Thursday, 5 June 2014


Last year I bought and played Charioteer from Two Hour Wargames, and really enjoyed it. It's a neat little game which captures the thrills of Roman chariot racing, and keeps all players involved throughout the game (unless they crash, but let's not go there). It uses an innovative pack movement system, where you only record your position relative to the other chariots in the race, and all racing becomes a series of moves to overtake those in front of you - bashing or whipping them as you go past. It's compact, concise and clever.

Machinas! uses the same system, but expands it to cover racing in a post-apocalypse mad-max type of setting. Instead of chariots you have cars, tooled up with various weapons and upgrades and driven by skilled Brother Pilots. I have been following its development for the last few months on the Two Hour Wargames blog. and was excited to see it finally released a couple of months ago. I finally downloaded it over the weekend.

As expected, the core of the game is the same as Charioteer. If you've played that, you'll have no trouble with understanding how Machinas! works. It is, however, more involved. Like Charioteer, Machinas! has driver Signatures, which are variations and quirks which affect how they race. Whereas Charioteer has a few signatures for the horse-teams, Machinas! has a whole load of Features, Weapons and Defences that you can add to your vehicle. These are assigned via cards - the rules come with the necessary decks for you to print out and mount, and there are two extra decks with additional bits and pieces which I would highly recommend you invest in. Each has a cost and weight, and designing a car becomes a short, simple exercise in balancing the two. For a sensible race vehicles should be roughly the same cost.

Machinas! is similar to Charioteer in that you make Passing attempts. If you succeed you can then just overtake, bash the opponent's vehicle or, if suitable equipped, shoot at them. This latter replaces whipping in Charioteer.Different Weapons, Upgrades and Defences will affect your success in these endeavours. Some additions to your car are more campaign orientated, increasing the chance that a car will survive a wreck or even increasing the chance that the driver will.

I have a confession to make at this point. Aside from reading the rules through a couple of times and trialling a few basic maneuvers, I haven't played out a full game of Machinas! yet. I hope an actual game or two will clarify one or two points which I'm still struggling with (and which, it has to be said, the authors are patiently responding to emailed questions concerning). I am still not entirely clear, for example, whether all vehicles can shoot, with the Weapons providing improved means of doing it, or whether a Weapon is required to be able to shoot in the first place. a post from the author suggests the latter. I am also unclear on how the Dropping back rules work. These aren't in Charioteer, because it's not really a feature of Roman arenas, but in Machinas! it's sometimes to a vehicle's advantage to slow down and let an opponent pass them. But I don't think that the section on doing so is as well written as it could be. Like I say, I'm hoping that actual game-play will make it easier to follow.

I will admit that I was initially disappointed with the game when I bought the basic rules, as the selection of upgrades and additions was quite limited - to me that's what makes this kind of setting; the cool things you can add to a car. But having bought the two additional deck PDFs the possibilities have been greatly expanded. Whilst I might try out a game or two this long weekend, I have invested in a small selection of Hot Wheels cars with a 40s, 50s and 60s vibe, and may spend some time adding post-apocalypse bling to them so I have some suitable toys to game with.So look out for more Machinas! here ...


  1. I was reading about this game a few weeks ago and the system sounded familiar. It must be because you'd blogged about Charioteer.

    I've recently bought 5150 Star Army and Battalion Commander as well as Red Moon, Black Sun.

    Not played them yet but I'm dying to give them a go when I've got time.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...