Monday, March 6, 2023

Wargame Design: Homer's Heroes: Bronze Age Bad Boys


Homer's Heroes: Bronze Age Bad Boys has been a glimmer in my eye for the past 4 years or so.  I am glad to report that it is finally done.  You can find it on the Wargames Vault here.  I have been interested in doing a Iliad or Homeric themed game for a very long time, but always faced one major hurdle.  That hurdle was the problem of overcoming Melee Yahtzee.  However, I spent a great deal of time thinking on this topic, as well as reading a lot of other wargames; before I finally came up with the answers I was satisfied with.  Thanks to that, I felt comfortable putting this game out into the wild.  

Going into this game, I had a few major design goals that I wanted to accomplish: 

1. Scale and Model agnostic (Of course!) 
2. Avoid Melee Yahtzee so combat has decision making
3. Model versus Model skirmish gaming
4. Chariots!  
5. Many Modes of Play
6. A veneer of Iliad inspired combat with a Campaign

Scale and Model Agnostic

I am pretty sure I have this one solved at this point!  Since there are so many great model ranges out there for the Argonauts, Trojan Wars, and historical Greeks I wanted to make sure people could use what they all ready have.  Since this is a Model vs. Model skirmish it became even easier to make scale and model agnostic.  

All measurements use a generic method called an MU or Measurement Unit.  I typically used 28mm models that were single based using 1 MU = 1 inch.  However, they is no reason you have to use that size of model or MU distance.  You can use whatever works with your collection.  In a pinch, you could even replace a single model with a base of models instead.  The rules will still work fine either way.  

The distance of an MU is left to the player based on model, basing, and size of table you wish to use.

 Avoid Melee Yahtzee

This was the most important aspect of the rules that I needed to get right!  Too many model vs. model games remove the decision making once two models get into Hand-to-Hand combat.  That would not work for a game like this, as then it would get boring really fast!  Here is how I went about trying to keep melee interesting: 

1.  Facings - It makes a difference where you are being engaged by, and a tactic can be engaging someone outside of their combat arc for advantage. 

2. Zone of Control- Models can control within 2MU of them, with some exceptions.  That means, you can disengage from combat by leaving this ZoC such as pushing an opponent back or choosing to disengage. 

3. Different Weapons and Armor - Each weapon or armor type has advantages and weaknesses.  For example, a spear gives an increased Zone of Control, or do more damage, or negate armor, or can be thrown, etc. 

4. Choose the Results Combat - Players can choose the results of combat, including dealing damage if they wish.  However, lesser fighters may want to slip out of the enemies combat arc, disengage, push them back, pin them down, etc.  That means, heroes have an advantage in combat, but can be countered. 

5. Damage- This is not always causing death, but can also cause enemies to run away, degrade, or route.  

6. Outnumbering- Their are big advantages to teaming up on a foe, so soldiers can bring down more skilled adversaries. 


This is not my first game with chariots, but I knew this would be an essential part of the game.  They feature strongly in The Iliad.  Therefore, I spent time making sure they had benefits for the charioteers, such as better armor, improved speed, and a better fighting platform.  However, their are also drawbacks as they can not turn on a dime.  They also allow some great cinematic moments such as leaping onto them.  Tossing riders out of  the back and commandeering them from their crew.      

Many Modes of Play

The default setting for the game is Versus play.  Two heroic retinues face each other in combat in one of the 6 or so scenarios in the book.  However, that is not the only mode of play.  The core rulebook sets up for solo, co-op, and campaign play.  

In campaign play, hitting certain milestones in game allows you to "Grow your Legend".  Growing your legend allows you to recruit lost soldiers, increase your connection with your patron god, modify the campaign going forward, or modify the upcoming scenario.  

There are also rules for Solo and Co-op rules.  This includes rules for Mythological Monsters to act as foes instead of other Greeks.  They include rules for a simple AI and special rules to customize your bestiary with monsters like Harpies, Men of the Dragon's Teeth, Amazons, Minotaurs, Hydras, and more.  In addition, once you defeat such a beast there are rules for adding it to your warband with Legends.  There are three special solo scenarios as well.  

Iliad and Greek Myth Veneer

To be one of Homer's Heroes, you need a little special something; and that usually takes the form of a connection with the gods!  Each Hero has a patron deity, and each patron provides your Hero with that little special something that makes them stand out above and beyond the normal soldier.  

In addition, there are three basic unit types in the game; Heroes, Seconds, and Soldiers.  Soldiers can perform all their actions with 1 dice, Seconds 2, and Heroes 3.  In addition, Heroes and Seconds have the opportunity to chain their actions with multiple activations.  This allows them to stand out from the common soldiers!  

Finally, their are simple rules for Myth Magic to recreate famous Greek characters like Circe, Orpheus, or Medea.  These simple magic rules can be used to add even more mythic madness to your games.  


This should give you a solid feel for what Homer's Heroes: Bronze Age Bad Boys has to offer.  If you all ready have a force of Greek miniatures you can easily get a game.  Each Hero and his troupe of followers is only 10 models at most.  If you are looking for a semi-historical, fantastical, model-vs-model skirmish campaign game with solo and co-op modes, then these should be of interest to you.

You can pick up Homer's Heroes: Bronze Age Bad Boys from the Wargames Vault here


Become a Patron and get access to all the cool stuff, a peak behind the curtain of Blood and Spectacles, and early-access to playtest games!  

You can follow Blood and Spectacles Facebook page or Instagram for more fun! 

Check out the latest publications and contact me at our Blood and Spectacles website

Or purchase all out games at the Blood and Spectacles Publishing Wargames Vault Page!

1 comment: