Arena: Rules

Arena is a tactical combat game that takes you into a gladiator arena full of steel and magic. You can become men, women and fantasy creatures from all corners of the world, uniquely trained in combat skills that use all their strength, speed and experience. These men and women fight to survive until the next round, the next spectacle for the crowds - on and on, until one day they run out of luck and fall to the ground, defeated.

But the Gladiator must put these thoughts from his or her mind. A Gladiator lives now, in the moment as, should he waver for even the smallest of moments, he would have no tomorrow. And so he stays in the arena, carefully watching every movement of his foe with neither hate nor mercy. The two warriors stand there, craftsmen of death. Soon one will lie in the dust. Both know it could be them. If the combat thrills, the crowds will cheer and the victor will cover himself with fleeting fame. But, who knows, maybe tomorrow, maybe in a week, he will lie there in the dust, while the crowd cheers a new hero.

The Emperor gives the signal. Strong hands clasp their weapons firmly. Let the battle commence!

Arena can be played in several ways - with two or more players, different types of gladiators, etc. The two-player version is simplest.

To begin with, choose your character. Barbarian, Assassin and Swordmaster are recommended for beginners. Each player takes the appropriate miniature and deck of cards. There is no need to shuffle the cards.

Next, miniatures are placed on the board, players record their Condition Points, and the game is ready to start. Players alternate turns, moving on board and using the cards. The object of the game is to defeat your enemy. You do this by reducing his Condition Points to zero or below.

The situation on the board is clearer to you, the player, than the situation in a real arena would be to a gladiator. To offset this fact, you aren't always able to use the card you know would work best. Moreover, combatants usually don't attack in a blind fit of rage. The experienced fencer stands guard, observing his enemy, trying to guess his enemy's intentions, and preparing his attack. Then he strikes with a series of fast blows -and if the attack is not successful, he returns to guard stance and watches and prepares again.

Therefore, you must plan your actions by laying the Combat Action cards face down on table in the order in which you want to use them. Then you take the first planned action in one turn, the second action in the following turn, and so on.

However, you can only do one thing per turn: plan or use a planned action. You can't do both at once. Within these restrictions, you have several options. For example, you can plan a combat action one turn and perform it in the next. This is slow but needs no preparation and lets you react to your foe's actions. Or you can plan several actions during several turns and then perform these actions in their planned order; this can be more deadly, but it takes time and you must estimate your foe actions.

You attack your foe with the attack combat action. Here, the six sided die is used in an unorthodox way. The attacker selects the strength of his attack by secretly setting a number using his die. Your opponent usually has one or more guesses against attack - he tries to guess the number set.

If he succeeds, he has managed to fend off the attack; if he fails he loses condition points. The higher the number set by the attacker, the more points the victim loses. Thus, the battle hinges on the real psychological battle between two players, just as real combat does.

I. Before the game
Players choose their character, and take the corresponding cards and miniature. You should at least browse through your cards. You will also need a condition counter, a game board, dice and counters.

Each character gets 33 cards and a miniature. (Ores, with 2 miniatures, are an exception, and are discussed in multi-player game rules.) There are four decks of cards, one each for Orc, Swordmaster, Barbarian, and Assassin. Assassin is used in all of the examples below.

1. Combat Action cards
Combat action cards are numbered in their upper left hand corner. Assassin, for example, has 22 combat action cards numbered 1 through 22. The card's title is to the right; below is the picture, and below the picture are one or more little axes, each with three numbers (Guess Axes).

Arena uses three kinds of attacks: slash, stab and smash. Gladiators protect themselves by guessing the strength of the attack. The numbers on the axe show how many guesses you are allowed against each kind of attack when this card is your current action: Guess against slash is on the edge of the axe, guess against stab is on the point, and guess against smash is on the ball opposite the edge.

The weapon or weapon combination required is listed below the Guess Axe. If a card shows only one Guess Axe, to use it you must have the listed weapon(s). If it has more than one Guess Axe, you must have one Guess Axe's listed weapons) to use this action. If you don't have any of the required weapons) you can't use the action.

Attacks are listed on the right side of the card, in colored boxes with white numbers; the shape on the left side of the box indicates the type of attack. A sword's edge = slash (card no. 7), point = stab (no. 6), ball = smash (no. 13). The fourth possible shape is a square, in which case the attack is detailed on the card. The number on the left is the distance within which you can make the attack, the formula on the right is the attack strength.

The box's color shows what action and/or quality opposes the attack:
blue = defense (most actions);
red = strength (e.g., first attack in action no. 16);
blue-red = strength plus defense (action no. 20, and second attack in action no. 16);
gray = nothing opposes the attack.

Most attacks are untargeted; the blow can land anywhere. Some attacks, however, may be aimed at the head, hand, legs or torso. The card for such an attack will show a small figure, with the target area shaded red (e.g., no. 16 targets the head, no. 17 the torso).

