Our preview post below was published on April 6.
Arena Colossei: Ludi Gladiatorii is a 1-6 players skirmish miniatures game set in the bloody sands of the Roman Colosseum. In this game, you must fight as a gladiator to win the crowd’s favor, or simply for your survival. It will launch on Kickstarter on April 7, and if you back in the first 72 hours, you will also get the digital files to print your own replica of the earliest known dice tower, a Roman artifact from the fourth century AD (which we coincidentally had featured in a Lounge post back in January).
Each gladiator comes with a unique miniature, a plastic base showing the directions in which it is most vulnerable, and a sheet that gives the historical background and specifies the stats for the gladiator class: health, stamina, shield protection, and protection values for the head, chest, and legs. It also has a dedicated set of movement cards and combat tiles.
The game is played over a maximum of 15 rounds. Each round consists of two phases: movement and combat. Players first select their hand of movement cards, ensuring that they can afford all of them. Each movement card costs a given amount of action points, the number of action points you have on your round being specified by your current stamina value. Then, the players pick a card from their hand and play it simultaneously. When an opponent is within the attack range of your gladiator (as specified by your gladiator sheet), you can declare an engagement and the combat phase begins.
In the combat phase, the player declaring the engagement is the attacker. Both players select a combat tile and reveal it simultaneously. The color of the tile corresponds to one of the three body parts (head, chest, legs) that can be attacked. If the tile of the defender matches that of the attacker, the attack may be deflected. In case of a match, the attack is blocked, but the shield of the defender is damaged by one point until it is shattered (remember that all gladiators come with a shield protection stat). If the attack is not blocked, a die is rolled, its value is added to that of the weapon, and compared to the protection value of the targeted body part. For all points over this value, it inflicts damage and the defender loses as much protection for this body part. If you can no longer block an attack (because you have lost your shield) but have successfully matched the attacker’s tile color, you can still deflect it with your weapon, by rolling a die to beat the attacker’s value.
Besides the grittiness of the fight, you must also take Crowd Favor into account. All attacks earn you crowd favor, and the more successful they are, the more favor you get. Successful blocks, deflections, and attacking the back of your opponent, also earn you crowd favor. If you manage to get the Crowd Favor token on your end of the track, you instantly win the game. You can also win if your opponents run out of health points or stamina points. By the end of the 15 rounds, if no winner has already been declared, the player with the most Crowd Favor is awarded the victory.
The game comes with many additional rules besides this core set to introduce obstacles, special patterns, etc., and features a large variety of game modes (duel, melee, etc.), and “career rules”, a campaign of sorts to improve your gladiator over the different fights.
In the solo mode, you face animals thrown against you in the pit. You must fight two or three (depending on your gladiator) animals, among which a bear, a lion, a tiger, and a panther. The animals move according to a movement grid, and they will try to engage your gladiator as soon as possible, at least until the exhaustion of their movement points. Once an animal engages the player, the combat phase starts and the movement phase of the other animals is over. You then roll a color die to know which body part the animal is targeting or defending (depending on who started the fight) and resolve the fight as per the normal rules. The winning conditions also remain the same.