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Subject: Antike vs. Mare Nostrum (Recommendation Request) rss

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C Lloyd
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I've narrowed down my choices for my "Civ-Lite"-ish game to Antike and Mare Nostrum. I know one or both games have been discussed in other threads, but I'd be interested in getting input from people who have played both. Specifically, what is better about one than the other, and why. If they're different enough, I might eventually get both, but I don't anticipate that. Thanks!
 
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Chris Bailey
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I know a lot of people love Mare Nostrum but I never warmed to it. Antike on the other hand I thought was pretty fun and it moved along at a nice pace.
 
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Ron K
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To me, the core activities with Civ that make Civ Civ are:

- the closed money/men system (balanced economy)
- the trading to build sets system (negotiation)
- simple conflict resolution (war)
- calamaty risk related to civ strength (interconnected systems)

So, let me relate each to Mare Nostrum & Antike:

Mare Nostrum comes up short on the balanced economy even though there are a finite number of units per civ in play. As for negotiation, it does have cards and set building but the mechanisms become quite static and run without negotiation. There is simple conflict but there isn't an interconnected system that ties things together other than the resource symbols on the map (a weak substitute). I find Mare Nostrum not at all Civ like let along Civ-lite.

Antike also comes up short on balanced economy for the same reasons as Mare Nostrum. There is much more negotiation but it does not revolve around resources, but instead they take the form of informal non-aggression pacts. Mare Nostrum has this but in my plays they don't come up as frequently. Conflict is also simple with Antike and the naval component plays a larger part than in Civ. The interconnected system in Antike is also card/resource driven without negotiation. There is a greatly simplified technology advancement path. This is Civ without the trading and with more pronounced wars. This is not Civ-lite either.

I find the original Mare Nostrum a failure. I understand there is a myth/fantasy based expansion that improves the game but I have given up on it. I find Antike a good game in its own right but not Civ-lite. It is a game of warfare with some economic and technologic flavor.
 
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C Lloyd
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Just to clarify, as I didn't really state this... I haven't ever played Civilization, so I don't really need to know how each game compares to it (although it is interesting to me). What I really want to know is how these games stand on their own and compare to each other. I should have probably stated that initially. blush
 
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Michael Schwerdtfeger
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For me, the game play of Mare Nostrum is quite enjoyable. However, I've played it several times, and every time (with and without the expansion) it ends in a tie (or virtual tie, with the winner being selected by one of the players). Consequently, the endgame is very unsatisfying. This detracts enough from the game for me to drop it down a few notches.

I'd pick up Antike instead. Antike is a more complete game with a fine endgame.

Just my two cents.
 
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More Nostrum left me cold as well, so I'd go for Antike.
 
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Dane Peacock
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I have played both games 5+ times.

Mare Nostrum is beautiful and plays smoothly, but the trading element seems to dominate the game.

Antike plays blazingly fast and it has become my favorite civ lite game.

Antike is the easy choice for me.
 
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Maarten D. de Jong
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I think I would prefer Mare Nostrum over Antike, though both have their strengths and weaknesses. Antike plays very quickly, giving you the feeling that you're always busy. Even a slow player cannot slow the game down much. Mare Nostrum suffers from the 'wait for your turn'-syndrome.

On the other hand, I am beginning to dislike the tendency of Antike to devolve into a stand-off which is won by someone other than the parties which are dishing it out. There is almost no way in which to achieve the upper and decisive military hand over someone else, meaning that the attacker is severely weakened too, automatically painting big bull's eyes on his own provinces and temples. (Excuse me: did I say stand-off? I meant game of chicken.) In Mare Nostrum, the different military abilities force players into different modes of attack, keeping the game fresh and lively. Since combat is decided by dice (with modifiers) and not by a simple one-on-one removal formula, combat is not very predictable too. An attacker is weakened by an attack, but usually not so much that the vultures immediately take wing.

In both games, advances are simple and worthwhile---but in Antike, everyone can obtain them. This levels the playing field between players over time, with then the sole distinguishing factor how efficient you've been in building up your society. In Mare Nostrum, your advantages are unique and dangerous in their own right. Once again, in terms of variety, Mare Nostrum holds the upper hand here.

Antike is far simpler to play than Mare Nostrum. The latter has the trading session as well as military conflict to hinder opponents; Antike just has luckless combat. You have more options to take in Mare Nostrum too, depending on your current situation and intentions---there is no restrictive mechanism such as the rondel of Antike. Granted, that is a nice touch, but as the game progresses and conflict at the Right Moment(TM) becomes important, the thing is a genuine nuisance. I am attacked, I want to defend in an adequate manner, but I can't, because it will take two or three turns before I am able to place a few new military units in place.

Neither game works well at low player numbers. Mare Nostrum becomes doable from 4 players onwards; I wouldn't do Antike with less than 5. Mare Nostrum has an expansion which adds a lot of extra variety to the game, although I consider it more of an overdecorated christmas tree in that configuration.

