Roman Gladiators
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The Definite Roman Gladiatorial Games GeekList!

I have done my best to include every historical, Roman gladiatorial miniatures system and board game, but please let me know if I have missed any. Please don't add any games with a fantasy, sci-fi or modern setting, they don't belong here.

List Rules
1) Strictly historical and Roman
2) Strictly about gladiatorial combats and gladiators
3) Only tabletop games with miniatures, or a board and tokens at minimum.
4) No pure card games
5) No thinly disguised abstracts (my opinion)

Since it can be fairly difficult to find many of these games, I include details on how to obtain each game.

Game Rules
A thumbsup means that the particular aspect is included in the game, while a thumbsdown means it's not:
- One-on-One Combats
- Free-for-All Combats
- Team-vs-Team Combats
- Gladiators vs Animals (Bestiarii vs animals)
- Experience System (i.e. will individual gladiators improve over time)
- Campaign Play (does the game provide rules for extended play without having to manage a school of gladiators?)
- Lanista (campaign play as managers of a gladiator school)
- Horsemen (Equites)
- War-Chariots (as used by the Essendiarii)
- Chariot Races (off-topic, but illustrates the completeness of the rules)

I also cover the following details:
- Gladiator Types (how many types are included in the rules?)
- Historical Accuracy (how historically accurate are the provided gladiator templates?)
- Animals (how many are detailed in the rules?)
- Board (what board is the game played on, and is it included?)
- Page Count (how many pages of rules?)

GeekList Presentation
The list is sorted according to how I informally rate each game in the following categories:
- Accessibility and Fun-Factor (gateways and fillers)
- Availability (free games rate highly, OOP ones poorly)
- Reputation/Popularity
- Rules Completeness and Historical Accuracy
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1. Board Game: Spartacus: A Game of Blood & Treachery [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:265]
Yoki Erdtman
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Spartacus: A Game of Blood & Treachery is a gorgeous game, and quite a lavish production. Even without painted miniatures, and the focus perhaps being the being the most successful Dominus, a head of a household, and gaining the most influence as a successful Lanista, that is, a manager of a team of gladiators.

The game earns the top spot on this list almost by default. It's a perfect gateway game, and complete package, with a beautiful board, miniatures, dice, cardboard coins, and tons of cards with pictures from the Spartacus TV series by Starz. This is a great first step for people interested in the Roman gladiatorial games, and table-top games based upon them.

Sure, painted miniatures would've been perfect, although this isn't really a straight up miniatures gladiatorial game. It still features lots of arena combat, but this is a board game first and foremost about being a successful Dominus.

The game may not be for every type of gamer, but for a group that enjoys a raucous good time full of deal making, deal breaking, backstabbing, gambling, and gladiatorial fights, this game is pretty darn hard to beat. I highly recommend this game to players interested in the Munera.
The Publisher wrote:
In Spartacus: A Game of Blood & Treachery, an exciting game of twisted schemes and bloody combats inspired by the hit STARZ Original series, each player takes on the role of Dominus, head of a rising house in the ancient Roman city of Capua. Each house is competing for Influence to gain the favor of Rome. Through a combination of political schemes and glorious battles on the arena sands your house will rise in fame and stature. As Dominus, you have a variety of resources at your disposal. Guards protect you from schemes launched by rivals. Slaves run your household and earn gold. Gladiators compete to bring glory to themselves and influence to their Dominus.

Three main phases occur in each game round of Spartacus: A Game of Blood & Treachery.

The Intrigue Phase is when players launch their Schemes, hoping to raise their fortunes while undermining their rivals. Schemes and Reactions are represented by cards in the Intrigue Deck. Players wield their Influence to put their Schemes into play, often asking for (or bribing) another player's help in hatching the most complex plots.

The Market Phase is when players buy, sell and trade Assets (Gladiators, Slaves, and Guards). Players also bid against each other to acquire new Assets at Auction. Wealth is not the only path to success as players bluff and bargain with each other to acquire the Assets they covet.

The Arena Phase is when the bloody games are held. Gladiators from two rival Houses are pitted against each other in a brutal fight for glory. The spectacles of the games are represented by miniature combat on the arena board. Fighters pit their Attack, Defense and Speed dice against one another to determine the victor. All players seek to increase their fortunes by betting on the outcome of the gruesome conflict. Fighters who emerge from the arena victorious gain Favor and their Dominus gain Influence.

The goal of the game is to become the most influential house in Capua, securing your family's power for years to come. During the game, players will bribe, poison, betray, steal, blackmail, and undermine each other. Gold will change hands again and again to buy support, stay someone's hand or influence their decisions. Will you be the honorable player whose word is their bond or the treacherous schemer whose alliances change with the wind?


Rules Breakdown:
thumbsup One-on-One Combats
thumbsdown Free-for-All Combats
thumbsup Team-vs-Team Combats (in the Spartacus: The Serpents and the Wolf Expansion Set)
thumbsdown Gladiators vs Animals
thumbsup Experience System (Favors & Champions, but this thumb is weak)
thumbsdown Campaign Play
thumbsup Lanista
thumbsdown Horsemen
thumbsdown War-Chariots
thumbsdown Chariot Races

Gladiator Types: Just about every gladiator that has been featured in the TV series.
Historical Accuracy: (Highly abstracted combat system, that doesn't allow capturing the nuances of the various historical types of gladiators, and the game's gladiators are more modeled around behaving as the depicted character from the TV series than any historical counterpart. Therefore I'm withholding a rating)
Animals: None
Board: Hexes (mounted arena included with the boxed game)
Page Count: 20 (full color stapled rulebook, or free PDF)

Purchasing the Game:
You can get it directly from the publisher, Gale Force Nine. The game is also available in world wide distribution.

Support: The game has its own web site.
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2. Board Game: Familia Gladiatoria [Average Rating:6.60 Unranked]
Yoki Erdtman
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Familia Gladiatoria is one of the most highly regarded free gladiatorial games, and for a good reason. The novelty here is that you select three action cards at the start of the turn, prior to rolling for initiative. In a one-on-one match-up the loser of the initiative will then have to replace one of his cards with the Defend action. If the combatants are already in close quarters you start resolving the actions one at a time, by comparing the actions selected by the combatants to each other and using dice to determine the winner. Normally only the winner gets to actually perform his action.

You roll 2d6, add your Strength or Agility score, based on the action selected, any modifiers such as for having a large shield, or being knocked on the ground, and the higher results wins.

Please read my full review.

The Publisher wrote:
The Games of Ancient Rome

Familia Gladiatorius is a simple gaming system for recreating the murrus, the gladiatorial combat, using miniature figures. In the larger campaign game, the player takes the role of a ludus, the operator of a gladiatorial school. The ludus owned a number of slaves trained to fight as gladiators. These slaves and their trainers (often retired gladiators themselves) made up the familia gladiatorius of the ludus. Normally, the ludus was contracted by the editor to provide fighters for the murrus. It was a risky business, and its practitioners were reviled by Roman society. Yet fortunes could be made by providing a bloodthirsty populace with bloody entertainment.

Rules Breakdown:
thumbsup One-on-One Combats
thumbsup Free-for-All Combats*
thumbsup Team-vs-Team Combats*
thumbsdown Gladiators vs Animals
thumbsup Experience System
thumbsdown Campaign Play
thumbsup Lanista
thumbsdown Horsemen
thumbsdown War-Chariots
thumbsdown Chariot Races

*It claims to handle these, but I think it would be really hard to handle more than 1-on-1 combats, since there are no examples or rules for multiple combatants.

Gladiator Types: 10 (Samnite, Myrmillo, Thraex, Hoplomachus, Secutor, Dimachaeru, Provocator, Retarius, Laquerius, Velite)
Historical Accuracy:
Animals: None
Board: Hexes (not included)
Page Count: 4 (more like 8 with the double-column landscape layout)

I highly recommend this game. If you buy Ludus Gladiatorius for the miniatures and the pretty poster map, then start with Glory in the Arena for some fun and light-hearted action, by the time you play Familia Gladiatoria you should be hooked on the genre, and like me trying to find the ultimate game of gladiatorial combat.

Purchasing the Game:
It's free from the designer, Jeffery S. Koppe, at Petite Guerre. What are you waiting for, download it already!

Support:
None, but the simple system will have you experimenting with house rules and tweaks in no time, or at the very least seeing how the 10 included gladiators stack up against each other.
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3. Board Game: Spartacus: Gladiator Rules [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Yoki Erdtman
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Spartacus: Gladiator Rules is sadly not a fully developed game, but what's here works, and very well at that. The game weighs in at only four pages of printed rules, and looks more like a reference sheet, or play aid, rather than a proper rules set.

It features a 6-phase round system where heavy armature gladiators may move in 3 of the phases, medium in 4, and light in 5, and you may attack in any phase where you have an opponent in reach. Movement options include a straight ahead 3-hexes charge, or to move 1-2 hexes in any direction, and pivot as many hex sides as desired. However, the twist is that you program your movement one phase at a time, and movement happens simultaneously.

This makes for some very clever, and interesting maneuvering. I'm not yet sure how well balanced this really is, as poor heavy gladiators seem to have quite an uphill battle against a lighter opponent. In my experience it seems very difficult to stop them from outmaneuvering you, but it also feels wonderfully thematic as the heavies chase after their lighter opponents.

The fighting rules are very nice too, and the dice mechanism used is sound and leads to cool moments during play. There's even a well working experience system in the game.

Missing bits include what happens when you attack with a web, it's listed as having a 3-hex range, but there are no rules about becoming entangled, or any other effects of a net attack. The game also lacks rules for Missio (begging for the crowd's mercy), it simply says to make up your own.

All that said, this is a great sandbox. Use the tools given to you and tweak this by adding on the missing bits you'd like to see in the game, and you'll likely end up with one hell of a great miniatures gladiatorial combat game.

The Designer wrote:
These are my Spartacus Gladiator rules, they are of course partly inspired by the recent movie "Gladiator", but I have to admit, I liked the gladiator sequences, and thought the battle in the German forest was great, but as a whole I did not rate the film at all. (Appreciate I am in the minority here!)

My friends and I have been playing Gladiator games for over 20 years, and these are much more heavily influenced by the old rules we used to use called "Gladiator". I don't know if they are available anymore but recommend them to anyone who likes extremely detailed rules. My own rules "Spartacus" are much simpler in operation. I have tried to keep the feel and atmosphere of Gladiator games whilst simplifying much of the mechanics

Rules Breakdown:
thumbsup One-on-One Combats
thumbsup Free-for-All Combats
thumbsup Team-vs-Team Combats
thumbsdown Gladiators vs Animals
thumbsup Experience System
thumbsdown Campaign Play
thumbsdown Lanista
thumbsdown Horsemen
thumbsdown War-Chariots
thumbsdown Chariot Races

Gladiator Types: None
Historical Accuracy: N/A (highly abstracted, but functional)
Animals: None
Board: Hexes (not included)
Page Count: 4 (printed from the web to PDF)

Purchasing the Game:
It's free from designer Andy Watkins.

Support:
None that I'm aware of, and they were last updated in 2003. It is worth checking out designer Andy Watkins' gallery of painted gladiator miniatures though.
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4. Board Game: Glory in the Arena [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked]
Yoki Erdtman
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Glory in the Arena is ranked this high on the list since it's free, very light, and a great filler. So now that you have the ten painted gladiators from the first two games on the list along with the arena play mat, why not try some more entertaining rules?

In Glory in the Arena each gladiator is defined by Strength, Agility, Movement Rate, and Damage and are all determined randomly. The turn sequence starts with rolling for initiative, then movement and attacks. The combat system is really simple, roll 2d6 each, add in bonuses for armament and having a higher agility than your opponent, check modifiers for flanking, you are penalized -1 per damage box checked off, and lastly deduct the low result from the high one. Look up the difference in a chart to find the outcome.

The fun part of the rules is really the movement system, and how the damage chart has your gladiators moving across the playing field. The game really comes alive thanks to this. However, the rules are very simple, and the net of the Retiarius is seriously nerfed.

Read my full review for more details.

The BGG Description wrote:
A short set of Gladiator rules.

Gladiators have four characteristics:
- Strength
- Agility
- Movement Rate
- Damage

The game is built to handle 1-on-1 fights.

Rules Breakdown:
thumbsup One-on-One Combats
thumbsup Free-for-All Combats
thumbsup Team-vs-Team Combats
thumbsdown Gladiators vs Animals
thumbsdown Experience System
thumbsdown Campaign Play
thumbsdown Lanista
thumbsdown Horsemen
thumbsdown War-Chariots
thumbsdown Chariot Races

Note: While the publisher claims that the game is built to handle 1-on-1 fights, you can easily play this with more, and I think the game will truly shine when more than two players participate in the arena.

Gladiator Types: The Retiarius and Gaul are mentioned and both come with special rules, the Samnite and Secutor are pictured as well.
Historical Accuracy: (doesn't try to be historical, just quick and easy)
Animals: None
Board: Hexes (not included)
Page Count: 2

Purchasing the Game:
You can download the free PDF directly from the publisher; Outland Games.

Support:
None that I know of.
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5. Board Game: Morituri Te Salutant [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Yoki Erdtman
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Morituri Te Salutant is in contention for best gladiatorial game on The Miniatures Page, and is generally very highly regarded. I have yet to play myself, but am impressed by the rules. They include a bit of historical background in regards to classical gladiator types, match-ups and festivals, and the campaign rules look like a lot of fun.

Combat is done by each player secretly selecting a move of their character sheet, and then revealing them simultaneously. Order of play is determined by each gladiator's speed, armor, and action plus a d6 roll. You compare the combatants' moves on a matrix, it directs you to a chart, where you roll a d20 and find the result. Based on which maneuver you selected, you have some limited options for changing it after the fact, and each move also limits your options next turn (similar to Lost Worlds).

The Publisher wrote:
These are the third edition of the popular Gladiatorial combat rules.

They cover:

- creation of Gladiators
- detailed combat system
- single and multiple combats
- mounted gladiators
- lions, tigers and other beats (including random movement)
- Gladiator School Campaign system with experience

52 pages plus card covers and reference sheets.

From what I've heard, an 8-player free-for-all to the last man standing plays in 1-2 hours.

Rules Breakdown:
thumbsup One-on-One Combats
thumbsup Free-for-All Combats
thumbsup Team-vs-Team Combats
thumbsup Gladiators vs Animals
thumbsup Experience System
thumbsdown Campaign Play
thumbsup Lanista
thumbsup Horsemen
thumbsdown War-Chariots
thumbsdown Chariot Races

Gladiator Types: 12 (Cataphractarius, Contra-Retiarius, Diamachaerius, Hoplomachus, Laquearius, Myrmillon, Provocator, Retiarius, Sagittarius, Samnite, Thracian, and Velite)
Historical Accuracy:
Animals: (horse, bear, lion and tiger with the same stats, and "large exotic" - they mention hippos and rhinos; run by the game system)
Board: Hexes (not included)
Page Count: 55

Purchasing the Game:
You can get it directly from the publisher, Black Hat Miniatures as a PDF or in print.

I recently purchased both versions and was very pleased with the service, as I promptly received the PDF.

Support:
The publisher is active in the game's Yahoo Group.
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6. Board Game: Gladiator: Quest for the Rudis [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:9501]
Yoki Erdtman
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Gladiator: Quest for the Rudis is currently being offered on Kickstarter. I'm currently reviewing the rules, so this entry will be updated shortly.

The Publisher wrote:
Forget what you think you know about gladiatorial events! Contests between gladiators were not free-for-all events. Like athletes of today, gladiators adhered to specific rules, such as backing away from a wounded opponent. Within the context of those ancient rules, gladiators waged thrilling battles, and you'll recreate the same excitement with the detailed, yet simple and playable rules developed by Gladiator: Quest for the Rudis designer Jim Trunzo (co-designer of the Avalon Hill classic, Title Bout Championship Boxing).

Gladiator: Quest for the Rudis is a board & card game designed for 1 to 4 players. Moment to moment the contest requires tactical decisions of movement, positioning and the selection of your attack and defense, while important strategic options always loom, such as how much of your stamina to expend as you risk becoming fatigued.

The gladiatorial contests in the game offer a very detailed simulation of many aspects of the historical battles, but gameplay itself is not slow or tedious as a result. That is, despite an enormous historical fidelity, Gladiator: Quest for the Rudis plays quickly and easily like the best modern board games. This is due in large part to the innovative card-based game play. There are no dice, no books full of tables to consult, no other resource whatsoever to consult except for the cards themselves.

There are a lot of cards! Each type of gladiator has a unique deck of about 45 cards. But all the cards are all designed and coded in such as way as to keep play moving. The full version of the game includes nearly 300 cards.

Rules Breakdown:
thumbsup One-on-One Combats
thumbsup Free-for-All Combats
thumbsup Team-vs-Team Combats
thumbsdown Gladiators vs Animals
thumbsup Experience System
thumbsup Campaign Play
thumbsdown Lanista
thumbsdown Horsemen
thumbsdown War-Chariots
thumbsdown Chariot Races

Gladiator Types: 4 (Secutor, Thraex, Murmillo, and Retiarius)
Historical Accuracy: (No rating yet.)
Animals: None.
Board: Hex board, 15" by 15".
Page Count: 32 pages in the Kickstarter preview.

Purchasing the Game:
The game has been delivered to Kickstarter backers, and should be in retain channels at any time.

Support:
Unknown.
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7. Board Game: Habet, Hoc Habet! [Average Rating:7.10 Unranked]
Yoki Erdtman
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Habet, Hoc Habet! is a gorgeous book, and well illustrated with a mix of photos and original art. It is a highly regarded gladiatorial game, mainly for being such a complete game. It is one of the favorites on The Miniatures Page, but there are those who find it too heavy. It features realistic combat rules with a unique initiative system, rules for venatio and chariot races, campaign rules, gambling and more.

