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Luke Hector
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Mare Nostrum I had only heard murmurings of in the past. Out of print, not usually spoken of and warnings of “don’t play the Greeks” from a balance perspective. OK, not the best introduction I could have gotten, but then Academy Games took over and ran a very successful Kickstarter for the new edition with upgraded components, updated rules and room for expansion. Naturally Mare Nostrum had a fanbase who jumped in on it and even if you had never heard of it, the publishers reputation for putting out some solid historical titles in the past (Freedom: The Underground Railroad is a prime example) would be enough to generate some interest.

The theme is ancient civilisation building, which is one I can get behind, but lately I don’t seem to be finding many games to satisfy my craving in this genre. Since acquiring games like Nations and Sid Meier’s Civilization and enjoying plays of Through The Ages and Clash of Cultures, the market seems to have dried from my perspective. Most games tend to be pretty forgettable and the less said about The Golden Ages the better (yuck)! So I was keen to give Mare Nostrum a try and hopefully find another new gem.



Designer: Serge Laget
Publisher: Academy Games
Age: 12+
Players: 2-5
Time: 120-180 minutes


HOW TO PLAY


Mare Nostrum Empires: is an ancient civilization building game with area control mechanics, along with resource set collection and asymmetrical player powers. Each player controls a civilization out of the Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians, the Carthaginians and the Babylonians, each of which has a unique starting setup of resources, units, coins and buildings.

There are four ways to win the game:

Build the Pyramids – the most expensive wonder in the game.

Build five Heroes and/or Wonders – essentially an expansion victory.

Control four Capitals and/or Legendary cities – basically the military victory.

Claiming all three Leader tiles (Trade, Culture and Military) – being the highest on all 3 aforementioned tracks at once.

To explain every rule in Mare Nostrum would be beyond the scope of this review. For more information on the rules, you can check out their very useful “How To Play” videos on the Academy Games website: - https://academygames.com/games/mare-nostrum/product/mare-nos...




STONE, WINE AND. . . . HELMETS?


Mare Nostrum is not going to win any art awards, but visually the board looks decent and when loaded up with pieces, it’s a nice sight on the table, if somewhat cluttered and busy at times. The tracks for the leaderships are a bit fiddly though. Constanly having to fish out player counters from underneath one another gets really irritating. The artwork is pretty good though and the sculpts themselves look the part as well. It’s certainly an upgrade from the first edition of Mare Nostrum. The insert could have been better though. Some of the spaces will fit components snug, but the biggest pain is that the insert doesn’t give any indication of where anything goes. Player pieces are pretty obvious though keep them in bags because filching everything out with your fingers is a pain. Resource counter trays vary in size, but you can’t tell which resource goes in which tray at first glance. The remaining trays hold everything else, but again, which section was designed for what component is your own guess and quickly you’ll find tokens loose all over the place unless you bag them up, in which case, why did we bother with an insert in the first place? I suspect it caters for the Atlas expansion, but what if I don’t want the expansion?



You have a useful player board to use as a reference guide for turn order, resource costs and hero abilities (which are the opposite of intuitive from looking at the tiles), though it would have been nice to have also shown what each resource actually was from a thematic standpoint. Yes it means nothing in the grand scheme as you’re just collecting sets, but it’s annoying to hear everyone refer to resources as “helmets” and “roses” and “twirly-thingy”. Also why are Gladiators a resource?

My biggest issue with Mare Nostrum though is the rulebook. For as relatively simple as the game is, the rulebook makes a big hash of trying to explain it simply. You remember those old wargame style books with numbered paragraphs? Yeah it’s a bit like that with different rules dotted all over the place. We missed several key rules in our first game that simply weren’t explained very well and there’s no reference rule aid summary either! Wow!! That should be manadatory in every single Euro game!

So you’re going to have to expect a lot of rules checking when players start asking questions, which in turn drags the game out. The layout needed to be updated to a more modern style with more space given to examples or even just room for the text to breathe! Learning Mare Nostrum ahead of the first game was a chore and locating a decent summary aid on BoardGameGeek is not just recommended, it’s essential!




