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Subject: Inherent Flaw in beloved Game rss

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Rich Radgoski
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Some of you may have seen my responses in a few of the other threads. I thought I'd bring up my concerns in a new thread for everyone to discuss.

Background

I own the original game. In the original, there is a reduced amount of Caravans and Markets - a reduced amount of trade resources available for each player. This means, very quickly, players need to start competing for extra resources.

The new game has greater access to markets and caravans. This will double the amount of resources each civ has available and thus provide trade bait. Instead of having only 6 resources, a civ will easily have 8-10. Sure, most are doubles, but everyone is dealing with that. Every player puts up these doubles and many games are ending before the 5th turn is over. I've seen this happen with Egypt winning with Coins on turn 3 and Rome also building the Pyramids with different resources by turn 5.

Why is this happening?

1. Greater availability of resourses per Civ
2. No real limit on Caravans and Markets
3. Legendary Cities provide "extra" resources
4. Tweaked Heros & Wonders that provide ways to use resources in better/different ways.
5. Quicker access to Hero's & Wonders

While the original game was almost too difficult, I fear this game is too easy. While I really ike all the changes, I believe it can cause the game to beome almost conflict free and frankly this doesn't seem to fit the intent of the game.

there are some who rightly say - When you see this happening, don't let it - attack...

I think folks are leary of doing this because to them they are just a step from winning themselves and they know if they divert resources to units and conflict, they will lose. The game lulls them into thinking they are close enough to win...

I think the game needs to reimpose some limits to bring us closer to the original, but not getting too challenging.

I think the game needs to reimpose caravan and market limits - and I think the cost of heros/wonders need to get steeper.

I love mare Nostrum - and love the new polish it has...but I'm very concerned it has a built in flaw that will lead to it getting shelved if it isn't corrected.
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Charlie Theel
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I have a hard time seeing how Rome can win via Pyramids. People should be discussing what they should offer on trade and if one of the more rare resources isn't offered, there's nothing Rome can do to get them. They can try to acquire a Legendary city or two but getting those missing resources can be very difficult.

I think as Rome you need to be aggressive and push across the Mediterranean. Apply pressure to Egypt or whoever else is hoarding resources and doing well.
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Paul Schroeder

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I've played almost 10 games with the new version. How many have you played? Our early games were as you say, having a huge lack of conflict. But when players became experienced, our games are constant conflict after round 2 or 3. When you realize destroying a building (or many occupies) in an undefended territory has a net cost of less than trying to build one up yourself from a blank territory, you build military evenly through your territory (to not arouse suspicion whistle), build a single ship or two, then use the ships to all converge on the not-well defended territory of an enemy at the same time. You can almost always pick a territory where it's easy to kill off one building. The end result of this is getting an extra resource, causing them to have to build a military to defend, forcing them to rebuild, and you getting more peace of mind to build up more infrastructure (they will most likely just try and take their territory back, not attack your homeland).

Not saying this is bullet proof, but if you don't spend your time building up a moderate military force, you're asking to lose in our group. The nature of using ships to get anywhere easily makes it impossible to defend all your territories adequately, even if you have a moderate military force.

Our games are Chaos, and our militaries strong. In our group, you better not try to get a lot of resources without being able to defend every single one of your territories, we will cut you down!
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Paul Sauberer
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It sounds like you are upset that the game does not play the same as the prior iteration. You want the new version to force the players to play in the style you are used to.

The new version may play differently but because it doesn't fit well with your preferred style doesn't mean there is a flaw in the game. It just means that it doesn't match your preferred style.

You can take one of three options;
a) explore the new version and adapt your style so that it works better
b) house rule the game so that your preferred style becomes viable and hope you get the house rules right
c) move on to a game that more fits your preferred style of play

None of these are more "right" ways of dealing with the issue than another.
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J
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Arkobla Conn wrote:


The new game has greater access to markets and caravans. This will double the amount of resources each civ has available and thus provide trade bait. Instead of having only 6 resources, a civ will easily have 8-10. Sure, most are doubles, but everyone is dealing with that. Every player puts up these doubles and many games are ending before the 5th turn is over. I've seen this happen with Egypt winning with Coins on turn 3 and Rome also building the Pyramids with different resources by turn 5.

This may double the number but does not double the variety. Considering in the game you posted about before were often with mixes of newer and more experienced players who weren't making the best decisions I don't feel this is an accurate representation of the game.

Quote:
Why is this happening?

1. Greater availability of resourses per Civ
2. No real limit on Caravans and Markets
3. Legendary Cities provide "extra" resources
4. Tweaked Heros & Wonders that provide ways to use resources in better/different ways.
5. Quicker access to Hero's & Wonders

While the original game was almost too difficult, I fear this game is too easy. While I really ike all the changes, I believe it can cause the game to beome almost conflict free and frankly this doesn't seem to fit the intent of the game.

I have yet to see that any civ can really rush a win without giant concessions from other players either in territory or in trade. Each civ does not come equipped with the proper locations/space to win on their own really quickly

Quote:
there are some who rightly say - When you see this happening, don't let it - attack...

I think folks are leary of doing this because to them they are just a step from winning themselves and they know if they divert resources to units and conflict, they will lose. The game lulls them into thinking they are close enough to win...

This is a flaw with the player(s). It's a feature of the game. If the players cannot understand that another civ will beat them if just ignore it they will understand when they lose.

Quote:
I think the game needs to reimpose some limits to bring us closer to the original, but not getting too challenging.

I think the game needs to reimpose caravan and market limits - and I think the cost of heros/wonders need to get steeper.

