Memoir ’44 – 04 – Pointe-Du-Hoc

4 - 5

Winner: David

Full Scenario

History:

The rules of the game tell us a brief history of this battle; June 6th, 1944.

It was felt by the Allies that the position the Germans held on top of the cliffs at Pointe-Du-Hoc was too strong. They had guns with them that could, from the top of the 100 foot cliff, accurately hit anything attempting to land on the beach.

The Second Rangers (an American unit formed specifically for this mission), under the command of Colonel James E. Rudder were assigned to stop them. After a difficult landing, under heavy fire from the Germans they managed to reach the top of cliffs. Here they found that the guns had been withdrawn from their stations several days beforehand and only dummies left in their casements. One Ranger patrol went south searching for the missing guns.

Two concentrations of Germans had remained; one in the south-west antiaircraft bunker, the other in the observation bunker. Despite repeated attacks these resisted and were the most dangerous of the German forces in the area.

The single Ranger unit finally found the guns sitting quietly, unguarded, in an apple orchard inland. They placed incendiary devices inside them and completed their mission.

Pointe-Du-Hoc

Pointe-Du-Hoc
The Steup.

Strategy:

Allies:

Landing on the beach puts you at a fairly strong disadvantage to the Axis player; you’re in the sea, which gives you movement restrictions, and retreat penalties, but you get six command cards and you move first, so it’s not all bad.

  • You have to factor in that you cannot scale the cliffs in one move, the special rules for this scenario state that you must use two moves, to scale a cliff from the beach side.
  • However, your units are Rangers, so they can all move two hexes and still battle, which is a big advantage, and makes life much harder for the Germans.
  • The victory condition is four medals; we found that the most promising way to achieve this was to storm straight up the middle and try and take out the units in the sandbags, plus the left-hand one in the bunker. Then capture medals at the back to win. You should also try and do this as quickly as possible.
  • In this scenario I would say that keeping your units pretty close together was probably a better bet than spreading them thin, simply because the victory condition in not so high as in other scenarios, and it’s easier to outgun a unit if you’ve several of your units attacking them.
Axis:

You get the fun of defending in this one. Dave and I did have a bit of a debate about whether or not it was more advantageous to stay in the bunkers and let the Allied player come to you, or to go out and meet them. We played it both ways.

  • You’ve got a bit of an interesting set up, on the top of the cliff. You’re position is very good defensively, but a little annoying until the Allied player has moved a fair few of their units.
  • You’ll probably find that although you can attack maybe on or two of their units, you can probably only do so with one battle die, which is an incredibly tedious (although completely acceptable, and sometimes necessary) way of destroying a unit
  • My main comment for this one is to not (if possible) let your enemy destroy your artillery. Because of its range this unit is incredibly useful, but annoyingly, also fairly easy to obliterate if an enemy unit gets close enough. PROTECT IT. That’s what your unit in the bunker on the point is for – to stop anything getting to your artillery.

General strategy point: be aware of the spread of your units in relation to your command cards. It’s very unwise to bunch all your units in one section of the board, as there may come a time when you have no command cards relevant to that section, which renders your turn useless and gives your opponent the upper hand.

 

Running Score:

David: 11

Miriam: 5

 

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Memoir ’44 – 03 – Sword Beach

Winner: David

Full Scenario

History:

The set up!
The set up!

Morning. June 6th. 1944. The 8th Brigade Group of the 3rd British Division, supported by Commandos of the 1st Special Service Brigade and the Sherman tanks of the 13th and 18th Hussars make up the first wave of Allied forces to land on “Sword” beach, near the mouth of the Orne River.

The objective of the day was for the Allied forces to retake the city of Caen, and although the French troops captured the Casino at River Bella, the Allies failed in this objective. The sea was difficult that day, the tanks were supposed to land first and engage the enemy before the infantry landed, however, tanks and infantry ended up landing together. This coupled with the German resistance meant that the inland advance was seriously delayed. The failure to retake Caen was one of the biggest set-backs of D-Day and the consequences were still felt well into July of that year.

