I have now spent tonight and last night setting up, (more or… rather less) learning and then playing the first of four acts of a Hoplomachus Victorum campaign.
As stated in the Last Bought thread this is my first encounter with a Chip Theory game, I have not had the opportunity to play any of the others.
The story here goes something like “angry god is trying to rain fire upon the world and a hero needs to step up, gather troops and try to stop the destruction” by fighting their way through various arenas, defeating other heroes and finally face the god’s scion… This is all happening in the ancient world which bears NO resemblance to any known continents. Factions include Atlanteans, Amazons, Vesuvians, Argonauts…
The world is represented as a small map at the bottom of the playmat where your hero can move their encampment. On each move of the encampment, they encounter one of 3 types of events: sport, opportunity or blood (depending on the spot they are on). Every 12 weeks (or earlier) they need to enter a capital and fight another primus (the leaders of the 8 factions participating in these shenanigans). The two types of arena (sport & blood) events help the hero improve their stats (health, leadership, attack), gather troops & tactics. Whereas opportunities are something like optional fight modifiers that give especially powerful rewards (Prowess abilities mostly?).
The sport events come in 3 varieties: Capture the Flag, King of the Hill and Sparring. I have so far only tried King of the Hill and Sparring. The blood events are to the death and you “simply” have to defeat all the opposing units. Each arena has some unique specials to interact with. I have tried 3 of the 8 arenas so far and the fights in each had a very distinct feel to it.
I think when one has internalized the rules, this could be quite straight-forward. As it is there are quite a few moving parts to remember and in this first act I made so many mistakes, I might as well start over. Units have a bunch of special abilities which are quite cool and give each unit also a distinct feel and different tactics. I am already getting more “fluent” in the execution of the fights. Targeting and moving is a bit simpler than for example Gloomhaven (but it is a really low bar to have simpler movement rules than GH).
The rewards feel satisfying enough. There are some mitigation options for bad die rolls and I think one can really get much better at this game with some knowledge of what kinds of arenas, units, hero abilities and events exist in the game. These first fights though felt a bit tedious because I spent most of 2 evenings just learning this game.
One thing that bugs me is that I didn’t back the deluxe health chips. The plastic ones feel wrong. I’ll check our poker chips if the size works. It might.
Last but not least the game has dice in different colors that differ simply by how many faces have a little damage sword on them. The red die has six identical sides. I get that it is easier to make a die that always rolls the same thing than make an ability that always does damage… but … it is weird.
PS: this is a solo game only. And I am reasonably sure one will never play all 4 acts of a campaign in one sitting… and I forgot to take more pictures.