The Publisher wrote:
Whenever a gladiator would fall in the arena, the bloodthirsty crowds would shout, "Habet, Hoc Habet!", which translates as, "He's down! He's had it!"

Now you can relive those days of personal glory as you recreate the battles between the original sports superstars - The Gladiators!

Our rules, "Habet, Hoc Habet!" (or HHH! for short) allow you to recreate fast, action-packed arena combat! The HHH! rules include:

- Rules for combat with all the weapons used by the actual gladiators, including the trident, spear, sword, net, lasso, and many more!
- Realistic combat rules utilizing a unique initiative system, allowing for quick and disturbingly realistic action!
- Rules for chariot races and combat!
- Rules for recreating the venatio - the beast hunts held for the delight of the crowds!
- Gambling on the gladiatorial events!
- Campaign rules that place you at the head of a ludus, or gladiatorial school, seeking fame and fortune through the efforts of your gladiators!
- Lots of photos, examples and illustrations to help you get learn the rules and get started quickly!
- And, as a bonus: Fantasy Gladiator Combat rules!

Hoist your gladius and don your armor for it is time to enter the arena. For Glory and Rome!

The game has been critized by some for the silly chart results and humor elements that appear in the game. For instance, there's a "banana peel" entry on the fumble chart. While other elements of the game are brutal simulations. For instance, you randomly roll up your gladiators, based on the base quality purchased, and as a lanista you can end up buying a new slave that dies shortly after being purchased - without ever making it to the arena! In this regard the game can feel a bit conflicted.

Rules Breakdown:
thumbsup One-on-One Combats
thumbsup Free-for-All Combats
thumbsup Team-vs-Team Combats
thumbsup Gladiators vs Animals (even has rules for Venationes)
thumbsup Experience System
thumbsdown Campaign Play
thumbsup Lanista
thumbsup Horsemen
thumbsup War-Chariots
thumbsup Chariot Races

Gladiator Types: 0 (freeform character design that allows for all the historical types)
Historical Accuracy: (freeform, with fantasy rules included)
Animals: 13 (giraffe, camel, zebra, gazelle, elephant, rhino, hippo, wild boar, alligator/crocodile, bear, lion, tiger, and panther)
Board: Gridless (no board included, use a tabletop)
Page Count: 120 (spiralbound book)

Purchasing the Game:
You can buy it from Flagship Games.

Support:
You can contact Flagship Games by e-mail, snail mail, or phone.
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8. Board Game: VICTUS Gladitorial Combat [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Yoki Erdtman
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VICTUS Gladitorial Combat is sadly not in my collection yet, and the below details are based on what little information is publicly available about the game (such as this discussion on TMP). All the preview, and reference material looks fantastic, and I have high hopes for this game.

The Publisher wrote:
The Ancient world's most deadly combat sport returns! Grab some friends and drag them into the sands of the arena for the ultimate competition in Victus, from Iron Ivan Games! Play one off games to settle old scores or immerse yourself in the Ancient world using the Victus Campaign system. Gladiators battle to win their freedom or to gather glory as you advance in both wealth and skill. Think wielding the Gladius is just for on the sands? Think again as the Fortuna tables expand your fate beyond the arena. Victus is a complete stand alone game that puts you in control of one history's greatest fighting machines using Dynamic Movement, Abilities Pooling and pure Cunning! Don't think you need to spend a fortune on pieces or a life time building a Coliseum, Victus also comes with it's own board and Paper models to get you to the sands fast! Test your mettle, make your mark, become the next Victor!

Included for FREE with your purchase, the Victus Packet, a PDF file (make sure to look for the download button as you complete your purchase!) which includes pages allowing you to preserve the record of your Gladiator, as well as the printable board, printable counters, and printable stand up paper Gladiators also found in the rulebook.

Rules Breakdown:
thumbsup One-on-One Combats
thumbsup Free-for-All Combats
thumbsup Team-vs-Team Combats
thumbsdown Gladiators vs Animals
thumbsup Experience System
thumbsup Campaign Play
thumbsdown Lanista
thumbsdown Horsemen
thumbsdown War-Chariots
thumbsdown Chariot Races

Gladiator Types: 10 (Arbelas, Hoplomachus, Dimachaerus, Laquerarius, Samnis, Myrmillo, Provocator, Retiarius, Secutor, & Thraex)
Historical Accuracy: (unknown)
Animals: None
Board: Hexes (arena provided in the book)
Page Count: 52

Purchasing the Game:
You can get it directly from the publisher, Iron Ivan Games.

Support: Iron Ivan Games operates a Yahoo! Group and you can also contact them through their web site.
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9. Board Game: The Games: Blood and Spectacle [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Yoki Erdtman
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The Games: Blood and Spectacle is an impressive work for a free game. Sure it is riddled with grammar mistakes, and misspellings, but the content looks (almost surprisingly) solid. I believe that the designer may have been inspired by Blood Bowl league rules when he created the Lanista rules, but this is a good thing.

I am looking forward to getting this play pronto, and will then update my entry.

The Designer wrote:
Welcome to The Games: Blood and Spectacle.

In these pages you will find a game that allows you to play out the infamous blood contests between slave warriors of the Roman era. You will be a Lanista, the slave master, owner, and business man who dealt in blood and spectacle for profit. Your management and commands will lead your Gladiator troupe to glory, honor, and immortality; or death and poverty. Will you beg for mercy, or triumph for the crowds?

Looking forward, you will find all the rules you will need to play The Games: Blood and Spectacle. At first, the number of riles and variables may look daunting. However, the basic rules are only a handful of pages, with additional optional rules included to add depth to your arena duels. Read the basic rules first and then play a few games. When you are ready feel free to add the more advanced rules. Don’t be afraid to look-up rules as you go.

As you move through this book, you will also find additional information about the historic Roman world that surrounds The Games: Blood and Spectacle. If is full of useful information to add color to your campaigns and games. This is all to help you understand how the world worked for the everyday Gladiators and their Lanista owners.

Every Gladiator Troupe that comes to the arena can be unique. Each will have its own unique mix of models, rules, advantages, background, and abilities. It is up to you, as the Lanista; to understand and appreciate the strengths and weakness of your Ludus. Then, you can exploit them for your own benefit while on the sands of the Arena. Of course, there is no telling what tricks your rival Lanistas will have up their sleeves. Good luck and have fun.

Rules Breakdown:
thumbsup One-on-One Combats
thumbsup Free-for-All Combats
thumbsup Team-vs-Team Combats
thumbsup Gladiators vs Animals
thumbsup Experience System
thumbsup Campaign Play
thumbsup Lanista
thumbsup Horsemen
thumbsup War-Chariots
thumbsup Chariot Races

Gladiator Types: 16 (Samnite, Thraex, Murmillo, Hoplomachus, Crupellarius, Secutor, Dimachaerus, Provocatur, Gaulus, Arbelas, Retarius, Laquerius, Velite, Sagittarri, Equite, and Sagitarius. There are also rules for other opponents that would appear in the arena, such as Noxii).
Historical Accuracy: (not yet rated)
Animals: 4 (different stat lines: generic, pack animal, big cat, and bear).
Board: Gridless.
Page Count: 61 pages (PDF).

Purchasing the Game:
You can get it directly from the designer, Eric Farrington.

Support:
Have not found any.
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10. Board Game: Gladius Maximus [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Yoki Erdtman
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Gladius Maximus is another freebie without much of a reputation. Please check it out and let the rest of us know what you think? The game is designed by a fencer, and incorporates a lot of the strategies and tactics of that sport into this tactical miniatures game.

The Designer wrote:
In Gladius Maximus, two or more players play the part of patrons who purchase, train and equip a cadre (or "familia") of gladiators and pit them against each other's gladiators in the arena.

Gladiator matches are almost always to the death. Gladiators who survive must deal with nagging injuries from previous fights, but can learn new skills and earn better equipment. The first player to kill off all of his opponent's gladiators or have one of his own gladiators survive 5 fights (thereby earning fame and freedom) wins the game.

The game models gladiatorial combat between two or more gladiators, including teams.

Combat is broken down into melee combat turns, with each turn consisting of 5 phases:

1. Movement
2. Initiative/Maneuver
3. Attack/Parry
4. Riposte/Counter Parry
5. Remise/Counter Parry

Rules Breakdown:
thumbsup One-on-One Combats
thumbsdown Free-for-All Combats
thumbsup Team-vs-Team Combats
thumbsup Gladiators vs Animals
thumbsup Experience System
thumbsdown Campaign Play
thumbsup Lanista
thumbsup Horsemen
thumbsup War-Chariots
thumbsdown Chariot Races

Gladiator Types: 12 (Thracian, Secutor, Retiarius, Myrmillo, Hoplomachus, Dimachaeri, Essedarii, Equites, Andabates, Velites, Laquearii, and Bestiarius)
Historical Accuracy: (Some of these templates are very good, 5-star quality, and the system can easily be tweaked to be perfect, but the game is very wrong on some other historical aspects.)
Animals: 4 (European Lion, Leopards, Wild Elephant, and War Elephant)
Board: Gridless (measuring tape or ruler required to play)
Page Count: 33 (PDF)

Purchasing the Game:
You can get it free from the designer Bob Lippman.

