We find ourselves in an Arena, no, THE Arena. Dangerous traps line the walls and pepper the floors. You adjust the saddle on your… peacock? Okay that part is weird but anyway you holster your Shield and your weapon. What do you mean you don’t have a weapon? Just a shield? Who was in charge of equipping you? Well good luck, you’ll need it!

Arena For The Gods is a game that pits you against up to 5 other players in a brutal, close-quarters battle. The first phase of the game you get to draft your Weapon, Armour, Spell, and Mount that you’ll be using to beat everyone up. The catch is, to determine turn order each player must blind bid their health! That’s right, each player starts with 20 health and will use it to bid on the equipment they want. And not all equipment is created equal! So if that awesome hammer comes out, or that luxurious Peacock mount, be prepared to pay for it.

Now these games are pretty awful as far as player elimination goes. Especially a game that lets you use your health as a currency before the fight even starts. But Iello in typical Iello fashion wouldn’t put out a game like that. And with a single rule, Maxime Rambourg fixed the issue; the game is over when one player dies and the player with the most health at that point is the winner.

This simple rule turns the game from a straight forward beat-em-up to a strategic miniatures game of shifting alliances and second guessing. Just when you think you’re about to finish someone off, you think to yourself “Am I winning right now?” and if that answer is a maybe in your mind, you might want to think about who IS winning and maybe beat on them instead.

You’ll use dice rolls to determine what symbols you’ll have to spend on your abilities for the turn. This makes symbol diversity and re-rolls very attractive options during the drafting phase to help mitigate the variance side of things. Combine that with the fact that you can activate the same piece of equipment multiple times in a row and you feel like you are getting the combos and options that you would expect to receive. The dice, surprisingly don’t quite feel as “dicey” to use each round and the strategy really shines through. You’ll be shoving people into traps, moving around the battlefield collecting health and avoiding danger like a pro.

With simple rules, fun and dynamic strategy and a huge replayability factor, this will scratch the strategy itch without taking 3 hours OR leaving players fighting a losing battle or sitting out. This one gets a big thumbs up for me.

Tell me what item combos have caused the most damage in your games on my Twitter or in the comments!

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