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Blade & Bow is a moderately complex game depicting combat between ancient armies with the goal of showing the evolution of infantry combat from the adoption of the Greek hoplite formation through the Roman maniple and cohort. Two players take control of historical armies to see how well they might fare as compared to their historical counterparts.


In what will hopefully be the first in a series of volumes covering this evolution, four battles are included: Marathon (490 BCE), Thermopylae (480 BCE), Plataea (479 BCE), and Mycale (479 BCE). Each battle takes two to three hours to complete.

The game system is a departure from other ancient combat games in several key ways:

  • The game uses a square grid, rather than hexes, to regulate movement. This provides eight vectors of advance (rather than six) and allows for more realistic linear movement and combat.

  • The game uses a unique card-based activation system that provides armies with better leadership to be more flexible with regards to their actions on the battlefield. Unlike traditional "IGO-UGO" activations, formations may activate multiple times during their turn to provide more historically accurate outcomes.

  • The game simulates hoplite formations in a manner allowing players to allocate where their forces' strength lays, unknown to their oppoenent until combat units actually engage. This allows a player to decide where to allocate their strengths, rather than relaying upon the values printed on a combat unit. Additionally, these denser units take damage differently, allowing them to be ground down while pressing forward in a manner that does not require record keeping.

  • Finally, the deck of cards allows for special effects that can help a side turn the tide of a battle in their favor or stave off disaster at the last moment.

Can you lead the allied Greek forces to victory over the invading Persians? Now you can find out with Blade & Bow!


Blade & Bow was previously available in a downloadable, print-and-play format. It is now available to purchase as a professionally printed, boxed edition from War Diary Publications. Click here to purchase a copy!


So far, the components for the game include:

  • Four 17x22" maps

  • Two sheets of double-sided counters

  • One letter-sized Tracking Card

  • One letter-sized Player Aid Card

  • One deck of 60 action cards

  • One twenty page rule book

  • One scenario setup card

Blade and bow box cover FINAL.png
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