Ludus is a business simulation game crossed with a role-playing game, where you play as the head of a gladiator school. In your pursuit of becoming a successful Lanista, you must procure good slaves, train them as gladiators of the arena and put on amazing shows to the roar of the crowds.
In order to be commissioned for new games, you must also pick your friends and enemies carefully as you navigate your way through the deceitful social environment where every pleb, magistrate and senator is looking out for themselves. Socialize with the best people in society, and cut deals with the worst.
The gameplay consists of two phases; the Managerial & Role-playing phase and the Games Resolution phase
During the Managerial & Role-playing phase, you have many options available to you, but only a limited amount of Action Points [AP]. You can upgrade your Ludus and the Arena, hire new staff and set out the training schedule of your gladiators. You may also choose to buy slaves at the market, buy new armour and weapons from the blacksmith, advertise your up-coming games to build hype, visit the bath-house for a chance of bumping into the upper echelons of society (and gain new patronage), visit the tavern to learn about rumours and place unsavoury bets, or carry out missions to gain the patronage of ambitious magistrates. Various events will take place in this phase where you have multiple options to choose from and that affect your social position, the gladiators, your Ludus, or even your personal character. The role-playing aspects of the game immerses you in the role of the gladiator manager, and provides you with a lot of options to fit your player style and helps you carve out your character’s vices and virtues.
In The Games Resolution phase of the game, you take the role of the tactical coach, while the matches that you have set up for the current Games play out in the arena. You shout instructions to your gladiators to change their stance or alter their attacking intensity. The gladiators attempt to follow your orders as best they can, though it is not always easy to get a new order across to a gladiator mid-fight when his leg has just taken a knock from a sledge hammer and his helmet is obscuring his vision and hearing. Your objective is to give the audience a great show whilst not killing off or heavily injuring too many of your gladiators. The gladiators play as either Heroes or Villains, and their aptitude for this is determined by their statistics as well as how you have kitted them out. It is not enough to just fight, the gladiators must excite their audience by doing so in an impressive manner. The excitement of the audience must at least match the hype that you have built up for the games for the audience not to go home unimpressed, and the Editor/Sponsor of the games being displeased with your show.