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Sassanid Persian

Historical Overview Section

The birth of the army dates back to the rise of Ardashir I (r. 224–241), the founder of the Sasanian Empire, to the throne. Ardashir aimed at the revival of the Persian Empire, and to further this aim, he reformed the military by forming a standing army which was under his personal command and whose officers were separate from satraps, local princes and nobility. He restored the Achaemenid military organizations, retained the Parthian cavalry model, and employed new types of armour and siege warfare techniques. This was the beginning for a military system which served him and his successors for over 400 years, during which the Sasanian Empire was, along with the Roman Empire and later the East Roman Empire, one of the two superpowers of Late Antiquity in Western Eurasia. The Sasanian army protected Eranshahr ("the realm of Iran") from the East against the incursions of central Asiatic nomads like the Hephthalites and Turks, while in the west it was engaged in a recurrent struggle against the Roman Empire

In the character of their warfare, the Persians of the Sasanian period differed greatly from their forebears under the Achaemenid kings. The principal changes which time had brought about were an almost entire disuse of the war chariot, the advance of the elephant corps into a very prominent and important position, and the increased use and pre-eminence of cavalry on the Parthian model, including both heavy cataphracts and horse-archers. Four main arms of the service were recognized, each standing on a different level: the elephants, the horse, the archers, and the ordinary footmen

The Army
The Sassanid army came ito being under Ardashir I (r. 226–241), the founder of the Sassanid dynasty. He reformed the military by forming a standing army which was under his personal command, restoring much of the Achaemenid military organization but combining it with Parthian cavalry and tactics, adding new types of armour and siege warfare techniques. The resulting system served him and his successors for over 400 years.

The backbone of the army was its heavy armoured cavalry - the Saravan - noblemen (semi-feudal knights) who underwent extensive military training. They were supported by armoured horse archers in an upgrading of Parthian practices. Sassanid cavalry tactics were adopted by the Romans, Arabs, and Turks. The Romans had previously fought mounted opponents namely the Early Sarmatian?s and Parthians however the recurrent wars with the Sassanids were an important factor in the Roman adoption of heavy cavalry in the 3rd and 4th centuries, termed Clibanarii. The Byzantine emperor Maurikios also emphasized in his Strategikon that many of the Sassanid heavy cavalry did not carry spears, relying on their bows as their primary weapons

Shapur II (r. 309-379) further reformed the army by adopting heavier and more effective cataphract cavalry clad in thick iron plates which covered their entire body. Some were armed with a lance and some with a sword and/or mace. The two types of heavy cavalry was complemented by lighter cavalry, recruited from among the sassanids allies and supplemented by mercenary troops. Gelani (Guilani), Albani, Hephthalites, Kushans and the Khazars were the main suppliers of this light- to medium-armoured cavalry.

Although in the early part of the period there are reports of well armoured Sassanid infantry - often taking part in the many sieges they undertook to shift the Romans from their cities - the usual view of Sassanid foot is one of lightly-armoured spearmen, who, like their Achaemenid ancestors, were levied troops of little fighting ability. Procopius of Caesarea famously derided them as "a crowd of pitiable peasants who come into battle for no other purpose than to dig through walls and to despoil the slain and in general to serve the soldiers".

The cavalry were supported by Elephants and elite foot archers who showered the enemy with storms of arrows. Elephants were recruited from India, but only in limited numbers. In some of the earlier Sassanid battles against the Arabs the victory was regarded as gained mainly by elephants.

Using the army in ADLG

  • A proper "Elite Shooty Cavalry" army in the Classical/Roman period.
  • The elephants are interesting but may distract from the shoot-and-scoot speciality of the core army. But a Death Star (2 Dailami + 1 Elephant) is always great. Remember to buy LF to screen your elephants
  • The Cataphracts are similarly a heavyweight option which can end up limiting your strategic choices with the list.
  • Kushan offers an interesting ally, with yet more elephants and some bow armed infantry that can soak up space
  • A lot may depend on whether this is an in-theme event or a more open competition. Cataphracts are especially useful against Roman-era armies, but come unstuck against proper Knights

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Army Lists

Sample army lists for this army
200 AP Worlds 2017 list
4 Cataphracts
2 LH Bow
1 LF Bow
Competent General
--
4 Clibanarii Elite
2 LH Javelins
Competent General
--
4 Cataphracts
4 Levy
Brilliant General


