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Subject: A romantic trip for two to the Arena rss

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Hans Messersmith
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Hamilton
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With your head held high and your scarlet lies You came down to me from the open skies It's either real or it's a dream There's nothing that is in between
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Twilight, I only meant to stay awhile Twilight, I gave you time to steal my mind Away from me.
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TAKE HOME MESSAGES FROM THIS REPORT:
* Remember that you MAY NOT look at cards underneath other cards; that information is not fair game.
* Don't forget which creatures have been elminated and think that the round is farther from ending than it really is.
* The fifth round is a scary, scary place, where there is lots of gamble in the presence of little information.


My wife Tamara and I played Colossal Arena last night, she for the first time, and I for the fourth. I continue to find the game interesting, and hope to play a lot more of it in future.

I will assume in this report that anyone reading it is vaguely familiar with the rules and components.

First, I went over the rules with Tamara, and described the components and the gameplay. As usual she asked very perceptive questions. Then, she selected our 8 creatures from the array of 12. Tamara went through, and promptly threw out the Daimon and Seraphim on the basis that they were "supernatural, not mythological". She tossed out the Ettin because she couldn't stand looking at the picture (she is sensitive to horror themes) and threw out the Magus just to keep the whole mythological creature theme intact. This left us with Cyclops, Unicorn, Amazon, Wyrm, Troll, Gorgon, Colossus and Titan.

Then, we started playing. I was the only person to make a secret bet (on the Wyrm) during the first round, and there wasn't much conflict in the first two rounds. I think Tamara and I both settled pretty quickly on the idea that the Colossus and Titan were going out, as neither of us had bet on those two creatures. I have only played two player games of Colossal Arena so far, and this seems to be the rule. I suspect that in larger games with more people the earlier rounds are more intense, since the players are liable to have more at stake early on.

Things started to get much more interesting in the third round, when each of us had at least one bet on all remaining creatures. The Wyrm's special ability proved VERY useful to me in this round, as it allowed me to finish off the round (by placing a card in the Wyrm slot) and knock off the top card of the Troll slot, making the Troll lose the round. As Tamara had much more riding on the Troll than I did, this put me ahead.

Two things came up in this round that are VERY important to remember. First, you are NOT allowed to look under the top card to see what is there. I did this accidently, forgetting the rule, but immediately remembered it and informed Tamara of it. This is very important when the Wyrm is in play. Second, the physical layout of the cards is important visually in guiding play. If you leave the cards in place for elminated creatures (as it shows in the rule book), it is a very easy mistake to make to forget that the creature has been eliminated and work yourself into a situation where the round will close sooner than you think it will. Tamara almost did this at one point, and asked that we remove the entire column of cards for the eliminated creatures to make it more obvious, which we did.

In the final round, things got very dicey for me. I had bet heavily on the Wyrm and the Amazon, while Tamara had bets on the Unicorn and the Gorgon. On my last turn, I was faced with a situation in which all but the Wyrm slot had been filled, and currently the Amazon was the low card. Essentially, I was at Tamara's mercy, although she did not know it. She was almost certain to be able to knock out one of my two creatures; if she knocked out the Wyrm, I would lose big time, if she knocked out the Amazon, I would win by a hair. It turns out I did the wrong thing, and played a low card to the Wyrm and knocked out the Unicorn card. But fortunately for me, she then played a card that ended up knocking out the Amazon anyway. This whole sequence made me realize the value of the Magister card, which allows you to see the secret bet of an opponent. If Tamara had known that the Wyrm was my secret bet, she could have easily destroyed me.

As it was, I won 12 gold to 10 gold, my secret bet on the Wyrm making all the difference. All in all, a very fun game. I look forward to playing it with more players, but I admit I have a hard time seeing how it would work with 5. It seems that in later rounds the random factors in the game would begin to greatly outweight any strategy you have, since in later rounds you may only be able to play one card before the round finishes. Also, I am skeptical of the Age 8+ recommendation on the box; 10+ seems more reasonable.
 
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