- "They have courage, I’ll give them that, but it’s a wild courage, untempered by discipline that’s beaten into a man by drill sergeants like me. Give me a month, and I’ll have them marching like respectable Empire soldiers"
- —Drill Sergeant Klaus Woerke[1a]
The Kossars form both the backbone and standing army of Kislev, as well as the Tzarina's personal force of foot-infantry. They fight on foot with axe and bow and are descended from an Ungol tribe that previously fought as mercenaries for the Gospodars against the other Ungols when they first invaded. As a result, joining the kossars is seen as a way of cutting their ties and escaping a difficult past.[1b]
The officers accept anyone who can pass the fitness tests, and Tzar Boris granted new kossars a full pardon for any crimes committed before they joined. This pardon does not, of course, apply to crimes committed after becoming a kossar. Contemporary kossars include both Ungols and Gospodars, and they have more than their fair share of criminals, bored younger sons, and general troublemakers. This structure means they have an even worse off-duty reputation than most soldiers.[1b]
Their Boyars do not keep records of the number of kossars executed for their crimes against civilians, as the numbers would be too embarrassing. The Ice Queen would like to restore the kossars pay and increase the size of the army, introducing elements of cavalry. However, many nobles, both Gospodar and Ungol, are very suspicious of any moves to increase the size of the standing army and have encouraged winged lancers and horse archers to see any attempt to include cavalry in the standing army as an insult to their prowess. On the other hand, they are extremely effective in battle, as they are trained constantly and drilled in battlefield tactics and manoeuvres. This reputation is also widespread, so a settlement facing imminent attack is always glad to see the kossars but also keen to see them leave again.[1b]