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Mare Nostrum: Empires» Forums » Rules

Subject: Pyramid Victory on Turn 3 rss

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Reg Wilton
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Only played our second game last night and Egypt won on turn 3, without much difficulty. Picked up the temple for an extra gold on turn 1, saved 2 gold on turn 2, traded for 3 gold in the market and used Cleopatra's power to use a good for the 12th gold.

There were a number of 'right conditions' to make this happen, however, it wasn't that difficult. Egypt could also have snapped up another city on turn 2 to make it easier.

I don't think it would be as easy to get 12 goods, but the coins seems too easy.

We are thinking of removing the pyramid victory condition or increasing the coin cost to 14. Any else run into this and house rule a solution?
 
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Jeremy Kidder
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"traded for three gold in the market"
Once you all saw his turn one purchase (combined with Cleopatra's starting power) it was foolish to allow this to happen.
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Jim Patterson
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More than most games, this is one where the players have to serve as the primary balancing mechanism. It's fundamentally a trading game, and it sounds like trades were conducive to an early Egyptian win. If memory serves, the earlier edition had an option for a 13-coin pyramid build, so it's not unheard of, but I have no sense of what the impact would be on this edition.
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Paul Sauberer
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"We played poorly so we need to change the rules to keep allowing us to play poorly instead of learning to get better."
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Przemyslaw Kozlowski
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In the games I played, we almost never saw 3 gold available in a trading session and it traded extremely quickly to different players when it was available.
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Steven Townshend
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In Mare Nostrum, trade is a strategy that works toward two of the game's four victory conditions. Traditionally in board games, players are used to blocking one another's efforts to achieve military/strategic victories; when one player's soldiers muster on the board, the other players react, protect themselves, and stop that player from winning. In Mare Nostrum, a player who begins accumulating lots of key resources is essentially doing the same thing.

New players to Mare Nostrum don't get this right away since resources are hidden and everyone just wants to build and mind their own business. It takes a dissatisfying 45 minute pyramid win to realize that part of the strategy of the game lies in trade.

Check out this thread (game three) for a discussion on this topic: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1590464/first-two-games/pag...

That's where it first happened to me and I began to understand (thanks to Aaron's coaching) the secrets of trade strategy.

Once I began teaching trade strategy, games went from an average 1.5 hour play time to a 2-3 hour play time. They also got a lot more interesting and intense, as players chased leaders, denied trade, started building military, and occupying and pillaging.

These days if I want to introduce the game quickly to new players, I teach the rules but don't go into deeper discussions on strategy. If there's time and interest, I teach trade strategy. Those games are pretty intense.

Anyway, being the victim of a 45 minute pyramid win is a good place to be because it teaches you what you need to do to prevent that. Don't give Egypt all the coins they want and/or take some of them before Egypt gets them. In our case, don't constantly trade with the trade leader and give them first pick of all resources--because they will use that advantage to build the pyramids. Holding back a rare resource that someone close to building the pyramids wants/needs is also key.
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Sean D.
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Where were the Babylon and Carthage players threatening with invasion?

I suggest that you play the game at least 5 more times before you make any rules changes. Just see if the problem continues, then modify it.

Cheers!
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Reg Wilton
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Thanks for the helpful posts and the troll posts. We play with a group of players with varied strategic levels, and yes, we are all still learning the strategies of the game. Wasn't looking to make a brash house rule change, though I don't know why anyone would be so upset about our house rules when they don't play at our house, just looking to see if others had similar experiences.

Thanks!
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Paul Schroeder

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I always tell new players - "Don't ever put coins up for trade unless you are forced to, or have a very important strategic reason to do so".

Is this a good rule of thumb? The only reason to trade coins seems to be to try and get a multiple of 3 resources (Being Rome, Carthage, Atlantis, or Maybe Persia). This seems counter intuitive to me though, because you could save the coins till the next turn(s) anyway until you get a multiple of three.

I know there is the advantage of getting an extra production of resource or coin up front by using the resulting traded resources for a city or camel, but putting a coin out would almost always would help another player in the game do the same thing to a better degree. Such as, you would probably be helping Egypt, Persia, or Greece most likely finish an extra building (in essence boosting a coin hungry nation even faster).

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?
 
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J
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Saving coins vs putting them up for auction is really situation dependent. One nice thing about coins is if you have 1 or 2 you can save them and if you have 3 you can spend them so you never end up being forced to waste them.

As others have said Mare Norstrum is very very much a game where balance comes from the players and all players must be aware of who is currently a threat and how to stop them.

This leads to an unfortunate situation where all players at all times must be aware of how close people are to winning and how best to go about stopping them be it through military action or trading properly.

