Thursday, July 25, 2013

Worst Case Scenario #6 - Chariot Race to Escape the Red Sea

'So it is written, so shall it be done... or is that the other way around? Whatever, surf's up boys - get stuck in!'
We had friends visiting from out of town last week so I was trying to come up with a game which could accommodate around seven to eight players, be fast moving while easy to pickup. After looking through my stuff and doing a little bit of thinking I decided to resurrect an old scenario that I had run about ten years ago, a biblical chariot race where the charioteers had to escape the floor of the Red Sea in the wake (literally) of Moses' miracle.

It's around 1440 BC. The setting is somewhere along the Gulf of Suez. Moses has parted the Red Sea (or 'Reed Sea' as some believe) and his Israelites have passed through to take refuge on the opposite shore. Not easily deterred, the Egyptian Pharaoh, Rameses I, has sent in his army in hot pursuit of Moses and the hebrew slaves. 

This army is led by a menagerie of inbred Egyptian princes, each mounted on a chariot, and each keen as mustard to gain fame and glory in the coming subjugation of the Israelites. Well, as we all know, the jig was up when Moses 'turned the taps back on' and the Egyptian army, which was fully arrayed on the sea floor, is subsequently destroyed by the closing avalanche of water. 

BUT, what of the Egyptian princes? 

Styrofoam 'water-walls' and craft paper sea floor - the hobby at its most rudimentary form.
The game begins with the princes, all realizing that they are in mortal danger, turning their chariots about in an attempt to madly dash back up the collapsing chasm of water to safety. Each player leads a chariot team whose only goal is to survive this watery doom by keeping ahead of the onrushing water and ahead of the pack, no matter what the cost.

'Waddya mean these things don't come equipped with a flotation device?'
The bright side to all this is that the survivor(s) will have a much easier time at the Egyptian court, what with the royal bloodline being so watered down... (ba-dum-pish! rimshot!).

So the players girded their loins, tightened their reins, and cracked the whip, knowing only a few (if any) would survive the closing of the Red Sea!

The water wall (to the left) moved forward during the game, slurping up charioteers in its path.
For rules I used the excellent 'Charioteer' by Two Hour Wargames which I shamelessly fiddled with in order to create some over-the-top Cecil B. DeMille action. Accordingly we had giant crabs spooking horse teams, seaweed 'road hazzards' and enormous sea serpent tentacles whipping from the water-wall to bash nearby chariots. Yep, completely silly but fun. 

'Charioteer' does a very nice job of abstracting the pell mell of racing by simulating the dynamic of the pack of chariots as they try to pass, whip and bash one another in order to gain the lead position. As you can see you don't need much room for the playing surface and it's dead easy to set up. I would think that in 15mm or 10mm it would be very transportable for club games. There are even campaign rules for running your own teams of chariots over a season of racing, with tracking of victories, defeats, betting and dirty tricks. Very cool.

All of the chariots are from the Wargames Foundry biblical range and painted by members of the Fawcett Ave Conscripts.
As I was trying my best to keep the rules straight in my thick skull most of the game's details became a bit of a blur to me. I do know that Sylvain took the lead and, except for a few challenges, never relinquished it for the entire race. Nonetheless, behind our hurtling Frenchman it was a mad scrum of charioteers, each vying for positions at the lead, all the while the onrushing wall of water inexorably nipped at their heels. 

Hey, can we turn back? I think I dropped my iKopesh back there...
I do remember poor Jeremy attempting to bash Chad's team with his chariot but having everything go horribly, horribly wrong. He ended up as a spectacular out-of-control wreck, who finally came to rest three lanes (and a few places back) from his original position. All-in-all, three of the charioteers made it back to safety, meeting Rameses at the temple of Set to give him the bad news about his pursuit.

The mad dash to safety.

Hey Boss, about that Moses guy...
It was good fun, with the guys very much playing to the spirit of the scenario and the rules holding up admirably well under my half-arsed modifications. I look forward to trying them again in a race set in a proper 'circus maximus'.

What?!  Do I have to do EVERYTHING myself?