Strategy and Tactics:

Axis:

You have a defensive advantage in this scenario. Not only are the Allied forces advancing from the sea, which initially gives them a terrain disadvantage, but some of your forces are also already holed up in bunkers. Bunkers are useful as they give a -2 to tanks and a -1 to infantry when being attacked. You also possess the only artillery unit in this scenario. This is, if you manage to prevent its destruction, probably your most useful unit, as it has the longest attack range.

Despite these advantages you also have fewer troops than your opponent, and your only tank unit starts in a useless position, from which you have to order it twice to get it within attacking range of the Allied forces. You also have one less command card, and move second.

Okay, so that aside, tactically we found that arranging your troops towards the back of the board and then waiting for the Allied forces to come to you was a fairly sound way of playing the scenario. Though it’s definitely worth dragging your tank unit out of the corner early on. I would also generally say that it’s worth keeping the units that are already in the bunkers in them, unless for some dire reason you have to retreat or lose that unit.

Because wood hexes provide a -1 for attacking a unit in the woods it’s also worth trying to position your in Lion Sur Mer in the most forward of the two woods hexes next to it, this moves you closer to the fighting action whilst giving the unit a decent terrain advantage and enabling it to be close enough to try and prevent Allied forces taking the town and claiming the medal there, that contributes to their victory points.

Other than that, I would say, try not to let yourself get surrounded by the Allies, because they’ve got a lot more firepower than you, and also, if possible, knock out their tank units first, as these move further and have a fighting advantage over infantry units as well as needing less hits to destroy a unit.

Allied:

Although you start in the sea, you have an advantage in number units and number of command cards, as well as being the side that starts the scenario. Not only do you have three tank units to the one that your opponent possesses you also have three special forces units available to you, these are able to move up to two hexes and still battle, where regular infantry can either move one and battle, or two and do nothing.

Your first task is to get your units out of the sea, this is slow going because of the terrain restrictions that the sea imposes, but we found that it was tempting just to move either one block of your units out, maybe just from, say, the left flank, or to maybe move one unit from each section of the board, depending on your command cards. This is however, not a good idea. If you move one unit from each section too far from its comrades you make it an easy target, remember that you’re at a disadvantage with the bunkers, not to mention the hedgehogs and barbed wire that’s between you and the Axis forces.  And if you only move one block and ignore the others you also make those units targets because if they’re in the sea and they get attacked a retreat roll on the battle dice counts as a hit because you cannot retreat and so must sacrifice one member of your unit for every retreat rolled.

If you start out with any command cards that enable you to annihilate your opponents artillery unit this is a big score early in the game, it levels the playing field a lot. Not only does it have only two pieces to a unit, making it the easiest to destroy in terms of dice rolls needed, but it also makes it much harder for the Axis player to just sit and wait for you, as they can no longer pick off your units from such a distance.

Surrounding bunkers is a good way of destroying a unit completely, if you attack a bunker with three units instead of just one, you’re less effected by the defensive advantage they give to the Axis player.

Lastly, don’t forget about the medals in the three towns at the back of the board. Each one of these counts for one of the five victory points you need to win the scenario if you capture, and hold, the town. They’re worth going after because they mean you need to physically destroy less enemy units.

To Conclude:

I really enjoyed this scenario from both sides. As you can see from the running score we’re keeping – I lost. But it was fairly close both ways round. It was more a lack of useful command cards than any tactical errors made. This scenario is also great because you get artillery and special forces units in play, as well as bunkers, hedgehogs and barbed wire, which adjust the way you have to think about moving around the board. This is great because by this point you’re familiar with the infantry and tank units, and then the game gives you something new to play with. It also starts to pick up the pace of play. Dave mentioned in his last post that he thought it felt a little slow, I agree with him, but I think that this scenario really cranks the game up a bit, making it much more interesting.

Running Score:

David: 8

Miriam: 4

 

Memoir ’44 – 02 – Sainte-Mère-Eglise

2.5 - 5

Winner: David

Full Scenario

History:

Set in 1944 on the 6th of June this scenario aims to replicate the D-day battle of  Sainte-Mère-Eglise. Sainte-Mère-Eglise is a town in Normandy, north-west France. The town is used as the central setting for the board, as can be seen in the layout diagram below. The fight began with Allied paratroopers landing at 0140; this is simulated by the dropping of four units of Allied men onto the board from a height of around 12 inches. If they land on a empty hexagon they become a full unit, however, if they land on a German unit, or off the board, they are considered a failed drop. Many drops failed that night as buildings in the town were on fire. This lit up the sky making the paratroopers easy targets. There were also incidents like that of John Steele who’s parachute got caught on the church tower and he could only observe the battle and there were others who got caught in trees.

