Later Achaemenid Persian

Historical Overview Section

The Achaemenid Empire was the largest and most powerful empire the world had yet seen. In the Late Achemenid Period Darius III was the last king of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia from 336 BC to 330 BC. He was dealt a pretty poor hand by life, being deposed during Alexander the Great's Alexandrian Macedonian conquest. In the spring of 334 BC Alexander invaded Asia Minor at the head of a combined Macedonian army and almost immediately faced and defeated a Persian force at the Battle of Granicus. Darius never showed up for the battle, probably because there was no reason for him to suppose that Alexander intended to conquer the whole of Asia, and Darius may well have supposed that the satraps of the ‘lower’ satrapies could deal with the crisis, so he instead decided to remain at home in Persepolis and let his satraps handle it. Darius did not actually take the field against Alexander’s army until a year and a half after Granicus, at the Battle of Issus in 333 BC. His forces outnumbered Alexander's soldiers by at least a 2 to 1 ratio, but Darius was still outflanked, defeated, and forced to flee. It is told by Arrian that at the Battle of Issus the moment the Persian left went to pieces under Alexander’s attack and Darius, in his war-chariot, saw that it was cut off, he incontinently fled – indeed, he led the race for safety. On the way, he left behind his chariot, his bow, and his royal mantle, all of which were later picked up by Alexander.

Greek sources such as Siculus' Library of History and Justini's Epitoma Historiarum Philippicarum recount that Darius fled out of fear at the Battle of Issus and again two years later at the Battle of Gaugamela despite commanding a larger force in a defensive position each time. At the Battle of Issus, Darius fled so far so fast, that Alexander was able to capture Darius’s headquarters, and take Darius’s family as prisoners in the process. Darius petitioned to Alexander through letters several times to get his family back, but Alexander refused to do so unless Darius would acknowledge him as the new emperor of Persia.

Circumstances were more in Darius’s favor at the Battle of Gaugamela in 331 BC. He had a good number of troops who had been organized on the battlefield properly, he had the support of the armies of several of his satraps, and the ground on the battlefield was almost perfectly even, so as not to impede movement. Despite all these beneficial factors, he still fled the battle before any victor had been decided and deserted his experienced commanders as well as one of the largest armies ever assembled.

Darius then fled to begin raising another army, while Alexander marched on Susa and Persepolis which surrendered in early 330 BCE. From Persepolis, Alexander headed north to Pasargadae where he treated the tomb of Cyrus II with respect. From there he headed to Ecbatana, where Darius III had sought refuge. Darius III had been taken prisoner by Bessus, his Bactrian satrap and kinsman. As Alexander approached, Bessus had his men murder Darius and then declared himself Darius' successor, as Artaxerxes V, before retreating into Central Asia leaving Darius' body in the road to delay Alexander, who brought it to Persepolis for an honorable funeral. Darius' defeat by Alexander is mentioned in the song Alexander the Great by heavy metal band Iron Maiden.

The Achaemenid Empire was succeeded by the Early Successor Seleucid Empire, ruled by the generals of Alexander and their descendants. They in turn would be succeeded by the Parthian Empire. Istakhr, one of the vassal kingdoms of the Parthian Empire, would be overthrown by Papak, a priest of the temple there. Papak's son, Ardašir I, who named himself in remembrance of Artaxerxes II, revolted against the Parthians, defeated them and established the Sassanid Persian Empire.

Using the army in ADLG

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Army Lists

Sample army lists for this army
As used by Dave Allen at the BHGS teams @ LGT 2021 (v4)
CORPS I Brilliant Commander
1 Scythed Chariot Scy Ch --
1 Other horsemen + Bow Heavy Cav Bow --
2 Indian horsemen Med Cav Mediocre
1 Guard Cavalry Heavy Cav Impact Elite
2 Paphlagonians Light Cav Javelin --
1 Elephant Ele --
2 Takabara Med Swd --
1 LI Sling Light Inf Sling --
1 Hill tribesmen Light Inf Javelin --
1 Mardian Archers Bowmen Bow Mediocre
CORPS II Brilliant Commander
1 Scythed Chariot Scy Ch --
1 Other horsemen + Bow Heavy Cav Bow --
1 Other horsemen + Bow Med Cav Bow --
3 Persian horsemen Med Cav Mediocre
2 Parthians Light Cav Bow --
2 Ionian Hoplites Heavy Spearmen --
1 Guard Infantry 1/2 HSwd + 1/2 Bow Elite
1 Hill tribesmen Jav'men Javelins --
1 LI Sling Light Inf Sling --
CORPS III Odinary/Included/Unreliable Commander
1 Other horsemen + Bow Heavy Cav Bow
1 LI Bow Light Inf Bow
1 Hill tribesmen Light Inf Javelin

