Monday, 8 December 2014

First impression of Jugula rules

IMG_1284.JPGAt the most recent club day at Devizes (7th Dec 2014) Ian and I played our first game of Jugula by Alex Buchel (Studio Tomahawk, 2014). Many years ago I bought and painted a few (~20) 15mm gladiator figures (manufacturer unknown) to use with a set of rules called RVDIS by Ian Beck (Table Top Games, 1980). I cannot recall ever actually playing RVDIS, but I could split these figures into 3 ‘factions’ for use with Jugula at no cost – ideal!

We both randomly selected 4 gladiators each (Ian used the green team and I used the red), set the game up and went at it. The rules are on the face of it quite simple, easy to pick up and don’t require the use of dice. Instead the core of the game uses cards and the skill revolves around hand management. Each card has 6 potential uses: movement, combat, re-drawing, card additions, crowd management (Vox Populi), and specific card effects. The multiple uses of the cards gives the game a good depth which we both felt as players we had only scratched the surface of in our game play. Ian decided to maximise his Vox Populi standing, whereas I decided to just go for the throat. My tactic seemed to be paying off initially; I wounded Ian’s Hoplomachus early on. Then Ian successfully netted my Dimachaerius with his Retiarius, effectively putting him out of the game, but fortunately Ian did not follow up this particular success. By now Ian’s Vox Populi was way ahead, he attacked my Hoplomachus using his crowd advantage together with a +6 combat card, I had to randomly draw a combat card (my current card hand was down to 1) and drew a +0 result: my Hoplomachus died. Ian was now on a roll and on his next turn he played his ‘Ardor Oris’ card for effect (an extra +4 combat bonus but his own gladiator will be wounded), this together with his Vox Populi and good combat card ensured my Provocatur gladiator died. Game over; 2 of my gladiators dead compared to 2 of Ian’s gladiators wounded.

The game was fast paced and fun. Game play required considerable thought by both players and card selection and utilisation is key. We both felt that we would benefit from studying the card effects before playing our next game, and that on-table experience would be vital to mastering the game. I really look forward to playing these rules in the future, and maybe I will invest in some better 28mm figures. I will also pay more attention to the crowds and not let my Vox Populi rating be so overpowered by my opponent (the Plebs have to support you otherwise you are nothing more than animated meat!).

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