The set up.
The set up.

At around 0500 the town was taken by the 505th parachute infantry regiment, it was then heavily counter attacked by the Germans, but the infantry held until they were reinforced from Utah Beach in the afternoon of June 7th.

Historically speaking this was an Allied victory, however, the success of your parachute drop at the start strongly influences your chances of success or failure.

Strategy and Tactics:

Allied:

The first thing to focus on when playing as the Allies is your parachute drop. You get four units that you have to drop from 12 inches above the board, if they land on an occupied space or off the board they are taken out of play, so you want as many of them to land safely as possible, so drop with care. Additionally, depending on where they land this effects what you do next.

As the Allied player it makes sense to take the Axis unit that holds the town in the center first; depending on your command cards and on your parachute drop this can be quite easy as this unit is cut off from the rest of the Axis forces. Then holding the town and waiting for the Axis player to come to you is a fairly sound strategy as you then have the added bonus of the protection of the town at -1 against infantry and -2 against tanks for dice roll because of obscured line of sight.

What I found while playing is that while the hill on the left side of the board looks like a good position, if you don’t reinforce it you may as well pull out because with the right command cards and a couple of moves that unit will be eliminated with ease.

I also found that the single unit on the right is easily forgotten about by both sides, if it’s left by itself, as, if you’ve enforced the town in the center, the Axis player will move their right had units in towards the center in an attempt to take the town. So to move this unit into the cover of a hedgerow makes sense and, if possible, to reinforce it, depending on where your parachute men dropped.

Axis:

The Axis players are not so lucky as to have anything as fun and useful as the parachute drop, they do have one unit of tanks, but they also get one less command card. Assessment of where the parachute men fell is essential for the Axis player; the thing to keep in mind is that the win criteria is four medals (four completely destroyed enemy units). So seeing where their weakest units are and destroying them speedily makes good sense.

I found that the unit on the left up the hill was most often left by itself so that was a good place to start, even with the -1 for shooting up a hill. Additionally withdrawing your unit from the town in the center to prevent its quick destruction was also a good idea.

If the Allied player were to fill the town in the center it is highly possible to lose more men than it’s worth trying to retake the town; however they cannot hide all of their men in the town and will undoubtedly have some out in the open, here getting your tanks into play and focused on units not in cover is a good move, but to fire tanks into a town is close to a waste of a move as they fire at -2.

Both Sides:

Remember to try to keep units in all sections of the board as it will always be the section of the board you have no units in that you have all the command cards for!

To Conclude:

This is a good scenario with a lot of replay value due to the parachute drop creating a slightly different set up every time. Also being only the second scenario in the rule book it gives a small, basic introduction to tanks with one tank unit in play. It also introduces you to hedgerows and hills and is a well-paced second scenario for people still learning the game.

However it lacks the fun of some of the later scenarios due to its relative simplicity and lack of lots of heavy weaponry!

Running Score:

David: 5

Miriam: 3

 

 

 

Memoir ’44 – 01 – Pegasus Bridge

3 - 5

Winner: Draw

Full Scenario

History:

Set on the night of June 5th, 1944  this scenario recreates the brief battle for Pegasus Bridge. Or Bénouville Bridge, as it was known at the time, in Normandy, France. Major John Howard led the men of the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in the first airborne assault of D-Day, his objective being to capture both Pegasus Bridge and Orne Bridge. At a few minutes past midnight the Horsa Gliders land in a patch of field only yards away from their objective. The men stream out of the gliders totally surprising the German forces, there’s a brief and furious fight involving a machine gun in a sandbag nest right by the Pegasus Bridge. The British forces secure the Bridge, and the Orne equally as quickly, losing only two men in the process.

Full set up

The bulk of British troops here start behind the impassable pond, meaning that they must be maneuvered around it to get involved in the battle. The Allied player has the natural advantage in this scenario; they have more men to begin with, receive more Command Cards, and play first.