A COOL CONCEPT IN THEORY


As theme goes, it’s not as strong as I was hoping. For anyone who is a historical buff, you’re going to notice inconsistences with recorded ancient history, but that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. However even with that aside, Mare Nostrum is still a fairly dry experience, reminding me of the feeling I got from Antike II. Yes you’re adding pieces to a board and moving some about, but it’s a pretty abstracted affair.

A lot of the gameplay you’ll find doesn’t really equate to helping yourself win, but ganging up on someone else to stop them from winning. This is the inherent issue you get with multiple victory conditions though. A bigger side effect though is that it drags the game out even longer as the second anyone gets a lead, people gun for him and drag him back to a safer point usually at the expense of their own plan.

I liked the idea of having control over turn order depending on your leadership positions, that was really cool. However it doesn’t quite work as well it could. For starters nobody cares about the culture track. Being able to dictate the order of combat moves is so much more powerful than saying who builds first and even having the trade exchange marker, which isn’t in itself weak, but it’s not game-changing either. I repeatedly saw players simply say “go clockwise from the person to my left”. Also Mare Nostrum prides itself on the “diplomacy” between players, but this rarely took place in any games I played either. People weren’t willing to make deals about the turn order, resources/coins were always too scarce to have anything worth giving anyway.



The multiple victory conditions are nice, except without changing the record, again there’s an issue with them. You cannot succeed at any victory condition unless you have a decent military in play and go on the offensive. They either require conquest or so many resources that obtaining them by trading means alone is impossible. You can focus on only trading/resources as much as you like, but you’ll lose. Someone else’s military will come in (usually the Romans) and decimate you and then they will end up in a better trading position than you ever were because they simply own more territories. And because you’ve lost critical resources, you can’t afford to build back up to re-take your territories. So the multiple paths to victory is a bit of an illusion because you can’t really try different ways to play each faction. You want to avoid fighting this game? Good luck with that.


ONE BROKEN PIECE RUINS ALL


I like how everyone has a unique starting setup and location on the board, but even this causes a problem in itself. If you’re playing Mare Nostrum with a full player count, you’ll notice that the start of the game is pretty scripted, at least if you want to avoid getting butchered anyway, because you will have the same potential threat from your neighbours. If you’re Carthage then you HAVE to get defenses up otherwise Rome will come in and just knock you out of the game (trust me it’s happened and it’s not fun at all to be pseudo knocked out). If you’re playing as the Greeks, as well as the Roman threat, you HAVE to ensure that Babylon doesn’t casually expand all over the top of the map. Every nation has some course of action they must follow to either avoid being knocked out or allow an easy win.



Now if everyone knows how to play Mare Nostrum, this isn’t as big of a deal (though I don’t like scripted starts that go against the way you want to play), but with anyone new, it’s going to throw everything out of sync. Is Babylon a new player? Well watch Egypt rake in so much gold it hurts. Carthage is a newbie? Rome just stomped all over their land and acquired a ton of easy resources. I think it would have helped if the rules included a page where it explains the recommended starting strategy for each faction, that way you could even out the playing field a little. However that wouldn’t solve the issue entirely.
In terms of game length, Mare Nostrum is not a short game by any means. You’re looking at 2 hours minimum and probably much longer than that with 4 or 5 players. This is because as well as the negative play style mentioned above, the downtime can be insane on some turns where players are considering their options for what to build or move. Even the trading phase can take a while to resolve when you’ve got 20-25 resources all laid out for players to take.


VERDICT ON MARE NOSTRUM


There’s a lot of potential in Mare Nostrum and some mechanics in particular I would like to see in other civilization games; namely the bonuses for being the leader in a particular aspect like military, trade and culture. It will be a slow game to pick up though as the rule book is not very good and thus a lot of nitpicky rules checking will occur until you’ve got everything down, especially when it comes to military conquest rewards and timings. It’s also not going to be a short game with 4 or more players as downtime gets high during the build and move phases. Problem is, if you want the most interaction on the board, you need the players, so you have to decide between that and time length.

Despite the potential though, there are a lot of issues with Mare Nostrum. Despite the varied nations, it’s still a pretty dry experience, giving me the feeling of an advanced Antike II without the Rondel mechanic. Balance is not perfect either as it’s far more powerful to be in control of the military and trade columns than the culture one and most of the paths to victory can only be obtained if you go out and conquer nations for more resources. It seems to make the Romans pretty powerful with them clocking up the most victories to date. Mare Nostrum can also be destroyed depending on what other players do. If two players truce or one player doesn’t know what they are doing, it can unbalance the system greatly.

