Not a super big fan of the show to be honest, I find it rather trashy, but suffered through the two seasons and "Gods of the arena" which was a prequel to season 1 - and which actually turned out to be the best of all three imo. So the theme of the game in itself was not really something that appealed to me in the least, I would maybe even go as far as to say it had a slight negative impact on my perception of the game.
But as it turns out it's really good and I was pleasantly surprised to find it well put together, more about that in the upcoming review. This post will focus on what you get in the box.
This game is by GaleForce 9 which I can't say are known for their boardgames but rather terrain and hobby products for miniature wargaming. Fortunately this release is also a pleasant surprise, the level of quality of the cards, board and tokens is very good.
The board is thick and sturdy, the tokens are well punched, cards are also high quality glossy finish with pictures from the TV show of characters and events. From a modelers perspective the four plastic gladiators are the only thing I could complain about if I really wanted to bother but the truth is that they are relatively well sculpted and are in fact only used as "player tokens" in the arena rather than specific gladiators.
If you have, like I do, a collection of metal gladiator for wargaming then you may want to spice things up a little by using those instead. Again, it makes no impact on the game what miniatures you have since you use different gladiator cards with stats specific for characters and and equipment rather than fielding classic gladiator classes such as Hoplomachus and the Thracian.
Since the game is for 3-4 players there are 4 different "faction boards" that are based upon important people from the TV-show. You don't need to know the show or the characters at all, but if you know them you will see that the special rules for each faction fit into how the characters act and are presented.
There are two primary decks, one called "intrigue" the other "market" and they both contain various types of cards that players benefit from in a defensive or offensive manner during game play.
Tokens include money, player specific tokens for bidding in the arena and keeping track of your influence, wound/champion/favor tokens for gladiators to keep track of wounded gladiators and rising stars of the arena.
You may have noticed that the pack of dice includes three colors, all dice are regular D6's but the color corresponds with different stats and since player roll dice for attack/defense at the same time this makes it easy to keep track of who rolled what dice and quickly match them up for comparison of results.
The whole game fits into the box without problem; you won't suffer from Fantasy Flight Games syndrome (one million tokens and cards but only 3 slots in the box to put them in). Overall the whole game is very easy and manageable to setup and clean up afterwards. Preparation time is maybe 5 minutes. The board and faction sheets should also fit onto a normal sized dinner table without problem.
Stay tuned for the review.
You can find the game over at Kultur Kommissariatet's webstore