Jupiter’s Lad

Trainspotting

“Choose life. Choose a ball and chain. Choose armour with a matching helmet. Choose a javelin. Choose slaves. Choose back stabbing opponents, turning your thumb down and poisoning your opponents wine, choose wasting your last coin on a sure fire bet and having to send half your gladiators packing because you’re a flat broke fat bloke… Me I chose a something else…”

I like when a game has more than one route to win. I like it as well when I discover it myself and my opponents find out the hard way. Now when I say a route to win don’t assume I won in the traditional sense using this technique. Assume I … Stormed the initial rampart so lesser gamers could follow.  For me it was win, the scoreboard just didn’t have the fidelity to record it as such.

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I’ve spoken before about Spartacus and its expansion but it’s been a while and we got to play it recently. Almost by accident I discovered a route to victory (which if it were not for those meddling kids I would have exploited for a quick win). As it was for no apparent reason I could see I was picked on and victory was snapped from my hands. I don’t really like to talk about it so lets move on

The game sees with the aid of the expansion six houses compete for the highest influence via the rather bloody and sordid conduit of gladiatorial combat. Each player manages a stable of gladiators and supporting slaves along with the intrigues and down right back stabbery one would expect. (Well I would expect). Money is used to bid on warriors, slaves and weapons and bets on matches are the primary source of income.

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The matches themselves are fast and furious and often see gladiators (at least the less favoured ones) getting the final thumbs down. It’s a neat little game. Almost by accident I found that it was quite possible just like the Swiss bankers in Imperial to stay aloof from the fighting if you could ensure you were the only one who ran the matches. So that’s what I did. I saved all my greasy coins and only bid on the hosting of matches. You see the one who hosts the Matches gets one influence for their trouble so it meant along with various intrigue cards I was a winner every turn.  All grand and dandy until one player out bid me (after some bad betting left me a little short of AU79) and asked me to fight in a match. Not wanting to lose face I garbed up a Slave who proved as effective as a chocolate teapot in a burning house. Having lost all my slaves the same mongrel hit me with a “if the player has no slaves” intrigue card and knocked me off my pedal stool….

Successfully winning the bids while the others burn their finite coin on beef units and pointy kit will worked. Well it should work. Given the right group (one who doesn’t know me) I think this could be the fast route to victory. It was fun. It’s a great game. I recommend you play it. Better still I’ll play you at the next knavecon and if you see me not bidding on anything you’ll know what I’m all about. Probably.

Huzzah!

Vic

My Thur Rages on – Being a Drax Report

Spartacus a big favourite of the group (and more importantly me) was supercharged on Thur with the addition of the first expansion for it “The Serpents and the Wolf”

http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/134466/spartacus-the-serpents-and-the-wolf-expansion-set

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The group had been watching this with anticipation so when it was released we pounced on it like a starving cat in a lifeboat.  first up, it’s good, it’s very nice indeed.  This is definitely worth getting and they’re giving away a promo card (or two) with it.

I’d put money on it (not mine) that if they reprint the original this would be included, it screams “should have been in the original box but we were saving money to make the base version popular”

For your dolla you get two new dominus (it’s now six player), a stack of new gladiators and slaves, some very small rule additions and most importantly the ability to field teams of two v two.  THIS is the whole sizzle of the expansion and not wanting to wait I forced the first match to be a 4 player.

The rules are that if your influence is 10 or over you can call a Primus (a 4 player) and an intrigue card can force this too.  it makes for some very hairy races to the finish.

The game plays a tiny bit slower and you tend to analyse the 4 player moves a bit more carefully but it doesn’t slow it by much and I believe you would be back up to normal speed for the game pretty quickly.  Because of how the game works even with six (and we had six on thur) it doesn’t leave people waiting too much, we flew through intrigue and market.  With six in the running anything can happen.

The only thing I was unsure about was you can’t stab your team mate in the back unless you have a specific gladiator but I think a house rule would fix that.  We’re ALL about the backstabbing on thur nights 🙂

This is a cracker of an addition.  if you’re a fan of the original it’s pointless me saying but GO get this. it’s well worth the entrance fee. Oh yes and it’s NOT suitable for kids but it says that clearly on the box (as I’m sure an actress may have said to a Bishop)

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a few rounds of Zombie Dice rounded out the evening.  I didn’t win that either but I’ll still

Huzzah!

Vic

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