Britcon 2018
68 Later Aechemenid - Mick Hood (4th)
Competent Included
2 Other Horsemen with Bow * (General) Heavy cavalry bow ------
4 Persian & Median Cavalry* Heavy cavalry ------
1 Persian & Median Cavalry Heavy cavalry Mediocre
2 Light infantry Bow Light infantry bow ------
Competent Included
1 Other Horsemen with Bow * (General) Heavy cavalry bow
4 Persian & Median Cavalry Heavy cavalry
1 Paphlagonians Light cavalry javelin
1 Levy Levy
Brilliant Included Unreliable
1 Other Horsemen with Bow * (General) Heavy cavalry bow ----
4 Persian & Median Cavalry Heavy cavalry
1 Paphlagonians Light cavalry javelin ------
2 Babylonian archers Bowmen Mediocre
2 Hill tribesmen Light infantry javelin ----

2018 Conclave Limerick winning list
Scythed Chariot
1 LH Javelin
6 Heavy Cavalry
2 javelinmen
Brilliant General
2 Medium Swordsmen
1 LI javelin
Ordinary General
1 LH Javelin
Scythed Chariot
6 Heavy Cavalry
2 Javelinmen
Brilliant General
200AP Javier Diaz at The 2016 Worlds


5 HC
1 MC
1 LC Javelin
2 Levy


6 HI Spear
1 HI ½ Spear ½ Bow elite


5 HC
1 MC
1 LC Javelin
2 Levy

200 AP used by Julian Lopez at The Worlds 2016
Competent Included
1 Bactriens Light cavalry bow Elite
1 Scythes Light cavalry bow ------
2 Autres cavaliers avec arc Medium cavalry bow ------
3 Cavaliers Indiens/Arméniens Medium cavalry Mediocre

Brilliant CinC
3 Peltastes Perses Javelinmen ------
1 Elephant Elephant ------
2 Peltastes Thraces Medium swordsmen 2HW ------
1 Montagnards Light infantry javelin ----
1 Garde Perses Heavy cavalry impact Elite
2 Paphlagonien Light cavalry javelin ----

3 Peltastes Perses Javelinmen ----
1 Parthes Light cavalry bow
1 Bactriens Light cavalry bow Elite
2 Autres cavaliers avec arc Medium cavalry bow ----
3 Cavaliers Indiens/Arméniens Medium cavalry Mediocre

Julian says... "''Here's the list I used at the Worlds. It's a little too light. It needs the four LH, bow removing and replaced with Greek hoplites to give the C-in-C's command a secure flank. With hindsight, those hoplites would have tipped the balance in the game I drew (Matthieu Abric with Jurchen-Chin) and possibly turned defeat into victory against Cedric Routhil (Yuan Chinese).
Army Design:

The list consists of two mounted commands with competent generals for the flanks and a central command of infantry under the brillant C-in-C. With 6 LH and and command points the army had 4 initiative points so had an above average chance of attacking.

Both flanks have bow-armed cavalry, LH and mediocre cavalry and their role is to overlap the flanks of the enemy line and charge flanks. One command also has 3 javelinmen to contest terrain or support the mounted against better quality opponents. If faced with insuperable odds, both commands are capable of evading and skirmishing until an opening appears elsewhere.

The central command consists of a core of 2 MI with 2HW accompanying an elephant itself covered by a LI. These are the shock troops of the army which can try to punch through a line if flanking opportunities don’t appear. Support troops consist of three javelinmen, the elite Persian Guard cavalry and 2 LH. The javelinmen can be deployed to support the elephant group or contest terrain. They can concentrate on one terrain with the javelinmen from the flank command or occupy a terrain on the other flank and help the rest of the cavalry. The Persian Guard is the reserve to keep enemy MI honest and generally protect the flank of the elephant group.

With 27 elements the army is wide and my intention was to create and exploit flank attack opportunities. With six javelinmen I felt pretty sure terrain and elephants wouldn’t be a problem. Most of the troops are rubbish in theory and I was hoping my opponents would underestimate them and get careless. Most of them did and soon found out that while they ARE rubbish, you can’t ignore them.

