I decided to run and write up a gladiator campaign using the simple campaign rules I put together for 'Blood, Sweat and Cheers' last week. You can read the rules HERE.
I made a couple of changes to the rules as written.
Firstly, players have less choice over the gladiator they put forward at the start. The Editor of the Games is a fickle creatures and makes demands of each ludus. Pleayers still select their gladiators in order, but first they must roll a D6:
1 - You must choose the gladiator who has taken part in the fewest bouts.
2 - You must choose the gladiator who has taken part in the most bouts.
3 - You must choose a light gladiator.
4 - You must choose a medium gladiator.
5 - You must choose a heavy gladiator.
6 - You can choose any gladiator.
In the case of more than one gladiator meeting a criteria, the player gets to decide which one they will use.
Players chose the second (challenging) gladiator as before, albeit with the restricted matchups based on weight.
The second change is to the earning of Prestige. I like the changes Nic has made in the campaign system that will be in the 2nd edition of the rules, so have dropped the +1 Prestige based on Crowd favour at the end, and added:
+1 Prestige if your gladiator won the bout
+1 Prestige if an unskilled gladiator beats one with a skill.
The first school to reach or exceed 15 Prestige at the end of a round would win. If more than one school did it, then the highest Prestige would win, otherwise ... well, I assume there would be a tie-break bout.
I played the games solo; even though both gladiators have a hidden hand of cards the choices each one makes are generally pretty straightforward. I use a die roll if I feel I can't make an honest decision because of knowledge of the other gladiator's hand.
I set up three schools, run by Primus, Secundus and Tertius.
Primus had the following gladiators:
(Left to Right) - Artemisia (Thraex), Philus (Dimacherius), Rodan (Cestus*) and Memnon (Myrmillo)
*The Cestus class works for unarmoured light gladiators with a whip or similar exotic weapon.
The school of Secundus featured the following gladiators:
(Left to Right) - Priscus (Secutor), Pugnax (Myrmillo), Hippolytus (Retiarius) and Vocorix (Dimacherius*)
* I used the Dimacherius card, but increased his Speed by 1 and decreased his Armour by 1. This makes him a Light gladiator.
Finally, Tertius's gladiators:
(Left to Right) - Baccibus (Velite), Gracchus (Retiarius), Syphax (Crupellarius), Bremusa (Thraex)
I rolled for the first picks from each school. Primus had to choose a medium gladiator, so picked Philus. Secundus had to pick a heavy, so chose Pugnax. And Tertius had to pick their most experienced gladiator, so could choose any of their four, and went for Gracchus.
Tertius opposed Philus with Syphax. Pugnax was paired with Rodan, and Gracchus found himself fighting Priscus.
Round 1 - Bout 1 - Philus (Dimacherius) vs Syphax (Crupellarius)
This is match beween a brutally strong attack and an impenetrable defence. Syphax started strongly, with two crowd-pleasing shield charges.
These drove Philus back, but the bout quickly switched to a series of attacks and parries.
Philus backed off to slow down the bout - a good move when the other side has a lot of crowd favour, since turns of inactivity see it shift back to neutrality. Syphax struggled to close again.
But close he did. Another shield charge saw Philus knocked down, and as he got up Syphax wounded him.
He followed up with a wild swing, to the cheers of the crowd, which knocked the dimacherius to the ground, defeated.
The crowd seemed to like Philus, and spared him. Syphax earned 2 Prestige for Tertius, whilst Philus' survival gave Primus 1 Prestige.
Round 1 - Bout 2 - Rodan (Cestus) vs Pugnax (Myrmillo)
Whilst not as slow as the crupellarius, the myrmillo is not a fast gladiator. The cestus is, with his only defence being his speed. Both gladiators moved around each other cautiously, Pugnax using his shield, and Rodan keeping his distance.
They closed, and Rodan put on a display of fast jabs which impressed the crowd, but only by as much as Pugnax's skillful defensive moves did. Pugnax got the crowd behind him with a mighty attack that saw Rodan only survive through the play of a Fortune card. Another mighty attack also failed to connect, and Rodan scuttled away, as the cheering of the crowd died down.
Rodan swung his whip ...
... and downed Pugnax.
But he couldn't finish him, and the heavy gladiator struggled to his feet. The fight resumed, with Rodan evading the myrmillo's attacks, but unable to close and make fast attacks of his own.
The fight went from one end of the arena to the other.
It had now gone on long enough that the referee was considering calling it a draw, when Rodan tried a feint. Pugnax saw through it, ducked under Rodan's attack and kicked his legs out from under him.
Rodan was defeated.
The bout went through the deck five times. I was considering a rule for calling bouts a draw; from the fourth deck onwards, each time you get to the end of the deck, check the Crowd Favour. If it is neutral or +1 then the referee will declare the match a draw. Only check at the end of a deck. The rationale is that if the crowd a strongly favouring one gladiator, calling an end to the fight wouldn't go down that well. But if the crowd aren't really cheering then it's OK.
