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BIG TOP CHAOS LOGO JPG IMAGE A Work in Progress: Big Top Chaos!

This is a page about a longstanding project of mine, sometimes called "the Evil Clown game", or "That Circus game" over the years. Big Top Mayhem (for want of a better title, yet) is a comical skirmish game about a (fictional) ritual event called the Grand Levee that takes place every five years in the City of Baraboo, Wisconsin. This is the sacred spot where the five great circus families (for now, called Barnum, Cody, Hagenbeck, Lao, and Binetti) negotiate their touring schedules for the next five years. The five families represent circuses from four nations (the USA, England, China and Italy), and five distinct Circus styles (the Classic Ringling Brothers archtype, The Wild West Show, The English Show (larded with mystical Indian and Arab acts), the Acrobatic Chinese show, and the more refined (and comical) Italian show.

Players manipulate 'acts' into competing with each other for the trophy, which is in the center ring. The competition is a classic skirmish game, but with a twist; the damage is both real and illusionary. The idea is to get the trophy at the expense of the other circuses; killing people isn't the intention, and the mechanics reflect this. "Winning" is achieved in classic capture the flag fashion: if you can hijack the Barnum cup and move it offboard (the table) then the choice routes are yours. You are the circus victor!

Here are some rosters I have come up with, based upon real acts and real historical circuses (although the Lao circus has an obvious fictional reference). All of these countries have a rich and longstanding circus tradition, but they are not the only ones. I hope to add a Russian and Arabian Circus in the near future.

American Circus One (Barnum Archtype)

2 Squads Killer Clowns
1 Beast Tamer with animals (1 fig, several tigers)
2 Squads Acrobats (1 high wire, 1 trapeze)
Jumbo & Friends (elephant act)
Knife Thrower Act (2 figs)
1 Squad Freaks
Prestidigitator (SF)
Strong Man (SF)
1 Squad Fat Ladies
1 Squad Fire Jugglers

Barnum's Circus poster

American Circus Two (Cody Prototype)

1 Squad Rodeo Clowns
1 Indian Act -- Archery (2 figs)
1 Knife Thrower (2 figs)
1 Squad Lariat throwers
1 Indian Act -- Sun Dance (freaks/acrobats)
1 Beast Tamer with Animals (buffalo charge w/. mounted Indians)
1 Marksman (2 fig, 1 female, w/. rifle)
1 Squad Mounted act (Cowboys)
1 Squad Mounted act (Indians)

English Circus (Hagenbeck Prototype)

2 Squads Killer Clowns (1 comic "bobbies", 1 regular)
1 Squad Indian (from India) Fakirs
1 Kriss Thrower (2 figs)
1 Squad Rope Dancers (acrobats)
1 Mentalist (1 fig)
1 Beast Tamer with Animals (Indian Elephants)
1 Marksman (1 English Marksman, w/. rifle)
1 Squad Mounted act (Arab Tent peggers)
1 Squad Mounted act (Camel riders)
1 Squad Freaks 1 Fortune teller (1 fig)

Chinese Circus (Lao Prototype)

Roster (all figures except Pan and Medusa recognizably oriental):
1 Squad Killer Clowns (as Kabuki players)
3 Squads Chinese Acrobats (1 pyramid, 2 tumblers)
1 Knife Thrower (2 figs)
1 Strong Man (1 fig, distinctly Chinese)
1 Prestidigitator (2 figs-- 1 ancient Chinese Sorceror)
1 Beast Tamer with Animals (Pandas)
1 Squad Archer Act
1 Medusa (1 fig)
1 Walking Dragon (1 fig, big, like the kind that is featured in parade... people inside)
1 Great God Pan (1 fig, like the Greek Myth)
1 Human headed Snake (1 fig) in cage
1 Squad Sideshow acts (Sword swallowers, Fire/Box Jugglers)
1 Squad Rope Dancers
Something to do with fireworks... not sure yet

Italian Circus (Binetti Prototype)

3 Squad Killer Clowns (1 Mimes, 1 Harlequins, and regular)
1 Squad Acrobats (trapeze)
1 Knife Thrower (2 figs)
1 Strong Man (1 fig)
1 Tatooed Lady (1 fig)
1 Beast Tamer with Animals (1 fig. plus Lions)
1 Mounted Act (bicyclists)
1 Mounted Act (horses)
1 Pyrotechnician (1 fig, plus fireworks)
1 Squad Freaks
1 Squad Sideshow acts (Sword swallowers, Fire/Box Jugglers)
1 Squad Rope Dancers