Support:
None.
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11. Board Game: Munera Sine Missione [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Yoki Erdtman
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Munera Sine Missione is a free set of rules that has seen a lot of support and rather frequent updates. They currently (v2.3) clock in at 13 pages. The designer is quick to point out that the game is based on another designer's work.

The Game's Introduction by Designer Alan Saunders wrote:
The mechanisms of these rules are not original, and are lifted wholesale from 'We Who Are About To Die Demand a Recount' by Gary Comardo and published in Issue 67 of 'Saga'. What I have done is added more detail to allow a wider variety of gladiators and the possibility of campaigns and so forth. The original rules impressed me, giving an intelligent game of manoeuvre with very simple mechanisms, and with a bout lasting no more than five or ten minutes.

The game uses a hex grid, 10x12 is recommended, for maneuvering, and you also need about two six-sided dice (d6) per player, and some pens and paper to play.

Gladiator generation is very abstracted, and fast. It is based purely on what your miniature is wearing and carrying. However, it works rather well in practice, especially with historically accurate miniatures. It's quick, and you end up with gladiators that feel like they match their historical counterparts (within the game's rules). However, some specific rules hamper certain types of gladiators a bit (more later).

The game is quite random. You even randomly determine your Strength, which is a combination of hit points and stamina, with 1d6+4 at the start of each match. Next you randomly decide which player goes first, and then that play order is retained throughout the rest of the game.

You start your turn by rolling 1d6 to determine how many Action Points (AP) you receive. This roll is modified by your armament, and by your gladiator's level of Fatigue. Fatigue is gained by missing attacks, and using more than 6 AP in a turn. AP is spent on maneuvering, and attacks, but you may only attack once with each weapon carried, and your shield counts as a possible weapon, as well as improvised attacks (fists, kicks, head-butts, etc.).

To Attack each fighter rolls 1d6, and if their rolls match a Special Event takes place, and this could very well end the fight. I can see that they wanted to introduce some fun chaos with this rule, in order to have things such as broken weapons, dropped shields, and more, but they simply occur too often and have such a huge impact on play that you quickly come to dislike rolls of doubles. Double twos immediately end the game, while double sixes result in a Critical Hit that deals out 2d6 Wounds without an Armor Save (and as a gladiator can take 1d6+4 Wounds before succumbing, this tends to end fights as well).

Say you avoided the pitfall of a Special Event, then the Attacker goes through a list of modifiers and adjusts their result based on where the attack is coming from, if the Defender's entangled, or the attack disadvantaged, etc. Lastly the Attacker deducts the Defender's roll from this total. If this is still a positive value, then this is the number of Wounds the Attack may inflict. Wounds reduce a gladiator's Strength. The Defender now rolls 1d6 and tries to roll under his Armor Save value. The majority of gladiators have Light Armor, and an Armor Save of 1, but this is increased by Shields (+1, or +2), and Enclosed Helmets (+1). If the Defender makes his Armor Save no Wounds are taken, but if they fail, they reduce their Strength.

It should be noted that if the adjusted result of an attack is zero or less, then the Defender is pushed back (or has jumped back to avoid the attack, both are mentioned in the rules), and the Attacker earns a point of Fatigue.

Fatigue is gained each time you fail to hit your opponent when Attacking, or if you spend more than six AP during your turn. Fatigue is compared to your current Strength, and if Fatigue exceeds Strength your gladiator is tired, or exhausted if Fatigue exceeds twice your current Strength. This impacts your AP roll each turn. The cool aspect is that even a small amount of Fatigue will tire you out eventually if you take enough Wounds.

There's an interesting optional system for Working the Crowd, which allows a gladiator that has attacked on their turn to win favor from the crowd. They spend all their remaining AP to end their turn, and add up a short list of modifiers for a result between 1 and 5 and tries to roll equal to or less than this number. If successful, they earn a Favor Point. These points may be exchanged for AP, or bonuses on Missio rolls.

The campaign game is sadly very limited. If you win a fight against an opponent with at least as many Skills as you, then you simply pick one of the five available Skills as your reward. There are no Lanista rules at all.

Overall this is a simple and amusing game, but it can be somewhat annoying at times with the Special Events. As can be witnessed by the many variants available, this is a great sandbox to develop further.

Please note that my comments relate to version 2.3 of the game.

Rules Breakdown:
thumbsup One-on-One Combats
thumbsup Free-for-All Combats
thumbsup Team-vs-Team Combats
thumbsdown Gladiators vs Animals
thumbsup Experience System
thumbsdown Campaign Play
thumbsdown Lanista
thumbsdown Horsemen
thumbsdown War-Chariots
thumbsdown Chariot Races

Gladiator Types: 14 (Samnite, Retiarius, Thracian, Secutor, Gaul, Hoplomachus, Cataphractarius, Diamecheri, Laquearius, Contra-Retiarius, Velite, Gaetulian, Provocator, and Sagittarius)*
Historical Accuracy:
Animals: None
Board: Hexes (not included, 10x12 hex grid recommended)
Page Count: 13 (v2.3)

* The sample gladiators are based on a set of 25mm minis from Gladiator Miniatures.

Purchasing the Game:
It's free from designer Alan Saunders.

Support:
The rules are up to version 2.3, released in October 1, 2014.

Variants:
There's a variant of the 2.1 version of the rules called Munera Sine Missione, Exagoni Libero. The variant is created by Phil West, and it has ditched the hex grid for gridless combat (get out your measuring tape), and has changed a number of other features of the original. You might want to check it out.
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12. Board Game: Jugula [Average Rating:7.86 Unranked]
Yoki Erdtman
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Jugula is a card driven Roman gladiatorial miniatures game, and a bit of a deckbuilder. The game comes as a saddle stitched, full glossy, 64 page book, and it looks great. It features a lot of a pictures of games in progress, and painted miniatures from various companies, along with original artwork produced for the game.

Each player needs a deck of 36 Jugula cards. They include 12 Armaturae cards (six light gladiators, and six heavy gladiators, each with a Healthy, and a Wounded side), 12 Jugula cards (the cards that drive the game; each can be played six different ways, and also used for random dice results in combat), and 12 Prima Jugula Cards (which can be purchased in order to improve your deck).

The focus is on being a manager of gladiators, even in one-off games not using the lanista rules, you still always control a team of four gladiators versus another player's team of four gladiators.

The Publisher wrote:
Jugula is an exciting miniatures game that recreates the fierce and bloody gladiator combats of Ancient Rome.

Using a simple and intuitive system based on the use of Jugula cards, the players are invited to take the role of lanistae in charge of their famillia of gladiators, confronted by a vast array of tactical decisions that will determine their victory in the arena.

Jugula also offers a complete campaign system for players to manage their ludus (gladiator school) from its start in fetid underground arenas through to the glory of the Coliseum, where you will proudly see your men fight and die under the watchful eye of the Emperor!

Fame and fortune awaits at the end of the road, but other lanistae will stand in your way...

In this book you will find the arena combat rules and the career campaign rules plus a poster depicting an arena over which your gladiators can fight.

Rules Breakdown:
thumbsdown One-on-One Combats
thumbsdown Free-for-All Combats
thumbsup Team-vs-Team Combats
thumbsdown Gladiators vs Animals
thumbsup Experience System
thumbsdown Campaign Play
thumbsup Lanista
thumbsdown Horsemen
thumbsdown War-Chariots
thumbsdown Chariot Races

Gladiator Types: 12 (six light: Dimachaerius, Laquearius, Retiarius, Sagittarius, Thraex, and Veles; six heavy: Crupellarius, Hoplomachus, Murmillo, Provocator, Scissor, and Secutor).
Historical Accuracy: (Their own miniatures look good, but the game stats are quite abstracted, so I cannot properly evaluate this aspect until I've actually played the game).
Animals: None.
Board: 39x39cm paper playmat included in the book, and a 75x75cm vinyl playmat is sold separately.
Page Count: 64 pages full color, glossy, saddle stitched book.

Purchasing the Game:
You can get it directly from the publisher, Gripping Beast.

Support: The developer, Studio Tomahawk, has a dedicated Jugula forum.
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13. Board Game: Heroes of the Colosseum [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked]
Yoki Erdtman
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Heroes of the Colosseum is a reimplementation of Red Sand, Blue Sky: Heroes of the Arena (which was in turn a new version of Red Sand, Blue Sky: Death in the Arenas of Rome). Heroes of the Colosseum is a co-production of Two Hour Wargames, and Lock 'n Load Publishing. It's an actual board game with counters, player sheets, reference sheets, map boards, two dice, and everything else you need to play (except for at least four more six sided dice).



The Publisher wrote:
Gladiator or Charioteer? You choose!

Just saying the word gladiators conjures up visions of vicious combat between desperate men, who fought to the death for the amusement of the crowd. These games of death continued throughout the Roman Empire for over 900 years. Now, with Heroes of the Colosseum, you can recreate the glory and splendor of these games.

While gladiator matches were the "bread" of the "bread & circuses" that was used to placate the Roman citizens, chariot racing was the "circus". Included in Heroes of the Colosseum, is a complete second game that lets you race chariots at the Circus Maximus.

