The Age of Persian Empire

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The Founder: The Rise of the Persian Empire under
Cyrus the Great (550-529 BCE)

by Mark Kyriss

> Campaigns > DBA Resources > Fanaticus

In 559 BC, tribal strongman Cyrus II became king of a tribe of hillmen known as the Parsa (or Parsua). The internal decay of their nominal overlords, the Median Empire, under their last king, Astyages, set the stage for one of the most rapid and dynamic shifts in power in the Middle East in ancient times. Cyrus "The Great" destroyed the Medes in 550. During the next 21 years, the Persians went from being a "barbaric" group of tribesmen to the most culturally, bureaucratically, and militarily advanced civilization that had been seen to-date. Cyrus advanced the Persian Empire's frontiers to include all of Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, the Iranian highlands and the Middle East to the borders of Egypt during this time. It was up to his successor, Cambyses, to extend the Empire to its maximum limit with his conquest of Egypt.

This six-player campaign is designed to replicate the remarkable 21-year emergence of one of the greatest empires of antiquity. Except as listed below, campaign uses all campaign rules in the DBA 2.2 rulebook.

Participating Armies

  • Early Achaemenid Persians (I/43a) -- After Campaign Year 3, may also use variant I/43(b) - Shah-an-Shah (King of Kings) Cyrus II (The Great)
  • Skythians/Sakae (I/20) - Numerous tribal chiefs
  • Neo-Babylonians (I/44(b)) - King Nabonidus / King Bel-Shazzar
  • Saitic Egyptians (I/53) - A couple weak Pharoahs
  • Ionian Greeks (I/52(g)) - Numerous city-states
  • Kingdom of Lydia (I/50) - King Croesus
  • Median Empire (I/40(c)) - King Astyages (see special rules below)

Campaign Map

The campaign map is available in either PDF or Powerpoint format.

Special Rules

At the beginning of the campaign, all players start with a standard, 12-element field army in their capital space (i.e. starred city on map), except the following:

Persians: The Persians have two, 12-element field armies that start in their two frontier spaces (NOT the capital). Unfortunately, they only draw replacements from their Reserve pool as normal, but may allocate these new elements to either army, as desired.

Median Empire - To replicate the tottering, on-the-verge-of-collapse Median Empire, the Median army has one 6-element army (which must include a General as usual).

Any unengaged player may play the Median army-a dedicated seventh player is not required.

The Median army will never leave its capital space. If attacked, it will fight a battle against the attacker. It may NOT withdraw into the capital and withstand a siege.

Because of its size, the Median army will be defeated if it loses its General element or TWO other elements (DO NOT count the Median camp for losses, however).

To represent the assimilation of the Medes, once the Median army is defeated, its capital becomes possession of the attacking player (as usual). Any surviving elements from the Median army are transferred into the Reserve pool of the attacking player. These specific Median elements may be used to replace losses in the victor's army/armies in place of using his own. Once they are destroyed, the player does not regenerate these Median elements, and must use his own army's elements from his Reserve pool as replacements from then on.

Recruitment: As a change to the standard rules, players may "accrue" elements in their Reserve above and beyond the standard 12 they start with (24 in the case of the Persians, and 6 for the Medes). These are accrued at the same rate as listed in the rules (one for each city and two for each capital).

Accrued elements MUST be fielded as replacements to fielded armies as soon as possible.

Creating New Armies: If at any time a player, after filling all shortages in his field army, has 12 or more elements in his Reserve pool, he may create a second (or in the case of the Persians, third) field army in his capital. These additional armies follow all normal rules, and may be reinforced per the special rules for the Persians above.

Stacking: A player may never have more than one army in any space.

Transfers Between Armies: Armies of the same player in adjacent spaces may "transfer" elements between them (principally to beef one army up at the expense of the other). This transfer is conducted before any movement during the campaign turn and must be specified in the movement orders.

Victory Conditions

Once a player's capital is taken, that player is out of the game. Players may become Tributary vassals of other players as usual.

Use the normal Prestige points and victory conditions per the Conquest paragraph on page 16. The campaign lasts 21 Campaign Years (historically ending with Cyrus' death in battle against an obscure Saka tribe known as the Massagatae in 529 BC) or until one player is the sole remaining player on the board, if sooner.


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Last Updated: 4 July 2004.

Thanks to Mark Kyriss for this submission.
Comments and feedback welcome.