After this you have the text of the card. Description is in normal text; action rules are italicized; important rules are in bold. Whenever a card's rules contradicts the general rules, the card rules have priority. This applies to all cards. At the start of play, players hold all combat action cards. There are many cards and though at first it will be a little difficult to keep track of them, with experience you'll be able to sort them quickly and smoothly. During the game, combat action cards will often be placed on the table and put back in hand.

Types of attack

2. Standard Action card
This is the card where your character's name and picture appears. Orcs have two Standard Action cards, one for each Orc. In a sense, this card is also a kind of Combat Action, in that it is your stance when you aren't t doing anything else - the one you adopt automatically.

A Standard Action card, like a Combat Action card, contains Guess Axes. But here the similarity ends. A Standard Action card contains a complete description of your character (normal text), general rules that apply to you (italicized), and your principal qualities - Strength, Defense and Condition. Strength is your ability to attack (combat experience, as well as physical strength, matters here); Defense is your deftness in avoiding an attack; Condition is the amount of injury and physical weight you can bear. Strength and Defense can be affected by items that you use (e.g., Assassin's cloak). Your Quality is listed in top right corner of the text area. For now, you need only to know that combatants should always have the same Quality.

The Standard Action of every character lies face up on the table throughout the game. The character's items are placed face up around it. Thus, your principal qualities and items are always known to you and your opponents.

3. Items
Each character has several Item cards, which represent items he has at the start and knows how to handle. An Item card features its name, picture, description (normal), rules (italics), and data for throwing (bold). The rules usually describe how to use the item. Most items are held in one or both hands; some (e.g. helmet) can also be carried in other ways.

Item cards are placed around your Standard Action card: to the left and right, face up, lie items currently held in your hands. If an item is used with both hands, its card is placed on the right or left, and the other place is kept vacant. Items you use but don t hold in your hands are placed face up above the standard action card. Items kept on you are placed face down below the Standard Action card.

Holding an item in both hands is equivalent to holding an item in one hand and having the other hand free. Thus, you can use actions that require two hands, and actions that require a free hand. (E.g., Assassin, holding a chain, can use both action no. 16, which requires both hands, and action no. 17, which requires a free hand.)

At the start of the game, you decide what to hold, and what to keep on you for later use; in accordance with this rough plan, place the item cards face up or face down around the Standard Action card.

You can use only your own items or identical captured items. Example: Assassin can use Swordmaster's dagger and vice versa, but Barbarian can't use Swordmaster's sword, because it has a different name. You can have "illegal" items on you, can even hold them in your hand, but can't use them in any way (unless stated otherwise).

4. Special Action cards
These can be used without planning. They carry no pictures and are landscape oriented. They bear their name, description (normal text), rules for use, effects (italicized), and timing and cost (bold).

All your Special Action cards lie face up on the table at the start. Most of them can be used only once per game (unless stated otherwise).

5. Condition counter
You can use pen and paper, or dice, markers, etc., as your counter. You will need to know your character's Condition at all times, because some actions require a minimum condition, and the outcome of other actions can be affected by your condition.

Condition is how much physical force you have. It is reduced when you are injured or use one of the more demanding combat or special actions.

At the beginning of the game, record the number of Condition Points given on your Standard Action card. As the game progresses, your Condition decreases or (less often) increases. When your Condition drops to zero or below, you have fallen, and your foe is victorious.

6. Game board
The game board is a hexagonal grid surrounded by wooden walls. It also has a compass rose with directions numbered from 1 to 6, used with some rules.

7. Miniature
Your miniature must be on one of the game board's hexagonal spaces at all times. (The direction it faces is not important.) To start, players place their miniatures on opposite corners of the arena (if they haven't agreed upon another initial position). A prone miniature denotes a prone character. When a character is eliminated, its miniature is removed from the board. A miniature does not leave the arena until its character has been eliminated.

8. Counters
Several metal counters are used to represent items that are lying on the ground, placed there by its user, or thrown or dislodged in combat. Items belonging to a defeated character lie on the hex on which the defeat occurred.

1. Beginning
Place your miniature on the playing board and your Standard Action card face up on the table, with the item cards face up around it. Do scissors, paper, stone to decide who starts.

2. Course of play
Players take turns making their moves; a round of combat is complete when everyone has had a turn. The game ends when any character's Condition drops to zero or below.

3. Planned actions and current actions
During combat, you think forward and plan your actions. The last Combat Action you have used (also known as the Current Action) is always face up. Face down, you have your row of planned actions. The Current Action determines your stance.

If there is no Current Action, you are in the Standard Action stance and, if attacked, you defend from that stance.

At first, you have neither Planned nor Current Actions. As you play, your row of Planned Actions slowly grows, and as you fight, performing one Planned Action after the other, it slowly shortens. Opponents can't see your Planned Actions, though you can look at them at any time.

4. One player's cards during the dame
Figure [2] shows one player's cards. The Standard Action lies face up. Above and beside it are Items currently in use. Below are items kept on him. The row of Planned Actions is face down, the Current Action is face up. Available Special Actions are face up.

