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Subject: Those Of Us About to Dice Salute You! rss

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David G. Cox Esq.
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Gladiator


Man-to-man Combat in the Arenas of Ancient Rome
Simulation Sports Game for Two to Six Players
Designed by Michael Matheny
Published by Avalon Hill (1981)



Gladiator is a furiously-fast, fun-filled game where gladiators take on their opponents in the arenas of ancient Rome. Bouts can take less than five minutes, although it is more usual to last in the vicinity of 15 minutes.

While it is quite some time since I last spent time in the arena, when the game was first published I spent many a lunch-time fighting for my life.

Despite the enormous amount of luck involved in the game due to a very large amount of dice rolling, I like to think that there is some tactics to the game.


Components

Map – the map is only 16” by 11” – it shows a hexagonal grid over which the gladiators manoeuvre. It is adequate without being spectacular

Counters – there are two types of counters in the game. Gladiator counters are rectangular and will be placed in a plastic base so as to stand vertically during the game – this allows them to have a very clear facing-direction. There are four types of gladiators represented in the game: light, medium, heavy and retarius (has a net and a trident). There are other square counters which represent shields, swords and other objects that can be dropped by gladiators and tripped over later in the match.

Rules & Charts – there is a 16 page rule-book and a sheet of charts (printed on both sides). There are only 11 pages of the rule-book which contain the pertinent rules for the playing of the game.

Log Pad – there is a pad of log sheets which are used to record both the gladiators’ statistics and their injuries.


Playing the Game

Setting Up – each player fills in a log sheet for their gladiator. It will contain the gladiator’s name (very important! Try to be original! Maximus, Spartacus and Biggus Dickus have all been used extensively!), their type, their movement allowance, the current and original abilities of the gladiator and their armour. When setting up it is a good idea for a retarius not to fight another retarius and for a light gladiator not to fight a heavy gladiator. Dice are rolled to find out the amount of armour allocated – light gladiators have virtually no armour while heavy gladiators are just about ready to rust because they have so much. Dice are also rolled to determine each gladiator’s statistics in the areas of training, strength, agility, constitution and wound factors. The effect of this on the game is that each gladiator will be quite unique and develop his own personality in the arena as a result.

Moving the Gladiators – each turn is divided into 8 separate movement sub-phases. Light gladiators move in 6 of the 8 sub-phases, medium gladiators move in 5 and heavy gladiators move in only 4 of the sub-phases. If a player uses all of their moves before the 8th sub-phase they may leave themselves open to a stab in the back. In the sub-phases in which you wish to move your gladiator you write down one of eleven standard manoeuvres which are available to you. There are an additional eight special manoeuvres which can be added to most of the standard manoeuvres. In the arena you want to get inside the other gladiator’s head and work out what he will do. You respond (or act simultaneously) to put yourself in a position where you will gain an advantage – there is nothing as good as being able to say, “It’s nice to see your back!” as you deliver the coups de grace.

The standard move orders are forward, back, forward-right, forward-left, back-right, back-left and charge. The special orders include things such as quick (which allows you to move two spaces rather than one), face right/left (so that as you move you can also change your facing) and others which are not essential to this review.

Combat – each gladiator has a facing into the front three hexes. If one gladiator finishes movement in another gladiator’s sight (i.e. in the front three hexes) then there will be combat in that sub-phase. Combat is interesting and has more double guessing involved. The combat is divided into 5 more sub-phases. Each gladiator has five different body areas – head, torso, arms, legs and groin. Each gladiator has a combat factor which is the sum of their individual statistics (training, strength, etc.). Each player notes on the log pad how many combat factors are allocated to attack and how many are allocated for defence. Each player also allocates the attack points to different areas of the body and allocates the defence points to various parts of the body. Each gladiator’s armour will make them more or less vulnerable in various parts of the body and this will be taken into account when allocating the combat factors. The more attacks you make the weaker each one will be. You have the choice to trying to make a lot of parries, hoping one or two will get in, or go for the big ‘king-hit’. Likewise, if you attack an area where the other gladiator has allocated defence points, the less effective the attack is likely to be. All-in-all, trying to get inside the other guy’s head is an interesting part of the game.

Anyway, you go through the five sub-phases of combat, rolling dice to see if you hit and if you do hit then rolling more dice to see how much damage was done. Damage can vary from a mere scratch through the full gamut to decapitation. Damage will decrease the gladiator’s capabilities for the rest of the match.

It is possible, particularly in the case of long bouts involving heavy gladiators, that one of the gladiators may actually collapse due to loss of blood or simply exhaustion.

You keep going until only one gladiator is capable of moving, for whatever reason.


Impressions

I find this a really interesting game, as I think I may have mentioned previously. At the start of the game the two gladiators face off with three empty hexes between them. A gladiator may select a ‘Charge’ as his first action which moves him forward three spaces. I have been involved in games where one gladiator did nothing on the first move while the other, heavy, gladiator charged and during the combat put in just a single attack against the head and took it right off. Game over after one move. When you play against the same opponent for several games you start to get a feel for what the other person might do. Often times the two gladiators will spend quite some time circling each other and looking to get in an attack from an advantageous position.

