Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Mid-week game: Blood Bowl and Arena Rex

fg and I decided to have a mid-week game and continue our Blood Bowl league. As it had been four months since our last game and we can't make out some of the notations we used in our notes, we decided to replay game 2.

Game 2 was a disappointment for the fans as both sides failed to score any touchdown. What's worse - neither team managed any advancement after the game. I did win enough money to buy another bull centaur player, so hopefully that will give me an edge the next game.

After the game wahj arrived and we broke bread (which he made) before fg and I tried out Arena Rex.

My brother had backed the kickstarter and I picked the package up at the post office for him and decided to give the rules a run.

The 32mm resin figures that came with the package are exquisite - perhaps too exquisite. The weapon shafts are thin and it looks like it will be difficult to assemble the figures or to transport and play with them without breaking - already there are complaints about the feathers on the helmets of one of the figures on their forum. There are also custom dice and fatigue counters which came in the set which I thought were redundant to the average wargamer since the dice were just regular d6s that came in different colours and a symbol instead of a number on the '1' face, and the tokens marked only two states, so any small token or chits or coin will do the job - omitting these or making them an optional add-on would have cut postage for the backers, but I suppose some people want a complete, ready-to-play package instead of the Cheapass Games approach.

That said, all the components are of high production quality; the rulebook looks like a promotion booklet of some big corporation, and the game cards are already sturdy.

The rules I am more ambivalent about. Arena Rex is a gladiator team game, which means that some gladiators have skills that are only useful in a team context - their skills are about assisting their team-mates. The characters are also "balanced", and there are no rules for advancement and ludus development.

Even though the game is not hex-based movement and engaement ranges are all given in 1" intervals, so we decided to use fg's Heroscape tiles and some 25mm gladiators I had painted ages ago for a test-drive.

Another feature of the rules is that "pushing" is a major part of the combat system. Arenas in Arena Rex feature obstacles and hazards, the latter being living hazards like chained beasts and inanimate ones like spikes or pits - which is why you see the pits in our set-up in the photo below. In practice this means that you should try to make sure your gladiators are not fighting with their backs against some hazards, as they can die from taking damage from weapons or being shoved into a pit '300'-style.

A strange landscape to fight over.

The two teams approach cautiously.

"This is ARENA REX!"
There are a lot more to the rules, of course: a system of Favours and a fatigue system that is quite clever, but somehow they don't give me the feel of gladiatorial combat.

During the game I put Youtube on my TV to watch clips of Gladiator, and it went on to play clips from Vikings and rather inexplicably Sudden Death. Eventually it played this rather hilarious John Woo movie with homoerotic overtones; do watch it if you have the time:


fatgoblin said...

For Arena Rex, it just occurred to me that if the dice rolls are all 4,5,6 to succeed, they should have customised dice that is blank on 3 sides, and symbol of 3 sides.

Its kind of odd that the symbol is on the one pip side when it does nothing...

But I guess this way, you can use the dice for other games.

Though miniatures are gorgeous though

captain arjun said...

There is one set of dice per faction, and the Favour dice give 2 successes for each 4+ rolled.