During the weekend that Adepticon 2016 took place (March 23-26), Red Republic Games announced a 15% sale on their entire Arena Rex line, at both the booth on the convention floor and their online store. I'd seen some people talk positively about the game, and a glance at the rulebook made it seem somewhat familiar to Guild Ball - lots of position, model interactions, combos - without the sports parts.
I decided to take the plunge, and ordered the Ludus Magnus starter and the rulebook. Unfortunately, the starter was out of stock, and so it may be several weeks yet before it arrives. Luckily, Kevyn took advantage of the same sale to buy two starter sets as well, and so demoed the game for me last week.
Kevyn took the Morituri starter - the Egyptians - which consisted of Zahra, Ur-Kek, and Mago. I was given the Legio XIII starter - the Romanized Gauls - with Aquila, Gaius Pallidus, and Ban-Luca. The two ludi began two feet away from each other, as the game recommends.
The first turn was rather uneventful, with both sides advancing towards each other. I moved Gaius Pallidus twice (his movement distance was 4", compared to Ban-Luca's 5" and Aquila's 6") which gave him a Fatigue marker.
In the next turn, Kevyn's actions echoed mine - he moved Ur-Kek twice, while Mago moved around the rocky hazard. Ban-Luca and Aquila moved up to screen Gaius, who used the turn to remove the fatigue marker.
And then, thing's got a little crazy. Mago managed to get into a fight with all three of the Legio XIII members, with Aquila demonstrating the ludus' ability to move through and displace their own models. Ban-Luca took plenty of hits, however, and the whole of the Legio ended up fatigued without managing to take out Mago.
Another round saw Mago, Zahra, and Ban-Luca all taken out. Gaius would have gone as well, if not for his Stoic ability, which kept him around for another turn.
Unfortunately, that didn't matter. The Morituri's ability to remove all Fatigue markers during a clear turn, combined with the Last Man Standing rule that made every turn a clear turn in which the last remaining model of a ludus can still act, meant that Ur-Kek could keep swinging. A counter attack from Aquila almost took out the Egyptian gladiator, but couldn't do enough damage. Down went Aquila, and the Morituri claimed victory.
It was a fun, quick game, and I'm definitely interested in getting my Ludus Magnus starter. The rules are simple enough that, like in Guild Ball, it's probably best to jump right into the larger game formats as quickly as possible, as it's in the model interaction that the complexity comes from. I think either Kevyn or I may try to work on an arena soon.