Faction Overview: Thrace

Welcome to the Danube, river of wild terrain and even wilder men. The Thracians are not considered by Greeks to be a Greek people, but they have been influenced by many Greek ways- and have influenced the Greeks as well. The Thracians are a tough people in a hard land, and no easy pushover for anybody. They have a somewhat short roster of units available, but variety has never been a Thracian virtue. Battle, on the other hand, is a Thracian virtue, and these warlike people require a good general to lead them to eventual victory. Are you that warlord?

The Thracians are originally an unplayable faction. You can modify your game to play them by following the instructions in the guide here.

The Land

Tylis is the Thracian capital, located in the Eastern Balkans. It is far from everything, but not as far as the Scythian settlements. Still, it takes several turns for any army leaving the nearest city to reach it. It starts off with what you would expect a capital city to have in the beginning of the game- damned near nothing. Tylis has a wooden wall, though, and a governor's villa, but the only military building it possesses is the practice range- for churning out those wonderful Thracian peltasts.

Our other city is Campus Getae, near the mouth of the Danube. It is often threatened by the Scythian city nearby, but once archers are available, the ford between the two makes for a wonderful defense. It too has a practice range and governor's villa as does Tylis, but this city has stables as well. It will produce Greek Cavalry at its top level, which means the Thracians have no heavy cavalry at all. But then again, Thrace is known for its foot soldiers, as you will read next.

The Warhost

The Thracians were hardy warriors. Herodotus named them as the most populous nation in the world- evidence that the Greeks knew little of the world beyond the Mediterranean and also evidence that the Thracians were numerous indeed. They often served as mercenaries in foreign armies, though their own tribes and warbands were often in battle- often amongst themselves. Warfare was a way of life for the pugnacious Thracians.

The Thracian warhost borrows heavily from those around it. From the Greeks, the Thracians learned the phalanx, though their hoplites are far from the professionals of those city-states. Pikemen come from the Macedonians, who alternated between being lords, enemies, and allies of the Thracians.

From Dacia they have the falx and its shock-troop wielders. Most think the falx is a Dacian weapon, but there is ample proof that the Thracians developed it as well. The units in our game carry the Thracian model, and though it curves the wrong way and has the blade on the wrong side in the unit card, the soldiers wield it more or less correctly in battle.

From the Scythians they have the bow, though most factions have some form of archer. The Thracian archers are nothing special in that regard, with neither the range of the famed Cretans nor the power of the Germans.

The most typical of Thracian units is the peltasts. Verily, the name derives from the little shield they carried- the pelta. Peltasts proved so effective against armored hoplites that the Greeks decided to employ them themselves- often hiring Thracians to fight as light infantry and javelineers in their interminable wars. Peltasts are also a standard Thracian unit.

The Thracians also have as recruitable units the Bastarnae. Bastarnae were a tribe from the northern reaches of Thrace who we reputed to be the most ferocious warriors the Greeks had encountered. History has them down as a Celtic-speaking Germanic tribe that lived in or near the southern end of the Carpathian Mountains, with an offshoot that occupied the Danubian delta. They existed there as late as the 1st century, and were later absorbed by the Sarmatians when they began their migrations.

It is funny, though, that Thracian infantry- armed with the curved sica and rhompaia- is not a unit recruitable by Thrace itself. Instead, it is a mercenary unit.

Now, once you are familiar with the warhost and our lands, it is time you learn what to do. The noble Hussarknight has written a guide concerning opening moves. Summed up, he writes to seize Byzantium, that lonely rebel town to the Thracian south, then decide whether to crush the Dacians or Scythians. These are wise moves.

The Gods

The Thracians have but two gods- Ares and Dionysius. The God of War and the God of Wine. They need no other, for fighting and drinking is all Thracian warriors do. Often, they went into battle drunk- and like drunks, were fearless and could withstand much more punishment than sober troops, something that enhanced their reputation.

Dionysius keeps the people happy. He was a god of fun and frolic, the god of the grape and its juices. He was originally a Greek god, but he fit right in with the Thracians. His temples only bring happiness- no other bonuses.

The temples to Ares, though, does have other uses than simply keeping the populace happy. It can invigorate the troops with morale bonuses. Any troops retrained in a city where there is a temple of Ares can receive up to four bonus points to their morale.

Ares was another Greek god imported for the Thracians, and just as fitting as Dionysius. He was the war god, a fitting partner to the drinking god. Fighting and rinking were Thracian values- often appreciated simultaneously.

There may be some scholars who know the true Thracian gods, but for our purposes and that of this game, the Greek names are just as suitable.

Experienced falxmen with armor and weapon upgrades, plus boosted morale are terrors to any they face.

The Mods

SubRosa has created the wonderful modpack "Thrace: The Serpent Reborn" that expands the Thracian battle array, to include adding the feared Thracian infantry to the roster, though it does remove the Thracian falxmen. This can be found on TWH's download center.