Gather your patron sponsors. Assemble your gladiators. The public awaits you in the arena! Only here can your prize fighters gain the adoration of the crowd and the denarii and laurels that come with it. In For Glory: Premium Edition, you play the owner of a gladiator school. During the game you will seek to gain the influence of powerful patrons and build a team of gladiators to fight for you in the arena, but be mindful your rival opponent is trying to outwit you in doing the same.
For Glory: Premium Edition is a deck building game set in ancient Rome with turns featuring two distinct phases. In the first Machinations phase, players seek support from patrons that can use their influence to support a growing team of gladiators, recruit the best available and grant useful abilities in combat.
Meanwhile, players are also recruiting gladiators to improve the fighting quality of the team. Each player has a starting hand of cards and these are quite basic, so in the best traditions of deck-building games you are encourage to buy better quality cards, especially the gladiators.
Gladiators are available in a good variety of strengths and abilities and there is a sense you have a fair degree of choice in building your team. You do need though to have a reasonable income to afford the best, but it is worth it. In addition, there are other cards that can boost your strength and add actions and reactions thus improving your chances in the arena with tactical choices.
As an option you can each turn, set aside tactics and reaction cards rather than play them. This means they are set aside in a reserve. At a later point in the game, you can buy them back into your hand, in the arena phase, ready for use. It can be expensive, as you must buy all cards back at once, but this option allows you to keep important cards ready for use to match up with your current hand to form a better combination. I do like this mechanic and if you are prudent and only keep a few cards it can be a winning move.
A nice game mechanic determines when the phase ends and you begin the arena phase. This relies on the bloodlust of the crowd building to a level based on the current boast card as both players deploy their gladiators. It is then triggered during the turn of the player with the Crowd’s Favour, an award given to the player playing second. In this arena phase, gladiators are placed in two out of three arenas, with players taking turns deploying gladiators or playing other cards for various effects. Initiative can vary, and it plays an important role in determining whether you can get an edge playing cards first or waiting to react to cards played or benefiting from your opponent having less chance to counteract your moves.
Having the right cards available to play during the arena phase is quite crucial, so remember the deck-building aspect of the game as in For Glory: Premium Edition, being prepared is very helpful. It is quite easy to find yourself out of sync with your plans because either your opponent has played a move you can’t counter or you don’t have the combination of cards to achieve your goal.
This was something that caught me out during play as it was harder on occasion to either counter an opponent’s action or he was able to deploy gladiators that could affect my gladiators that I played later in the turn. As each gladiator has a set of unique stats and an ability, it is important to look at what combinations you can set up, but you cannot neglect initiative and the advantage to be gained from acting first. There is also an option to deploy gladiators during a late registration phase. This costs coins but it is useful to bring gladiators in your hand to the arenas, bearing also in mind that only two out of the three arenas are used in each arena phase, one of the Fleeting Glory arenas and the Lasting Glory arena, with each arena giving a reigning champion token and corresponding bonus to the current or last winner in that arena.
Ultimately, players must reach a victory target of six glory tokens. The first player to reach this target after any battle wins, and as fleeting arena battles are fought first, it is important to consider which battles might trigger the end of the game and so contest these more vigorously.
During the arena phase, players contest both arenas where gladiators have been deployed; this really is the heart of the game. Both players alternate, beginning with the player who wins initiative, in taking turns. Each turn, a player may attack and play a tactic.
Attacking with a gladiator exhausts the card, but in using the gladiator you can used any abilities if the conditions are met and deal attack damage to an opposing gladiator. The same player may also play a tactic card to take effect in the arena currently being contested, before or after attacking, and this then allows further benefits to be used and this could be to cause additional damage.
Battle continues under either all cards are exhausted or used, in which case a new combat round begins, or one team has lost all their gladiators from the arena but the other has at least one left, in which case the battle ends and victory is declared.
During the arena phase then, gladiators can be eliminated from battle, but this does not mean being eliminated from play, as defeated gladiators are returned to your discard pile and you receive one coin for each defeated gladiator as an insurance payout.
Thoughts On Mechanics
For Glory: Premium Edition plays out like many deck-building games in many respects, and if you like this type of game, I’m sure this will be enjoyable. From my experience to date, winning initiative is very important and yet being able to buy the cards you want and have them in play is the key to winning. I like the mechanics regarding the reserve and having gladiators not truly eliminated from the game on defeat means your investment is not lost.
The quality of the components is good. You get metal coins and fair quality cards, all that you can reasonably expect.
As a two-player game I did feel the game can swing quickly to one side and you do need to ensure you contest battles if you can. A game can run away from you otherwise and combined with a sudden swing in fortune can lead to a bit of an unbalance, especially if one player has pending gladiators ready and the other has a distinct lack of useful cards. Gladiators then are the heart of the game, so recruiting as many as you can with good variety or combinations of abilities is what gives you power to last in battle.
However, don’t forget the patron influence. Forget this and you’ll seriously limit the number of good gladiators you can use. As with all good games, you have choices and must recognise priority moves and card choices as they arise.
In summary, For Glory: Premium Edition is a quick game, so you can play a series of games over a session, but it is not a very deep game and this may deter some players from playing it. It is replayable enough though as in each game the draw deck is random and what is drawn can influence strategy. Player interaction is good as the game is quite dynamic, but for me it could be better if it had more depth, more options, and more players. However, it is a fairly easy game to play and the quickness in which you can play through a game is also a strength if quick skirmish type games are to your liking, so if you like battles and the Roman theme, then why not seek the glory of the arena yourself?