SPQR Variant (07 jan. 04)

By Fabio Bernardini

For those who find that Romans, as depicted in the game, are too powerful, here are a couple of Optional rules that I tested extensively with all scenarios in the boxed game and most of the modules (sometimes more than twice). The following rules are simpler than they look at first glance, I just tried to cover any gap describing them extensively.

Needless to say that I really love this game and I’m grateful to Mark Hermann and Richard Berg because they gave me the chance to fulfill a long dreamed whish: recreate all those battle whose deployments were shoved in every of my history book since elementary school.

I’m also playing SGBoH, but I slightly prefer the GBoH, that is the reason of my effort in trying to melt the SPQR older version and the one that came up on 1994 (not the SGBoH version).



4.25    Change (A) A Roman Tribune or Praefect (or Proconsul) within his OC command range, wishing to issue a line command, must roll against the OC strategy rating. If he fails, he can either issue individual orders or let the opponent decide whether or not activate the leader who would go next. Once the latter is finished (he can try momentum) or if the opponent declined to activate his leader, the roman who previously failed his die roll can now issue automatically a line command (if he wishes so). The next roman leader now attempts to issue a line command, following the same procedure as above.

If all non-roman leaders are finished (besides the OC) and there are still non-activated Tribunes or Praetects, they can go now, rolling the die against the OC strategy rating. A result higher than the OC strategy rating prevent the leader from issuing line command (individual orders are allowed), no second attempt is allowed.

Leaders that are not within their OC command range don’t get this treatment, when activated they roll against the OC strategy rating, if they fail they can only issue individual orders immediately, the opponent doesn’t get the opportunity to activate one of his leaders.

The only exception being the Praefect Equitium: for the first turn only they are treated as if within range of their OC even if they are not.

(Exception: In Cavalry battles (those of Equus), ignore this rule)

4.25  Change (B) If in your opinion this is too complicated (it’s not…believe me), you can use this option (is basically the SPQR first edition rule):

         Roman Leaders can issue automatic Line Command during the first turn.

Starting with the second turn they can issue LC only if in Range of their OC and by rolling against his Strategy Rating (add +1 if any of the units in that line are in an enemy ZOC), if unsuccessful they can only issue Individual Orders.

It they are not within their OC command range, they roll the die, if they get a O or 1, they can issue line command, otherwise they are finished


7.23   Addition: Other than what described in the standard rule, all units with at least the same MA can expend movement points when beginning the activation in an enemy ZOC in order to change facing or move out of that enemy ZOC.

A unit in a ZOC of an enemy unit with same MA cannot leave the ZOC and then move adjacent to the same or another enemy unit.

Infantry units leaving a ZOC of an enemy unit with same MA must undergo a TQ check, if the die roll is higher than a unit’s TQ, it takes a number of hits equal to the difference between the die roll result and its TQ.


8.3  Change Legion units are not AS when attacking HI or MI frontally, but the Clash of Spears and Sword Chart is so changed:

-   LG (or Veteran Cohorts) attacking HI (or BI) frontally use column 9 (not 6)

-   LG attacking MI frontally use column 11 (not 8)

Alternatively, the Shock Superiority Chart provided with the module “War Elephant” can be used, treating Recruits Legion as HI, thus not AS against HI and MI (Even if that column was there to be used just in “Caesar, The Civil War”, I always use this rule at Cannae with the 8 legion version).


Rout Bid method Variant: Instead of just subtracting the bid to the Rout level, after completing set up, remove Roman unit from each legion with the following order till reaching the total points you bid (rounding up. Example: if you bid 40 points and removed units for a total of 39, you need to remove one more unit):

2 cohorts

1 triari

1 velite

1 hastati

1 Principe

1 cohorts

1 triari

1 hastati

1 Prinicpe



Adjust the lines to close the gap possibly created.

Redo the math to find the new Roman Withdrawal Level.

Example: if the Roman army consists of 350 TQ Pts and the  Rout ratio is 35%, a bid of 80 points will adjust the Withdrawal Level from 123 to 95 – (350-80) x 0.35 –

This give quite a different approach to the battle, the Non-Roman Player would have the feeling to actually win the battle, not just because the Roman lost a small portion of his Army


No Pilum Variant:

For those of you whom, like me, are tired of dealing with Missile NO markers on top of Legions, I came up with a variant that achieves 2 goals: 1) you get rid of them (at least those destined to LG units), 2) helps balance the game a little bit (those tough Hastati and Principes don’t really need that extra asset) .  

  1. Legion units are not allowed to use Javelin;
  2. Legion units moving and attacking Elephants frontally use column 5 instead of 3;
  3. Elephant moving and attacking legion units frontally use column 5 instead of 7;
  4. Legion units are DS against HC and LC attacking frontally only if they start the activation free of enemy units in their zocs.
  5. Every legion unit can use a kind of reaction fire, once every activation phase, when attacked frontally by LC using the Hit and Run tactic, i.e.: the LC move adjacent to the legion throws his javelins and move out that hex in the same activation phase.

When using the above reaction fire a legion scores a hit on a die roll of 3 or less.

(2 and 3 to make up for the missing pilum, 5 to counter balance battles like those in the Jugurta Module (SPQR) or Ruspina (Caesar, the Civil Wars) where, for a change, Romans don’t have a chance to beat those riding devils without the help of pilum.


I played the battles in C3i n°8 using it and I believe the Roman still have a nice edge, but a reduced one. Moreover, far fewer Missile No marker to deal with scattered all over the battle field.



10.32            Change: In the Rout Movement phase all routed units still on the map count as if eliminated, when determining whether or not the army reached its ROUT LEVEL.


10.37            FOUR-APPLY RESULTS:……Addition: Whenever a defending unit receive more than 2 hits, it can opt to reduce the number of hit by one performing a retreat of one hex, provided that the hex into which it is withdrawing is vacant (not even friendly units are allowed), not in an enemy zoc and further away from the enemy attacking unit/s.

            This option is not available if all attacking units reach a number of hits equal or greater than their TQ.


The following is an attempt of streamlining the convoluted pursuing rule. It gives the off-map cavalry units a reasonable chance to get back in the battle (I never saw a cavalry returning from the regroup box with the original rule).

10.43            Change: Pursuing cavalry that pursues off -map is placed directly in the Regroup Box with a “pursuit” marker on top. Every time its Overall Commander is activated, either by normal or momentum activation phase, all cavalry units in the Regroup Box are moved back  into the battlefield with the following procedure:

·        At the end of the OC’s activation every cavalry unit, with a “pursuit” marker on top, must move its printed MA toward a Leader that can command them, starting from an hex of the enemy retread edge, it cannot move adjacent to an enemy unit nor can use missile fire, it defends and use reaction fire normally though.

Those cavalry units that re-entered the map in previous OC’s activations but still with a “pursuit” marker on top (see below), are also moved in the same manner.

·        If the cavalry, at the end of its movement, is within that Leader’s command range, the “pursuit” marker is removed and the unit is “back in play”, eligible to be activated by any Cavalry Leaders in future activations of the same turn, but in its moved side.

If it is still outside that Leader’s command range, the procedure above is repeated whenever the OC is activated again (it could be the next activation if the OC succeeds in his Momentum Dr), till when the cavalry will be “back in play”.