300AP Challenge 2017 Madaxeman
3 Elephants
2 Dailami
3 Levy
3 LI Bow
1 LI Javelin
1 LI Sling
==
5 Asarvan
2 LH Bow
==
4 Asarvan
2 LH Bow
==
3 Elite Cataphracts
2 Ordinary Cataphracts
(All Generals Competent)

300AP Richard Case Challenge 2017
Ordinary, Unreliable
2 Asavaran Heavy cavalry bow Elite
4 Horse archers Light cavalry bow ------
===
Brilliant
3 Asavaran Cataphract Elite
2 Asavaran Heavy cavalry bow Elite
1 Hill tribesmen Javelinmen ------
1 Elephants Elephant ----
3 Sassanid Levy Levy ------
1 Hill tribesmen Light infantry bow ----
===
Ordinary, Included
3 Asavaran Cataphract Elite
1 Arab auxilliaries Light camelry bow Mediocre
==
Kushan Ally, Brilliant
3 Nobles Cataphract Elite
4 Horse archers Light cavalry bow ------
1 Elephants Elephant ------
1 Skirmishers Light infantry bow ------
1 Indian horsemen Medium cavalry Mediocre
2 Indian archers ½ Medium swordsmen ½ Bowmen ----

Hubert Bretagne, Challenge 2017
3 Elephants
2 Dailami
3 Levy Medium Spear
3 LI Javelin
3 LI Sling
Brilliant
==
6 Asarvan
2 LH Bow
Brilliant
==
3 Asarvan (inc General)
2 LH Bow
Ordinary
==
3 Asarvan (inc General)
2 LH Bow
Ordinary


200AP Ian Mackay Pre Dailami from C London
Brilliant
3 Elephants Elephant ------
1 Dailami Guardsmen Medium swordsmen impact missile support Elite
1 Dailami Guardsmen Medium swordsmen impact Elite
2 Light Infantry Light infantry javelin ------
1 Light Infantry Light infantry bow ----
3 Sassanid Levy Levy ----
==
Competent
4 Asavaran Cataphract
1 Light Infantry Light infantry bow
2 Light Infantry Light infantry sling
==
Competent
3 Asavaran Heavy cavalry bow Elite
2 Horse Archers Light cavalry bow ------



200p PRE DAILAMI LIST
Brilliant
3 Elephants Elephant ------
2 Aux Medium spearmen Mediocre
2 Psiloi, Jav Light infantry javelin ------
1 Psiloi, Bow Light infantry bow ------
1 Light Camel Light camelry bow Mediocre
==
Competent
5 Cats Cataphract
1 H Cav Heavy cavalry bow
1 LH Light cavalry bow
==
Competent
2 H Cav Heavy cavalry bow
4 LH Light cavalry bow
1 Psiloi, bow Light infantry bow




200 AP list
Brilliant General
3 Elephants Elephant ------
1 Dailami Guardsmen Medium swordsmen impact missile support Elite
1 Dailami Guardsmen Medium swordsmen impact Elite
2 Light Infantry Light infantry javelin ------
1 Light Infantry Light infantry bow ----
3 Sassanid Levy Levy ----
==
Competent General
4 Asavaran Cataphract
1 Light Infantry Light infantry bow
2 Light Infantry Light infantry sling
==
Competent General
3 Asavaran Heavy cavalry bow Elite
2 Horse Archers Light cavalry bow ------

200 Point List used at Roll Call
Corps 1: Brilliant

  • 5 Asavaran* Heavy cavalry bow Elite
  • 1 Archers à cheval Light cavalry bow
  • 1 Levées Levy ------


Corps 2: Competent unreliable

  • 3 Eléphants Elephant ------
  • 2 Infanterie légère Light infantry sling ------
  • 1 Infanterie légère Light infantry bow ------
  • 1 Levées Medium spearmen Poor


Corps 3: Competent unreliable

  • 3 Asavaran* Cataphract Elite
  • 1 Asavaran* Heavy cavalry bow ------
  • 1 Archers à cheval Light cavalry bow ------
  • 2 Tribu montagnarde Light infantry javelin ----


200 Point List from Britcon 16
====Competent
3 Asavaran Heavy cavalry bow
4 Horse Archers Light cavalry bow
====Competent
2 Asavaran Cataphract
2 Asavaran Cataphract
2 Light Infantry Light infantry bow
2 Light Infantry Light infantry sling
=====Brilliant
2 Asavaran Cataphract Elite
2 Asavaran Cataphract ------
2 Arab Auxilias Light cavalry javelin ----
2 Sassanid Levy Levy ----


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