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Subject: No fighting, and Egypt gets the Pyramids rss

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George Van Voorn
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Game: Mare Nostrum
Date: Saturday March 11th, 2006
Players: Daniel (Carthage), Marije (Egypt), Elsbeth (Greece), and myself (Rome)

This really is a short session report, but that's because the game was short...

After quickly explaining the rules, we randomly drew peoples. I ended up with Rome, the first good shot at winning this game since I started playing it. Somehow I never seem to win multiplayer games (this one not excluded), but this time it seemed I would have a chance.

Now, people who’ve read one of my threads or my review on this game know I’m always whining about people not trading in this game. Ironically, there was so much trading this game that it was too much, but this will become apparent at the end of this report.

As usual, Egypt started with the Statesman, Carthage with the Commercial Director, and Rome with the General. Greece and Carthage were allowed to do the adjusted set-up. The first few turns trading was already quite high, and Greece built some forts so I lost the General to her. Trading really opened up when everybody had 10+ cards, and that’s when Carthage decided to trade 10 (!) cards. Marketplaces and temples were bought like there was no tomorrow and soon there were no chips left. I built some fleets and one pathetic legion, giving me control of the General again. My fleets sailed towards Egypt, and I was the only one with non-fort units on the map, except for Greece, who had two lousy ships.

Then, the game was already over after not more than 7 turns. I hadn’t even had the time to strike at leading Egypt. She had 4 cities, all with temples = 8 money, she had saved 2 money = 10 money, and using Cleopatra’s special ability she could trade in a resource for 1 money = 11 money. Somehow Carthage did not see it coming, and he declared trading was something like 5 or 6 (again). The stupid exposed money! You can guess what happened and before we even knew it, before my legions could hammer some sense in the Egyptians female-based society, and without even one battle occurring, the Pyramids were erected gloriously in the victories lands of Egypt.

This actually was somewhat of an anticlimax. I play this game because I hate it when people when playing Settlers or something just build on and the one with most luck or the best position gets the win uncontested, well, this felt exactly the same way. My legions were in striking distance (it would have happened this very same turn), but the Director of Commerce was a little bit overeager. Oh well...
 
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Thomas Eager
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cool Your experience is not uncommon. It is NOT however, an indicator that the game is broken or unbalanced. Rather it signifies that there are depths and subleties to this game that are not immediately apparent to novice players. This knowledge comes only with experience.
Let me hip you to the first unwritten rule of Mare (which, BTW, my group ALSO learned the hard way): NEVER LET THE ROOKIE PLAY CARTHAGE!
Carthage is the MOST difficult civ to play, IMO. Because the Carthaginian (as Director of Commerce) MUST keep a sharp eye on his opponents and try to drain valuable resources from them. This is a difficult and delicate operation. In the early stages, Carthage MUST demand that AT LEAST THREE cards be traded first turn (without the Expansion)--gradually increasing the number over future turns as Egypt gains more tax. This serves to prevent the Egyptian player from creating sufficient sets to build those hefty cities which can allow an early runaway victory. Keep the trade-count high enough that Egypt HAS to offer some of her taxes for trade (and then TAKE them, offering only goods in return), and the "unstoppable" Egypt will soon be brought to heel. cool
 
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George Van Voorn
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Quote:
Because the Carthaginian (as Director of Commerce) MUST keep a sharp eye on his opponents and try to drain valuable resources from them. This is a difficult and delicate operation. In the early stages, Carthage MUST demand that AT LEAST THREE cards be traded first turn (without the Expansion)--gradually increasing the number over future turns as Egypt gains more tax. This serves to prevent the Egyptian player from creating sufficient sets to build those hefty cities which can allow an early runaway victory. Keep the trade-count high enough that Egypt HAS to offer some of her taxes for trade (and then TAKE them, offering only goods in return)


Which is exactly what went wrong this particular game. The Director of Commerce did a good job screwing Egypt's sets by increasing the number of cards to be traded. His mistake was offering his own money instead of only resources. I'm pretty sure the game would have turned out differently hadn't he made that mistake; my legions were itching to kick some behind!

Quote:
Your experience is not uncommon. It is NOT however, an indicator that the game is broken or unbalanced. Rather it signifies that there are depths and subleties to this game that are not immediately apparent to novice players.


You're right about that. Still, I would like to see it more balanced. It's not chess, you know...
 
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Robert Martin
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dcjackso wrote:
I've played this game only once, as the Carthaginians.


This, like many asymmetric games, is not the kind of game that can be fully comprehended after only one playing. You need to play several times to figure out how to deal with the imbalances designed into the system.

dcjackso wrote:
It was clear after the first turn that Egypt was insanely powerful.


Egypt seems powerful in your first game or two, but he is actually quite easy to control. Careful trading (economic warfare) is the most effective offense against Egypt. Combined with the fact that he has no military bonuses he is vulnerable. Here is how to break up Egypt's sets of taxes:

Director of Commerce offers 4 or 5 cards for trade. Egypt will offer Papyrus and Grain, and have to put 2 to 3 taxes out. Starting with the Director of Commerce, players clear any tax not held by Egypt off the table. Once that is done, players can begin taking from Egypt, who now has no way to recover the taxes he put on the table. You've reduced his sets by 2 to 3 cards with just a bit of collaboration. It's extremely simple.

People need to realize that trading is the core of this game. It is just as potent a weapon as legions and triremes.
 
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