Matakishi's Tea House

A simple little site...

The Plan

This is hopefully just going to be a small project, something quick and easy that will still give some memorable games. I've bought 12 Crusader gladiators, 3 Shadowforge female gladiators and some Foundry animals, 3 lions and 3 bears, as a starting set. I also have a Warlord Games Kenneth  Williams Caesar on the way to add some dignity to the proceedings.

Once this basic set of figures is done I hope to construct an arena and then perhaps get some chariots to expand the scope of the project with some racing action.

I'm planning to use Two Hour Wargames' Red Sand Blue Sky rules for the gladiators and their Charioteer rules for the chariots.

The Figures

I've started with the easy stuff, the trio of Foundry bears and a Northstar panther. I haven't gone for plain sand 'arena' bases for the animals as I want to use them in different settings and I haven't decided if my arena will be just sand yet anyway.

Here are the first of the Crusader gladiators. 

Here are some more and the first of the Shadowforge females.

The final batch of Gladiators.

The Arena

Red Sand Blue Sky uses a simple area movement mechanic and so there's no need for me to clutter my arena with hexes or similar eyesores.

The play mats below are designed and made by Hotz Artworks and show what the arena needs to include. I think these are really lovely playing surfaces and normally I'd be happy to use them for my games but I've set my heart on a solid three dimensional playing area for this project so I need to recreate these in 3D.

I looked around for a 2ft/600mm circular tabletop. Argos used to do chipboard ones for a couple of pounds but they are no longer available, typical now that I actually want one. Luckily I got a circular off-cut from some stage scenery made for my school show which was 690mm across. perfect!

I decided that I wanted a large arena to allow for big confrontations and to be a bit of a visual draw as well. I wanted to include at least one structure to add some period feel and I didn't want a containing wall because it blocks both the view of the action and access to the proceedings.

I finally settled on 150mm squares for my arena areas.

If the fighting area is shunted towards one edge it leaves room for a building containing an entrance gate and important spectator seats on the opposite side. the circular shape of the base board should keep the arena illusion going despite the square playing area and the internal building that should, in reality, form part of the surrounding wall.

I'd like, if there's room, to include some extra side buildings that will be dice towers.

I cut ten 150mm squares from cork tile to see how they fit. The tenth square was added to the centre so it's raised a little bit as befits the focal point of the game. I intend to distress the tiles a little and make the edges 'crumble' like flagstones. they will also be glued with thin gaps showing between them so the grid is obvious during play.

The next stage is to decide whether to make them smaller,say 130mm, to allow more scenery around them. At the moment this is looking likely.

The article about how I built the arena is here:

Here's the finished arena:

2015 Update

This project stalled because the rules I had weren't very good and I couldn't find any I liked. However, Jugula has arrived so I've invested in the rulebook and enough card decks for four players and hopefully some game reports will follow.

I will be adding some details to the arena to make it fit with the Jugula rules better as well.The first change is to add a grid which is easy enough.

After a game or two I'll start to think about how to add Vox Populi tracks if they're needed.

I bought some gladiators from LeadAsbestos because he wanted a tiny amount of money for them. Once they arrived I drybrushed the bases with my basing colours and they were ready to go. Here they are in the new arena.

And here are my original Gladiators.

I did make some Vox Populi tracks after all. I used some Warbases movement trays and wrote the numbers in the depressions so players can keep score with a bead or other tokenwhich will stay in place if the track takes a knock. I'm going to ask Warbases to make me some laser etched ones (when they get back from holiday).


We had our first game of Jugula last night. It was a four player game and started quite slowly as we came to terms with the rules but everything soon picked up. Each player turn is very quick, even if combats are involved, and things move along at a good pace.

Everyone said they enjoyed it. We're going to play again next week and we might split the game into two simultaneous two-player contests with each player fighting the one opposite him. Once our four-player game became a two player game it moved much quicker.This was partly because people knew the rules and the cards better by then but also because there are less enemy gladiators to consider each time.

Early combats proved very deadly as gladiators who hadn't moved were often 'pushed back and wounded' and, seeing as they started with their back to a wall and couldn't move back, the resulting second wound finished them off.

Later combats, once everyone had stacked their decks with Prima Jugula cards and had the crown behind them, resulted in more push backs so it took a degree of team work to manoeuver an opponent into a position where they were pushed back with no options and so suffered a wound. This is a consequence of needing a multiplier of the defender's score to get a result and wasn't unexpected.

So far, so good. Once we've had a few games we'll explore the Ludus building rules and I'll report back.

There's a gallery of large photos from the game here:

Since Jugula includes cards for both Sagittarii and Velites I decided to paint four of each to allow everyone the opportunity to field one or both. I settled on Black Tree Design who had packs of Auxilia Archers and Velites in their Roman range as my miniatures of choice.

Here they are facing off against each other.

I produced some Roman civilians to fill my stands.

If you would like your own set they're available from my Web Store.