Much of this will be subjective though. An expansion is already out, but I can’t for the life of me imagine playing Mare Nostrum with 6 players. It’s going to appeal to a lot of gamers who enjoy long historical civilization games and with the right setup I can enjoy it, but the swings of fun games to dull games make this a misfire for me – back to Sid Meier it is.


BROKEN RATING – 5 Defeated Legions Out of 10



YOU WILL LIKE MARE NOSTRUM IF:


You enjoy civilization games with an emphasis on military conquest.

You like having varied factions with different special powers and starting setups.

You feel that the balance is fine as it stands – it’s a subjective viewpoint.


YOU WILL NOT LIKE MARE NOSTRUM IF:



You don’t like long games – you’re talking a minimum of 2 hours and that’s with a small player count.

You want perfect balance – culture is a very lacklustre leader bonus and military is essential to winning.

You want a rich thematic civilization game – this is a pretty dry experience compared to others.
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chris thatcher
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I've played 3 games so far. Carthage x2 with heroes and Egypt x1 with the pyramids. I disagree you need military to win.

I also do not find the game that long, but we play games like Runewars etc.

I also had no problem with the rulebook.

I will agree it is a little dry.

Overall I think it is a great game.
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Maarten D. de Jong
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Just for my information, on how many games played is this review based; and do you have prior experience with the original game?
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Patrick Riley
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It seems unfair to knock the game because it encourages investment in military to succeed. That's what kind of game it is. Of course you need to expand your empire to get more resources and naturally this will bring you in conflict with other players. And it definitely is not all about building the biggest military and wiping the map (ala Risk), but knowing when and whom to attack. Based on starting position and leaders, some empires do very well if left alone and you have to be aggressive against them.

I played the original version a few times and this latest version once. I won playing Carthage because Rome wasn't aggressive against me and Greece could not attack me alone without leaving itself vulnerable to Rome. Such is the nature of a multi-player game about empires. It's right there in the title.
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Luke Hector
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<Chris>

I'm surprised someone won with Pyramids, no-one has come close to that yet. Ours have always been either Heroes (most common) or Domination. I think 3/2 ratio. Multi-track victory has been close but once someone hits those 3 tracks, everyone guns on them and it's impossible to keep hold of them all when that happens.

Long is subjective, but for what it offers I found 2.5-3 hours a bit too long when teaching new players. Shortened to 2-2.5 hours with repeat plays isn't bad, but without a good theme it won't keep me engaged. If you're playing Runewars regularly though then lol, yeah length isn't an issue for you! Here's a copy of Twilight Imperium 3! :-)

<Maarten>

5 games I believe, maybe 6. Some will claim that's enough, some won't hence I put that subjective line in the verdict, but if you don't enjoy a game you won't play it 10+ times and those who claim you have to play something ten times to have an opinion (relax I know you're not saying that!) clearly don't actually review games or are blessed with infinite time on their hands but I digress.

As for the original, no it was OOP when I first heard about it. I recall Zee/Tom mentioning that it had even worse balance issues - I hear stories about the Greeks in particular, but that's old days.

<Patrick>

It's not so much that it encourages, it outright forces you to. With a Civ game I like to have a choice of how I want to play the game. Do I want to be a warmonger - go for it. Do i want to sit back and enjoy trading and build up prosperous cities, go for it. But I don't want to be shoehorned into having to go military to do well, especially when two factions in particular in Mare Nostrum have advantages in that field already (Roman/Greek). That's just a personal thing.

With knowing whom to attack you only have a couple of choices anyway. The Romans aren't going to be engaging Babylon for example, they're on the opposite side of the board and likely won't do much for Egypt either. If they do, they're just asking to get owned on their home turf, you only have so many legions.

