First Blood on the Sands

Last time I advertised the opening of my own gladiator school. Well, training has finally started. Flutists have been hired, animals have been sacrificed (but not harmed!) and as you’ve made it here, my invitation cards arrived in time.

On a sidenote: If you want a little immersion, I’m told there’s some good “Ancient Roman music” on Youtube. Not that I would promote such practices…

So, the first couple of matches, using a play-test version of a set called “Blood on the Sands”, have been fought already – and, me being me, they saw me struggling a bit. The rules are definitely of the more involved sort. You need shedloads of counters and such, which, of course, you have to keep track of during the game itself. However, by now I seem to get used to it (also thanks to the developer’s patience with me).

Since I took a few notes during the test matches I thought it fit to compile a short report of one of the latest trainings. That might even give an insight on what’s to expect from the rules.

Beforehand, however, let me introduce you to my newest acquisitions. They were prepared for a painting project on the LAF but haven’t been shown here yet. First is Lascivus, a murmillo from Egypt (at least that’s what the vendor [or the dice] told me).

He’s paired off with a thraex, Satornilos, of Iberian origin (again, sounds rather Greek to me).

Both enter the arena from the porta Libitinensis (the Gate of the Dead) from the catacombs, shooed by trainer Flavius Sigerus to their assigned starting places.

Sigerus signals the start of the match. Both gladiators warily stare at each other, while their trainer pushes them to take the first step.

Eventually, Satornilos dashes forward. A bit winded, though, he crashes into the slowly advancing Lascivus. Just in time, the Murmillo raises his shield to absorb the onslaught. They exchange a couple of blows but don’t get past their opponent’s cover.

Satornilos tries several times to break Lascivus’ shield – to no avail. However, his curved sica finally catches Lascivus’ shield arm. It’s just a flesh wound, but Satornilos’ opponent is taken by surprise and drops his heavy scutum.

The Thraex presses on and manages to repel Lascivus who now finds himself completely out of reach of his equipment. There’s booing and hissing from the ranks (among yourself a few VIPs are present) for the Murmillo as well as cheers for Satornilos!

Stripped from essential cover (and a fatiguing piece of equipment) Lascivus’ only chance is to gain the upper hand in this unequal fight as soon as possible. Luckily for the Murmillo, his opponent’s confidence of near victory has made him incautious. Lascivus rushes forward, his sword lifted for a strike. As it happens, the blade hits Satornilos’ left arm and cuts it open lengthwise (four wounds at once!). Overwhelmed by pain, the Thraex drops his shield, blood sputtering from his wounds.

Yet somehow Satornilos manages to shake off the agony and to retrieve his shield quickly. A hail of blows drives the sedate Murmillo against the wall of the arena, now bleeding from several wounds to his right leg. The spectators are howling!

By now, both gladiators are pretty exhausted. Thus Satornilos backs off and tries to catch his breath [he had no other dice options] before he can deal the final blow to Lascivus.

But the Murmillo is determined to deliver a good show as people are now cheering him. Once again Lascivus grasps the nettle for a cunning attempt to knock the Thraex out (finally using his “Lucky” trait which allows for some re-rolls).

And indeed, Satornilos’ left arm is once again pierced by Lascivus’ sword. The Thraex decides that he’s had enough for one friday evening workout and appeals to the lanista [yeah, that’s me!]. Trainer Sigerus has to bar the triumphant Murmillo from scoring off his unfortunate roommate too badly.


I condescend to please my guests by sending the brave Thraex to the hospital. Hopefully, he’s learned his lesson! Meanwhile Lascivus is allowed to parade through the porta Sanavivaria (Gate of the Living). Good show everyone!

In a full-blown game combat would have continued several rounds more. But since I’m still learning the rules (and I don’t want my pricey gladiators dead yet) I ended it at the first possible moment. Here’s the final outlay of the character sheets.

As you can see here, Satornilos’s arm had been disabled at this point, which would’ve started to reduce his activation options. Added to that, both gladiators began to suffer from fatigue (and bleeding wounds), and with their popularity with the crowd on a peak I decided to leave those consequences for another day.

All in all, of course, this game isn’t yet suited to solo-play, and here’s hope that I may engage some real opponents in the foreseeable future – if I ever grasp the rules correctly, that is. In the meantime, I’m feeling definitely encouraged to play more gladiator games soon as I might finally found a very good one!

New miniatures by Crusader Miniatures. Painted June 2013.

10 thoughts on “First Blood on the Sands

  1. Fantastic. You are the High Priest of ancient Romans for me (and some others as well I guess).

  2. Some how my original post got lost… So once again.
    Your Ludus looks awesome and realy catches the feeling of some provincial arena.
    The painting of your gladiatores is absolutely lovely, as always. Thanks for the report and maybe I should give the rules a go too.

  3. Thanks very much everyone! Glad you’ve enjoyed the venture so far.
    In case you wondered, the game went as written – and that’s a testimony to the quality of the rules. I only restaged some scenes for I couldn’t handle taking photos during the game as well. And yes, it’s a mere coincidence that the Satornilos model features a bleeding cut on his left arm. 😉

  4. This is pure awesomeness, SG! I am secretly hoping to be invited to a game some time when the circumstances permit it. 🙂

  5. Very impressive set-up and looks like a fun game!
    I picked up some gladiator minis not long ago and been looking for a game system to use & decide on how to base them. Really nice paint job you’ve done too!

    I tried to ‘follow’ by adding to my blogger reading list, but the dang thing says ‘you are already following more than 300 blogs, unfollow some first” and won’t let me! It doesn’t mind adding new blogger blogs to follow, but balks at adding a wordpress if over 300 already. ah well, added to follow by email and added you to my blogroll, just annoying it won’t show to my own dashboard feed.

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