I've been wanting to play this for a while and good friend and Board Game Expert, RB, got this for me for Christmas (thanks RB!). So, we played a nice 4 player game for lunch today and were introduced to this fantastic game (and I'm *not* just saying that because I won!). The rules are fairly simple and I had played Grand National Derby before, so this one was quick to learn and teach.
Colossal Arena is the same game as Grand National Derby, with a few upgrades. Instead of horses, the theme is fantasy creatures battling it out in an arena. Each of the creatures has a unique power that can be activated only by the "backer" of that creature (the player who has bet the most on it). Also, there are a few extra cards (a wild card suit and referees), and a method for casting a secret bet (which we all forgot to do this first game).
Since all 4 of us were new to the game, it took about an hour to play, most of which was spent reading/analyzing the powers of the creatures. We took out one of JCs creatures early on, the Colossus, because his power is pretty tough (and I was backing the Seraphim who can use the power of any eliminated creature). In the 4th and 5th round, it was pretty clear that it would either be RB or myself who would win. As I was in the lead, RB tried to get SJ and JC to kill my heavily invested creatures (you always have to go for the person in the lead), but they did not want or were not able to, because in the end, I came out on top.
The final scores: Me 9, RB 7, SJ 5, JC 3.
This is a wonderfully interactive game. Each round you have the opportunity to better yourself or hurt someone else (usually the latter). It seems like the best strategy is to diversify your bets (so that one elimination doesn't take you out) and tag onto others bets when you can (two players trying to keep a creature alive is a lot easier than 1 player).
I thought it was a very fun, mostly light game with a competitive edge. I said it with Formula De, but I reiterate: any game where you are actively cheering has got to be good. Of course, at times, the best demeanor is being quiet as a mouse and hoping nobody notices that your creature with 5 points of bets on it is vulnerable and will slip by into the next round.