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Mare Nostrum: Empires» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Review of Mare Nostrum : Empires rss

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Paul Ferguson
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Mare Nostrum : Empires is a medium to light, area control, civilization, expansion type game. It employs elegant and smooth mechanics, with some elements that feel all to familiar if you have played a lot of these type of historical themed, start small and end big games.

ARTWORK AND PRODUCTION -

Prior to playing the game, I had not known of this games existence. My first impressions of Mare Nostrum was a positive one. The art work is simple but effective, I do have some issues with the production. The game board could have been about 10-20% larger, so some of the icons would be a bit easier to see. Also a larger game board would prevent some crowding issues in some of the smaller regions that house multiple buildings and camels and units, and in a 5 player game, space is a bit tight. I also found the player screens to be way to small that they are almost not worth using, why bother making a secrecy screen that is almost useless. These are only small issues but ones that really should have been attended to prior to release.

GAME PLAY & SIMILARITIES -

The overall game play is fairly simple, each round is broken into several phases. Generating resources, trading, building, moving units/combat and leader control. The crux of the game is to turn resources into units to get an area control victory or, buying 5 heroes or wonders for victory or, building the pyramid for immediate victory, or reaching the top of the 3 leader tracks (culture, military and trade) for a fourth path to victory.

While playing the game I constantly felt like I was playing a prettier and simpler version of the 1980 Civilization board game. Everything just felt the same, even though combat was different, but not better and there was no tech tree as such, although the heroes/wonders are doing the same thing. I never felt like this was hitting the spot, it doesn't feel like a Civ type game, it is more a game about set collection of goods. The game lacked a deep feeling of strategy.

FINAL THOUGHTS -

Of course not every game has to be a long slog fest, and this game will scratch the itch for gamers in a hurry to get a tiny sized bite of a fully fledged Civ game, but it misses some of the grandiose moments. Overall I did enjoy the game, though it makes me want to play a bigger version of the same thing, as it just didn't quench my thirst that other games do just a bit better.

SUMMARY -

4 Artwork
2 Theme
4 Ease of learning
4 Replay Value
1 Innovation
4 Length
3 Interaction
4 Value for money

Average Score = 3.25/5.0

Recommend it = If you don't have something similar then yes, otherwise it doesn't do anything new.
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Stuart Pogacic
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itmo wrote:
as it just didn't quench my thirst that other games do just a bit better.


Be interesting to know what games you are talking about
 
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Mike
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I don't think this game is trying to be Civilization. What it does do is entertain my group immensely and we love it. I wish the reviewer had enjoyed it more, but luckily there are a ton of games out there to keep trying.
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Paul Ferguson
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pogo_05 wrote:
itmo wrote:
as it just didn't quench my thirst that other games do just a bit better.


Be interesting to know what games you are talking about


Clash of cultures, Civ (1981)
 
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Paul Ferguson
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TheDarkKnight wrote:
I don't think this game is trying to be Civilization. What it does do is entertain my group immensely and we love it. I wish the reviewer had enjoyed it more, but luckily there are a ton of games out there to keep trying.


Like I said, it will be liked by people that want a quick fix. I just didn't see the fun in a game that is basically set collection with a some what slapped on ancient expansion/civ theme.
 
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Manuel Castrillo Alonso
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I always thought of MN as a trading game with optional combat.

I have only played Civilization a couple of times (I can't play 8+ hours a single game that often), but I remember you do collect sets to get the big points and buy the best technologies.
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Erik Stratton
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Happily, Advanced Civilization can now be played online:
http://civ.rol-play.com/ahciv/login.php?horde_logout_token=V...

The website allows us to take the 8-10 hours of playtime and break it up into 5-10 minute chunks once a day. It's also much easier to find 7 other people who want to do that than spend one entire Saturday around a table. I've found it to be refreshing, and it certainly scratches the AH Adv Civ itch!
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Paul Ferguson
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Erik_the_Red wrote:
Happily, Advanced Civilization can now be played online:
http://civ.rol-play.com/ahciv/login.php?horde_logout_token=V...

The website allows us to take the 8-10 hours of playtime and break it up into 5-10 minute chunks once a day. It's also much easier to find 7 other people who want to do that than spend one entire Saturday around a table. I've found it to be refreshing, and it certainly scratches the AH Adv Civ itch!


Great, thanks for the link
 
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Sean Weeks
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Both Civ and Clash of Clans are much, much longer than MN. Mare Nostrum's competition is more along the Game of Throneses and the Diplomacies of the world. It seems unsporting to judge the game on criteria it was never interested in fulfilling.

Moreover, I'm not convinced that the author made a good case. The review doesn't successfully nail down one of the better possible criticisms, namely, that the game sacrifices too much of the civ style in its pursuit of a smaller playtime. I make the same case about Battlestar vs. Dark Moon, Resistance, etc.

Overall, I'm left with the impression that the author disliked the elevator pitch so much that he didn't really seriously consider the game's merits on its own terms. Stuff like "grandiose moments" is rather vague and insubstantial -- not really the meat of a review.

In other words, I find the analysis facile. I can definitely see the seed of a cogent argument here, but there's not a lot of concrete points to hold onto.
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Thaddeus MacTaggart
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Haladras wrote:
Both Civ and Clash of Clans are much, much longer than MN. Mare Nostrum's competition is more along the Game of Throneses and the Diplomacies of the world. It seems unsporting to judge the game on criteria it was never interested in fulfilling.