All other combat cards are held in the player's hand, unseen by his foes.

Below, one player's complete turn is described.

1. Player's options
First let's deal with your basic options, then see what an entire turn looks like. You may perform only one major action per turn. You can:
- plan
- take combat action
- re-arm

Only one action is allowed per turn. This means you can't, for example, take more than one combat action, or plan and use an action at the same time, or re-arm and plan at the same time.

2. Planning
Planning allows for the fact that while you sit safely at the table and have time to think everything over thoroughly, for your character everything happens in a flash. Just as you take a while to think, your character is unable to immediately perform the best action at every moment. As mentioned above, the row of planned actions lies face down on the table. When planning, you have three choices. You can:
- add one Combat Action card from your hand to the end (right side) of the row;
- return one card to your hand from the beginning of the row;
- take all the cards back, replacing them with one card from your hand (i. e., one which was not laid out). You may perform only one of the above actions per turn; other planning isn't allowed. For example, you can't add cards to the beginning or the middle of a row; or remove them from the end; or change their order.

3. Taking combat action
Combat action is any operation which changes the Current Action. These are your choices:
- if there is no Current Action, you can replace the Standard Action with the first Planned Action, by turning over the first Planned Action card.
- if there is a Current Action, you can replace it with the first Planned Action. The previous Current Action is retrieved.
- if there is a Current Action, you can retrieve it without replacing it with anything and thereby revert to the Standard Action. Retrieving Current Action means returning the card to your hand.

From the moment you perform the combat action, you are in the stance dictated by the Current Action (if there is no Current Action, the Standard Action is used). If the new Current Action card contains an attack you can use it in this turn. You can't attack with the Standard Action.

4. Re-arming
Re-arming is reorganizing your equipment. You can do nothing else in the turn when you re-arm, but you can change which items you'll use and which you'll keep on you. You can even put one or more items on the ground. However, you can't pick an item from the ground - this is done with a Combat Action.

Note: If the Current Action requires an item not in your hands, it is immediately retrieved and you revert to the Standard Action. Such a situation may come about through: a foe kicking loose or taking an Item; losing an Item while re-arming; throwing an Item at a foe. In all cases, the Current Action is immediately retrieved. It must also be retrieved if it requires a free hand and your hands are full (e.g., after re-arming).

Retrieving an action in this manner does not count as a combat action; you can still perform some other activity.

Example: You have a Current Action and your first Planned Action requires an unheld item. You can: (1) re-arm, using the Planned Action in your next turn, or (2) discard or use the first Planned Action. If you use the first Planned Action, your Current Action is immediately replaced by the Standard Action. Note that this option is the only one that changes the Current Action.

5. Phases of a turn
Each turn is divided into five phases. These phases have a fixed, unchangeable order and are called:
- first action phase
- defense phase
- second action phase
- movement phase
- attack declaration phase

6. Action phases
In the first action phase, you can do one thing only: take combat action.

In the second phase, you can:
- take combat action
- plan
- re-arm

Important: Although there are two action phases, you can only use one in each turn. If you take combat action in the first action phase, you can do nothing in the second action phase. Thus, you can decide whether to take combat action before the defense phase or after the defense phase. Again: only one combat action can be used in each move.

7. Defense phase
Here you defend yourself, with your Current Action, against all attacks in the order in which they were made. Taking combat action in the first action phase allows you to change your Current Action before defending yourself. Thus, you have two options -you can either defend yourself in your present stance and then change position, or change position and then defend yourself from your new stance. If you don' t have a Current Action, your Standard Action applies.

Sometimes it is tempting to resolve an attack immediately after its declaration, during the attacker's turn. In a multi-player game this is problematic, since one character can be attacked from several quarters. All attacks should be resolved in the victim's defense phase, in the order in which they were declared.

Later, we will go into more detail regarding attack and defense.

8. Movement phase
This is where you can move through several unoccupied hexes. The number of hexes you can move is determined by what you did in your action phases:
- 3 if you did nothing
- 2 if you planned
-1 if you used a combat action
- 0 if you re-armed

9. Attack declaration phase
If you used a Combat Action and your card lists an attack, and all requirements are met, you can decide, at the end of your move, who to attack. The attack, however, actually takes place in the victim's defense phase - this is important, especially in a multi-player game. You can even attack with an action taken in the first action phase (i.e., you can defend with it, then use it to declare an attack.) However, there aren't many cases where this would be advantageous.

Almost every Attack Combat action can only be used to attack other characters in the turn it was used. So, for example, if you use a Combat Action card in one round and plan in the following round, the Combat Action card remains current and you

can defend with it. But you can't attack with it in the second and following rounds, regardless of whether you actually attacked during the round in which the card was laid. Exceptions are noted on the card.

10. Summary
The following example is best read in tandem with the summary on this page:

Georgia has planned: attack, guard, and attack. Chris has planned: attack, attack, guard, and attack. Both of them are currently in a Standard Action. Georgia takes her combat action in her first or second action phase; in her movement phase she takes her one step; in her last phase she declares an attack.

