Name: Colossal Arena
Genre: Card Game
Designer: Reiner Knizia
Publisher: Fantasy Flight
Nº of Players: 2 to 5 Players (best with 3)
Play Time: 20-45 minutes (longer with a high number of players)
Quality of Components: Average
Age of Players: 8+
Rules: Very Simple
Strategic Depth: Average (lower with more players)
Learning Curve: Very Low
Set up Time: 2-3 Minutes
Colossal Arena is a simple but fun card game that places the players as spectators of an arena where mighty creatures fight to the death. 8 creatures enter the colossal arena but only 3 come out alive. Players will bet on the creatures they believe that will end in the top 3, and victory is decided by the amount of money each player makes. The combatants are all powerful creatures like a titan, a unicorn, a cyclops and even an amazon.
The game comes with 12 creature cards, 146 combat, spectator and referee cards , 25 betting chips (5 of each colour) 10 rules cards (2 for each player) and the rulebook.
At the beginning of the game, 8 of the 12 creatures are randomly chosen to be the participants of the arena. The other 4 are out of play. The combat cards of the creatures not participating are removed. The other combat cards, referees and spectators are shuffled. Each player receives 5 tokens of a given colour, the 2 rules cards of that colour and 8 cards from the deck. After choosing the starting player, the game begins. Combat cards are associated with a creature and have a number between 0 and 10. Spectator cards are also numbered between 0 and 10 but with no participant creature association.
Each turn, the player may place a bet on a creature with no bets on that current round. After that the player must play a card. Combat cards are played on their specific creature, spectators can placed on any creature. The card text of the referees instruct the players what they should do. After that, the player may decide to discard up to 3 combat cards of creatures already eliminated and refill their hands up to 8 cards. When played a combat card on a creature, if that player is the backer of that creature he may activate the creature's special power. The backer is the player with the most money on a creature. During the first round, the player may decide to place a secret bet on a creature. The value of the bets depends on the round they were made. A first round bet worth 4 points, second round 3, third round 2, fourth round 1 and fifth round 0. A secret bet is concealed from the other players and it worth 5 points. A player may also spend his or her turn action to reveal the secret bet (it might be useful if he wants to be the backer of that creature).
A round ends end all creatures have one combat or spectator card played on them. At that point, the weakest creature is eliminated from combat. The game goes on until the 5th creature is eliminated or when the draw deck is exhausted.
Despite having simple rules, the game strategy isn't. The cards in hand, the power of the creature and the bets of the other players are determining factors during the game. The ideal number to play the game is 3. With two players the luck of the draw is a determining factor on deciding the game winner. With 4, the game will most often end before 5 creatures are eliminated and players have also fewer control of the game. I haven't played it with 5 but I believe that the problems with 4 players will aggravated. With 3 players, the luck of the draw has a moderate impact on the game and deck almost never exhausted. The game has a very good flow of play, but the rounds tend to drag a little with more players.
This game has an addictiveness factor in our group. One we play one we want to keep playing more. The biggest problem of this game is the stupid tie breaking rule (the last player that played a card).
Overall, a very solid game with a very low setup time that can be played very quickly. The fact that 8 out of 12 combatants are in play during each time, makes the replay value high.
Labels: Game Reviews