I confess I never played the original but from what I heard it sounded kinda annoying at higher levels where certain resources never entered the board since the caravans ran out.

We had a game once where the entire board was build up with all caravans placed and no conflict at all had occurred. While to be fair the game ended that turn it was only due to massive trade concessions which never should have happened. Had the concessions not occurred the game would have continued with no one winning but all players forced to peruse military. I still think the current limits are fine since I haven't found that any faction can reasonably win quickly win without concessions from opponents.

Quote:
I love mare Nostrum - and love the new polish it has...but I'm very concerned it has a built in flaw that will lead to it getting shelved if it isn't corrected.

I see no flaws with the game. Only flaws with players and an attempt to shift those player flaws onto the game.

I'm not trying to be mean here but I have just not seen what you described occurring in games with attentive opponents. If you truly think this is a game issue and that wins can be obtained too easily please post a series of 3~5 turns where any civ (by which I mean select the 1 civ you are most concerned with) can win easily without big concessions from opponents.

A good game is designed around the highest level of play. This sometimes means that certain paths to victories feel too easy or that certain things appear to be overpowered when you don't know how to deal with them. There might even be strategies that feel overpowered cause they seem to win all the time. I know I have seen it in (other) games where one faction is complained about non-stop among new players because it is "way to strong" and "completely overpowered" wherein in reality they need that power cause they cannot keep up at high levels of play without it.

Games designed around lower levels of play might feel great at first but when you actually get good at the game you usually find that there truly are flaws that make the game meaningless when everyone knows what they are doing.I feel that while at first the limits seemed like a good idea cause it gave players something extra to fight over it ended up slowing the game down too much and was unnecessary at higher levels of play where there were other means to go after and fight people.
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Rich Radgoski
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Gentlemen

I have played hundreds, if not over a thousand games of different games. I know when games have a weakness. This isn't being upset this "isn't the game I remember". I still have that game... I can play that game any time I want.

This is me saying that the early experiences with this game (and no, I don't have 10 under my belt - but I might not get to 10 if my players perceive that this new version isn't worth it) is yielding results that I think are Counter to what we want from a game. I get that more plays will yield different strategies - but I'm concerned NEW players to this game will play it just a few times and shelve it because it isn't what they anticipated.

Even in the commentary above, it was said that "our early games are as you say..." Perseverance by that game group has gotten them to a better place - and then the game is playing more or less as intended.

What I am saying is that the game is too allowing of this early victory and may turn off players...and we don't want that. It's not enough to just say "make sure you contest for resources". New players will see they have enough resources and not contest. And this will lead to early games without conflict and an empty feeling of "I went through all of this to end on turn 4??"

Analyze the GAME gentlemen and tell me that this isn't a real issue. Don't just say "You can play it different" I know that better than anyone.

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Rich Radgoski
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allstar64 wrote:
Arkobla Conn wrote:


The new game has greater access to markets and caravans. This will double the amount of resources each civ has available and thus provide trade bait. Instead of having only 6 resources, a civ will easily have 8-10. Sure, most are doubles, but everyone is dealing with that. Every player puts up these doubles and many games are ending before the 5th turn is over. I've seen this happen with Egypt winning with Coins on turn 3 and Rome also building the Pyramids with different resources by turn 5.

This may double the number but does not double the variety. Considering in the game you posted about before were often with mixes of newer and more experienced players who weren't making the best decisions I don't feel this is an accurate representation of the game.

Quote:
Why is this happening?

1. Greater availability of resourses per Civ
2. No real limit on Caravans and Markets
3. Legendary Cities provide "extra" resources
4. Tweaked Heros & Wonders that provide ways to use resources in better/different ways.
5. Quicker access to Hero's & Wonders

While the original game was almost too difficult, I fear this game is too easy. While I really ike all the changes, I believe it can cause the game to beome almost conflict free and frankly this doesn't seem to fit the intent of the game.

I have yet to see that any civ can really rush a win without giant concessions from other players either in territory or in trade. Each civ does not come equipped with the proper locations/space to win on their own really quickly

Quote:
there are some who rightly say - When you see this happening, don't let it - attack...

I think folks are leary of doing this because to them they are just a step from winning themselves and they know if they divert resources to units and conflict, they will lose. The game lulls them into thinking they are close enough to win...

This is a flaw with the player(s). It's a feature of the game. If the players cannot understand that another civ will beat them if just ignore it they will understand when they lose.

Quote:
I think the game needs to reimpose some limits to bring us closer to the original, but not getting too challenging.

I think the game needs to reimpose caravan and market limits - and I think the cost of heros/wonders need to get steeper.

I confess I never played the original but from what I heard it sounded kinda annoying at higher levels where certain resources never entered the board since the caravans ran out.

We had a game once where the entire board was build up with all caravans placed and no conflict at all had occurred. While to be fair the game ended that turn it was only due to massive trade concessions which never should have happened. Had the concessions not occurred the game would have continued with no one winning but all players forced to peruse military. I still think the current limits are fine since I haven't found that any faction can reasonably win quickly win without concessions from opponents.

Quote:
I love mare Nostrum - and love the new polish it has...but I'm very concerned it has a built in flaw that will lead to it getting shelved if it isn't corrected.

I see no flaws with the game. Only flaws with players and an attempt to shift those player flaws onto the game.

I'm not trying to be mean here but I have just not seen what you described occurring in games with attentive opponents. If you truly think this is a game issue and that wins can be obtained too easily please post a series of 3~5 turns where any civ (by which I mean select the 1 civ you are most concerned with) can win easily without big concessions from opponents.

