Persians, hillmen and the axe

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Sabratha
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Persians, hillmen and the axe

Post by Sabratha » Tue Mar 13, 2012 7:14 pm

First of all, I play the PC game, I don't own tabletop miniatures. Just to make stuff clear.

Now, in FoG ancient Persian, Zagros Hillmen and other Iranian MF are listed as short spears only.

Now, what is puzzling, the very same hillmen in the Parthian list are "light spears, swordsmen".

From all i know, Persian infantry as well as the people's of central and norther Iran all used one handed axes. Even Herodotus mentiones the axe as a typical oriental infantry weapon. I remember there are depcitions on persian artifacts of both mounted and infantry armed with axes.

So what gives? Why are the "post 166 seleucid list" hillmen and all ancient persian infantry rated as just "light spears", while contemporary "parthian list" hillmen are "light spears, swordsmen"?

We lack evidence for the use of axes in the case some lowland tribes (Elam for example) to use axes, but other than that, it seems the entire Iranian plateau up and including modern Armenia and west Turkey used the axe.

So my point is, shouldn't all the Persian, Median, Hillment etc infantry at least have an option to be chosen as light spears, swordsmen?

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Re: Persians, hillmen and the axe

Post by philqw78 » Tue Mar 13, 2012 7:34 pm

The PC game writers are too lazy to answer the question they have sent here at least ten times before. Not your fault so I will answer.

The troops in question, even though having sidearms, were not considered effective enough against their contemporary opponents to get a combat bonus for it.
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Sabratha
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Re: Persians, hillmen and the axe

Post by Sabratha » Tue Mar 13, 2012 9:08 pm

I dunno. Waht made the "parthian" hillmen more effective than the same period hillmen in seleucid armies then? o.0

Plus The persian footmen were effective against their Median, Elamite, Babylonian, Egyptian, Indian and Lydian ennemies. They were far less effective against the Greek hoplites, but I think that part is already simulated in game through armour.

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Re: Persians, hillmen and the axe

Post by grahambriggs » Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:38 am

The Persian foot had the sagaris axe if I remember right but it was very much a side arm. But in the (tabletop at least) game they are light spear and bow. I don't think any foot get light spear, bow, sword. It's an army list design constraint. Simply put, such troops would be too good. So the list writers want them as archers which is their main capability, then have to decide if other weapons are justified. i.e. are they archers who had an impact advantage or archers who were good after impact. Persians were the former.

The light spear for Persians is there to reflect the persian interconnected wall of mantlets - that helped them in the charge so is a way to give them an impact phase benefit.

Persian foot are pretty effective against all the armies they did well against historically. The don't need a sword for that.

I don't know the answer to your hillmen question. I suspect that the answer is that the Parthian list was written by a different person to the Selucid list, but there may be some evidence one way or another.

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Re: Persians, hillmen and the axe

Post by Sabratha » Wed Mar 14, 2012 6:17 pm

The "sagaris" is a term taht appears only in Herodotus I believe and is used to describe the scythian weapon, which in the eyes of the Greek historian may or may not have been the same as the weapon used by contemprorary iranian nations.

I'll have to run a few tests, but I have so far made a PC scenario on Plataea with Sparabara infantry being light spear, swords, rear rank bow. So far the scenario proved pretty balanced given the circumstances (half of the Greek army starts far away from the Spartans and Athenians).

I ran a short test on an alternative Plataea (Pitched battle - both sides start on the northern plain, lined up for combat). The Greek armored HF easily obliderated the Persian light spear/swordsmen in that variant, which is correct with my assessment of the potentials of both historical formations. Again, this is PC FoG, I'm not sure how this would work in TT FoG, given teh bases etc.

In general, I'm not too pleased with how Persian and Iranian infantry is simuylated in FoG. What is most annoying is the total lack of distinction between Sparabara, Takabara, Hillmen.

