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Mare Nostrum: Empires» Forums » Sessions

Subject: First 3 Sessions with different players and player counts. rss

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J
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Alexandria
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Hi everyone. So for those of you who missed my previous threads, a few weeks ago I was handed this game when leaving a game night and asked to learn and teach it to everyone next time. The hostess for that game night is great at acquiring games but not so great at learning/teaching them. After going over the rules I started some threads asking for general teaching advice and I must say people were very accommodating. Anywho, a few weeks later I finally got around to playing the game and I managed 3 different sessions at 3 different game nights, with 3 different player counts and (more than 3 ) different players and so I figured I'd do the write-ups for them.

Night 1
2 Players
Rome: Host (Good at learning games, gaming experience high, gaming sense medium-high)
Carthage: Me

I had expected this night to be 3 players but 1 didn't show so it was 2 instead and we set it up for the Punic wars. I was kinda disappointed cause I had wanted the first session to be with 3 different players but I figured 2 players would be a good opportunity to see how it played like that.

Carthage took full advantage of being both Trade and Culture leader to force Rome to reveal his moves to me ahead of time. Thanks to this Carthage was able to claim all 3 titles around turn 2. Carthage failed to hold them for 2 turns however when Romemanaged to pillage a building and take over trade leader. In retrospect I might have been able to avoid that by attacking his triremes but I personally am pretty bad at war games so It didn't occur to me. Personally resource accumulation and management games are my specialty.

So the buildup continued. Thanks to Carthage's ability to double resource I rarely had a bad turn and was acquiring heroes fairly quickly. Carthage made a big mistake by letting Rome get Ramses which would make attacking Rome much harder and his offense nightmarish. The heroes Carthage had included Circe (Legions = Caravans) and the statue of Zeus which helped push Rome back.

On the 2nd to last turn of the game Carthage is at at 4 heroes and clearly wants to end it. Carthage also has all 3 leaders again. Carthage hoped for a good market flip but sadly doesn't get it. Rome begins building up another army intent on destroying Carthage's ability to collect resources and taking a leader away from Carthage but in doing so leaves himself badly defended in some of his regions. Carthage takes advantage to retaliate and attack him pillaging 2 of his buildings gaining 2 unique resources though recieves retalitory attacks as well.

Last turn of the game and Carthage has 8 unique resources is looking for the 9th needed to build a 5th hero and win. The Market flip and I get lucky with a Wine showing up giving me the game.

Overall fun game. For his part, early on Rome had missed just how dangerous it was to neglect his military buildup and risk losing all 3 leaderships. This would be a regular error on Rome's part in my next few games where Rome would neglect military in favor of building up resources and lose to the areas that specialize in it. My statue of Zeus had helped me repel him and reduced his ability to attack me. I should have never let him get Ramses as it made fighting him much much harder although Circe ended up being a real winner since it allowed me to make up pillaged buildings and meant there would be less for the barbarians to pillage.

Night 1 Conclusion
Winner: Carthage, 5 Heroes

Night 2
Rome: Host (Very good at learning games, gaming experience high, gaming sense very high)
Carthage: Friend 1 (Good at learning games, gaming experience extremely high, gaming sense medium-high)
Greece: Me
Egypt: Friend 2 (medium at learning games, gaming experience high, gaming sense medium-low)


So the 2nd night and finally a reasonably large player game. I go over the rules. Warn players about possible pitfall (failing to defend, advantages of turn order, letting Egypt trade for lots of coins), give some advice on possible paths to win (Carthage 5 heroes, Egypt Pyramids ect.) and advise Rome that we 2 military civilizations need to keep an eye on the 2 culture civilizations and that fighting a massive war between the 2 of us might not be a good idea.

Game starts out pretty standard with general resource building however on turn 2 things kinda take a plunge. Despite all my advice and warnings Egypt disregards it and has himself build first and builds both the city and temple on Jerusalem but neglects any sort of defense. Greece proceeds to build the necessary number of Legions and Triremes to occupy both of those buildings... yeeeeeeeeeah. Egypt stated that he didn't think he'd come under attack so quickly and that he had wanted to try and collect lots of coins early (I had warned people about his Egypt approach). Thanks to this Greece becomes the culture leader but also becomes the military leader as well. Trade leader is way way out of reach for Greece however.

Greece gets Troy as well but this is when my terrible sense for war games rears it's ugly head again. I'm so preoccupied with defending what I have I miss that I could have likely captured a 4th capitol city to win the game. Unfortunately the opportunity is lost and the game goes on.

On the third to last turn Carthage makes his presence known by building his 4th hero and we're all on high alert. He also has the statue of Zeus meaning he can deflect some attacks. Greece decides to give Jerusalem back to Egypt so he can focus purely on Carthage and on the following turn we all collude to exclude Carthage from trading as much as we can and he fails to get the 9 uniques he needs. Both me and Egypt make it to 4 heroes as well.

