Classical Hack

Brief Description These rules are intended as a user-friendly, fast-playing, yet historical set of ancients rules. The focus is on warfare between historical adversaries, broken into four Periods (600 BC - 380 BC, 380 BC - 100 BC, 100 BC - 250 AD, and 250 AD to 600 AD). Armies are purchased using a point system. Optional rules allow for individualized commanders.
Period 600 B.C. to 600 A.D.
(For games in an earlier period, see the sister ruleset, Holy Hack)
Scale Figure scale can vary, representing between 5-120 combatants per figure. Ground scale is 1" = 100 feet. One turn represents 15-30 minutes. Designed for use with 25mm and 15mm figures.
Type # of figures Width*
25mm scale 15mm scale
Open 2 60mm 40mm
Loose 3
Close 4
* Depth is set solely by the physical requirements of the figures
Contents 44-page rulebook
Designers Philip J. Viverito, Ed Backer, Richard Kohlbacher
Publisher Second edition published 1997 by L.M.W. Works, combining all three of the first-edition rulebooks (Classical Hack I, II, and III).


What You Think

Paul Rigby (
I've started playing Classical and Knight Hack lately, and they are my favorites.

I'm fairly new to ancients and medieval. I've tried a couple games of DBA, DBM, Medieval Warfare and WAB. I never got hooked on any of them.

  • DBA was too small for me. I like lots of figs on the table.
  • I live in a place where historicals are just getting going, and every time we played DBM it took forever to figure out what the rules meant.
  • Medieval Warfare is pretty fun. I hear it's close to 7th edition.
  • WAB doesn't have the depth I want in a battle. It's tough to have battle lines in a 5-6 turn game. We always ended up making one big battle line and whoever lost a flank first lost the game. There wasn't enough time (and space) to throw in a another line behind it and get anything out of it.

The main reasons I like Classical Hack are:

  1. Depth, and because the game goes quick I can use it. The lines of Velites, Hastati, Princeps and Triarii work great.
  2. It's fast and easy. You get historical results and the rules are built for historical tactics. There are a couple special rules that make some armies more historical. Romans can pass through lines, form Tetsudo and don't run when their commander get whacked are some examples.
  3. This is probably true to most rules, but anything can happen when the pila start flying. I just had a group of really bad-tempered Welsh tear through a group of knights, fyrd and barely get stopped by my king's bodyguard. The rest of its buddies got stopped cold, but this one really wanted to give it to the king.

The one problem I've had is there are no army lists. Being a new gamer, I had to go to other game systems to get the right proportions of units for my games.

The authors intended it to be for club play, not tournaments. So, there probably are a few holes in the rules (they are written in normal English). As long as everyone plays in the spirit of the game, you'll have no problem.

They also make a scenario book on the Romans. This has 7-8 army lists for all the different periods of Romans. The book is extremely well done. It also has about 22 different historical battles to fight.

David Yates (
I was very pleased to meet Phillip at Historicon 97 and participate in the Hack games. I played in three games and found the rules to be both gamer friendly and historicaly satisfying. I purchased Holy, Classical, and Knight Hack, and I'm greatly pleased with them.

I had come to Historicon to learn new systems and become inspired. I must say out of the 16 sets of rules I purchased, these three were in the top 5. I going to take them around to the local hobby and game stores and insist that they order some!

Actually getting to game with the author helps one to get an insight into the spirit and intent of the rules. The Classical period is my favorite, in particular the Roman world. I found DBM, Tactica, and Armati - all good systems - unable to generate the feel or recreation of what I read. I am completely satisfied with Classical Hack and the way which it addresses the differences in this period.

John T. (
I jumped into a demo game at Historicon, and I had a great time. I was part of the Gallic left flank, and did OK (I think), considering that I had never played in an ancients game before. Even sandwiched an Iberian unit in a combined frontal/flank attack before we had to quit. A little ego boost to carry me through the weekend.

The game flowed very nicely, and I was handling melee right on schedule in Turn 3. The outcome was always in doubt because of the constant breaking off/retreating/pursuing/charging.

I had a very enjoyable time playing Hack, got up to speed in a hurry and - judging by the comments of people around me who acted like they knew what they were talking about - the game was true to the period and combatants. I readily recommend Hack (and already have, actually) to people like me who know nothing about ancients minis but would like to give them a go.

Neal Smith (

I've played three games so far. We played Gauls vs. Rep. Romans, LIR vs. Sassanid Persians, and LIR vs. LIR w/ Franks as allies. The rules are designed for fighting battles in Western Europe and the "Near East."

I read these rules a couple weeks ago and fell in love with the special rules for the various "periods" and armies. The system is simple, but seems to give historical results. The RR vs. Gauls was extremely realistic. I thought we were refighting Cannae all over again! The Gauls crushed the wings but their warbands were like waves breaking over the Rep. Roman shore...

The unit classifications can be a bit much to start with. The "4th Period" is not explained too well. I thought the only classifications were Trained and Untrained, but now I'm told that units can have morale and sort of a veteran or elite status in addition.

This situation would be helped a whole lot if they came out with some army lists. Oh my! I can't believe I said that! This would be army lists with a twist though. Players would have a choice of units, not stands or individual figures! The typical units, of an army, would be described and each army would have descriptions of the various specialty units.

The one interesting thing about the rules is that the unit "points" are really the morale rating. You could still fight a "points battle", but there is no real point costs chart per se.

There are a few items that we were a bit confused by, but someone was able to explain them to us. (This is not a flame!) It wasn't as bad as reading Barkerese, we just needed a clarification to make sure we had interpreted it correctly.

Lastly, the publisher is coming out with a scenario booklet. Not really sure what's in it, but I hope they take the format of a "campaign." Sort of like the way Ancient Empires did it. Each army would be explained, units described, and scenarios included. There would be a book for each "major" period / campaign.

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Online Resources

Publisher's Web Page
Includes comments on Ral Partha's Hoplite figures.
Rules Clarifications
Official answers from the publisher to various questions from our readers.
Death on the Po River Circa 200 B.C.- A Clash of Cultures, Celts and Romans
Imaginary scenario.
The Classical Hack Mailing List
"Dedicated to Classical Hack. Topics include military history, tactics, rules questions, dress and equipment, etc. as pertains to the period covered by the Classical Hack rules."
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Last Updates
31 August 1999mailing list info added
19 May 1999Rome supplement added
13 April 1999comments by Paul Rigby
comments by David Yates
comments by John T.
1 November 1997added link
6 June 1997added Rules Clarifications link
Comments or corrections?