Friday, 17 October 2014

Reiner Knizia's Massive Botty

I just thought, seeing as neither myself, Andrew or Joe are capable of saying "Reiner Knizia's Colossal Arena" without sniggering like juvenile twits, that I would get the inevitable out of the way in the title.

Last night I sent the call for gamers but nobody could face the trip. Sick of games, or life, or me - who knows? All I knew was that I had several unplayed games in the cupboard and the least I could do in the available time was learn the rules to one of them, so the next time I open the cupboard door my expression could be 10% less glazed. And where better to turn than the arena of Doctor Knizia, betting on mythical gladiators, whilst presumably breathing in the pungent air of mathematics?

So. In Reiner Knizia's Big Backside Colossal Arena you are spectators betting on a big hoo-ha between said Gladiators - the game takes place over five rounds, and during each round you'll be using combat cards (with strength of 1-10) to lend your support to some, undermine others, and using your chips to bet. When the bets are counted up the winner is the one who has made the most money.

thanks to Aarnenaatos

But wait. It's a Knizia, so nothing is quite as it first seems. First off, in the first round players can make secret bets, which are worth the most if your gladiator is still standing at game end when there are only three fighters left. And just like 'real' betting, early bets are worth more than late bets (i.e. 8-3 gets you more than 4-3). And you can only make a total of five bets - so you need to choose wisely.

Finally, if you have placed the most bets on a certain gladiator, then you are that creature's backer and when you play a combat card to that gladiator you get to utilize that gladiator's special power - there are too many to list here but basically they fly in the face of the standard rules.

Finally finally, nestled amidst the combat cards (which mostly match certain gladiators and have to be placed beside them) are spectators and referees. Spectators are blood-thirsty fans who have jumped into the arena to help their favorite and they have their own little mini-rules. There are two types of referees, one of whom forces players to (potentially) reveal their secret bet, and another that does something else that I've forgotten. What I found intriguing was the idea that as well as trying to undo each other, players also end up collaborating at times, if they have backed the same gladiator. The whole thing takes less than an hour, unless your wife arrives halfway through and you watch Breaking Bad instead. Like Citadels or Meuterer, it's a lot of game in a small box.

There you have Reiner Knizia's Gigantic Bumhole Colossal Arena. I can't wait to open it up again.


  1. Heh, now I don't know if that is a challenge or a knuckle rap!

    I'm going to go with the latter....

  2. Did you actually play it Sam, or just go through the rules?
    It sounds a bit like Cheaty Mages, and also Blood Bowl Team Manager . . . I've only played the latter though.

  3. That comment was not meant to be sarcastic by the way - just re-read it and it sounded snarky! I was just curious.

  4. Joe how could I open up the colossal arena and not step inside? I set it up for three players and played two rounds. I would have got through more rounds but my and my imaginary friends were waiting ages for a bloody troll to show up - unless each gladiator has at least one combat card the round can't end.

  5. I had a rules-reading night too - the new Phil Eklund game Greenland. Forget owl bears, in this one you can domesticate killer whales!

  6. If you can placate the walking squid, count me in