There are just so many decisions and choices that that no two games ever feel the same. If you are a heavy gladiator do you try to stand still for the first four sub-phases so that you can then move four times in a row? If you are a medium on the first turn do you stand still hoping that the heavy gladiator looking at you won’t charge? Is the other guy going to move to the left or to the right?

When you have a medium gladiator fighting either a heavy, or a light, gladiator it becomes a really quite interesting situation as the lighter of the two, while being less armoured, makes up for this disadvantage by being more mobile.

Because there will be some times during the eight movement sub-phases where you are not allowed to make a move, it becomes rather important when you decide to move and when you decide not to move. Even getting into a position where you can attack your opponent from a vulnerable angle will force him to react during the next movement sub-phase. If you decide not to move at that time it will possible give you an extra move that you can use to your advantage later on.

If you are in a desperate situation, you are allowed to make one move more than you should, but the penalty is that during the next turn the number of moves allowed by you will be reduced by two.

Combat is quite exciting. Each part of your body can only take a certain amount of damage. When you get close enough for combat do you go for the legs? Do you go for the arms? Do you go for the head? The less critical parts of the body are normally less heavily armoured, but if you can take off your opponent’s leg that is pretty much the end of the game for him.

As well as combat results such as damage to the body there are also some hits that will damage the armour and the shield. You can see what damage your gladiator is taking and this will have a bearing on where and how you allocate your defence and your attack.

Sometimes you may score a Critical Hit on your opponent. Amongst other things this may cause him to have an artery severed, drop his shield or stumble (this will have an effect on his movement for the following turn).

Short of actually donning armour and entering the arena, this gives a really good feel of gladiatorial combat, without any of the messy parts.

The game comes with Advanced Rules and a Campaign Game. I, personally, have only ever played the basic game. There are even rules for combat between more than two gladiators.

It is a game that allows you to take the safe options and play a long game OR to be bold and take chances. All one can hope for is to fight hard and die to well.


Again, I have had countless hours in the past playing this game. It is fast and it is furious and…

"I Am Spartacus!!!"


arrrh “Dead Men Tell No Tales!”





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Alex Henderson
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Re: Those Of Us About to Die Salute You!
Nice review! If you want to PBEM Gladiator, I have a CyberBoard gamebox at http://cryhavocgames.net/other_stuff.htm

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Ronald Estes
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Re: Those Of Us About to Die Salute You!
Exceptional review!
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Michael Ziegler
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Re: Those Of Us About to Die Salute You!
Thanks for the review! An Interesting game developed and separated from it's mate Circus Maximus, the original Battleline edition had both!. I was impressed with the colorful components and overall quality of the Avalon Hill edition but this game is really the product of Hugh T. McGowan of fantasy Games Unlimited, Inc.. He first proposed the innovative individual figure rules and established the simulation of Gladiatorial combat system that is used in this edition, way back in 1975. It was basically a rulebook with two charts, one being the arena and the other was the Gladiator sheet.
Although Avalon Hill ironed out a few things, it is still McGowan's basic formula and talk about rare! Just try to find a copy! I was lucky, I purchased it in a store in Jenkintown PA that used to specialize in games and rulebooks for using miniatures.
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Andrew C
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Re: Those Of Us About to Die Salute You!
Pathirtle wrote:
Quote:
Combat is quite exciting. Each part of your body can only take a certain amount of damage. When you get close enough for combat do you go for the legs? Do you go for the arms? Do you go for the head? The less critical parts of the body are normally less heavily armoured, but if you can take off your opponent’s leg that is pretty much the end of the game for him.




It's just a scratch!

Come back 'ere! I'll bite yer kneecaps!

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Michael Ziegler
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Re: Those Of Us About to Die Salute You!
NONE SHALL PASS
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Pat McLaughlin
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I just bought a copy of this on eBay and your review has made me keen to taste the blood and dust in the arena. I hope it arrives soon!
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John
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I picked this game up today on eBay and this review is just what I was looking for! Really boils down the game rules and gets to the nuts and bolts of what's important in a stright forward and easy to understand manner. Thanks for posting.
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Great Review!

Tip: Be highly creative in the naming of your Gladiators. It brings a certain personality to the game. You can come up with some pretty interesting names that sound like certain body parts if you put your mind to it. Pretty much tag "ius" on the end of anything and you have Instant Gladiator Magic!

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EXTRA AVOCADO! Sonderegger
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markgravitygood wrote:
Great Review!

Tip: Be highly creative in the naming of your Gladiators. It brings a certain personality to the game. You can come up with some pretty interesting names that sound like certain body parts if you put your mind to it. Pretty much tag "ius" on the end of anything and you have Instant Gladiator Magic!



I find this highly suspect, but that may have something to do with the fact that my name is Disbelievius.

Nominative determinism, eh.
 
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