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Subject: Thoughts after a 4 player game rss

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paul troke
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Having played a four player game which the Egyptians won it was noticeable
what an easy run they had of it,not accumulating too many goodsbut by travelling through Judaea and Cilicia and hopping across to Creta were with temples accumulating 11/12 coinand Cleopatra allowing one good to go with the coin as well.
I appreciate with a 5 player game they would have Babylon on their doorstep,but ith the Greeks more worried about the Romans on their Western side and Carthage also concentrating on their Northern front it was quite an easy run.
Of course the Greeks and Romans could have had a verbal agreement not to attack each other but as someone once famously said a verbal agreement isn't worth the paper it's written on.
Also as far as Carthage is concerned i would find it very difficult to win with as although they accumulate a lot of goods opponents can see what the're producing on the map so when it comes to the trading phase make sure they dont put out any different goods from these.
One thought for a 4 player game is to play Babylon and block out
Carthage blocking out Numidia,Africa, and Libya, i just wondered if
blocking out Babylon was done for aesthetic purposes rather than anything else.
Bearing in mind we've only played a couple of games so was looking for some input from more experienced players especially regarding 4 player games.
Thanks in advance.
By the way I was that Egyptian.
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Tom Stearns
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Interesting observation as I believe the criticism of the original was the same as you observed and the expansion fixed it. Would be a shame if this new release retained the original problem.
 
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Jason Rush
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Im currently using the giant map and blocking out areas with black table clothes to define the area of play.
Although we have only been playing with 3 players , we have played normal 3 player ( Rome, Greece and Carthage)and alternative 3 player(Greece, Egypt and Babylon).
We intend to try out Atlantis , Rome and Carthage next just to see what happens.
I think as long as your Empires interlink in some way and there isn't a huge gap within Empires mix and match as you please.
Would be interesting as you say to see what alternates people come up with even for 2 players as well.
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Aaron Bredon
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If I were playing Rome and you did the temple building as Egypt, some of those cities and temples would have been pillaged (2 triremes allows anyone to attack enough places that you can't effectively defend every city, 3 triremes allows attacks completely across the board). This pillaging would partially allay the Greek/Carthage fears about me (at least until they realize that either of them could do the same thing to the other - then they start to worry about any military building that includes triremes)
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paul troke
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Thanks for the feedback
I agree with you Jason that as long as they are more interlinked
it would make things more difficult,but there is such a wealth of buildings on the eastern side that you need some sort of challenge there.
How did the Carthage player get on in your game,please tell me he won.
Aaron good point about using the triremes but would that not make Rome
vulnerable to their Greek and Carthage neighbours.
I think we'll definitely try using Babylon instead of Carthage next time although will change the look of the leaderboard.
 
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Aaron Bredon
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paultro wrote:

Aaron good point about using the triremes but would that not make Rome
vulnerable to their Greek and Carthage neighbours.


Yes, and I would point that out, as well as the fact that you can't win if you don't spread out enough to be vulnerable, and that the leader can be held back by anyone on the board if they have prepared to do that.

I would also point out that the same last player pillaging or occupying tactic can be used by Rome or Carthage to get the last few unique resources required to win without needing trade. (in one of my early games, I pillaged 3 undefended unique resources as Carthage - I think I saved 2 more with Hanging Gardens, and was able to build the Pyramids to win.)

If I was playing against more experienced players and wanted to do this type of tactic, I would probably be trying to maintain sea dominance and killing enough triremes that I didn't have to worry about back area raids. I would also have fortresses in most of my important regions, since it generally takes 3 legions to take out a fortress.
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Rich Radgoski
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Aaron - not all of us are playing with 5 experienced players... And so, the inherent flaws I'm talking about in the other thread is becoming more evident - easy games with no conflict... Yes, you or another experienced player might see that an attack needs to happen to stop this from happening, but new players and those that thing "another player" will take action are finding the game is ending much quicker than they would expect.
 
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Mark Turner
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Arkobla Conn wrote:
Aaron - not all of us are playing with 5 experienced players... And so, the inherent flaws I'm talking about in the other thread is becoming more evident - easy games with no conflict... Yes, you or another experienced player might see that an attack needs to happen to stop this from happening, but new players and those that thing "another player" will take action are finding the game is ending much quicker than they would expect.


I've been watching this thread with interest, as I am still considering whether to buy this game. (Although its excessive UK price gives me pause).

