I echo pretty much what Brad had to say.
I finally made it past the twenty contenders to get the gold bricks. The blacksmith turned it into a helmet that was slightly better than two of my existing helmets but possibly worse than one…but, I made it through all the goals without ever having purchased anything, without ever having signed up for the free daily prizes, playing multiplayer, etc.
All three gladiators were level 59. I beat all the cities with two shield guys who could throw and one dual wielder who was always the first target of my opponents, but ultimately, when I was through about 10 of the contenders in Rome, I switched this guy to a shield guy too.
I’ll be honest—I had to do some grinding to make it to level 59, and I couldn’t beat most of the contender combinations. I could only beat a combination if there weren’t any dual wielders and if the shield wielders did not use the shield bash.
Fortunately, grinding isn’t too bad because it’s possible to automate the actions of the gladiators in the middle of a combat, say, after the biggest threat is eliminated.
The idea of using someone to protect a net guy with high speed is a great idea. I wish I had thought of it—I might have been able to beat the 20 contenders at level 51.