16 March 2013

Spartacus 4 player session and some thoughts

Another game of Spartacus, this time a 4 player game and I have to say that it is the most fun and most dynamic with 4 players. What's most surprising though is that everyone with whom I have played have loved this game, and they have been different people with different tastes.

In this session I once again played Tullius, I recently speculated that Tullius is the weakest which sparked some interest to check the internet and see what other people think. The established opinion out there seem to be that Glaber is without doubt the strongest - and I can agree with that. There were also good arguments for pointing out Batiatus as the weakest player.

Things like this may be important when you want to play a 3 player game or introduce the game to complete newcomers - in which case you may want to balance you knowledge of the game and the cards by picking the weakest faction. The reasons for Glaber being the strongest is simply his focus on guards gives him a well fortified position early on and he can get extra intrigue cards for free by tapping his guards. Naturally if every player knows Glaber is strong you gang up on him and wear down his defenses with schemes. Another aspect that make Glaber strong in regard to the guards is that they don't cost him anything in upkeep and they are not vulnerable as slaves.

Batiatus on the other hand seems to have the hardest starting position, he starts out with the most gladiators who eat up a lot of upkeep money and you rarely have any use those starting gladiators, tapping two gladiators in the intrigue phase after you have already paid upkeep for the gladiators make you break even at best. There are a select few cards that can give Batiatus an immense influence boost if he has 3 or 5 gladiators in his house, this is however a relatively rare scheme and other factions could get into a situation where they may be able to play those cards as well.

Solonius I regarded as a strong faction since his "trade resources for influence" is the one that is least punishing, you don't have to trade 3 gladiators/slaves/guards but instead trade in 1 of each which is a much more balanced approach. He can also lower the influence cost of cards by paying gold which means that he will be able to play high end cards without support from other players and may be able to play cards that are way out of other player's league very early into the game.

Tullius I guess is just tricky to play tapping 3 slaves to discard 3 intrigue cards to draw 3 new one's isn't the best ability and often require you to both have additional slaves ready for safety in order to prevent opponents to play the "empty brothel" card that lowers your influence. However if you do have a hand of cards you may be able to swap crap for something better - but it's really a gamble and doesn't guarantee anything solid.

All these strengths and weaknesses are probably possible to balance out in-game by players attacking Glaber to prevent him getting too strong and so on. It may however require of the players to know about the strengths and weaknesses of each faction before the game starts in order to do just that.

And if you play a 3 player game I would recommend discarding Batiatus (the weakest) or Glaber (the strongest).

In the end this game is ridiculously fun.

1 comment:

  1. Your recommendations will come in handy when I get my own three player game going.

    I seem to recall reading somewhere that Glaber's strengths are nullified somewhat in the longer game.

    I'm keen to find this out for myself.


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