Sunday, February 6, 2011

Gladiator: Avalon Hill game system

I've not played this for many years yet it was the most played of all the board games my brother and I owned growing up. I have long played with the idea in the back of my mind of using this and other board game systems for gaming with miniatures. Now I am going ahead with the idea. My arena model is built, I have bought the large hex sheet and will base it. All that is left to do is buy and paint the figures.

I will be buying from the West Wind range - they look the best to me by far. I will review them fully when I get my first order in. The Avalon Hill game provides for Light, Medium and Heavy Gladiators as well as Retarius in the advanced section of the rules. Different armour types and distributions per type is covered in randomised tables, recorded on the character log sheet - see my attached pdf. The movement, combat and damage is quite detailed yet easily mastered.

I love this game and will generate some club league tables if there is enough interest for 'campaigns' to track the careers of our representative gladiators. The rules set does not provide for anything other than men or women fighting on foot. There is no provision for beasts or mounted combat but as many players may enter the ring at any time, making for some dynamic and unpredictable results.

When basing the figures, I just need to be able to clearly indicate the front and back of the model for facing and combat determinants. Whilst the original gladiators are flats, held upright in a plastic stand, the stands are square and there is only a front and back to the counters. A simple square base within the dimensions of the arena hexes and a correct orientation of the figure to the front edge should suffice. I may mark the front edge to avoid any doubts.

Gladiator Log Sheet


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Instant ARENA


The opening image here is of the centrefold background of the Roman Gladiator Letroset Action Transfer release. If you know what I'm talking about then you'll most probably be an early generation 'X' like myself. I grew up on these things and couldn't get enough of them. Looking at the crowd gave me an idea about augmenting my up-coming gladiator project.

Jorge Nunez The Colosseum
Most gamers from what I've seen build or buy partial or even full model arenas which, whilst often beautifully rendered, are just a back-drop to the game. They also suffer from a chronic lack of an audience and, let's face it, whose going to be bothered about painting hundreds of figures who merely spectate? Well, not me anyway. Yet the crowd is very much a part of the spectacle so I turned to my childhood references for inspiration. Left is an illustration from my Ladybird book Great Civilisations: Rome. I still wanted an arena but one which is merely decorative, not fixed - something which is purely a background for reference but brings the audience into play.

I looked at the Pompeii Arena as being one of, if not the oldest known arena surviving today. It's very intact and simple. Unlike the Colosseum, my backdrop was to have no doorways - I just wanted a plain stretch of wall with a stand or two behind and above. Even if used as a set to photograph my models against, I assume the focus of the eye will always be on the miniatures and play in front of it.

Right extent
In spite of searching the internet for a ready to use image, whilst coming close, there was nothing I felt I could use so it was literally back to the drawing board. I sketched the front stands of the arena, then 'inked' over my work before colouring with pencils and hard pastels. The stone work for the boundary wall was downloaded from the internet and then cut and pasted on to my work.

Left extent
I went through a crisis of confidence during the colouring stages - always preferring the basic sketch work and whilst this could have remained an option for the finished product, I pushed on with a full colour version. As you can see, this is early in the day and the crowds are only beginning to build. I tried giving the individuals some character and animation rather than the massed sea of heads.
 I mounted the finished artwork on 3 millimetre foam board, then glued that to a 5 millimetre rectangular base section with an inside curve cut into it - giving the shape and stand for the model. I have to confess that I've done all of this because I want to have some gladiators but have yet to buy any. They will fight on large hex paper, using the Avalon Hill Gladiator game system.

Here is the finished product and I admit to being quite happy with it. There will be no leaning over it and it won't get in the way. The Avalon Hill game uses a limitless field principle where playing pieces (or models in my game) get repositioned toward the centre whenever they drift off - making sure to keep their positions relative to one another. My arena will simply be kept to one side - out of the way, yet in view. AND, all this in only half a day.