EB1:Light horse archers use their composite horse bows to advantage. It is their role to shower the enemy with arrows, to act as skirmishers and stay out of melee save to chase routers.
EB2: Horse Archers who depend on speed and accuracy, showering the enemy with arrows from a distance to break them up in preparation for a charge by the cataphract corps.
These cavalrymen are recruited from the clan warriors of Parthia, and originally come from the steppes of Central Asia. Although they now live in Iran, they still learn to ride as soon as they can walk like their ancestors. They are expert archers and expert horsemen, being able to shoot a bow accurately from horseback, and they are the masters of the ‘Parthian shot’, being able to shoot backwards at full gallop. They are best used at weakening enemy formations so that the heavy cavalry can finish them off. Almost impossible to destroy and unwilling to come to grips with well ordered infantry these horsemen use marauder tactics to bring down their enemies. Dense formations of infantry are their favoured target.
Historically, the Pahlava Shivatir formed the backbone of all Parthian armies. Led by the Dehbed minor nobility into battle, these Bandaka (bondsmen or retainers) rely on missile fire as their primary asset. They used probably the best weapon for the light horseman, which was the composite horse bow. It was similar to the simple self bow but used multiple layers of wood, horn and sinew to produce a stronger bow with a greater draw weight—the force built up in the string that will propel the arrow forward to its target— for a small size.
Swift and skilled in the art of archery as well as horse riding, these men of the Dahae tribe known as Parni are feared raiders and looters, but also capable warriors. Consisting of free men who have joined one or other warlord in the hopes for plunder, they are not professional warriors, but they have been raised since childhood to use the bow and arrow, both against men and beasts, and are familiar with battle and war. Although organised in a tribal fashion, and a clear expression of the steppe nomadic ancestry of the Parni, and the Pahlavan kingship, these warriors would make up the majority of any Pahlavan force, even in settled lands. It is, after all, these men, and their famed "Parthian Tactics", of feigning retreat, and showering the enemy with arrows to break them up in preparation for a charge by the cataphract corps, that have brought the Pahlava many victories against more numerous and powerful enemies, and no doubt will do so also in the future. Thus, even though infantrymen may become more and more important parts of a Pahlavan army as the empire expands, any budding commander would be wise to keep these men an important component of his army, and thereby rain death and destruction upon his foe, as would the Parni raiders and pillagers of old.
Dressed in the common everyday habits of the steppes, a kurta and trousers, these men have no common type of dress or armour. Some of the kurtas have a wide, loose-fitting cut, and are worn in combination with a tighter shirt underneath, to protect from the cold weather. On their heads, some wear phrygian caps, with flaps for tying underneath the chin. Others also wear the traditional Bashlyk, a headgear closely connected with the Pahlavans, and often seen worn by rulers on Arsacid coins. The bashlyk is a leather or cloth cap with a cloth aventail, and two flaps that can be tied around the chin, or over the mouth to protect the rider from cold air, or if need be, sandstorms. The clothes, as well as the caps are all dyed in dull colours, among them several shades of pink and blue. A pink kurta is for instance seen on a mural from the Parthian Capital Nisa, showing a horse archer chasing a defeated foe. Many also have simple decorations, such as dots and zig-zag lines. One defining feature of the Parthians were the loose-fitting leather chaps worn to protect the legs from chafing while riding, not unlike the chaps worn by cowboys in the Americas. Such chaps are seen both on murals, and on many statues depicting Parthian warrior. One interesting note in relation to this is the existence of some Parthian coins, depicting what can be interpreted as horses equipped with saddles that incorporate such chaps, complete with feet and all. Some were even minted by the Roman turncoat Labienus following the Roman defeat at Carrhae. They use the composite bow typical for the Eurasian steppes, made out of horn, wood and sinew. The construction and recurve of the bow would make it bend backwards in the shape of a "C" when unstrung, and as a result, these bows were almost always carried strung, unlike regular bow types used by many settled peoples, where the tension of the string would weaken the wood, thus forcing the archer to unstring the bow when it was not in use. In addition to their bow, which is carried in a gorytos which also serves as quiver, they carry akinakes daggers, worn on their thighs. These daggers were not optimally suited for mounted warfare, but then, these men were not intended to engage the enemy in melee. That was the job of the more heavily armed and armoured cataphracts.
Historically, horse archers were one of the main components of Parthian armies, and in many cases, the signature force of the Arsacid kingdom. At Carrhae it was the Parthian tactics with feigned retreats by the horse archers, showering the infantry with arrows and loosening them up before the charge of the cataphract lancers that ultimately broke up the Roman legions under Crassus. During the early period, the horse archers were tribesmen, just like among any other nomadic people, who would follow a warlord in search of plunder, and would use their everyday attire, and the weapons they would use in their everyday life even in times of peace; the bow and arrow for the hunt, and sometimes also a lasso for reeling in cattle or horses. As the Arsacid kingdom transformed into a more sedentary kingdom, the availability of nomadic tribesmen declined in relation to other types of troops more prevalent in the Iranian plateau. Still, horse archers remained an important component of Parthian armies up until the fall of the Arsacid dynasty in the 3rd Century AD. At this point, the horse archer corpse more likely consisted either of settled peoples equipped as horse archers, or tribal auxiliaries from subservient steppe tribes that still retained the nomadic lifestyle that the Parthians by then had long abandoned.
These light horse archers will make up the bulk of a regular Pahlava army, their bows will rain hell upon light infantry and cavalry and their speed will allow them to outrun and outmaneuver so that they can shoot them in the rear where they least expect it. Once the the enemy has been weakened due to fatigue or casualties, heavy cavalry such as cataphracts can initiate a powerful charge that can rout them, with the horse archers killing as many routers as possible.
Their weakness however is their weak armor and melee stat, making them unsuitable in prolonged melee combat against even the weakest infantry unit and focus fire from archers will easily destroy a good number of them.
They are recruitable in both Nomadism and Pastoralism nomadic governments although the later will take longer to acquire the necessary MIC.