LNLP - Nations at War

Qvadriga – A Flash Review by Boggit

“Long ago the people shed their anxieties, ever since we do not sell our votes to anyone. For the people—who once conferred imperium, symbols of office, legions, everything—now hold themselves in check and anxiously desire only two things, the grain dole and chariot races in the Circus.” (Juvenal, Satire X, 77-81)

 

Qvadriga Developed by Turnopia and published by Matrix/Slitherine

 

 

Team Vincas Boggi recruits drivers from the “Life of Brian” as selected by Roman Governor Pontius Pilate!

Team Vincas Boggi recruits drivers from the “Life of Brian” as selected by Roman Governor Pontius Pilate!

 

Dedicated chariot racing games are not something you see very often. Qvadriga (Latin for chariot) looked as if it might hit a spot that had been neglected since the board game days of Avalon Hill’s Circus Maximus. Back in the day I’d play with a group of friends over a few beers, running a racing faction. The atmosphere was fun and immersive, having all the competiveness, skullduggery, and tactical skill you’d expect for this sport. It was with all these good memories in mind that I thought I’d give Qvadriga a go.

To my surprise Qvadriga is not multiplayer, which immediately disappointed me as it limited the social dimension of the gaming experience I’d hoped to see again. I hope that the developer will add this as a feature in a future update, making use of Slitherine’s excellent multiplayer lobby featured in many of their other games. Qvadriga would hugely benefit from offering multiplayer and become even more immersive from the additional competition, banter, and taunts to be expected from real human opponents.

 

You can choose your starting province. I chose “Galia” because I like melons. Oops! Don’t they mean “Gallia” here?

You can choose your starting province. I chose “Galia” because I like melons. Oops! Don’t they mean “Gallia” here?

But what of the game as is? Single player, Qvadriga is a lot of fun to play. It is a remarkably simple game to learn, and is aided by well written, pertinent help pages in the game menu. I fully recommend new players take the time to read the help pages, since although the game is remarkably intuitive, there are a lot of tips and nuances to be learned here making for a better gaming experience.

Events add some spice to the race. Betting spices it up even more!

Events add some spice to the race. Betting spices it up even more!

 

 

We’re off! Note the distance until the next turn for orders.

We’re off! Note the distance until the next turn for orders.

The game is all about running a historical racing faction in races around the Roman Empire. Defeat occurs when you are no longer able to maintain a team, usually through a combination of a lack of money and destroyed team “components” in the form of chariots, horses, and drivers. Losing is easy if you exercise little caution, as crashes are commonplace. Despite the intuitive nature of the game, there is a lot to it.

 

First blood! Woderwic edges into inside position, meanwhile a charioteer on the outside crashes and gets dragged…

First blood! Woderwic edges into inside position, meanwhile a charioteer on the outside crashes and gets dragged…

 

The orders are intuitive – click and select. Note the danger area at the end of the “Spina” (central area)

The orders are intuitive – click and select. Note the danger area at the end of the “Spina” (central area)

There is a strategic dimension of managing your team, and a tactical dimension of controlling your chariot in a race. Both dimensions require different thinking, and add a lot of variety and options to the game.

The strategic dimension includes deciding which region to start in the empire. From here as your team gains success, and experience you get to travel to different racetracks to compete. At each new racetrack you get to buy stuff for your team, such as new horses and chariots. You also get the opportunity to spend your excess denarii on betting and hopefully swell your team funds.

 

Woderwic takes wheel damage going over a wreck (naufragium). Driving a chariot is really dangerous!

Woderwic takes wheel damage going over a wreck (naufragium). Driving a chariot is really dangerous!

 

The last lap and Woderwic needs to take a chance to catch up. See the scattered wrecks and bloody pulp of a driver!

The last lap and Woderwic needs to take a chance to catch up. See the scattered wrecks and bloody pulp of a driver!

The meat of the game is in the tactical races. Before each race, you have the chance to place bets, and an “event” like drunken crowds throwing stuff at the drivers, or bribed drivers occurs. The events are nice and atmospheric, but it would be nicer still to be able to “influence” events with your winnings to be more involved in the sneaky cheating going on. At each race you field a chariot against up to 16 opponents. Each driver, horse, and chariot has its own separate quality, which can be upgraded as time goes on. Different factions get different starting buffs to these qualities, so it pays to play to your faction strengths.

 

No winners here. The last remaining chariot has lost its driver, and Woderwic his chariot. He’ll have to cut himself free and escape unless he’s planning to win for the cult of Cybele – assuming he survives!!!

No winners here. The last remaining chariot has lost its driver, and Woderwic his chariot. He’ll have to cut himself free and escape unless he’s planning to win for the cult of Cybele – assuming he survives!!!

 

Team management between races... Woderwic has survived, but has tender gonads…. Ouch. Bwyan is next up!

Team management between races… Woderwic has survived, but has tender gonads…. Ouch. Bwyan is next up!

Depending on your campaign choices you can play with either dynamic, or static turns. With static turns you get to give orders periodically according to the “length” of the current turn on the track (i.e. the distance at the end of the coloured strip on the track shown from the start point of the turn when the present order is given). Orders allow you to accelerate, decelerate, use the whip, crash into other chariots, to lacerate other drivers and their horses with your whip etc. Obstacles in the form of dead horses, and smashed chariot wrecks (“naufragia”) all conspire to make chariot racing a truly dangerous sport, as it was historically. All in all really good fun in a very Roman sort of way!

 

One of the help screens. Clear and easy to follow. They include some useful nuggets of wisdom.

One of the help screens. Clear and easy to follow. They include some useful nuggets of wisdom.

I really like Qvadriga. It’s refreshingly different, fun, and is a challenge to play well. Individual races have the potential to get repetitive over time, but the strategic management layer adds to the longevity of the game, by giving the ability to develop your teams, reputation, and to travel to more prestigious racetracks, so that your races stay meaningful. I feel that the developers missed out on the opportunity to make the game truly outstanding and broaden its appeal by offering multiplayer. However, single player Qvadriga is an excellent game that is very easy to get into, with much more depth than initially meets the eye.

 

The Grumpy Grog says “Qvadriga brings all the danger and adrenalin of the Roman Circus to life as you guide your tired horses and fragile chariot to victory by a length!”


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