Now you see, you won as Carthage because Rome wasn't aggressive, which I'm mind boggled as to why they weren't considering you're easy pickings to them and their special ability is downright insane in combat. I lost my first game in the opposite manner, I sat back to enjoy a non-violent path to victory (which I then learnt basically means auto-lose in this game), and Rome just demolished me in military -- though I'll admit, it didn't help that he agreed with his g/f as Greeks not to be aggressive to each other, but then that's my other point. If one faction doesn't do what the game scripts them to do, another faction will have an easier time. Each faction has a role to play in ensuring another faction doesn't spawn out of control and if they don't do their job, they spawn out of control. Greeks don't attack Romans, Rome butchers Carthage, grabs a ton of resources and buys 5 heroes for example.

Of course if being forced to conquer half the board is entertaining for a player, they will love this game and I can totally see that. I prefer multiple paths to victory though and so far I've seen two out of 4 work and both by the exact same means of achieving them.

I also probably forgot to mention in the review about the pseudo-knock out issue. If someone guns for you and you get battered as a result, you have zero chance of winning because the recovery time takes forever. Losing a couple of resources a turn is incredibly destructive on your game plan and while you're recovering, someone else is getting ahead.
 
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Patrick Riley
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farmergiles wrote:
It's not so much that it encourages, it outright forces you to. With a Civ game I like to have a choice of how I want to play the game.


Well, I think that's the problem right there. I don't consider this a Civ game (despite the "Civilization" listed under BGG Category). It has some Civ trappings, but it is closer to Cyclades than Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game.

farmergiles wrote:
Now you see, you won as Carthage because Rome wasn't aggressive, which I'm mind boggled as to why they weren't considering you're easy pickings to them and their special ability is downright insane in combat.


It was due to a couple of factors. First, Rome's player was more of a Euro gamer who tends to avoid direct conflict. Second, I quickly built up fortifications so that he couldn't easily roll over my African territories. He could have put in the effort to take me out, but it would have left him vulnerable to Greece, whose player does tend to be aggressive (and plays lots of Civ).
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Mick Mickelsen
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I have played this game three times. Each time I won with Pyramids. In each game I won by avoiding war. My games were definitely too dry.
 
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Nico
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mickmick wrote:
I have played this game three times. Each time I won with Pyramids. In each game I won by avoiding war. My games were definitely too dry.


What did the other players do?
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Joel Petersen
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We have had more pyramid victories than military. Military seems to be the hardest one to pull off, but I agree that it is a very important (and fun) part of the game. I see it as an empire building game and not as a civ game though
 
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Roger Reisinger
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I think MN:E delivers for what it is. It isnt a heavy civ game, it isnt a heavy economic game, it isnt a heavy war game. You want a bit of all that in 3 hours? Then MN:E is a great fit.

The only part of your review I can agree with is early turn scripting, and it is a concern for me too for long term play. It definitely seems there are best early moves for each faction which will hurt replayability long term.

Ive got 6 games under my belt ( 5 as 6 player games ):

3xEgypt win with pyramids
1xEgypt win with military
1xBabylon win with Military
1xRome win with Military.

Im very surprised anyone has won with Leaders. I can see that being a dry game. If everyone is just concentrating on resources and trading it wouldn't be fun for me either.
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David E
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farmergiles wrote:
I'm surprised someone won with Pyramids, no-one has come close to that yet. Ours have always been either Heroes (most common) or Domination. I think 3/2 ratio. Multi-track victory has been close but once someone hits those 3 tracks, everyone guns on them and it's impossible to keep hold of them all when that happens.


Quote:
It's not so much that it encourages, it outright forces you to. With a Civ game I like to have a choice of how I want to play the game. Do I want to be a warmonger - go for it. Do i want to sit back and enjoy trading and build up prosperous cities, go for it. But I don't want to be shoehorned into having to go military to do well, especially when two factions in particular in Mare Nostrum have advantages in that field already (Roman/Greek). That's just a personal thing.


Your experience is almost the exact opposite of mine.
 
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Steve O'Grady
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I enjoy it for what it is and I would give it 8/10. I have played 4-5 times, mostly at conventions. I have seen wins by Babylon, Greece (2), and Rome, though I cannot comment on the competencies of the convention players. We have mostly played in about 2 hours, sometimes a little more, once less (a 3 player game at home). First few turns are all about the trade off of getting your engine going and getting a defense to oppose opportunistic players, while grabbing vacant land where you can. One of my favorite games.
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David Chapman
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mickmick wrote:
I have played this game three times. Each time I won with Pyramids. In each game I won by avoiding war. My games were definitely too dry.


