One of the projects I wanted to complete and update for 2022 was The Games: Blood and Spectacles - 2nd Edition. The first edition was one of the first games I ever built and..... well you can tell. It is a fun game, but the mechanics are very inconsistent across the game, the lay-out is questionable, and many of the images are not public domain. Therefore, I have been wanting to bring it up to a higher standard and re-release it. After all, it has been a staple of my gaming stable, and the namesake of my publishing company!
Long ago, I purchased the full set of Crusader Miniatures Gladiator line. In addition, I also purchased some chariots from the Old Glory Gladiator Wars line. These were the basics of my gladiator ludus (school) and allowed me to run many of The Games over the years. I finally had them all painted about 3 years ago. However, I never got around to properly basing 75% of the gladiators or the chariots. I needed model shots for post-production on The Games: Blood and Spectacles - 2nd Edition so now was the time to change all of that!
Basing was very simple. First, I had a cup full of beach sand that I got from the local beach. In a pinch play sand or really any sand will do. I then got some white PVA glue. Next I found a crappy big-box retailer painting brush with a wide set-up. I simply globbed the white PVA onto the bases with the brush, and then sunk them into the cup of sand until the base was covered. I then tapped the excess off the side of the cup. This is the results.....
A fully based ludus of gladiators ready to serve their lanista. That is a gaggle of gladiators!
Those look a lot better than the white bases they use to have.
For my arena, I used a large round, wooden cake board from my old days owning a bakery. I simply painted it brown, and sponged two alternate brown colors over the top with a sponge roller. For walls, I use brown packing containers accented with aquarium pillars I found at the local pet store. I don't base it with sand to avoid sand getting all over my play space.
However, not all gladiator bouts were in an arena. Gladiator fights also took place in other venues such as at the cemetery, people's homes, farms, and smaller local venues. Therefore, you can use other structures rather than a full sized arena. For a greener look I use my Cigar Box Battles mat. For rural locals I might use green sponge hedges and agricultural fencing. In Villas, I might use a cobblestone base surrounded by speckled walls with columns instead. Finally, I can also "flood" my arena with a water matt to add extra challenge for my gladiators.
Of course, I made these arenas, painted the models, and based them all so I could use them in the post-production of The Games: Blood and Spectacles - 2nd Edition. The original game revolves around using Combat Pool to score successes during the various events. However, these dice pool mechanics did not carry over into other aspects of the rules, and instead used a hodge-podge of rules. This new version streamlines this into a more unified set of mechanics to make it easier to recall the core rules during play. Now all stats are essentially depleting dice pools.
Of course, with depleting dice pools, players would need an easy way to track what their gladiators had used during the game. Therefore, I also added some easy to use gladiator cards to help players track their gladiators status during play. In addition, campaign play has always been a core part of the game, so I added a Troupe tracking sheet as well. Finally, I added some QRS documents to the PDF to help players recall key things like Striking Success options during play.
Finally, I modified the game to be scale and model agnostic. There are a lot of great gladiator models out there. From 15mm to 54mm, they can now all be incorporated into the rules. I used my standard tricks of converting all distances into generic Measurement Units that can fit any scale the player wishes. This also allows it to fit on any table size the player wishes as well.
It still has the ludus building and management aspects of the original game. Players can still create their own unique gladiator troupes featuring the archetype gladiators of their choice, gladiators earn experience, gain injuries, and are often killed in the arena. In addition, there is a dynamic set of events that make up each Games using historical examples as the baseline. Therefore, no two Games need ever be the same; from battling beasts, dealing with convicts, fighting gladiator duels, to chariot racing.
Of course, the last and biggest change is that all the artwork and images from the old book has been replaced with new pictures. These will be a combination of model shots, historical finds, and public domain artwork. Unsurprisingly, the subject of the gladiator has been a fascinating topic for people of all ages since the end of the practice of gladiator bouts. There are countless sculptures, paintings, mosaics, reliefs, and other artwork to draw from. Plus, add in the fact that I have various models to take photos of now!
So, this gives you a taste of The Games: Blood and Spectacles - 2nd Edition. It took me a few years, but I am happy that I have finally gotten all these awesome Crusader and Old Glory models based and ready for action. They turned out nice and I look forward to using them as I start demoing the game locally, online, and for the blog.