The Persians in the field:

Game 1 vs Hugo Tate (finished 8th) with Classical Indians: A very small army which my Persians were ideally suited to take down since Hugo left gaps between the commands. The main Indian command of elephants faced my central command with its javelinmen and I slowly gained the upper hand while my flank commands dispersed the Indian chariots on one flank and took down the elephant and archer command on the other.

Game 2 vs Matthieu Abric (27th) with Jurchen-Chin: Another small army this time with mixed archers units and bow/impact cavalry but unlike the first game they were deployed in a compact line which made it harder to take flanks. It ended up as straight up slogging match where my weight of numbers compensated for the poor quality of my troops. Matthieu was also outrageously unlucky in just about every combat roll but managed to hold on until the end of the game to clinch a draw. With average luck I would have been in serious difficulty. This game really showed the weakness of the army as one elite cavalry was woefully inadequate as a flank guard for the central command. It also showed one of its strengths as I could afford to sacrifice quite a few units to create gaps for later exploitation.

Game 3 vs Cédric Roudil (10th) with Yuan Chinese: Another well-handled small army which again highlighted the glaring flaw in the army design. His first charge caught my evading javelinmen on one flank and the other flank disintegrated under fire when I decided to run rather than charge in at a disadvantage and trust the dice. As a result, the central command was isolated with no supports, outnumbered and overwhelmed. The dice gods were clearly against me but they just hastened the inevitable defeat as I was comprehensively outplayed by Cédric.

Game 4 vs Stéphane Plouchard (25th) with Arab Indian: Stéphane had two massive flank commands of mediocre archers on each flank with a centre of impetuous MI in the centre supported by 4 impact cavalry. As the attacker I was able to deploy my cavalry against the MI and one command of archers and charge in before I had sustained any damage on the cavalry as I used the LH to absorb the archers’ fire. Stéphane kindly rolled a lot of 1s to my 2s and the army went down rapidly.

Game 5 vs Olivier Piegle (22nd) with Aztecs: Virtually no terrain meant a massive cavalry charge in the open against Aztec MI which signally failed to sweep them from the field. After that it was a slow grinding match which I narrowly won helped in no small part by Olivier allowing me to take back an incredibly stupid move which was very sporting of him.

Game 6 vs Christophe Sciangula (13th) with Ottoman Turks: A repeat of games 2 and 3 but I’d learnt my lesson and I coordinated my commands better and I charged in against better cavalry rather than risk getting shot up. My aggression paid off as I was in combat against the Ottoman mounted very quickly before the Janissaries had time to get any shots in. The combats went both ways but in time weight of numbers paid off and the Turks were routed.

Post-mortem: 6 LH was too many. They made up most of my casualties and except for the game against the Arab-Indian archers they achieved very little. The extra initiative point is not worth 26 army points of ineffective troops. The central command worked quite well against a range of opponents but the lack of a solid block of heavy foot meant it lacked staying power if it didn’t achieve a quick breathrough and was vulnerable to counter-attack on its flank if one of the flank commands folded or had to evade. With hindsight, swapping 4 LH and possibly a javelinmen for 4 hoplites to support the elephant group would have made all my games a lot easier. The javelinmen did stirling service in terrain and supporting the cavalry and the elephant group. The mediocre cavalry did better than I expected and the army as a whole demonstrated that quantity can offest quality. Overall it was a fun army to play.

List played at Roll call
200 Points
Corps 1: Competen included

  • 3 Greek Hoplite Heavy spearmen ------
  • 1 Guardsmen ½ Heavy spearmen ½ Bowmen Elite
  • 1 Babylonian archers Bowmen Mediocre
  • 1 Persian Guardsmen Heavy cavalry impact Elite
  • 2 Bactrian Light cavalry bow Elite
  • 2 Levy Levy ----

Corps 2: Ordinary included

  • 4 Median Cavalry Heavy cavalry ------
  • 4 Median Cavalry Medium cavalry Mediocre
  • 2 Paphlagonian Cavalry Light cavalry javelin ------
  • 2 Scythed Chariot Scythed chariot ----

Corps 3: Ordinary

  • 2 Carcades Medium spearmen Mediocre
  • 2 Median Cavalry Medium cavalry Mediocre
  • 2 Skythian horse Light cavalry bow ----
  • 2 Median archers Light infantry bow ----
  • 1 Carcades Medium spearmen ----
  • 1 Median Cavalry Heavy cavalry ----

  • etc
  • etc

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