I've only been able to play once so far, but the game was won by Rome building the Pyramids one turn before I could do it as Egypt. Everyone built strong defences and a decent military, but there was no direct conflict as we ended up in a cold war where everyone was in a position to attack someone else so the first person to move would be jumped.
 
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Brian Hamilton
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Rule book is great.

Very easy game to learn with not many exceptions in rules
 
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Mick Mickelsen
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ZdadrDeM wrote:
mickmick wrote:
I have played this game three times. Each time I won with Pyramids. In each game I won by avoiding war. My games were definitely too dry.


What did the other players do?


Basically fought wars among themselves, or in the case of Carthage, attempt to get each kind of trade good. I felt as if I was just playing an efficiency game of building sufficient deterrence and building the engine necessary to get the pyramid prize.
 
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Luke Hector
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bdean152 wrote:
Rule book is great.

Very easy game to learn with not many exceptions in rules


Some very ambiguous points did arise from the rulebook though (rewards for combat in particular were very badly explained), but its main issue is it has a very illogical layout for explaining the various parts of the game and it's incredibly text heavy. That photo above for example, there's a chart and 2 tiny pictures on a full two page spread, the rest is just full on text.

I never saw the point of that "History" booklet either. Your game is too dry to warrant trying to show there is theme present by adding a history lesson into the mix.
 
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Luke Hector
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Lowecore wrote:
I think MN:E delivers for what it is. It isnt a heavy civ game, it isnt a heavy economic game, it isnt a heavy war game. You want a bit of all that in 3 hours? Then MN:E is a great fit.

The only part of your review I can agree with is early turn scripting, and it is a concern for me too for long term play. It definitely seems there are best early moves for each faction which will hurt replayability long term.

Ive got 6 games under my belt ( 5 as 6 player games ):

3xEgypt win with pyramids
1xEgypt win with military
1xBabylon win with Military
1xRome win with Military.

Im very surprised anyone has won with Leaders. I can see that being a dry game. If everyone is just concentrating on resources and trading it wouldn't be fun for me either.


Leaders has been the easiest from us. All you need is enough resources/coins to afford a leader for 5 turns straight, all of which are cheaper than the Pyramids. Turtle up, grab resources and survive any attacks. Greeks in particular defend so well on this tactic and Carthage if you follow the scripted start of "build forts vs Rome ASAP" are excellent at the trade.
 
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Thaddeus MacTaggart
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After 10 3-player games:

Rome – 4 cities
Greece – 3 leaderships
Greece – 3 leaderships
Greece – Pyramids
Greece – 4 cities
Carthage – 3 leaderships
Egypt – 5 heroes
Greece – 5 heroes
Babylon - 4 cities
Babylon – 3 leaderships
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Trygve E. Rosenvinge
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I think you're underrating the Culture Leader. I've played the updated Mare Nostrum 4 or 5 times, and the first time, one player won by building the pyramids, the other times people have won by recruiting their fifth hero or having all three leader titles.

None of these victories would have been possible without the Culture Leader title, because timing is everything in the final turns of the game.

- Being culture leader, means you get to purchase control markers before anyone else, or you might want your neighbours to go first, in case you need to prepare for an attack.
- Being Culture Leader means you'll be able to recruit heroes/ wonders before anyone else, from a potentially larger pool (the five slots aren't refreshed until after the build phase).
- You get to buy trade buildings, which might award you the Trading Leader role in the process, in which case your opponent will need to build the same number of trade buildings plus one to get it back, which is much harder to do.
- If you get both Trade and Culture leader roles, then it's pretty easy to get the Military leader title as well. Or you can stack up the trade to ensure you get to recruit those heroes you need to win, or the pyramids, before anyone else gets to make those purchases.
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Luke Hector
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We just never made much use of it. Majority of the time players would just let it go clockwise round for ease - though I think those players weren't enjoying the game much at the time, which is understandable. Leaders never really tended to come under tension as most players wanted a different leader from others and by the time you get to 3 leaders, you're only concerned about having a leader to buy period just to get to 5 quickly. Our final turns haven't tended to end so close to warrant the timing thing either, or at best it's been between 2 players going for completely different objectives anyway. It's certainly not useless, but being able to dictate the trade goods can help/hurt a lot and easily the Military was so powerful in every game it got used as it gave the attacker such an advantage over his unlucky defender.

