Some things in history are crying out to be turned into forms of tabletop entertainment. In For Glory you are trying to become the leader of a successful Gladiator School, recruiting the best fighters on offer, bringing on politicians to support you and even learn tactics that you can bring to the fight. Earn enough glory and you will be declared the best and greatest at all you do and have a straight Roman Road named after you. Maybe get a sword. Maybe you’ll end up being played in a film by an actor who decides to die halfway through so you need to be replaced digitally. Who knows? Live by the words.. etc.
For Glory is offering you a deck building game to be played between two people. Split into two main phases, where you will build you deck to increase your skills, gain influence and hopefully win through in the second phase where you will be pitting your champions against each other in hand to sword combat. Sometimes with armour and sometimes you’ll just be running around in your pants, but you’ll be a rippling Adonis, so let them stare for goodness sake.
The Machinations phase is where things begin and where you’ll play cards from your hand of seven in order to start building up your deck. You have a choice of purchasing cards from three possible supplies. One offers money and allies in the Senate. The other two will offer Gladiators and potential tactics that you can use in the arena. Off the bat you’re immediately having to make decisions based on whether you want to build a war chest to spend later, or start building your squad to battle. Cheaper champions are weaker and easier to register for the arena events, while more expensive and more powerful ones will often require the influence of a senator in order to allow you to field then in the main event. Tactics can be reserved for use in the main event in a clever mechanic that allows you to buy back the entire reserve deck providing that you have the necessary funds to do so. Only two arenas are ever in play out of the potential three available and only one offers a chance to claim the arena card. Entering into battle is mostly under the player’s control. The contest will only start once the total value of the bloodlust of the combined gladiators reaches the value required by a boast card. As the game progresses, the amount required to trigger the Arena battles increase and it means that you need to field more powerful characters which forces you to invest in the team you control. Once the Arena battles are triggered you will then play through the battles in each of the two Arenas, with the fleeting glory Arena resolving first, and the Lasting Glory second. Arenas are treated as separate locations, so you can’t use powers between them. Initiative is decided and then attacks are made, tactics are played and if you have left your opponents without fighters to continue then you win glory based on the arena that you fought in. The underdog gets the crowd’s favour token and the next round of Machinations begin before entering combat again.
The fighting goes on until one player has managed to gain six points of glory and goes down in the History books as a wonderful, charming and generous lanistas. The most important thing about this is that in one round you can potentially win up to three glory points. For Glory is designed to be fast and messy. There’s no hidden point scoring and how close you are to victory is always easy to see.
Unlike Ridley Scott’s epic, this isn’t going to take two and a half hours of your time to get through. One of the things I appreciated about For Glory is that the winning requirement is much lower than I expected. You’ll maybe spend more time in the Machinations phase than the actual fighting as that is where the majority of the deck building occurs, but I can see games burning through in about forty five minutes once you have a few under your sword belt. Set aside about ninety minutes for your first game and you’ll probably come out the other side with change.
One of the main clever tricks that For Glory achieves is to delay the inevitable combat. That sounds weird in a game which is all about combat. But I’ve played too many battle type games where you feel like you are stumbling into the fight rather than arriving through choice, prepared and ready for battle. With the bloodlust mechanic, it’s possible to keep the arenas closed until you are ready to fight and force your opponent player to field a hand of smaller less powerful gladiators if they are so itching for some steel on steel hot action. I see wins will be handed out to those who plan and prepare and stash cards for a rainy day over those charging in with a loin cloth and confidence. While there appears to be a lot to learn, I found that it is actually just a deck builder with a few extra trinkets and not meant in a derogatory sense. For Glory does a lot of things right here, from the clean card layout to the easy to understand rulebook there’s been a lot of effort to help you get this game to the table and play. Are you not entertained? I think in this case, you will be.
Concentrate on your money and senators in the first instance as you’ll need both to purchase and field the more powerful gladiators.
Game Design – Alex Wolf
Illustration – Jacob Atienza
Graphic Design – Amit Ghadge
This review is based on the retail version of the game provided to us by the designer and publisher. We were not paid for this review. We give a general overview of the gameplay and so not all of the mechanical aspects of the game may be mentioned.
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