Hellenes, Craig Besinque’s new block game on the Peloponnesian War contains a wide variety of units which provide players with a wide variety of capabilities. In the next series of articles, I will attempt to break down the characteristics, capabilities, and the strategies behind the use of the variety of units in Hellenes.

The two belligerents of the Peloponnesian War are represented by red and blue blocks: red for Sparta and her allies; blue for Athens and her empire. Each belligerent’s units are divided into two classes: Greeks and Barbarians.

The core of each army in Hellenes is composed of Greeks. Greek units can be built up and maintained year-round. Greek units can also be transported by Fleets across the sea. Greek units form a wide variety of units: Hoplites, Infantry (non-hoplite infantry), Archers, Cavalry, and Fleets—which include marines.


Your hoplites in Hellenes are your core units for waging war on land. These are the guys you are going to need to use to bring your opponent’s empire to its knees. Every unit in Hellenes has an “agility” rating. Agility “A” units will “fire” before “B” “units; “B” units will fire before “C” units and so on. Almost all hoplites are agility “C.” Since defending units will fire before attackers with the same agility, it is important to recognize that attacking hoplites will almost always fire last in every combat round. Unlike units like Archers and Cavalry, Hoplite units are often large combat units with as many as 4 steps. In combat units will roll one six-sided die for each step of strength.

In Hellenes, units have a combat rating of 1, 2, and in only two cases, 3. Units with a combat value of ‘1’ inflict a hit on a die roll of ‘1’ and inflict a rout on a die roll of ‘6.’ Units with a combat value of ‘2’ hit on a die roll of 1-2 and inflict a rout on a die roll of 5-6. The two units with a rating of ‘3’ inflict a hit on a die roll of 1-3 and a rout on a 4-6. Most Hoplites in Hellenes have a combat rating of ‘2.’


It is easy to make the mistake of overestimating the capabilities of hoplites. They generally have a large size and a large combat rating. But remember, their low agility means they will often take attrition in battle before they get a chance to engage. Because of this, it is important that players employ combined arms tactics in Hellenes.

What do I mean by “combined arms?” I mean support the hoplites with lower agility infantry and cavalry even if their combat rating is a weak ‘1’ and their size is only one or two steps.

In a field battle, each hit will reduce the largest block of the opposing army by one step. Each rout will take the smallest block of the opposing army and remove it from the battle, but without inflicting any step losses. Routed units are considered to have been driven from the field and will not be able to fire in combat. Since there are times players will need to take two-step hoplites into a field battle, it is important when possible to support them with other two-step blocks to protect the hoplites from routs.

Not every hoplite unit is the same. In fact, the city-states of Hellenes vary in quality and in capability. In my next article we will explore the hoplites of the city-states of Greece and Sicily.

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Comment by Joel Toppen on October 14, 2008 at 10:52pm
Pretty much as I understand it. I don't have the Columbia game, but what I can tell you about Hellenes is that it is a deep game which takes the "Hammer of the Scots" system to the next level. From what I understand, Hellenes is a bit more detailed than the Columbia game.
Comment by Jim Werbaneth on October 14, 2008 at 10:50pm
This looks a lot different than Columbia's Athens and Sparta. That uses blocks to fight the Peloponnesian War, but it appears that the similarities largely end there.

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