Judean Hammer is a wargame, published by Catastrophe Games, published in March 2021. It is the first game in the Conflict of Wills series.
Design of Judean Hammer began in February 2020, just as the Covid-19 Pandemic began to be felt in Europe, and it was conceived while riding the busy intercity train to work. It feels like a lifetime ago!
The initial design had two main aims. I had long wanted to make a game about the Maccabean Revolt - I'm fascinated by guerilla warfare and this particular conflict is an iconic example with huge cultural significance. I also wanted to make a wargame which was very lightweight in terms of rules, without feeling frivolous or too prone to the whims of luck while you play.
A card-driven approach let me tackle both of these aims - able to represent an otherwise very asymmetric conflict with minimal core rules. I also leaned into those cards to help resolve conflict and represent battle fatigue. Event cards provide modifiers in battles, but those same cards are removed from the game if the events are used. If you too readily push your troops in the early game, you may be left with troops who are sapped of their morale and bellicosity. It means that every event and every combat can carry the weight of the larger campaign, with effects that run beyond what is seen on the board.
Catastrophe Games worked to produce a beautiful product. They brought in Ilya Kudriashov to produce the cards and the map and I think it looks incredible.