Chris does not use his first action phase and, since he has no current action, he defends himself with his Standard Action. In his second action phase, he takes his first planned Combat Action; then he moves to the required distance; then he declares attack.

Georgia uses her first action phase, making guard her Current Action and defending herself with it. (Important! She can do nothing else in this turn but move one hex. Players often forget this, with dire consequences.)

It is now Chris' turn again and he can use any of his action phases to take his second planned attack Combat Action. However, Georgia now will not use her first action phase and defends herself with guard. Therefore, she can take her attack action in the second action phase. In her last phase she declares attack at Chris.

Chris uses guard in his first action phase, then moves one hex back and it is Georgia's turn again.

Georgia has no more Planned Actions. She plans another attack action and moves two hexes forward.

Chris takes his last planned attack action: attack.

Georgia now has three choices she can defend with either her Current Action (an attack) or her first Planned Action (also an attack), or she can retrieve her Current Action and defend with her Standard action. Because both attack actions are very weak in defense, she decides to defend with her Standard Action. However, she can only attack in her next turn, because to exchange the Standard for the Current action constitutes taking a combat action.

First action phase (optional)
Take combat action; choose one of the following:
- make first planned action current;
- exchange first planned action for current action, which is then returned to hand;
- retrieve current action card without replacing it

Defense phase
Defend yourself sequentially against all attacks made by foes.

Second action phase
If you did not use the first action phase, you have three options:
- Take combat action (choose one):
    - make first planned action current
    - exchange the first planned action for the current one, which is then returned to hand
    - return the current action card to hand without replacing it

- Plan (choose one):
    - move an action to the end of the row from your hand
    - return an action from the beginning of the row to hand
    - exchange an entire row with one card from hand

- Re-arm; reorganize equipment

Movement phase
You can move: 3 spaces if you did nothing in the action phases; 2 spaces if you planned in the action phases; 1 space if you used a combat action; 0 spaces if you re-armed in this round.

Attack declaration phase
If you used a combat action allowing attack in this round, you can decide on your target.

1. Description of a common attack
Every attack has the following parameters:
- type (shape on left side of box)
- distance (number on left side of box)
- strength (formula on right side of box)
- opposition (frame color red, blue, gray)
In addition, some attacks show a target (gray figure).

Some cards will list more attacks, and the situations in which they can be used.

2. Types of attack
The three main types of attack are:
- slash - made with a weapon moving in an arc (e. g., axe)
- stab - made with a weapon moving in a straight line (e. g., thrown dagger)
- smash - made directly with body, head, or limb

Each attack card bears its type, which is especially important in defense: A gladiator who expects a foe to slash will parry a stab worse than he would a slash, for example.

3. Distance
In some ways this is the most important part of the attack description, because it tells you how far you must be to attack a foe. Some attacks can be made from several distances, and some have different strengths from different distances - e.g., 1-2 (one to two) or 2+ (two and more). Distance can also affect the characteristics of some attacks.

Distance 1 means you must be on the hex immediately next to your victim, distance 2 means there must be one hex between you, and so on.

You attack by using a Combat Action in your first or second action phase. Having done that, you can move one hex in the movement phase, which should get you within striking distance. Your attack takes place in your victim's defense phase; because his movement phase follows his defense phase, he can't move away. Special rules apply to throw attacks (see below).

Attacks made from distance 2 or greater also require that all hexes between attacker and target are vacant (i.e., no opponents or walls). For example, in an attack made from distance 2, two situations can occur:

(1) Attacker and defender are in a straight line. The hex between them must be vacant. In figure [3], P can attack A but not D , because Y is between them.

(2) Attacker and defender are not in a straight line. At least one of the two hexes between them must be vacant. In figure [3], P can attack B but not C , because X and Y block the way.

4. Attack Strength
Attack Strength is usually written as the sum of a number and a range of numbers. For example, 3+(1-5) means that the attacker must set (not throw!) a number between one and five on his die; the Attack Strength is three plus this number.

Often the range is multiplied by some number. Example: 2+(1-3)*2. In this case, if the player sets 1, the Attack Strength is 2+[1*2]=4; if he sets 2 it's 2+[2*2]=6; if he sets 3 it's 2+[3*2]=8, etc.

Attack Strength includes the character's Strength, so don't add it again. If that Strength decreases or increases, the modification applies to the first number of the formula. Example: Barbarian with helmet (-1 penalty to all attacks) using Slash with Sword has Attack Strength of 2+(1-5)*2 instead of 3+(1-5)*2. If he uses the Special Action Superhuman effort (+2 to Attack Strength), he has an Attack Strength of 4+(1-5)*2.

5. Opposing an attack
You usually oppose an attack with your Defense (blue box). After the attacker has set a number, calculate the resulting Attack Strength and compare it to your Defense (listed on the Standard Action card). If your Defense is less than his Attack Strength, take the difference and subtract it from your Condition.

