Blackthorn Arena – Gladiator Selection and Training Guide

With such a wide array of different styles & genres, I thought I’d share some tips I’ve learned.

Guide to Gladiator Selection and Training

Starting Out

The very first thing you should do is go back to the main menu and open the Role Library. From here you can create any number of starting slaves. While it seems strange to start there, this feature was added during beta at the request of players. Your first 2 slaves form the core of your team, and players would restart repeatedly to get a decent pair.

Open the attributes section and Roll up your slave stats. They start at a flat 30 pts, and you role from 5-10 more. Spam that button if you want, because the most important attribute for your gladiator slave isnt here. While it can be useful to have 10 strength and 10 willpower this is not the game maker, same with the weapon preference which is randomly rolled at this time too.

Your slave will have a pair of ” Genre “. This is their natural talents that will determine the skill trees available and subsequent fighting styles. Some pairs work very well together, while others do not .

I should emphasize that this is the only point you can assign Genre. You can also set the race and sex at this point. The appearance is less important since you can change it later.

Incidently, all the slaves that you create in this library become available as seed characters for the slave market. They will appear with the name & attributes you’ve assigned, with a random race/sex and appearance. I have been naming my role library slaves after their genre-pair for easy identification.

What the Heck Are Genre?

Most of the classes do get clear bonuses from attributes not focused upon, Berserker for example gets bonuses for all six. I have listed those that clearly give the most bonus to that genre…

Gladiator focus: Strength, Agility, Willpower

  • Melee damage experts, with a weight reduction bonus to Medium armor, they can self buff, kick enemies down and spin for area damage.

Commander focus: Willpower, Intelligence

  • Usually the squad leader, he buffs his allies & debuffs the enemy. This commander can also heal with first aid, and even revive fallen comrades.

Duelist focus: Agility, Intelligence, Precision

  • Combat, accuracy and dodge focused, can force enemies to fight him and even disarm them.

Defender focus: Endurance, Willpower

  • The heavy armor expert, with damage resistances and a weight reduction buff, that specializes in drawing aggro, can guard allies, intercept and impair enemies.

Rogue focus: Precison, Agility, Intelligence

  • With the abilities to lurk, reduce their threat and backstab, they can surprise attack enemies. They also use dirty tricks like blinding dust and envenomed blades, and get a reduction for light armor.

Ranger focus: Agility

  • Highly agile & mobile on the field of battle, getting bonuses at short range. They melee and even knock enemies down with their bow. They specialise in multiple & trick shots.

Berserker focus: Strength, Willpower

  • He is all about chasing down the enemy, and flailing at them as rapidly as possible. They also get even faster as their health gets lower.

Marksman focus: Precision, Intelligence, Agility

  • The snipers of this world, they can slow down & concentrate for better accuracy. Allowing them to curve arrows, jump them to multiple targets, knock enemies down and even set them on fire.

You may have multiple Genre, adding more through the coach. Your character will be placed in training and after 7 days learn a new genre, adding it to those he already has. Here you can mix & match creating truly custom characters.

Now You Can Start the Game… Almost

So now you can start your game. I have tried different modes & find that Senior (the default) is nicely balanced. I am old and gave up keyboard bashing a decade or so back so I play in no manual combat mode and concentrate on building my team & let them fight themselves.

Ironman Mode will prevent you from save-scumming to win all your fights, however since there are traps all over the field in many of the arenas, and bad RNG can get a highly trained valuable slave killed for standing in the wrong place too long… I wont use it. Your choice, but not recommended.

In the character creation screen you can use the same appearance selection system to create your arena master and then name him/her. Now finally, you can hit Start.

Eventually after the monologue videos, background and presentation are done your slaves will come out & fight their first battle. The AI will provide them with suitable starting gear, that is based upon their initial stats as well as your difficulty choice.

Creating an Effective Team

Hurray you won your first battle!

Unless you didn’t.

You can now go through your menu & look at your characters abilities & items. At least one of the two slaves will have levelled up, so you can start building. Your first points will probably go to the weapon type you want to specialise in. That is, if it didnt already start with it.

With each level increase you will get 2 skills pts & 3 attribute pts to spend. Attributes cost a base 2 pts per level, while the weapon stats take 1 pt for levels 1-3, 2 pts for 4-7 and 3 for 8-10. 10 is your maximum weapon skill, and each point spent opens a new tier of weapon based skills.

It is generally better to specialise in only one weapon as it takes a lot of time & effort to master even that one. Any points spent in the skill tree of a weapon you dont swing are producing no benefit.

You should go to your treatment center, and assign your injured slaves to heal. You are going to go to market while they do so. This next bit is truly important, and essential to your success. When you travel to market one day will pass and you will be unable to battle with your gladiators on this day.

