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Posted on Oct 31, 2019 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Ramesses II vs King Muwatalli in High Flying Dice Games’ Clash of Chariots Game Review

Ramesses II vs King Muwatalli in High Flying Dice Games’ Clash of Chariots Game Review

Rick Martin

Clash of Chariots : The Battle of Kadesh, 1274 B.C. Game Review.  Publisher: High Flying Dice Games  Designer: Paul Rohrbaugh Price:  $11.95 (unmounted counters) $17.95 (mounted counters)

Passed Inspection:  Easy to learn.  Interesting subject matter. Great looking components.  Tense game play. Great for solo play. Excellent value for the money.

Failed Basic:  Since the game play is depending on cards to end the turn, the game can go on for a good deal longer than one afternoon.  “Morale” is misspelled on the “Moral Level Tracker” (Paul has that corrected now – ed)

High Flying Dice Games  (HFDG) continues their tradition of high quality, low price games with Clash of Chariots : The Battle of Kadesh, 1274 B.C.

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The Battle of Kadesh was a decisive battle between the Egyptians under Ramesses II (also spelled as “Ramses II”) and the Hittite Empire under King Muwatalli II.

From Wikipedia:

The battle is generally dated to 1274 BC from the Egyptian chronology and is the earliest battle in recorded history for which details of tactics and formations are known. It is believed to have been the largest chariot battle ever fought, involving between 5,000 and 6,000 chariots in total.

As a result of discovery of multiple Kadesh inscriptions and the Egyptian–Hittite peace treaty, it is the best documented battle in all of ancient history.

Muwatalli had positioned his troops behind “Old Kadesh”, but Ramesses, misled by two spies whom the Egyptians had captured, thought the Hittite forces were still far off, at Aleppo and ordered his forces to set up camp.

The Hittite chariotry then rounded north and attacked the Egyptian camp, crashing through the Amun shield wall and creating panic among the Amun division. However, the momentum of the Hittite attack was already starting to wane, as the impending obstacles of such a large camp forced many Hittite charioteers to slow their attack; some were killed in chariot crashes. In the Egyptian account of the battle, Ramesses describes himself as being deserted and surrounded by enemies: “No officer was with me, no charioteer, no soldier of the army, no shield-bearer.”

The pharaoh, now facing a desperate fight for his life, summoned up his courage, called upon his god Amun, and fought valiantly to save himself. Ramesses personally led several charges into the Hittite ranks together with his personal guard, some of the chariots from his Amun division and survivors from the routed division of Re.

The Hittites, who believed their enemies to be totally routed, had stopped to plunder the Egyptian camp and, in doing so, became easy targets for Ramesses’ counterattack. Ramesses’ action was successful in driving the looters back towards the Orontes river and away from the Egyptian camp, while in the ensuing pursuit, the heavier Hittite chariots were easily overtaken and dispatched by the lighter, faster Egyptian chariots.

This game starts with the Hittites looting the Egyptian camp – many of the Hittites start out in a disrupted state to simulate the lack of unit cohesion during the looting and pillaging.  Ramesses has rallied his army for the counter attack.  They key for the Hittite player is to attempt to rally his or her units for battle as quickly as possible or they will be destroyed by the Egyptians.  For the Egyptian side, try and drive the Hittites out of your camps and hope that reinforcements arrive to help you encircle and destroy the Hittites for a decisive victory.

As with many High Flying Dice Games’ products, Clash of Chariots comes packaged in a zip lock bag with a full color map, rule book and counters.

The game’s components include:

One full color 11 x 17 inch map with a turn record track

100 double-sided full color counters

A 7 page rule book

A player’s aid card with a Morale Track

The player will need a regular deck of cards and one six sided die.

The rules are well laid out and logical.  The rules are very intuitive and easy to remember.

Each unit is identified as a leader, chariot unit, archer, runner or infantry.   Each unit is rated for its type, combat factor, ranged attack (if any) and movement factor.  Many of the more powerful units are double sided.  The front side is the unit in an undamaged state.  The back side is the unit after taking casualties.

