Saturday, July 05, 2014


The next random game from my collection is a game that at the time of this writing almost 35 years old, Gladiator.  I have the standalone game from 1981, but the system was part of the original Circus Maximus game (which included the gladiator combat and chariot racing) from the late 1970s.  The standalone game was published by Avalon Hill.  In this game, each player controls a gladiator, and the game can handle up to six players, working either individually or in teams (though teams makes the most sense if using different types of gladiators).  Gladiators are rated based either on their armor type (light, medium, or heavy) or by their weaponry (the Retarius).  The mechanics are that the game is simultaneous.  Each turn is composed of eight movement phases, and in each phase the players will write down on their gladiator record how they want their gladiator to move (if he moves at all).    This makes for an interesting "cat and mouse" game, where knowing how your opponent is likely to move can give you an edge.  The whole point of movement is to get you next to your opponent (where combat takes place, unless you are a Retarius), but preferably in his rear, not his front.  Being in your opponent's rear gives you combat bonuses.

Combat is a mix of plotted actions and die rolls.  Each gladiator has a number of Combat Factors, which indicates how well they fight.  These Combat Factors are divided up between attack and defense, and then further sub-divided for the five different body areas (head, chest, groin, arms, and legs).  Attacks against a body area are handled by taking the attack amount, subtracting the defense amount, and then using the total to find the proper column on the combat table.  You then roll three dice to determine whether the attack misses entirely, gets blocked by the defender's shield, gets parried by the defender's sword, or if you hit.  A shield block gives the attacker a chance to damage the defender's shield, a weapon parry gives the defender a chance to drop their sword, and a body hit means you roll on a separate damage table to determine how many hits you do.  Each body area has its own pool of wounds.  If all wounds in an area are lost, the gladiator is killed.  In addition, as wounds are lost the gladiator's Combat Factors are reduced.  So getting wounded reduces your ability to attack and defend effectively.

Overall, this game works fairly well, and can feel nice and tense.  It does bog down a bit in the mechanics, though (lots of dice rolling, lots of table lookups).  It's a nice game to have in my collection, but it isn't going to hit the table much.

No comments: