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Don't Miss the current PBEM GAME running on Psychopath.

This is a site dedicated to the great Avalon Hill game Circus Maximus, a game (and simulation) of chariot racing in the Circus Maximus in the days of Imperial Rome.  Circus Maximus simulates the chariot races of ancient Rome -- or at least the version of these races that we see in Ben Hur.  The game is similar in design to many popular auto race games, but has the extra dimension of combat between chariots.  The game is simple to learn, and a great deal of fun -- especially for groups.

Races are run on a plain oval track printed on heavy-stock glossy cardboard. The game board is about 36 inches long by 20 inches wide.  The oval itself is separated into spaces.  The track is about ten spaces wide.  Straight-aways are about 30 spaces long, and turns range in length from six spaces (on the inside lane) to about 20 (on the outside land).    The position of the chariots is noted on the track using a pair of small (roughly 1" square) colored cardboard counters.  One counter represents the chariot, and the other represents the horses (which are always one space in front of the chariot).  Races consist of three laps around the track.   Depending on the number of people that are playing, a typical race will take between 30 and 60 minutes.

Prior to the race each player determines the type of chariot they will field by allocating four preparation points across horse speed, endurance, driver quality and chariot armor.   These points are cross-referenced with with a die roll to determine a rating in each of these categories.  Typically different players will utilize different strategies -- light fast chariots, heavy, slow well-armored chariots, and balanced chariots. Following this, starting positions are randomly determined, and the race begins.

At the beginning of each turn, each player secretly records the number of movement points that will be expended that turn.  The maximum number of points available depends upon the speed of the chariot's horses (most racers will select the maximum in the straight-aways, but a slower speed in the turns).

The order of movement is determined randomly (and typically changes each turn).   During his turn a player may move forward a number of spaces equal to the number of movement points expended that turn (players may whip their horses to increase this speed at the cost of endurance).  Moving into an inside lane costs an additional movement point.

When a chariot moves adjacent to another chariot or team of horses, the player has the option of expended a movement point to perform an attack.  The forms of attack available are essentially all of those seen in Ben Hur -- ramming the opposing chariot or horses and whipping the opposing driver or horses.  The defending driver may attempt to evade or brake to avoid the attack (the ability to perform these maneuvers depends upon the drivers' ratings, and the amount of endurance remaining).  If he chooses not to avoid the attack, or is unsuccessful in his attempt, dice rolls are made to determine the amount of damage to the opposing chariot, driver or horses.  In the case of a ram attack, the damage depends upon each chariot's armor.

The other strategy involves making the turns.  Each lane is rated for maximum safe speed that can be used (faster speeds are allowed in the outside lanes).  Players exceeding this speed roll on a chart (adjusting for driver quality) for the chance of damaging or even flipping their chariot

The first chariot to complete three laps wins.  It is not unusual, however, for half of the field to be eliminated before the end of the race.  In fact, when a fast chariot gets too far ahead, it is considered sound strategy for other chariots to hang back and attempt an attack while being passed.

The boxed game was in Avalon Hill's "gamette" sized line, published in the same box size as B-17, Cross of Iron, Enemy in Sight and Crescendo of Doom:


The Box




 and what's inside.



Roman Circus (Excellent Encyclopedia style Site)
Gladiators (same site; not on-topic but interesting)

Rome, Past and Present (pictures of the C.M.)

Roman Athletic Buildings (excellent run-down of architecture of Roman Coliseum and C.M.)

Circus Maximus (another good History site... extensively footnoted)

The Circus: Roman Chariot Racing

In Case you get Carried Away... Here's an article about modern Chariot Racing out West.


BPA The Boardgame Player's Association sponsors CM tournaments at the WBC convention every year
CM Tourney Page on the BPA site

CM Mini Review on Web Grognards written by Skip Franklin
Index of Aricles written on Circus Maximus


Here's a great example of Circus Maximus 3D... a lead game at the recent DRAGONFLIGHT 99 convention.

Yet another example of Circus Maximus 3D... one of the best I've seen yet!

Well, Chariotmaster outdoes many of the CIRCMAX 3D projects I've seen.  And it does it with WARMASTER (tm) chariots from Games Workshop.  See some of the pictures!

Generic CHARIOT RACING with fantasy miniatures


Ave Caesar, long out of print Rules for Ave Caesar! (A juvenile game of Chariot Racing from Ravensburger, a German Game Company) Note: I finally got this game.  It's a blast, but it bears only a passing resemblance to the subject matter upon which it is based.  The components are superb.

Note that these can be adapted for use with the Circus Maximus board to teach the game to younger players.

Circus Imperium (FASA) Review  I am contemplating using the excellent map from CIRCUS IMPERIUM (which is suitably Roman looking) as the ground piece for a 20mm plastic chariot game.  I will have to copy it and mount it on something, however, which won't be cheap.  The game also has beautiful paper buildings to represent the structures in the center of the track.

Ben Hvrt Game Cover, RPGnow

Ben Hvrt (Cheapass Games) Review of Cheapass' fine "betting and racing" chariot game.  Only 5 bucks!  NOTE: Now available from RPGNOW for five bucks. VERY MUCH a bargain  Check it out on Boardgame Geek.

Arena Maximus is out from Fantasy Flight Games, from the Silver Line.   This is a fantasy chariot racing game of extreme low complexity.  To tell you the truth, it disappointed me, considering how long I anticipated it.  AM cries out for expansions and additions, or at least some tinkering.  Fortunately, a lot of gamers are doing just that.  Here's some freebies for Arena Maximus, courtesy of BoardgameGeek:
Player Aid  Spell List  Turn Summary

Rules for Chariot Combat in GURPS.. Hey, you never know when this will come in handy.

Mad Maximus Yeah, I know, it's a web-based Car Wars clone, but it has the right feel and looks cool!

It's just an arcade game, folks. Yes, there is an XBOX game called CIRCUS MAXIMUS.  It is similar to the boardgame in that you ride chariots around an arena, but the similarity ends there.  Link is to a review at TECHTV.  The GAMEZONE review has box and screenshots, but the verbiage is not as good.


Thanks to Tim Sullivan for his excellent blurb on the game, available on his racing site.