This is also where Egypt’s poor gamer sense in general and my poor gamer sense for war games showed itself again. Perseus was present (you can snipe the 5 hero build and win despite the culture leader saying otherwise) which Egypt did NOT take (I got it) and I had a massive 8 legionnaire army (Spartacus helped) and used that to retake Jerusalem but missed that had I split it into 4 and 4 I could have likely taken both Jerusalem and Egypt's capitol for a 4 city win again.

Last turn of the game and Greece needs 1 more unique resource though Egypt and Carthage are in it too. Tired of never being in a winning position and wanting to end the game Rome lets me get my last resource which means I have the game won.

Again the game was really fun but Egypt blunder on turn 2 and passing up Perseus and my failure to properly capitalize on it meant that things should have gone very differently. It was sadly not til after losing the culture leader that Egypt fully understood why being the leader was a good thing. Egypt also let Greece sit in Jerusalem nearly the whole game although he did have Penthesilea meaning he was getting a free legionnaire each turn. Carthage had done well getting a early Hanging Gardens and building his heroes up although he ended up with a rather large target on his back which caused both Rome and Egypt to go after him (Greece was at forced peace with him). Ultimately, Greece gaining 3 legendary resources coupled with cheap legion builds got the necessary stuff to win the game. Sadly again, Rome failed to properly pursue military and never really had a shot of winning.

Night 2 Conclusion:
Winner Greece; 5 Heroes

Night 3
Rome: Hostess & Game Owner (medium-good at learning games, gaming experience medium-high, gaming sense medium)
Carthage: Friend 1 (Very good at learning games, gaming experience medium-high, gaming sense high)
Greece: Friend 2 (okay at learning games, gaming experience low, gaming sense low)
Egypt: Friend 3 (okay at learning games, gaming experience low, gaming sense low)
Babylon: Me


So a 5 player game this time and I get to be the "new" city of Babylon. I'm a bit worried cause although we have good players present some of them seem to be pretty "Passive" so I don't know how that will ultimately play out. Again I go over common pitfalls and strategy and point out how close I am to 4 legendary cities and we're off.

Turn 1 and it's clear that Egypt has no concept for how she should be picking players to go. She lets Babylon go before her and after some thought I decide that taking Jerusalem first is my best option. The free control marker means that I can both get it and defend it. Everyone else does standard expansion builds.

Turn 2 and Babylon decides taking Cyprus Crete early while no one else is making a move on it is the play. Again very standard plays from everyone. Although thanks to playing conservatively by being careful with my defenses and regularly going late in build order Babylon actually manages to overtake Rome as the military leader and hold it the rest of the game.

I would like to say that this game was eventful but I cannot really. As expected the passive players are avoiding conflict. Rome is busy building up markets and caravans in the north. Greece is doing the same but mid game she decides to go after Troy before Babylon can (I actually don't have a problem with this because I'm worried about spreading myself too thin and I don't seem to be in position for a 4 city win, for real this time). Babylon takes full advantage of being able to place free control markers and gobbles up a lot of territory in the east while fortifying my borders and Cyprus Crete. Babylon also (fittingly) gets the Hanging Gardens so I can store excess resources. Carthage is doing a good job building heroes but he constantly has 1 eye on Rome who he's expecting to come over with a massive military force. Sadly Egypt is crammed in and also avoiding conflict hence she's busy building markets, temples and heroes.

Fast forward to a very significant turn of the game, there are no more unowned regions and practically all caravans are built as are all 3 legendary cities. Players begin realizing that passively sitting back isn't going to work anymore. Following the trading Carthage chuckles as he note that he has 10 unique resources meaning he was just 1 unique resource away from winning the game. Right then and there the reality of trading hit all the other players very hard. Up to that point they had been putting out their rare resources for trading since doing so would get them picked to trade back. Rome would regularly put out lots of Smithies and Diamonds. Greece was a stone market and Egypt allowed the paper to flow. This was a great learning point for them as it opened up their thought process to perhaps NOT allowing these rare resources to flow so readily and they thanked him for having the conversation.

It's building time and Egypt sadly still doesn't quite understand the power she wields in picking build order picking players in semi-random orders. Player after player that she picks are on the war path with several Triremes and Legionnaires are being built. People are building defenses and readying counter attacks and all manner of things. It's clear that things are about to heat up and fast. By luck I get to build last and I drop a bombshell. I have 12 unique resources.

Going into that turn I actually had 8 unique resources thanks to saving resources with the Hanging Gardens and a lucky legendary pull. All 5 of my missing resources are out, some in duplicate and the trade number is 4. Through what can only be described as incredible luck, players choose to take my resources a bunch of times and I manage to get 4 more unique resources. In retrospect I should not have gotten the 4th. When Carthage made his final pick he didn't actually care what resources he got but didn't consider the danger of leaving rare resources out so he lazily took the wheat I was offering rather than remove the final rare smithy on offer which I got. The conversation about rare resources had come 1 turn too late.