Sometimes you will oppose an attack with your Strength (red box), sum of Strength and Defense (blue/red box), or not oppose it at all (gray box). In these cases, Attack Strength is compared with the relevant number.

Some attacks have an effect other than injury; the effect is usually described on the relevant card.

6. Targeted attack
Most attacks are not aimed at a particular part of the body. Some cards, however, show a small grey figure with a red spot showing the target of the attack - hand, head, torso or legs. This is important in the few Combat Action cards with different defense against targeted and untargeted attacks.

7. Guess against attack
Until now, the entire attack may have seemed nonsensical - what prevents the attacker from always setting the die to the highest number?

Guess does. Guess is your ability to defend yourself against attacks from your given stance. Each combat action card lists three numbers guess against slash, stab and smash, that is, against all basic types of attack. In your defense phase, use the number from your Current Action card, if you have one; if you don't, use the number on your Standard Action card.

The attacker sets his number on the die, covering it with a hand. His foe then tries to guess the number; he has as many chances as listed in the guess section of his card. The attacker reveals the die. If the defender guessed the number, he has managed to guess the attacker's intentions and dodge the attack. The guess was successful; the attack unsuccessful. If he did not guess it, the attack is successful, and injuries or effects are calculated according to the method described above.

Both defender and attacker can influence the outcome by assessing the situation and estimating each other's thinking. The attacker attempts to set the highest number possible without the defender guessing it. The defender could, of course, always guess the highest numbers; but this pattern would soon become obvious. His foe would then set the second highest number (if the defender has one guess; or the third highest number if defender has two guesses, etc.) and injure his foe every time. In short, this method gives both attacker and defender many possibilities. Only if the defender has no guesses can the attacker set the die to the highest number possible without risk - but, in such a case, the defender has made a tactical error and opened himself up to attack.

A player can refuse to guess at any time, for whatever reason. In such a case the guess is unsuccessful by default.

8. Successful and unsuccessful attack, guess and defense Some action cards allow counterattack in the case of a successful guess or defense. A guess is successful when the defender guessed the set number. The defense is also successful in that case, of course; but in some cases, though the guess wasn't successful, the attacker has set such a small number that the attack does no harm. In such cases the defense is successful, even though the guess was not. The attack is successful when the defense is unsuccessful, and vice versa.

Imagine two Assassins in combat. One of them (Fred) has just used Combat Action Kick (no. 18) from distance 2. In his first action phase, the second one (Tony) exchanged his Current Action with Throw cloak action (no. 12).

Fred attacks by smashing from distance 2 with strength 4+(1-5) against defense; Tony has defense 5 and 2 guesses against smash (see card). If the guess is successful, Fred is wrapped in the cloak.

Fred sets, and Tony guesses 3 and 4. Fred reveals the die, set at 1. The guess was not successful but the defense was, because the final attack strength equaled Tony's defense, 5. Tony is unharmed and Fred is not wrapped in the cloak. If Fred had set 3, he would be wrapped in the cloak and would not injure Tony. If Fred had set 5, he would not be covered and Tony would lose 4 Condition Points (final attack strength = 9; defense = 5; difference = 4).

9. Special attacks
Some attacks do something other than injure your foe. Their cards describe their effects. Also, some attacks don't fall into any slash/stab/smash category; their cards carry the number of guesses an opponent has against them.

These rules cover the use of special actions and other cards.

1. Using Special Actions
Each character has several Special Actions that exempt him from some rules. Each of these cards states when it may be used - this may be any phase of your turn, or even your foe's turn. Unless it states otherwise, the card does not limit a player's options for that turn. Use must be declared in advance (e.g., if a Special Action influences an attack, it must be declared before resolving the attack). If your card allows for it, your foe can use his own Special Action.

Special Action cards that can be only used once per game are put aside after use. Special Action cards that can only be used once against each foe are put aside when they have been used against every character alive. With some cards, the number of times it has been used is important and you must keep track of its use, e.g. by rotating the card. Some actions require a certain amount of Condition and you must put them aside if you don't have the minimum.

2. Compulsory movement
Some Combat Action cards state some specific movement for the attack. If such a card is used in the action phase, you must make exactly this movement in your movement phase. This may be even impossible under normal circumstances (e.g., you can take the action and take more than one step). The attack is cancelled if you fail to make the compulsory movement.

3. Collision and retreat
Some actions may result in a character's compulsory retreat. The distance and direction of retreat is always specified. If your retreat is blocked by the wall, you lose two condition points for every hex you could not move through. If your retreat is blocked by a character, collision ensues - each character loses as many condition points as hexes the retreating character should have moved.

Collision and retreat are resolved instantly. If a character is forced to retreat, he can't move in his next movement phase. (If it happens in his own turn, he can't move in this turn.)

Important: you can't collide with another character through normal movement. Normal movement can only end on an empty hex of gaming board, unoccupied by a character or wall.

