Sakaya Ashwabara (Saka Riders)
EB2 Saka Riders
Sakaya Ashwabara (Saka Riders)

Primary Weapon

  • Type: spear
  • Attack: 8
  • Charge: 11
  • Lethality: 1

Secondary Weapon

  • Type: axe
  • Attack: 5
  • Charge: 5
  • Lethality: 1
  • Attributes: armor-piercing


  • Armour: 2
  • Shield: 2
  • Skill: 6


  • Soldiers: 40
  • Cost: 1125
  • Upkeep: 282
  • Turns: 1


  • Morale: 4
  • Discipline: impetuous
  • Training: trained


  • Hit Points: 1
  • Mass: 1
  • Attributes: Can board ships, Can hide in forests, Hardy, Peasant, Free upkeep
  • Formation: square
  • Side/Back spacing: 3.7/3.7
  • Mount effects: elephant -3
  • Ownership: Baktria, Saka

Protected by leather armour and a wickerwork shield, these Saka Riders can fare reasonably well against other lightly-armoured units and are better suited in protecting the flanks and pursuing.


Although the Saka, as most nomads, prefer to fight with the bow, the nomad tactics also require some warriors to charge the enemy and break them in melee, once the archers have softened up their formations and worn down their moral. These men, often armed with lances, are generally wealthier men, who can afford better weapons, and in some cases, even some body armour. Although not as organized or well-equipped as the cavalry of more settled states, these riders can still pack quite a punch in a charge, and are especially good at routing lighter troops, or chasing down other horse archers.

Although not by any means part of the ruling classes of nomad society, these men are slightly wealthier, and can afford more affluent clothing and equipment than the regular nomad raider. Their kurtas are more often of cloth and leather than felt, and sometimes coloured with dyes imported from Persia or China. They wear the traditional pointed Saka hats, with some variation in material and model. Some also fight bare-headed, sporting a combed-back hairstyle seen on many depictions of Sakas from, among other places, Pazyryk. Some even wear body armour, in this case a leather lamellar armour covering the torso and shoulders. Hardened leather was a good and cheap material for producing armour, and among many Scythian and Sarmatian tribes, it was the custom to use horse's hooves for this purpose. The hooves were cloven and hardened, and sewn together with sinew to produce a form of natural scale armour, which protected the wearer from arrows almost as good as a much more expensive metal cuirass. The kind of lamellar armour used by the Sakas was of a model popular in much of eastern Central Asia at the time, and it would spread and become the most dominant form of armour in much of Northern China and Korea as well. Although they, as all nomads, carry bows into battle, their main weapon is the lance which they use for the charge. The hold the lance with both hands when charging, and in the absence of stirrups, would lean forward and grip tightly around the horse with their knees so as to not fall off the horse by the force of the impact when striking the foe. Some of the early nomad saddles had high front and end pieces, designed for the very purpose of helping the rider stay in the saddle during a charge. Once engaged in the melee, they use their Sagaris axes, which with their sharp heads can easily penetrate even heavier armour. When not used, the Sagaris axe would hang from a special suspension attached to the warrior's belt. Like all nomad warriors, they also carry Akinakes daggers, used for taking scalps. Herodotos describes how Scythian warriors would make a triangular incision into a fallen enemy's head, and then take them by the hair and shake until the scalp came off. They would then clear away any residual flesh with a rib bone, and rub the scalp to soften it. It would then be carried as a trophy on the riders saddle, clothes or weapon.

Historically, nomadic tactics were, to a large degree, a version of the classic hammer and anvil, but with a twist. The main force of the nomad horde would fire their arrows upon the enemy force to break it up and demoralize it. Once the enemy was in disarray, lancers would charge them and engage them in melee. If the enemy managed to reform to counter the attack, the lancers would withdraw, and the archers would open fire again, repeating the process until the enemy was routed, whereupon the horde would descend upon them. Although heavily armoured Cataphract cavalry was known on the steppe, the majority of the lancer cavalry would be regular warriors, just armed with a lance and in the odd case, a suit of light leather or bronze armour. It was generally not so much the armour of the cavalry or their staying power in melee, as it was the shock effect of the charge that brought about the effectiveness of the tactics. Only later, when they came in contact with more heavily armoured and well organized armies of settled nations, would the need for fully armoured Cataphracts to fill the role of assault cavalry arise among the steppe peoples.

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