The Peloponnesian War was one of the most terrible conflicts in human history. Waged between 431 and 404 B.C., the Peloponnesian War shook the Greek world to its very core and ultimately reshaped the Greek world. It fatally weakened victor and vanquished alike. Thirty-three years after Sparta's hard-won victory, the city-state and former Spartan ally, Thebes, would be the dominant power in Greece. Less than seventy years after the conclusion of the Peloponnesian War, King Philip II of Macedonia gained dominance over the Greeks. Now you have a chance to change history. Can you bring the mighty Athenian Empire to its knees? Or will you crush the Spartan League?
Hellenes - Campaigns of the Peloponnesian War is an action-packed two-player block game of this titanic struggle. Blocks provide a strong fog-of-war element. Blocks are positioned upright in play with only the block's owner being able to see the block's unit information. This adds surprise and bluff to the game.
One of the most fascinating elements of the Peloponnesian War is the asymmetry between the combatants: the city-state of Athens with the most powerful navy in the world (the navy which defeated the Persians at Salamis in 480 B.C.), and Sparta with their elite hoplite corps. Athens is the dominant naval power; Sparta is the dominant land power. To be victorious in Hellenes, each player must use his or her wits to out-maneuver their opponent.
Hellenes includes two standard scenarios 431-422 BC and 413-404 BC, plus a short introductory game covering Sicily only 415-413 BC, and a combined 415-404 BC Sicilian Campaign game. Land, sea and siege warfare are covered, and Pillaging is a significant method of gaining Prestige, upon which Victory is based. Play is card-driven with dual-usage cards having an Event and an Action Value, only one of which can be used when played. A game-year consists of 4 seasons, each player playing one card per season. Lower action values go first (Events having zero action value). A combat phase follows each player’s Actions phase, during which field battles and Siege assaults are resolved, or Siege Attrition is waged.
The area-based map covers Epidamnus to Rhodes, Byzantium to Pylos, plus a Sicily inset map. Land areas may contain fortified Cities or Ports, the latter having access to a specified adjacent sea area even when besieged. Cities have a fixed loyalty to one side or the other, which affects play. Some sea areas are separated by DeepSea borders, which are dangerous to cross due to possible storm losses.
Game units are color-coded to match their home land areas/Cities. Units include Hoplites, Light Infantry, Archers, Cavalry, Barbarians and garrisons. Units can only arrive in play or be built up when occupying a Home area. Greek units arrive as 1cv units in a home area and remain in play. Barbarian units arrive at full strength but must disband at the end of the current game year. Garrisons can be built in captured opposing Cities and arrive automatically in friendly Cities that become besieged.
Events in Hellenes include Civil War/Treachery/Factionalism (affect siege battles); Revolts in specified regions; Leadership changes; Raised Taxation (bonus actions at a cost of more revolts); Persian Aid (bonus Actions at a cost in Prestige lost yearly and nullification of Revolt cards); Earthquake and Augury (prevent certain enemy actions).
Players expend Actions to: Move a group (or form one), Build an existing unit (located at home) one step, Recruit a new random unit (in a home area), Pillage a besieged opposing city, or Maintain a unit outside a friendly city in Winter.
Friendly units from different areas may regroup into a friendly city for one action (may not attack). One group may be moved (can disperse to different locations and attack) for one action. Units besieging an opposing City can Pillage it and withdraw to an adjacent area, gaining one Prestige (2 Prestige if Athens or Sparta) for one action.
In Winter, units outside a friendly City must disband before combat unless they have been Maintained at a cost of 1 action. After actions, units outside a friendly city may either move one area into a friendly city (Quartering), or make a free move (normal range) into a HOME city (Wintering). Both Quartering and Wintering are free moves with no action cost. However after this all unmaintained units must be disbanded (as well as all Barbarians on the map). The upside of Winter Maintenance is that only maintained units can wage Winter Siege attrition, which is much more damaging than in other seasons.
COMBAT & SIEGES
Players wage land and sea combat with units attacking in order determined by unit-type. Only Fleets can fight at sea, and they also have land combat capability. Combat results includes ROUTs (as well as HITs), which remove the weakest current unit from the battle, without doing it any other damage. When one side is completely routed or retreats, the battle ends. Prestige is gained by the battle winner.
Sieges play a large role. Sieges must be established for one complete season before Siege combat or Pillaging can occur (giving the besieged player a chance to relieve the Siege by sortie or outside attack). Siege combat can be Attrition or Assault. Siege Assault gives all defenders first fire, double fire/double rout, double defense and invulnerability from being Routed. Siege Attrition is based on the number of DEFENDING units, Winter attrition being much more damaging.
Hellenes measures Prestige on a Prestige Track. At the end of each track in each direction is Immediate Victory. Intermediate sections of the track allow a chance of enemy Negotiated Surrender (with a Prestige cost to open negotiations) or endgame Victory if the game goes full term.
Playing time is 3-4 hours for the standard games, 2 hours for the short game and 4-5 hours for the 415 BC Campaign game.