Strategy and Tactics:

The Allied player here has the upper hand, but if they play badly that’s going to be completely irrelevant. In this game a certain amount of your success as a player is determined by which Command Cards you draw, as on some occasions you may need to give orders to a section of the board that you don’t have the Command Card for, and so can’t. How quickly and efficiently you kill enemy units is also determined by the roll of the battle dice. So some amount is down to luck and chance. But aside from that we’ve found so far that once you’ve found a decent defensive position (for example in a patch of trees) it’s ideal to stay there for as long as possible, all the while you can fire on your enemy from there you should stay as the woods reduce the chances that you’re going to lose men when the enemy fires on you.

In  this scenario the German forces have barbed wire and sandbags. These are inconvenient, for an Infantry unit to be able to remove them they have to move into the space that the barbed wire is in, and then remove it instead of battling. So it can be completely suicidal to remove them as you end up adjacent to you enemies units and unable to attack them. Leaving you as a clear target. It’s also important to remember that the rive does not effect line of sight. You can fire on an enemy unit across a river provided that they are within range and no other terrain restrictions that would prevent you attacking them apply.

I found, when playing as the Allied forces, that trying to take the patch of wood on the right flank of the board, by the Orne Bridge, was a strong position to be in. That bridge is under defended and so the woods is a good position from which to either attack the lone German unit at the top of the board there, or to swoosh down and take the bridge from the other German unit. The blue medals on the two bridges count as victory points if the bridges are held by British forces. Meaning that that player has to destroy less of the Axis units to win the scenario.

For Axis forces it’s tactically ideal to get you lonely unit in the top of the right flank down into the patch of woodland before anyone else can, this is a good defensive position to be in, to prevent anyone trying to take the Orne Bridge. Your second unit there could then be on the bridge, between them they’ll put up a good fight against any optimistic British forces.

When we played this scenario we left the Axis units mostly where they were in the center and on the left flank, only really moving the one in the top left corner to bring it closer to the action. On reflection it would probably have been a good idea to shift the unit in the town right next to Pegasus Bridge further down the river to attack the British, because we didn’t actually use it that much.

To Conclude:

This is the starter scenario, so it’s been simplified from the original battle. The Germans has a machine gun in their sandbag nest by Pegasus Bridge that’s been replaced with regular Infantry in this one. But as starters go it’s very good, it’s an easy board to navigate, and the use of only one type of unit allows you to completely get to grips with how they move and battle. It would’ve rated higher, but that it’s been deliberately simplified for learning purposes, so the scenario doesn’t have as much going for it as some of the later, more complex ones do. It’s well designed as an introduction though, and sets you up in good stead for future scenarios.

Running Score:

David: 2

Miriam: 2

Memoir ’44

5 - 5 - Strike Thro

4 - 5

Number of Players: 2

Year of Publication: 2004

Creator(s): Richard Borg (designer), Cyrille DaujeanJulien DelvalDon Perrin and Claude Rica (artists)

Right. Well. I think we played that wrong….

We should really include that in all the titles/opening paragraphs for this blog, since I can’t immediately think of any game that we haven’t played wrong at least once. Memoir ’44as has been stated at least once now, is a fantastic game. I don’t think we’re likely to ever get bored of it. Based on real scenarios from the Second World War it’s not only interesting for its historical accuracy, but also as a strategic game.

What’s In The Box:

IMAG2834
The Stuff

 

Countryside side of the board
Countryside side of the board
The board beach side
Beach side
The Rules
The Rules
  1. 14 Special Forces Badges
  2. 3 Blue and 3 Green Command Card Holders
  3. 44 Double-Sided Terrain Hex Pieces
  4. 60 Command Cards
  5. 1 Double-Sided Obstacle Summary Card and 1 Double-Sided Unit Summary Card
  6. 7 Terrain Cards
  7. 8 Battle Dice
  8. 2 Sets of Army Miniatures; Green = Allied Forces, Blue-Grey = German/Axis Forces
  9. 4 Double-Sided Bunker and Bridge Tiles
  10. 10 Double-Sided Victory Medals
  11. 1 Double-Sided Battlefield Board Map
  12. 1 Rules and Scenario Booklet

Playing The Game:

Objective: To fulfill the scenario’s victory conditions before your opponent and score more points after you’ve switched sides.