The reason I call the situation "unfortunate" is not because this is a bad mechanic and by all means if all players are actively doing this the game can be quite enthralling. I call it unfortunate because it almost forces the better players to point out these things to weaker players so that unaware weaker players don't hand the game to someone about to win.

The last game I played was with a handful of new players and being the only player present capable to recognizing all player's positions I had to constantly point out just how close various players were to winning and how to avoid simply handing them the game.
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Aaron Bredon
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Reimius wrote:
I always tell new players - "Don't ever put coins up for trade unless you are forced to, or have a very important strategic reason to do so".

Is this a good rule of thumb? The only reason to trade coins seems to be to try and get a multiple of 3 resources (Being Rome, Carthage, Atlantis, or Maybe Persia). This seems counter intuitive to me though, because you could save the coins till the next turn(s) anyway until you get a multiple of three.

I know there is the advantage of getting an extra production of resource or coin up front by using the resulting traded resources for a city or camel, but putting a coin out would almost always would help another player in the game do the same thing to a better degree. Such as, you would probably be helping Egypt, Persia, or Greece most likely finish an extra building (in essence boosting a coin hungry nation even faster).

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?


The worst case one can be in is to have 1 coin and 2 resources left over after building - you lost a build and have to discard 2 resources (and you are only saving 1 coin for next turn). The best case is to have 2 coins and 0 resources left over.

On the first turn, if you are anybody other than Egypt, you probably want to end up with either 3 or 0 coins for building purposes. Carthage - being trade leader - may be able to give away 1 coin, depending on how trade went. This will require some coins to be traded on the first turn. Since there is no danger of Egypt buying the Pyramids on turn 1, this is safe.

On later turns, players are going to want to end up with 0, 1 or 2 extra coins after the build phase, depending on their planned builds and the number of resources they produce. Based on that plan, they may need to either put out 1 coin, or plan to take 1 coin in trading. Any more than that is a risky gambit.

If a player is trying to build a Hero or Wonder, they need to put out rare resources so that other people take those resources from them. This in turn allows them to choose resources they don't produce in order to get enough unique resources or coins to meet the build requirement.

If a player is trying to build military, they want to put out fewer rare resources, since they only need sets of 3.



My starting goal on the first turn is to increase production by 2. Here are some ways to accomplish this:
Control a province with 2 caravan spots, build 2 caravans (3 sets of 3) - almost everyone can accomplish this. (Babylon can control a province and build a city and caravan for 2 sets of 3)
Control and build a Legendary city (2 or 3 sets of 3, depending on whether you have to build a trireme - Babylon only needs 1 set of 3)
Build a market on a province with 2 caravans (1 set of 6) - only Rome and Carthage can accomplish this.
Babylon can control 2 provinces and build 2 cities or caravans. (3 sets of 3)

This growth allows saving 2 coins on turn 2, to maximize resources on turn 3, and gets your production up enough to start buying heroes and wonders while still building other things.
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Steven Townshend
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allstar64 wrote:
The last game I played was with a handful of new players and being the only player present capable to recognizing all player's positions I had to constantly point out just how close various players were to winning and how to avoid simply handing them the game.


I'm happy that diplomacy and table talk are actually written into the rules/encouraged, even though there's not a mechanic for it. This way, you really can feel free to say, "Carthage is going to dominate us all unless we band together to stop them," and point out how close Carthage (for example) is to a win... Keeping in mind that while you all try to stop Carthage, this will likely cause another player in the game to rise in power. Having read Some ancient world history lately, this is kinda how that happens (i.e. The rise of Persia after the destruction of Elam by Assyria, followed shortly after by the destruction of Assyria by the Medes, Persians, and Chaldeans, followed shortly after by the fall of Babylon by the Medes and Persians and then the overthrow of the Medes by Persia--just to name one example).

In any case, in this game I feel that table talk and shifting alliances are part of the experience, whereas in some other strategy games where it's more apparent who's winning, I really dislike that element since in those games it can come down to a charismatic player bullying others into helping him win. In the shorter Mare Nostrum, if you don't stop a leader you'll all lose very quickly.
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J
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Drammattex wrote:
allstar64 wrote:
The last game I played was with a handful of new players and being the only player present capable to recognizing all player's positions I had to constantly point out just how close various players were to winning and how to avoid simply handing them the game.


I'm happy that diplomacy and table talk are actually written into the rules/encouraged, even though there's not a mechanic for it. This way, you really can feel free to say, "Carthage is going to dominate us all unless we band together to stop them," and point out how close Carthage (for example) is to a win... Keeping in mind that while you all try to stop Carthage, this will likely cause another player in the game to rise in power. Having read Some ancient world history lately, this is kinda how that happens (i.e. The rise of Persia after the destruction of Elam by Assyria, followed shortly after by the destruction of Assyria by the Medes, Persians, and Chaldeans, followed shortly after by the fall of Babylon by the Medes and Persians and then the overthrow of the Medes by Persia--just to name one example).

