Thursday, November 27, 2014

28mm Gladiators for 'Spartacus' and 'Jugula'


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'
A 'Secutor'
To follow in the spirit of the game board, I indulged in painting the bases with gratuitous blood trails and ghastly spatters of viscera (love that word, viscera, it sounds just as it describes). 

A 'Murmillo'
A 'Hoplomachus'
A 'Provocator'
I have another batch of these to do, mostly lighter class fellas,  but I'm going to hold off on painting them until the Painting Challenge starts. Every point counts now...

37 comments:

  1. Those gladiators look great Curt. And there are more to come during the Challenge.

    Magister, ad eos, qui pingere salutant!

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    1. Thanks Tamsin. Yes, the next group should be able to shoulder their way in sometime over the next few months.

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  2. Outstanding Curt! Lovely work and spectacular gore effects, I look forward to seeing more in the near future.

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    1. Thanks Michael! The rest of the lads are primed and ready for the brush...

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  3. Wonderful work! Suitably gory considering the TV series.

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    1. Cheers Samuli. yes, I wanted to reflect the results of the overboard arterial spray effects featured in the series.

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  4. Love them! And nice to see models being used over multiple systems there as well!

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    1. Thanks! There are so many gladiator systems out now that it helps to keep the scale and bases a bit generic. I really don't know why the creators of 'Jugula' insisted on a 35mm scale. They are wonderful castings but I won't touch them as they won't mix with anything else in the market.

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  5. Nice! I had Avalon Hill's Gladiator, but can't seem to find it these days in the closet o games.

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    1. Ah, that was a good game as well. I also really enjoyed their Circus Maximus.

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  6. Excellent work Curt! The blood and gore looks great and really ties them to the gaming board.

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    1. Cheers Nick! Yeah, I wanted the bases to sort of work with the game board and the spirit of the genre.

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  7. Very very nice, looking forward to seeing more in the challenge. Me I am still painting away, a rest is for wimps ;-)

    Made me smile about the ASL comment

    Ian

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    1. Actually, I thought of you when I wrote that. :)

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  8. I almost got in the gladiator game, but Howard Whitehouse gave me a beta of his new game featuring tribal battles pre European contact in North America. Course now I'm hunting for proper tribal figures.
    Still, your gladiators look grand and I too appreciate multiuse
    Wargame figures!
    Isn't viscera Latin for " I touched something icky" ?

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    1. That sounds pretty cool! I'll have to keep an eye out for their release.

      Yes, 'viscera' is a perfect example of an onomatopoeia (or 'I touched something icky').

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  9. Fantastic painting work. Very nice, those figures.

    Ahhh, ASL...

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  10. Very cool! As many others, I've been searching for a set of gladiator rules, and this one looks really nice. I wonder if I could use the Hotz hex game mat in place of the one from the set.

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    1. Me too! I probably have over a half dozen rulesets lurking in the bookcase. I never thought that this game would be good but it really strikes a wonderful balance between the strategy of running a ludus and the rip-roaring fun of hacking about in the arena.

      I think the Hotz mat would work just fine as the Spartacus map is pretty generic. The size would not be a problem as the gladiators always need to close to do their work and the missile ranges are quite short.

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  11. Lovely work as always mate. Your potted review has made me want to give this a go. The fact I have a decent sized collection of painted and hex based gladiators already is a further incentive...

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    1. Yes! Give it a go and let me know what you think. The game is surprisingly inexpensive (well, here at least). The only caveat I would give it is that you really need four players to really make the mayhem 'sing'. Three will work, but four on up is great.

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  12. Excellent looking Gladiators Curt!

    Christopher

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  13. Heard good things about the game and your painted Gladiators are very nice, may well have to pick up some Brigade Minis to go with mine....

    Cheers,

    Pete.

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    1. Its a very fine game. The Brigade minis need a bit of cleaning up but they paint-up very nicely.

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  14. I really enjoy this game and love the look of your figures. Just a heads up though, this isn't exactly a gladiator miniatures game. It does have a very simplified though elegant miniatures game within it however. I have won this game without every winning a gladiatorial combat! The Avalon Hill game is available online. I don't remember where but I found it when I was looking for Circus Maximus which is also available online.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Ron. Yes, you are correct, 'Spartacus' is a game in which the gladiatorial combat is but one element to the gameplay (and, like you, we've had winners who's gladiators never entered the arena!). Good to know that those games are still in the market - I jealously prize my ancient, tattered, edge-bashed copies.

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  15. Awesome painting! Spartacus..it's a great couples game...great for causing all sorts of doublecross behaviour. cheers

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    1. You're right it would be a wonderful couples game! I'll have to pull it out the next time my wife invites over some people. It'll either be a great success or they'll excuse themselves early muttering under their breath. Win-Win!!

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  16. Awesome work, Curt.
    And thanks for the short review of Spartacus. I should look for it sooner or later. What's you're experience with Jugula? I'm hesitating a bit because the entry level price for the rules, two card decks and the miniatures seems a bit high to me...

    Cheers
    Stefan

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    1. Frankly, I would recommend trying Spartacus first and see what you think of it first. If you like it then I'd recommend not picking up Jugula as Spartacus is far cheaper and has a similar point-of-view (i.e. running a ludus). With Jugula I find having to buy additional decks for each player a bit odious. Also, I believe Jugula has a cap at four players whereas Spartacus can accommodate up to six with the expansion. Nonetheless, Jugula is more tactical with the arena fights where Spartacus' rules are a bit more basic. One thing to also note is that Spartacus does use adult themes and language so you may want to keep that in mind if you're planning to play with younger folks. Both have their strong points, but, in my opinion, Spartacus comes out ahead.

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  17. Great work dude. But note that whenever we play this game, Thrax/Thraex is pretty much always a cheater...

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