Sometimes, you just want a fast paced small game with a lot of action. Set in the time of the gladiators who have to fight for their life, that is exactly what Gorus Maximus can bring you. With a theme like this and the cards and box covered in blood, we were very curious to see how this trick-taking card game would turn out.
How to Play.
There are four variants to play which all have their own set up. Since we have player with two players the most, I will go over the rules of the two player variant. In Gorus Maximus, you approach the owners of a couple of gladiator schools to recruit their strongest gladiators so you can host the Exceptionally Bloody Games. With two players, this would mean three schools would participate. Pick three colors and take all the cards with numbers 0 and 4 – 12 on it. This would give you 30 cards. Shuffle the cards and deal ten cards to each player. Place the remaining deck facedown on the table.
The game is played in a series of rounds while you try to gain the crowds support. Each round consists of battles or ’bouts’ until the cards from the deck run out. A bout is simple. Each player plays a card from their hand and compares the result. In a two player game, after placing a card, you also draw a new card from the deck. The card with the highest number, is the most powerful gladiator and defeats the other card. There is only one exception. The first player that plays a card from their hand, will make that school preferred by the crowd. Meaning that if the player plays a gladiator from the yellow school for example, the crowd will cheer the most for the yellow school. In gameplay this means that yellow will defeat any other color even if the number of the card is lower until another color is preferred. You can track which color is the preferred color with the preferred school card and tracker. At the start of each round, the preferred color will be set, but this will carry trough the entire round, bout after bout, until the preferred color is changed.
If you have a card in your hand from the preferred school, you have to play this card even if it has a number you rather don’t play on the table. If you have multiple cards of the preferred color, you can choose what card you want to play. If you don’t have a card of the preferred color, you can challenge another player by playing a card from another color with the same number. If the first player plays a yellow six for example, you can challenge that player by playing a blue six. Blue will then be the new preferred color. If you don’t want to challenge a player, you can simply play a card from another color. beware that you will lose the round as the preferred color will win over any color.
If you win a bout, take the gladiator cards from the bout and place it facedown in front of you. If you run out of cards to take, the round ends with one last turn to play. After that, the cards you have collected from won bouts, will be place faceup and you can compare them with other players. The player who has the most crowd favor value (the bottom left number), will win the crowds support for this round and receives the support token. The player who reaches three crowds support first, wins the game.
Playtrough of the game.
This game reminds me a lot about Uno because of this similar rules. Which is also why we were a little disappointed. Maybe we expected to much, but we had hoped that the gameplay would be a little more then it actually is.
We also had trouble with the rulebook. This game is really simple and once you know what to do, the gameplay is pretty self explanatory. But the rulebook unfortunately didn’t explain this game as simple as it is and we spend more time for a game like this to learn the rules in our opinion.
That being said, the art in this game looks awesome and we like the cartoonish style and theme. The cards also give you a good opportunity to trick your opponent as you can also have cards with -4. If you lose the battle on purpose and play the -4 card, your opponent might have played one of his best cards while getting -4 points. The game also offers a variant where you can play in teams with more players which is not that common in trick-taking card games. The games are short and easy and the box is small enough bring it along with you. If play this game with two people, it’s les fun then with more people. You can use less schools and less gladiators which means you can trick your opponent less.
Gorus Maximus is a trick-taking card game with a good theme and nice art. The rulebook can be a little tricky, but the game itself is easy and also easy to teach. The game has different variants and you can even play this in teams with 6+ people. One game of Gorus Maximus doesn’t take long and the box is easy enough to take with you. As a two player game we found this is an average card game and I must say we were a little disappointed. Maybe we were just expecting to much but we were hoping the gameplay would contain a little more. But, if you are looking for a nice party game or a short card game to play with more people. This can definitely be it.