Its still in a testing phase, but so far I think the following is best:
Sparabara - protected, average, MF, light spears, swordsmen, rear rank bows.
Takabara - protected, average/poor, MF, light spears, swordsmen. I'm considering wether or not to change them to just swordsmen, as the axe&shield seems to have been their primary fighting equipment.
Hillmen - unprotected, average/superior, impact foot, swordsmen (most will be average, unless they are fighting at home defending their own territorry).
Lesser satrapal levies can be left as poor mob, but more organized satrapal infantry may be poor MF light spear.

Alll of these units stand very little chance against average armoured hoplites in level terrain, but they can keep their own well against other in-period MF (Egyptians, Babylonians, Paphlagonians etc) which is what I'd expect as a historical result.

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Re: Persians, hillmen and the axe

Post by grahambriggs » Thu Mar 15, 2012 12:30 pm

I've argued in the past that the Persian (and maybe Mede) approach of the mantlet wall is better simulated by having the persians as protected HF Bow, with a new "portable mantlet" capability (needs a move to deploy, provides a POA when shot at and at impact, melee until you lose a combat when you lose it).

- They didn't manouver as MF do, so HF better
- they didn't charge the enemy unless they had no choice; they shot at them. So an impact benefit that only counts if you are not charging sounds right.
- the account of plataea explicity says they did well while the way held and then badly. So a melee POA until you lose does that job.
- since they count the mantlet POA, it would be overkill to make any presians armoured.

It adds complexity though.

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Re: Persians, hillmen and the axe

Post by Sabratha » Thu Mar 15, 2012 1:54 pm

grahambriggs wrote:I've argued in the past that the Persian (and maybe Mede) approach of the mantlet wall is better simulated by having the persians as protected HF Bow, with a new "portable mantlet" capability (needs a move to deploy, provides a POA when shot at and at impact, melee until you lose a combat when you lose it).

- They didn't manouver as MF do, so HF better
- they didn't charge the enemy unless they had no choice; they shot at them. So an impact benefit that only counts if you are not charging sounds right.
- the account of plataea explicity says they did well while the way held and then badly. So a melee POA until you lose does that job.
- since they count the mantlet POA, it would be overkill to make any presians armoured.

It adds complexity though.
I agree on NOT having Persian infantry, at least other then late acheamenid kardakes and immortals (and even for those 2 formations its debatable) as armoured. I'd actually settle for all persian infantry as just protected.

If we make them HF (which I don't necessarily disagree to), then what weapons would we give them? Defensive spears?
I can see HF defensive spears for Sparabara, but I think Takabara should be MF light spear swordsmen. Or even just swordsmen.
Zagros highlanders should also be MF obviously.

I'm pretty convinced most, if not all, Persian and iranian infantry should be swords. The sagaris style axe is just one of the weapons, the akinakes sword was as widespread. Many times persian soldiers depicted in greek art also are seen holding a kopis-style weapon.

Also, I was wrong. Herodotus AND Xenophon mention Sagaris.

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Re: Persians, hillmen and the axe

Post by grahambriggs » Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:17 pm

I would make sparabara and contemporary immortals bow only and give them the mantlet capability described. Defensive spear and bow is too good. So if you can't add a mantlet capability I'd suggest HF, light spear, bow and have them all as pretected for Plataea, since the Greeks were better armoured.

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Re: Persians, hillmen and the axe

Post by Sabratha » Sun Mar 18, 2012 12:22 am

Well, the PC version doesn't have a mantlet capability :P
PlusI still think that Sparabara shoudl be more of a defensive formation, not too much in terms of "shock", but with proper staying power. Light spear alone doesn't really simulate that, quite the opposite really.
Also giving them just light spear will not make them stand well against period Egyptian infantry, which historically they did :/

Then we have the takabara... the small taka shield and axe/sword/short spears. Basiclaly no armor other than thick linen. I'm on the fence here, I know they should be swordsmen. I'm not sure if they should be protected or unprotected... I'm actually leaning to unprotected.

As for hillmen, I really think they should be similar in weapons and fighting style to the later period galatians (with less armor). They were agressive in the attack, first throwing javelins, then attacking with their axes. I'd see them as unprotected (no armor other than the taka-style shield), impact foot swordsmen.

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