As a gladiator or charioteer, you start your journey to Fame & Fortune far from the eye of the crowd. With luck and skill, you increase in abilities and work your way towards Rome. On the way, you will stab, slash, whip and bash all opponents who stand between you and your ultimate goal – freedom!

Inside you'll find:
* Rules to personalize your gladiators and charioteers, making each truly unique.
* A way to generate Non-Player Opponents, totally controlled by the game mechanics.
* Two Gladiatorial Arenas, one Racing Oval, beautiful counters, and Roster Sheets to represent the gladiators and charioteers, their equipment, and horses.
* Quick to learn, but hard to master, combat and racing rules that accurately reflect the challenges of gladiatorial combat and chariot racing.
* An easy to use Campaign System, to track the success of your gladiators and charioteers, as they rise in abilities.
* Three different Locales to fight in, from the Fringes of the Empire to Rome herself, where only the greatest can gain their freedom.

In Heroes of the Colosseum, you have everything you need to do this and much more. But perhaps the best thing about the game is that it can be played solo against the game mechanics, cooperatively with all players against the game, or competitively against your friends.

It seems like even this new, deluxe production may still play much like an old-fashioned sport simulator, as the previous titles in this series. That is, a system where you mostly roll on charts to find out what happens. This makes for an interesting solitaire experience, but the main fascination is from its simulation value, and perhaps not as much from a gameplay aspect (although that's of course a matter of taste).

I'm curious about how this system has been updated to handle three gladiator (and charioteer) stats (Savvy, Speed, and Strength) rather than the first incarnation's single Rep stat.


Rules Breakdown:
thumbsup One-on-One Combats
thumbsup Free-for-All Combats
thumbsup Team-vs-Team Combats
thumbsdown Gladiators vs Animals
thumbsup Experience System
thumbsup Campaign Play
thumbsup Lanista
thumbsdown Horsemen
thumbsdown War-Chariots
thumbsup Chariot Races

Gladiator Types: 6 (Murmillo, Dimachaerus, Hoplomachus, Retiarius, Secutor, and Thraex)
Historical Accuracy: (Based on the gladiator types as seen in the previews, and pictures in the game gallery. Sadly the gladiator sheets have left and right reversed, and worse than that, the Retiarius is incorrectly equipped with the net in his rear (right) hand, and the trident in his forward (left) hand. The historical background and campaign system in previous editions is great, and this hopefully follows suit.)
Animals: None.
Board: Two 11"x17", and one 8.5"x11" color maps featuring zone-to-zone movement.
Page Count: Two rulebooks of unknown length.

Purchasing the Game:
You can purchase the box set directly from the publisher, Lock 'n Load Publishing.

Support:
The designer is active in his publishing company's Yahoo Group, and is also quick to reply to questions on BoardGameGeek.
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14. Board Game: Red Sand, Blue Sky: Heroes of the Arena [Average Rating:7.25 Unranked]
Yoki Erdtman
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Red Sand, Blue Sky: Heroes of the Arena is a reimplementation of Red Sand, Blue Sky: Death in the Arenas of Rome and a highly regarded one at that. another of the contenders for the heavyweight title of gladiatorial games. The basic game has been changed to be played on a zone map, rather than movement being measured with a ruler. There are also now three basic gladiator statistics (Savvy, Strength, and Speed) and one derived statistic (Stamina) in contrast to the original edition which had only one, Rep.

The Publisher wrote:
GLADIATORS!

Just saying the word conjures up visions of vicious combat between desperate men who fought to the death for the amusement of the crowd. These games of death, originally started to honor the dead (the munus), began in 264 BC and continued through the Roman Empire in one form or another for over 900 years until abolished in 681 AD. Now with Red Sands Blue Sky - Heroes of the Arena you can recreate the glory and splendor of these games on three levels.

As a gladiator you fight your way through the Empire in hopes of reaching the Colosseum in Rome and perhaps the ultimate glory, the wooden sword of freedom, the rudis.

Or perhaps you would rather be a lanista, the trainer or manager of gladiators forming your own troupe or familia gladiatoria...

And the third way to play Red Sand Blue Sky - Heroes of the Arena is as the owner of a ludus or gladiator school seeking to reach the ultimate honor, a school in Rome herself.

I hope that this new version has tougher decisions on the part of the player, the original almost played itself like many old-time sport simulations.

Rules Breakdown:
thumbsup One-on-One Combats
thumbsup Free-for-All Combats
thumbsup Team-vs-Team Combats
thumbsup Gladiators vs Animals
thumbsup Experience System
thumbsup Campaign Play
thumbsup Lanista
thumbsdown Horsemen
thumbsdown War-Chariots
thumbsdown Chariot Races

Gladiator Types: 6 (Murmillo, Dimachaerus, Hoplomachus, Retiarius, Secutor, and Thraex)
Historical Accuracy: (Based on the gladiator types as statted up, but the historical background and campaign system in the old edition was great, and this hopefully follows suit.)
Animals: 10 (Bear, cheetah, hyena, leopard/panther, lion, lioness, tiger, war dog, wild dog, and wolf.)
Board: Color playmat (zone-to-zone movement)
Page Count: 80

Purchasing the Game:
You can get it directly from the publisher, Two Hour Wargames, in PDF or in print. Their service is very prompt.

Support:
The publisher is active in the game's Yahoo Group.
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15. Board Game: Red Sand, Blue Sky: Death in the Arenas of Rome [Average Rating:7.09 Unranked]
Yoki Erdtman
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Red Sand, Blue Sky: Death in the Arenas of Rome is another of the contenders for the heavyweight title of gladiatorial games. It is highly regarded by most players both on BGG and The Miniatures Page, but some just don't like it at all. One of its premiere selling points is that it comes with very good solitaire rules, in which you can create and play the entire career of your very own gladiator. The campaign rules are a very good.

The game featuress a unique dice pool system and is best for classic one-on-one combats. You use up dice from your pool for attacks, defense and being injured, and when you're out of dice you're toast! It is not as detailed as Morituri Te Salutant, or complex as Habet, Hoc Habet!. In RSBS gladiators only have one stat, called Rep.

With the focus on your Rep x 5 dice pool the game isn't about plotting out moves and second-guessing your opponent, the focus is on conserving enough energy to outlast and defeat your opponent before succumbing to exhaustion. One-on-one matches are easily played in 10-15 minutes and you can easily play a dozen combats or more in a 2-hour session.

The Publisher wrote:
"HAIL EMPEROR! GREETINGS FROM THOSE ABOUT TO DIE!"

These were the words that signaled the beginning of the violent spectacle known as "The Games". Held in arenas all over the Roman Empire, these bloody combats offered the gladiators fame, fortune, and the chance for freedom. But while these benefits were attained by a fortunate few nothing short of a quick death awaited most.

Now, with "Red Sand, Blue Sky (RSBS)", you can recreate the excitement of these combats that for thousands of participants was anything but a game.

Whether you seek fame as a solitary gladiator or operate a gladiator school with many fighters the choice is yours. With RSBS you can play either solo or with others and with any figures you may already have. RSBS provides big fun for a small price. Hmmm, big fun... small price? What a concept!

The game is fun, but lacking in tough decisions. The player has little control over what happens, apart from choosing his initial maneuver. The game pretty much plays itself, similarly to a lot of sport sims and wrestling games such as Champions of the Galaxy.

Rules Breakdown:
thumbsup One-on-One Combats
thumbsup Free-for-All Combats
thumbsup Team-vs-Team Combats
thumbsup Gladiators vs Animals
thumbsup Experience System
thumbsup Campaign Play
thumbsup Lanista
thumbsdown Horsemen
thumbsdown War-Chariots
thumbsdown Chariot Races

Gladiator Types: 9 (Retiarius, Secutor, Hoplomachus, Provocator, Murmillo, Thraex, Dimachaerus, Laquerarius, Sagittarius, plus Noxii and Condemned Legionary)
Historical Accuracy:
Animals: 1 ("big cat")
Board: Gridless (no playmat included, surface 12" x 24" recommended)
Page Count: 34

Purchasing the Game:
You can get it directly from the publisher, Two Hour Wargames, in PDF or in print. Their service is very prompt.

Support:
The publisher is active in the game's Yahoo Group.
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16. Board Game: Arena Games [Average Rating:6.07 Unranked]
Yoki Erdtman
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Arena Games is a light, beer and pretzels game. It focuses on fast gameplay and combats between multiple gladiators. It is frequently played at conventions, and TheMiniaturePage.com's users rave about it.

You stat up your gladiator based on your chosen miniature's armor, then take it to the arena. There are historical notes on Roman gladiators, and good rules for all the usual (and some not so usual) weaponry including nets and lassos. However, the rules allow for use of almost any miniatures imaginable - fantasy, sci-fi, whatever.

