|3Cv||General's element comprised of well outfitted Thracian nobles. These nobles often had fine bronze armor imported from Greece. Early Thracian cavalry wore Chalcidian helmets if they wore helmets at all, only later exchanging them for the "Thracian" helmets often seen in pictures. Later Thracian nobles wore more advanced composite scale armor, similar to the Skythians.|
The majority of Thracian cavalry was unarmoured javelin-armed light cavalry. These troops fought primarily with javelins, but could charge in the wedge formation used by the Skythians to some effect.
Later cavalry would carry the Pelta, and by the time of Alexander, some would carry the Thureos and wear open faces helmets, like the Thracian and Boeotian helmets. There is evidence that later light horse carried long swords and sarissae (lances), making them more dangerous opponents to formed foot troops.
Light horse riders would wear traditional Thracian garb: alokepsis, zeira, and boots.
These are the Peltasts and Thureophoroi which make up the bulk of the Thracian army. Fighting in loose order and using melee weapons when necessary, they were very effective in broken terrain, but unable to stand up to heavy formed troops in the open.
Their primary weapons were the javelin (of which they traditionally carried 2), and some sort of melee weapon. This weapon could be anything from a stabbing spear to a falx, to the "rhomphaia", which was a sort of battle scythe unique to the Thracians.
Before 300BC, these soldiers would carry the crescent shaped Pelta, and wore no helmets. Later, the Pelta was exchanged for the sturdier Thureos: a thick, oval shield believed to have been copied from Celtic designs. They also adopted the "Thracian" helmet some time in the 4th Century BC.
These could be javelin men, slingers, or (very rarely) archers. In early Thracian armies, the javelin men would be visually almost indistinguishable from Peltasts. They may have carried more javelins than a peltast, and wore either an alokepsis hat or went bare headed. Later javelin troops differed little in appearance, but may have adopted the Thureos shield.
Slingers were often the poorest troops, and dressed in little more than their tunics, which would be an earth tone in color.
Archers were very rare in the Thracian army, but were not unheard of.
As a Hilly terrain type, the DBA Thracian army must deploy 1-2 compulsory Steep Hills. River, Woods, BUA, Road are Optional, so 2-3 of these features must be present, with the constraint that no more than one each of BUA and River is allowed, and no more that 2 each of the other features.
Since the Thracians tended to build their walled cities and fortresses on the tops of hills, it seems natural to make any BUA be on top of one of the steep hills. As per the rules, this means that the BUA defenders do not get a bonus for defending the hill, but the hill itself is considered bad going, so anyone trying to attack the BUA will have difficulty.
Be fast when your opponent is slow, be nimble where he is clumsy, etc. The ability to change up to 1/4 of your army from LH to Aux gives you flexibility, and your low aggression factor often allows you to build a battlefield that is advantageous.
As with most Auxilia heavy armies, the best tactic is to be the defender, and set up plenty of bad going terrain. In bad going, Auxilia is among the most powerful elements available, able to go toe to toe with even blades, and besting all other troops. Choose to field all 9xAux, and let the LH have the day off, unless you need them to bust up some Spear, Pike, or Knight units.
If you need to fight in open terrain, or against other armies that like bad going, do not despare. Field all 3 LH units, and let some of your Auxilia stay home with their wives and children. The LH can destroy Spear and Pike if they can beat them, and are fast enough to threaten the flanks of blade units. Use your single cavalry general carefully, and avoid the temptation to throw him into combat too soon. With some good terrain usage, you can give any Hoplite army a bad time.
When fighting mounted armies, remember that your Psiloi can support up to 3 Auxilia at once, even in bad going, so you can fight cavalry on even terms in the open. Knights can still kill you without a double, but remember that your LH can do the same to them. Remember, with decent terrain on your side, and a bold battle plan, you can be victorious.
Later Hoplite Greek - Others (II/5i) or Early Imperial Roman (II/56)
Thrace and The Thracians (a.k.a. The Threskourion): This site really has all you could ever want to know about Thracians, from culture to weaponry.
Thanks to Dan Higdon for contributing this essay. Comments, questions or suggested additions to this page can be sent to Chris Brantley, IamFanaticus@gmail.com.
Last Updated: August 3, 2001