Anyway, despite being highly entertained the crowd decided that they weren't really that keen on Rodan, who was dispatched.
Pugnax earned 2 Prestige for Secundus.
Round 1 - Bout 3 - Priscus (Secutor) vs Gracchus (Retiarius)
Priscus closed quickly, trusting to his shield, whilst Gracchus tried a sneaky attack with his dagger, a move the crowd loved. Gracchus then went on the offensive.
The secutor has two special moves that both include the ability to move one area, so Priscus could afford to give ground as the retiarius attacked.
The momentum went out of Gracchus's attacks, and Priscus dived in with a counter-attack as the crowd cheered. Gracchus deftly evaded it ...
... swung his lasso and ensnared Priscus.
A second attack saw Priscus down on the ground, and struggling both to escape the rope and stand up.
Soon it was all over, and Gracchus was victorious. Priscus became another victim of the bloodthirsty crowd, whilst Gracchus earned 2 Prestige for Tertius.
At the end of the first round, Primus had 1 Prestige, Secundus had 2 Prestige and Tertius had 4 Prestige.
The schools replaced their losses. Primus added Culex, a velite, whilst Secundus took on the hoplomachus Alumnus.
In Round 2, Tertius had to select a heavy gladiator, so put Syphax forward. Secundus was asked to provide a light, so chose the Gaul, Vocorix. And Primus had to put his most experienced gladiator into the arena, so this round saw the return of Philus.
This led to the following pairings:
Pugnax vs Philus, Vocorix vs Bremusa, Artemisia vs Syphax
Round 2 - Bout 1 - Artemisia (Thraex) vs Syphax (Crupellarius)
Artemisia immediately went on the offensive; a crupellarius has strong defences, but is vulnerable when attacking or moving, so by keeping up a constant stream of attacks the thraex hoped to prevent any return attacks. And eventually her dagger would find a gap and wound her opponent.
At first Syphax fell back, but soon resorted to powerful swinging attacks. The crowd loved them, but Artemisia kept her nerve and jabbed Syphax twice, wounding him.
Syphax responded with a shield rush, which knocked Artemisia down, and he wounded her as she got to her feet.
She responded by a lightning-fast attack which wounded him again.
Aretemisia was knocked down again ...
... got to her feet and fled, only to be knocked down a third time. This time she struggled to get up as Syphax rained a strong series of attacks down on her, wounding her again.
All seemed lost for the thraex until she managed to kick Syphax's legs from under him, causing him to fall as well.
A desperate struggle ensued, but Artemisia came out on top; her knife stabbed again and again, and Syphax was defeated.
This was a really desperate fight at the end; both gladiators were on their last hit and it could have gone either way.
Artemisia earned 2 Prestige for Primus, whilst Syphax was spared by the crowd, who'd seen a truly entertaining fight, and earned 1 Prestige for Tertius. With two bouts under his belt, Syphax could choose to upgrade a stat, increasing his Attack by 1
Round 2 - Bout 2 - Vocorix (Dimacherius) vs Bremusa (Thraex)
Vocorix was a fast, dangerous foe, with plenty of speed and a fearsome weapon.
He charged Bremusa, who kept her nerve, side-stepped and tripped him.
She then defeated him with her first blow.
Despite the short fight the crowd were entertained - maybe they thought it was a comedy show - and spared Vocorix. Bremusa earned 2 Prestige for Tertius, whilst Vocorix earned 1 Prestige for Secundus.
Round 2 - Bout 2 - Pugnax (Myrmillo) vs Philus (Dimacherius)
Philus charged ...
... whilst Pugnax stepped back and was knocked down.
He got to his feet, but the dimacherius had the advantage now.
A second flurry of attacks saw Pugnax down again, and this time he couldn't get up and conceded.
The crowd were disappointed with Pugnax, so didn't spare him. Philus earned a quick 2 Prestige for Primus and added 1 to his Attack (which will make him truly deadly).
Secundus added the myrmillo Hero to his school.
So this is the position at the end of two rounds:
Primus - 5 Prestige
Artemisia (Thraex) - 1 Bout
Philus (Dimacherius) - 2 Bouts, +1 Attack
Memnon (Myrmillo) - No Bouts
Culex (Velite) - No Bouts
Secundus - 3 Prestige
Hippolytus (Retiarius) - No Bouts
Vocorix (Dimacherius) - 1 Bout
Alumnus (Hoplomachus) - No Bouts
Tertius - 7 Prestige
Baccibus (Velite) - No Bouts
Gracchus (Retiarius) - 1 Bout
Bremusa (Thraex) - 1 Bout
Syphax (Crupellarius) - 2 Bouts, +1 Attack
The next couple of rounds will be interesting, as gladiators now have two skilled opponents to take down for extra Prestige.