Wargame Rules Review
The work on Classical Hack began in 1990 as an ongoing group effort of the Jogglers, a Western New York wargame group including Philip Viverito, Richard Kohlbacher, and Ed Backer. The purpose was to create an historical, fast play, user friendly set of wargames rules dealing with the ancient period. Since 1990 Classical Hack has been played at all major east coast conventions. Initially, the rules were designed as individual volumes, including Classical Hack I, Classical Hack II, and Classical Hack III. This was done in order to preserve the historical authenticity of each period. The Jogglers had grown tired of pitting Superman against Mighty Mouse, i.e. Romans of Caesar’s time against Darius’ Persians and Medes. While realizing that every wargamer has different needs and desires, especially in tournament play, the Jogglers decided to take a different direction, that being period specific play.
The rules have been set down with the core rules for things like movement and shooting. To adjust for the differences in the four different periods there are four "Period Play" sections. Each section is adjusted to reflect the abilities of the armies within their own time. To facilitate this, there are also sections on "Special Tactics", "People on the Fringe", "Beast, Vehicles, and Machines", and "Army Formations", in addition to the period specifif charts for melee, shooting, and other considerations. The rules are not designed or intended for out of period play.
Quick Reference Charts and Markers
Unit Labels and Status Markers
Classical Hack requires no book keeping, because all relevant unit information is written on a small label attached to the figure stand. Activity and Morale Status Markers are used to indicate charging, counter-charging, evading, pursuing, ambushing, breaking-off, and rallying units. Rout and disorder markers show the current unit morale status. Sample markers are included in the rules and may be photocopied onto cardboard. Most players will want to use sculpted status markers, however, to achieve a more pleasing look on the table-top.
Deployment is done sequentially, first one player lays out his army and then the other. Units hidden inside woods or gullies, behing hills or dunes, are considered to be in an ambush position and need not be set up on the table. The owning player marks the positions of hidden units on his map, and reveals them when an ambush is sprung.
When mixed units are used, the higher morale class and heavier type unit deploys in the front rank. When more than 50 percent of the front rank troops have become casualties, the unit drops to the lower morale class and unit type. The rules also cover mounted mixed units like equitata light cavalry with attached infantry of Period 3, circa 50 B.C. Equitata units are deployed with the mounted elements in the front rank. The entire unit moves at mounted speed. When in ambush position, the mounted and dismounted elements of an equitata fight separately.
Commanders and Command Control
Commanders are based individually, with an escort, or attached to a unit stand. Army commanders and their subordinates may be rated from cowardly, or incompetent to brave or beloved by their men. Commanders attached to a unit may not leave it at any time, with certain exceptions listed in the Risk to Commander table which regulates commander casualties from shooting or melee. Unattached commanders or subordinate commanders with an escort may join routing units in an attempt to stop the rout. If a commander is killed, his entire command may retire. The Risk to Commander table provides ten unique and realistic command casualty results, ranging from a light wound which angers the commander and provides a +1 bonus for the next melee round, to a kill result which compels the commander’s guard to fight to the last man.
Just like an ancient commander cannot cruise around the battlefield, rallying troops here and supporting melees there, his command control options are limited. Non-Roman close order foot, fanatic, scythed chariots, elephants, and elite/personal follower units may not voluntarily break off from melee, except under the death of commander rule. Other involuntary actions include pursuit, retirement and rout moves. Target priorities dictate that shooters will fire at charging opponents, enemy units which caused casualties this turn or last, or enemy in range, in that order.
Special Tactics and Army Formations
The special tactics section covers Theban Sacred Band units, Imperial Alexandrian kontos-armed shock cavalry, Imperial Alexandrian and Roman pass through tactics against elephant and chariot attacks, Roman testudos, Byzantine shock cavalry, shieldwalls, fanatics, horse archers, mounted skirmishers, and equitata mounted mixed units. The People on the Fringe section covers special tactics of tribal armies, clans and warbands.
The Army Formations section explains the typical deployment of Spartan and Persian armies ca. 480 B.C., the Imperial Macedonien Army ca. 325 B.C., Roman Legion ca. 214 B.C., Roman and Celtic armies ca. 50 B.C., Late Roman Army ca. 357 A.D., and Byzantine Army ca. 530 A.D.
Beast, Vehicles & Machines
This section deals with Celtic chariots, scythed chariots, elephants, bolt and stone throwing balista artillery, and boats. Celtic chariots cannot charge close order foot frontally, unless the enemy is disordered, but chariot riders may dismount and continue their charge on foot.
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Classical Hack is easy to learn and fun to play. Special tactics and the limitations of command control create the unique in-period look and feel of these rules. Classical Hack is compatible with foot and mounted figures based for dba or dbm. Boardgames and campaign rules from other publishers may be used to run Classical Hack campaigns.
Frequently Asked Questions
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