The game features lots of dice rolling. You roll 6d6 to attack, along with 1d6 of another color for the hit location, any 6s rolled are hits. Your opponent then rolls a 1d10 Armor Save versus each hit, needing to roll equal to or over his rating (my Retiarius rated a 9, the Secutor 6, the Thraex 5, and the Murmillo 7) to avoid damage. The fact that you might roll as many as 9 attacks per combat phase, perhaps 15 total over a combat round, and repeat this over 6 rounds or so, made me lose interest. It is a bit too much dice rolling for my tastes.

However, I think the right crowd, with the right mindset will have a good time playing this game, and can see why it's infectious at conventions - especially with a large number of players.

The BGG Description wrote:
Wargame rules that simulate Roman Gladiatorial Combat.

Rules: The rulebook is an 8.5 x 11.0 booklet with photographs that illustrate the game being played. All charts and tables are included in the booklet. The hex grid card that comes with the rules can be used as a "start up" arena so that players can play the game without purchasing a hex board.

Game Set-up: Each player chooses a gladiator and the figure's armor is noted. By using a very simple process, the gladiator's movement and save points are determined from what the miniature actually has on it. Once this is determined, the game can begin.

Scale: Man to man skirmish. 1 Hex = 3-4 feet across. Intended for 25mm figures, although with a smaller or larger hex grid, 15mm or 54 mm figures can be used.

Contents: The game consists of an 18 page rule book with gladiator and animal record sheets, a hex grid card for 25mm figures, a sheet of markers, and a gladiator tournament form.

Rules Breakdown:
thumbsup One-on-One Combats
thumbsup Free-for-All Combats
thumbsup Team-vs-Team Combats
thumbsup Gladiators vs Animals
thumbsup Experience System (minimal)
thumbsup Campaign Play (single elimination tournaments only)
thumbsdown Lanista
thumbsup Horsemen
thumbsdown War-Chariots
thumbsdown Chariot Races*

Gladiator Types: None (freeform gladiator design, based on how your miniature is kitted out)
Historical Accuracy: (it depends fully on your miniatures)
Animals: 1 (just one generic animal run by the game's rules)
Board: Hexes (25mm scale hex card included)
Page Count: 30

Purchasing the Game:
You can get it directly from the designer, Michael Vasile.

Support:
FAQ and a free expansion is also available on the game's web site (although the expansion was actually incorporated into the PDF version of the game that I received from Michael).

* The designer is working on a set of Chariot Racing rules.
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The Games of War: A Treasury of Rules for Battles with Toy Soldiers, Ships and Planes features a set of gladiatorial combat rules called "We Who Are About to Die Salute You!"

It is a very light game and features strictly 1-on-1 combats. The minis used determine the combatants armament and are otherwise only used to keep track whether a fighter is down or not; there's no movement in this game. You roll 3d6 for your gladiator's strength, which is both his hit points and a resource pool. You may spend 1 strength for a special move; on offense you are allowed a second attack, and on defense you get a powerful dodge move.

Each combat starts with a 2d6 initiative roll. The winner attacks first, however if tied they both attack, but neither is allowed to dodge. The defender rolls to see if he can successfully defend, while the attacker only rolls for damage; i.e. there are no "to hit" rolls. You gain initiative from the attacker only chosing to defend with Shield, or Parry, both of which are harder to succeed at than Dodges. A successful Dodge forces another initiative roll, but there's no guarantee that you'll win.

Overall it's a very fun filler, and one which I highly recommend. I would rate this game much higher on the list had it been available separately, but as it is bundled with a bunch of other games, getting the book strictly for We Who Are About to Die Salute You! might be a bit much, but it as a hoot of a game.

The Game's Intro wrote:
Long before the advent of television, the ancient Romans relied on gladiatorial contests as one of their "entertainments" (professional football not having been invented yet). Popular films portray gladiatorial bouts as battles to the death and we are fascinated by the prospect. The reality was that gladiators were expensive to train and maintain and fighting to the death was not the preferred modus operandi.

These rules, which first appeared in rough form in 1979 and proved popular at wargames conventions, are based on my college fencing classes (foil and saber). My experience showed that at such close combat distances, if someone aimed a blow at you and you did nothing, you would be hit! You can try to prevent your opponent's weapon from striking you by getting out of its way, or by blocking it with your weapon (or shield).

The weapons and armor that the gladiator has are determined by what the model figure has. If you are unable to purchase metal or plastic miniature gladiators, you can substitute knights, or photocopy pictures of gladiators and use those. The photocopies have the advantage of being inexpensive enough that when "killed," you can dispose of the body.

Rules Breakdown:
thumbsup One-on-One Combats
thumbsdown Free-for-All Combats
thumbsdown Team-vs-Team Combats
thumbsdown Gladiators vs Animals
thumbsdown Experience System
thumbsdown Campaign Play
thumbsdown Lanista
thumbsdown Horsemen
thumbsdown War-Chariots
thumbsdown Chariot Races

Gladiator Types: None (strictly based on the minis used)
Historical Accuracy: (not trying to be historical)
Animals: None
Board: None
Page Count: About 2 pages (spread over the pages 45-47 in the book)

Purchasing the Game:
You can buy it from Amazon.com.

Support:
None.
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18. Board Game: Rudis [Average Rating:6.68 Unranked]
Yoki Erdtman
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Rudis seems well liked by its few owners on the Geek, but there's not a lot of content about the game online. What I've gathered is that it's a very complex simulation with plenty of rules exceptions and chart-looking. From browsing my own copy of the rules I can confirm that it looks complicated. It clocks in at a dense 42 chart-filled pages.

The game comes with several levels of play. There's Rudis 1, 2, and 3 (Chariot Races with 3 separate versions), Super Rudis (the campaign rules), and on top of that a couple of pages with Optional Rules! This one will take a while for me to digest.

The BGG Description wrote:
A set of miniatures rules for gladiatorial combat to be played on a hexagonal map sheet. For two or more players. There are three separate sets of rules included. Rudis 1 is basic hand-to-hand combat between small groups of gladiators. Rudis 2 is for larger and more spectacular combats. Finally, Rudis 3 is a set of chariot racing rules.

A small print run (200 copies) was done by the Bradford University Wargames Society. The first Tabletop Games edition followed around 1976, with a second edition (as revised by the designer) released in 1980.

A Guide to Wargaming (must refer to earlier version given page count) wrote:
35 pp. printed card cover booklet. Percentage dice. Movement by rotation, quicker-moving figures first, no written orders. Played on hexagonal grid (not supplied). Full description of gladiator types. Supplementary sections allow ancient skirmishers and chariot racing.

Original rules, fairly complex.

Rules Breakdown:
thumbsup One-on-One Combats
thumbsup Free-for-All Combats
thumbsup Team-vs-Team Combats
thumbsup Gladiators vs Animals
thumbsdown Experience System
thumbsdown Campaign Play
thumbsup Lanista (there's a limited experience system in this version)
thumbsup Horsemen
thumbsup War-Chariots
thumbsup Chariot Races

Gladiator Types: 18 (Cimachaerus, Contra-Retiarius, Dimarchaerus, Gaetulian, Hoplomachus, Laquearius I & II, Late Hoplomachus, Late Thracian, Myrmillo, Postulatus, Provocator, Pugilis, Retiarius, Samnite, Secutor, Thracian, and Velite)
Historical Accuracy: (it's hard to give an accurate rating until I play the game, but the basic stats are based on historical data, but there are some mistakes)
Animals: 6 (elephants, cheetah, panther, leopard, lion, and tiger)
Board: Hexes (not included)
Page Count: 42 (digest sized, stapled book)

Purchasing the Game:
TableTop Games used to direct you to Gamer's Quest to purchase the game, but neither web site is online at this time.

Support:
None. (Designer Ian Beck is apparently no longer with us.)
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19. Board Game: Death or Freedom [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked]
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Death or Freedom's designer, Steve Barber, has written an intriguing description of the game. He also makes good looking gladiator miniatures and a stunning 3D arena (neither included with the game).

The Publisher wrote:
A bloodthirsty, fast playing game that recreates the carnage of the Roman amphitheaters. This game can be played by 2 or more players and can either be played as one off single combats or as it is intended as Tournaments, where your Gladiator Characters battle for their lives, with heavily wounded victors being retired or succumbing to their wounds after the combat, and your victorious Gladiators battling to become champions and win you more money and infamy.

The basis of the game, is that you take on the role of a Lanista (proprietor of a Troop of Gladiators), with the sole aim of making as much money as you can out of the spilling of blood in the arena. Each Player starts with 1000 Denarii, (metal coins supplied with the game), this money is then used to buy the Gladiators that you start the first round with, and for placing side bets before each fight begins. Hopefully as you win your fights, you will increase your wealth, and be able to replenish your killed fighters with new ones, maybe even Essedarius chariots or Equites.

The game has a quick and brutal feel about it, with limbs being hacked off and savage Special Moves that can be used by your Champions. Many combats can be played in only 10 minutes, though more skilled Gladiators, or larger battles may take up to 1 hour. There are rules for Chariots, Horsemen, Wild Beasts, Unusual types of Gladiators as well as for the more common types, such as the Retiarius and the Veles and the Myrmillo.