When you read the rules for this game you’ll see that the first scenario it recommends you play uses only the Infantry Units available to each side. This is very good, as the game builds you up to a thorough understanding of each of the different types of unit available to you in different scenarios by introducing them one at a time into gameplay.

You start by setting up the board, as directed in the instructions for the scenario you’re playing. You change the look and layout of the board by using the terrain hexes to put in woods, hills, villages, rivers etc.

The starting set up of the first scenario in the rulebook
The starting set up of the first scenario in the rule book

Once you’ve set the board up for the scenario you then decide who’s playing as who. In the rule book the scenario instructions will tell you which side plays first, and how many Command Cards each player is dealt to begin with.  Players then take turns. There will be a preset condition for victory in each scenario.

The Command Cards contain an array of  things a player can do on their turn, standard orders or special commands. These mostly look like this:

an example of the Command Cards most commonly in play
an example of the Command Cards most commonly in play

The special command cards look like this, but are all different:

A special command card
A special command card

Winning The Game:

There is no time limit to the scenarios, players continue taking turns until someone manages to destroy enough enemy units to fulfill the victory conditions for the scenario. Then the board is reset and players switch sides. A note is kept of the score from the first round, for example, if the victory condition was that someone needed to have completely destroyed 4 of their enemy units and the other player had destroyed 2 when this happened you would then make a note, and at the end of the following round the victorious players score would have to be the highest total number of units destroyed.

Strategy:

We realized fairly early into the playing stages of this that the scenarios are usually relatively heavily weighted towards one player, they may have an advantage in the number of Command Cards they have, or in having bunkers or sandbags. But despite this, if you play reasonably tactically, all the scenarios we’ve played so far could go either way.

We started out just playing the most obviously useful card we had in our hand at the start of each turn, and seeing where it got us. Because the destruction of a unit is determined by a combination of the card you played, the position of your units, the terrain around you and the rolling of battle dice it can be unreasonably hard, on occasion, to annihilate a unit that should have been wiped out the first time you attack it. This is both true to the slightly unpredictable nature of a battle, and completely inaccurate as an Armour unit fighting Infantry at what is more or less to be considered point-blank range should not somehow manage to miss all of them. But that aside, it is possible, tactically, surround and destroy units, using terrain disadvantages to your advantage.

There is a lot to be said about strategy on this game, but we’ve decided that in the interest of keeping you interested, we’ll go into much more detail on tactics and strategy, as well as historical overview and other exciting things like that as we write about each scenario individually.

History and Interesting Things:

  1. The game was designed to commemorate the men and women of WW2 and the sacrifices they made.
  2. It was published in collaboration with the Mission for the 60th Anniversary of the D-day Landings and Liberation of France.
  3. In 2004 it was awarded the International Gamers Award for the General Strategy: 2-Player category.
  4. There are eleven expansions for this game, all of them require the original to play.
  5. The game can be played with up to six people, playing in teams of three, each commanding a different section of the board.

There is more to write, but we want to look at the history of each scenario in greater detail over the course of the month, as we’re doing with our Strategy section of each post.

To Conclude:

As is evident, we love this game. We hope that over the course of the month these posts will show us gaining a better understanding of the game, and knowledge of the historical associations of each scenario. As well as actually letting us play a game more than once, which will make a nice change to our usual style of review. If you can get a copy of this game and a friend or two who might be interested, do it. Otherwise, stay tuned for our upcoming post of the first scenario of the game Pegasus Bridge!

Update – August 2014

A Change In Form:

So we’re changing our format a touch! Or at least we’re going with what we feel like for now and we will review how well it works later and make changes accordingly. Instead of having a themed month and reviewing four to five games that fit into that theme we’re going to have just the one game for a month. We’re going to play the game multiple times and do one review in the same format as we used to that covers the game in a basic form, then we’re going to play it in different ways or play it in all its scenarios (depending on the format of the game) and review each scenario or form of play individually.

Hopefully this will result in a more in-depth look at the game, leave us with a greater understanding/appreciation for the game and allow us to actually comment on real strategy rather than having to say things like “we’re not sure as we’ve only played it twice but we think this might work <insert vague suggestion here>”.

So on that note, the game that shall start this change in form is the wonderful…

Memoir ’44:

IMAG2892
The game and rule book.

