By: James Freeman
Chariot racing. I can only imagine how exciting it must have been to be in the crowd during one of these events in Rome. I have tried to feed myself as many podcasts over the years about the events held at circus maximus and other venues. As fate would have it, victory point has decided to produce a game on this very subject.
Rome, 10 BC: Caesar Augustus has erected a mighty obelisk in the center of the Circus Maximus in tribute to his conquest of Egypt. Banners of the Red, White, Green, and Blue factions wave in the stands as the fans cheer on their favorite drivers and teams. Soon, the thunder of numerous quadriga, four-horse-drawn chariots, will roar as they race at breakneck speeds. Only the whims of the gods and the skill of the drivers, or aurigae, will determine the victory.
Chariots of Rome is a competitive, chariot-racing board game for 2 to 8 cunning drivers set in ancient Rome's grand stadium, the Circus Maximus. Each player controls a unique charioteer competing on the giant track for two or more laps. You can also play with up to four teams of two chariots, each representing a different Roman faction.
Initiative cards determine turn order, and you will be managing resources to discover your path to victory. Will you just try to speed ahead? Will you just try to eliminate all your opponents? Play conservative and try to sprint towards the finish line? Fate will interject itself from time to time and mix things up a bit as well.
Most victory point games come in a standard sized box (what I refer to as the VPG box) with components that are very good, but some of them in the past (for what I assume are production cost reasons) have not been produced to their full potential. That is NOT this game. I'm going to get right to the tri-fold board. This arena of awesomeness is the width of my table. It is made with the full complement of players in mind, and fans in the stands is a nice touch.
The art on the charioteers is perfect for the period and the symbols are very easy to decipher when you need to figure them out during gameplay.
I have played several chariot board games, but this is the first time that I felt like it was an immersive experience. It was straightforward to learn and teach the mechanics of the game, but to quote a board game cliche "hard to master." My strategy changed every game based on what happened during turn order and subsequent turns. In one game I was blazing ahead because I had initiative twice in a row but after that, I started getting rammed, and the fates were not kind. My plans had to change from then on with each turn of the game.
I think the sweet spot for this game is 6 or more players. I know you can play with less but to have all the players with varied strategies and decisions in the race made the game far more exciting for me.
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