A good game is designed around the highest level of play. This sometimes means that certain paths to victories feel too easy or that certain things appear to be overpowered when you don't know how to deal with them. There might even be strategies that feel overpowered cause they seem to win all the time. I know I have seen it in (other) games where one faction is complained about non-stop among new players because it is "way to strong" and "completely overpowered" wherein in reality they need that power cause they cannot keep up at high levels of play without it.

Games designed around lower levels of play might feel great at first but when you actually get good at the game you usually find that there truly are flaws that make the game meaningless when everyone knows what they are doing.I feel that while at first the limits seemed like a good idea cause it gave players something extra to fight over it ended up slowing the game down too much and was unnecessary at higher levels of play where there were other means to go after and fight people.




What are you talking about when you say "big concessions" ? In our Rome victory, the Romans took over a few territories between them and Greece, as well as the Legendary City just under them. No one contested and no conflict happened. For a long while, Carthage was the Trade Leader and seemed to be leading the way, easily building 1 and then 2 leader/wonders. Greece, being a new player, didn't put any pressure on Rome at all. He was worried about Babylon. Egypt was a non-issue in this game as he was also a new player. As Carthage built an army to try an attack Rome, Rome took the Trade Leadership and on that very turn (turn 4) he was able to trade enough resources to get 12 Different resources to include getting a key resource from the Legendary City. (Legendary Cities aren't in the original game)

MY point - is this is TOO Easy. I think it is reasonable that Carthage is just now building an Army to do something about Rome. I think it is reasonable that Greece is worried about Babylon and the Legendary city in Asia. I think it is reasonable for everyone to put up their doubles and not be able to keep track of (or even think it is possible to) pull together all of the required resources for the Pyramids. Its just too easy. The only concessions I saw was an allowance for Rome to take nearby territories without immediate conflict.

Perhaps you are saying that everyone MUST initiate conflict in order to avoid this and I would say that itself is a flaw in the game. If, to make this avoidable, I need to start a military campaign, I saw that only leads this to be another risk simulator - a game it is most certainly not.
 
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Sean D.
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OK, so what are some reasonable solutions? Increase the cost of the Pyramids? Limit the number of markets/caravans/cities? Decrease the cost of military units?
 
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Paul Sauberer
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Arkobla Conn wrote:
Gentlemen

I have played hundreds, if not over a thousand games of different games. I know when games have a weakness. This isn't being upset this "isn't the game I remember". I still have that game... I can play that game any time I want.

This is me saying that the early experiences with this game (and no, I don't have 10 under my belt - but I might not get to 10 if my players perceive that this new version isn't worth it) is yielding results that I think are Counter to what we want from a game. I get that more plays will yield different strategies - but I'm concerned NEW players to this game will play it just a few times and shelve it because it isn't what they anticipated.

Even in the commentary above, it was said that "our early games are as you say..." Perseverance by that game group has gotten them to a better place - and then the game is playing more or less as intended.

What I am saying is that the game is too allowing of this early victory and may turn off players...and we don't want that. It's not enough to just say "make sure you contest for resources". New players will see they have enough resources and not contest. And this will lead to early games without conflict and an empty feeling of "I went through all of this to end on turn 4??"

Analyze the GAME gentlemen and tell me that this isn't a real issue. Don't just say "You can play it different" I know that better than anyone.



It's only an issue for people who don't like games that have a learning curve. It's fine if that's someone's preference but that doesn't make a game with a learning curve flawed, just not for them.

If you want to eliminate the learning curve, say that's what you want to do. Then find like minded people and come up with some house rules that eliminate it, or play another game.

Telling people who like the learning curve that they are wrong when you haven't accurately articulated what your problem is with the game (you don't like the play style that leads to success) isn't really constructive.
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Daniel Kearns
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The one time I played (and won) as Rome, I pushed light military to get rare resources thinking to try for the pyramids.

I executed well but even so, getting 12 different resources seemed nearly impossible. It was hard enough to get 10 different to end the game with 5 personalities. You need someone to call 5 trades at the end and it is still much harder than Egypt because of the ability to save 2 coins from turn to turn (for reasons I don't totally understand). You need to have no one even try to attack you. Or even threaten to attack you. A lucky draw on the legendary is essential. Seems way too fragile for Rome to me.

Egypt on the other hand should be pressured, I imagine.
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James Palmer
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Finally got a chance to play this on the weekend. In the last turn, we had 3 people almost winning by 3 different methods.

I was playing Carthage. In the end, I won through buying the pyramids, but needed military to grab a legendary city in order to be able to get the resource I needed. When I needed to build up my military, as trade leader, I decided to do no trading, as building lots of small units is easy even with duplicate resources. This slowed everyone else down with their goals, as people struggled to buy heroes and wonders when they couldn't do any trading.

So I was able to build up my military without feeling like I was losing ground to other players who were not going a military route.

Anyways, that's just our experience on the first game. There honestly wasn't a *lot* of military going on, but there was some, and it was actually one of the factions that did do military combat that won, rather than the 2 factions (Babylon and Egypt) which stayed out of combat altogether.

I think as we play more games, we'll find there's more combat happening, just as we continue to see the value in it, and as we get smarter about trading and denying people what they need.
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Rich Radgoski
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Psauberer wrote:
Arkobla Conn wrote:
Gentlemen

I have played hundreds, if not over a thousand games of different games. I know when games have a weakness. This isn't being upset this "isn't the game I remember". I still have that game... I can play that game any time I want.