4. Throwing an item
Some Combat Actions let you throw an item. Assassin and Swordmaster throw daggers; Orc throws some items; Barbarian throws any item.

You can only throw in one of the six directions. In other words, the thrower and the target must be in a straight line. The type of attack is either on the Combat Action card or on the Item card, which states both type and strength. The Action card also states the ideal distance (e.g., Assassin's action no. 11, Throw Dagger, has distance 2+; ideal distance = 3). The target's Defense is increased by the difference of the actual distance from the ideal one: thus, Assassin's throw of dagger from distance 2 or 4 adds +1 to Defense, from distance 3 adds nothing, from distance 6 adds +3, etc.

If the target's guess is successful, the weapon flies past him and can hit another character (he is subjected to the same attack as the original target; however his Defense is usually higher). It continues its flight until it reaches the distance given on the card or the distance appropriate for the object's weight (stated on the item card): light Items fly [4 * Strength] distance, medium Items fly [3 * Strength], heavy Items fly [2 * Strength], and very heavy Items fly exactly Strength. If an Item hits the wall, it lies on the hex before it.

Throwing a weapon usually violates the condition for the Current Action (no Guess Axe on your Combat Action card corresponds to your current weapon combination). Don't forget to retrieve the current action immediately. See rules for re-arming.

The item can be thrown to any hex where a character can be attacked; this hex must lie in a straight line, must be within relevant throwing distance and the hexes between must be free.

5. Dislodging a weapon
Some actions may dislodge a foe's weapon or other Item. You must then determine the direction it moves (the distance is given on the action card).

The player dislodging a weapon sets (1-6) and the victim has two guesses. If he guesses right, the weapon is not dislodged. If he fails, the weapon flies in the direction equivalent to the set number (see compass rose). If the weapon hits the wall, it lies on the hex in front of the wall. Characters don't obstruct the flight of a dislodged weapon.

Dislodging a weapon usually violates the condition for the victim's Current Action (weapons combination corresponds to no Guess Axe on the Combat Action card). Don't forget to retrieve the Current Action immediately. See rules for re-arming.

6. Movement restriction during holding
Some cards mention movement restrictions during holding. During holding, only the stronger character can move. At most, he can move the difference between his strength and that of his foe, who is dragged behind him. If, for example, Assassin strangles the Barbarian with a chain (no. 16), Barbarian can move at most 1 hex (his strength = 4, Assassin's strength =3). Assassin is dragged behind -he must take Barbarian's vacated hex.

If Barbarian strangles Swordmaster, he can move at most two hexes. However, strangling is a Combat Action, and so he moves only one hex. (If he uses Special Action Fast Leaps, he can move up to two hexes.)

7. Prone character
Sometimes a character drops to the ground. The prone character cannot use any Special Actions cards allowing movement except for the ones that explicitly state so.

If you are prone, you:
- may not use special action cards which require any movement, unless the card explicitly states otherwise;
- must immediately retrieve the Current Action;
- must choose every turn whether to defend yourself.
- If you defend yourself, you have 1 guess against slash, stab and smash, and can only plan, or roll to a neighboring hex (you remain prone).
- If you don't defend yourself, you have no guess against slash, stab and smash and can either re-arm (this includes picking up items) or stand up (you stay on the same hex but are no longer prone).

A prone character subjected to an attack with forced retreat does not have to retreat, unless the card stipulates that it works against a prone character.

If a retreating character collides with a prone character it falls, remaining on the hex before the prone character.

Arena can be played by more than two players, and more than two gladiators can fight at the same time. This chapter covers all possible situations in a multi-player game. It also deals with Orcs, who usually fight together against another character.

Before starting a multi-player game, try to play a two-person game of Arena at least once. Move on to larger combats only when you are sure you understand the above rules.

1. Multi-player game basics
One player can control several characters, but it is more natural and easy if each player controls only one character. Characters can form one or more teams, or everybody can fight for himself. Needless to say, individual play is more demanding diplomatically than team play.

2. Quality and sides
Every Standard Action states the character's quality. For fair combat, all sides must have the same total quality. For example, Assassin (2) can fight Barbarian (2); Orc (1) can fight another Orc; two Orcs (2) can fight Swordmaster (2); Barbarian and Orc (3) can fight Assassin and Orc (3); or Barbarian and two Orcs (4) can fight the Assassin and Swordmaster (4).

3. Quality 1 characters: Orcs
Orcs have two miniatures but only one deck of cards, which must be split among the Orc players before the game. During the game, characters can't exchange cards (they can, however, exchange Items - see below). The way the deck is split depends on if the Orcs fight together or against each other.

If the Orcs fight together, their players (or, indeed, player) decide how to split the pack. Each Orc must have one Standard Action, but Combat and Special actions and Items can be divided however you like.

A different approach is used if the Orcs fight against each other. First, take cards that appear twice (Standard Action, sabre, shield, and some Combat Actions) and give one to each character. Lay the rest of the deck face up on the table. One player (selected by paper, stone, scissors) draws one card; his opponent draws two cards; the first player draws another two cards; and so on.

