If you know me, you know I’m kind of fond of games where things move around, perhaps engage with each other violently and try to run a race as an excuse for imaginary violence. Faustus Furious by Ganesha Games is a set of rules that delivers on this premise in a very amusing and unconventional way. Set kind of/sort of in a generic “Ancients” setting, Faustus basically incorporates chariots from every era in Ancient History as a framework to start from– so light fast ancient Celtic carts are on the same road as giant, creaky ox wagons and multiple horse, multiple crew scythed charts from Persia. I love this idea. For one thing, there’s a lot of variety. I wrote a similar concept back in 2006 called Fast Shuffle Combat Chariots which shared some elements with Faustus: card activation, multiple historical periods, incorporating an easy combat system. (although the comparison stopped there, they are very different games). I liked that Faustus has a sliding ground scale, which enabled me to use my small existing collection of 6mm chariots as a basis for incorporating a lot of fun 6mm fantasy figures I picked up from Microworld and Irregular. I like that Faustus is open ended; the authors present a very loose framework of movement, reaction and activation and encourage players to make up their own teams their own way. Activation is handled in a novel way. You flip cards to determine turn order. Then you Activate your team. This is a unique dice mechanism– on the first lap, you can roll up to 3 dice,, one colored and two white. The white is “fresh” and the colored is “fatigued”. You have to beat a 3 or more on the Fresh and a four or more on the Fatigued, and you are looking for “successes”. The more sucesses, the more actions you can take. The more failures, the worse it gets for you this turn.
I pulled out the 6mm fantasy stuff for this test– I didn’t run the entire three laps due to time. I ran a Cyclops, against a team of tiny demons riding on a big demon’s shoulders, versus an Orc chariot, and a Beastman chariot, and a Toll cart, and a Lizard man rolling arbalest team on the back of a dinosaur. A very colorful first test.
One of the actions is to “Fight or Shoot”. Fighting takes place when you are one “short stick” distant from an opposing player. So right out of the gate, the Demons attacked the giant Cyclops to their left and he had to roll on the reaction table. Poor fella!
Cyclops wanders off to the left into the village with a big lump on the back his head seeing stars.
As Demon had to do his compulsory movement, he did that first, and then used his free actions left to do extra movement (Propero in the game rules)
Faustus Furious is pretty bloodless by the standards, of, say, Gaslands. So the Cyclops went on his activation and veered back out on the track. to try to pass the Demon team.
The follow up teams moved out too, including the Boulder throwing Troll team, in the giant Troll Cart. They lobbed one at the Demons from long range:
The sudden rear attack caused the Demons to plow right into a house, stunned!
So it went, back and forth and back and forth.. all very silly stuff. I got in a rather incomplete game before being interrupted by She Who Must Be Obeyed. At the end, as in many racing and combat games, I found the teams that concentrated on less fighting and more movement (the Orcs and Beastmen chariots) were the ones to end out ahead of the pack. Hardly a surprise there.
VERDICT: it’s a hoot
I really enjoyed these rules and don’t regret purchasing them. The system never takes itself too seriously, plays VERY quickly and has unique activation and movement. On the down side, the combat is simplistic to the point of semi-moronic and almost entirely bloodless. Damage is almost entirely short lived and impacts movement and turning more than anything else. It’s not clear how you actually “kill” an enemy team in this game. Not really important.. I liked adding a fantasy element and may tinker with that one a bit more if it won’t unbalance the game overmuch.
So that was my first run of Faustus Furious, entirely solitaire and paperless, with my Ipad handling almost everything from card flips to the actual rolls. I really liked it and will play it again as filler between more “serious” games.