Looking back on it more, I think the biggest killer for me isn't the dryness, I can live with that, I think it was the scripted beginnings and the fact that one bad/new/colluding player can ruin the whole balance of the game. "Fragile" is the word I'd use, it has the potential to be great, but can easily break.


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Thaddeus MacTaggart
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farmergiles wrote:
Leaders has been the easiest from us. All you need is enough resources/coins to afford a leader for 5 turns straight, all of which are cheaper than the Pyramids. Turtle up, grab resources and survive any attacks. Greeks in particular defend so well on this tactic and Carthage if you follow the scripted start of "build forts vs Rome ASAP" are excellent at the trade.

You mean heroes/wonders? :-)

It all depends on your opponents. If they work together to destroy some of your markets or cities, you suffer a serious setback. As you only have 8 legions and 5 fortresses, it's impossible to stop any combined attack. Even as Greece.
 
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Michael Phebus
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Several large disagreements. Like in the range of Tom Vassel not liking Terra Mystica (what?!?) disagreement.

First, I like the art work a lot. It is gorgeous. Are we looking at the same game/components?

Second, the rule book is GOOD. Actually, quite good. The combat is NOT confusing. Roll dice, one per Legion in Land Battle, one per Trireme in naval battles. Add five if you have a Fortress. Divide that result by five (round down). This is the number of hits. Subtract one hit for the side with a Fortress, if any. Eliminate one unit per hit (owner decides which).
Are we looking at the same rule book?

Third, culture leaders DO matter. I'm tempted to do a distance diagnosis and call this group think. But the wonders/heroes are not the same, and vary further depending on your strategy/starting power/desired win condition, game situation, and so on. So it can be critical who purchases first. Right now I'm in love with the Hanging Gardens. Being able to keep up to two recourses EACH turn when the others' unused recourses rot can be huge, almost regardless of which track you're shooting for.
Or you can choose to go last in order see if your pesky neighbor is bulking up on legions, so that you can respond accordingly. Just telling a potential military rival that if he builds legions, so will I, while the other players are blissfully developing can be a good deterrent.

I agree that incompetent play or unfair team play can break this game. This is also true of most any multiplayer game. We speak of the social contract of gaming for a reason. When it is not followed, it stinks.

Finally, this is NOT a Civ development game like Sid Meier's Civilization, which I love but hardly ever get to play due to its complexity. Antike II is more of a civilization game, and is a bit of a bridge between SMCiv and Mare Nostrum (and is a great game!). Mare Nostrum is at its heart a 2X (expand, exploit) with a strong military aspect, which you can dilute to some degree with the Jerusalem (culture) and Syracuse (trade) modules from the Atlas expansion. You can use either, or both. Want a really military driven game? Just add the Troia expansion and let the swords clash!

There are lots of really cool things going on, and what with the various player counts, varied player powers, and now, the variable modules from Atlas, and you have a game of incredible re-playability.

In my opinion.
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John McCloud
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Modesto
California
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There are a lot of things I also disagree with in this review.

Time: I taught a 6 player game at a con with all new players and it took less than 3 hours. My last con game was 4 players and it was under 2 hours.

Military: This is so NOT a game focused on military conquest. The review's comment on needing military to go on the offensive is patently untrue. People really need military to slow down other players. If you just let someone like Carthage or Babylon sit back and develop their Trade or Culture, they WILL win. Carthage only needs one additional territory (probably Garamantia) and people willing to trade with them to win this game. They are one of the easier factions to play. Just build up your defenses and Trade. I have seen building the pyramids happen 3 times. In my last con game, the other (newer) players waited too long to attack Egypt (me) and I was able to build the pyramids on the next turn.

