Spartacus – The Serpents and The Wolf

Spartacus – The Serpents and The Wolf

Spartacus: The Serpents and The Wolf
: Gale Force Nine
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Spartacus: The Serpents and The Wolf is a new Board Game Expansion from Gale Force Nine.

One game that has really impacted me this year is Spartacus, A Game of Blood and Treachery. Not only am I a huge fan of the series but the game itself is great, whether you like the series or not.  It is one of those games that has so many satisfying elements in it that I crave to play it every opportunity I get.  However, one of the more disappointing aspects of the game was the player limit.  I prefer games that allow for 5 or 6 players and the base game only allowed 4.

Enter the Spartacus: The Serpents and The Wolf expansion.  Not only does it allow for 5 or 6 players, it brings a lot more to the arena.

From page #1:
“The shadow of Rome has fallen over Capua.”

The two new houses (and thus 2 new players) it brings to the game are House Seppius and House Varinius, based on second season (the prequel season) houses.  Seppius is a highly defensive and insidious house.  It can increase the Influence requirements of any card played on it (thus basically nullifying the card) by exhausting a guard.  They also gain gold whenever someone else gains gold from a scheme.  That last one really had a major effect in the game.  House Varinius, on the other hand, is a rather forceful and connected house.  They can demand support for a scheme rather than request and may gain guards from the discard pile by exhausting three that he has (calling upon support from Rome).  Both houses bring new play into the game while remaining reasonably balanced with everyone else.

Along with the additional houses, the expansion adds 31 new Market cards, and 55 more Intrigue cards.  These are mixed in with the base set, giving a much larger selection of items and schemes for the players to choose from.  A new aspect to Schemes is a new Influence requirement – Higher Influence and Lower Influence.  In this case, the Influence Requirement is not a specific number.  Instead, for example, Higher Influence means you have to have higher influence than the target of the Scheme. Each new card is marked with a serpent head symbol so they can be distinguished.  Most of the cards are on par with existing cards in the base set in terms of power and effect.  A few are fairly surprising, but as a whole they are not too surprising or unbalancing.

From page #1:
“The influential houses of Seppius and Varinius are now vying for power!”

Another big addition to the game is the Primus – the super bowl of arena fights.  This allows for teams of gladiators – 2 on each side – in the arena.  Once the Host has been decided and he has received his Honor, if he has enough Influence, he may call a Primus.  A particular Scheme card may allow for a Primus to be called regardless of the Influence requirement.

The Host must send out 4 invitations into the arena and no house may receive more than two invitations.  The effects for refusing an invitation are the same as the base game.  The Host then must form teams of 2.  If a single house received two invitations, that is considered one team.  Wagers for the Primus are handled similarly except Victory is decided from the perspective of teams rather than individuals.

An interesting aspect to this is Treacherous Gladiators.  Some Gladiators are able to switch teams in the middle of combat.  This can be a particularly nasty result, creating a 3 on 1 battle in the arena.  That can create some enemies in the game really quickly.

In conclusion, this is an awesome addition to an already awesome game.  It improves on the areas of the game that had room for it and doesn’t over complicate the game.  It only makes me want to play the game more.

For more details on Gale Force Nine and their new Board Game ExpansionSpartacus: The Serpents and The Wolf” check them out at their website, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 19

Product Summary

Spartacus: The Serpents and The Wolf
From: Gale Force Nine
Type of Game: Board Game Expansion
Written by: John Kovaleski
Game Design by: Sean Swigart, Aaron Dill
Number of Pages: 12 page rulebook
Game Components Included: 31 New Market cards, 55 New Intrigue Cards, 2 New house cards, 50 tokens and coins, 2 gladiator figures, 26 dice, 12 page rulebook
Game Components Not Included: Base Spartacus board game
Retail Price: $25.99 (US)
Number of Players: Increases base game to 5 or 6 players
Player Ages: 17+ due to adult content
Play Time: 150+ minutes

Reviewed by: Ron McClung