With a quiet Saturday planned after a busy and stressful weekend last weekend, I finally got some gladiators out in order to try out some modifications to 'Munera Sine Missione' that Victor and I have been discussing.
The modifications are rules for the Referee (which we dabbled with last year), and Working The Crowd. Both of them provide extra options for spending odd, leftover Action Points.
The Referee is effectively a piece of mobile, blocking terrain which both gladiators can move around in order to try and limit their opponent's movement.
Working The Crowd allows a gladiator to capitalise on their actions during the turn, and build up Favour. This can be spent to increase Action Points, allowing for a spectacular move as the crowd cheers you on, or to increase your chance of survival if you are forced to appeal to the crowd.
I adopted a Winner Stays On approach. First up was the axe-wielding barbarian Albia and the Secutor Priedens.
They slogged it out for a few turns, trading blow for blow and wound for wound, until Priedens used accumulated crowd-support to perform a neat sidestep and down Albia. She appealed to the crowd and was spared.
Priedens then faced the Myrmillo, Pugnax.
The referee appeared in this game, with Pugnax using him to cover his unshielded side from the slightly more agile Priedens. Priedens managed to knock away Pugnax's sword, but was still knocked down ...
... and knocked down again to give Pugnax the win. The crowd spared Priedens.
Pugnax now faced a Thraex, Lucius.
Again the referee put in an appearance. I don't have a proper lead one yet, so resorted once again to the Junior General site and made a temporary paper one. I say temporary; I'll probably use it for years.
Lucius wasn't a crowd favourite, and Pugnax soon knocked him down with his shield to win the bout. The crowd were happy to spare him, though.
The spear-armed Ellenikos was the next to face Pugnax.
A bold rush by Pugnax saw Ellenikos dispatched fairly briskly, although Ellenikos impressed the crowd more than enough for them to spare him.
With two-swords, Drusa was a dangerous foe for Pugnax to face. But he finished her off quite quickly. So quickly that I didn't make any notes about the bout, aside from recording that, once again, the crowd spared the defeated gladiator.
Time for a classic pairing - big, strong heavy Pugnax against the agile Retiarius, Medusa.
Pugnax never really got into this fight. Medusa dodged all of his attacks, then netted him. Although he cut free eventually, she had worked round behind him, and a trident thrust saw him mortally wounded.
Finally Medusa faced the sword-armed Margareites.
Both gladiators scored near-fatal criticals on each other early on, Medusa taking a deep sword-cut and Margareites being nearly strangled by her net. But Medusa was pulled off her feet, and Margareites scored a narrow victory. A single crowd-pleasing move early in the bout was just enough to sway the mob in favour of sparing her.
The new rules worked fairly well, offering more options without skewing the game too much in the favour of particular types of gladiator. The Crowd rules do give gladiators a slightly better chance of surviving an appeal, but that may have been just how these particular games panned out; all of the gladiators made decent appeal rolls, and only in the case of Medusa in the final bout was the possession of favour with the crowd actually the clincher. The Referee acted as a block a couple of times, but was fairly easy to work around and, to some extent, is a less attractive option on which to spent Action Points than working the crowd.