Updated: May 24
Judean Hammer tells the story, or at least part of the story of Judas Maccabeus about 160 years before the common era. It's a time when the world was splintering, yet again, but this time it followed the continued breakup of Alexander the Great's former empire. Although Alexander had died over a century and a half earlier, his generals and their progeny had continued to fight over the mess he had left behind.
Increasingly, local people were searching for ways to self-govern and throw the yoke of Hellenistic oppressors when possible. Enter an especially egregious case of trying to force the locals to follow a belief system imposed upon them- Antiochus IV Epiphanes, or "God Manifest" to his friends, attempts to force naked people and pigs on the Jewish people. It doesn't go so well with Judas' dad Mattathias. That's the rough outlines of the history setting our conflict in place.
Judas and his allies work from a slight logistical disadvantage to cut off the forces of the Seleucid Greeks. Each player will take on the role of either Seleucids or Judeans. The Seleucids have to maintain logistical supply lines to their supply centers or lose limited units. The Judeans have a unique ambush attack when the Seleucids move. Each player can play cards for either the operational value shown, with some adjustments of course, or for the event. If you play your opponents card as an ops card, they get a chance to use it. When any card is used for the event it is burned, removed, from the game. Combat is simple and reminders for almost everything are shown on the board.
This game will feel both simple and refreshing to those who are fans of war games. It's almost a Euro game in terms of area control and resource management. Your units are limited and it might be important to lose a battle you willingly take on, just to mess with your opponent and get your cubes back. The whole thing has just enough chaos alongside a general historical, geographic, and social considerations to make it a war game.
There are a ton of assumptions in this game, but there are a ton of assumptions about Hanukkah too. Why is that relevant? Well, without the exploits of Judas Maccabeus taking Jerusalem and cleansing the temple, we wouldn't have modern Hannukkah. So, there's that. Guerilla warfare and its brutality is celebrated in this game. Should that have implications for modern conflicts in the region? You can decide for yourself. Maybe this is just one take on some very broad sweeps in a particular part of human history- from a certain point of view.
Judean Hammer plays in about 60-75 minutes. 2 players. I would recommend it for players as young as 10. You can find my how to play and overview here. Happy gaming!