27 October 2023

More Blood on the Sands!

Enjoyed a brilliant evening with 'Blood on the Sands' rules author Frank running 4 new players through the game. My first bout was an epic matchup between my Thraex, Hector, and Drusa the Hoplomachus (played by Alan). Drusa was a machine, keeping the lighter armoured fighter at bay with his long spear. Hector tried to rush in but tripped - stayed on his feet but lost momentum and was deeply wounded in the lead arm for his troubles. Naturally, the crowd loved it!

Bleeding badly, Hector circled the Hoplomachus looking for a way in, but Drusus’s spear struck like an adder - another deep wound to lead arm! With 2 bleeding wounds on the same arm, and fatigue building, Hector was in real trouble. And when his leg was wounded also, he options were getting limited (ie lost an action dice).

Calling upon Fortuna and his Brittanic ancestors to aid him, Hector mustered his fading strength to dance in and deliver a series of lighting fast attacks with his curved blade, finally drawing blood with a deep wound and tripping the Hoplomachus. Drusus tried but couldn’t get to his feet and fought desperately from the ground with his spear.

Using the last of his reserves, Hector went all in for one final attack on the prone Drusus. His weapon slipped past Drusus defences! With the sica's blade resting on his throat, the Hoplomachus appealed for mercy. Being most entertained after this epic combat, the crowd were pleased to give it! Spent, the victorious Hector was barely able to acknowledge the adoration of the crowd.

What a match! With a couple of bad rolls, the game went south for me from the start but I felt I always had options, though they did diminish as my gladiator degraded. The impact of fatigue was a key factor and a real push your luck mechanism. The impact of my double wounded arm was also interesting as I tried to protect it while my opponent tried to target it to knock me out of the fight.

And it was a VERY close fight! As you can see from my fighter status board, there wasn’t much left in the tank by the end - and if my last all-in attack hadn’t worked, I would have capitulated in the fatigue phase that followed. A thrilling match that demonstrated what a great game system this is.

Our second bout of the evening, while Frank inducted our club mates Marty and Gav into the ludus, was a paired match of Provocotores.

This proved to be a very different game indeed, and very evenly balanced. Indeed, it was so balanced that neither of us was able to generate a decisive advantage, and we were really waiting to see if any critical successes or failures would tilt the balance.

None did and with a light would apiece and fatigue building, we called the match - a historical outcome in which these flashy gladiatores would generally amuse the crowds with their close contests. It was interesting to see how their characteristics really made these fighters feel very different the the classes we had just been using, both in terms of moves and equipment.

Marty's Thraex facing off against Gav's bruiser

Thanks again Frank - a great night and a great game!
Also a great baptism for my newly painted Thraex, playing in your fabulous Arena :)

02 October 2023

Blood on the Sands at MOAB!

Another year, another MOAB. Busy busy but not too busy for a couple of Horus Heresy purchases, and an opportunity to play this great Gladiator participation game!

Habet, hoc habet!

This game is a real labour of love by Frank, a MOAB legend for putting on amazing games including the fun Africa game that Reilly, Comrade James and I played in 2019 (see here).  He's been developing it for over a decade and its easy to learn, hard to master mechanics make for an excellent experience - see his Adventures in Lead blog here: 


Frank scratchbuilt this fabulous Arena

I also really liked the way the game reflects the differences in fighting styles and equipment of the different Gladiator types (through stats and special moves) as well as more generic skills and traits that personalise your Gladiator.

My first bout was as a net and trident armed Retiarius, trying to keep my Secutor opponent at bay and wear him down so I could entangle him. I enjoyed the dynamic movement the game allows - no boring locked in combat in the centre here, with thrusts, moves and rushes giving players many options and decisions.

My second bout saw me equipped as a Thraex to face off against the Lanista himself, Frank!  Aided by my ability to throw dice badly, he quickly schooled me in the mechanics of pushing back an opponent, trapping against the wall, disarming and falling prone.

You seem to have dropped something important there Paul...

I was clearly an apt pupil! Forced to concede and appeal for mercy, the crowd were in a bloodthirsty mood and I had proved a disappointment. 

The crowd were NOT entertained after all...

Frank administers the coup de grace demanded by the mob!

Overall a throughly in spiring gaming experience. I've tried many Gladiator games over the years and Frank's game was quick to play, had lots of depth, and stacks of character. There are also campaign rules for running a Ludus, but that was beyond the scope of the demo game.

And yes, I had a great time loosing and that says a lot about a game (and who you are playing with)!

Time to bust out some figures and add more fighters to my Ludus!  Thanks for all the fun mate :-)

For those who want to know more about Blood on the Sands you can visit the Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/bloodonthesands

Or peruse the long yet awesome thread at the Lead Adventure Forum here (its been going for over 10 years!) https://leadadventureforum.com/index.php?topic=51608.0

Thanks to Alan for this pic - I wonder what I had just asked Frank! :-)

Edit: Alan posted his own great blog write up of this Blood on the Sands demo here: