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Mare Nostrum: Empires» Forums » General

Subject: Mare Nostrum: Empires - the Neverending Game? rss

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raist anient
Singapore
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So I just had my first game last night with 5P and we couldn't finish after 3.5 hours. We ended up packing up and leaving cos the store was closing. Nobody was even close to winning. And on further reflection, it appears that the game could potentially either never end or take a very long time to end, especially if all players try to balance each other out.

So here are the problems I identified:-

1. Once someone starts to build military, the rest are usually compelled to follow or get crushed. So the resources that could have gone into infrastructure are now going into military, which means you are not getting additional resources in future turns (save for pillaging or occupying buildings. More on that later) to help you push towards getting what you need to end the game.

2. The pillage mechanic -- the fact that you can pillage exacerbates the problem. Infrastructure can be destroyed, which again delays the game end. It takes 3 or 6 resources to build infrastructure, and they give you 1 or 2 additional resources each turn. So you need 3 turns to break even on your investment. But if someone comes along in 3-4 turns and pillages your infrastructure, that's it, your investment is lost and the game as a whole may end up suffering a net loss of resources (3/6 resources goes into building, but pillager gains 1 resource, so if a building is pillaged early, there is an overall net loss), which means game end is delayed, yet again.

3. Now, what about occupying buildings instead of pillaging? Yes that works to some extent, but you don't always feel secure enough to occupy instead of pillage. And even if you do, that doesn't necessarily move the game towards ending. No additional resources are being generated, you are just stealing resources from someone else. Of course, resources being concentrated in the hands of a particular player does make it more likely that that he will win, but this brings me to the next point.

4. This is the most important problem. Once someone looks like they are moving towards winning, the rest of the players gang up to stop it. This makes winning very difficult. And you can't really sneak a win either cos you can't hoard resources. Almost everything is open information - people know what your provinces produce. There was even one point in the game where we realised the trade leader could potentially steal a pyramid victory if he traded well, so we all ganged up to ensure that we don't put out resources that he needed and even if we had no choice, we cooperated to take each other's resources in such a way that none would be left for him.

So it appears to me that if all players play well and they know how to do (4) (which is par for the course in such games), then the game could really play on for a long, long time. Anybody has any thoughts on this?
 
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Jarosław Czarniak
Poland
Gdańsk
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I notice similar problem regarding trade last Tuesday. I can works two ways: either you pay no attention what resources players gather from the board - and then "trade" is totally random or you trace every caravan and market on the board (and count every coin) and then you know everything and can predict way too much. Being between this two extremes makes no sense for me.
I need to play one or two games more to be sure but I have similar feelings about MN as you do.

As you might now MN is heavily inspired by Avalon Hill Advanced Civilization and I'm already thinking if would be possible to implement original AC trade system into MN. ATM I find current "trading" system boring, predictable and kinda "broken"...

 
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Paweł Bedz
Poland
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After 10+ plays (mostly with same people) i did not noticed any issue with game taking too long. Some games were 1h, others were 2h. But it was time well spent and we did not feel the game taking too long. Often after one play we swapped nations and played again.
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Thaddeus MacTaggart
Netherlands
Amsterdam
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Hmmm. Until now, our games all ended with 4 capitals/triple leadership. I can imagine though that after a while players get smarter and more alert. On the other hand I can't imagine that there won't be a single player that isn't able to take advantage of the imbalance and weaknesses that all the military actions cause.

But as I only played 4 games thus far it's too early to tell.
Sir_Yaro wrote:
ATM I find current "trading" system boring, predictable and kinda "broken"...

I agree it's one of the weaker parts of the game, design-wise. But "broken" is a bit of a hard judgement, imo.
interested in how trade works in that other game, though.
 
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Eric Clark
United States
Holyoke
Massachusetts
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Sir_Yaro wrote:
As you might now MN is heavily inspired by Avalon Hill Advanced Civilization


I've played both games multiple times and I have never perceived that to be the case, aside from the geographical area depicted on the boards.
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Brian Lemieux
United States
Michigan
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I've played a few games with 6, 5, and 4 players, and haven't seen most of these issues.

Most players I play with start out buy getting a few military units. I normally end up playing Egypt and get an anti-war pact with the countries around me, and we normally try and help each other out. I often give up some good land for them if I can get Jerusalem.

Most of my games are 2 - 2.5 hours long, and the winner is normally not done by military, mostly by getting the 5th wonder, or the pyramids. I've been close to winning by having the top in trade, civil, and military, but lost at the last second by someone getting the last wonder.

As to the trade, yes, I can see that it is a bit weak, but it mainly is how the player is playing it. When I am top in trade, I often try and make it so people put out what I need, and thus try and get them to put out as much as they can, this backfires often and helps others out too. One of the wonders I always try and get is the one that allows me to put out what I want during the trade (sorry, can't remember what one it is). So if they declare we need to put out 5 items, and I have exactly what I need, I'll put 1 out instead.
 
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Ryan Amos
Canada
Ontario
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No offence, Raist, but you played your first game. I have played both the old version and the new one quite a bit.

Soon people will realize that you don't need a huge military to win the game via two of the winning conditions.

If people have large armies and navies then the other conditions are easier to win as well as you can't lose heroes/wonders and even buy the pyramids. Plus, they aren't buying heroes if they are buying armies/navies and will be behind in that condition.

I think your players may suffer from a bit of groupthink as well which is prolonging the game. But, give it some time. The old version was a 2-3 hour game typically but the new one is generally 1.5 to 2 hours after you have gotten the hang of it.
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Sean D.
Canada
Vancouver
British Columbia
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The Hero/Wonder victory is the timer in this game as you can't destroy, steal or otherwise take these out once they are built. I initially didn't like this victory type, but now I see that it's necessary to act as a timer to end the game. Thread re Hero/Wonder Victory

Cheers!
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Thaddeus MacTaggart
Netherlands
Amsterdam
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Hector131 wrote:
The Hero/Wonder victory is the timer in this game as you can't destroy, steal or otherwise take these out once they are built. I initially didn't like this victory type, but now I see that it's necessary to act as a timer to end the game. Thread re Hero/Wonder Victory

Cheers!

Definitely!

As I expect people to become smarter and "read" the board and tracker better and better I think the chance of a 5 hero ending will increase.
And no, we definitely don't want endless Monopoly/Risk like games.
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Raph Moimoi
France
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This version of the game is far quicker because you cannot block all victory conditions.
Plus Legendary Commodities are random so players will get unknown Resources that you cannot predict (and you cannot look at the discard pile).
2 hours with 5 players is a common game length. Yhe previous version was sometimes a 4/5 hour game !
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