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Death or Freedom
Death or Freedom
by Steve Barber Models (2000)
Player Count
2 to 1

Playing Time
10 minutes to 1 hour
  • Wargame
  • Fighting
  • Miniatures
  • Ancient
  • Designers
  • Steve Barber
  • Mechanisms
  • Hex-and-Counter
  • Dice Rolling
  • Family
  • Ancient Rome
  • Gladiators
  • Rating: 7.5/10 from 2 users


    Death or Freedom is a game of gladiatorial combat in ancient Rome, from Steve Barber Models.

    A bloodthirsty, fast playing game that recreates the carnage of the Roman amphitheatres. This game can be played by 2 or more Players and can either be played as one off single combats or as it is intended as Tournaments, where your Gladiator Characters battle for their lives, with heavily wounded victors being retired or succumbing to their wounds after the combat, and your victorious Gladiators battling to become champions and win you more money and infamy.

    The basis of the game, is that you take on the role of a Lanista (proprietor of a Troop of Gladiators), with the sole aim of making as much money as you can out of the spilling of blood in the arena. Each Player starts with 1000 Denarii, (metal coins supplied with the game), this money is then used to buy the Gladiators that you start the first round with, and for placing side bets before each fight begins. Hopefully as you win your fights, you will increase your wealth, and be able to replenish your killed fighters with new ones, maybe even Essedarius chariots or Equites.

    The game has a quick and brutal feel about it, with limbs being hacked off and savage Special Moves that can be used by your Champions. Many combats can be played in only 10 minutes, though more skilled Gladiators, or larger battles may take up to 1 hour. There are rules for Chariots, Horsemen, Wild Beasts, Unusual types of Gladiators as well as for the more common types, such as the Retiarius and the Veles and the Myrmillo.

    The combats take place on a specially designed sandy coloured Arena Playing Area (supplied with the game). This is marked out with Hexes and a special mechanism for Chariot movements. The use of Hexes makes the movement and attacks on the flanks quick and easy to work out. The Arena Playing Area also has Number and Dropped Weapon markers, which can be helpful in larger battles when it can be hard to remember what order players fight in.

    To sum up, I wanted this game to be fast and simple to play. This was difficult to do due to the numerous vastly different fighting methods, but I am very pleased with the results. The game bag contains all the things that you will need to play the game except the miniatures. The rule book has a ghostly sepia colour cover and has diagrams to help explain the harder rules. This game will bring out the tactician in you, as tactics play a vital part as the rounds progress. The more you play the faster it becomes and the more you will find that you have learnt since the last time you played it. So, if you fancy your chances in the sands of the colloseum, try it out!

    –Description from publisher / designer

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