Blazing chariots

Walking through the main foyer of the convention centre at Fall-In! I noted a sign board off to the right, beckoning me to a smaller set of rooms. These were set aside for games presented by the Northern Ohio Wargaming Society. I noted that one of the games was using a set of rules called Brazen Chariots and – being a fan of Robert Crisp and his book by that name (about tank warfare in the desert during World War Two) – I was intrigued, so stepped in.

The Brazen Chariots game was in the far interior room, and the tabletop was beautifully done. Not set in the desert, this tabletop depicted the rolling farms of France, with a lovely country lane running along the length of one table edge. Bombing along the lane, with plumes of dust riding upwards behind them, were troops of British tanks. It was a terrific looking game. (Later that evening, I mentioned the game to a friend, telling him all about the dust plumes and tabletop. Turns out, he had played in the game!)

Upon my return from Fall-In!, I contacted the game master and author of the rules, Adam Wine, who was kind enough to share his inspiration and game philosophy.

No surprise, much of his inspiration for the game came from books and movies, such as The Desert Rats and The Desert Fox. Most importantly however, was Robert Crisp’s book, Brazen Chariots, which Adam describes as the, “best tactical description [of tank combat] in a book.”

Like many sets, these rules came about because Adam was looking for something just a little bit different than the other rules he’d been playing. He wanted a set of rules that could, “take a big battle and play out a little section of it (…) allowing players to select the important points on the table.” Each player would command a troop of armour, or a squad of infantry and support teams. His guiding principles were that the game be: (1) fast play; (2) have the feel of realism, and; (3) appeal to the person who likes the time period, but also the casual player.

Adam started developing the rules twelve years ago for armoured cars running around a desert tabletop, then added Italian tanks. He then wanted to play with M3 Honeys. Once he came up with his formula for the vehicle characteristics, and mechanisms streamlined sufficiently that people could play out a game in a convention time slot, he was off and running.

My friend who played in the game at Fall-In!, thinks he nailed it: “you command a troop of tanks (typically three) on a table with five to seven other players. With such small commands, turns can go fast and people are kept engaged. Furthermore, with such small commands you are constantly balancing risk and reward as you manoeuvre and the ranges close. All in all a very enjoyable convention game that I now search out.”

Adam plans to continue to develop the rules, and eventually publish them once he retires. Look for Adam’s latest scenarios at Fall-In! and Cold Wars, his two favourite conventions.

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