This is me saying that the early experiences with this game (and no, I don't have 10 under my belt - but I might not get to 10 if my players perceive that this new version isn't worth it) is yielding results that I think are Counter to what we want from a game. I get that more plays will yield different strategies - but I'm concerned NEW players to this game will play it just a few times and shelve it because it isn't what they anticipated.

Even in the commentary above, it was said that "our early games are as you say..." Perseverance by that game group has gotten them to a better place - and then the game is playing more or less as intended.

What I am saying is that the game is too allowing of this early victory and may turn off players...and we don't want that. It's not enough to just say "make sure you contest for resources". New players will see they have enough resources and not contest. And this will lead to early games without conflict and an empty feeling of "I went through all of this to end on turn 4??"

Analyze the GAME gentlemen and tell me that this isn't a real issue. Don't just say "You can play it different" I know that better than anyone.



It's only an issue for people who don't like games that have a learning curve. It's fine if that's someone's preference but that doesn't make a game with a learning curve flawed, just not for them.

If you want to eliminate the learning curve, say that's what you want to do. Then find like minded people and come up with some house rules that eliminate it, or play another game.

Telling people who like the learning curve that they are wrong when you haven't accurately articulated what your problem is with the game (you don't like the play style that leads to success) isn't really constructive.


Why must this be "its you and the players like you" that is always at fault?

In this day and age - where we don't have just 5 games on our shelf, we have 50 or 500, a game must be good out of the gate. One of the ways a game is good out of the gate is being balanced - or having a perception of balance. Well, if you play 3 games and each of those games ends prematurely and completely different than how the original would end. I think that games don't make it to multiple plays if there is a perception of a flaw.

Case in point - I showed my family Marco Polo. We were all new to the game. We played and my son won - and NEVER sent his explorers to travel. He focused on one aspect of the game (filling requests) and beat us because he was focused and we were 'playing the whole game'. (It is, after all, Marco Polo, and traveling is part of the theme) We saw it as a flaw to the game (even if others pointed out that we, the players, allowed him to play it that way and thus win)

In another game, Sky Traders, my sons pointed out that all they had to do was go back and forth from one location to another and they would get everything they want without actually playing the game. Meanwhile, I'm flying around and wasting my turns playing the game.

Games shouldn't allow for these breaks. Yes, if we were more experienced with both of these games (and with the new Mare Nostrum) we wouldn't allow this to happen..but in both of my cases above, the boys have refused to play the games again. (they are 20 and 23) They state - why play something we know is/or can be broken?

I'm saying that Mare Nostrum HAS that problem - it's more subtle and might lead to a significant nose dive in popularity of the game. YOU have figured it out by playing more often. I have 50 other games I want to play - getting back to Mare Nostrum might take 6 months. In this age of boardgames, I think I am more common than you.

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Rich Radgoski
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Felkor wrote:
Finally got a chance to play this on the weekend. In the last turn, we had 3 people almost winning by 3 different methods.

I was playing Carthage. In the end, I won through buying the pyramids, but needed military to grab a legendary city in order to be able to get the resource I needed. When I needed to build up my military, as trade leader, I decided to do no trading, as building lots of small units is easy even with duplicate resources. This slowed everyone else down with their goals, as people struggled to buy heroes and wonders when they couldn't do any trading.

So I was able to build up my military without feeling like I was losing ground to other players who were not going a military route.

Anyways, that's just our experience on the first game. There honestly wasn't a *lot* of military going on, but there was some, and it was actually one of the factions that did do military combat that won, rather than the 2 factions (Babylon and Egypt) which stayed out of combat altogether.

I think as we play more games, we'll find there's more combat happening, just as we continue to see the value in it, and as we get smarter about trading and denying people what they need.


Great - sounds like you had fun.
 
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Rich Radgoski
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Hector131 wrote:
OK, so what are some reasonable solutions? Increase the cost of the Pyramids? Limit the number of markets/caravans/cities? Decrease the cost of military units?


Personnally Sean, I think it's a combination of things

We could decrease the number of caravans/markets...

We could change the concept of Legendary Cities and what they yield...

We could adjust the ability to buy hero's & wonders... In the original game, you needed 9 different resources to do this. yes, it was frustrating, but you needed to build your economy through expansion first, before getting many heros. More Heros leads to more success. In this version, being able to buy one at 7 is really easy - and if you are lucky to give you something that helps you manipulate resources, you are almost assured of victory. Far too soon...
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Charlie Theel
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dkearns wrote:
The one time I played (and won) as Rome, I pushed light military to get rare resources thinking to try for the pyramids.

I executed well but even so, getting 12 different resources seemed nearly impossible. It was hard enough to get 10 different to end the game with 5 personalities. You need someone to call 5 trades at the end and it is still much harder than Egypt because of the ability to save 2 coins from turn to turn (for reasons I don't totally understand). You need to have no one even try to attack you. Or even threaten to attack you. A lucky draw on the legendary is essential. Seems way too fragile for Rome to me.

Egypt on the other hand should be pressured, I imagine.


Yes, my win with Rome was through military conquest. I tried to grab the Pyramids for a couple of rounds, but people stonewalled me on the resources I needed.

Attacking can be very effective though, especially since you can reach so many spaces with a strong navy.
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Paul Sauberer
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Arkobla Conn wrote:
Psauberer wrote:
Arkobla Conn wrote:
Gentlemen

I have played hundreds, if not over a thousand games of different games. I know when games have a weakness. This isn't being upset this "isn't the game I remember". I still have that game... I can play that game any time I want.

This is me saying that the early experiences with this game (and no, I don't have 10 under my belt - but I might not get to 10 if my players perceive that this new version isn't worth it) is yielding results that I think are Counter to what we want from a game. I get that more plays will yield different strategies - but I'm concerned NEW players to this game will play it just a few times and shelve it because it isn't what they anticipated.

