News for February 2009
Fortune Favors The Bold 4
The second part in a series on our staff's favorite FFG games.
News | Published 26 February 2009

Once again we shine the spotlight on another staff favorite. This week we look at the Silver Line title, Colossal Arena. A game by Reiner Knizia, Colossal Arena combines the elements of gladiatorial combat and placing bets on the combatants. This game was chosen by Nate French, game developer. Nate has worked on both the Call of Cthulhu LCG/CCG and the A Game of Thrones LCG/CCG as well as the Mutant Chronicles miniature game. I had a chance to talk to Nate about Colossal Arena. "This is definitely one of my favorite board games. I love the shifting alliances, this turn I may back a certain creature to piggyback on another player's bet. The very next turn I may choose to kill that same player's creature. I also love the variety. Each creature has a unique power. Overall a great game to pick up and play."

Few things are as exciting as stadium events. The roar of the crowd, the teams struggling for dominance on the field, rooting for your favorite, the feeling is intense. Colossal Arena captures this. Pitting 10 different mythical creatures against one another, you must choose your favorites and "cheer" for them. The game ends with three combatants standing proudly on the field of battle. Lets take a look and see how those three came to be victorious.

Colossal Arena puts you in the stands at a gladiatorial match between 10 fearsome creatures. You must make your bets wisely, as only the bets on creatures left standing at the end will pay off. Each round of combat sees another creature fall, and puts you that much closer to wealth.

The goal of the game is to accumulate the most wealth, this is done by choosing your bets wisely. Each player places a bet on one of the creatures each turn. After placing bets, players then play combat cards for the creatures. Once each creature has a card beneath it, the creature with the lowest numbered card is removed from the competition. At the end of five rounds, only three creatures are left standing. Then each player collects money for each correctly placed bet. Bet values depreciate each round, so a bet made in the first round that pays off is worth five. A bet in the second round is worth four, so on and so forth.

As Nate referenced above, a big part of the game is when to "piggyback" and when to stab in the back. Creatures with a bet on them are going to be fought for harder, where as creatures with no bets are generally slate to be taking a dive. Watch where other players are placing bets, you can often take a player out of contention if they have placed too many bets on the same creature round after round. Take care yourself not to place too many on any one creature, as you may find yourself hurting. In addition to the placing of bets, there is the secret bet. Only available on the first turn, this is an option to give players a big win if they choose correctly. Simply select one of the creature cards from your hand, place it face down in front of you with one of your betting tokens on top of it. At the end of the game, secret bets are revealed. If you chose correctly, you get an extra five gold!

The other part that changes the game are the creatures powers. Each of these legendary monsters has a unique power. After the first round of combat, whoever has the most invested in each creature becomes that creature's backer. The backer may activate their creature's power by playing a combat card on them. ie. You have decided to back the Amazon. You place a combat card featuring the Amazon in front of her, You may now activate her special ability, which in this case, allows you to draw three combat cards. Choosing which creature to back is a big part of the strategy, Each creature give you access to new options, but choose carefully, as other players can prevent you from becoming the backer by placing their bet with yours. As neither player has the most money invested, neither player becomes the backer. If you place your bet in the first round, but another player places a bet in both the 2nd and 3rd rounds, they become the backer, as they now have 4 gold and 3 gold invested. Watch your backer... er your backer's back.

Colossal Arena is a fast paced game that is very easy to teach. Age range listed on it is 8+, and 2-5 players can take part in the betting. With only 2 different decks of cards, the game is quick to set up and tear down, and the betting pieces are very high quality. Overall this game is great to add on those nights when you want something quick, but strategic. On average this game takes between 30-45 minutes.

So what are you waiting for? Pick your creatures, place your bets, and see which pay off in Colossal Arena!

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Comments (4)

Published: 2/28/2009 8:09:27 AM

Fun small game and a favorite Ben Sisko quote.

Published: 2/27/2009 1:18:10 PM

An absolute classic, for sure!

Published: 2/26/2009 1:55:57 PM

For such a simple system this game provides tremendous fun and is possibly one of my all time favourites.  It's fast, it's furious and there isn't a Vin Diesil in sight (which is a shame, because I reckon he'd own all!).

Great choice :)

Published: 2/26/2009 11:21:53 AM

Good choice, Nate!  This is a classic "filler" game that I am glad FFG picked up.  Very much a "Euro" type game that I was playing before I knew the term.  It's easy to pull out when you have only a short amount of time to play.  I recommend it to anyone looking for a light game with a Euro feel.  And it has several strategy choices for a light game.

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