Parthia, Kingdom of the Eastern Sands

Welcome, my lord, to Parthia, land of mountains and desert. We are the descendants of the Dahae, a nomadic people from the east coast of the Caspian Sea who have since journeyed south into the lands once occupied by the Medes. The greater parts of our dominion are away to the east, the great and mysterious East, but they will not concern you, my lord. Your place is here, on our front line; for it is from the West that the greatest threats come, so to the West our Great King must look.

We are a mighty nation, my lord. The earth trembles beneath the hooves of our horsemen, and our arrows fly swift and true. But enemies surround us. The power-hungry Seleucid snobs, Greeks who have claimed lordship over this land, thought to rule us once; we cast off the yoke of servitude and even seized some of their lands, but they are a dangerous foe still. The Armenians and Scythians, our cousins of the Eastern Plains, threaten to turn against us too. And if once we beat the Seleucids, we will have to face the wrath of the Egyptians also, and they, my lord, they are a kingdom whom it would not do to underestimate.

Our Lands

The lands of the Dahae in this western part of the world encompass the territories of the Sakae, in the North, on the plains of Scythia beside the Caspian Sea, those of the Medes, wherein lies our capital Arsakia, and those of the Elamites, at the eastern end of Mesopotamia. These lands are rich in culture, but relatively poor in resources. It should be your priority to bring more lands under the control of the Parthians as soon as possible, my lord. The very fact that we have only enemies and rivals on our borders makes taking land from them honourable.

Our capital, Arsakia, is a large town where you may train Eastern infantry and horse archers. There is also a Zoroastrian shrine here, and a trader to exploit the major trade route with the Far East. Arsakia is surrounded by mountains, an excellent natural defence, but it does not yet have any walls.

Further south lies Susa, once the capital of the Persian Empire. It is a minor city where you may train Eastern infantry, peltasts and slingers. The people here understand land clearance, so your farms are slightly more productive than they are in your other settlements. Roads criss-cross this province, helping to bring goods from afar, and Susa itself is protected by a wooden palisade from enemies.

Away to the north lies the camp of the Saka tribe, the East Scyths. This "camp" has grown into a large town, and is now defended by a wooden palisade. You can train horse archers here thanks to the presence of a stable.

These, then, are your lands; they are not much, but they're what you have- for now. When your rule begins, I trust you will bring more lands under the sovereignty of our people. It would not do to disappoint them. This is one method you can use to get the most out of your first few turns.

Our Armies

The armies of Parthia, my lord, are a force to be reckoned with. We do not attach importance to infantry, and therefore our strength is in our cavalry; the mighty horsemen for which we are famous. Use them well, and they will bring you great victories over great enemies.

Our infantry are not our strong point. We attach no importance to being able to hold a line, for it is not our way. We can train Eastern spearmen- a basic militia unit that can be trained by all the factions in this part of the world, armed with a spear and shield, but who have poor stamina, morale and mobility- from a basic barracks, and Hillmen- wild men from the mountains of these parts, who are strong and fierce but not very good fighters- from militia barracks. These men are good for swinging rams or creating a diversion, but not much else.

We do not attach much important to foot missile units either, my lord, although we think them more important than our infantry. From a practise range you may train slingers, who carry much ammunition but it has little effect and cannot fire over the heads of their allies. From an archery range however you may recruit foot-archers, who nicely complement our horse archers. They have better range and staying power than their horseborne counterparts- but they have much less mobility.

Now we get on to our cavalry. At a basic stables you can train our basic horse archers. These horsemen are fast and carry small, composite bows. They are excellent for wearing down and exhausting an enemy before a charge. Often they will be enough to defeat an enemy by themselves. From the next tier of stables you can train Persian cavalry. These horsemen, trained in the Persian style, carry superior bows and wear some light armour, making them an improved version of basic horse archers. From the third tier of stables you may train cataphract cavalry, the heavy shock cavalry of the Parthian army. They have excellent armour and an excellent charge, and carry a lance and a mace. (To use the mace, hold down alt when you right click on the enemy to attack. The mace is a powerful weapon, with an armour-piercing capability which makes it particularly good against heavy infantry. However, the lance has better reach and is more useful against cavalry. Change between the two depending on the situation.) Cataphracts are capable of delivering a hammer blow to break most any infantry formation, especially after it has been weakened by missile volleys from your Persian cavalry or horse archers. Finally, from the top tier of stables, you can train camel cataphracts. The advantage of this unit over the normal cataphract is that camels scare horses, giving camel cataphracts an advantage over other cavalry.

Parthia can also summon elephants into her armies, from the lands of the distant East. War elephants can be trained from the same level of stables as cataphracts. Elephants are a great siege engine to bring with you, as they can smash down walls but still travel on the march at the same speed as cavalry. Therefore you don't have to drag along any plodding infantry with you to carry the rams, or then wait a turn to build siege equipment before assaulting. However, in the field, elephants can be a bit of a two-edged sword. If they get scared, they may run amok, and if that happens they will trample both sides indiscriminately.

Our Beliefs

Many peoples are grouped under Parthian rule, so many different religions are followed. The government, however, only provides funds for Zoroastrian temples. Zoroastrians follow the teachings of the prophet Zoroaster (or Zarathustra), and worship Ahura Mazda, the supreme and sole divinity. Zoroastrians are the majority religion in the Parthian empire, so building temples to Zoroaster makes the people much happier.

The Mods

The Eastern part of the map is often overlooked in mods, the majority of which focus on the West. However, Mundus Magnus and Rome: Total Realism both give something to the Parthians, as does Amazon: Total War. One of the best mods for people who like to play as this kind of Eastern faction though has got to be Persian Invasion by comrade_general, in which the Parthians are represented by the Dahae.

So, there is an overview of my people for you, my lord: the Parthians, the Kingdom of the Eastern Sands. I hope you will find your rule enjoyable and enlightening- but rule well, my lord, rule well. Many tyrants who have tried to rule us too strictly in the past have met a nasty end: six feet under the sand, hooves drumming against the roof of their tomb. . .

By Edorix