This game we first played at the UK Games Expo in May, you can see us playing a huge expo variation of the game in our Expo video here. We loved it immediately and bought it at the Expo. As some of you will be aware it has the same designer as the game Battle Cry: the almighty Richard Borg. We have already reviewed Battle Cry and that review can be seen here.

So strap in for a whole month of us going on about this game, analyzing every scenario, and even looking at the actual history of the given scenarios. We will also be keeping a running score at the bottom of each scenario post so you can tell which of us is getting better at the game, each of us will get 1 point for a loss, 2 for a draw and 3 for a win. By the end of the month it’ll be probably be clear which of us has the more strategic mind.

Other Things to Note:

  • We are actually back now and should be back for the foreseeable future.
  • Hopefully, with this whole month being about Memoir ’44, we should get our first video review up about it, so that should be exciting.
  • With there being more posts going up than there used to be (there should be at least 18 going up this month because there are 16 scenarios in Memoir ’44 plus this post and the over all review) it will be harder to commit to specific publications dates. We’ll say that Mondays will stay a sure thing, but depending on the game for the month (and how many posts it’ll take) we can’t be sure how regularly the in between posts will be going up.

Spartacus: A Game of Blood and Treachery

4 - 5

Number of Players: 3 – 4

Year of Publication: 2012

Creator: Aaron DillJohn KovaleskiSean Sweigart (Designers) and Charles Woods (Artist)

NO! I’m Spartacus:

Spartacus: A Game of Blood and Treachery is a board game based on the TV series Spartacus: Blood and Sand ( which has a mini series prequel and is followed by Spartacus: Vengeance and Spartacus: War of the Damned and proceeded by a not so good Spartacus: Gods of the Arena). To reflect the style of the TV series this is the only game I’ve come across, to date, that has an age rating on it:

The age rating at the top corner of the box lid.
The age rating at the top corner of the box lid.

And because of this you get cards with things like this written on them:

This did make us laugh...a lot.
This did make us laugh… A lot.

Now unfortunately, being a big fan of the TV series this review is unlikely to be completely non- biased, I will however do my best to stay objective.

What’s In The Box:

The Stuff!
The Stuff!
  1. Game board
  2. Rules Book
  3. 4 x House cards
  4. 62 x Market Cards
  5. 104 x Intrigue Cards
  6. 10 x Favor/Injured tokens
  7. 4 x Champion tokens
  8. 3 x House betting tokens (per house) and 1 x House marker (per house)
  9. 1 x Host marker
  10. 117 x Gold
  11. 4 x Gladiator figures
  12. 4 x Turn summary cards
  13. A lot of Dice (9 x Red, 9 x Black and 8 x Blue)

Playing The Game:

Objective: Be the first to raise your house influence to 12!

Depending on whether you want to play a Quick, Standard or Advanced game you set the starting amount of influence each house has to a different number:

  • Quick = 7
  • Standard = 4
  • Advanced = 1
Starting favor set to 7 for a quick game and the starting amount of things dealt out.
Starting influence is set to 7 for a quick game and the starting amount of things dealt out.

You then get dealt the starting number of items as dictated by your house card (circled green). So for Solonius that’s 2 Gladiators, 2 Slaves, 1 Guard and 12 Gold. Additionally each player gets one gladiator figure, their 3 house betting tokens and a turn summary card.

Now, every turn of play is made up of four sections:

  1. Up Keep
  2. Intrigue Phase
  3. Market Phase
  4. Arena Phase
Up Keep:

Up keep consists of three parts:

  1. Refreshing Cards – Any cards that have been exhausted in the previous round (so are face down) get turn back up so their abilities can be used again.
  2. Healing Injuries – Attempt to heal any injured gladiators or slaves by performing a healing role – on a role of 4 – 6 they are healed anything less and they stay inured.
  3. Balancing the Ledgers – You gain one gold for every ready slave you have and you must pay one gold to the bank for every ready gladiator you have – if you cannot pay (or don’t want to) you must discard the card that’s making you pay.
Intrigue Phase:

Intrigue consists of two parts:

  1. Drawing Cards – At the start of each intrigue phase each player draws three intrigue cards (players all receive three cards simultaneously).