Each side starts with a Morale Rating of 4.  The players put their morale token on the “Morale Record Track” which actually is misspelled as “Moral Record Track” so maybe its tracking how moral each side is?    (Paul has that corrected now – ed) As each side takes casualties or is driven back from specific areas on the map such as the Egyptian Camps, the morale rating changes.  When the morale ratings get worse, it becomes harder to rally your forces from disrupted or routed states.

The game consists of 8 turns of varying length rounds. 

First take the card deck and remove all face cards while sorting the number cards and the jokers in to a black and a red deck.  The Egyptian  player gets all red cards while the Hittite player gets all the black face cards.  Both players then shuffle their decks.

Each player draws a card per round.  The player with the highest card number takes an action.  The player can then play the number on the card worth of actions for his units on the map.  If a joker is drawn, neither side gets an action.  When the second joker is drawn the turn is over and you advance the turn track marker on the map.  After 8 turns, the game is over.

When a player takes an action, they can do one of the following with one unit:

1) Conduct fire combat with ranged weapons such as spears and bows.

2) Move a unit

3) Move and Fire with Chariots

4) Assault with a unit (this is brutal, man to man combat)

5) Attempt to Rally a Disrupted or Routed unit

A unit can only perform one action per round but can perform multiple actions during a turn sequence.

Fire combat is based upon the range of the unit and if the unit is a chariot and has moved, it gets a negative modifier to hit instead of being unable to move and fire as other units are.  Roll a six sided die and if the roll is less than or equal to 3 for a full strength unit or 2 for a reduced unit with casualties, the target is hit.  Leaders can modify the attack role for units under their command.

Assaulting is another form of attack but the units have to be adjacent.  The target to roll is based upon the Combat Factor of the attacking unit.  Roll 1 six sided die.  If the die roll is less than the attacking units Combat Factor, the target is hit.  Once again there are modifiers based upon Leaders and the state of the attacking unit and the state of the overall Morale Rating for the forces.

Damaged units are first disrupted.  If they are hit again, they are flipped over to their reduced side if they have one.  If they don’t have a reduced side, they are routed and will be destroyed if hit again.  If the reduced unit is hit again it is routed and if hit again it is destroyed.

There are rules for leader casualties so, yes, both Ramesses and Muwatalli can end up on the casualties list.  In my review play of the game, Ramesses and Muwatalli dueled with Muwatalli eventually falling.  This did not help the overall Morale Rating of the Hitittes!

You’ll notice that while both sides’ infantry is the same in skill and movement, their respective chariots have very different ratings.  The Hittites’ chariots are slower but more heavily armed.  The Egyptian chariots are faster but have a lower combat factor.

With the turns’ ending being reliant upon the revelation of two jokers, one turn can go o for a very long time.  My longest turn was about an hour with no second joker showing up.  Another turn was only 20 minutes long!  This adds a nice level of uncertainty to the game but can also make the average playing time somewhat unpredictable.

It would have been handy to include a counter for the activation track which helps keep track of how many units you have moved per round.  I used a “disrupted” counter for that purpose.

I would have liked to see a rule that if one side or the other’s morale drops to 1 (from a range of 1 to 5), the army has to make a save roll or all the units begin to retreat.  As stated above the Morale Track primarily affects the die roll to rally units.

I really enjoyed playing this game.  It plays very well solo as long as you can switch hats as it has no solo rules or bots.  The uncertainty of the turn length really helps to drive the game’s narrative.

If you are interested in the battles of the ancient Egyptians and the Hittites, rush to High Flying Dice Games website (http://www.hfdgames.com/chariots.html) and get this game.  Also peruse their other games; you really can’t go wrong especially for the price!

Armchair General Rating:  95% (1% is bad, 100% is perfect)

Solitaire Rating: 4 (1 is not suitable, 5 is excellent solo play)

About the Author

A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!

game cover
components
beautiful components
types of units
set up
Ramesses IIs forces
Hittites loot the Egyptian Camp
Ramessses and Muwatalli duel
A battle to regain the Egyptian camps
epic battle
Egyptian reinforcements help encircle the Hittites

2 Comments

  1. I will be selling my collection of Armchair General back issues as a lot on eBay under the name of Torrone. Take a look if you are interested.

    • Thanks for posting Tony. I lost my entire collection in a house fire. I just sent you an offer on EBay.

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