So the game ended there without a single battle having ever occurred. Views of the game were positive but again, one of my big worries came true. Players were very very passive. Rome left herself wide open to a Greek attack at one point but Greek just ignored it. Rome also never went in for an attack on her own until way way late while Egypt was content on being boxed in the whole game without doing anything. Carthage was always worried since Rome had Sicily and defended himself accordingly. Babylon was also careful with defense thanks to Egypt being so close and Greece coming ashore and ultimately the access to lots of resources including rare ones paid off.

Night 3 Conclusion:
Winner Babylon; Pyramids

So response to the game was positive with all players who played it liking it. I won all 3 games but to be fair I had spent far more time reading up on it and understanding the strategy than anyone else. Some of my worries did come true with players being far too passive and not really understanding the power they had with turn order but these things are learned with time. Overall a good experience.


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Erik Stratton
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Appleton
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Great session report! Thanks for posting.

BTW, you use the term "Cyprus" throughout; do you mean "Crete"? I don't see Cyprus as a viable province.
 
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J
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Alexandria
Virginia
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Yeah probably. The pottery island. I don't have the game anymore and couldn't look up the exact names so I pulled up a modern map and went with the island located near where it was on the main map.
 
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Jon Snow
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Sounds like you did a great job of teaching! This is a game which can end quickly from a sneaky win, so everyone has to be alert about what others are doing. You certainly tried to communicate that to them.
 
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Thayne Weston
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Thanks for the write up, I haven't been able to get as many plays in as I would like yet, and it is nice to hear people's experiences after multiple plays.
 
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-=::) Dante (::=-
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Can you share what the total playing time was including teaching for each of the different player counts?
 
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J
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NuMystic wrote:
Can you share what the total playing time was including teaching for each of the different player counts?


Hmmmmm that's a bit tough. For starters I need to say that I was very familiar with the rules before teaching as I had reviewed them heavily before hand (there's a reason I was the one selected to take the game home and learn it).

Also the Players in the smaller games were more experienced gamers so teaching them went a lot faster and the 4 player game should have finished sooner than it did.

All in all I would have to say it was about 2~3 hours to play all the games and maybe 20~30 minutes to teach give or take though I really don't remember the exact time.
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J
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Update:

I just played game 4 with 5 players (2 new). With teaching we were forced to break it at the 3 hour mark because it was getting late.

However I should note that this was a bit of an odd game. Specifically I would regularly announce who was in a winning position, how close they were, and how to best go about stopping them. What I mean by this is, the game explicitly states that making deals and talking over the table is allowed. Hence I would be very clear to point out whenever someone was close to winning and how they might go about snaking the win.

For example, Egypt got Jerusalem and the temple. Every turn I would announce her "Maximum possible effective coin count" and how many more coins she would need to build the pyramids.

Then when Rome took his 3rd special city I helped coordinate attacks on his Triremes to make moving around harder.

Lastly when Carthage got hero 4 I would regularly announce how many more uniques he needed to buy number 5 and we'd push him out of trade accordingly.

Babylon and Greece were never in a position where they were close to winning during the part of the game we played.

Basically I made it clear to everyone that anyone who was winning this game was going to really earn it by wresting it from my cold, boney, dead fingers and there would be no win snaking on my watch.

Unfortunately the game ended prematurely cause it got too late and I apologized if my antics had ruined anyone's experience although all the players were nice about it (we all know each other) and said they didn't mind however I'm not sure if this was a positive. Players need to fall in these traps and normally having someone who can watch everyone like a hawk and coordinate plans to keep any one person from winning isn't common.

My biggest regret was I had a plan to take all 3 leaders but we ended up needing to end the game too early so I didn't get the chance to try.
 
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Brick Forwood
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That sounds fair as long as you were as keen to point out when you were close to winning too, otherwise it smacks of bad sportsmanship!
 
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J
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I was Greece and during the game I was never really in a position to be a "threat." However I was jokeying really hard to go for a 3 Leaders win while keeping myself below the radar.

On the turn before we killed it I had manged a massive military push getting all my Legionaries and most of my Triremes and although Rome was building up too, his stuff was being attacked more than my stuff would have been and thus I would be the military leader next turn. I was also within 2 of the leader on both Trade and Culture.

Hercules was out and I planned on buying him on the following turn if I was able to. No one else realistically had a shot at 3 leaders as Babylon, Rom and Greece were way high on Military whereas Trade and culture were out of reach for most other players.

I was not going to tell everyone that "I want to buy Hercules, keep him from me" but if I had gotten him I would have pointed out how dangerous me going last in military was and warned people that they could not allow me to get those last few occupations. I would NOT have gone as far as to help them coordinate attacks against me but I would have expected them to try and attack my Triremes as well.
 
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