Moreover, I'm not convinced that the author made a good case. The review doesn't successfully nail down one of the better possible criticisms, namely, that the game sacrifices too much of the civ style in its pursuit of a smaller playtime. I make the same case about Battlestar vs. Dark Moon, Resistance, etc.

Overall, I'm left with the impression that the author disliked the elevator pitch so much that he didn't really seriously consider the game's merits on its own terms. Stuff like "grandiose moments" is rather vague and insubstantial -- not really the meat of a review.

In other words, I find the analysis facile. I can definitely see the seed of a cogent argument here, but there's not a lot of concrete points to hold onto.

Well a 6.5 review of a game that gets an average of 7.9 must be made by someone that has other preferences.

I mean: 2 Theme and 1 Innovation .. if you don't like the ancient world theme (-0.75/10 points) and subtract a lot of points (1/10) for innovation without considering the rather unique balance in spite of the all the asymmetry the game has, how can you possibly get a good score to start with?
 
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Paul Ferguson
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Haladras wrote:
Both Civ and Clash of Clans are much, much longer than MN. Mare Nostrum's competition is more along the Game of Throneses and the Diplomacies of the world. It seems unsporting to judge the game on criteria it was never interested in fulfilling.

Moreover, I'm not convinced that the author made a good case. The review doesn't successfully nail down one of the better possible criticisms, namely, that the game sacrifices too much of the civ style in its pursuit of a smaller playtime. I make the same case about Battlestar vs. Dark Moon, Resistance, etc.

Overall, I'm left with the impression that the author disliked the elevator pitch so much that he didn't really seriously consider the game's merits on its own terms. Stuff like "grandiose moments" is rather vague and insubstantial -- not really the meat of a review.

In other words, I find the analysis facile. I can definitely see the seed of a cogent argument here, but there's not a lot of concrete points to hold onto.


The "grandiose moments" the game to me is missing, are the long build up of a strategy that you employ from the start of your Civilization building/expanding, the push and pull, the struggle to rise up just enough to claim the victory, and this game never provides the tension and excitement. This game just feels like a lucky set of random draws and that lead to a victory. Just because a game has a shorter play time doesn't always translate to a similar or better experience. In this case, it tries to be a Civ type game, with some vague strategy elements that all boil down to set collection.
 
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Paul Ferguson
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Teowulff wrote:
Haladras wrote:
Both Civ and Clash of Clans are much, much longer than MN. Mare Nostrum's competition is more along the Game of Throneses and the Diplomacies of the world. It seems unsporting to judge the game on criteria it was never interested in fulfilling.

Moreover, I'm not convinced that the author made a good case. The review doesn't successfully nail down one of the better possible criticisms, namely, that the game sacrifices too much of the civ style in its pursuit of a smaller playtime. I make the same case about Battlestar vs. Dark Moon, Resistance, etc.

Overall, I'm left with the impression that the author disliked the elevator pitch so much that he didn't really seriously consider the game's merits on its own terms. Stuff like "grandiose moments" is rather vague and insubstantial -- not really the meat of a review.

In other words, I find the analysis facile. I can definitely see the seed of a cogent argument here, but there's not a lot of concrete points to hold onto.

Well a 6.5 review of a game that gets an average of 7.9 must be made by someone that has other preferences.

I mean: 2 Theme and 1 Innovation .. if you don't like the ancient world theme (-0.75/10 points) and subtract a lot of points (1/10) for innovation without considering the rather unique balance in spite of the all the asymmetry the game has, how can you possibly get a good score to start with?


My preferences would be less luck and more strategy. I would love to see some innovation is these games. It all just feels recycled, even the mild asymmetrical races are just mediocre, push the boundaries once in a while, we just end up with the same thing over and over again, just with a new fresh layer of paint on top.
 
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Sean Weeks
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That's much better . . . but still not credible. You mention "a lucky set of draws" despite the fact that there's nothing random about the set collection -- those sets are made from resources assigned to areas on the board and aren't randomly drawn. Furthermore, the value of each resource is carefully regulated by scarcity. There are three ceramics tokens and a dozen grain tokens, meaning that it is exponentially easier to make sets out of the ceramics. Mare Nostrum has jettisoned a lot of the baggage of the resource gathering, the numbers and trading lecture-circuit sessions which drag on interminably, in favor of a simple demand-supply system. It elides that complexity; it doesn't omit it. The notion that it boils down to random chit draws is risible at best. You'll have better luck applying that comment to the dice combat, but that would be a more ambitious thesis.

Complexity is neither strategy nor depth. If that were the case, we'd be playing wargames and rationing pasta for Italian regiments. Again, we need specifics, a clear demonstration of what we lose by shucking this complexity. Right now, "grandiose moments" apparently equates to "more stuff." Right now, I'm seeing a weird species of board game prescriptivism.
 
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Sean Weeks
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I don't really care about overall score. I often champion unpopular opinions myself (Vlaada as my most disliked designer). The public consensus doesn't hold weight here. Whether or not the reasoning stands up does.

I would usually pass this sort of forum debate by, but the reasoning here is so nonsensical to me that I have to raise a few questions. The matter-of-fact presentation doesn't help things either.
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