In any case, in this game I feel that table talk and shifting alliances are part of the experience, whereas in some other strategy games where it's more apparent who's winning, I really dislike that element since in those games it can come down to a charismatic player bullying others into helping him win. In the shorter Mare Nostrum, if you don't stop a leader you'll all lose very quickly.


Exactly. In fact one player (jokingly) said I was telling players every turn how to stop her. She was in fact Egypt and I would announce every turn how many possible coins she had (2 + #produced + 1) and thus show everyone how many coins we could safely trade to her. Now I did this very fairly as Carthage, Rome and Egypt were all close to winning in their own right (game ended per-maturely so no resolution, I wasn't able to solidify my own attempt at winning prior to this so I was never a noticeable "threat" during the game though I did have plans, evil evil plans devil)

Above abredon laid out how several Factions on turn 1 try to get 0 or 3 coins. I took it a step further by actively asking Rome and Carthage on turn 1 (the 2 factions which start with 1 extra coin) if they were planning on putting their coin out so I Greece (who has 5/ 3+2 coins) could coordinate with them so all of use could get our proper number. They were suspicious though I simply explained that I was trying to coordinate the best outcome for both of us.

Table talk being allowed is a powerful weapon most players are not used to dealing with as most players are way too used to being secretive and trying their darnest to hide as much info as possible rather than making deals to benefit themselves. They don't realize that if I initiate and make 4 deals with 4 different players to make 1 point apiece I'm going to end up with 4 points when they all only end up with 1 if they don't initiate deals of their own.
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Steven Townshend
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allstar64 wrote:
Table talk being allowed is a powerful weapon most players are not used to dealing with as most players are way too used to being secretive and trying their darnest to hide as much info as possible rather than making deals to benefit themselves.


Indeed. I like it in games that encourage it in the rules, and despise it in games that don't. Some of the games I've been playing lately have mechanics or advice for it: MARE NOSTRUM encourages it in the rules; ECLIPSE uses an ambassador mechanic and includes an option for team alliances; FIEF is all about diplomacy, marriage, conniving, and backstabbing. In SHOGUN, on the other hand, I've seen player alliances (not mentioned in the rules) effectively ruin the game for the player outside the alliance.
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Dave Turcan
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I support your removing the Pyramids as win conditions like that are pure cheese. Also, don't feel intimidating by fools commenting on how you're not "playing the game right" by being the balance. It's your game, you guys play it how you want. House rule the shit out of it and make it your own. You've paid your right to do so with cash.

I'm interested to know how the game goes without the Pyramids.
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Paul Schroeder

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BootYourFace wrote:
I support your removing the Pyramids as win conditions like that are pure cheese. Also, don't feel intimidating by fools commenting on how you're not "playing the game right" by being the balance. It's your game, you guys play it how you want. House rule the shit out of it and make it your own. You've paid your right to do so with cash.

I'm interested to know how the game goes without the Pyramids.


I think everyone's point here is not that he was modifying the rules, but the reasons he was using the justify the modification. Mainly, changing the rules after the very first game you play is usually not a good idea since you have no deep understanding of the mechanics in the first place.

In my group, we've played about 5 games and only two have been pyramid wins. The list is as follows:

Pyramid Wins: 2
Hero Wins: 1
4 Cities Wins: 1
Track wins: 3

The first game was a pyramid win in our group too, but it seems that a lot of people have reported pyramid wins for the first game because people generally don't understand the trading dynamic in their first game very well. If someone was to remove this win condition, it would remove that first game learning experience for players (to their detriment). I also believe it would most likely be irrelevant to remove it after having already understanding the trading dynamic in the first game. Most people after the first game will understand how trading can lead someone else to the Pyramid victory condition.

(Edit - Updated win totals after two more games in the last few days. Oddly enough, track wins seems to be the most common for us, but I read it's the least common for many other people)
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Steven Townshend
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Reimius wrote:
I think everyone's point here is not that he was modifying the rules, but the reasons he was using the justify the modification. Mainly, changing the rules after the very first game you play is usually not a good idea since you have no deep understanding of the mechanics in the first place.

...

The first game was a pyramid win in our group too, but it seems that a lot of people have reported pyramid wins for the first game because people generally don't understand the trading dynamic in their first game very well.


^ This.

In explaining the game the first few times, I said, "This is how trading works. I don't understand the strategy, but this is what you do."

