Gladiatores: Blood for Roses

Gladiatores is a devious bidding and betting combat card game for 2-5 players.
Play as a powerful Editor, owner of one of five famous gladiator schools, vying for control of the colosseum in Rome by attracting the most famous gladiators in history to fight for you in exhilarating arena battles!

Win the game by impressing the crowd, outmaneuvering the other players and showing off your gladiator’s best fighting skills to gain the precious gold glory wreaths of victory!

Each round of the game is an event where each gladiator school gets to bid for a famous gladiator available in the market. The gladiators then enter the arena for a pitched battle to win fame and glory. Hidden tactics, skillful card play, betting on fights, bluffing or just showing off to the crowd, are all excellent options required to get ahead of your opponents, take the champion’s gold wreath and secure the keys to the colosseum.


Gladiatores: Blood for Roses offers no less than eight unique and famous historical gladiators to try out – each with unique abilities and specialist combat moves that change in each game. All main historical gladiator types are represented in game but each of these fighters in Gladiatores blood for roses is a ‘starplayer’ that brings their crowd of fans to favour the school that hires them.

To win, you will need to use your gladiators wisely while holding on to as many victory points as you can. Make side bets on who might win the event, set your gladiator up to take a fall or gain glory by showboating to the bloodthirsty crowd. All is possible as you reap in the glory wreaths!

Quick mode.

Gladiatores normally plays over 3 – 5 rounds depending on time available to the players (3 event rounds is standard) and takes ~1hr (once players know the game). Gladiatores blood for roses can also easily be played as a single battle (taking ~10mins/player) when time is limited.

How to Play Gladiatores: Blood for Roses

Here is Ryan of Nights Around a Table to explain…

Game Info

Age: 12+
Duration: approx. 30-90 mins (~30 mins/event)
Players: 2-5 (base game) – most fun with 4 or 5
MSRP Price: 35.99

Game Contents
10 Unique Gladiator cards
Gladiator market board
5 Ludus boards
5 Ludus markers
5 ludus bidding tokens
144 combat cards (Attack, Defense, Effects)
72 Gladiator specific combat cards
12 Sponsor cards
6 Event cards
25 Ludus specific tactics cards
5 Turn order tokens
20 Wound tokens
24 glory wreath tokens
Active player marker
40 gambling tokens
30 rose petal tokens (crowd favour)
Reference sheet

Download the Setup and Reference Sheet

Download the current Rulebook (ENG – Printer Friendly)

gladiatores retail box

Game Play

Each player plays a famous gladiator school – each with their own unique benefits. Ludus Capua (shown) for example, increases the amount of fans in the crowd for each fight. This will help the player of this school gain enough crowd favour for extra glory during the game. Other schools might give extra cards for additional special training.

Gladiatores blood for roses offers eight different gladiator specialists showcasing the variations between the Murmillo, Hoplomachus, Secutor, Retiarius, Dimachaerus and Thracian styles of fighting. A wide array of specific combat move cards (such as Thrust, Dodge, Feint etc) split between three combat decks (Attack, Defense, Effect) match each fighting style allowing players to try out each one. Each gladiator has their own unique set of 9 combat moves which is then augmented with a random draw from the combat decks – so each time you play, your gladiator will have different combat skills.

Combat cards and Hand Management

Combat uses an innovative but simple ‘counter-card‘ system to resolve combat moves, allowing cards to be chained in complex but intuitive sequences of attack and counterattack. Variable tactics can be employed and devious Sponsor cards add secret strategies to each combat. With careful but audacious planning, these abilities can dramatically change the expected outcomes of battles and make all the difference to the glory gained when blades flash and the blood flows.

Here is an example of chaining counter cards:

Each player takes turns to target any other available gladiator on one-to-one trades of blows and counterblows until a gladiator suffers enough wounds that they are out of combat. The last gladiator standing after these grandes melees is declared the winner of the event and gains a glory wreath. Players betting on the winner also gain glory as do those who have impressed the crowd. Sometimes, it is not about just winning a fight!

Its all for the Glory!

Six different possible events (ranging from bronze to gold) means that each round must be a carefully considered tactical plan – even before your gladiator enters the arena!

Glory tokens are worth variable victory points (VPs) and are scored at the end of the game.


Winning the Game

To win the game, a player must use his gladiators and abilities wisely, gaining as much fame and glory as possible in the arenas to win the glory wreaths of victory. At the same time, a player can become rich through careful gambling on fight outcomes and fame from pleasing the crowd in each event. The player with the highest scoring glory wreaths wins the keys to Caesar’s Colosseum arena in Rome and the game!


