The Gladiators are lined up ready to do battle. There is excitement in the air. Who will win the crowds favour and be crowned champion. There is only one way of finding out, yes that’s right, we shall play another trick taker to decide everything. This is a review of the 1-8 player trick taker Gorus Maximus, but if the gore is too much, you can always apply the same review to the re-themed game Sea Change. For me personally I really love the brutal but comedic art style chosen in Gorus Maximus with its blood, brains and eyeballs flying off the cards.
Please read on to find out if the game is as good as the art.
How To Play
Trick taker lesson. All players play one card per trick. If all cards are from the same suit, then the highest number wins and that player collects all cards played. A trump suit will beat all other suits and if numerous trump cards are played then the highest wins.
This is a must follow trick taker, so if the starting card (called the lead suit) is yellow the other players must also play a yellow if they can. However, in this game you are allowed to play another colour as long as the number is the same as the previously played card.
When a duplicate number is played this also changes the trump suit to the new colour as well. Cleverly all other players still need to play the same colour as the original lead suit (or they can play the same number as the previously played card, once again changing the trump suit).
Some of the cards in Gorus Maximus also have points on them and the aim is to collect the most points over a certain number of tricks. But beware, some cards are worth negative points and collecting these will normally result in a loss of the round.
Once a player has won three rounds, they are crowned the ultimate gladiator.
Components & Variety
This is a luxury game in terms of its art and components. You receive a beautifully illustrated box with 80 cards, several decent weighted poker chips (to mark your victories), a suit tracker card (with a weird paper clip to indicate the trump suit – the only poor-quality component in the box), and a great little tuck box for carrying just the suits of cards you need when you want to play Gorus Maximus on the move.
The rule book is clear and easy to understand with good examples of set up, changing trumps and points scored, with plenty of pictures to help.
The game allows a wide range of player counts (from 1 to 8) and I enjoy almost all of the player counts (weirdly 2 player games are less fun than solo which has enough randomness but retains the core gameplay loop). There are also options for playing team games which doesn’t change the rules but adds an interesting dynamic to the gameplay.
I really like Gorus Maximus with its clever trump suit mechanism, gorgeous art, quick game time and cards with points (both positive and negative). What sets this game apart is the player interaction and the ability to read what cards have and have not been played, therefore waying up the choices you have when playing a card to the trick. The trump suit changing numerous times in a single trick is always hilarious but not quite as funny as dumping a negative card on your opponents.
There are other trick takers out there that require you not to win tricks (see St Patrick and Seas of Strife) but Gorus Maximus takes pride of place in my collection as it feels like a luxury game whilst you are playing it.
Now go bring glory to the empire by the bloodiest combat the trick taking world as ever seen.