May 05, 2014

Spartacus Board Game First Play

Had a busy weekend with family stuff to do, events to attend and the like. However I was able to round up a few folks for some games late Sunday afternoon.

First up was William's new copy of Dungeon Dice. Lots of plastic cubes in assorted colours with non-standard symbols on them, drawn from differently coloured felt bags. I gave William a hard time about this game because it's the third (or maybe fourth?) game he's supported that has a dungeon theme and custom dice in. Of those games, I think this one was the most fun.

The biggest trouble I have with custom dice is that I need a card or cheat sheet to know what each one means. With a good one of those, this game could be good fun. On the (possible) down-side, it can very much turn into a solitaire-with-friends kind of game if you don't promote the trading and help-me-out-against-this-monster mechanics.

Second up was a game (my first) of Spartacus: A Game of Blood & Treachery. I've had this one for several months, along with the expansion, and have been waiting for a chance to give it a try. I'll admit that I've only seen the first episode of the show, and am thus coming at things from a pure game play experience standpoint.

I've heard that the expansion adds some good things, so we dumped everything together and randomly picked houses to play. Even with it being our first game, we were set up and ready to go in about 15 minutes. We opted for a short game, each starting with 7 influence. The first two rounds were a little shaky, flipping through the book and figuring out what everything meant. After that however, we were on our way to backstabbing and plotting!

I think the biggest mistake we made was a misunderstanding about how bidding for "Host" of the games worked. Other than that, the rules were simple enough. There wasn't a ton of interaction during the Intrigue phase this game until late, once we all had an idea of how our cash flow worked between slaves, gladiators and the market.

The game was won when one of my gladiators won his match, gaining me one intrigue for the win and another for having him become a champion. There was a little frustration at that, since neither of the other players were able to stop that from happening during that phase.

Seb had won Host that round, and the round previously and tried to invite William to the games, being declined both times. With only three players he was then forced to invite himself and I. His gladiators were at a serious disadvantage, and William's refusal to fight put him in a tough spot. There was some discussion amongst us as to whether losing only one influence for declining an invitation was a harsh enough punishment. I'm of a mind that it is a suitable punishment but naturally want to play a few more games to see. I'm loathe to propose rule modifications based on a single play.

My initial impressions of the game are good. I'd love to try it with 4 or more players to really make the intrigue shine, and naturally I want to see a primus or two declared!

One other thing I liked, which had nothing to do with the game itself...the expansion materials all fit into the core box. That almost never happens and Gale Force 9 is to be commended on that score.

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