    All Intrigue cards dealt.
    All Intrigue cards dealt.
  2. Playing Schemes/ Foiling Schemes/ Cashing in Cards – Some of the intrigue cards are schemes you can play against another Dominus (Latin word for master), cards that allow you to foil other schemes or get rid of an opponents guards. To play a Scheme you must have the right amount of influence  to play it (as listed on the card), if you don’t you can pair with another Dominus to play it by adding your influence together but beware; deals that are made can be easily broken. If someone plays a scheme against you you can foil it by using your guards and performing a dice role or you can play a scheme foiling card that are reactions to schemes and also require that you have the right amount of influence to play it. Finally if you don’t want some of you cards or can’t keep them (as your had size is dictated by the amount of influence you have) you can cash in cards for the amount written on them from the bank.
Market Phase:

This phase is made up of three parts:

  1. Open Market – At this point anything can be traded for anything for anything else. Except Intrigue cards, which cannot be sold.
  2. Auction – After open market is over each player conceals their gold in their hand and cards equal to the amount of players playing are drawn face down on to the board. The first card is flipped up; each player decides how much they want to bid for that card and hide it in their hand and hold it out over the board, then together they revel how much they have bid, highest bidder wins. Someone who bids nothing is ignored, but if everyone bids nothing the card is discarded. If there is a tie the two players who are tied place the amount they have already bid on the board and repeat the procedure until one player is victorious. This is then repeated with each card until all cards are sold or discarded.
  3. Bid for Hosting – This is done in the same way as the bidding for the cards. The person who wins the host bidding gets the Host token and it marks that they control the next phase of the game and choose who will fight who.
Arena Phase:

This phase is made up of six parts:

  1. Honour to the Host – The player that won the hosting rights in the auction gets +1 influence.
  2. Hosting the Event – The host then invites two players to take part in the games (they can invite themselves).  If a player declines they lose one influence. If they accept they place their gladiator figure in the arena in the starting position then place the card of the gladiator they are fighting, along with any Weapons or Armour they are also using.

    IMG_0564
    A starting gladiator ready to battle.
  3. Tribute – The owners of the gladiators are then paid tribute if their gladiators have favour or are champions – +2 gold for each favour token and +6 gold if they are a champion. If they don’t have any favour and are not champions they get nothing.
  4. Place Wagers – It’s then time to place wagers, you can wager on who will win (competing players can’t wager against themselves) and how they will win (injury or decapitation). Three is the maximum wager on any one wager and the wagers you place are marked by putting you house wager tokens on top of your pile of gold on the wager you have made.
    So a bet on players combatant one to win returns 1:1 odds so you can double your money.
    So a bet on combatant one to win returns 1:1 odds so you can double your money.

    A bet on the fight ending in injury returns 2:1 odd so you triple your money.
    A bet on the fight ending in injury returns 2:1 odds so you triple your money.
  5. Combat! – Now the fight begins. Each fighting gladiator has statistics for Attack, Defence and Speed. They are given as many red dice as their attack statistic, as many black dice as their defence statistic and as many blue dice as their speed statistic:
    IMG_0564
    3 Attack = 3 red dice, 2 Defence = 2 black dice and 2 Speed = 2 blue dice.

    Each player then roles their total amount of speed dice to determine who moves first, the player with the highest total wins and decides who moves first. Your total number of speed dice dictates how many spaces you can move; so if you have two dice you can move two spaces. You can chose to move and then attack or if you’re already adjacent to your enemy you can attack and then move away. Once adjacent you attack by rolling your attack dice while the defender roles their defence dice. You then line the dice up from highest to lowest, opposite each other. Any place where one attack dice is a higher number than the defence dice is a hit and any place where a defence dice is higher than the attack dice is successfully defended. If they’re equal it’s also a successful defence. Where attack die outnumber defence dice any additional roles that have no matching dice count as a hit so long as they are three or above.

    Two warriors ready for combat.
    Two warriors ready for combat.

    The dice are your health; so for each hit that is obtained the taker of the hit decides which dice to get rid of, lowering their attack, defence or speed for the next move. All attributes must be reduced to 1 before any can be completely removed. If one is completely removed then the player has yielded, if two are reduced to zero in one attack the player is wounded and if all three are reduced to zero in one attack the player is decapitated.

