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Monday, April 11, 2005


Mare Nostrum

Played my first game of Mare Nostrum over the weekend. Must say that I was intrigued. I did enjoy it. Although I had the strategy all wrong, it was a very good learning game. I do think that if the game weren't set in the Mediterranean it would not be compared to Civilization. It would be considered an area influence game along the lines of El Grande, with set-collection and building elements similar to Settlers of Catan.

Like I said, I got the strategy all wrong. I didn't realize just how limited new city and caravan tokens were. I also didn't realize just how important your civilization's special ability is. I played Carthage. Carthage's ability is +1 during combat with legions. As it was a learning game I assumed there would be few battles as the game progressed, partly because Mare Nostrum has a reputation as being a Civ clone and war rarely pays off in Civ, and partly because my group usually cuts each other quite a bit of slack when we play a game for the first time.

If there is no war Carthage's ability is moot. The other civilization's abilities mostly allow them to buy units/items at a decreased cost, and that gives each a huge advantage. By the time I figured this out it was too late. Carthage was stuck buying one 3 cost item each round, and discarding 2 resources. I made some headway into Sicily in the middle stages of the game, but was quickly beat back by the Greeks and Romans who had utilized their advantages and had more legions and triremes than me, respectively.

I did find the trading element of the game to be clumsy. Players all place the same number of cards in front of themselves, face-up. Then players choose from all the face-up cards, picking one for themselves, one at a time. I need more experience with this mechanic to see if it works or not, but it is rather disappointing at this time.

I am looking forward to playing Mare Nostrum again. The trading part of the game could be better, a lot better. But, as a whole it seems like a fair game that flows smoothly with clean rules.

One more quick note.

(Looking nervously back over my shoulder.)

Keep this quiet. My wife doesn't need to know, but (nervous glance over shoulder) (whispering) the local gamestore got 7 Ages into stock. Oooooooooooh. Been fighting the urge to order this one for some time now. Maybe soon, now.

(Rubbing hands together, low voice). He, he, he, Bwaaa ha.

Good gaming,

Nothing dear, I was just talking to myself.

No, I wasn't laughing at you.

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