Each of the three different markets sells slaves, weapons, armor & other items .. with a slightly different flavor to them. When you are done with one market, do not click the Back Arrow at the bottom of the screen, instead go to the menu & select a different market .. you can travel between markets multiple times before returning home .. and only one day will pass.

Use this ability to jump back and forth between markets, take your time now because it will pay off later. The slave markets will have some pre-levelled slaves available for up to 5x the cost of a normal slave (1 gold vs 20 silver) and can be used to help you start to great effect. This can be a gamble, as he could have 10 pts into a skill tree you want, but in the wrong skills.

First Things First

Your slaves left back at the treatment center will heal..slowly, You want to increase that. Gladiators will get injured and gain no experience while recovering, so first thing to do it hire a slave with the Medic ability. You will also want to hire one with the Coach abilty at this time, and this is where jumping from market to market really helps.

You will want a Cook, but you dont need one yet as the only food available is bread & water. Better food & drink will help with health and morale, very helpful once you get established.

You should already have someone willing to Torture his fellow slaves, as that is the easiest way to raise obedience…and not a job you need to assign someone to permanently.

Fnally you can start looking for & buying new slaves to be turned into gladiators.

Once you own them, you may change their names and appearance as much and as often as you wish. Race and sex are fixed.

  • Humans are the baseline character, and recieve a racial trait of fast learner, giving them one extra skill point every 5 levels (+10%).
  • Elves are Lithe, letting them move 15% faster.
  • Dwarves are Son’s of a Rock, and have 25% reduced weight penalty and have increased health regen below 30% HP.
  • Beastmen are Unchained Beasts and gain 20% Melee damage below 30% HP.

All slaves start out geared, sort of. Slave gear is about 1/2 as effective as the junior (white) gear you can get but will still work in a pinch if you are short of funds.

Speaking of funds, try and keep 20 – 30 days worth of cash available, since if you run out of money you lose. You will spend less than 10 silver per day at the start, so 1 or 2 gold coins is usually enough to start.

Can I Start Fighting Now?

The short answer is Yes!

I fumbled with the map to try & locate places to battle, don’t do that. Use the Arena menu on the drop down list on the right. This gives a list of all arenas, and their scheduled events. There are five basic types of event.

  • Exhibition is a team vs team event with 1-4 members all entering and doing battle at once.
  • Tag Match has one member from each team battling at a time, with the loser being replaced with a fresh face until one team or another is completely eliminated.
  • Tournaments have 4, 8 or 16 teams pairing off & eliminating each others as they advance rounds to the final match. This is the spring games format.
  • A Throne match pits two teams randomly, and the winner then has to battle each of the other teams entered sequentially until you have defeated them all… or are defeated.
  • Venatoiones, or beast fights pit from 1-4 gladiators against some random group of monsters. You cannot bet on these fights, but you do get the animal parts when you defeat them.

When selecting a fight, check your opponents carefully. In particular when you start you are weak and will most probably lose any fight you enter. For this reason I recommend that you train a couple days. Slaves will quickly level up their first few levels by just punching a straw-man.

Choose your fights carefully, and take the time to heal up fully between matches. You have 90 – 95 turns until the spring games, so there is no rush. When you have learned the secret of patience, you will succeed.

You will need to keep winning contests to keep that purse full. Make certain to bet on ALL your own fights (unless you plan on losing?) You can only bet 1000 coins (10 silver) on any one fight, with 2:1 the average payout.(less if you are dominating) Early wins will payout from 10 – 20 silver on a win (plus your gambling winnings) so you can literally win only one fight every 3-4 days and not run out of coin. Later fights start paying out more but normally no more than 40-50 silver.

Once you win the Spring Tournament, hosting your own games at Blackthorn is like having a licence to print money. You do not even have to fight in them.

Tips, Tricks & Strategy

Like many fantasy element games the trifecta of tank-heals-dps works well. Defender genre has tank abilities, including some aggro management. Commanders heal & buff and for dps….

My own team also looks historically accurate, as I use a sword & board tank, a DPS with a Lance and a marksman. You will need 4 character to fight the tournament, but you should fill all 6 slots. At least one of those spares must be a tank to backup your main.

Battle damage to real damage conversion was recently reduced, making tournament more survivable. After each round the damage is applied to your actual health, so you can be disabled in one round but still fight the next at full health. The lower your true health is, the greater the chance for lethal damage to occur. I swapped my champion out for the spare on the last fight of the tourney even though she was not disabled, because I wanted to complete the final challenge.

No spoilers, but you do want to complete the final challenge, or you lose access to 1 of the 4 major arenas. These give the best competitions & rewards.

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