The combats take place on a specially designed sandy colored Arena Playing Area (supplied with the game). This is marked out with Hexes and a special mechanism for Chariot movements. The use of Hexes makes the movement and attacks on the flanks quick and easy to work out. The Arena Playing Area also has Number and Dropped Weapon markers, which can be helpful in larger battles when it can be hard to remember what order players fight in.

To sum up, I wanted this game to be fast and simple to play. This was difficult to do due to the numerous vastly different fighting methods, but I am very pleased with the results. The game bag contains all the things that you will need to play the game except the miniatures. The rule book has a ghostly sepia color cover and has diagrams to help explain the harder rules. This game will bring out the tactician in you, as tactics play a vital part as the rounds progress. The more you play the faster it becomes and the more you will find that you have learnt since the last time you played it. So, if you fancy your chances in the sands of the Colosseum, try it out!

I don't own the game, and my breakdown is based on e-mail correspondence with Steve Barber, and players who have posted about the game on The Miniatures Page.

Rules Breakdown:
thumbsup One-on-One Combats
thumbsup Free-for-All Combats
thumbsup Team-vs-Team Combats
thumbsup Gladiators vs Animals
thumbsdown Experience System
thumbsdown Campaign Play
thumbsup Lanista
thumbsup Horsemen
thumbsup War-Chariots
thumbsdown Chariot Races

Gladiator Types: Unknown
Historical Accuracy: Unknown
Animals: "Wild Beasts" are mentioned in the game's description
Board: Hexes (A3 playing area included)
Page Count: unknown

Purchasing the Game:
You can buy it directly from the publisher; Steve Barber Models.

Support:
None that I know of.
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20. Board Game: Blood, Sweat and Cheers [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Yoki Erdtman
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Blood, Sweat and Cheers looks like a fun card, and dice driven miniature game with a lovely art style. I haven't played the game yet, and given that it's only print on demand by a US publisher at this time, it is a bit hard to obtain outside of the US.

The game consists of 60 cards, and a rulebook. You need to supply gladiator miniatures, two six-sided dice, and a handful of tokens.

A 40 card play deck:
9x Step cards
11x Strike cards
9x Guard cards
6x Glory cards
3x Roar of the Crowd cards
1x Fortuna's Favor card
1x Imperial Interest card

Plus 20 more cards:
2x Action Summary cards
2x Favor cards
6x Arena cards
10x Gladiator cards

The Publisher wrote:
Blood, Sweat and Cheers is a tactical, two-player, card and dice game, that recreates single combat between gladiators in the arenas of the Roman world from the mid-third century BC to the start of the fifth century AD.

Cards are used to abstractly represent the different options available to a player's gladiator during the ebb and flow of a gladiatorial bout, while dice are used to resolve interactions. The watching crowd interacts with the gladiators in the arena by rewarding showy attacks and spilt blood with favorable cheering which may in turn be utilized to buoy up a gladiator's performance.

Almost everything you need to play the game, including a basic area, is included in the deck. All players need to do is download the free two-page rule sheet and provide their own gladiators, dice, and a few wound tokens or markers.

Rules Breakdown:
thumbsup One-on-One Combats
thumbsdown Free-for-All Combats
thumbsdown Team-vs-Team Combats
thumbsdown Gladiators vs Animals
thumbsup Experience System
thumbsdown Campaign Play
thumbsdown Lanista
thumbsdown Horsemen
thumbsdown War-Chariots
thumbsdown Chariot Races

Gladiator Types: 10 gladiator cards are included, but I've only been able to see the following in some of the pictures of the game: Cestus, Murmillo, Retiarus, and Thraex.
Historical Accuracy: Unknown, but while (obviously) somewhat abstracted, they look fun.
Animals: None.
Board: A 3x4 grid built of 6 poker sized game cards, each split into two sections.
Page Count: 2 (at least the preview on DriveThruCards).

Purchasing the Game:
You can purchase it directly from DriveThruCards.

Support: The designer posts about the game in the Lead Adventure Forum, and you can see some sample games sessions on the Irregular Wars blog.
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21. Board Game: Carthage [Average Rating:9.46 Unranked]
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Carthage is currently on Kickstarter. It is a deckbuilder for 2-5 players.

The Publisher wrote:

Rules Breakdown:
thumbsup One-on-One Combats
thumbsup Free-for-All Combats
thumbsup Team-vs-Team Combats
thumbsdown Gladiators vs Animals
thumbsdown Experience System
thumbsdown Campaign Play
thumbsdown Lanista
thumbsdown Horsemen
thumbsdown War-Chariots
thumbsdown Chariot Races

Gladiator Types: Murmillo, Thracian, Retairius, Gaul, and Dimachaeri.
Historical Accuracy: (currently unknown)
Animals: Yes (in multiplayer games, players of eliminated gladiators get to control beasts).
Board: Hexagon grid, mounted board included.
Page Count: 8 (in the Kickstarter preview version 3)

Purchasing the Game:
It is on Kickstarter until June 17.

Support:
Unknown at this time.
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22. Board Game: Gladiatori [Average Rating:6.26 Overall Rank:9254]
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Gladiatori sounds like a very interesting game of gladiatorial combat. I particularly like how you have to allocate cards to Hit Points or use them for Action Energy, and how the player in last place on the VP track goes first, so it may not always be advantageous to press your advantage too much. It sounds like the game will have some tense moments and tough decisions - something I enjoy a lot!

Sadly, my demo of the game at SPIEL 2013 was very underwhelming, to the point of me losing all my co-players, as they bowed out of the game. We were playing a "venationes", i.e. the morning animal hunts, prior to the actual munera. The game featured us, the players and their gladiators, against the demo monkey as game master. We requested that the demonstrator instead referee and let us try some ordinarii, i.e. paired fights, but they thought this would be more fun. If that is the case, then this game certainly isn't for me. We weren't taught the rules, as much as instructed as to what to do at every step, that is until my fellow players pulled out of the game in disgust.

While there may be potential here, and I'd love to hear from fans, I have little desire to invest in the game in order to play it again. So what am I missing?

The Publisher wrote:
During the Roman Empire, gladiator combat was the most popular form of entertainment. Fighters from all parts of the Empire were included in the shows, including female gladiators. So much fame and glory was there, that wealthy Roman citizens, and in some cases, Aristocrats participated.
Now the time has come for you to gain the immortal glory of the Arena. Fight for your honor, fame and for your life!


Gladiatori is a card-driven game in which each player assumes the role of a gladiator in the Ancient Roman Empire.

Simultaneous action selection drives figure movement on the board. Combat cards give energy to the character actions and are used as hit points. Characters are customizable, and each player has to choose his deck composition, character skills, and participate in the auctions for Arena items. At the end, the winner will be determined by victory points – or simply by being the only one left alive!

The players are fighters that clash in the Arena during the Ancient Roman Empire. The aim of the game is to become the most famous Gladiator in Rome. Fame and glory are measured by Victory Points (VP) which are scored fighting with honor and defeating other gladiators.

A game lasts 6 turns or until all players except one are eliminated (or when a team is eliminated). At the end of the game, the player with the most VPs is the winner (or the team with the most VP).
The game has a character creation part, followed by the combat. Each player has a number of creation points to create his character. With creation points, a player buys Character Skills and then Combat cards. When this process is finished, players choose Item Cards and are then ready to play.

Gladiatori is a strategic game for 2-4 players ages 12+. A game lasts about 60 minutes (20 minutes per player). The box is a Multi-language version (Italian, German, English, and French).

Box contents: 16 Action cards, 8 Cover cards, 4 Bluff cards, 88 Combat cards, 18 Item cards, 4 wooden Skill markers, 12 Status markers, 4 player block notes, 4 player screens, 4 miniatures, 1 game board, 1 rulebook.


Rules Breakdown:
thumbsup One-on-One Combats
thumbsup Free-for-All Combats
thumbsup Team-vs-Team Combats
thumbsup Gladiators vs Animals
thumbsup Experience System
thumbsdown Campaign Play
thumbsdown Lanista
thumbsdown Horsemen
thumbsdown War-Chariots
thumbsdown Chariot Races

Gladiator Types: 4 (Secutor, Mirmillo, Thraex, and Hoplomacus). In addition to the 4 pre-generated gladiators, the game features Gladiator Training rules that allow you to purchase the gladiator of your choice.
Historical Accuracy: Unknown at this time, but the aim here is on making your own gladiators, therefore it is more up to the players in a sense.
Animals: 4 (dogs, wolves, lions, and bears)
Board: Hexes (mounted arena board included)
Page Count: 12

Purchasing the Game:
You can pre-order it directly from the publisher, giochix.it. The Gladiatori Deluxe version is scheduled for an October 2013 release and will be at SPIEL in Essen.

Support:
The designer is active on BGG and provides quick support in the game's forum.
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23. Board Game: Gladiator: Deadly Arena Combat in Ancient Rome [Average Rating:6.90 Unranked]
Yoki Erdtman
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Gladiator: Deadly Arena Combat in Ancient Rome is a fantastic production! The book is printed in full color on glossy paper of very good stock. There are full color photos of painted miniatures or drawings of gladiators on every page spread. The historical facts are spot on and there is a lot of historical background in the book, including a great bibliography. I would recommend this to any gamer remotely interested in the gladiatorial spectacles of ancient Rome, even if this is your first book on the topic.