Here are just a few of the reviews heaping glory on Gladiatores: Blood for Roses so far…

Future for the Gladiators

We plan to expand Gladiatores in the future with new gladiator types, new combat moves, additional unique sponsors, challenges, and introduce a campaign (RPG style) progression system to raise your game even further. Take your gladiators around Europe to become the most successful gladiator school in the ancient world!

Why not join the gladiatores newsletter here for updates and info about extra cards and new expansion releases for this thrilling game.


A huge thankyou to all our kickstarter backers great and small for helping to make this game a reality. You are awesome!

HONOURABLE SENATORS: Thomas Biache, Marcus Formosus, Chuck Fowler, Panagiotis Georgoudis, Dan Hungerford

PRAETORIAN GUARD: Kieran Arnold, Igor Baranenko, Bart van den Berg, BlackByte, Louise Blackstone, Michele Bruzzese, Akio Serpa Chinen, Brian Collins, Terry Dix, David Engelbright, Brian Ferguson, Jon Gouldin, Skagarrin Icelander, David Khan, Mike Lalande, James Lasseter, Kevin Leirens, Gregory, Jonathan S. McGuire, Paul Munday, James Myers, Frederick Perillo, Rito Rodriguez, Sauro82, Eric Martin Strauss, Lars Thisted, Shane Thomas, Justin Tonna, Pekka Warling, Austin Williamson, Ingmar Zeitz.

Try the game for yourself on Tabletopia

[click the image on the right –> ]


Some rules clarifications follow:

Gaining Crowd Favour Petals

1. Petals for wounding. You ALWAYS get a petal for causing a wound. The crowd likes to see the blood fly! Any petals you get for card play are extra. Also note the variant option to take extra petals from the target gladiator who loses a life point!

Counter Attacking

2. Once passed, can the target react? If the player initiates another attack (e.g. a counter-attack triggered from a card), and that attack has options to stop/counter/react to it (in orange banner), then the target player still gets to continue playing cards (even if they have passed). Its like a gladiator who successfully defends, decides to swing his sword in a counter-attack – then the target player of course will try to fight back again. It is the counter-attacking player’s choice to assess whether initiating another combat from a counter-attack is worthwhile or not.

Turn Order

3. Determining Turn Order. It actually doesn’t matter who takes a Turn Order marker 1st since they are shuffled and all face down. Its whatever works for your group really. (Many playtest groups usually play Bidding order though – going from highest to lowest.)

Wheel of Glory

4. Placement of glory tokens (wedges). Can be placed anywhere on the wheel. But once placed they cannot be moved unless being replaced by a larger or higher scoring wedge (generally only required for longer games – e.g. 4+ events) so that wheel bonuses cannot be triggered a 2nd time. Note: Replaced tokens must be discarded back to the pool available to all players.
5. Default wedges. If the default starting wedges are used to pay for gladiators in the bidding step, these spaces will need to be filled again to count towards completing the wheel. However a better option usually is to take advances (debt from the bank) rather than spending actual physical tokens since players want to be the 1st player to complete their wheel – although note that the player will get this -VP (debt) hit at game end. But sometimes it is worth it!

Bidding Step.

6. Outbidding. There is no outbidding possible in 2player games since only the 1st column is used.

Crowd Favour.

7. Crowd Favour Pool. Once the crowd favour pool for the event has run out, the crowd pleasing actions like LEAP will not gain you any crowd favour, nor will playing your gladiator special abilities. This is to limit the amount of petals players can amass and more importantly put the focus on clever card play early on in the game. Eg. try to use crowd pleasing actions and abilities as soon as possible to grab the fans in the crowd while they are there. This then leads in to the variant rule where gladiators causing wounds/life pts lost get to take petals from the target gladiator – simulating the crowd changing allegiance when they see their favourite gladiator getting hit! Experienced players ALWAYS play this variant as it makes the crowd grabbing more exciting and dynamic. NB: If an event finishes and there are still crowd petals available they all (naturally) go to the winner.

Gladiator Special Abilities.

8. Gladiator combat abilities. The Gladiator special combat ability is a combat finisher so after ‘trumping’ or countering the active card played on the combat stack it becomes the last card on the stack, triggers its ability and the combat exchange between those players ends there.



  • BASH cards in the (1st print) of the game have the effect icons the wrong way around. The Draw 1 card action should be the immediate trigger effect action (thunderbolt symbol)
  • IASON LEANDROS (KS special gladiator) is missing his life points (4).

Guide to the Gladiators

You can download a handy guide to the famous gladiators portrayed in the game here – Guide to Gladiators. In it you will find their strengths, weaknesses and handy tips and tactics on how to play each of them.