Even in the commentary above, it was said that "our early games are as you say..." Perseverance by that game group has gotten them to a better place - and then the game is playing more or less as intended.

What I am saying is that the game is too allowing of this early victory and may turn off players...and we don't want that. It's not enough to just say "make sure you contest for resources". New players will see they have enough resources and not contest. And this will lead to early games without conflict and an empty feeling of "I went through all of this to end on turn 4??"

Analyze the GAME gentlemen and tell me that this isn't a real issue. Don't just say "You can play it different" I know that better than anyone.



It's only an issue for people who don't like games that have a learning curve. It's fine if that's someone's preference but that doesn't make a game with a learning curve flawed, just not for them.

If you want to eliminate the learning curve, say that's what you want to do. Then find like minded people and come up with some house rules that eliminate it, or play another game.

Telling people who like the learning curve that they are wrong when you haven't accurately articulated what your problem is with the game (you don't like the play style that leads to success) isn't really constructive.


Why must this be "its you and the players like you" that is always at fault?


There is no fault. There is merely preference.

Quote:
In this day and age - where we don't have just 5 games on our shelf, we have 50 or 500, a game must be good out of the gate. One of the ways a game is good out of the gate is being balanced - or having a perception of balance. Well, if you play 3 games and each of those games ends prematurely and completely different than how the original would end. I think that games don't make it to multiple plays if there is a perception of a flaw.

Case in point - I showed my family Marco Polo. We were all new to the game. We played and my son won - and NEVER sent his explorers to travel. He focused on one aspect of the game (filling requests) and beat us because he was focused and we were 'playing the whole game'. (It is, after all, Marco Polo, and traveling is part of the theme) We saw it as a flaw to the game (even if others pointed out that we, the players, allowed him to play it that way and thus win)

In another game, Sky Traders, my sons pointed out that all they had to do was go back and forth from one location to another and they would get everything they want without actually playing the game. Meanwhile, I'm flying around and wasting my turns playing the game.

Games shouldn't allow for these breaks. Yes, if we were more experienced with both of these games (and with the new Mare Nostrum) we wouldn't allow this to happen..but in both of my cases above, the boys have refused to play the games again. (they are 20 and 23) They state - why play something we know is/or can be broken?

I'm saying that Mare Nostrum HAS that problem - it's more subtle and might lead to a significant nose dive in popularity of the game. YOU have figured it out by playing more often. I have 50 other games I want to play - getting back to Mare Nostrum might take 6 months. In this age of boardgames, I think I am more common than you.



You and your family want games that don't require a learning curve. there is nothing wrong with that. You like games whose optimal strategy is easily apparent. You don't like games where a suboptimal strategy will win if other players don't know how to counter it. That's fine.

However, your preferences are not universal. It doesn't really matter whether you or I are more common. There is room among the thousands of games to have both preferences met. Insisting that any games that don't match our preferences (whether it be what you are talking about here, or blind bidding, or real time, or any other of a multitude of things that appeal to some but not others) are inherently flawed is a position that ignores the gaming community at large and how diverse it is.

You don't like the new version of Mare Nostrum because the optimal plays don't sit up and smack you across the face and it doesn't play like the old version. Great. Everyone has likes and dislikes. You can either fix it with house rules or move on to another game since you indicate that you and/or your gaming partners won't take the time to learn the new optimal strategies. Arguing that the game is objectively flawed because you don't like it is a non-starter.
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Arkobla Conn wrote:

What are you talking about when you say "big concessions" ? In our Rome victory, the Romans took over a few territories between them and Greece, as well as the Legendary City just under them. No one contested and no conflict happened. For a long while, Carthage was the Trade Leader and seemed to be leading the way, easily building 1 and then 2 leader/wonders. Greece, being a new player, didn't put any pressure on Rome at all. He was worried about Babylon. Egypt was a non-issue in this game as he was also a new player. As Carthage built an army to try an attack Rome, Rome took the Trade Leadership and on that very turn (turn 4) he was able to trade enough resources to get 12 Different resources to include getting a key resource from the Legendary City. (Legendary Cities aren't in the original game)

The main thing I mean when I say "big concessions" is allowing a powerful player to gain unique resources during trading either via making lots of rare resources available when you shouldn't or actively trading a lot with a powerful opponent who clearly is producing a large variety of resources prior to their rare resources being unavailable. Another big concession I mean is allowing a civ to get away with 0 defense while they expand their cities and caravans either in the form of building fortresses or legionnaires. You don't need to attack none stop but you should always punish a civ that neglects defense. To a lesser degree I also mean passively giving away territory that one shouldn't and not picking build order in a meaningful way.

So in your Rome game you said he took "a few territories between them and Greece." I'm going to guess you mean Germania and Dalmatia (if they also let Dacia go then we are entering the realm of huge concession). While I don't think this is wise on the part of Greece as those are the only 2 areas where they can get a unique resources without investing in Triremes, I only consider this a big concession since you also said Greece never put any pressure on Rome to hold these territories. Not saying Greece had to attack them but that they should have ensured Rome was pressured to divert resources into defending them if they took them away from Greece in the first place.

