm at least part of the line.
  • The Thracian skirmishers should be used to neutralize the enemy's best HF and Cv line of battle troops - MF of any description will struggle to stand up to decent armoured HF for too long
  • Thracian cavalry can play a role in providing rear support for their infantry, or in working with their LH
  • Too many LF can prove a liability. Large BGs of LF are also difficult to move about behind the lines or between your other (unmaneuverable) BGs.
  • If you do want to try to shoot your opponents down, use the Getic light horse version - LH with Bw are lots better than LH with JLS as they can shoot from a safe range.
  • For the undrilled version a major problem is that even if you win in terrain on the flanks it takes a long time to move unwieldy 6 or 8 base undrilled MF blocks around to charge into the enemies flanks - you need to time the game and delay in the center very cleverly to achieve this.

Tourney Results

1 / 25 Thracian Roll Call 2008 15mm (IF)
2 / 17 Thracian Warfare 2008 25mm (RoR, LT, IF)
4 / 25 Thracian Roll Call 2008 15mm (IF)
9 / 20 Thracian Warfare 2008 15mm (RoR, IF, LT)

Allied Contingents

  • Greek Mercenary Allies - Classical Greek : Date restrictions 400 BC to 357 BC Book: Immortal Fire Page: 4 - Loads of drilled, protected, offensive spearmen gives your army a rock-hard core. Only non-nationality specific troops or the one category listed for mercenaries may be taken from the list. Per RBS and company found here http://slitherine.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=13267
  • Roman, Principate : Date restrictions 46 BC to 25 BC Book: Legions Triumphant Page: 6 - 4 legions, 4 auxilia, 4 cavalry as a minimum make this expensive but tough - and all 3 are useful. Make the legions as good as you can afford if you are taking them, and don’t be distracted with the other optoinal troops. Adding LF to legion and Auxilia B

User-contributed links about this army:

15mm Manufacturers supplying figures for this army

You can see some of the figures in the Ancients Photo Gallery also on this site

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Army Lists

Sample army lists for this army

Name of Army / Date

  • Using asterisks inthe edit mode creates a bulleted list in the actual site
  • This is a lot easier to do than easier than setting up tables
  • For FoG I suggest listing your army in order or march
  • with troop desctiptions on each line, for example
  • 4 HF Armoured Average Drilled Impact Foot Swordsmen
  • 8 LG Undrilled Unarmoured Poor Bowen
  • Dont forget to include your Generals !!!

Include any notes you want here, including comments on how to use - or play against - the army.

Remember to leave a line before you copy the above section as a template for your own list

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Created by admin. Last Modification: Wednesday 18 of September, 2013 00:50:54 BST by gozerius. (Version 25)
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