Now, I don’t claim to the have the greatest tabletop gaming knowledge but I have played a few card/tabletop crossovers in my time and I am usually too dim-witted or the game lacks positional tactics for them to really catch my attention. But in Gripping Beast/Tomahawk Studio composite Jugula! I think I am onto a winner.
The game is simple in premise, up to four players face off against one-and-other with teams of four gladiators each. There are two classes of gladiator – heavies and lights each with unique attack and defence abilities and some have special abilities. Such as being able to throw a fucking spear into a guy that can chuck a net over you (oh no a net, it may be good enough for a fish, but I am no fish ser!). You all face off into an 8×8 grid (see below) and movement is based on your characters skill set. Certain gladiators can move certain distances, some can cover the board in one turn if they wise, others only 3 or 4 spaces at a time.
Needless to say, it quickly becomes obvious which gladiators you favour, what is more surprising is how tactical movement can become – it is genuinely akin to chess. Positioning is everything; if you manage to pin your opponent against a wall you hold a significant advantage (obvious really), if you can get behind opponents they are dead meat and if you can surround an opponent you best believe that mortherfucka going down.
But that is just the surface of the game, you draw a hand of cards at the beginning of the game and you can utilise them for special effects. The effects vary, you can choose to increase your ‘Vox Populi’ giving you a crowd bonus or you can choose to boost your gladiator temporarily, you can even bring back cards from the burn pile and put them in your hand or mess up your opponents hand. Eddie Izzard once said this of recycling – the possibilities are endless and Jugula! certainly keeps you thinking.
Overall I would highly recommend this to anyone who perhaps does not have enough time to trawl through a 40k Codex and who is looking for a more tactical game than perhaps Risk offers. The game that I played took over an hour but I quickly got into another which lasted 2 hours. And yes I won both of them easily. There is also a campaign single player mode which means you can have fun on your own…! All on your own. Seriously though I like that.