Welcome to "Adventures in Lead", a blog dedicated to the hobby of miniature wargaming. The figures and terrain on this site are mainly for a campaign set in exotic "Indostan", a distant land bearing remarkable similarities to 18th century India during the Seven Years War. Bits and pieces from other projects may pop up here as well from time to time, including colonials, gladiators, pirates, dinosaur-hunting and even some RPG'ing.
The actual campaign journal and after action reports for the Indostan campaign can be found on their own blog - "Indostan: The Jewel in the Crown", the link to which is found by clicking the small image below-left.
If you do find anything remotely interesting on this blog please leave a comment, it's what keeps these sites going and their authors motivated - Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Red Sand Blue Sky - Heroes of the Arena

Having been alerted to a new version of Red Sand Blue Sky by Two Hour Wargames over at Hetairoi Wargames, I thought it was about time to pick up this gladiator ruleset. I had always wanted to try the original Red Sand Blue Sky, but had never gotten around to buying it, so I finally took the plunge. To ease back into gaming, Dave and myself gave it a bash last Sunday after printing out the PDF and some character sheets.
The cover looks really good with a simple spin on the Pollice Verso painting, but it was nice to see some effort here - simple but effective. The layout of the rules were a little hard to follow in places, especially since the meat and potatoes of the combat lies in a half dozen or so tables at the end of the book, which had me flicking furiously between the front and the back. As well, I think the character sheets could be vastly improved and be used as more of a tool to play the game. One thing I really liked though was the combat examples provided and available on the site, which helped a lot.
I found the movement rules to be a nice change from the norm, being a little more abstract rather than exact measuring or hex use. They put you in a roundabout area of the arena, like in the center or up against the walls. 
There was a decent selection of gladiator types, but apart from the Retiarius they really felt too similar. We also found that their was very little separating our gladiators stat wise, but in the rules defense we were playing fighters of exactly the same skill.
Unfortunately,  concerning combat, RSBS seemed to fall into the same trap that many gladiator games do, where the game degenerates into a dicing rolling fest between two static miniatures. So much hinges on your bonus dice  and choosing when to use them is a big part of the game, but there was nothing stopping me from using all my bonus dice in  the very first exchange (nothing except the fact that if I didn't beat my opponent in that single attack, he was sure to win). Using all your bonus dice leaves you spent , basically out of the match. I think the combat came across as a little lackluster and didn't force me to make any tactical decisions or even basic choices. 
In saying that, I think RSBS could excel as a solo game and also has some promising campaign rules. Unfortunately it is not exciting or competitive enough for me as a multiplayer game. I expect tension and excitement in a game of gladiatorial combat and I certainly didn't feel it here. 
We did have a lot of fun though rolling up our gladiators. All Dave's hopes hinged on  the murmillo, "Spandex of Gaul", but he was no match for my thraex, "Titius the Jew".
Alas my quest for the perfect set of gladiatorial combat rules continues.

3 comments:

Bluebear Jeff said...

If I might make a stylistic suggestion, sir . . .

Like many of us, I am getting older and my eyesight is getting worse.

I find it much much easier to read text that has been broken up into smaller paragraphs with blank lines between them.

Huge unbroken blocks of text become difficult with limited eyesight . . . so please consider do those like myself a favor and break your posts into more easily digested visual chunks for those of us like myself.

Thank you.


-- Jeff

Anth said...

I like your blogg.
A period I am very interested in

Cheers

Christian said...

Ah... so that explains the lions ;)Can't wait to see what you guys come up with. That arena board was incredible!