Now at the point where Rome took over trade leader, based on what you said above, I'm going to assume he was missing the following resources: Paper, Pottery, Gold, Stone, Flowers. It is not clear to me that Rome actually went and attacked anyone so it seems like he had 8 uniques. With his legendary city that's 9 and being first in trade order is his 10th. If Rome was really this close to building the Pyramids, it should have been pretty obvious. He had just taken trade leader and he obviously was producing many unique resources due to not being challenged in the north. The fact that not only were his missing resources available but that he was allowed to get them causes this to fall into the category of "big concession" (assuming the other players were not serious contenders to win that turn also which it sounds like they were not). I too once had a similar win where I was missing only 4 resources and through ungodly sheer luck all the rare resources I was missing were out and people traded with me a lot so I won. As a group the other players should have been able to recognize how close Rome was and isolated him til all his uniques were gone. If they cannot or did not do this than this is again a player flaw, not a game flaw. The game gave the players a chance to stop it. The players didn't take it.

Lastly you also said "Egypt was a non-issue in this game as he was also a new player." This is not true in the slightest or at least it's not clear to me if this was not true for your game. Egypt starts with culture leader which is arguably the most powerful leader in this game. Building order is incredibly important as it usually dictates who wins certain races but more importantly who is forced to tip their hand first. Being forced to build first is almost always the worst since you must reveal your intentions with almost no information whereas your opponents get to react to what you do. Good Egypt players recognize this and can wield it both as a weapon to keep a strong player in check and a tool to bargin with. Bad Egypt players are off in La La land and pick people semi randomly with no real concept for the help they're giving out.

Now I'm not saying that your Egypt player was doing this but I have played with Egypt players with no concept of this. My 4 resource win mentioned above had one and she picked me to go last several times almost randomly. From the sound of it Rome was allowed to take trade leader because Carthage was forced to go before him. To be fair you did say that Carthage appeared to be the bigger threat so perhaps forcing Carthage to go first was actually the right move but without seeing the game it's hard for me to say. Now I more or less always advise Egypt players to Force the Warring Rome to build first and only diverge from that if it's clear another player is currently a danger of winning.

So yes I would have to say that the Rome win does demonstrate how gaining concessions will give a victory to someone earlier than is warranted. While it would have been nice to see the game, I don't see how else Rome could pull off a Pyramid victory without them.

Quote:
MY point - is this is TOO Easy. I think it is reasonable that Carthage is just now building an Army to do something about Rome.

If Carthage isn't being attacked or pressured (especially by Rome) then I agree.

Quote:
I think it is reasonable that Greece is worried about Babylon and the Legendary city in Asia.

While I agree to an extent I don't think throwing away the north to an inattentive Rome is the right answer nor is ti Greece's job alone to keep an eye on Babylon.

Quote:
I think it is reasonable for everyone to put up their doubles and not be able to keep track of (or even think it is possible to) pull together all of the required resources for the Pyramids.

Now here is the big one I disagree on. Players should be aware of what they are trying to do on their turn. If they aren't planning on making some sort of big, multi-resource purchase they should be able to recognize, not just which are their doubles, but which resources are rare and which are common and put more of their common and less of their rare resources up for market to make it harder for opponents to make big multi-resource purchases of their own. Here I can even give a easy list of rarity.
Rare: Pottery, Smith, Stone, Wood, Diamonds, Paper, Flowers, Gold
Common: Sheep, Wheat, Gladiators, Grapes, Olives
In our later games, after the pyramid fiasco with the market rich with with rare resources I mentioned above, our games ended up with markets flooded with common junk like wheat, sheep and grapes often times only having these resources left after the first few trades. I would say it's also not hard to recognize that a player is gaining a lot of unique resources and being careful not to trade with that player till only duplicates of his stuff are available. New players should be able to do this easily by game 2.

Quote:
Its just too easy. The only concessions I saw was an allowance for Rome to take nearby territories without immediate conflict.

I saw more than just that, but yes, I do agree that being able to take the north, if that was his only concession, would not have been enough to win it.

Quote:
Perhaps you are saying that everyone MUST initiate conflict in order to avoid this and I would say that itself is a flaw in the game. If, to make this avoidable, I need to start a military campaign, I saw that only leads this to be another risk simulator - a game it is most certainly not.

No, I'm saying it's incredibly difficult for any player to snake an easy early win assuming he is being monitored and even when a player gets close, the game offers many ways to stop/delay a player from winning with or without conflict (though sometimes conflict is the best answer). No Civ starts in a position where they have easy access to the plethora of resources needed to pull off a Pyramid win while still successfully flying under the radar as to not alarm the table. For every Civ I can name at least 5 resources that they have a hard time acquiring without being handed it during trade or as a lucky pull from the legendary city stack. The only civ that can come close to being self sufficient for the pyramids (without traveling far) is Egypt who starts with 5 coins, can ability 1, can save 2, can build Jerusalem for 1 and can build 2 temples (Jerusalem and Cyrenacia) and still they find themselves 1 coin short not to mention that building 2 temples should send up flares to everyone as to what Egypt is trying to do and, yes, mobilize an army against them.

Now there may indeed come a point where conflict is the only option and for sure the military factions want to keep a nice reserve of "threatening" units to force the culture factions to divert resources into defending and away from building up but I personally see this within reason for a game like this and as a feature not a bug. I believe even you would acknowledge that there are situations where conflict is the only way to stop someone but that it is reasonable for this to be present to some degree.

The game goes to great lengths to give players multiple venues to fight back against a civ pulling ahead either through conflict or trade embargoes. It's not the game's fault if the players cannot make good use of them and it certainly is not a flaw with the game.

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I dunno. Having played both the old and new versions extensively (at least a dozen plays of the new one and considerably more of the older edition) my take is that the game is just extremely delicately balanced. It's more susceptible to difference in player skill and 'aggression' levels than most.

