Author: Reiner Knizia

Hans im Glück 2002

Awards: none



The game Kampf der Gladiatoren by Reiner Knizia is once again a proof for the high quality of boardgames Reiner Knizia tends to create. As you will see, new clever rules are supplemented by a good background story, making Kampf der Gladiatoren a mature, well-tended product.

In the game the players lead teams of Gladiators into the arena, and it's the aim of each player to score most points with his teams by eliminating Gladiators of other teams and wild animals and by keeping his Gladiators alive. To set the game up, each player sends a number of Gladiator teams depending on the number of participating players onto free spaces on the gameboard. Each Gladiator team consists of 4 Gladiators, and these may be freely chosen from 5 different kinds of Gladiators available in the game. The different Gladiators available to the players are equipped with spears, nets, swords, pitchforks and shields, and each type of Gladiator will have his unique influence on combats. When all teams have been placed, the remaining free spaces are filled with wild animals.

In his turn, the active player now must chose one of his Gladiator teams which he must use to attack another player's team or a wild animal. Basically, combat will be resolved by rolling a number of combat-dice, of which the different facings show: miss, simple hit or mortal hit results. Each team will roll at least one of these dice in combat, but the number of dice rolled and the combat result will depend on the typed of Gladiators participating in the combat. A combat follows the following procedure:

  • At the beginning of the combat, the number of Gladiators equipped with spears will be counted. The player with more spearmen will be the attacker - if there is a tie the active player will be the attacker.
  • Next the Gladiators with nets will have their turn, and with each of these a player may turn an opposing Gladiator inactive for this combat.
  • The following phase is dominated by the Gladiators with swords. The attacker now may roll a combat dice, plus an additional dice for each Gladiator with a sword which he has in this combat.
  • If the attacker does not like the result of his diceroll, he may roll again for each Gladiator with a pitchfork which he has in his team.
  • Finally, the defender now may cancel out one simple hit with each of his Gladiators with shields which he might have in this combat - mortal hits cannot be blocked in this way.
When this is over, the attacker now placed a token for each simple hit next to the opponent's team. For each two tokens accumulated, the defender must remove a Gladiator and hand him to the attacker (for victory points). Likewise, he must remove one Gladiator for each mortal hit the attacker scored. After this has happened, the defender becomes attacker, and uses his remaining Gladiators to try to inflict some harm on the former attacker's team. The new attacker now too rolls the dice (modified by Gladiators with swords and pitchforks), and the new defender alike may now use Gladiators with shields to cancel out hits. Hits are score and Gladiators removed in the same way as outlined above. After both players had the opportunity to attack, the active player's turn is over and the next player's turn starts.

Combat against wild animals is resolved in a comparable way. Some symbols on the animal-cards represent the combat advantages the animal enjoys, and while doing combat against a Gladiator-team the animal's decisions and dice rolls will be made by another player. Animals are also used by players who do not have any Gladiators left in the arena. Such player may chose an animal in their turn, attacking groups of Gladiators with it...

The game ends when only one player has Gladiators left in the arena or when all 12 animals in the arena are defeated. For calculating final scores, players may add their surviving Gladiators to the Gladiators they have defeated, and for each Gladiator a player receives one Victory Point. For each wild animal a player's teams have killed the player receives 2 Victory Points. The game is won by the player with most Victory Points.

Unlike some other games from Reiner Knizia known to me, Kampf der Gladiatoren actually offers a well done link between rules and background story. Especially the combat situations with the different types of Gladiators having influence on different phases of a combat is constructed rather authentically, so that the player's actually have to plan careful in order to see which combats they might try with some chance to win and which combats they must avoid. Being a bit difficult at first for new players unfamiliar with the game's strategy, players nonetheless get a fast grip on the quite rules. Once these are mastered, Kampf der Gladiatoren guarantees some thrilling fights in the arena...

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany