Later Sassanid Empire 531 AD to 632 AD

This represents the army from around the time of the completion by Khusrau II of the reforms initiated by Kavad I. As such, it represents the Sassanid army at the height of its prowess and tactical development when it was at least the equivalent of the Byzantines and often proved superior.

The list is intended to reflect the Sassanid army during three discrete periods of Kavad I and Khusrau II. The first period is the end of the reign of Kavad and the first years of the reign of Khusrau when the reforms had not been completed, the nation was torn by the strife of civil war, and Byzantine aid was provided. The next period is the period in which Khusrau was at the height of his power and the Sassanid army was arguably the best in the world. The final period includes the years of internal strife following the war with Heraclius, the war against the Arabs, and the final years of the Sassanid Empire.

Era: Triumph of Cavalry   Later Sassanid Empire 531 AD to 632 AD CR: H: 5 L: 3   BP: 2 Init: 7
Number Type   Description Key FV PROT Weapon Cost
1 HC(d!) Asvaran Clibanarii Key 5(1)0 +2 Lance/bow 15
2 HC(d) Dihqan Heavy Cavalry Key 4(1)0 +1 Lance/bow 12
1 LC Subjects Key 2(0)0 +1 Various/bow 8
1 LC Mercenary Horse* Key 1 1(0)0 Bow 6
1 HC(d!) Asvaran Clibanarii Key 5(1)0 +2 Lance/bow 15
2 HC(d!) Dihqan or Sogdian Clibanarii* Key 4(1)0 +2 Lance/bow 13
4 HC(d) Dihqan or Sogdian Heavy Cavalry* Key 4(1)0 +1 Lance/bow 12
1 LC Seistani Key 3(0)0 +1 Various/bow 10
2 LC Subjects Key 2(0)0 +1 Various/bow 8
4 LC Mercenary Horse* Key 1(0)0 +1 Bow 6
2 LC Turks** Key 2(0)0 +1 Various/bows 8
1 FT Daylami *** Key 6(2)2 +1 Various 9
1 LHI Daylami*** Key 5(1)2 +1 Javelins 9
1 FT Palace Guard Key 6(1)1 +2 Spear/bow 11
3 FT Regular FT**** Key 5(1)1 +1 Spear 6
1 HC Arab***** Key 4(0)0 +1 Rumh 10
2 LC Arabs Key 2(0)0 +1 Various 7
2 EL Elephants****** Key 5(3)2 +1 Various 12
4 SI Subjects******   2(1)1 +2 Bow 2
3 SI Subjects and mountain tribes******   3(1)2 +2 Slings 2
2 SI Subjects and mountain tribes******   3(1)2 +2 Javelins 2
2 LI Kurds,Anatolians, etc.   4(1)2 +1 Javelins 7
3 Levy Levy   3(0)0 0 Various 4
O   BYZANTINE ALLIES*******          
1 HC(d!) Heavy Cavalry Key 4(0)0 +1 Various/bow 12
1 LC   Key 2(0)0 +1 Various/bow 8
2 FT Skutatoi Key 5(1)1 +1 Spear/bow 8
2 SI Byzantines   2(1)1 +1 Bows 2


Core: 1 GR

Bonus: (Max: 2 ) 2 GR, 2 SH, 1 RG


Core: 96 Bonus: 334

*These may be taken to represent Sassanid cavalry as well as Albani, Chionites, Epthalites, Saka, Sogdians, etc.

** Turks may not be used against Epthalites, Chionites, and other Turkish ethic groups in historical games. They may always be used in Tournaments. If Turks are used, the Bonus bow

armed Subject LC may not be purchased.

***Daylami FT and LHI Daylami are mutually exclusive choices. One may have units of one type or the other but not both. (The author knows that the sources refer to bow-armed Daylami. Those are represented by separate SI in this list.)

****Regular FT may be armed with Spear/bow for an additional cost of 2 points. For every such Regular FT purchased, one SI with bow is removed from the available choices on the Bonus list.

*****If the Arab HC is purchased both units of Arab LC must be purchased. A player may purchase one or both of the Arab LC without purchasing the Arab HC. Arabs may not be used with Byzantine allies.

******In historical play, a player must purchase at least two Bonus SI for each elephant purchased. In tournament play, this limitation does not apply.

*******If any Byzantines are bought, all must be bought and the Army Initiative is reduced to 5. Add two SI 2(1)1 Prot +2 with bows to the core.

In Tournaments, the opposing player must be informed of the purchase of the Byzantine option before set up and the start of play but after the purchase of Bonus units. This option is only available before the tenth year of Khusrau's reign and between 616 and 640 A.D. in historical matches. It is always available in tournament play.

When fighting foes after 622 A.D. including fighting against Islamic Arabs but excluding Lakhmids and Ghassanids, the Initiative should be reduced from 7 to 5 to reflect the deleterious effects of the Byzantine wars, the plagues, religious turmoil, and the even more serious effects of internal rebellions as well as the comparatively increasing efficiency of the Byzantines due to Heraclius' training program. In tournaments, a player may elect either an Initiative 7 or 5 army but must inform his opponent of the election prior to purchasing Bonus troops. If the Initiative is reduced to 5, add two SI 2(1)1 Prot +2 with bow to the Core units. [The addition of the two SI if one takes the Byzantine option after 622 A.D. is not cumulative with this provision nor is there any further reduction in Initiative.].

In tournaments, a player must use an Initiative 5 OR an Initiative 7 army throughout the entire tournament. One may not use both in the same tournament.

The total of HC must outnumber the total number of Asvaran clibanarii by at least 2 to 1.

Sassanid cavalry are NOT subject to obligatory charge.[I know that this is redundant with the rule but there are still those who remember the first rules or the A2 lists]. Elephants remain subject to obligatory charge.

The levy serve some purpose as a second rank behind the foot. When used thus, they have some minimal value by giving depth benefits against impetus to the foot. The only other uses that I have found for them is fodder for soaking up archery or placement as a living terrain feature to delay flanking moves. Bob Stewart has suggested that the levy are useful cheap massed infantry purchases intended to keep the army from becoming cavalry heavy thus avoiding the fifteen turn must-win requirement. However, most games are generally won or lost on the field well before fifteen turns.

Ordo Link: The most direct Ordo thread dealing with this list is the Later Sassanid Empire thread. However, like all of the Sassinid lists, this army has generated significant controversy. Thus, more important discussion can be found at the Middle Sassanid thread, but the Early Sassanid and the Early Sassanid Army Structure threads are also worth examining. And as always, use of the Ordo Search function could provide useful information.

Last Edited: 28 November 2006

List Author: Subodai