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Subject: A review not a rulebook overview. rss

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Dan Rivera
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Mare Nostrum: Empire. A remake of Mare Nostrum a euro style civilization game

First off I will not give a thorough rules summary of the game here. This has been done numerous times with considerably more skill, clarity and precision then I would be able to in other posts on this site so what I will do is answer the questions I normally ask someone when I’m about to play or buy a game for the first time.


Conclusion (for those not wanting to read the whole thing): A great light civilization game that plays quickly with a ton of replay value. Good bits, good mechanics good games. Its only downside is also one if its pluses that its fast and has very little luck in the game.

Very brief rules summary: In this game a leader in each section of the game (Trade, Culture, and Military in that order) is determined and they control the turn order plus certain other functions pertaining to that portion of the turn. During the trade portion the trade leaders determines the number of commodities to be traded. During the Culture portion the cultural leaders determines who builds in what order and during the military phase the military leader directs who moves and fights in which order. To win the game you must meet one of the following win conditions: Build the pyramids, Build 5 wonders/heroes, claim control of all 3 leadership positions, or capture 4 capitols/legendary cities.

How many players can play? 2-5(6 with Atlas expansion); Best played with 4 or more but plays well with all player counts

What is the quality of the components (bang for the buck)? I kickstarted this so it came with the expansion as well as KS exclusives so the bang for the buck was outstanding that being said I assume it’s not going to be quite as good of a deal if you buy it in the store. The game comes with nice sculpted minis, each unique for every faction, heavy cardboard chits for all other parts and nice thick boards to track wonders and roles. The player aid and player mats are a bit flimsy and the board is small especially compared to its predecessor but these are minor gripes.

How easy is it to learn? Easy, This is a very simple civ game with minimal rule and should be fairly easy to learn for all but the newest hobby gamer. Learning what each hero/wonder does is the largest learning curve but the icons on each make it fairly easy to figure out if not most of them are on the player mats so this too is mitigated.

How long does it take? 1.5 -3 hours: This really depends on the players since its up to them to keep the other player from winning. If everyone pays attention the game with be on the longer side if anyone slacks off then an abrupt win is very possible.

What itch does this scratch? This is one of the lightest and fastest civilization games out there. With the exception of maybe Tempus (which im not quite sure you can call a civ game). It plays like a bare bones version of a 4X game.

What is the replay value? Great. There are 4 win conditions and the heroe/wonders you pick are variable, that with the constant changing of the board through player movement and actions should make this game play different each time. The KS version also comes with a lot of different scenarios so it will keep the game fresh for many games to come.

Does this game reward skill or is it a pure luck fest? Skill, this game is almost pure skill with the luck of the dice only coming into effect during combat and even that is mitigated by the limited numbers on the dice and hero/wonder powers. There is no hidden information and all things can be determined by the boards.

In Conclusion: I really enjoy Mare Nostrum:Empires and I think it will stay in steady rotation of the games I play. The trading mechanic is interesting and the wonder/hero combination is fun, which with the conflict dudes on a map portion makes it extremely enjoyable.
There is a “but”, isn’t there always, The “but” is that it just doesn’t feel as epic as its predecessor. This will not be a problem for most as they have not played it, and its definitely not a knock on the game itself a thoroughly enjoyable experience in its own right. My problem with it is purely a feeling more than something I can express in concrete terms. The new version streamlines a lot of processes from the old game and this speeds up the game and makes it more accessible and I think that’s a good thing and yet at the same time I miss the length and immersion of the old version. I liked the fact that the trade leader could shut down the game and I liked the wilder swings of combat and I liked the bigger footprint of the map. I liked that Egypt was going to have to be crushed or it was building the pyramids etc.. Yet after saying that I acknowledge that the game is a faster, better game than its previous version.
To sum it up great game that is flexible fast and fun and the best light civ on the market. If you’re a euro gamer and would like to play a civilization game without all the rules overhead or huge time commitment this is the game for you. If you are a 4x gamer and what a good quick version of this type of game you will enjoy it as well. If you however love long, immersive games that pull you in and make you invested in your civilization or world this is not really your type of game and will come across as very flat.
I like this version a lot and will keep it in my collection but I will not be giving up my other version either since it is a bit better at evoking a feeling of immersion than this one does.
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Carsten Buettemeier
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Esst mehr Käsetoast!
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This, sir, is a review!
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Aaron Bredon
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I agree this new version can feel quite like a light civilization game - more than the first version. once you have players who can anticipate and maneuver to prevent an early win, the game will take longer, and there is an ebb and flow of power and military is used to try to get that last little edge required to win.

I played one 4 player game where Greece hired Ramses (rolls an extra die in land combat) early on, and tried to win by conquest, getting to 3 Legendary/Capital cities before the other 3 players, acting together, were able to bash him down (it was not easy with Greece's +2 on defense and Ramses' extra die), destroying much of the local infrastructure in the process. Carthage was able to rebuild fastest and threatened to outproduce everyone until Rome took out their navy and occupied the caravan and city on Crete. The game ended when Rome invaded Egypt's capital to occupy the Papyrus Caravan, which allowed Rome to get to 12 different commodities and build the Pyramids. 3 of the 4 players were very close to winning at significantly different points in the game. (Egypt, the 4th player did a yeoman job despite having its Capital occupied by Greece for half the game)

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Martin Gallo
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unittype wrote:
This, sir, is a review!
I agree. Too bad it fails to meet the BGG guidelines for a review, which does not bother me at all. More reviews should be this concise and to the point!
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