As I mentioned a few weeks ago, our gaming group quite enjoys playing a wide variety of board games. In fact several of us cut our teeth playing Avalon Hill and SPI war games and so it seems we are 'hard-coded' to love anything with a hex map and having a point decimal rules organization. (I still get a nervous tick whenever I hear 'Advanced Squad Leader' mentioned - a title that is notorious for being more of a lifestyle choice than a game.) A recent favourite is Gale Force Nine's 'Spartacus'. For us, any game with a byline that promises a fun-filled evening of 'blood and treachery' gets our vote!
'Spartacus' has each player (up to six) taking the role of a Dominus, controlling a powerful Roman household with its attendant school (ludus) of gladiators. Each game turn is composed of running nasty schemes, buying slaves, gladiators, equipment and then bidding to see who will host the games for that turn. To win the game a player needs to amass 12 points of influence (which can be damnably tricky with everyone doing their best to cut each others' throats!). The rule mechanics for the gladiatorial combat is quite elegant, fast and suitably bloody, with all the players being able to bid on wins, wounds, and decapitations (yikes!). We've always had a rip-roaring time as the game allows you to be as creative as you like in formulating your deals and crafting wonderfully treacherous backstabbing gambits. Great fun and highly recommended.
As you can see from the pic above the board for the arena is hex-based (swoon) and the game even comes with some basic soft plastic gladiators. They're not bad, but, being the dork that I am, I immediately wanted to replace them with my own painted miniatures.
I had picked up some 28mm gladiators from Brigade Games a few months ago and I found that, once based, they fit perfectly within the hexes of the game board. You may have noticed that one of the bases is round while the others are square - this is because these figures will also be used for 'Jugula', which differentiates between 'heavy' (square-based guys) and 'light' (round) class gladiators.
|A light 'Thraex'|