4. Order of play
In a multi-player game, players decide on the order of play. Note that it is best, if two or more teams fight against each other, for players of different teams to alternate.

5. Hex occupied by attack
During an attack from distance 2, the hex between an attacker and his victim must be free. Between the turns of the attacker and victim, a third character can't t enter a hex occupied by an unresolved attack. If only one hex must be free but there are two free hexes, a third character can enter only one of them. If a third character is forced to enter the hex occupied by the attack (e.g., he is kicked onto it), the attack he interferes with is cancelled.

In figure [4], A attacks B, B attacks C. Now it is X's turn and he can move three hexes. He can't enter hex 1, because it is occupied by B's attack He can enter hexes 2 and 3, but not 4 or 5, because they are occupied by Å s attack. If a character or wall stood on hex 4, then even hex 3 would be off-limits to X.

A hex can be occupied by more than one attack. Imagine that C and X attack B. A can enter hex 3, because both attacks can go across hex 1 at the same time.

A different situation arises with a thrown weapon. You can't enter the first hex of the line of flight (i.e., distance 1 from attacker). You can pass through any other hex in the line of flight without penalty, provided you don't end your move there. (If you do, you must immediately defend yourself with your Current Action, without waiting for your next turn.)

6. Exchanging items
In a multi-player game, exchanging Items can be important. In your second action phase, you can state that you're giving an Item in your hand to another character, or (if you have a free hand) that you're taking something. You can even do both things at once (take something with one hand, giving with the other). Exchanging is tantamount to re-arming and therefore neither you, nor the character you exchange Items with, can move or perform any other action. You must stand next to the relevant character at the start of your turn.

The exchange actually takes place in the second action phase of the second character, who must also re-arm. Only those exchanges offered by one character and accepted by another take place. If, for example, you want to exchange weapons, the character you have approached can take the offered weapon and not give you his. Or you can attack someone who offers you an Item.

7. Communication among players
Players decide beforehand if characters can speak to each other. If they can, it is important to understand that everybody can hear everything players as well as characters. The only exception is whispering. A character who does nothing else - not even move - can whisper something to a character in a neighboring hex. Even so, they can be heard by any character within one hex of either of them. Notes are a good way to mimic whispering.

These rules do not limit pre-game treaties and negotiations.

If you've never played Arena before, you might be a little bewildered, so here's some advice on how to start a two-person game.

First, choose a character. I recommend the Barbarian, who is easiest to play, and the Assassin. If you feel daring, take the Swordmaster; she has some very powerful, if risky, actions. With two sets of Arena you can each play the same character. (You should know both your own cards and those of your opponent, and if your characters are the same, you only have to learn one set of cards.) Do not forget to read your Special Actions! They are very important, especially for the Assassin.

Place the miniatures in the Arena, lay the Standard Action cards face up on the table, place the Items around them (you decide what your character is currently using). If the Barbarian has his helmet, don't forget that his increased Defense is balanced by his weakened attacks. Write down your starting Condition and the battle can begin.

Beginners should consult the Turn Sequence on page 6 of this rulebook at all times. Soon you'll learn it by heart.

The first turn usually looks like this:
" First action phase - nothing."
"Defense phase - nothing."
"Second action phase - planning. I take a card from my hand and with it begin the row of planned actions."
"Movement phase - since I planned, I can move up to two hexes (I don't have to, I can stay and wait until my foe comes to me)."
"Attack declaration phase nothing."

Your foe then usually plays in similar way. By the time you meet, both of you have a row of planned actions. You either have no Current Action or you are in a defensive stance (e.g., guard). You can do this by planning guard in your first turn and in one of the following turns play should go something like this:
"First action phase - nothing.
"Defense phase - nothing.
"Second action phase - taking Combat Action, I exchange the first Planned Action with Standard Action (I could have done this in the first action phase, but because I was not under attack this turn, it doesn't matter)."
"Movement phase - since I took Combat Action, I can move only one hex."
"Attack declaration phase -nothing."

Now you are close enough to each other to attack. The first player to attack does something like this:
"First action phase - taking my Combat Action, I turn over the first Planned Action card. (If I have a Current Action, return that card to my hand)."
"Defense phase - nothing."
"Second action phase - nothing (I could have taken a Combat Action in this phase instead of in the first action phase, but because I was not under attack this turn, it doesn't matter)."
"Movement phase - since I took a Combat Action, I can move only one hex (if the card doesn't stipulate otherwise)."
"Attack declaration phase - I attack my foe."

Careful! You must check that you have the necessary items for the given action. If not, you have to re-arm in one of the previous turns. When you take an action you don't have equipment for, it is immediately retrieved and you're back in your Standard Action stance - and you can do nothing else this turn, since you have taken the Combat Action. If the character has the necessary equipment but his foe isn't within striking distance, the card isn't retrieved but the attack is still cancelled - and you won't be able to use this attack in the following turns, because most actions can be used to attack only in the turn when they were taken.

Let's suppose that everything goes fine and you declare an attack. Your foe now has several options. Before making any decision he checks your card to find out the type of attack (slash, stab or smash - indicated by the edge, point or ball icon on the left side of the attack box). Then he

examines the defensive properties of his present stance - on his Current Action (or Standard Action) card there is a guess axe corresponding to his equipment, and from it he finds out how many guesses he has against this type of attack. Finally, he checks how many guesses he would have if he were to take his first Planned Action.

When the first Planned Action is offensive, often the Current Action or Standard Action is the best option. Then you would do something like this:
"First action phase - nothing."
"Defense phase - I use guesses from my Current or Standard Action."
"Second action phase - taking a Combat Action (I use my first Planned Action, the Current Action is retrieved)."
"Movement phase - up to one hex (to within the necessary distance)."
"Attack declaration phase - I attack my foe."

At this point, it matters which phase you take the action in. In the example above, you defend yourself by using a defensive action and in the second action phase you can not only take offensive action but also re-arm or plan. Defense by action taken in previous turns in no way limits your options in this turn.

The situation is different when your Current Action is weak in defense (has low guesses) and your first Planned Action is defensive. Then you would do something like this:
"First action phase - taking Combat Action (I use my first Planned Action, the Current Action is retrieved)."
"Defense phase - I use guesses from the action I have just taken."
"Second action phase - I can do nothing, I already used first action phase."
"Movement phase - up to one hex."
"Attack declaration phase -nothing."

Another common situation that arises is when neither your Current nor first Planned Action is very good in defense. You can defend yourself using either of them or your Standard Action. The first case was described earlier, the last two look like this:
"First action phase - taking a Combat Action, I use my first Planned Action, and I retrieve my Current Action."
"Defense phase - I use guesses from the action I have just taken."
"Second action phase - I do nothing."
"Movement phase - I can move up to one hex, to within striking distance."
'Attack declaration phase - I attack my foe (the fact that I have already used this action for defense doesn't limit its attack capability)."
"First action phase - taking a Combat Action, I retrieve my Current Action and put nothing in its place."
"Defense phase - I use guesses from the Standard Action."
"Second action phase - nothing (Careful! Players are often tempted to use this phase to take action or plan because they feel like they did nothing this turn. But this isn't true.)"
"Movement phase - up to one hex."
"Attack declaration phase nothing."

These are the basic patterns of combat. Of course, there are many more complicated situations, some combat or special actions can affect things, but overall, if you understand these examples, you are ready to fight.

Even if you read the rules thoroughly, sometimes you will miss something or forget about some rule. This is not a big problem. It's only a game and you learn from your mistakes.

We have tried to make Arena as interesting and variable as possible, and to give you all the options from the start. It may take some time before you discover all the combinations and fully appreciate all the subtleties of your character. But once you do, Arena is full of vivid, thrilling moments.

We tried very hard to make the characters as balanced as possible. Each character has its strengths and weaknesses. Character A may be better than B, who in turn is better than C, who is, to and behold, better than A - no matter how strange it may seem. The Barbarian, in some players' view, is stronger than the Assassin, because the Assassin requires a more experienced player.

Last but not least: we have a few things in store for you. More characters. Ones that are not limited to quality 1 or 2 - for example, a four-handed giant with quality 4 would be an equal match for the Barbarian with the Swordmaster, or for the Assassin with both Orcs. Some new characters might also wield magic you can imagine how well magic would fit in with the present game engine.

ALTAR is also interested in your views, opinions and ideas. Please, don't hesitate to get in touch - by mail, by fax by e-mail - all your suggestions are valuable and may influence the future development of the game. You'll find our address at the bottom of this page.

I hope that you'll spend many memorable moments in Arena. I hope that playing Arena brings you as much pleasure as designing it has brought me.

Vladimir Chvatil

Game design and development:
Vladimir Chvatil

Card design:
Ondrej Masek and David Spacil
Assassin card illustration:
© 1997 Tomas Kucerovsky
Barbarian card illustration:
© 1997 Ondrej Masek
Swordmaster card illustration:
© 1997 Martina Pilcerova
Orc card illustration:
© 1997 David Spacil
Cover art:
© 1997 Martina Pilcerova
Layout and typography:
Martin Klima
Rachel Carpenter and Nick Pendrell

Martin Knotek, Petr Kotol, Radim Krivanek, Richard Lastovecky, Karel Makovsky, Milan Potrusil, Ivan Stanoev, Jiri Stipek, Tomas Telecky, Petr Tobola.

Published by ALTAR, nam. Jiriho z Lobkovic 14,
130 00 Praha 3, Czech Republic
phone/fax: +(420-2) 736 536, e-mail
Made in Czech Republic (cards printed in Germany).

ALTAR is registered trademark of ALTAR, s. r. o. Arena is trademark of ALTAR, s. r. o.
All rights reserved.


Home page Home

This site is created and maintained by: Carl-Gustaf Samuelsson