But even the old game very much depended on the players to not fall asleep at the switch. Egypt has an easy win a game with new/non-aggressive players. If anything, all the new edition has done is spread around that same ability to each civ...ie, if the other players are not awake, ANYONE can win in few rounds.

One of the game's key mechanics IS that players have to keep the other players in check. Some people love that style of "he's winning...kill him!" and others hate it. My groups is pretty split on it but at the end of day, we can still get the game on the table fairly easily. It's a low play time so even if it ends quickly due to player inattention, we can fire up a 2nd (or even 3rd game). In fact, just a few weekends ago we played three 3-player games (Eastern side of the map) and each player won as a different nation in 3 different ways.

It's type of fine-balance that makes the game interesting to us. But it just as easily be a problem if not everyone is on their A-game while playing. All it takes is one 'good' player near a few newbies (or non-confrontational players) and it's a much easier win. Its definitely not as good of a game for vastly divergent skill levels or aggression levels.

But it's easy to pick up after a game or so that ANYONE can win quickly if left to their own devices.
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Psauberer wrote:
Arkobla Conn wrote:
Psauberer wrote:
Arkobla Conn wrote:
Gentlemen

I have played hundreds, if not over a thousand games of different games. I know when games have a weakness. This isn't being upset this "isn't the game I remember". I still have that game... I can play that game any time I want.

This is me saying that the early experiences with this game (and no, I don't have 10 under my belt - but I might not get to 10 if my players perceive that this new version isn't worth it) is yielding results that I think are Counter to what we want from a game. I get that more plays will yield different strategies - but I'm concerned NEW players to this game will play it just a few times and shelve it because it isn't what they anticipated.

Even in the commentary above, it was said that "our early games are as you say..." Perseverance by that game group has gotten them to a better place - and then the game is playing more or less as intended.

What I am saying is that the game is too allowing of this early victory and may turn off players...and we don't want that. It's not enough to just say "make sure you contest for resources". New players will see they have enough resources and not contest. And this will lead to early games without conflict and an empty feeling of "I went through all of this to end on turn 4??"

Analyze the GAME gentlemen and tell me that this isn't a real issue. Don't just say "You can play it different" I know that better than anyone.



It's only an issue for people who don't like games that have a learning curve. It's fine if that's someone's preference but that doesn't make a game with a learning curve flawed, just not for them.

If you want to eliminate the learning curve, say that's what you want to do. Then find like minded people and come up with some house rules that eliminate it, or play another game.

Telling people who like the learning curve that they are wrong when you haven't accurately articulated what your problem is with the game (you don't like the play style that leads to success) isn't really constructive.


Why must this be "its you and the players like you" that is always at fault?


There is no fault. There is merely preference.

Quote:
In this day and age - where we don't have just 5 games on our shelf, we have 50 or 500, a game must be good out of the gate. One of the ways a game is good out of the gate is being balanced - or having a perception of balance. Well, if you play 3 games and each of those games ends prematurely and completely different than how the original would end. I think that games don't make it to multiple plays if there is a perception of a flaw.

Case in point - I showed my family Marco Polo. We were all new to the game. We played and my son won - and NEVER sent his explorers to travel. He focused on one aspect of the game (filling requests) and beat us because he was focused and we were 'playing the whole game'. (It is, after all, Marco Polo, and traveling is part of the theme) We saw it as a flaw to the game (even if others pointed out that we, the players, allowed him to play it that way and thus win)

In another game, Sky Traders, my sons pointed out that all they had to do was go back and forth from one location to another and they would get everything they want without actually playing the game. Meanwhile, I'm flying around and wasting my turns playing the game.

Games shouldn't allow for these breaks. Yes, if we were more experienced with both of these games (and with the new Mare Nostrum) we wouldn't allow this to happen..but in both of my cases above, the boys have refused to play the games again. (they are 20 and 23) They state - why play something we know is/or can be broken?

I'm saying that Mare Nostrum HAS that problem - it's more subtle and might lead to a significant nose dive in popularity of the game. YOU have figured it out by playing more often. I have 50 other games I want to play - getting back to Mare Nostrum might take 6 months. In this age of boardgames, I think I am more common than you.



You and your family want games that don't require a learning curve. there is nothing wrong with that. You like games whose optimal strategy is easily apparent. You don't like games where a suboptimal strategy will win if other players don't know how to counter it. That's fine.


Rough Paragraph

My family and I play games 10x more complex than Mare Nostrum. Every Tried EuroFront? War of the Ring (both Versions?) Fire in the Lake? Operation Dauntless? Many many more difficult and challenging games. So, saying that my family and I don't like games with a learning curve is just wrong. We are very patient in how we learn a game. This game is unique because WE KNOW it very well. We have at least 10 games in of the old and new version. I understand the new rules and nuances. I'm saying, it's too easy to achieve victory if a certain set of conditions plays out over 3-5 turns. These conditions SHOULD NEVER happen, but they are.
 
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All I'm trying to say is - in the original game - "he's winning - Kill him" happened near turn 8-9. Now, it needs to start happening on Turn 2.
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charlest wrote:
I have a hard time seeing how Rome can win via Pyramids. People should be discussing what they should offer on trade and if one of the more rare resources isn't offered, there's nothing Rome can do to get them. They can try to acquire a Legendary city or two but getting those missing resources can be very difficult.


+1

Rome is in a very difficult position. One thing that I think is that Rome should build buildings early and generate coins. This will do two things - it will surely pique the Egyptian interest (getting early access to interesting goods), but it will also force other people to interact with you to keep the coins from Egypt.