It took that shocking 45 minute pyramid win (and a conversation here) to understand the strategy.

In retrospect, I'd probably add a note in the rules to explain not just the rules of trade but the strategy behind it as well.
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Armand
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I've only played a few turns solo to lock down the rules, but it looks like it's going to be like Cyclades in this regard: Everyone works together to block everyone else's win conditions as they arise, but eventually the game can't support the weight of so many possible different victories and someone slips though for the win.

I'm very much hoping that turns out to be the case, as it's the best aspect of Cyclades, which has been, since my first play, my favorite game.
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Ben Rubinstein

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doctoryes0 wrote:
I've only played a few turns solo to lock down the rules, but it looks like it's going to be like Cyclades in this regard: Everyone works together to block everyone else's win conditions as they arise, but eventually the game can't support the weight of so many possible different victories and someone slips though for the win.

I'm very much hoping that turns out to be the case, as it's the best aspect of Cyclades, which has been, since my first play, my favorite game.


Yes, it's definitely very similar in that regard. It is, however, a bit more difficult to gauge how close people are to a win. Which I'm not sure is a good thing.
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Armand
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epilepticemu wrote:
doctoryes0 wrote:
I've only played a few turns solo to lock down the rules, but it looks like it's going to be like Cyclades in this regard: Everyone works together to block everyone else's win conditions as they arise, but eventually the game can't support the weight of so many possible different victories and someone slips though for the win.

I'm very much hoping that turns out to be the case, as it's the best aspect of Cyclades, which has been, since my first play, my favorite game.


Yes, it's definitely very similar in that regard. It is, however, a bit more difficult to gauge how close people are to a win. Which I'm not sure is a good thing.


Maybe it is good.

In Cyclades I'm always thinking, "I've got this! As long as they don't see my play, I've got this! Please don't see it... please don't see it... please don't see it..."

They always see it. cry
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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We plan to play our usual 'once seen always seen' house rule so hopefully some of the left in the dark issues will go away.
 
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Jon Snow
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I recently found myself a teacher at someone else's house with his copy of the game in a 3 Player. To compromise between laying it all out and not mentioning trade strategy I basically said:

"Some nations have commodity income advantages (Carthage and Rome), and others have coin advantages through cities (Greece)."

That worked, and we had a long game, which I eventually won as Carthage, but only one turn ahead of the others!
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Rich Radgoski
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We've played twice and had two Pyramid wins by the same player, but different Empire (Egypt/Coins & Rome/Different). As a owner of the original game, this "seems" to happen easier and faster than I remember in the previous version. This is a trading game, but if there is no conflict (for resources) I see both of these Empires having a strong advantage. In the second game, our Greece and Egypt players were new and didn't want to get into much conflict, so allowed Rome to have all the diverse resources around Italy. He then took over Trade Leader from Carthage who had a strong trade score but not enough to compete with the uninterrupted resources Rome built. Cartage was prepping for war, but out came the 12 diff resources and the game was over. I'm really concerned that my thoughts on this are negative...I hate games that end prematurely - and this feels that way. It seems we all start getting our engines going and our plans in place and BAM the Pyramid comes out of the blue. I know we've got to watch better, and we will, but I'm experienced in this previous version (played many times) and it just didn't seem like you could pull this trick off as quickly...and this player has done it twice (I'd say 5-6 turns)

 
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Steven Townshend
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Arkobla Conn wrote:
I'm really concerned that my thoughts on this are negative...I hate games that end prematurely - and this feels that way. It seems we all start getting our engines going and our plans in place and BAM the Pyramid comes out of the blue.


I felt the same when it happened to me. However, now that we understand how it happens, it hasn't happened again.

I've found that building a military can squash a pyramids-focused player's goals unless they counter. And if they counter, they're spending their resources on defense and not on pyramids; if they don't do that, take their cities, take their caravans (in addition to denying them trade).

This is what I've started to see, anyway.
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Rich Radgoski
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Drammattex wrote:
Arkobla Conn wrote:
I'm really concerned that my thoughts on this are negative...I hate games that end prematurely - and this feels that way. It seems we all start getting our engines going and our plans in place and BAM the Pyramid comes out of the blue.


I felt the same when it happened to me. However, now that we understand how it happens, it hasn't happened again.

I've found that building a military can squash a pyramids-focused player's goals unless they counter. And if they counter, they're spending their resources on defense and not on pyramids; if they don't do that, take their cities, take their caravans (in addition to denying them trade).

This is what I've started to see, anyway.


Quite right...but you can get lulled into your own pursuits of Trade..and then let this happen. I *think* I must make a conscious effort to build Military to ensure this doesn't happen a third time.
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