The new factions.
1. The Khazar Khanate
(replaces The Quman Khanate)
This is no doubt one of the most famous steppe factions of early medieval history. It was very distinct, as it was the only state in Judaism was the state religion. The Khazars were also highly advanced - their cities were among the richest of the known world as they dominated the trade on the steppe. But the power of the great Khazar Qaghanate was destroyed by the coalition of the Kievan Rus and Oghuz nomads during a few years campaign circa 965-969. However, the state did not disappear. In a form it survived as a much smaller territory in the lower Volga and was still strong enough to inflict heavy defeats on the invading army of the Shaddadids of Arran and Armenia in 1030. So in 1003 the Khazar state is far away from its glory and faces many problems but this means great gameplay for the player: he must rebuild the once great Khazar Qaghanate.
2. The Emirate of Samanids
(replaces The Western Qarakhanid Khanate)
The Samanid Empire was the first state ruled by the Persian Tajiks. The role of the Samanids in the development of Central Asia is hard to overestimate - under their reigns the culture flourished, the cities grew greatly, and the lands enriched themselves. But the great Samanid Empire, due to the intrigues of the Turkish military commanders, collapsed in 999 after being invaded by the Ghaznavids from the south and the Qarakhanids from the East. As a consequence it ceased to exist until, one year later, the famous Persian hero, one of the few surviving members of the Samanid family - Ismail II b. Nuh al-Muntasir (the Victor) escaped from a Qarakhanid prison, gathered many Samanid supporters and started his uneven fight with Qarakhanids, Ghaznavids and Khwarezm in order to restore the Samanid empire. The year 1003 was the time of his greatest successes, as with the help of the Seljuks ally he retook Bukhara and Samarqand, crushing the main Qarakhanid army. This triggered a movement in the surrounding lands - many local Shahs decided to support al-Muntasir. The player will have a unique chance to restore the Samanid empire. It will be a very demanding task but the glory will be all the greater.
3. The Kingdom of Shahi
(replaces The Kingdom of Guge)
This was the most powerful Indian state that struggled with the Ghaznavid invasion and the ruler of which was described with the words: "(He) was perhaps the last Indian ruler to show such spirit of aggression, so sadly lacking in later Rajput kings." The Shahis hold a position great importance for HotS gameplay - they are the greatest obstacle for Ghaznavid expansion in the East and they are the only state on HotS map that represent Hindu religion.
4. The Emirate of Azerbaijan
(replaces The Shirvan Shahdom).
The emirate was ruled by the Rawadid tribe, which once was Arab but later became Kurdish in culture. This Azeri state was famous for many successful campaigns in Transcaucasia area and for holding off the nomadic Oghuz invaders from the East. They occupy a very suitable land for the gameplay of HotS - in the middle of a great rebellious zone and leave some space for expansion for the Georgians, the Alans and the Khazars while still having a great opportunity for relatively easy expansion in almost all directions.
The revised old factions.
1. The Seljuk Sultanate.
It was around 985, when the legendary Seljuk - the founder of the Seljuks - left the Yagbu of Oghuz and moved to Jend where he adopted Islam and formed a new nomadic association. So the year 1003 is the dawne of the Seljuks, still before its invasion on Khurasan. This is an excellent opportunity for players to start from the very beginning!
2. The Khwarezm Shahdom
In 1003 the Shahdom is ruled by the native Persian family of the Mamunids (in 1040 by a Turkic family of slave origin), so the army of Khwarezm in 1003 is much more Persian and much less Turkic.
3. The Ghur Shahdom
In 1003 the state is a famous nest of infidels among the Islamic lands (in 1040 it was Islamic).
4. The Ghaznavid Sultanate.
The year 1003 is one of great opportunity for the Ghaznavids, but their greatest conquests are yet to come.
5. The Buyid Shahdom
In 1003 they are in much better shape than they are in 1040 - the strongest members of the Buyid family Baha' al-Daula cocontrolraq, Kerman and Fars are alive and well.
6. The Eastern Roman Empire.
In 1003 they were extremely powerful - the war with the Danube Bulgars was almost won and, in the East, the ERE conquered a big chunk of Syria.
7. The Kingdom of Hungary.
In 1003 the Kingdom was divided, as the Ajtony and Gyula formed separate principalities in southern Pannonia and Transylvania. But in that year the Kingdom of Hungary was ruled by one of the greatest rulers - the famous King Stephen the Great. With such a skilled king everything is possible...
8. The Pecheneg Khanate.
They hold many lands in the east and have many armies at their disposal - more so in 1003 than 1040.
9. The Oghuz Yabgu.
In 1003 they hold more lands in the west, but some eastern provinces had been taken by the fledgling Seljuk state.
10. The Qipchak Khanate
In 1003 the Qumans had not set apart from the Eastern Qipchaks who themselves had just separated themselves from the Kimek Qaghanate. They are a young and ambitious force.
11. The Kimek Qaghanate.
The year of 1003 is a time when the troubles of disintegration of the extensive Qaghanate started. On the western part of the Qaghanate the Qipchak confederation became practically independent, but the Kimeks still posses cities in western Dzhungaria and are able to hold their position.
12. The Qarakhanid Khanate.
In 1003 they are close to the peak of their greatest glory. More importantly, the Khanate is still united.
The old factions with little or none changes:
1. The Great Principality of Kiev
2. The Fatimid caliphate
3. The Emirate of Uqaylids
4. The Emirate of Volga-Bulgaria
5. The Bashkir Khanate
6. The Taiga Khanate
7. The Principality of Perm
8. The Kyrgyz Khanate
9. The Naiman Khanate
10. The Uighur Khanate
11. The Kingdom of Georgia
12. The Kingdom of Alania
13. The Kingdom of Crusaders (emerging in 1098)
14. The Kara Khitan Qaghanate (emerging 1125)