Early access to the trade market (and access to interesting goods) is how Rome will win the trade market. As well, triremes getting access to Troy and Syracuse early to get the Legendary resources should be secondary. It's hard in a 5 or 6 player game, but might work in a 4 player game if they cut a deal with Carthage to get them to move east and apply pressure to the Egyptians.
 
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Arkobla Conn wrote:
All I'm trying to say is - in the original game - "he's winning - Kill him" happened near turn 8-9. Now, it needs to start happening on Turn 2.


... and directed towards everyone.
 
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Arkobla Conn wrote:
Gentlemen

I have played hundreds, if not over a thousand games of different games. I know when games have a weakness. This isn't being upset this "isn't the game I remember". I still have that game... I can play that game any time I want.

This is me saying that the early experiences with this game (and no, I don't have 10 under my belt - but I might not get to 10 if my players perceive that this new version isn't worth it) is yielding results that I think are Counter to what we want from a game. I get that more plays will yield different strategies - but I'm concerned NEW players to this game will play it just a few times and shelve it because it isn't what they anticipated.

Even in the commentary above, it was said that "our early games are as you say..." Perseverance by that game group has gotten them to a better place - and then the game is playing more or less as intended.

What I am saying is that the game is too allowing of this early victory and may turn off players...and we don't want that. It's not enough to just say "make sure you contest for resources". New players will see they have enough resources and not contest. And this will lead to early games without conflict and an empty feeling of "I went through all of this to end on turn 4??"

Analyze the GAME gentlemen and tell me that this isn't a real issue. Don't just say "You can play it different" I know that better than anyone.



I will attempt to do both for you here...I think it's impossible to analyze a game like this that has SOOOOO much interaction without analyzing the group that's playing it. But at the same time the game often drives the group.

I am playing A LOT of Scythe and A LOT of Mare Nostrum right now. Interestingly they are both race games, but my group plays them completely different.

In Scythe, even with noobs, games rarely last more than 90 minutes with 4 players. The map is tight, the objectives are clear, and conflict is not overly rewarded. In Mare Nostrum it seems the opposite. Conflict is how you actively prevent someone from winning. The meta game is huge. Tabletalk is a necessity. As a result, the race often slows down for us. We are constantly trying to figure out who's close and ganging up on them. To the point, where I was actually worried games were going too long for my group...but everyone LOVES it. I think that if we were to play it quick, the interest would be lost.

So same game, different groups. I think the point is that while you may not want to hear an analysis of people instead of analyzing the game, it could very well be true...maybe the game isn't right for your group.

In a group that doesn't play heavily interactive games together, the conflict may not be there. I've played over 40 games of Dark Moon with these people...we are not afraid to be in each other's faces and accusing each other.
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Quote:


Rough Paragraph

My family and I play games 10x more complex than Mare Nostrum. Every Tried EuroFront? War of the Ring (both Versions?) Fire in the Lake? Operation Dauntless? Many many more difficult and challenging games. So, saying that my family and I don't like games with a learning curve is just wrong. We are very patient in how we learn a game. This game is unique because WE KNOW it very well. We have at least 10 games in of the old and new version. I understand the new rules and nuances. I'm saying, it's too easy to achieve victory if a certain set of conditions plays out over 3-5 turns. These conditions SHOULD NEVER happen, but they are.


This is not about the learning curve, I agree. It is most assuredly not Eurofront or Fire in the Lake (both great games).

No this is NOT about the rules. This is NOT about the game. This is about the experience of playing the game. To say that this is a Civ game is not accurate. This is a part social deduction, part set collection game with a Civ background.

It's not complex...I've taught it to people who don't even like medium weight games. But it is a game that requires a particular mindset . A game that DEMANDS that you are looking to backstab, trash talk, and deceive your neighbours from the get go. I don't think that there is a time to happily accumulate resources and then have a switch go off that says "pounce". No, this is something that should be done from the beginning. Talk about your neighbours and how they are developing their engine. Actively discourage putting up coins early to constantly remind people of Egypt's strength.

This is, in my opinion, the furthest thing from a flaw in the game. It is its greatest strength. If everyone was allowed to sit back and build an engine, it would be unappealing to many people...especially those people who would never think of playing Eurofront or Fire in the Lake with me.

It is, at it's heart, a riff on Diplomacy. Simple mechanisms that are made successful by the social engine that is prepared to drive it.
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Arkobla Conn wrote:
Games shouldn't allow for these breaks. Yes, if we were more experienced with both of these games (and with the new Mare Nostrum) we wouldn't allow this to happen..but in both of my cases above, the boys have refused to play the games again. (they are 20 and 23) They state - why play something we know is/or can be broken?

Just going off on a little side track here as I haven't yet played the new MN:E (but with a good many old MN under my belt): it's odd to see you throwing the word 'break' around as much, for it makes no sense in this context. The game isn't broken because the strategies you described can be countered by proper attention and play; an alternative way of stating this is that following a particular strategy, irrespective of player opposition, does not guarantee a win or noticably lopsided outcome. What then is 'broken', if at all, is its thematic implementation. Because, for example, in a game about Marco Polo you can sometimes win without travelling (depending on the layout of the travel destinations). On the same note I'm quite sure you would be strongly opposed to the starvation strategy in Stone Age, and consider that 'broken' too.

The point simply is that the games we're discussing here are mechanisms first, second, third, ...; with theme coming in at a millionth at the earliest. Always. Playing the theme only leads to sorrow, and misunderstandings about what a game actually is, and how it actually ought to be played. If actual play through some miracle beyond mortal comprehension shows some similarities to the theme, count yourself lucky.
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