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Dan H
Ile de France
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First, forgive my english as it is not my mother tongue.

Mare Nostrum has the objective to be a Civilization playable in 3 hours, with simple rules, strongly tested mechanics.

My first feeling about Mare Nostrum was a bit strange. I did not like nor the map neither the material for the military units. Moreover, the criticism here in France were too high to be honest. The game, made by a famous author, was highly expected, tested and tested again. I gave a look on the rules and decided to give the game a chance.

Land military units are uggly ==> buy and paint miniatures
The map is average.
Cards and rules disign are wonderful. Town and temple markers : their design are too close.

Rules : too short. Some important information is in the FAQ while it should clearly be included in the rules.

The game :
* Balance : without some small modification (the NEW RULES), Greece is too weak, and Carthage will suffer to win. Rome was overpowered.With the modifications, the game balance is almost perfect, even if the countries will always have more or less the same strategy. The new cards change this a bit, and challenging Greece on the sea becomes feasable.
* Commerce : difficult and painfull at the beginning, with experience, it's the best trading system I ever saw. A real masterpiece.
* War : as you have a limited quantity of units, you will not be able to conquer half of the board without seing your empire collapse. Combat is not a dice fest, good system, simple and fast.
* Downtime : good.
* Bash the leader : with experience, I can say that this widespread criticism is unfair. If you are one turn away from winning, of course, the other players will try to stop you. This will last one turn or two at most. Not an issue.
* Replayability : wonders and heroes, with the optional ones and the upcoming expansion grant a high replayability.
* Tie breaking : with experienced player, this does not happen often. Variant exists to fix it.

Mare Nostrum is our favorite empire game. We play it often, and like to dicuss our former game over and over, prepare our future games weeks before. Serge Laget, the author, responds to any questions on his forum, and having met him personnaly, I can say he is the kind of guy you really want to support. Mare Nostrum is the kind of game that accepts modifications very easily.
Now, let's bring the expansion.
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