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Between 1500 and 600 BC, Asia Minor and the Mediterranean witnessed the rise and fall of several mighty empires. Often the birth of one empire precipitaed the death of another. How could a small people like the Judeans establish an empire when located between such giants as Egypt and Assyria? Why did some empires endure for centuries while others lasted only a few generations? Chariot Lords shows you the how and why.
Each lord controls between 5 and 6 nations, some strong, others weak, each with varying goals and objectives--indeed some of these countries may not even exist at the same time. Players compete against one another to achieve the victory criteria for their empires. Nations quickly become rivals, involving them in death struggles over expansion. Each turn (90 years) will see new countries come to the fore, while established empires struggle to levy reinforcements and arrange alliances. A fine line must be walked between conserving one's forces and expanding one's empire. Too much expansion will see your resources spread thin and possibly swept away by a new emerging empire, but not enough aggression will see your empire fail to garner sufficient victory points to win.
Armies are of a mix of foot and mounted units, along with the occasional leader of note. It is not enough to conquer--you must be able to keep what you have taken. The winner will be the one who has the most victory points after all teh armies have had their moment on the stage. It is up to you to determine whether your empire will be relegated to the dustbin of history, or whether others will hail you as The Chariot Lord.
This is a brilliant game that, by using a random turn order, fixes the main flaw that made Britannia so boring after a few playings. Every game is subtly different as the 'tactical' interaction of the various nations changes while their general goals and time of expansion remain, thus providing an interesting balance between long-term planning and reacting to short-term pressures. This also means that while experienced players will do better, the micro-optimizations of long-term fanatic Britannia players will be useless and thus won't turn off new players.
The rules are somewhat terse and could have benefited from a few clarifications, but our group had no problem getting into the game and had roaring fun every time we played it.
It can be played by non-wargamers, but is too long for the normal German game crowd. (Much shorter than Civilization though.) In terms of history though, the randomized movement prevents the absurd deals and optimization strategies that bedevil Britannia because players know in advance who's turning up when and where, and so can optimize their placement down to the last unit. For wargamers, it is an effortless dose of history about a rarely offered era.
I have seen scenarios floating about on the web that provide fewer turns for shorter play and also an adapted timeline to accommodate dating changes. Even for serious wargamers this game is a unique vehicle to experiment with such changes.
I have had a blast playing this game, but then I love this type of game and period of history. I feel that the negative comments posted are unfair to the game. True there are some ambiguities and it is a long game but that should not, in my opinion, warrant a 1 star.
I don't want to spend time rehashing what the other reviewers covered, but instead want to focus on the improvements to the game made with the 2nd edition ruleset. Many of the problems mentioned above (long game, one scenario, ambiguities, combat system, etc.) have been addressed and in my opinion fixed adequately.
New 'Mighty Warrior' points and a streamlined combat system as well as a rules reorginization make this a worthy successor to Brittania. These updated rules can be found on Boardgame Geek (www.boardgamegeek.com) or Web Grognards (www.grognard.com). Take the time to play Chariot Lords with these changes and I believe you will not be disappointed.
The game is fun, and a bit more involved and shall I say 'realistic' than Britannia (AH).
The rules are not well organized, but there is a player aid sheet on the Clash of Arms website (the publisher).
What makes the game more interesting than Britannia and that series of games is there are many ways of obtaining victory points. The players have more flexibility and can try more variations in strategy.
Occasionally a player's chances of victory can be dashed by luck, depending on the sequence of the player order each turn (which is determined randomly). If a big empire goes first one turn, and then last another, it may be crushed, or at least lose many victory points.
I recently returned to a solo session with CHARIOT LORDS after an aborted (due to increasing levels of frustration) multi-player gathering last year. Well, sad to say, this game has now become a permanent dust gatherer on my shelf.
The rules are poorly organized and loaded with exceptions, making it very, very difficult to start play. I recall us spending more time flipping through the rule book than actually playing the darn game! This was exacerbated by insufficient play aids, and also by a lack of attention-to-detail in the development process. Seemingly reluctant, those responsible for this product did finally put up the apporopriate charts on the net for buyers to download.
The victory conditions are listed in flowerly prose, but too often they are open to misinterpretation. Participants are likely to not have any idea on how to play well, and are even more likely to not have a clue as to what the other sides are doing. It's cardboard chaos, and not much fun at that.
There is only one scenario (for 3 to 4 players only), and the 6 (more like 8+) hour playing time drags on endlessly.
The good news is that the production values are fairly good, with nice thick counters complimenting an area-movement mounted mapboard. Also, I've seen others claim that once muddled through, a solid experience awaits you, so I guess there's still hope.
But CHARIOT LORDS doesn't know if it wants to be a War game or a Euro game, and it frankly fails at both levels. Certainly not the worst game that I've ever played, but definitley one of the most disappointing efforts of the past year.
For the hefty price tag, I felt more like Pharaoh's waterboy than an exalted Chariot Lord. A missed opportunity for a potentially great game....
When speaking of 'the series', I mean Britannia and its sister-games with which Chariot Lords has some similarities, but I don't really want to talk about these in the same day, since Chariot Lords seems to have lost almost all that was good in those games. The counters are flashy but unnecessarily large, so that there are far too few of them. It is impossible to create an empire if your armies run out after a couple of areas. No wonder a large part of the map stays empty, even though it has so many large areas. There is no population growth, only some replacement, so you are completely dependent upon reinforcements. 'Assyrian empire' is just a series of reinforcements. Since Assyrians (like others) don't have any real staying power, they are especially dependent of having lucky back-to-back turns. The uselessness of random turn order becomes apparent already in the first turn as Egyptians can simply by moving first prevent Hittites from preventing them. Rules are strangely unrefined and so are the Victory point lists, which are really the last place to expect any ambiguity! The combat table is not such an improvement it might at first seem to be. Cavalry and chariots are practically equal, they are better than foot on fertile and even hilly(!) terrain, foot is better on mountains and marsh. In reality chariots of course needed infantry support. Numerous historical peoples are missing and some of those that are included appear strangely late. There are only 10 turns (not much long-term planning) and suprisingly little happens, still it takes a long time (consulting combat table and drawing turn markers takes time). Finally I would like to point to the makers (and others interested) that recently a lot of progress has been made in (re-)dating the events of this time-period.
If you're a fan of Civilization and Britannia, this game is for you. You guide several Middle Eastern empires from birth all the way to eventual decay. At predetermined times and locations, you bring a fixed set of nations into the game and earn victory points according to how well they fulfill their national destinies by adding territory, conquering neighbors, winning battles, and so forth. These overlapping goals invariably conflict with the competing ambitions of inconsiderate neighbors. The mechanics of play are fairly simple, making it fairly easy to keep track of who is likely to be attacking whom in the tangled melees ahead. You'll experience the glorious sweep of history in rich detail as the game unfolds.