Both games have strengths and weaknesses: but if I had to make a choice, I'd chose Mare Nostrum, because it shows more variety in how societies grow and develop, and bother each other. Plus it has a bit of uncertainty in the shape of dice which lets in some fresh air compared to the rather stuffy atmosphere of Antike where everyone is waiting for everyone else to make a mistake.
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Iain K
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I liked Antike at first, but it faded fast - see my comments for details.

Have you considered Vinci? It's quite abstract, but a decent game.
 
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C Lloyd
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citizen k wrote:
I liked Antike at first, but it faded fast - see my comments for details.

Have you considered Vinci? It's quite abstract, but a decent game.

I did consider that one, and it looked like a nice game. The issues I had with it are that it's a bit more abstract than I wanted, and also that it's a little too similar to History of the World (which I have). I got all sorts of good input from a Geeklist I created a while back (see below), and have narrowed down my choice from that and other information. Plus, I think I want to limit my choice to something I can easily purchase (ie: not OOP)

Thanks for the suggestion though.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/14589
 
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M. Shanmugasundaram
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I haven't played Antike yet, but our group has played Mare Nostrum (+Expansion) a number of times, and we enjoy it quite a bit.

I wouldn't call it a civ game (I generally dislike civ games). It's definitely a set collection/card management game with some tactical/area control elements thrown in that help you get more cards.

If you like this sort of thing, the game provides LOTS of variety and it's unlikely you'll ever play the same game twice. We've found that the end comes suddenly, and usually because the other players haven't been careful in some way, and inadvertently gave the winner some sort of advantage. There are specific strategies and tactics you can use to defend yourself from false endings but it is difficult to manage them all and still maintain your effort to win.

Kinda like avoiding mistakes in chess, but it's nowhere near as complex as chess.
 
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Tim Seitz
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Of the 4 civ-like potentials I have:

Mare Nostrum
Antike
Vinci
Serenissima

I prefer Antike.

It's simple, so people can jump in and play - others are not
Turns go by very fast, so you're always doing something - others are not.
It's less abstract, so you've got real armies you're moving around - unliek Vinci
Technology can play a large role in victory
There's the potential for negotiation within a group.
It also plays fine with 2 players (each plays 2 nations) - unlike the others
The rondel action mechanic is a fascinating innovation

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Thomas Eager
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ninja Both games are true Euro/wargame hybrids, and both are great games in their own right. Antike plays in about 1.5 hours, Mare's usually 3+. Antike leans more toward the "Euro" side of the equation, while Mare leans more to the "wargame" side. This difference is probably the basis on which you should make your decision--if you prefer resource-management Eurogames like PR and Caylus, get Antike. If you prefer dice-driven wargames with heavy theme, like Shogun or Axis & Allies, get Mare. The end-objectives are almost identical--be the first player to acheive are certain number of societal acheivements ("Ancient Personages" in Antike, "Wonders" and Heroes" in Mare) and you win.
Mare Nostrum gets a bad rap on BGG IMO, often from people who played the game only once or twice. The game's too deep to be easily understood with minimal experience like that. The mechanics are simple enough, but there are many subtle aspects to gameplay (understanding how to use the trade mechanism effectively, recognizing the threat-levels of the various Heroes/Wonders, as well as the strengths/weaknesses of the various Civs and how best to utilize them) that simply cannot be grokked in just one sitting. Mare does have a bit of a kingmaking element in its endgame, but there are few Civ-games that don't. The problem is easily resolved, however--I'll soon be posting my "house-rules" for fixing this on the Mare page.
I own and love both of 'em. ninja
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J. Green
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I'd say get Antike, but don't overlook La Citta (if you can find it) or Through the Ages: A story of civilization (if it becomes available).
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Brian Bankler
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I haven't played Mare Nostrum recently (although I played it ~10 times the year it came out), but I'm tempted. I sold Antike after three games. I think they both have problems, but M.N. is the more interesting attempt.
 
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Richard Hutnik
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citizen k wrote:
I liked Antike at first, but it faded fast - see my comments for details.

Have you considered Vinci? It's quite abstract, but a decent game.


Vinci is a Rise and Fall game. It is a Eurofied Brittania similar to how Tempus is a Eurofied Civ.
 
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Sean Brown
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Well I own and enjoy Antike, Mare Nostrum, and Vinci. I've even played Serenissima once or twice, but so far it hasn't clicked with me. Antike and Vinci use the same combat resolution system of one for one unit elimination. Mare Nostrum uses dice for combat, introducing a more random element to battles.

To me, at least, Antike seems to take Vinci, and expand upon the concept. Whereas in Vinci your civilizations characteristics are determined by random tile draws, and the play is almost abstract in nature, Antike provides the Rondel action choices, plus the civilization improvements that give you greater control over the characteristics of your civ. Mare Nostrum, in my local group, has tended to center almost entirely on the economic aspect (getting the right amount/variety of resources), with only enough military conflict as is necessary to achieve that goal. The most militaristic country usually loses heavily in our games (this is the base game, we still need to get the expansion to the table).

In terms of conflict with others, most to least, I rank them Vinci, Antike, then Mare Nostrum. In terms of depth of gameplay options, I would rank them Antike, Mare Nostrum, then Vinci. In terms of stalemate possibilities, most to least likely, it would be Antike barely ahead of Mare Nostrum, both far ahead of Vinci. While I recommend all 3 for the aspects that I enjoy most in each (Vinci's civ tile combos, Antike's Rondel, and Mare's balanced approach to improving game position), it boils down to what level of player interaction you prefer, and how important military conflict (and its rewards) are to you. I hope this was helpful!
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Diz Hooper
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I haven't played Mare Nostrum, but I have played Antike a few times and I can definitely recommend Antike. The things it has going for it is that it plays fast, it's easy to teach, and the winner isn't always the player with the biggest army, so everyone has a chance to be in the game until the end. Definitely go for Antike.

 
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Corey Butler
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The word "fast" keeps coming up when people talk about Antike. That's puttin it mildly. The more I play it, the more I think it is basically a race game, and not even close to a civ game. A couple months ago I would have recommended it over Mare Nostrum, but now I'm not so sure.
 
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J C Lawrence
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shotokanguy wrote:
The word "fast" keeps coming up when people talk about Antike. That's puttin it mildly. The more I play it, the more I think it is basically a race game, and not even close to a civ game.


Like most games, Antike is a game of efficiency. Mare Nostrum is no different. Simply, the player most efficient at turning actions into VPs will win. The fact that Antike is basically a logistics game lays this skeleton out rather obviously to even a casual lool. Mare Nostrum covers up that simply drive for efficiency with a bunch of thematic trading/per-player-power hooey without doing anything to change the same simple metric: Most efficient player wins.

I've played somewhere between 15 and 20 games of Antike this year (can't be bothered to check). Mare Nostrum never made it up to the first game (tho it has hit the table several times). I like the simple and clean lines of Antike: Nothing wasted, nothing extra, just the lean bones of a minimalist game.
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C Lloyd
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Great input so far, although I must admit I'm no closer to a decision. Thanks for the advice thus far, and keep it coming. Maybe something will click with me and I'll choose. Then again, maybe I'll just decide to get both (eventually).
 
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C Lloyd
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RaDiKal wrote:
I find Antike a good game in its own right but not Civ-lite. It is a game of warfare with some economic and technologic flavor.


Just re-read this comment and am slightly confused. Seems like most of the input I've gotten says that warfare is for the most part simply too expensive. Maybe "expansion" is more what is meant by that, or is there a fair amount of fighting in this game?
 
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Corey Butler
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clloyd09 wrote:
RaDiKal wrote:
I find Antike a good game in its own right but not Civ-lite. It is a game of warfare with some economic and technologic flavor.


Just re-read this comment and am slightly confused. Seems like most of the input I've gotten says that warfare is for the most part simply too expensive. Maybe "expansion" is more what is meant by that, or is there a fair amount of fighting in this game?


Probably depends on your group, but I would say that Antike is fundamentally not a warfare game. There is the potential for conflict, but it is usually a bad strategy. "Expansion" is a legitimate strategy, but not necessarily the best. I've played several games of Antike in which no one attacked anyone until the very end, and then it was only one or two small battles. It's not a wargame.

As I suggested before, I think it is a race game. If your opponents have played a few times, you cannot afford to get behind on points because it will be almost impossible to catch up. In other civ type games, you can often bide your time and then breakthrough when the moment is right. This is much more difficult in Antike, because opportunities for points dry up as the game progresses.
 
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C Lloyd
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Hmm... Just when I was starting to lean towards Antike, I might be having 2nd thoughts. Although I'm not a huge fan of games that make it too easy to catch the leader, I'm not sure I like that leaders are almost impossible to catch.
 
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C Lloyd
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OK, so my thoughts so far based on input & observations:

Antike

Good Points:
Nice Components
Quick game with little downtime
Lots of territories and sea zones
The rondel (neat device that lessens down time)

Bad Points:
Is it too short?
With several plays, does it lose it's luster?
Warfare is simplistic and discouraged
The rondel (might be annoying when you can't do what you want)

Mare Nostrum

Good Points:
Nice Components
Deeper theme
Seems to have more of an epic feel
Nice combat system that has some randomness, but is still predictable
Each nation has different abilities

Bad Points:
Seems like there may be too few territories & sea zones, and that combat is inevitable
Game length can vary greatly (from reviews I've read)
Path to victory might be somewhat pre-programmed for each nation
Might need the Mythology Expansion to balance the game
More expensive with expansion than Antike

Based on the above observations, I think I might now be leaning towards Mare Nostrum. Unless I've got things wrong, that is.
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