In general, all assymetrical board games require a couple of playthroughs for the players to understand the underlying dynamics, and will tend to favour a default faction until the players click.

Some games have a mechanism which mitigates this - I am thinking of Cyclades as yet unsurpassed action auction - although even those mechanisms will struggle unless players are aware of how they need to be used.

I haven't played Mare Nostrum yet, but in teaching similar games I always try to alert players to some of the dynamics. Ie, 'if you leave Egypt alone, Egypt will win with pyramids'. This isn't perfect - people can over compensate with such suggestions - but I think it's important to alert players to where the fundamental game tension lies.

This is something rulebook sometimes include, but more often neglect. If I were president of the board game universe, my first decree would be that all games should include a well considered teaching guide, a script that gets to the interesting decisions first, and demonstrates the kind of outcomes the players are fighting over.
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Paul Sauberer
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Arkobla Conn wrote:
Aaron - not all of us are playing with 5 experienced players... And so, the inherent flaws I'm talking about in the other thread is becoming more evident - easy games with no conflict... Yes, you or another experienced player might see that an attack needs to happen to stop this from happening, but new players and those that thing "another player" will take action are finding the game is ending much quicker than they would expect.


The game has a learning curve. If you (individually and collectively) play poorly the outcome will be poor. If you learn to play better the results will be more satisfying.

Some people don't like to invest the time in such games. Others do. That's not a problem with the game, just a difference in taste. If one wants a game to have obvious strategies and force the players into them then games like Mare Nostrum and Firefly: The Game aren't a good fit. People can house rule the game to take away that learning curve and make the poor early play become feasible, but that is making the game fit their preferences, not "fixing" a defect in the game per se.
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Nicholas
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We played our first (5 player) game yesterday. Egypt was going strong, so I as Rome decided to attack them and not any other targets. It's also very obvious that Rome HAS to attack someone, so just pick the player who is strongest - economy wise, not military.
If Rome decides to not attack someone, they basicly play without any Leader ability (Cesar), while all other player have something that benefits them. In addition, Rome loses most of the benfits of being Military Leader if they don't attack. As a bonus, I got Hamilcar as well (doubles pillage income), which obvisouly was great for Rome.

As it's in Rome's best interest to attack either Carthage or Egypt (possibly Babylon later in the game), this should have a balancing effect.

Interesting side note: Greece is also great for attacking other players. Move a Legion (or two) into an enemy, legion/fortress-free territory. As you get the +2 if you are attacked, that's perfect for holding the conquered territory.
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Jonathan Kinney
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We identified this as an issue early in one of our 4 player games as Egypt swept up Judea. We quickly rectified it as Greece quickly dropped triremes into the Med and occupied Crete perching two troops there.

Carthage also massed enough troops on the Egyptian border to keep them from spreading too far beyond Judea.

We also made sure that we kept the trading numbers on the lower end to ensure that no-one was forced to put up coins to trade. At that point Egypt really had to work to get their coins.

In the end Carthage ended up winning because they spread into the two southern territories (below Egypt - can't remember off the top of my head) and used fighting between Greece and Rome to secure Syracuse to get them their random resource. THey also got the tile that allowed them to pay one less.

The things I love about this game are a) that focusing on one person usually ends up opening holes elsewhere...even for thay person who is initially ganged up on, b) if you have a group that knows each other the meta game is HUGE (I have a friend who I know will always retaliate if attacked...I was constantly poking the bear to get him to open up spots elsewhere for me to take).

All this being said, four player is not my favourite. The most fun I've had is a massive 6 player game. Everything is tight, it forces interaction, and it's just a blast. And having all the cool bits makes it a sight to behold on the table.
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Jon Snow
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I've played a number of games where Rome and Greece in fact did not attack each other, but made agreements and it went quite well for them most of the time. The system changes with the different playing styles of the players, which is one of the many things I like about it.
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Emils E
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I was thinking quite the opposite - how a 4 player game would be more balanced for Egypt. I played as Egypt in a 5 player game and right from the get go I was rubbing elbows with 2 opponents linked to me by land. On the other hand if you are playing 4 players then you have 1 land neighbor and 1 sea neighbor. This effectively meant that I had defend myself on 2 sides almost from the 1st round, while the rest, including Babylon had only 1 neighbor to worry about.
 
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Jon Snow
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arrrh It was great that our designer Serge included every player variation he could manage for us in this initial Kickstarter package. I hope he'll continue to come up with even more combinations that he thinks are reasonably balanced!
 
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