Dang! First things first, you might have forgot what Gladiator is.
A troop with Gladiator (x) essentially has…
This has +X[ATK] on your turns and +X[DEF] on opposing turns.
A troop that already has gladiator 1 that attacks will gain a stack of gladiator, thus going to gladiator 2, much like the ‘rage’ mechanic… Thus, the more we attack the more powerful our troops become!! This artifact is sort of similar to Command Tower and Rallying Banner at a narrow glance, giving you a quick pep boost to any of your troops that meet the condition of attacking at least once, but goes a step further in providing the stacking bonus with every subsequent swing bringing troops to a level that would leave even Commander P.R.O.M.P.T. in shame!
This does leave us a bit at odds though, it’s hard to benefit from the defensive boost that we would see from the Gladiator stacks on our opponents turn if we’re swinging in over and over, leaving our troops exhausted. Troops with steadfast will gain the most benefit from the Bellow of the Arena in this regard…
So how do I evaluate this card?
In limited, (Draft/Evo/Sealed) I think this card would find it’s way into almost every deck I built given the chance. I haven’t seen the whole set, so I’m not sure what kind of uncommons and commons are going to be tugging at my pick in draft, but it’s hard to imagine giving away an early drop that can sit on the board and make combat math more difficult for my opponents. I think it pairs especially well with the Illuminate mechanic, allowing you to go wide with your candlekin and eventually devastate your opponents board with gladiatorial style all-ins.
Once a bellows is picked up, one could focus on low cost troops that let you go wide onto the board and will still have a heavy impact. The sooner you’re swinging the better! A hyper-ideal situation would be dropping a troop on turn one, two, and then swinging with both after playing Bellows on three.
In constructed, it’s a little harder to accurately describe how valuable this card will be this early into the spoiler season. If we were running this card in our 75 we’d really either be wanting cards that have a “Gladiator Matters” sort of effect, or a combo that let us finish our opponent off quickly after this touched board. It’s really difficult right now to imagine a way Bellows could accomplish this in a way that Commander P.R.O.M.P.T. wouldn’t more efficiently, but I’d certainly love to see some gladiatorial dreadlings…
While I’m not going to definitively rank any card this early into spoiler season, my thoughts are this is a high pick in draft, a card I’d never be sad to see in EVO/Sealed, and a constructed flop.
Fun things to try, though…
Swarming the opponent with Battle Hoppers, gladiator style.
Using multiple Bellows to unleash the true power of the gladiator. (Gladiator 4 every swing? Sure!)
Using Illuminate and Gladiator to combo together… forming Roman Candles.
Let me know what you think in the comments below!