Rome CAN attack Babylon or anyone else if they want to. In fact they probably will attack the eastern Med if they want a military victory. Ships enable you to do this. One of the Academy Games pre-release session reports mentioned Atlantis winning by taking Troy using ships that stretched across the board. However, I think it is harder to win using military because you have to be judicious with your forces. Go all out and other nations can launch a devastating counterattack.

Rules: This game is simple to teach if one person knows the rules. You just follow the excellent player aids. There are some rough spots in the rulebook, but most of it is good. This review's mention of every Euro game needing a rule aid summary is ridiculous. That is something every Ameri-game needs. This game doesn't need a rule reference. It is fairly straightforward.

Insert: I have found the insert to be excellent. It also holds everything from the expansion. I just need a label maker to mark where each resource is located so I don't have to take them all out of the box for each game.

Fiddliness: I think the fiddliness of the Leader Track is exaggerated in this review. Just alter the track during the Leadership phase rather than constantly.

Summary: The main points I completely disagree with are military being essential to winning and the length of the game.
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Luke Hector
United Kingdom
Portsmouth
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Including setup and takedown? ;-) Most people like to forget about that rather important part of playing a board game.

Sounds like Carthage has a scripted strategy to win. That seems to be the only way Carthage did remotely well since. It's pretty shared among many that the game is pretty scripted. Don't set up in a certain way or ignore your neighbour, and it all falls apart.

Every game needs a rules reference. Anything that helps the player to remember specific key rules is an aid and it's not like it's a massive cost to put inside the box. To simply only assume an Amerithrash game needs it (which tend to have simpler rules) sounds very biased. Also your first comment might as well have said "you can't teach" under that hidden veil.

It holds everything, but not in any specific manner. A label marker will help, but that's not part of what's supplied inside the box. If you have to amend the insert to make it work, it didn't work in its original form.

Altering the track only end is even worse. That was how it was done in the first game. And all it did was make the game stop and start as the tracks were re-calculated based on what had happened throughout the team. It's one of the reasons (among many) the game took so long that time. Adjusting the tracks as you went is fiddly, but it's less time-consuming.

Also it seems my response to Michael didn't post...................let's go back.


Yes we're looking at the same game. And the board is probably the only half decent looking thing and it's basically just a basic map with water on it. It's functional, but gorgeous is pushing it. I give you the board to Pillars of the Earth - that's gorgeous.

You misunderstand about the rulebook for combat. I'm not referring to the rules to combat mechanics, I'm talking about the rules for combat resolution for the victor. The 3 options the winner gets are so poorly worded. Not that it matters as usually most people pick the same option every time.

The Hanging Gardens certainly did seem close to OP-ness, it's certainly been a first priority buy for anyone when it gets revealed in the early game.

A lot of the time, the Culture leader choosing first was only concerned about his neighbour and occasionally you got the scenario you described. Mainly the Culture leader would be someone else or the threat would be empty. If you build legions Rome, so will I. Good, because my Legions are better than yours. Have fun!

A lot of multiplayer games actually can survive a team up, because the mechanics aren't so reliant on everything working in sync. In Mare Nostrum, because of the scripted nature of it, it's always balancing on a tenderhook.

Unfortunately I'm not concerned with the expansion - certainly from what you would describe though I would leave the shrink wrap on the Military module and use the other two. But the base game has to be good first for me to pick up an expansion.

Certainly it's only 2X's more akin to Exterminate and Expand rather than Exploit, but maybe you can go 2.5X.

The variety is not that vast. a few minor player powers aren't enough. But it is better than some dry Euro's. Though you mention Terra Mystica, I'd play that in a heart beat over this game. . . . . though it hasn't left the shelf in a while - Dry games aren't as appealing.
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Aaron Bredon
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Jersey City
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farmergiles wrote:

Sounds like Carthage has a scripted strategy to win. That seems to be the only way Carthage did remotely well since. It's pretty shared among many that the game is pretty scripted. Don't set up in a certain way or ignore your neighbour, and it all falls apart.

This version of the game is much less scripted than the original - once you get good at this game, you can win in almost any way with any empire, and often the victor is the player who finds an unusual vulnerability to exploit.

The building and movement rules mean that any player who is collecting lots of resources is vulnerable to attack by any other player, even completely across the board. If Egypt ignores Babylon, Rome, Carthage and/or Atlantis might decide to even things up.
 
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