This book definitely blows away all its competition, it is a much nicer production than any other game on Roman gladiators that I have seen. Sadly the game is severely lacking.

Close combat has both fighters roll one six-sided die and the high roller wins, and the winner then rolls to see if he manages to score a wound. A novice gladiator has a Wound rating of 2 and must appeal to the crowd for his life after a 2nd wound. A gladiator's Fighting value only comes into play as a tie-breaker when both combatants roll the same result on the die. Yup, seriously.

Unfortunately if you have additional attacks, such as the Dimachaerus with his two short swords, then you roll two six-sided dice and use your highest roll. This gives huge, and anachronistic advantage to a fighter without a shield. The only use of a shield is to block instead of attacking, and then getting to roll 2d6 instead of 1d6.

While there are advanced rules for hit locations, you can only choose between a high stab or a low slash and then roll 1d6 to see where you actually hit. Hits to a weapon arm lowers a gladiator's fighting value, hits to a shield arm lowers a gladiator's toughness, and a leg hit reduced a gladiator's movement rate and initiative roll. Sadly there are no critical hits, and head hits only make you upset as helmets are the hardest type of armor in the game.

One on one fights are incredibly dull in this game, and you can just tell that the game's geared for playing skirmishes, or grand melee scenarios. This is not at all what I'm looking for in a gladiatorial game. The rules system is so highly random that apart from clever maneuvering in a grand melee, there are no tactics at all. I use this book as inspiration for my players, and for quick historical summaries for the uninitiated, but I will not be playing this game again. If you can still find the book, definitely buy it, but use any one of the rulesets higher up this geeklist.

It should be noted that the book is shock full of ideas, and could be used as a sandbox, or tool set for the home designer that wants to tweak the game to their liking.

The Publisher wrote:
"Written by Barry Hill, Gladiator enables players to recreate the brutal arena combat of the Roman Empire on the wargames table.

This full colour 144 page hardback rulebook contains rules for gladiatorial arena contests featuring human combatants, wild animals, elephants and chariots as well as mass battle spectacles and mock sea battles. Full rules and background are provided for gladiators of both the Imperial and Republican eras, along with ten action-packed scenarios and a detailed campaign system that allows rival gladiatorial schools to compete in several different periods of Roman history.

The Gladiator rulebook is packed with inspirational photography and a detailed hobby section covering collecting, assembling and painting gladiatorial miniatures."

Rules Breakdown:
thumbsup One-on-One Combats
thumbsup Free-for-All Combats
thumbsup Team-vs-Team Combats (including rules for naumachia)
thumbsup Gladiators vs Animals
thumbsup Experience System
thumbsup Campaign Play
thumbsup Lanista
thumbsup Horsemen
thumbsup War-Chariots
thumbsup Chariot Races

Gladiator Types: 24! (Republican Period: Samnite, Thracian, Gallus, and Eques. Imperial Period: Retiarius, Thracian, Hoplomachus, Secutor, Myrmillo, and Provocator. Less Common: Laquerarius, Contra-Retiarius, Dimachaerus, Gladiatrix, Dwarf, Velite, Sagittarius, Eques, Essedarius, and Venatores. Very Rare: Scissori, Cruppellarius, Cataphractus, Gaetulian, and Helmeted Retiarius. Note that there are also a bunch of other famous characters and mythological creatures, plus slaves and other figures that appeared in the arena.)
Historical Accuracy: (The historical background information, and the gladiator types are great, however, that does not show through in play.)
Animals: 26! (6x dogs, boars, bears, 4x bulls, 6x cats, 2x elephants, and 6x exotics, there are also polar bears, camels, Barb horses, wild white English cattle, and African buffalo in the free expansion, Barbarians in the Arena.)
Board: Gridless (a measuring tape or a ruler is needed to play)
Page Count: 144 (hardback book)

Purchasing the Game:
Since Warhammer Historical is no more, I guess you have to look for this on the secondary market.

Support: There's a free PDF supplement available, and a reference sheet, but apart from that, this game's dead! zombie
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24. Board Game: Gladiator [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:3363]
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Gladiator is sadly OOP (hear that FFG?). This is an old grognard gladiatorial combat simulation, and even the basic rules are very detailed, and the advanced add even more complexity. In all honesty it looks like the rules would work well in play and become second nature after a few games. The rules look good still to this day. We should all hope for an eventual reprint with top notch components.

According to people that have played the game, it was quick and fun, but with some balance issues as you randomly rolled up your gladiators, which meant that you could end up with real mismatches. It seems to have had a very high fun-factor.

The Rules wrote:
GLADIATOR is a simulation in a game format of man-to-man combat in the arenas of ancient Rome. The game is played by two or more players, each controlling one gladiator, thus providing the opportunity for individual matched pairs as well as team combat depending on the number of players present. The game provides all information necessary to recreate this 'sport' of the anceint world accurately with all of its vicarious thrills.

Each gladiator counter represents a single man which is moved across the mapboard's hexagonal grid according to the individual movement characteristics of each different typ of gladiator. Each hexagon represents fighting space within the arena approximately one yard wide and each turn represents approximately forty seconds.

Although not a complex game once mastered, many of the concepts in GLADIATOR require practice and experience gained through repeated play before the participants will feel comfortable with the game system. Therefore, the first game or two shoudl be treated as a learning experience, a sort of gladiatorial training school if you will, and restricted to simple combats of matched pairs. Later, after you've gained experience with the system you can go on to the classic confrontation of the Retarius vs the short sword or team competitions, and the additional realism and complexity they entail.

Orders for movement are written for each gladiator on a combat record sheet. The gladiators are then moved simultaneously as per these written orders. Careful planning, maneuvering, and an element of luck are needed to defeat your opponent and win the game. The players assume the roles of the opposing gladiators; you are in the arena and it is your decisions and your actions that will determine the result, with your "gaming life" haning in the balance. Let the games begin!

This was originally a Battleline title, together with Circus Maximus, and when Battleline was bought by Avalon Hill they cleaned up the games and rereleased them.

Rules Breakdown:
thumbsup One-on-One Combats
thumbsup Free-for-All Combats
thumbsup Team-vs-Team Combats
thumbsdown Gladiators vs Animals
thumbsup Experience System
thumbsup Campaign Play
thumbsup Lanista
thumbsdown Horsemen
thumbsdown War-Chariots
thumbsdown Chariot Races

Gladiator Types: 0 (you pick a Heavy, Medium, or Light gladiator and roll it up randomly) *
Historical Accuracy: *
Animals: None *
Board: Hexes (mounted hex board)
Page Count: 15 (basic rules: 9, advanced and campaign rules: 4, and charts: 2)

* Note that the supplement for the game, published in The General #18, introduced the history of the gladiatorial games, and introduce 12 historically accurate gladiators. It also had solitaire animal fights and 4 animals (wolves, lions, tigers, and bears - oh my!). Lastly it introduced a new set of defense rules.

Purchasing the Game:
Sadly it's OOP.

Support:
None.
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25. Board Game: Ludus Gladiatorius [Average Rating:6.10 Overall Rank:8944] [Average Rating:6.10 Unranked]
Yoki Erdtman
Sweden
Södertälje
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Ludus Gladiatorius is very light and has been described as a beer-and-pretzels game on numerous occasions. This means that it might be a good game for your non-gamer friends and kids. The pre-painted miniatures that ship with the game is one of the game's best selling points. The arena poster map and miniatures can easily be used in other heavier gladiatorial games - if so desired.

I used to keep this game at the top of this list, due it its gateway game nature. What with pre-painted minis, and an attractive poster arena map, which are likely to make you want to collect more. Also the game is very light, and you may want to start desiring something meatier. Sadly, while this was a good place to start, the game is no longer for sale.

The Publisher wrote:
A complete Gladiator combat game with 5 fantastic painted pewter miniatures; full game rules; character record sheets; counters and full color, fold out arena playsheet.

Open. Take out. Play. It's that easy.

The game is played until the last man standing.

It now comes with colored dice, which help improve gameplay over older editions.

Rules Breakdown:
thumbsup One-on-One Combats
thumbsup Free-for-All Combats
thumbsup Team-vs-Team Combats
thumbsdown Gladiators vs Animals
thumbsdown Experience System
thumbsdown Campaign Play
thumbsdown Lanista
thumbsdown Horsemen
thumbsdown War-Chariots
thumbsdown Chariot Races

Gladiator Types: 4 (Bestiarius, Secutor, Thracian x2 (I treat one as Noxii), Murmillo)
Historical Accuracy: (read my full review of the miniatures explaining the rating)
Animals: 0
Board: Hexes (arena poster playmat included)
Page Count: 1 double-sided sheet, printed in three columns and folded up like a booklet

Purchasing the Game: The publisher em4miniatures, has the game listed as Catalog Suspended, and confirmed via e-mail that it is currently unavailable.

Support:
The designer is active in the game's Yahoo Group. The game also has a VASSAL module.
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