  6. Victory and Defeat – The winning Dominus gains one influence. The winning gladiator revives one favour token, if it’s his third favour token he becomes a Champion. Wagers are then settled with the bank. If the loser was not decapitated the host of the games decides if he lives or dies with the thumbs up or down signal. To kill a loser who has favour will cost the hosting Dominus 1 influence per favour token and champions cannot be killed.

After all this the turn phases are repeated unless one player has a full 12 influence at this point, then they’re the winner! If they have reached 12 influence before this point they are not yet the winner as they can still lose influence before the turn of play is over.

Strategy:

  1. MONEY IS POWER! Like in real life. If you are a broke Lanista (trainer of Gladiators) then you are a rather useless Lanista.
  2. UNDERSTAND WORTH! Linked to the first point, knowing what/how much to bid for something in this game is everything. Knowing what you need and what’s not worth buying (at that time) will be the key to winning and losing.
  3. HOST THE MOST! Bidding to be the host is always worth it, not only does it automatically give you influence you then have control too.
  4. KNOW YOUR FRIENDS! While this is a rather back stab-y game it’s important to know the people you’re playing with and understand when they’re likely to stick with you and at what point they will abandon you and leave you to be eaten by dogs.
  5. KEEP THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE! With such a large turn phase to the game it’s very easy to get caught up in just one round or one arena match and forget about the bigger picture and larger aim. Everything you do should be in aid of the bigger picture not just to get back at another player or just because you want to see a fight between two cool Gladiators.

History and Interesting Things:

While the board game itself does not have much notable history (at least nothing I can find) the historical events it’s based (very loosely around) do so that’s more what this section is going to contain.

  1. The board game was published in 2012, before the airing of the final season of the TV show, by A1 GamesBattlefront Miniatures LtdGale Force Nine, LLCHeidelberger SpieleverlagMarabunta and Zvezda.
  2. The board game is only based on the first season of the TV show Spartacus: Blood and Sand, it being the only season in which Spartacus is a Gladiator rather than a rebel.
  3. The TV series is a re-imagining of the 1960 film Spartacus directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Kirk Douglas.
  4. However both the TV show and the film are based (loosely) around the historical Third Servile War of the Roman Republic.
  5. While historical facts on the war are highly debated it is often interpreted as a rebellion of oppressed people rising up against a slave owning oligarchy.
  6. Historically Spartacus (the man) is supposed to have lived from 109 BC – 71 BC. The characters Crixus,OenomausCastus and Gannicus, are also historically verified people who assisted in the uprising.
  7. He was born a Thracian and supposedly died on the Battlefield near to Petelia (modern-day StrongoliCalabria, Italy) as depicted in the TV show and film (probably without the “I’m Spartacus” fiasco).
  8. This being Appian also that his body was never found.
  9. 6000 survivors of the battle where crucified alongside the Appian Way from Rome to Capua as depicted in the final episode of the TV show with the crucifixion of Gannicus.
  10. Andy Whitfield who played Spartacus in the first season Spartacus: Blood and Sand (who’s face should be on the front of the game box rather than his replacements Liam McIntyre) sadly died on September the 11 2011 of on-Hodgkin lymphoma and the series was literally less than half as good without him.
picture lovingly borrowed from http://www.funnyjunk.com/funny_pictures/2600925/RIP.
Picture lovingly borrowed from: http://www.funnyjunk.com/funny_pictures/2600925/RIP.

To Conclude:

While my obvious like for the TV show has made this review at least slightly biased I would still maintain this game is a good game by anyone’s standards. It is, however perhaps a touch complex and drawn out. For example; cancelled down version of just the gladiator battles would have made quite a good game just in itself. So this game is primarily for the patient and those who are naturally enthusiastic about games not for those who think monopoly is the epitome of (board) gaming.

Further more it’s always nice to see a box that’s well designed unlike the Pirate of the Caribbean edition of Buccaneer! and Conquest of the Empire:

I rate this box design 4.5/5! The only thing that would have made it better is a slot for the host marker to sit in.
I rate this box design 4.5/5! The only thing that would have made it better is a slot for the host marker to sit in.

Yes I do think rate the box is going to have to become a permanent part of our posts.