Incipiant Ludi!

Gladiators seem to be the order of the day, in particular for wargamers. And I’m no different. That said, my very own gladiator project had sadly ground to a halt. More recently, though, things are a-changin’…

Namely two projects got me really inspired:
The first are the rules developed by Furt (see his blog here). These are currently still in the writing, but I’ve been kindly invited to become a play-tester for them. Really looking forward to this, because the first AARs look quite promising.
Secondly, on Lead Adventure Forum a couple of threads have propagated biscuit tins as resources for the ‘game in a box’ approach (see them here and here). In fact, gladiatorial combat and tins seem to be a perfect match: historical amphitheatres were mostly circular or oval-shaped buildings surrounding a flat, featureless arena. Well, even I should be able to do this, me thinks. So I went to the supermarket where I found this:

A circular tin was chosen for I thought both shape and space sufficient, mainly because I’m not aiming at mass-combat or representing the ranks as well. If you feel guilty about the content you have to “remove” beforehand, you could easily disguise the telltale outside with some trompe-l’œil. I’ll probably do this at a later stage. But let’s open the box.


The actual arena was pretty straight forward construction, inspired largely by the aforementioned projects: First off, I stuck down a hex pattern printed on paper (designs are easily created with this browser tool) to the bottom of the box and reveted the “walls” with cork (IKEA placemats are perfect). The most time-consuming task was then to “colour” the hexes with textured paint – still not happy, but there you go…

Finishing touches were the addition of buttresses and two portals, done with cork again. I also used two plastic bases as ‘display disks’. My initial thought was to paint them with portraits of honourable people – read: the sponsors – but opted then for simple letterings. Traditionally each arena would have one entry and one exit. While I had a piece of HirstArts at hand which made for a suitable gaol door, I built the exit from balsa and a bit of putty for the knocker (for theatrical purposes, of course). Finally, the interior was painted and a few graffiti added, the latter inspired by Pompeian designs. Overall preparation time: about three hours with drying included.

Now you’ve already glanced them: there was an incentive to paint up a few models as well. First, a referee or summa rudis (rudis being the wooden sword received upon final release from the arena). Well, come on, gladiatorial combat is serious sports, not some kind of pub brawl! That’s from now on taken care of by Flavius Sigerus, an impersonation of a possibly famous 3rd century referee (think of Collina).

I already own a retiariussecutor pair, but better have a backup team. Joining in as a replacement there’s the retiarius Caeruleus. His name’s taken from a quite interesting 3rd or 4th century inscription from Northern Italy which might indicate that gladiators were trained in either role of their pairing.

Said inscription reads:

Constantius, the sponsor [of the games], to his gladiators. On account of the popularity of the show he provided, as a gift, a funerary monument for Decoratus, the retiarius, who overpowered Caeruleus and, overpowered himself, fell to the ground. The referee killed them both, the funeral pyre covers them both. As a secutor Decoratus [saw] nine duels. He bequeathed primary grief to his wife Valeria.

So, a logical choice was to name the second secutor after Caeruleus’ opponent Decoratus, the secutor-come-retiarius. (In case you wonder, the scribble on Decoratus’ shield should read ridet – “she smiles”, a reference to the goddess of love depicted above – of course, he’s a faithful husband!)

Next up are a few more gladiators for greater variety. Here’s hope for more ludi to appear soon…

Miniatures by Crusader Miniatures. Painted (mainly) June 2013.

11 thoughts on “Incipiant Ludi!

  1. That’s terrific! I love the detailing, You’ll need to tart the outside up, though, perhaps stick some pics of gladiatorial mosaics to it?

    • Not in the near future, I’m afraid. The outside is rather prone to scratches and chipping during transport, and the same goes for everything you stick or paint on this surface directly (hence the cork walls inside as well). Thoughts are welcome, though!

  2. lovely work as usual, your writing being as enjoyable as your painting. Love the dirty off whites of the linen. The retarius’ haircut and unshaven features makes him look remarkably like a muscle bound member of the three stooges.

  3. WOW!! Impressive. That is a thing of beauty!! Love the graffiti style images of the gladiators – just beautiful!! I’ll really have to get you your playtester’s copy now.

  4. Many thanks everyone for your comments! So glad you like my interpretation of this concept, it’s really just a variation on a theme set by others. 🙂

  5. Your paint jobs are fantastic!! Love them!! And the arena is impressive. I think the beauty of it is that it’s a biscuit tin with a little world hidden inside, so it shouldn’t be painted on the outside. Cheers.

  6. Pingback: A better biscuit tin arena :leadaddicted

  7. Eine SUPERLASSE Idee mit der Blechschachtel! Hast du wirklich ganz klasse gemacht! Spreche aus Lob & Anerkennung!!!

  8. I’m late again in spotting this. I’m in awe….what a wonderful idea for an arena, and thank you for the great link to LAF and the other arenas. I’ll have to give this a go. Thanks again, and fantastic stuff with the hexagonal basing…another great idea!

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