Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A plethora of Persians

My Achaemenid Persian army is pretty big. That's kind of the shtick of the Achaemenids, isn't it? They don't necessarily have the best trained, best armed, or best motivated soldiers, but they have plenty of them. Greek historians number the Persian armed forces in the millions... but that may well have been propaganda to make the defeat of their armies all the more glorious for the Greeks. Anyway, it's always time to paint more Persian troops. My army is not actually growing all that fast, since many of these soldiers are coming in to displace some models that are part of my Achaemenid horde, but aren't really period-appropriate, like my attractive Sherden Guard (not pictured) and a handful of assorted Midle Easterners who would really work better in my Saracen army. So without further ado, more Persians.
Seen here, a unit of takabara. These guys are not the best troops, although they are possessed of that beautiful and endemic Persian trait, the ability to switch seamlessly from archery to hand-to-hand combat. Once I lamented that cheap troops take just as long to paint as elite troops (and even longer when they're wearing patterned pajamas like many of my Persians), but now I've realized that everybody deserves a pretty paint job, even if they're going to die or flee when they first make contact with the enemy. They're armed with a sweet light battle axe called a sagaris, a forward sweeping short sword the Greeks called kopis, I'm not sure of the Persian word for it, and that timeless classic, the spear.

Some light cavalry. The griffin was a traditional Persian motif; the star and the eagle's head were my own ideas. Hoplites should not be the only troops to get individualized shield designs.

Two of these riders have thick black and white stripes on their PJs. I don't think the effect worked out all that well. Shields: another griffin, a two-faced head based loosely on some old Persian designs I googled, and a man's head that I took from an Achaemenid coin, but ended up looking pretty Greek. Still looks good IMO.
Behold a Pesian commander! I'd like to call him the god-king of the Empire based on his hat and elaborate beard, but that noble personage would really be riding a chariot. Still he weilds a staff of authority topped with something resembling the Zoroastrian Faravahar. It was tempting to put designs on his clothes in addition to their decorative fringe, but I didn't want to risk messing up a good looking figure, so he's a little less gaudy than some Persians.

Persian cavalry commander. Look, I realize that a bronze scale armored camel (camelphract?) is about as historically accurate as Disney's Prince of Persia, but you know how I love camels. I had to find a place for this guy. If you read this blog and are aware of any time in history that any nation has actually fielded barded camel cavalry, please leave a comment.

Finally, a new unit of sparabara. I already have a couple of these units, which I consider the go-to troops in the Achaemenid army, not quite as flimsy as takabara (but they're still going to get their asses kicked in hand-to-hand combat against a like formation of hoplites or (as I learned recently) legionaries. Like most Persians, they can shoot or fight hand to hand. Their distinctive spara shields are good against projectiles and light arms. I agonized about a color scheme for these soldiers, trying not to repeat any colors from my red and yellow sparabara or from my blue and purple sparabara, or my green and white immortals. Black robes and orange shields got shot down as the black robes would be too close to the Persians' black beards and hair and might give them a blobby look. So I settled on salmon and teal. Nobody said I had to stick to primary colors. These sparabara, along with most of the minis in this post, are from Sergeant Major Miniatures. their Persians are the best looking Persians I know of -- but make sure you have a good knife when you order, because I had to spend two or three days carving the flash out of these guys' hands so that they could grip their spears. Worth it.
Go forth, my minions, and slay -- for god-king and country!


  1. Re the armoured camel; the Parthians fielded them against the Romans mate or so at least is recorded by the Roman historian Herodian who mentions their use by the Parthian king Artabanus the 4th. There is some academic debate about what Herodian meant but the evidence could be judged to go either way so I would say go for it.